Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Kameron Pearce Leaves Idaho State

It has been reported that Kameron Pearce has left Idaho State due to personal reasons:

POCATELLO,Idaho- Idaho State men's basketball coach Joe O'Brien has announced that Kameron Pearce has left the program and voluntarily withdrawn from Idaho State as a student due to personal reasons.
Idaho State was already reportedly still recruiting players for this year (and just signed Vishal Banipal within the last 2 weeks), so the loss of anyone hurts right now. Add to it that Kameron Pearce could have been a starter and looked like he could be a solid contributor for the next 3 years, and this is a blow to the program.

It is another hit for Coach Joe O'Brien, who from all accounts is coaching for his job this season. The loss of guys like Pearce will not make matters any easier, that is for sure. If I hear more, obviously I will update.

I know there are quite a few Idaho State fans that read this blog (if you don't believe me, check out the poll to the right)... Have you guys heard anything more about this?

Big Sky Interest In D'Vonne Pickett Jr.

From JUCO Recruiting, both Montana and Eastern Washington have shown interest in D'Vonne Pickett Jr. out of Central Arizona College.

Central Arizona College point guard D’Vonne Pickett Jr. has seen his stock rise quickly throughout the summer. Pickett had an excellent freshman year at Central Arizona averaging 18 points, 5 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game. He knows how to control the game and is at his best with the ball in his hands. He is very vocal on the court and obviously can do a little bit of everything as you can tell by his numbers from last season
Just by looking at those numbers, he looks like he would be a nice get for these teams.

First seen on the twitter feed for mslacat (who is, by the way, a must follow and must read for Big Sky fans).

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

100 Posts

Well folks, this blog has hit 100 posts!

A small milestone, but all milestones are worth celebrating. Thanks to all readers (over 5,000 visits and counting) who have made this fun so far! My first official post was on July 3, 2011, and continued with 36 total posts for the month of July.

August was even better, as this will be the 64th post of the month, with a couple more at least to follow tomorrow. Hopefully things will continue to grow in September and as we get closer to the start of the season! I never expected so many people to visit a start-up blog in the middle of the offseason, so again many thanks to all who read, comment, and email, it would be a lot less fun writing this blog without you.

As always, feel free to comment on anything, send me questions or links, and just interact in any way. I feel confident that I can speak for all blog writers out there... the more participation from readers, the more fun it is for us, and the harder we will work!

100 posts in the book, hopefully there will be many hundreds more!

Jake Owsley Decides To Go To NAIA School

A few weeks back I passed along the news that JUCO big man Jake Owsley was going to be heading to Montana State next season, declaring that he would be a solid big man addition for the Bobcats.

Owsley won't be a star in the Big Sky, but he should be a solid big man for Brad Huse. Skilled big men are not exactly easy to come by in the Big Sky, and Owsley has some skill. For one of the best JUCO teams in the country, he averaged about 15 minutes a game during the season, and represented himself well when he got the chance to start a couple of games.
However, it looks like he has changed his mind. He will now be headed to NAIA Montana Western, according to

Montana Western head men's basketball coach Steve Keller announced the signing of Jake Owsley, a 6'8" post player from Bozeman and North Idaho College (NIC), to a Frontier Conference/NAIA letter of intent.
We wish him the best of luck.

Portland State Posts Solid Academic Scores

For a school that had some problems with the NCAA under Ken Bone, this has to be good news.

From the twitter feed of Head Coach Tyler Geving:

Summer school grades out this week and a great job by our players. Back to Back years of perfect APR scores. Off to a good start again.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Other Side of the Andre Drummond Signing

Check out Searching For Billy Edelin for an excellent article on the other, forgotten side of Andre Drummond signing with UConn - the fact that someone is forced out of a scholarship.

Makes you stop and think.

Who Is The Third Best Team in the Big Sky?

From what I have seen, read, and know about the Big Sky, Weber State and Montana look like they will be ranked 1-2 in the conference this season, and in my mind, they look like the favorites. But the race is wide open for third. Ranking from (in my opinion and subject to change!) least likely to most likely:

- Sacramento State - It will be a tough season for Coach Katz. They were one of the worst offensive and defensive teams in the country last year, and I'm not sure there is a lot of reason to be more optimistic this season. Dylan Garrity looks solid, but there are simply not a lot of impact players on the Hornets roster.

- Idaho State - By all accounts Joe O'Brien is almost definitely on the way out after this season, so he will try to make it count. He shouldn't expect any miracles. He lost his two best players, and while there are some decent players back, the cupboard is not too well stocked right now. A lot of their hopes will rest on how quickly Melvin Morgan can become the leader of the team.

- Northern Arizona - In my opinion, spots 3-7 are all pretty close, and things could go any direction. I wouldn't want to bet against Mike Adras, but NAU did lose some good talent off a team that finished 4th in the conference. Gone is Cameron Jones and Shane Johannsen, with no clear replacements for either. Gabe Rogers will be called upon to be the star, and he does have the talent to the an All BigSky performer. Perhaps the biggest key will be the development of Danny Cheek, one of the top incoming recruits in the Big Sky. If he can be productive early, NAU will be very competitive.

- Northern Colorado - It is tough predict what UNC will do this season after losing 4 key contributors, notably Devon Beitzel and Neal Kingman. They have some talent and BJ Hill put together a nice recruiting class, but it is a team that relied heavily on Beitzel last year, so there will be an adjustment period. Who will step up and be the go-to guy for the Bears? I'm guessing even the coaches are wondering at this point.

- Eastern Washington - There are a lot of unknowns with a new coach, so it will be interesting to see how things play out for Jim Hayford (last year's first year coach in the Big Sky was BJ Hill, and that turned out ok). EWU has a lot of solid returning guards, and they have brought in a solid recruit in Collin Chiverton. If their frontcourt can produce, they will be dangerous.

- Montana State - The Bobcats will be very interesting, as they will be bringing in a ton of talented new guys, so they will be as good as the team can learn to play together and Brad Huse can find a consistent rotation. The word is that Antonio Biglow, one of their most highly rated newcomers, might not play until January (if he plays this year), which is definitely a blow. Still, JUCO wings Jamie Stewart and Xavier Johnson-Blount should be a nice duo. They have the talent to be one of the best teams in the Big Sky, but it is difficult to say how quickly Huse will be able to mold the talent.

- Portland State - Craw's Corner really opened my eyes that they could be the third best team in the Big Sky, and it seems like they now have the talent to do it. Two solid holdovers are Charles Odum and Chehales Tapscott, both seniors with a year of Big Sky experience under their belt. Lateef Mcmullan looks like he will be a nice contributor right away, Michael Harthun is ready to play after sitting out a year (after a transfer from Washington State), and Brandon Cataldo could be a big contributor if he is healthy. The Vikings are a bit of a darkhorse, but if they can find a way to improve the defense from last year, they will be dangerous.

Would love to hear thoughts on who everyone else thinks will be the third best team in the Big Sky. I also have a poll up, so please vote, and leave your reasoning in the comments. I think it could be a pretty fun debate.

Departing Stars of The Big Sky Conference

It may be bad form to link to your own posts, but so be it.

Just in case you missed it (I posted these awhile ago, and readership has gone up since then), I wrote up some posts about how certain teams will replace their departed stars. In case you are interested, here are the posts:

Eastern Washington - Glen Dean
Idaho State - Broderick Gilchrist, Deividas Busma
Montana - Brian Qvale
Montana State - Bobby Howard, Erik Rush
Northern Arizona - Cameron Jones
Northern Colorado - Devon Beitzel

If you are interested in having me look at any other departed players and the holes they are leaving, just let me know and I would be happy to write up my thoughts.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

An Early Look at Montana's Schedule

I have looked at a few of the other schools, and now it is time to take a look at the schedule for the Montana Grizzlies, who look to be one of the top two teams in the Big Sky Conference once again.

They will start off the season with a bang, traveling to Fort Collins to take on Colorado State, an upstart program under Coach Tim Miles who will be looking to build on the momentum created last season. It should be an interesting matchup right out of the gate, as it will be a nice resume booster for whoever wins. It looks like a pretty even matchup to me, and one I hope to attend.

There are a couple other interesting non-conference road games. They will take on San Diego, who had an eventful offseason for all the wrong reasons. The Toreros struggled last season, but they had a young team and they have a solid coach in Bill Grier. Then the Grizzlies will travel to take on North Dakota, in a preview of what could be a solid rivalry for years to come, as UND joins the Big Sky.

The other remaining road games are Portland(who was in the middle of the pack in a solid WCC), Oregon State (which will look to be improved behind the play of Roberto Nelson, who will be eligible all year long), and a bracket buster game. Montana needs to go at least .500 in these games, and going at least 4-2 seems like a reasonable goal.

At home, the big game is against Nevada, which will be one of the best non-conference games of the Big Sky season. The Wolfpack have been down a bit, but they are projected to be near the top of the WAC with budding stud Deonte Burton. This would be a very nice resume booster for the Griz, and a game they surely have marked on their calendars. They will also take on Idaho out of the WAC, a team that finished 4th last season, so they are certainly no gimme.

They will get couple other solid home games against San Francisco (who finished behind only Gonzaga and St. Mary's in the WCC as one of the youngest teams in the country), and Long Beach State, a team that sees itself as a potential at-large possibility.

The other non-conference home games included games against usual suspects - low level teams that shouldn't provide a huge challenge. Games against Great Falls, Montana Tech, and Utah Valley are schedule fillers, ones that every Big Sky team needs to have on their schedule.

Add it all up, and I think it is a pretty impressive schedule for the Grizzlies. Other than Oregon State they don't play any BCS Conference teams, but they have a lot of games against solid mid-major opponents. It will be a nice test for Montana, and if they can win some of these games, it will go a long way to helping their seeding if they are able to make it to the Big Dance.

Julius Thomas Playing Tight End for the Denver Broncos

Proving that the Big Sky does have elite athletes is Julius Thomas.

He began his career playing basketball for Portland State, and now is a promising looking TE for the Broncos.

Thomas was a power forward in college who was a bully in the blocks, swatting 62 shots and pulling down 520 rebounds. He set school records in games played (121) and career wins (78).

Once he exhausted his basketball eligibility, and with one scholarship season left, he contacted Vikings football coach Nigel Burton about stepping onto the football field for the first time.

Thomas was a quick study, catching 29 passes for 453 yards and earning All-Big Sky Conference first-team honors. His stock soared at the East-West Shrine Game, where he captured the attention of scouts with his athleticism and grabbed a 5-yard TD pass.
We wish him the best of luck representing The Big Sky.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

An Early Look at Southern Utah's Schedule

I have not written a lot about future BSC member Southern Utah, so to rectify that, let's take a quick peak at their 2011-12 schedule.

They will start off at the BTE Classic, with their first game coming against San Diego State. You might remember them as the team that made it to the Sweet 16 last season. While the Aztecs will lose a lot of talent, they should still be one of the four best teams in the MWC, and so it should be a barometer for how far the Thunderbirds need to go. Their other two games in the classic will come against UC Davis and Bryant University.

They will have a couple road games of note, as they travel to take on Weber State (obviously future BSC opponent) and Utah State. Both are big games against Utah rivals, and the Thunderbirds would be ecstatic if they could steal either game. Don't foresee that happening, however, as both teams are clearly a step above Southern Utah (harsh, but fair).

The rest of the schedule is predictable. Home games are against Montana State Billings, Southern Virginia, Troy, and UC Davis. Their other road game is against Troy. That is correct, they will play Troy and UC Davis twice each this year.

The conference schedule will obviously come against the Summit League, in their final season of the being a member of the Conference. Last season they finished 7-11 in conference. While they only lost one contributor from that team, I think finished about the same in conference is a reasonable expectations for the Thunderbirds. Time will tell, as they would love to leave the Summit League with a bang (and not a whimper).

Article on Future Montana State Bobcat Antonio Biglow

Nice article to be found here on Antonio Biglow, who will be joining Montana State next season.

According to what some people have told mslacat, Biglow could be the best recruit coming to MSU next year, and figures to factor big into the success of the team.

Tip of the cap to Gidal Kaiser for the link.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Jordan Loveridge Commits to Utah

I have commented a couple of times on Jordan Loveridge, the best recruit in Utah, and how Weber State was in his final four.

Loveridge announced today that he would play for the University of Utah, and it sounds like the fact that they are in the Pac-12 was a huge factor in his decision.

Jordan Loveridge, the 6-foot-7 forward who shot up national rating charts after a dazzling showing in the Adidas Super 64 last month in Las Vegas, will join the Utes in 2012 after playing his senior year at West Jordan High School.

"I have a great relationship with every single coach," Loveridge said. "I just want to be a part of the rebuilding we’re going to get the program back to where it was and we’re going to do it in the Pac-12 one of the biggest conferences."
Loveridge put Arizona in his final four, even though they had not made an offer.

If he is looking for exposure, Utah might be the best play to go, as they are in a power conference and so he has a better chance of being seen on national TV. Also, Utah is very down right now, so he could have a chance to play relatively early in his career.

However, he certainly would have had a better chance of being in the NCAA Tournament if he had gone to Weber State. The Wildcats have been contenders for the Big Sky title almost every season under Randy Rahe, and that doesn't seem likely to change anytime soon. Loveridge is the type of player that would have been a star in the Big Sky.

But alas, it was not meant to be. New coach Larry Krystowiak recruited Loveridge hard, and in the end, it was enough. It will be interesting to see how early he is able to get on the court. He has been rising up boards quick, so this commitment could look even better for the Utes a year from now.

Montana State Adds A Walk-On

The Bobcats have added 6'4'' guard Mitchell Schwab will be joining the team this season, as I first saw over at Blue & Gold.

Also Gidal added a pretty interesting blurb that I hadn't seen before:

He’ll help more with depth and experience and has four years to play (as noted), which is all fantastic for obvious reason. It also helps MSU for another reason. I’m still trying to confirm this, but Antonio Biglow might have run into some issues coming to Bozeman to start the season. He’s tweeted to that effect, saying he might have to sit out this year. Once more becomes available, I’ll pass it along.
Safe to say, I'll be watching to see if I can find out anymore.

Excellent stuff as always from Gidal.

Weber State is the 77th Best Team in the Country

According to The Sports Bank.

Damian Lillard was supposed to help the Weber State Wildcats win the Big Sky Conference last season. However, a foot injury forced the dynamic point guard to miss the majority of the year causing the Wildcats to finish slightly below expectations. With Lillard healthy, Weber State should once again be the Big Sky favorite.
I have a funny feeling they could be seen as being better than 77th best team in the country by the end of this season.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Key For Eastern Washington: Tremayne Johnson

In Jim Hayford's first season for Eastern Washington, they will be deep at guard, even with the transfer of Glen Dean. A lot of guys got valuable experience last season, and they should be the strength of the team.

This, if EWU is going to be successful this year, the onus will fall onto the frontcourt to produce. They have some experience there also. We know Laron Griffin is one of the best rebounders in the Conference, after getting 6.8 per game in about 23 minutes a game last season. Cliff Ederaine is solid also, averaging 8.5 PPG and 7.4 RPG, also proving to be an excellent rebounder.

So they know what they have in those guys. It seems to me that the wildcard is Tremayne Johnson, who had a solid season in his first season in Cheney, but has the ability to improve.

For starters, he was not a very efficient scorer last season. He shot 46.6% from 2 point range, and 29.7% from downtown (on 64 attempts). He was a 76% FT shooter, which suggests he could become more efficient FG shooting. And perhaps take even less threes, as it was not effective for him last season. He is also good at drawing fouls (4.9/40), which is especially effective with his excellent FT shooting. He should look to get to the hole and to the line more often this season.

He was a good rebounder (8.0 OR%, 17.8 DR%), but his athleticism suggests he could improve a bit there. He had a 5.4% Block Rate last season, which was 4th in the Big Sky, so he will have a chance to lead the Conference in blocks if he can get enough minutes. That athleticism also suggests he can be a more efficient offensive player.

