One weekend of Big Sky (and college basketball) play is in the book, so let's take a peek at some of the early storylines.
1. Montana loses, but looks impressive - On paper it was a 72-65 loss to Colorado State, but Wayne Tinkle has to be pleased with his team's effort. They were undermanned because of injury (Will Cherry is out and Spencer Coleman is bothered by an ankle injury) and poor reffing (which caused lots of foul trouble issues for guys like Kareem Jamar and Mathias Ward), but battled a tournament-quality team the whole game. Their two young guards showed they are capable of being really good players this year.
2. Weber State and Northern Colorado are offensive juggernauts* - *At least, they are when they play NAIA teams. Weber State scored 110 points in a 58 point win over Arizona Christian, while Northern Colorado scored 127 points in a 46 point win over Southwest College. UNC shot 71% from the floor, while WSU was held to only 64% shooting.
3. Northern Arizona Could Be Better Than People Think - They lost by 10 to Oregon, but it was a tight game. NAU took 67-66 lead with 5:44 to go, before Oregon was able to go on a 17-6 run to close the game. I have been talking up DeWayne Russell a bit in the preseason, and he showed why, as he had 15 second half points to help keep the game tight. He could win a Big Sky scoring title at some point in his career at NAU.
4. Expect the Expected - The rest of the weekend's games were fairly undramatic, as the teams that were expected to win did, and the teams that could be expected to lose did. Here were the outcomes:
- Montana State loses to Seattle 87-72. Problems abound for Coach Brad Huse as MSU had 28 turnovers, but Paul Egwuonwu's double-double is a bright spot.
- Eastern Washington loses to Washington State 88-69. Collin Chiverton played just six minutes, but EWU hoisted 39 threes. I know Jim Hayford loves the three ball, but they will need to find some balance there.
- Idaho State loses to Utah State 56-48. They have to shore up the rebounding but a nice defensive effort. Stat sheet stuffer Tomas Sanchez with 9 points, 7 assists, 3 rebounds, 4 steals in his debut.
- North Dakota loses to Kansas State 85-52 - A loss was to be expected in Manhattan, but rough first showing for UND. Still no word on Jaron Nash.
- Southern Utah loses to Gonzaga 103-65. Turnovers were the big issue, as the T'Birds coughed it up 28 times in defeat.
- Sacramento State beats UC Merced 96-62. Ho hum. Nice showing in victory, which was to be expected.
- Portland State beats Pacific (OR) 77-58. Like Sac State, took care of business against a lower level team.
Anything else stand out from the first weekend?
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