At the end of my Big Sky preview, I made the remark that the Big Sky would be even better next year, and categorized the teams a little bit. Today, I just wanted to follow up on that with a little explanation for why I put teams where I did.
Obviously better next year:
- Idaho State - They lost a lot of talent heading into this year, which is why they are being picked so low. But Bill Evans is upgrading the talent, which will be a big help. He should also be better with another year of guys learning his system, which is why I expect them to be improved next season.
- Northern Arizona - They lose Gabe Rogers and Stallon Saldivar, but reinforcements are coming, via recruits and redshirts (such as Cameron Forte, who has to sit out this year after transferring). I expect the talent level and depth to continue to get better at NAU. Even though they will be a bit inexperienced next year, they should be better.
- Northern Colorado - This is the most obvious one. They return a ton of experience this year (with only one senior on last year’s roster), and will return EVERYONE next year (no seniors on the roster). They will be a deep team this year, and very well could head into next season as the favorite to win the conference.
- North Dakota - Like UNC, they do not lose much talent after this year, barring unforeseen circumstances. They have four seniors on the roster, but all are rotational guys. There is a good chance that all of their starters will be juniors, which would set them up to be a very dangerous and experienced team heading into next season.
- Portland State - They lose a few starters off of this year’s team, but they should be better. Guys like Gary Winston and Dre Winston are really talented, and should be a formidable backcourt duo with another year of experience. Also, they have a good crop of juniors this year that will make up for the production of the guys they lose.
Potentially better next year:
- Eastern Washington - The only reason this is potentially better rather than definitely better is because they lose Collin Chiverton, one of the best scorers in the conference. But still, they have a lot of freshmen this year, and guys like Daniel Hill/Venky Jois/Thomas Reuter could be on their way to being stars in the Big Sky as sophomores.
- Montana State - This one is questionable, because they lose senior talent. But as long as Antonio Biglow is back for his senior year, they have enough pieces in place to get even better next season.
- Weber State - Scott Bamforth will be gone, and he will be a unique player to replace. But with Gelaun Wheelwright, Davion Berry, and Kyle Tresnak back, they won’t hurt for offense. They also have a couple of really good guards coming in next season, so they could be even deeper than they already will be this season.
Potentially worse next year:
- Montana - They lose Will Cherry and Mathias Ward, which will be tough. They have pieces in place to replace them… Keron DeShields and Jordan Gregory at the one (which is one of the most interesting storylines early in this year), and potentially Jake Wiley up front. But those two pieces are simply going to be extremely difficult to replace, even with the security of having Kareem Jamar around for one more year.
- Southern Utah - They will lose Jackson Stevenett and Damon Heuir, which means they might have to take a step back next year before they can take a step forward. Nick Robinson should get them to be a consistently solid program, but it might take a few years to get that level of talent and consistency there.
Obviously worse next year:
- Sacramento State - Simply put, nobody in the conference will lose as much as production as the Hornets will up front, with Joe Eberhard, Konner Veteto, and John Dickson all seniors. That is tough to replace. They should have a talented and deep backcourt (Dylan Garrity, Jackson Carbajal, Mikh McKinney, Cody Demps), but the key will be finding production up front.
Thoughts? Where do you disagree?
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