Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Does Anyone Want To Be Second Best In Big Sky?

So far this season, I think everyone can agree on one thing in the Big Sky - Weber State was the team to beat going into the season, and they still are at this point. Beyond that, it's tough to say who is #2. Teams have had chances to step into that spot, but it seems like nobody really wants it at this point. Let's take a look at the contenders:

- Montana - They started the year ranked 2nd, but they already have 5 losses this season. They don't have any terrible losses, as their worst is to a North Dakota team that should finish on the right side of .500, but they have missed some good opportunities. They lost to San Francisco and Nevada at home, and got smoked by Oregon State on the road. Obviously none of those losses are terrible, but they are games a team can win (especially the home games) if they are a true #2 in the Big Sky. In addition, they have looked completely uninspiring in too-close-for-comfort wins over Great Falls and Montana Tech.

Simply put, they have been mediocre offensively. Will Cherry was expected to be the man offensively, and we are learning that is not a role he is suited for at this point in his career. Derek Selvig was the leader of the frontcourt and he has been pretty bad offensively so far (though I do think he will pick it up, based on his career performance). I think if the coaches were polled today, Montana would still be picked #2, but it wouldn't be nearly as unanimous as before.

- Eastern Washington - At one point, they looked poised to seize control of the 2nd spot in the Big Sky, but they have had a couple of poor losses within the last couple of weeks. First, they got blown out by a Washington State team that is not very good, losing 75-49. Then they lost by 13 to Cal-State Fullerton. They have been a solid offensive team, but they need to create turnovers defensively to be successful.

In the frontcourt they have some solid players, but their difference-makers are in the backcourt. Collin Chiverton is supremely athletic and takes care of the ball, but he needs to be more efficient. Cliff Colimon is a great playmaker, but his shooting percentage is down. Jeffrey Forbes is a guy you might not really notice, but he is a solid player on both ends of the court that doesn't make a lot of mistakes. EWU should be in the thick of things all season long.

- Portland State - They are another team that seemed like they had a chance to be in control of #2, as they were just sitting at 5-2, but they are on a 2 game losing streak also. They allowed 93 points to a Utah Valley offense that isn't all that good, and then followed up with a good game, but still a loss to Oregon. Their best win this season is probably against Seattle, but that is not a huge notch in their favor.

They are one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the country, and there is no bigger culprit than Charles Odum (though he might be their best player). He is really struggling with his outside shot, but is making up for it with great efficiency in other areas. They might have the most talented offensive frontcourt in the Big Sky, with a trio of Chehales Tapscott, Nate Lozeau, and now Renado Parker. That will be tough for anyone in the conference to match up against.

- Montana State - They have to be considered among the contenders for their stellar play so far this season. If not for a miraculous shot by UC Riverside, the Bobcats would be 6-3. They have decent wins over Utah, San Jose State, and Cal State Bakersfield, so they have beat some DI teams.

Offensively, they are beginning to form an identity, and it begins with Xavier Blount. He is turning into one of the better scorers in the Big Sky, and should soon be a guy that everyone in the conference knows. Defensively they have struggled, and they will need Mohammed Fall to be an anchor for them. If they can figure out how to stop people, they have the offensive weapons to be a contender.

While Northern Colorado, Sacramento State, Idaho State, and Northern Arizona have had their moments this year, I don't believe any of them has a real argument to be considered a top 2 team in the Big Sky.

Who do you think is #2? How would you rank them? Would love to hear some thoughts and arguments.

Follow me on Twitter @bigskybball

1 comment: