Friday, August 31, 2012

Idaho State Reportedly Signs Naveij Walters

This is old news to Idaho State fans, but the Bengals have apparently signed forward Naveij Walters, according to the Jamaica BBall Association.

Naveij Walters formerly of Belair High accepts Idaho State U as his D1 scholarship. Risks remain as the NCAA give him 1 year eligibility.
As the quote says, he will have one year of eligibility remaining, again, according to that twitter account.

Walters is 6'5'', but appears to play a bit bigger than his height. In 28 games last year, he averaged 13.3 PPG and 7.1 rebounds per contest. He also shot 56% from the field.

ISU is a team without a ton of size heading into next season, so it's important to find a guy like that could potentially play a 4 spot in a small ball lineup. With his rebounding skills, he could give them that option. He only took two three-pointers last season, so it is clear that he prefers playing near the basket.

Anybody hearing anything else about Walters?

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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Northern Colorado's Trip to Australia

CBS had a look at Northern Colorado's trip to Australia, including some quotes from head coach BJ Hill.

What Hill learned: "Last year we had five guys going through the same adjustment all at once. The year before, we had four seniors and last year's group thought they knew what to expect last year, but they didn't really know. I think know these guys understand it better. They took a punch on the trip and fought back. Last year they took the same kind of punch and didn't quite know what to do."

Who stood out: "Derrick Barden. He was a third-team junior college All-American who was the first person to average 20 points and 10 boards at Midland since Larry Johnson. He's undersized, probably only about 6-foot-4, but he averaged a double-double against the two toughest teams over there. I didn't think he'd be able to go right in and do that against pros."

Biggest concern: "Defense. Valuing defense more. Scoring isn't our problem, but we need to take more pride and show more effort on the defensive side of the ball. We did a better job on the trip, but we've still got to improve in that aspect."
Jeff Goodman of CBS also had some solid notes on the trip. A look at a few of them in more detail.

- The only significant loss from last year's team was that of starting power forward Mike Proctor, who averaged 9.5 points and 6.8 boards and was an honorable mention all-league guy. However, look for Barden to slide into Proctor's spot and the Bears shouldn't miss a beat. In fact, it'll likely be an upgrade.
I heard similar good things about Barden when he was signed... a JUCO recruiting expert told me he will be a big-time player in the Big Sky. He averaged 20 and 12 last year. In my mind, he is the favorite for Newcomer of the Year in the Big Sky.

- Sophomore point guard Tevin Svihovec tied for the team lead in scoring and Hill was extremely complimentary about his performance on the trip. "He was our best defender on the trip," Hill said. "He's a tough kid and just wants to compete."
Svihivoec emerged as the go-to guy for the Bears down the stretch last season, so it is no surprise that he led the charge here. The Bears will be a very good offensive team, but if they are going to compete for a conference championship, they need to get better and a lot tougher defensively. This sounds like a good start. If the Bears will have a successor to Devon Beitzel, it looks like Svihovec is the guy.

- Junior guard Tate Unruh has made strides -- both emotionally and physically. "When we recruited him, he was 5-foot-11 and 145 pounds. Opey Taylor. He looked like he was 12. He's 6-foot-4 now and you can see he's starting to get that much-needed confidence. In the first game on the trip, they really took it to him -- but he responded so well in the next game. He dug in and got back up after a punch."
Unruh can be huge for them because he is as pure of a shooter as there is in the Big Sky. He is someone you can't cheat an inch off, because he will bury any look. If he gets that confidence, and more importantly, adds some strength (he has grown but was still very wiry last year), he can average 15 points a game in this conference.

- The X-factor for the team could be 6-foot-5 sophomore forward Tim Huskisson, who averaged 6.5 points as a freshman while starting about half the team's games. "He's the guy who looks like a high-major player when he walks into the gym," Hill said. "He's 6-5 or 6-6 and has long arms. He was effective against Marquette and Iowa State last year, but like your typical freshman, he hit the wall halfway through the season. He needs to play with more confidence."
I said all last year that Huskisson may be the most important piece for them to take the next step, because he added something different from every other player on the roster. Last year, UNC had a lot of skill players, but they didn't have any plus athletes other than Huskisson. He was raw last year as expected from a true freshman, but he has a chance to make the leap because he is so gifted.