One thing that will be key is what type of offense Hayford runs. Last season, even though they were small, they had a pretty slow pace (246th in the NCAA). Johnson seems to have the skillset that would thrive in the open court, which seems to make sense with this guard-oriented roster, so it will be interesting to see Hayford's philosophy.

Eastern Washington has a chance to be very solid this year, thanks to a solid backcourt and the addition of Collin Chiverton. The key will be the frontcourt, and the wildcard there is Tremayne Johnson. He has the potential to be an excellent player for the Eagles, and how well he fulfills that promise could determine how high EWU climbs in the Big Sky.

What are all of your thoughts?

Dylan Garrity (Sacramento State Recruit) Highlights

A look at possibly the best Hornets recruit this season, Dylan Garrity. Have a feeling that he will be called upon to play early on in his Hornets career.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Northern Colorado Releases 2011-12 Schedule

Will have more on this in the near future, but for now simply take a look at the announcement of the release of the basketball schedule.

Some interesting games this year, including non-conference home games against Colorado State and New Mexico State, and road games (or some technically neutral site games) against Marquette, Iowa State, and Northern Iowa.

Upon first glance, I like the schedule.

Idaho State Signs Vishal Banipal

There has been a lot of talk about how Idaho State coach Joe O'Brien was still recruiting players for this season. Well, they just recently signed one.

Vishal "The Sniper" Banipal will be headed to Idaho State this season. He is a 6'1'' combo guard originally from Alberta, Canada, who played one year in the USA at Southwest Academy in Lansing, Michigan.

In the midst of a strong year, Banipal received NCAA interest from Liberty, Central Michigan, Idaho State and a load of Junior College offers.

"The Sniper" as his teammates referred to him, figured he would need to take the JUCO route in order make the jump to the NCAA, however when he received the call from Idaho State, the rest was history!

"It was the happiest day of my life," expressed Banipal.

"Thank God I got that call from Idaho State. I knew I could play D1 basketball but I was prepared to take the JUCO route."

The Alberta product will enter his freshman year with the ISU Bengals, who compete in the Big Sky conference. The official visit has been taken, the papers have been signed, and this Canadian will be on campus sooner than later.
It certainly is late for a player to sign for this season, but such is life for Bengals basketball. He is a solid outside shooter (hence the nickname) and appears to have decent athleticism. Still, being signed so late, it is hard to envision him having much of an impact this season.

Portland State Interested in Dalante Dunklin

From the excellent twitter account of Alex Kline of @TheRecruitScoop:

Dalante Dunklin, a 2012 PG from Francis Parker (CA), has cut his list down to UC Santa Barbara, Portland State & San Diego.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Things You Should Read

A couple links of note for you to read (after you get done reading any articles you may have missed from this site!)

- In case you missed any of the summer updates from Rush The Court, here they are in a nice, tidy place. You will soon be seeing this writer contribute to RTC, which I couldn't be more excited about! RTC is one of the best college hoop blogs out there, bar none.

- National Hoops Report looks at DJ Cooper of Ohio, one of the best all-around players in the NCAA you might not have heard of.

- Josh Pastner of Memphis is one of my favorite coaches in the NCAA... BIAH on why the hire of Luke Walton is just another example of why Pastner is so good.

- Big Apple Buckets posts on how JUCO recruiting affects Mid-Majors, and then Matt Norlander of CBS chimes in with his thoughts on it. Interesting stuff, especially since a lot of Big Sky teams rely so heavily on Mid-Major teams. Might have more to say on this topic later in the week.

On Pat Summitt

Excellent article by Sally Jenkins of The Washington Post on Pat Summitt, who was diagnosed with early onset dementia.

“If you go back to her speeches, and her discussions with players through the years, you see several things,” Barnett says. “One is absolute dedication. Two is an unwillingness ever to give up. And three is an absolute commitment to honesty. And in this challenge that she’s facing, she is displaying the exact traits that she’s always taught. . . .Pat is going to run this race to the very end.”
Obviously we all wish her the best of luck and many prayers as she fights this. May she win this battle as she has won so many others during her incredible coaching career.

Introducing... The Lumberjack Classic

Northern Arizona announced the Lumberjack Classic, a game featuring Northern Arizona vs. BYU, taking place in Prescott, AZ (which, if you are wondering, is about a couple hours SW of Flagstaff).

The event is so big for the Lumberjacks that they have their own logo for it (which is cool because the text is written in lumber, which looks pretty cool). The reason for the excitement on the Lumberjack side can be seen with this quote from the article announcing the event:

The Lumberjacks haven't played a game of this magnitude so close to home since 1990 when they fell to the second ranked Arizona Wildcats in Flagstaff.

"We are excited to play in Prescott for the second consecutive season against a quality BYU team that had a great run in the NCAA Tournament this past year," said Adras. "It should be a great game for us to play a school that has a lot of fans in the state of Arizona. It will be an exciting game in a beautiful venue."
BYU has become a huge draw in the Post-Jimmer Era, and so this should draw a good crowd gathering, especially with the promoting he seems they are doing for the event. In an environment where it is tough for Big Sky teams to schedule solid home games, this should be one of the more-interesting non-conferences games of the season for Big Sky teams.

North Dakota Player Previews

I have written before about Future Big Sky Conference member North Dakota's Five Man Class of 2014, and now Fetch from Sioux Blog has some solid write-ups on individual players.

Check out his previews of Troy Huff, Patrick Mitchell, Jamal Webb, Aaron Anderson, Josh Schuler, and Brandon Brekke.

The Sioux will have a chance to contend in the Big Sky right from the get go, so fans should get to know them. They will also be playing a few games this year against Big Sky opponents.

If the freshman can keep improving, UND will be dangerous.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Where Will Northern Arizona Get Frontcourt Production?

Back when we looked at how Northern Arizona would (try to) replace Cameron Jones, we looked at the backcourt. But perhaps the even bigger question that that is... where will they get frontcourt production?

At 6'7'', Shane Johannsen was their best frontcourt player, as he was one of the most efficient players in the country. He had the best EFG% in the country, thanks to his ridiculously good 117/161 (72.7%) shooting from the field. Yes, that is correct... he shot 72.7% from the flooer. For his career he shot 69.5% from the field. That is not a typo. Oh yeah, Johannsen was also their best rebounder (22.2 DR%), and one of the best shot blockers in the country. He will be dearly missed.

One guy that will be relied upon is Austin Smith, who was a solid performer in a fairly limited role last year (he only played 12.6 minutes per game). He was also an efficient scorer, shooting 61% from the field, and with 11.1% of ORebounds coming his way, he can generate some extra possessions for the Lumberjacks. If he can keep his efficiency up, and maybe pull down a few more defensive rebounds (13.8 DR% last year), he will be a factor for them. He will be a junior this season.

After Smith, it is difficult to project. Josh Lepley would have had a role for them, but he was dismissed from the team earlier this year. It seems likely that JUCO big man Max Jacobsen will have a role as well. He scored 22 points and grabbed 8 rebounds per game last season, so he has shown he can be productive at the JUCO level. “We are excited to get him,” said Head Coach Mike Adras. “He is a great student. We see him as someone who can score and play in the low post. He can score around the basket and also step out and shoot a 15-footer and make shots.”

There are a few other possibilities, but it's difficult to tell how playing time will shake out. Ephraim Ekanem will get a look after coming over from Irvine Valley College. He averaged about 8 points and 6 rebounds a game last year, but he is a big, bruising body, who could give Adras some minutes. Ryan Schaefer sat out last season after having knee surgery, but at 6'9'' he will get a look. And then Gaellen Bewernick was a redshirt last season, but he is a forward at 6'6''. He is in the mold of a lot of guys that have success at the college level... undersized, but has a knack for rebounding and is athletic enough to be difficult to defend.

Mike Adras typically has some smaller teams, and that will be no different this season. After losing Shane Johannsen, there is a lot of uncertainty in the frontcourt. He has some options, but it is tough to say (other than Austin Smith) who will see the most playing time.

Who do you guys see as getting the most minutes?

Big Sky Recruiting Interests

Some recruiting interests from teams around the Big Sky courtesy of SeaTown Sports (all emphasis mine):

Ingraham forward Malik Barnes (Sr.) is getting strong interest from Eastern Washington. University of Denver, UC Davis, and San Francisco are also talking to him. Read our interview with him from awhile back here.
Seattle Prep forward Mitch Brewe (Sr.) has had an offer from Drake for awhile. Montana and Davidson are also showing the 6'9" forward some interest. Brewe is a crafty scorer in the post that is automatic, but also is very comfortable in transition at finishing and rebounding in traffic.
Tahoma forward Paul Loranger (Jr.) has caught the eye of Washington St. and Eastern Washington. Loranger is still developing and his strengths are his long length, shot blocking ability and free-throw stroke. He currently stars for the Rotary 16U team.
Darius Johnson-Wilson (Sr.) out of Curtis High School is still recovering from an early-season knee injury, though he played through it this past summer as a starter for Seattle Rotary Style. He told me last night that he'll be 100% by the time the season starts. The 6'6" forward is a versatile player who can get out in the perimeter and get his teammates involved but also bang in the post with his wide frame. He is getting some interest from USF and Portland St.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Shavon Shields Draws Interest From Big Sky Teams

From Heard This Blog:

Shavon Shields, a 6-foot-4 guard who runs with MoKan Elite on the AAU circuit, currently holds two Atlantic 10 offers from Saint Louis and Duquesne.

Additionally, according to MoKan Elite directors, he has been offered by Nebraska, Texas Tech, Yale, Jacksonville, San Francisco, Northern Colorado, Weber State, Tulsa, Long Beach State, and Wisconsin Green-Bay. Stanford and Wyoming have also expressed interest.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Is Chehales Tapscott The Best Post Player In The Big Sky?

If you ask college basketball fans across the country who Chehales Tapscott plays for, 99% of them would have no idea (and they would tell you that you spelled his first name wrong - it is pronounced shuh-HAY-less). But the joke would be on them, because he just might be the best post man in the Big Sky next season.

Tapscott enjoyed solid success in his first season for Portland St, finishing second in the Big Sky in rebounding at 8.1 per game, behind only departed Conference DPOY Brian Qvale. He did this despite injuring his knee in the middle of the season, and despite being only 6'5.''. His percentages back up his rebounding prowess, as he had a 11.8 OR% (130th in the country) and 21.1 DR% (128th in the country).

While he was a solid offensive player, he does have some room to improve. He shot only 48.6% from 2s, which is not bad, but definitely a step below elite post players. He does get to the FT line a lot, but shot an average 66%. If he can become a little more efficient scoring the basketball, he will be an All-Conference performer.

He had a 14.1 ARate last season, which is excellent for a post player, and really shows his skills. He also led the team with a 2.7 Block %, and also had a solid 2.1 Steal %. He truly does a little bit of everything. And for all of this, he didn't even make Honorable Mention All Big Sky, which is partly a function of your team finishing 7th in the conference.

If you are a fan of the Big Sky, you should get to know Tapscott and his game. While you could make arguments for guys like Derek Selvig or Kyle Bullinger for best big man in the Big Sky, an argument could definitely also be made for Tapscott. He is the early favorite to be the Big Sky rebounding champion, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see a line like - 15 PPG/9 RPG/ 2.5 APG/1 BPG/1 SPG. If he can perform like that, Portland State will be a team to watch in the Big Sky race.

(As an additional note... his old myspace handle was apparently AfroThunder... that is awesome!)

Tapscott Online Stats and More:
Chehales Tapscott Stats
Basketball Coaches Strategize Using Laptops
Laptop Security on the Road
i5 laptop deals
Laptops and Workstations

Friday, August 19, 2011

Jordan Loveridge Narrows His Choice Down to 4 Schools

Solid prospect Jordan Loveridge has narrowed down his choice of schools to 4 - Arizona, BYU, Utah, and Weber State.

Per a tweet from @CollegiateHoops.

Utah SF Jordan Loveridge '12 narrowed down his list to four with Arizona, BYU, Utah & Weber State still in the mix.
Loveridge would be a HUGE get for the Wildcats... even if he ultimately goes somewhere else, Randy Rahe is showing that with some recruits, he can keep up with the big boys.

Northern Colorado's Recruiting Class

Obviously, Northern Colorado is coming off of its best season in school history. After a slow start (4-7), Bears recovered to win the Big Sky regular season and conference title, clinching a spot in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history.

Oh yeah, this was only 4 years removed from their first season as a Division 1 program, when they went 4-24.

How do they top that? Well, it will start with BJ Hill's first recruiting class, a 5 man group that looks solid on paper. According to Coach Hill:

“In terms of talent, upside and potential and character, as a group, this is the best class we’ve signed in the five years I’ve been here -- there’s no doubt,” Hill said of his first class as Northern Colorado head coach. “I love what each brings to the table, in terms of what they eventually can be. This is a class that two or three years from now, we’re all going to be really excited about.”
Let's take a look at them.

Arguably the best is forward Brendan Keane, who is 6'9'' and a very skilled forward. He has a solid body, and should be ready to play physically right away. He has some solid post moves, and is very good fundamentally. He should have success with the Bears, and will be in the mix immediately for playing time.

Another solid player is Tim Huskission, a 6'5'' forward out of Missouri, who committed to UNC after his junior season. He is the most athletic player of the recruiting class, which helps him on both ends of the court. It is easy to envision him getting some run early on in his career also.

Aaron Hawk-Harris is the only JUCO player in the group, so you have to think he will be counted on to play right away (or else they wouldn't have brought him in). He is a combo guard at 6'4''. At the JUCO level last year he averaged 6.5 PPG, about 3 RPG and 2 APG. Hill says he brings intangibles and toughness, but I won't likely see starter's minutes with some of the soon-to-be sophomores and other incoming freshmen at the guard spots.

Dylan Elias is a 6-foot PG out of Texas, who comes out of the same program that current Bear Paul Garnica came from. He has been committed to the program for awhile, and should be a solid contributor to the program, though it looks tough for him to get a lot of minutes this year.

James Davis Jr. is the last member of the class, a 6'3'' shooting guard from California. He is an excellent scorer (almost 22 PPG as a junior), that could have the ability to play both guard spots, though he will primarily play off the ball. He has a chance to be a big-time scorer for the Bears.

Who do you guys see as the best of the class? Who will contribute right away?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Potential Rules Changes Could Hurt Smaller Schools

The Standard Examiner looked at how possible rule changes could affect smaller schools.

Let's hope they keep competitive balance as best as they can in college basketball. But I think the college basketball world as we know it will look a lot different in 5 years.

North Dakota Will Change Its Nickname

Thankfully, it seems as if the first stage of clearance on this story has passed. After a meeting with the NCAA, North Dakota has decided the only course of action to take at this point is to transition away from the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo.

As I have said on here before, I personally like the nickname and the logo, but think it was time for a change. There was never going to be any peaceful resolution that included keeping the nickname, and it felt like change was inevitable. Further, once it started potentially threatening UND's entrance into the Big Sky, that was the last straw for me. It seems that had a big effect on the decision makers as well.

The governor said after Friday’s meeting that keeping the nickname could cause serious harm to the university and its athletic programs, as the NCAA had said it would encourage other member schools not to schedule competition with UND while UND is in noncompliance. Also, UND’s entry into the Big Sky Conference next year could be in doubt if the nickname stayed and the sanctions were sustained.

“I have come to the conclusion that the consequences of not retiring the Sioux logo are too great,” Dalrymple said.
Finally, after years of debate, it seems there will finally be a resolution.

The next stage is to decide what the nickname should be changed to. One popular opinion (which I also like) is for the new nickname to be... no nickname. Just The University of North Dakota. However, would the NCAA allow that? ND Goon looked at it. While it seems like they need to come up with something for a new nickname, it is arguably open for debate. It is hard to say though that UND would want to get into another debate with the NCAA, but we will see.