- Another player who could change the complexion of the team is 6-foot junior Paul Garnica, a big-time scorer coming out of high school in San Antonio. "He's so, so talented," Hill said.
Garnica is an interesting player. At times, he will look like an all-conference guy. He is a good shooter, penetrator, and you get the feeling he could be near the top of the league in steals. However, he does things that have to be maddening for the coaching staff. He loses concentration defensively, and offensively he has a bad habit of going for the flashy play rather than the solid play. If he can break those bad habits and keep improving the good habits, he is talented enough to be an all-conference player as well.

There is certainly a lot to like about the Bears, and the more I think about them, the more I think they will be (at least) the third best team in the Big Sky.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Nice Article on Wayne Tinkle

Last week Greg Rachac of the Billings Gazette had a nice article on Montana head coach Wayne Tinkle.

From the NCAA’s ongoing investigation of the athletic department to the star quarterback’s felony rape charge to the federal inquiry into the school itself, UM is wading through uncharted waters of scrutiny while trying to turn the tide of public perception.

Right now, there might not be a better ambassador for an embattled campus than head men’s basketball coach Wayne Tinkle. A former Griz standout and UM alum who is the reigning coach of the year in the Big Sky Conference, Tinkle is one man who still holds the university in high esteem.
Obviously Tinkle is a great basketball coach, but just as importantly, he is as good of a guy off the court. This article does a nice job of highlighting all that he does, and the positive impact he has had on Montana.

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Monday, August 27, 2012

Randy Rahe at Coaching Clinic in Florida

From Andy Katz:

Wyoming head coach and former Florida assistant coach Larry Shyatt has been organizing a coaching clinic for fellow colleagues the past 29 years, with this year's event the ninth straight in Gainesville. The clinic has been a major hit for coaches in their professional growth. NBA and college coaches get together to discuss their own specialties. The roster of coaches that were attendance this week from college basketball reached all levels with Shyatt, Florida’s Billy Donovan, Purdue’s Matt Painter, Pitt’s Jamie Dixon, San Diego’s Bill Grier, UTEP’s Tim Floyd, UNC-Wilmington’s Buzz Peterson, Wofford’s Mike Young, UCF’s Donnie Jones, Bucknell’s Dave Paulsen and Weber State’s Randy Rahe highlighting the list of head college coaches. Shyatt, Dixon and Grier said they were enriched by the clinic and it aided in their professional development.
I love hearing about coaches going to things like this, because it shows they are really serious about becoming better coaches. Hopefully it will help Rahe come back and become even an even better coach than he already is.

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Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Peek at Sacramento State's Schedule

We'll slowly start to take a look at the Big Sky schedules, and next up is Sacramento State, who released theirs last month. They will have 20 conference games obviously, and then four non-conference home games, and five non-conference road games.

If you are a fan of the Big Sky, what I am about to tell you will come as no surprise - there is nothing inspiring about their home games against non-conference opponents. Like many other programs in the conference, they have trouble drawing quality opponents there. Here is the slate:

11/9 - UC Merced
11/14 - CSU Bakersfield
11/20 - UC Davis
11/27 - Dominican

That is not exactly going to draw big crowds. UC Davis is a rivalry game, but they finished last in the Big West last season. Cal State Bakersfield is an independent that finished 16-15 last year. Cal-Merced finished 5-7 (6-15 overall) in something called the Cal Pac Conference. Dominican University finished 11-18 overall in whatever division they are in.

I know it's tough to draw good teams to your house, but that is pretty bad.

On the road, things look better. They go to Utah, in a game they are certainly capable of winning against a Pac-12 team. Arizona State will be a good test, but they are a low-level BCS team. San Jose State struggled in the WAC last year, but it would still be a nice win over them. Central Arkansas is a DI team as well. Then there is the Bracket Busters game. It is a pretty good balance between being super difficult, and playing more cupcakes.

The Hornets could have their best team in a long time, and they will be gunning for the .500 or better mark. They should get some help from their home games out of conference, where they could certainly run the table. If they can win 3 of the road games as well, then we will be in business.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Reranking the 2010 Recruiting Class

It takes (at least) two years to properly evaluate a recruiting class*, which is why I thought it might be fun to take a look back at 2010, and rank the recruiting classes from 1-9. Based on my research, this is who was in each team's class (unfortunately there was no Big Sky basketball blog to lay it all out!)... let me know if I have missed anyone.

I tried to balance quality/quantity... for example, Northern Colorado hit on 2/2 recruits, where Idaho State was more like 4/8... ISU scored more rotational players, but I ranked UNC ahead based on their hit rate (and the quality of guys they got). Anyway, feel free to debate.

1. Montana
Recruits: Kareem Jamar, Vaughn Autry, Billy Reader, Michael Weisner, Art Steward, Jordan Wood
Analysis: Looking at this listing of recruits, it is no surprise that Montana won the Big Sky last season with one of their best seasons in school history. Kareem Jamar is the headliner, as he is a potential Big Sky POY player. Art Steward was a two year starter, and added good defense and toughness to the team that was critical last year. Mike Weisner gave them some solid minutes last year as a redshirt freshman, and should have a solid career. Jordan Wood was a contributor, and was never expected to have a big role. Of the misses, Vaughn Autry transferred after one year, and Billy Reader transferred this past season after struggling academically (though he looked like he would have made an impact on the court). That's a good ratio, especially when Jamar is in the class.

2. Weber State
Recruits: Scott Bamforth, Kyle Tresnak, Jordan Richardson, James Hajek
Analysis: The Wildcats were 4/4 and arguably have a claim to the top spot on the list. Scott Bamforth was an all-conference player his first year, and should be a huge part of the offense as a senior, as well as being the best shooter in the Big Sky. Kyle Tresnak is developing, but already he may be the best low-post offensive player in the Big Sky. Jordan Richardson is a good rotation guard who may have a chance to start, and James Hajek is a tough big man, though he will be battling back from injury. It's no surprise that WSU and Montana are the two best teams in the conference.

3. Portland State
Recruits: Chehales Tapscott, Charles Odum, Brandon Cataldo, Terry Coleman
Analysis: Can't really argue with this class. Chehales Tapscott and Charles Odum gave the Vikings two stellar seasons, and they are two of the top three players leaving the Big Sky this year. Brandon Cataldo has battled injuries throughout his career, but he has a chance to be a solid contributor for them. All in all though, any class with Odum and Tapscott in it gets praise here, as they helped make PSU a league contender again.

4. Northern Colorado
Recruits: Paul Garnica, Tevin Svihovec
Analysis: This class is light on quantity, but scored two quality players for the Bears. Tevin Svihovec was one of the top three freshman in the conference last year (after a redshirt year), and has become the go-to guy on the roster for UNC. Look for him to potentially be an all-conference performer this season. Paul Garnica has been a bit of an up-and-down player during his career, but he is a playmaker offensively who had a much improved jumpshot as a sophomore. If he can get a little stronger defensively, he can be a good starter.

5. Idaho State
Recruits: Chase Grabau, Kenny McGowen, Brandon Glanz, Andre Hatchett, Justin Brunswick, Nick Mason, Kami Gawrzydek, Abner Moreira
Analysis: They hit on a bunch of guys, and this class might be judged a little higher if other classes around it were better, as these guys made up the bulk of ISU's production last year. Chase Grabau was a stud for them last season, and had a nice two-year career. Kenny McGowen hit tons of big shots for them last year, but was a bit of a gunner last season. Abner Moreira was a solid rebounder for them. Andre Hatchett played a ton of minutes for them last year, but that might say more about the ISU talent level than his talent level, though he will still be a big part of the program with two years of eligibility left.  Beyond that, with the transfer of Brandon Glanz, Nick Mason is the only other member of the class still around, but he doesn't really project to have much of an impact. This class had some solid performers, but had a poor overall record thanks in part to poor recruiting in classes around it.

6. Sacramento State
Recruits: Jackson Carbajal, Kendall Groom, Heath Hoffman, Josh McCarver, Zach Nelson, Antoine Proctor, Konner Veteto
Analysis: Konner Veteto is the cream of the crop here, after turning in a solid junior season for the Hornets. He has some room to improve, but is making strides to be one of the best bigs in the conference. Heath Hoffman was a solid role player for the them last year, and will have to be replaced. Jackson Carbajal made a nice leap from his freshman to sophomore year, and could be a solid scorer for them (though his 48% FT shooting is a bit puzzling). Kendell Groom had a promising freshman year, but did not seem to progress a ton in his second season, and I am not sure where he fits in the backcourt rotation. Nelson, and Proctor went the way of so many other Brian Katz recruits over the last few years - out of the program.