Regardless, this was an important step for UND athletics, as their entrance into the Big Sky Conference was something that was vital to the continued success of the athletic department.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

How The New APR Rule Could Affect College Basketball

In case you hadn't heard, the NCAA has enacted a new rule that says schools must have an APR of 930, or they are ineligible for the NCAA Tournament. From ESPN:

The NCAA’s Division I Board of Directors on Thursday unanimously approved the idea that college sports teams not carrying at least a 930 Academic Progress Rate averaged over four years will soon be barred from postseason competition. That means a raising of the bar of academic requirements teams will need to meet in order to go dancing in the NCAA tournament or any other sport's NCAA-sanctioned postseason.
So Rush The Court took a look at how the NCAA Tournament would have looked if this rule had been in place this season. Needless to say, it is interesting.

Alabama State was given a 16-seed and a ticket to Dayton for the First Four after winning the SWAC Tournament. Their APR of 907 would have DQ’d them from the NCAA, so the spot would go to Texas Southern. Actually, it wouldn’t, because of their 890 APR. So, if we keep going down the SWAC standings until we find an APR-acceptable school, we land at 9th-place Alcorn State (4-24, 4-14) and its 944 rating — the only SWAC school above the NCAA’s APR demarcator. Congrats, Braves. You and your four wins would have been dancing last season.
Bravo to the NCAA for requiring colleges to be a bit more diligent in making sure that players are students first, athletes second. Let's hope it causes teams to get their act together.

On The Success of Xavier

In many ways, Xavier is the program that Mid-Majors strive to be (even if they are arguably not quite a true Mid-Major anymore, but that is another story for another time)... how have they had so much recruiting success?

Heard This Blog takes a look at it.

“We want guys to have a chip on their shoulder,” Steele said. ”The under-the-radar guys, and they need to have the right people around them. We look for a kid who wants to get a degree and has an unbelievable willingness to work.”

Breakout Sophomores in the Big Sky

After Luke Winn's article last week looking at potential breakout sophomores in the nation, I think it would be fun to look at similar players in the Big Sky. So here are (in my opinion) the best candidates to breakout next season in their sophomore campaign.

- Paul Garnica (Northern Colorado) - Garnica is loaded with potential, as he does a lot of things very well. He posted one of the best steal rates in the BSC (4.3%), rebounded well from the guard position, and made some plays passing the ball (21.4% ARate). However, he needs to improve in 2 areas - taking care of the ball, and taking better shots. He turned it over 28.3% of the time as a freshman, which is far too high. In comparison, BSC POY Devon Beitzel had a 15.8% TORate. That is a lot of wasted possessions. Garnica also had an EFG% of only 45.0%, thanks to going 15/56 from downtown. He would be wise to cut down on his attempts (unless he has been working on it all summer). If he can improve in those two areas, he has the all-around game to be an All-Conference player.


- Emmanual Addo (Northern Colorado) - Another player from NoCo, which is not really a surprise - with the loss of 4 contributing seniors, the young guys will play a key role for BJ Hill. Addo will log a lot of minutes in the post, and he looks to be up to the challenge. He played 37% of the team's minutes last year, but was an excellent performer for his time on the court. He was a great offensive rebounder, with his 12.3% second on the team to Mike Proctor. He was also an efficient scorer, with a 53.5% from inside the 2-point arc while making a respectable 68% of his FTs (and he was solid at getting to the line). If he can make a natural progression from year 1 to year 2, Addo will be a pleasant surprise, and he will be a solid starter for the Bears.


- Kareem Jamar (Montana) - Jamar is hampered a bit by the solid depth the Grizzlies have, but he had a very productive freshman season and has the talent to be even better as a sophomore. He was solid but not great offensively, shooting 48.5% from inside the arc and 38% beyond it. Both solid, but there could especially be improvement from 2 point range. Jamar is a solid rebounder for his size, and takes good care of the basketball for a guard. He is also a solid defender. Jamar is one of those guys that might not put a lot of points on the box score (8.1 PPG as a freshman), but he is an excellent contributor for the Griz and will be one of the most important players as they contend for the Big Sky championship. Cherry and Jamar is one of the best backcourts in the Big Sky.


- Byron Fulton (Weber State) - Weber State is excellent in the backcourt, but there will be some question marks about the frontcourt heading into this season. One of the answers will likely be Fulton, who had a solid freshman year as a role player. At 6'7'' Fulton will be one of the big guys, but he does not have a traditional low post game. He is dangerous from outside the arc, shooting 24/50 from long range last year. He was the Conference Freshman of the Year, and his role could expand a bit more this year, especially if he can play well defensively. He posted a solid 16.0 DR%.


- Jackson Carbajal (Sacramento State) - Carbajal played solid minutes last year, and will be relied upon even more after the graduation of Sultan Toles-Bey. He has room to improve, as he was not that efficient last year. He took a lot more 3s than 2s, even though he was a 31% shooter from downtown and 57% shooter inside the arc. He should reverse that trend, and look to get inside more this season. He also posted a backward Assist/TO ratio, turning the ball over almost 3 times as much as he got an assist. Still, Carbajal deserves a mention here because he will get plenty of opportunity to improve this year, and he should see a lot of playing time once again.

Honorable Mention - Tate Unruh (UNC), Andre Hatchett (ISU), Shawn Reid (MSU)

What do you think? Should I have included anyone else? Who will be the best sophomore in the Big Sky this season?

Looking In On Larry Krystowiak

Solid blog post by ESPN on new Utah (and former Montana coach and player) Head Man Larry Krystowiak.

But in two seasons as a college head coach before leaving for the pros, Krystkowiak twice led his alma mater, Montana, to the NCAA tournament. His last college victory came in the 2006 tourney, when his gritty 12th-seeded Grizzlies upended Nevada in the first round.

Current Montana coach Wayne Tinkle, then an assistant under Krystkowiak, doesn’t recall much of a celebration after the team’s upset win. Krystkowiak had instilled a sense of confidence that made it seem like just another victory.

“We expected to beat Nevada,” Tinkle said. “People that watched that game said, ‘Why weren’t you doing cartwheels?’”
If Krystowiak is going to have success early in his career, he will need some help from former Eastern Washington PG Glen Dean, who transferred to Utah and will be eligible in 2012-13. It will be interesting to see if Krystowiak is able to achieve success for a depleted Utes club.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

More Unscrupulousness In College Basketball

By now you have heard of the Yahoo! Sports article on the athletic programs at the University of Miami, including allegations made about then Miami (now Missouri) coach Frank Haith.

BIAH has tracked how this could affect college hoops. To quote CBS Sports' Matt Norlander:

It could absolutely get him fired from Missouri, should more information get uncovered.
This is the type of stuff that you rarely see in mid-major college basketball, which is why a lot of people (myself included) love it so much.

No one will come out of this scandal looking good.

Melvin Morgan

If Idaho State is going to be better than last season, when they went 9-20 and were poor offensively and defensively, they will need a big season from JUCO transfer Melvin Morgan.

Morgan will be replacing departing senior Broderick Gilchrist, and much of the ballhandling and playmaking onus will fall on his shoulders. Coach Joe O'Brien (and a commenter on a previous post!) certainly thinks he is up to the challenge:

“Melvin gives us our best true point guard we've recruited since we've been here,” O'Brien said. “He is a guy we have been watching since high school and someone who looks to pass first and score second. His stock really went up this year.”
Morgan averaged 15.9 PPG and 3.4 assists per game last year as a sophomore, and ISU will immediately need that type of production from him during his first season in Pocatello. He is also a solid outside shooter, with a 41.6% mark from downtown and over 70% from the stripe.

Last year Gilchrist had a higher turnover rate than assist rate, and he was not all that efficient as a scorer. Morgan should be a better distributor than Gilchrist, which will obviously help the offense all around. He could also potentially match his scoring output with a little more efficiency, but the better bet would be for him to settle in at a lower clip than Gilchrist, which is ok.

Melvin Morgan should be one of the top incoming players in the Big Sky, and Coach O'Brien will need him to be that and then some for Idaho State to get back around the .500 mark in the Conference. No matter how well the team does, though, Bengals fans should be treated to a guy that plays the PG role a little more traditionally than Broderick Gilchrist did last year.

ISU fans, what are your expectations for Morgan?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Top 10 Players From Non Power Conference Schools

Jason King of Yahoo! compiled a list, which does not feature any Big Sky players.

I think Damian Lillard might have something to say about that by the end of this season.


Also of interest...

A look back at the 2006 recruiting class, courtest of Ballin Is A Habit. I always find it interesting to see how the classes actually performed compared to what the scouting services thought they would do. Check it out.


Lastly, as fans of a small conference, we must support other small conference. One way to do that is to get to know the teams and the players of that conference. To that end, check out Rush The Court's summer check-in on the MAAC.

Enjoying Beautiful Colorado

My weekend was spent out at Castlewood Canyon State Park, enjoying scenery like this:

Hope your weekend was just as relaxing!`

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Weber State Recruit Gelaun Wheelwright

Gelaun Wheelwright will be a freshman next year, and will likely get a little bit of PT... but athletically, he has a chance to be a big time player in the Big Sky. He probably had the talent to play at a higher level, just had some problems with consistency. If he can reach his full potential, he will be one of the top guards in the Conference and provide a nice transition for the Wildcats for life after Damian Lillard.

Friday, August 12, 2011

6 North Dakota Students Sue The School Over Nickname

I think it is time for them to retire the nickname, but this seems a little bit silly.

FARGO, N.D. -- Six American Indian students at the University of North Dakota filed a federal lawsuit Thursday asking to eliminate the school's Fighting Sioux nickname, one day before state officials are scheduled to meet with NCAA officials about the moniker.

The complaint alleges that a new law requiring the school to keep the nickname violates the state constitution and reverses a court-ordered settlement between UND and the NCAA that retired the logo. The students want a court order directing the state Board of Higher education and UND to drop it for good.
As an alum, this debate has raged on for a long time, but I have to say this is the first time I have heard something of this nature:

In addition to their complaints about the state law and settlement agreement, the suit alleges that the nickname has had "a profoundly negative impact" on their self-image and psychological health, and has deprived them "of an equal educational experience and environment."
And once again, this is relevant to the Big Sky because of this:

The Big Sky Conference, which UND hopes to join next year, wants the issue resolved and said it could create problems with the school's conference membership.
I think I speak for a growing number of UND fans that think the time has come to retire the nickname. No matter how much pride many alumni (like myself) have in the nickname and believe that it stands for honor, pride, and integrity, there are simply not a lot of positive that can come from continuing the fight to keep the nickname.

Joe Lunardi Likes Montana in the Big Sky

OK, so this is a couple months old, but still thought it was interesting if only to see what outsiders think of the Big Sky.

In Lunardi's last Bracketology where he is looking toward next year, he has Montana as the Big Sky representative, placing them as a 15 seed. In his fictional universe, they would take on Arizona.

Thought it was moderately interesting (if only because the Big Sky doesn't get a lot of national press), and in the offseason, moderately interesting is worth a post.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Big Sky Efficiency Numbers Over The Past 5 Seasons

I thought it would be interested to look at the last 5 years of AdjO and AdjD* numbers for the Big Sky, and see if there are any trends or just interesting happenings. I think it turned out pretty interesting. Here are the numbers, with some thoughts:

Quick editor's note - If they are colored in green, they were the regular season conference champions that year. If they are colored in red, they had the worst record in the conference during the regular season. Simple enough.

Things I found interesting:
- Northern Colorado is the only team in the Conference to improve their AdjO each of the past 5 seasons. And as Assistant Coach Logan Bean told me, they have increased their RPI each of the last 5 years also. If they can improve both of those again this year, I will be EXTREMELY impressed.

- In 2009, Sacramento State had the worst offense of anyone in the conference during the 5 year span, and the second worst defense (behind Idaho State in 2010), and they predictably finished 2-27. However, according to KenPom's numbers, they were only the 8th worst team in the NCAA that year. Which means 7 other teams were horrible.

- Idaho State's AdjD of 115.7 in 2010 was the 23rd worst defense in the NCAA over the last 5 seasons. Somehow, they still won 7 games.

- Eastern Washington's potent offense in 2007 was led by a guy you might have heard of named Rodney Stuckey.

- Conversely, Montana's stellar defense the past 2 years has been led by the Big Sky career leader in blocks, Brian Qvale.

- In 2007, both Northern Arizona and Weber State, who tied for the regular season conference title, gave up more points per possession than they scored. On the one hand, that is almost impressive. On the other hand, it doesn't say a lot for the conference that season.

- Portland State in 2010 had the best offensive efficiency of any team over the past 5 years, but they still finished just 13-19 thanks to some terrible defense.

- Sacramento State over the past 5 seasons can be best described by this clip from Seinfeld. "Look away, I'm hideous!"

Best 5 seasons, AdjO
1. Portland St (2010) - 109.5
2. Eastern Washington (2007) - 108.3
3. Portland St (2009) - 107.5
4. Northern Arizona (2007) - 107.2
5. Portland St (200) - 106.9

Worst 5 seasons, AdjO
1. Sacramento St (2009) - 87.5
2. Sacramento St (2008) - 87.6
3. Sacramento St (2011) - 90.1
4. Northern Colorado (2007) - 91.1
5. Sacramento St (2010) - 91.4

Best 5 seasons, AdjD
1. Montana (2011) - 96.1
2. Weber St (2009) - 97.5
3. Montana (2010) - 98.2
4. Northern Colorado (2010) - 99.9
5. Northern Arizona (2011) - 100.5

Worst 5 seasons, AdjD
1. Idaho St (2010) - 115.7
2. Sacramento St (2009) - 114.3
3. Portland St (2011) - 113.8
4. Eastern Washington (2009) - 113.5
5. Portland St (2010) - 112.4

*If you don't know what these terms mean, check out this link from kenpom.

The Rise of Harvard

Fantastic article from Ballin' Is A Habit on the rise of Harvard, and the way that they have gone from 8-22 to overwhelming favorites in the Ivy League in just a few short seasons.

There isn't a program in the country whose stock is rising as quickly as Harvard's.

In 2007-08, Harvard won eight games. Fast forward three seasons, and the Crimson are struggling to convince high-major programs to schedule them for a non-conference game.
Check it out.

BJ Hill Helping Out The Football Team

BJ Hill is doing all he can to help UNC athletics across the board!

When it comes to shaping his new University of Northern Colorado football team, first-year head coach Earnest Collins is getting an assist from UNC men’s basketball coach B.J. Hill.

Collins is reading a book right now called “From Good to Great” that Hill gave to him. One of Collins’ favorite parts of the book is where the author talks about how expecting to be good can be the enemy to being great.
It remains to be seen whether Northern Colorado basketball will be great (or even good) this year, but a little inspiration reading never hurt anyone.

Jake Owsley Commits to Montana State

Some good news for Montana State, as JUCO big man Jake Owsley has committed to the Bobcats for the class of 2012.

I first saw this posted by mslacat on the Bobcats message board, and then saw it confirmed on MaxPreps.

Owsley won't be a star in the Big Sky, but he should be a solid big man for Brad Huse. Skilled big men are not exactly easy to come by in the Big Sky, and Owsley has some skill. For one of the best JUCO teams in the country, he averaged about 15 minutes a game during the season, and represented himself well when he got the chance to start a couple of games.

Owsley should compete for a starting spot this season at North Idaho, and then (I would guess) will be a fringe starter/first big off the bench once he gets to Bozeman. Either way, a quality signing by Huse to get a solid big man for depth. The Bobcats will be interesting this season with so many new guys, but they are shaping up to be very solid in 2012-13.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Southern Utah Looks Forward By Looking Back

As Southern Utah embarks on its final season as a member of the Summit League (in preparation for its entrance into the Big Sky Conference in 2012-13, here is a nice reflection on the memories for the T-Birds in the Summit, because you can't know where you're going until you know where you've been.