EDIT: In my original post, I wrote that Josh McCarver left the program similar to Nelson and Proctor. I am not really sure why I had that in my brain because he was a solid rotational big man for them last year, starting 16 games. My mistake, and my apologies to Mr. McCarver and Sac State for the error!

7. Montana State
Recruits: Tre Johnson, Shawn Reid, Jordan Salley, Chris McCall, Casey Trujeque, Blake Brumwell, Jordain Allou, Rod Singleton
Analysis: Like ISU, this class had some impact players, but also a lot of misses. Rod Singleton was a two-year starter, though maligned at times by the fans. Still, two years of starting is good to get from a recruit. Jordain Allou was a nice rotational big man for them, and has to be considered a success. Shawn Reid was developing into a good player, but unfortunately his best years will be played somewhere else. Tre Johnson was solid last year and would have likely been a starter for them, but of course he was kicked off the team. Blake Brumwell is still on the roster, but gets limited run. Chris McCall and Casey Trujeque transferred before last year, while Jordan Salley never made it to MSU, and is part of Sacramento State's recruiting class this year. Overall, not the impact you want to see from an eight man recruiting class.

8. Northern Arizona
Recruits: Gaellen Bewernick, Rafail Tsourakis, Danny Redmon
Analysis: Gaellen Bewernick is the jewel of the class... after a good redshirt freshman season last year, he should be a solid player for them. He started 16 games and had 5.1 rebounds per game, posting very nice rebounding rates for a 6'6'' frosh. He is also efficient offensively, and should be a building block for new coach Jack Murphy. The other two guys are no longer with the program.

9. Eastern Washington
Recruits: Jaylen Henry, Geoffrey Allen, Carter Warnock, Rakim Brown

(UPDATE: I made a large error on Eastern Washington's class, as I omitted four players - Cliff Colimon, Cliff Ederaine, Willie Hankins, and Rashano McRae. An explanation for this can be found here.

Obviously this would make a huge difference in where EWU would be ranked, as I would likely put them at least third or fourth. Cliff Colimon was one of the best PGs in the conference last year, and Cliff Ederaine was one of the best multi-dimensional forwards. You can read more of my thoughts on Colimon here, and my thoughts on Ederaine here. Hankins is also a very talented player with a bright future, but it unfortunately will not be with the Eagles, as he has transferred out. It seems possible (if not likely) that he would have stayed with the program had there not been a coaching change, but alas, his impact at EWU was minimal.

I regret the mistake, which was a large one.)

Editor's Note: I corrected a misstatement, when I said that Kendell Groom had transferred away from Sacramento State. I have fixed the error now. Much thanks to SD Hornet for catching that.

*This fact likely won't stop me from trying to rank this year's classes at some point of this offseason

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Montana State Signs Transfer Forward Eric Norman

Montana State's busy offseason continued on Monday as they signed SMU transfer forward Eric Norman, as well as losing assistant coach George Pfeifer. Norman will join the MSU program as a sophomore, and presumably (though not confirmed), he will have to sit out a season.

Norman was a solid prep player, averaging 19 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists per game as a senior. However, he only played in nine games last season for SMU, and decided to transfer after the hiring of Larry Brown.

“This is a great addition for our program for a lot of reasons,” Huse said. “He is a great kid and I like that he brings more size to our front line, and since we don't have much in the way of Division I experience on the front line adding Eric enhances that group. He was heavily recruited out of high school and he is a late bloomer physically, which we will benefit from.”
Two other items of note regarding Norman.

- He is listed in the Montana State article as being 6'9'' and 220 pounds, which would make him a legit power forward, size-wise. However, he is listed on SMU's website as being 6'6'', 195 pounds, which obviously is a pretty substantial difference. Huse calls him a late bloomer, but that would certainly be a lot of late blooming.

- As Gidal Kaiser notes, it brings up a question on who is not going to have a scholarship. The NCAA limit is 13 scholarships, and as of now there are 14 known players with scholarships. The rumors are that either Jeff Budinich (who has been in the news lately) may be taken off scholarship, or that Blake Brumwell (who sees fairly limited action and seems to be buried on the depth chart) may transfer to a smaller school. It will be interesting to see how that shakes out.

EDIT: For point number two, Gidal Kaiser has confirmed that Jeff Budinich will not be on athletic scholarship.

EDIT 2: According to Area Codes Basketball, Norman will be eligible to play right away.

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Weber State is the 39th Best Program of Last 50 Years

So says ESPN.

Like only they can (you can interpret that however you want), they have come up with a complex formula to determine the best college basketball programs of the last 50 years. From that algorithm, Weber State comes in at number 39.

Positives: Big Sky domination, as its 20 regular-season titles rank eighth most in the country over the past half-century. Fourteen conference tournament titles is tied for 11th most.

Negatives: For a program with 14 NCAA tournament appearances, it has only five wins in non-consolation games and two regional semifinal appearances. Also lost 11 points due to sanctions in 1996 and 2006.

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Montana State Basketball Schedule Released

Montana State has released their basketball schedule, which features nine non-conference games. Truth be told, the schedule is not too bad (save for a couple of home games against Northwest Indian College and Montana Tech... and no, I have no idea what level of college basketball they play).

They have non-conference road games at Seattle, Air Force, and Oregon State. Those are quality games against opponents where they should be able to be competitive. They have home non-conference games against Portland, Pepperdine, San Jose State, and their Bracket Buster.

Conference play will begin on December 17th, when they travel to take on Northern Arizona. The early start to conference play is due to playing 20 conference games rather than 16.

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Monday, August 20, 2012

Big Sky Recruits Podcast

A few weeks ago, Gidal Kaiser and I recorded a podcast looking at the the new recruits entering the Big Sky, with a special emphasis on Montana State (as Gidal writes for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle).

Gidal has posted that podcast over at Blue & Gold, so you should go give it a listen if you want to learn more about some newcomers entering the Big Sky, as well as to hear my nasally voice! If don't want to listen (it's about 22 minutes), Gidal has also posted a nice breakdown of what went down.

Let me know what you think.

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Big Sky Transfers 2012

I will hopefully have more analysis on this, but for now I wanted to put the list out of the transfers coming out and going, based on Jeff Goodman's Transfer List, widely seen as the most thorough in the college basketball world.

Into the Big Sky:
- Cameron Forte, 6-6 F, Fr., Texas Tech - NORTHERN ARIZONA
- Dustin Hobaugh, G, Fr., Houston Baptist - NORTH DAKOTA
- Jaron Nash, 6-8, F, Soph., Texas Tech - NORTH DAKOTA
- Tim Douglas, 5-10, G, Soph., Portland - PORTLAND STATE

Out of the Big Sky:
- Garrett Swanson, 6-7, F, Fr., Idaho State - MARQUETTE (walk-on)
- Vishal Banipal, 6-2, G, Fr., Idaho State
- Brandon Glanz, 6-6, F, Fr., Idaho State
- Tor Anderson 6-2, G, RS Fr., Montana State
- Shawn Reid, 6-5, F, Soph., Montana State - SEATTLE PACIFIC
- Danny Cheek, 6-4, G, Fr., Northern Arizona
- James Douglas, 6-0, G, Fr., Northern Arizona
- Colin Gruber, 6-3, G, Fr., Northern Arizona - CABRILLO COLLEGE
- Aaron Hawk-Harris, 6-4, SG, Jr., Northern Colorado - one year left
- Josh Lepley, 6-9, F, Jr., Northern Arizona (will graduate)
- Elliott Lloyd, 6-2, G, Jr., Northern Colorado - one year left and can play ASAP
- Josh Gentry, 6-5, G, Fr., North Dakota
- Kidus Ephrem, 6-7, F, Fr., Portland State
- Jerron Smith, 6-3, G, Fr., Portland State
- Magd Owayed, 6-7, F, Fr., Sacramento State
- Pete Rakocevic, 6-11, C, Soph., Sacramento State
- Mike Brown, 6-2, G, Fr., Weber State

It is a thorough list, though missing a few details... such as that Mike Brown will be going to Colorado Christian, and that Billy Reader (MT), Willie Hankins (EWU) and Shai Fields (WSU) will also be transferring out of the Big Sky.