The glory moment for men's basketball at Southern Utah came with its Mid-Con championship in 2001. The T-Birds finished that year with a 25-6 record and got a bit of revenge by beating Valparaiso 62-59 in the tournament final in Fort Wayne, Ind., after losing to the Crusaders in the title game the season before.

SUU went on to the NCAA Tournament and nearly beat Boston College in a 3-14 first-round match-up.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

What Happened to Alpha N'Diaye?

Last season for Sacramento State, Alpha N'Diaye was (in fairly limited minutes), one of the best rebounders in the Big Sky, posting an OR% of 12.4% and a DR% of 24.4%, excellent numbers that would probably make him the best rebounder in the Big Sky heading into the season if he could extrapolate out in more minutes.

But, Sacramento State released its roster, and N'Diaye is not on it.

I haven't been able to find any information on it, so that is why I am writing - Does anyone know why he is not on the roster? I know he spent 2 years at a junior college and redshirted a year, so my hunch is that he simply graduated and moved onto other opportunities. But that is simply a hunch, and I am curious to find out if that is true.

I have sent an email to Coach Katz and sent Alpha a Facebook message (some great sleuthing there, to be sure), so hopefully we will find something out.

UPDATE: I have been able to confirm that N'Diaye has been declared ineligible this season and will not play for Sacramento State. Big loss for them, as he would have been a nice piece of the frontcourt during his senior season. Hopefully this will be a wakeup call for him to get focused.

Calaen Robinson Commits to Arizona St

He was being recruited by Weber State and Northern Arizona. Robinson is a 6'3'' guard who was named one of the top 10 prospects in the West by

A source confirmed that BYU had offered Robinson a scholarship. He was also drawing interest from St. Mary's, Weber State, UNLV, Northern Arizona and others.

North Dakota Highlights Versus Air Force

On a lot of teams and players it is tough to find a whole lot of video to see the players in action. Fortunately, UND's athletic site has some good videos, including this one of highlights of the game against Air Force in the tournament. You can tell it is a team that gained confidence as the year went on.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Luke Winn on Recruits and Transfers

This has been traveling around the college basketball blogging world, but Luke Winn had a great, great article studying recruiting and transfers among the top 100 recruits over the past 5 years.

To summarize:

It's irresistible to focus on the high-profile and the extreme, because they make great column fodder, but that doesn't give us a real grasp on the issue. What is normal behavior for modern, top-100 recruits? How often are they switching high schools, how frequently are they decommitting from colleges, at what rate are they transferring, and why? If we're going to call something an epidemic, we need comprehensive evidence. The Commitment Project is's search for answers.
Winn is one of the best in the business, and this article is more than worthy of your attention.

Another Update on Lance Allred

Posted a little story on Lance Allred a few weeks ago, and now there is some good info on him in The Japan Times:

Former NBA center Lance Allred, who played three games for the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2007-08 season, is in talks with the Kyoto Hannaryz and is expected to sign a contract, sources have told The Japan Times.

The NBA's first legally deaf player, Allred, 30, began his college career at Utah before moving on to Weber State.

Allred has played in the NBA Development League, Italy and, most recently, for the Otago Nuggets in New Zealand. He has also penned an autobiography, "Longshot: The Adventures of a Deaf Fundamentalist Mormon Kid and His Journey to the NBA." ...

An Early Look at Sacramento State's Schedule

It could be a long season in Sac-Town, as the Hornets are coming off of a miserable season and fan interest and expectations seems to be at a low. But alas, hope springs eternal in college basketball, and so let us look if the schedule provides a glimmer of hope for the Hornets.

The good news is that they have a lot of winnable games in the non-conference. Home dates against teams such as Menlo, Central Arkansas, McNeese State, Cal Maritime, and SE Missouri should be easy wins. If not, it is safe to say that the program is in even worse shape than we could have guessed.

Even though I have railed on some teams in the conference for their embarrassingly easy non-conference games (presumably due to not being able to get anyone better scheduled at home), I actually like it for Sacramento St. After a 7-21 season that features one of the worst offenses and defenses in America, it makes sense to schedule some winnable games that can get some confidence going early on in the year. They will also get a home game against future Big Sky opponent North Dakota, which should be an interesting matchup.

On the road, they didn't challenge themselves too much, but again, I think that's the right move. Their two major games are against Washington St. and Oklahoma, neither of which look like they will be Tourney teams. They will also take on UC Davis, Cal Poly, and Cal State Bakersfield. Again, three games that could be won by them.

With 11 non-conference games (not counting their Bracket Buster game), Sacramento State should be over .500. Even if all of the wins are against bad opponents, that would be a nice little spark for the program that has finished in the single digits in the win column for the past 5 seasons.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Article on the Transfer of Justin Crogsile

I wrote about the transfer of Justin Crogsile a while ago, but there is a solid article on talking about the transfer as well with the interesting story of how he wound up in Cheney:

Crosgile was accidentally discovered by EWU coach Jim Hayford, who called a local AAU coach about a different issue.

"I told the coach I was looking for a point guard and he knew Justin was looking to transfer," said Hayford, who previously coached for the last 10 years at Whitworth College (Wash.), a Division III powerhouse, before being hired on March 29. "If I was here a few years ago and trying to recruit Justin, I'd be going against Saint Joseph's and St. John's.

"I honestly believe Justin is one of the Top-50 point guards in the country."
The whole article is definitely worth a read to learn a little bit more about a guy that should be an impact player for Jim Hayford next season.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A Basketball Court That Could Challenge Eastern Washington's Football Field

This is only tangentially related to Big Sky Basketball... but these are the things you post about in the middle of the dog days of summer.

Take a look at the proposed court for Northwestern basketball, which could rival the Eastern Washington football stadium if that is the design they go with.

You know, I love weird and quirky arenas and uniforms as much as the next guy... but that proposed court is UGLY!

How Good With Michael Harthun Be?

You might not know him really well yet, but I am guessing Michael Harthun will be a key factor in whether Portland St. will get back into the top 3 of the Big Sky, or if they will continue to flounder in the middle of the conference.

In case you don't know, Harthun spent two seasons at Washington St before transferring to Portland State after his sophomore season. He sat out last season, and will be eligible to play (and figures to be a key contributor) for the Vikings this season.

He didn't contribute a lot at Wazzu, but he comes with strong high school credentials. First, from the Portland St news release:

Harthun was a prep star in the state of Oregon at South Medford High School, where his team played for two state titles, winning one his junior season. The 6-3 guard scored 1,949 points as a four-year starter, second only to Duke forward -- and former teammate -- Kyle Singler. Harthun won a myriad of honors at South Medford and was a three-time All-State selection.
Then, his Scout profile:

Excellent guard prospect. Confident shooter from the perimeter, especially deep. Can shoot it from different spots on the court. Could wind up being a point or combo guard.
Safe to say that not a lot of players with his high school credentials wind up in the Big Sky Conference, which is why Vikings fans should be excited about him. (Sidenote... this blog posting from 4 years ago seems to think rather highly of him)!

However, from his two years in Pullman, it is clear that while he is an important piece of the puzzle, it doesn't look like he is a program saver. For his career (in limited sample size), he shot about 30%, and his efficiency numbers last year were pretty bad. Despite being the best player in WSU's 2008 recruiting class, he couldn't find consistent minutes or earn a spot at the high conference level.

But things should be different at Portland St. With Charles Odum and Chehales Tapscott entering their senior years, Harthun just needs to be a good role player, and he should have the talent to be that. They will look to him to provide outside shooting and scoring punch, and if he can fill that role, the Vikings will have a great chance to sneak into the top 3 in the Big Sky.

What do you think are reasonable expectations for Harthun? Can he show the talent that made him a 3-4 star recruit? This blog will be watching closely.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Scott Bamforth Game-Winner

Obviously this video is from last year, but it was one of the most exciting plays you'll ever see in college basketball, so thought it would be fun to re-watch!

(And UNC fans can't even be too broken up about it, since they're season still ended well, and they got the last laugh by winning the Big Sky Tournament!)