You will also notice a lot more guys leaving the Big Sky than entering via transfer, but I think that is pretty common for Division I conferences.

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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Idaho's Non-Football Sports Reportedly Coming to Big Sky

This became big news late last week, as Idaho was granted permission to explore independent football, which would of course mean that the rest of their sports would need a home.

Idaho's athletic website said that the Vandals' athletic director and president are "looking at the possibility of returning other sports to the Big Sky Conference," and that a decision will be made in the next three weeks.

Brian Murphy of the Idaho Statesman is reporting that they will be moving to the Big Sky, and his notes from the teleconference certainly suggest that it is all but a done deal. While they are going to attempt football independence, there is not a lot of other places for them to go.

Idaho told the state board about its plans during an executive session Wednesday. In its documents to the state board, Idaho cites the re-establishment of historic rivalries, more regional travel and reduced costs and loss of academic class time for student-athletes.

Idaho was a charter member of the Big Sky in 1963 and played in the league until 1996.

Big Sky commissioner Doug Fullerton told the Statesman on Wednesday that he would accept the Vandals under that arrangement.

"I would support that. It's not what we asked when we invited them," Fullerton said. "But I understand the concept."
Many have said that the Big Sky should tell Idaho that if they want to join the conference, they should join in football as well, but it appears that the conference will not take that stance for now. One of the big reasons, I would guess, is that with so many challenging factors for Idaho as an independent, there has to be a strong thought within the Big Sky that Idaho will be joining the conference as a full member in 2015.

For basketball, it is an interesting situation. It gets the conference up to a more convention 12 teams rather than 11 teams, which may mean that it makes sense to split into two divisions. That would be an interesting split because of all of the rivalries involved. My guess would be that we would see some type of split like this:

Eastern Washington
Montana State
North Dakota
Northern Colorado
Portland State

Idaho State
Northern Arizona
Southern Utah
Sacramento State
Weber State

All speculation obviously, but that makes sense to me. The other thing is that it likely means that each team playing every other team in the conference twice will likely be a one season proposition. 20 conference games (which will happen this year) is already pushing it a bit, and increasing it to 22 conference games does not seem realistic at all. I would expect something along the lines of 16-18 conference games once (and if) Idaho joins the Big Sky.

Thoughts? Some of you have been following the Big Sky a lot longer than me and likely remember the days of Idaho being a member of the Big Sky... do you like the idea of them re-joining the conference?

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Northern Arizona to Lower Ticket Prices

By any measure, Northern Arizona had a terrible season last year. This year, there will be a lot of changes, starting with the head coach and continuing on to a lot of the roster.

Another change is that ticket prices will be lower, as they try to encourage the fans to come and support the team.

"We want to get the community and the student body excited about NAU basketball, making the Walkup Skydome a fun place to watch a game and a great home-court advantage," Murphy said.
It's a smart move. Maybe they take a little budget hit, but they need to get the excitement back in the program, which will pay long-term dividends. One of the ways to do that is to get more fans in the seats, which could happen with lower ticket prices. Maybe it won't make a big difference, but anything will help.

I will go on record as saying that new head coach Jack Murphy is going to do some very good things in Flagstaff, and hopefully getting more fans in the seats will provide a nice boost in his first season.

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Monday, August 13, 2012

Laron Griffin Goes Pro

I had Laron Griffin of Eastern Washington ranked as the twelfth best player leaving the Big Sky, and it appears he will be continuing his basketball career.

According to Seattle City and Press, he will be joining a pro team in Germany.

Former Eastern Washington University basketball player Laron Griffin will play for the Hanau White Wings of the German Pro B League during the upcoming season. The team says Griffin will replace former BYU player Chris Miles on the White Wings' roster.

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Friday, August 10, 2012

Kirk Earlywine Catches On

Former Eastern Washington basketball coach Kirk Earlywine has caught on with another coaching job, as he will be the Director of Player Development at Idaho.

“What I learned most from the past year was how much I really love coaching,” Earlywine said in a media release. “Sometimes when you’re in the middle of it, it beats you down a bit and you forget how much you love it.”
Best of luck to him in the new gig.

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More Montana State Content

Gidal Kaiser of the Bozeman Daily Chronicle has been doing some good work lately, pounding out a lot of content about the basketball team. He has gotten some help from the venerable Mslacat, who is plugged in on basketball in the area.

If you are interesting in learning about the Bobcats, they took a look at some of the guys departing the team, as well as the new guys coming in. Go check it out.

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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Montana Gets A Verbal From Brandon Gfeller

The Montana Grizzlies are capitalizing on their Big Sky title by getting an early verbal committment from a guard in the 2013-14 class. Brandon Gfeller, a 6'3'' guard who averaged 18 points per game last year, has stated he will attend Montana. He will be a senior this season.

Gfeller (say JEE-feller) averaged 18 points a game in leading Colfax to its first state championship since 1979 last season. He plays point guard for the Bulldogs, but projects as a shooting guard or small forward at the college level.
Montana will be losing Will Cherry to graduation after next season, which could open up some playing time in the backcourt. The Grizzlies are not bringing in any guards in this year's recruiting class, so that could especially open up playing time for Gfeller as he moves later in his career.

From the video, his body definitely appears to be a shooting guard, with the possibility of playing the three if he grows a bit more. He's got very nice range on his jumper. I suspect at this point he won't have a huge impact in year one (like the freshmen from last season), but has a chance to grow into a good starter for the Grizzlies.

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Montana State Gets a Late Recruit

With Tre Johnson getting dismissed from the team due to off the court behavior, there was room on the roster for another scholarship player for Montana State. Brad Huse has filled that spot, getting a late recruit in JUCO guard Calen Coleman.

Last year, he averaged around 16 points and six rebounds per game, even getting late interest from Oregon. While that never materialized, it is the Bobcats gain, as they get another strong wing man to add to their arsenal. His junior college coach had this to say:

“Calen is a guy that might be undervalued right now. I’ve seen enough Division I games to see how he could be successful at the major Division I level, be someone that could really go out there and produce because of his quickness.”
With it looking like MSU may have to play a bit small this year due to a lack of experience in the frontcourt, Coleman is another guy that could fit in the rotation and play in some different areas.

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Monday, August 6, 2012

Tre Johnson Kicked Off Team, MSU's Canada Trip Postponed

We are seeing some of the fallout from the arrests of Tre Johnson and Jeff Budinich of Montana State last week.

According to the press release from Montana State, forward Tre Johnson had been dismissed from the team, Jeff Budinich has been suspended three games and will face a bevy of disciplinary sanctions, and the trip to Canada that MSU had been planning has suspended until a later date, which I am guessing will mean a different year.

I presume the difference in suspensions between Johnson and Budinich means that this is not Johnson's first rodeo, so to speak. Both players were arrested last week for breaking into vehicles and theft.

Kudos to Brad Huse for acting strongly and swiftly. The Bobcats frontcourt suddenly looks a bit thin, (which we will look at more later), which will especially hurt Huse as he enters really a make-or-break year. MSU has had a bit of a tough time staying out of the news, and hopefully the swiftness and severity of these punishments will deter anyone else on the team from even thinking about doing anything stupid.

It has been an interesting offseason in Bozeman.

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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Northern Colorado Team Getting Ready For Australia

College basketball teams are allowed to take an offseason trip once every four years. This year, Northern Colorado will be making the trek to The Land Down Under, which should be especially beneficial for a young team that should be one of the most talented in the conference next year.

They will play four games starting on August 9th, playing against professional and all-star teams from Australia.  They will also take in some of the sights of the country, which obviously can be some of the best times to bond.

"Our program is honored to represent The University of Northern Colorado and NCAA basketball in Australia," said head coach B.J. Hill. "We're aware of the high quality of play in Australia, and we look forward to learning from some of the leading coaches in our sport. Our players, coaches, fans and administrators are excited to experience Australian culture, and we are appreciative of this unique opportunity."
If they can use the trip to get tougher on defense, it will be well worth every penny! But in all seriousness, this can be the exact type of bonding a team needs to take the next step. The Bears will be ranked anywhere from third to seventh heading into next season.

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