Damian Lillard Chosen for Adidas Nations Camp

This is a pretty cool honor for Lillard:

Lillard is one of 29 college players chosen to participate in the prestigious Adidas Nations showcase camp in Los Angeles, along with stars like Ohio State's Jared Sullinger, Thomas Robinson of Kansas and Mason Plumlee of Duke.

This is Lillard's second invite to the camp, where he will serve as a counselor for top high school and international prospects as well participate in drills and games with other NCAA standouts.
Lillard is definitely getting the most publicity of any single player in the Big Sky Conference, which makes sense. He was the POY in 2009-10 in the Conference, and was the Preseason POY last year before getting injured. It is likely between him and Will Cherry of Montana to be the Preseason POY this season.

This honor is great for WSU basketball as well:

"This is a high-level deal," Duft said. "It's outstanding for our program, because it shows that we're able to attract quality high school players in recruiting and once they're here, they're able to develop and get that game exposure right away that Damian wanted. As a freshman, he was counted on to be such a big part of our team, so he was able to develop his game quicker than maybe going to a really big school and having to come off the bench. He was able to jump in the mix and expand his game."
Any chance to play against the best competition in college hoops is always good, so an experience like this should only benefit Lillard.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Weber State Offers Scholarship to Eric Mika

From the Salt Lake Tribune:

Guards Nick Emery and T.J. Haws are obviously the prized recruits coming out of Quincy Lewis's Knights program, but junior transfer center Eric Mika isn't too far off. Mika, who played his first two years at Waterford, played with the Knights throughout the summer.

Weber State and Utah State recently became the first two schools to offer the 6-foot-8 center.
Looks like Mika averaged a cool 17 and 12 as a sophomore last year, so he is obviously very talented. He would be a very nice get for the Wildcats.

Another Reason Why Mid-Major Basketball Is Great

You will get less of players and parents like this as you move on down to lower levels of college basketball, where the recruiting is more about fit and guys that are overlooked, and less about hype and rankings.

Initially he tried to avoid the appearance of favoritism by opting not to rank Jerron's age group, but he said he soon changed his mind. Clark Francis, the editor and publisher of The Hoop Scoop, a scouting service that offers annual subscriptions for $499, dropped Jerron in his national rankings, from 10th to 50th. This infuriated Love. In response, he posted his own set of rankings, with Jerron perched atop the list. Love also fired away at Francis on Middle School Elite, describing him as "notorious" and as someone who makes a "mockery of the game."
Which reminds me - if you haven't read "Play Their Hearts Out: A Coach, His Star Recruit, and the Youth Basketball Machine" by George Dohrmann, run (don't walk) and go get it. Especially if you don't know much about AAU basketball, it will shock you.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Big Sky Coaching Primer

Here is a quick 1-2 paragraph rundown of the head coaches in the Big Sky, ranked in the order that I would want them coaching my favorite team. Would love to hear your thoughts on the rankings, and more specifically, why I am wrong!

9. Joe O'Brien (Idaho St)
It has been a tough 5 seasons for O'Brien as head coach of the Bengals, as he currently sports a career record of 54-97. He has a solid head coaching track record at lower levels, but simply hasn't been able to recruit enough to have a successful D-1 team. Word is that he is still recruiting guys to play this season. In the final year of his contract, it seems unlikely O'Brien will be back next season barring a miracle turnaround. Fan support is on life support, as attendance dropped last season, and seems unlikely to improve much this year.

8. Brian Katz (Sacramento St)
This will be Katz 4th year in Sacramento, and he has a record there of 18-69. To be fair, he inherited a program that was in a mess, and has built them back to semi-respectability. Like O'Brien, he has a strong history in the junior college ranks, but has yet to see that pay off for his alma mater. His teams have consistently been near the bottom of the NCAA in terms of offensive and defensive efficiency. He will be given a couple more seasons at least (I think) since the program he inherited was in rough shape, but it would be a good start to reach the double digit win mark.

7. Brad Huse (Montana St)
Here is where the rankings get tough. Huse coached previously at Jamestown College (ND), and as an assistant with Montana St and Montana, but has struggled to consistently find success in Bozeman. Despite the presence of two All-Conference performers in Bobby Howard and Erik Rush for much of his tenure, Huse has a career Bobcat record of 69-83 in 5 seasons, taking over a program that was a game over .500 in the 3 seasons before his arrival. Huse has put together a couple of solid offensive teams, but Montana St has consistently been poor defensively since his arrival. He has a lot of new recruits this year, so it will be interesting to see if they can turn the program around. If not, Huse might start to feel the heat.

6. Tyler Geving (Portland St)
This will be an important year for Geving. His first two seasons have not gone very well, but he was handed a program that lost a lot of players and was under some NCAA sanctions after the departure of Ken Bone. While his teams have been some of the worst defensively the NCAA has seen, he has still managed to get them towards the middle of the Big Sky. He has also had some success recruiting (especially in JUCO and with transfers), that could pay dividends this year as Portland St looks to get back towards the top of the Big Sky. It will take a little more time, but I suspect if I redo this list in a year we might Geving a little higher up.

5. Jim Hayford (Eastern Washington)
Hayford obviously has not coached a game for the Eagles, so this is based on how I think he will do. At Division III Whitworth, he compiled a .792 winning percentage in 10 seasons, which tells me he can coach basketball and get his players to respond to him. I don't care what level of basketball it is, that is an impressive coaching record. He has also been able to get and retain solid recruits, as shown with his pickup of Collin Chiverton. At only 43, he could have a bright future ahead of him.

4. Mike Adras (Northern Arizona)
Adras has been at the helm for the Lumberjacks for 11 years, an impressive run no matter the program. While NAU has had a couple of down years in his tenure, they have experienced more solid seasons since he became the head coach, including back-to-back Big Sky Conference regular season titles in the middle of the 2000's. Earlier in his career, his teams got the ball up and down the court quickly, but for the past few years he has slowed the tempo down a bit. His teams are better offensively than defensively, and he seems to make it a priority to recruit solid outside shooters, though his teams don't shoot a ton of 3s.

3. BJ Hill (Northern Colorado)
He has had only one season as head coach of the Bears, making it tough to evaluate him, but it's tough to argue with the success of making the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history. Hill had spent all of his career as an assistant coach, and at age 38 has a reputation of being a solid recruiter (his first full class looks to be good, with 5 members led by Brandon Keane). The worst case scenario for them is probably similar to NDSU, where Saul Phillips took over for head coach Tim Miles and led a team built by Miles to the NCAA Tournament, but has struggled since. I think Hill has a little better pedigree and should see more success. It will be interesting to see how the Bears fare this year after facing a lot of roster turnover.

2. Wayne Tinkle (Montana)
Tinkle has a career record of 91-64 (51-29 in the Big Sky), and briefly flirted with the Fresno St. job this offseason. Tinkle is a former Grizzlies player and Montana alum, so they are all hoping he will stick around for a while (and not follow in the footsteps of Larry Krystowiak). His teams have a reputation for hard-nosed defense, as they were easily the best defensive team in the BSC last year (with thanks due to Brian Qvale). He has also put together some solid offensive teams, but it is hard to notice because his teams play a slow, grinding pace. But if he keeps winning like he has to start his career, it doesn't matter what pace his teams play, just that it continues to work.

1. Randy Rahe (Weber St)
It was tough to choose between Rahe and Tinkle, but I think Rahe has been a little more successful than Tinkle and has done a little better recruiting. His career record is 95-61 (60-20 in conference play). He has been named the Coach of the Year in the BSC 3 times, and 3 times he has had the Conference POY. Almost as importantly, he has gotten the fan base fired up about the Wildcats, as attendance has increased during his tenure, and Weber State leads the Big Sky in attendance. Like Tinkle, he has flirted with other jobs as well, and WSU fans are always a little nervous that he could leave. One thing is for sure, as long as Rahe is around, it seems the Wildcats will be contenders, and they are one of the favorites again this season.

I would love to hear thoughts on this. How does this list look, and what would you change around?