Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Byron Fulton May Have An Injury

I haven't really seen this confirmed anywhere, so I just want to make sure it is noted as just something I have heard, but cannot confirm.

The word (off of a Weber State message board... and yes, I have learned what I believe to trust on message boards and what not to) is that Byron Fulton has his knee scoped, and may be out at least until the beginning of conference play.

Fulton is one of their best offensive players and could even start in the frontcourt, so it would be a big loss if he misses significant time. If he does miss time, a player like Joel Bolomboy would be counted on to step up.

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Ken Pomeroy's Big Sky Rankings

If you read this blog much, you know I love Ken Pomeroy. His site is invaluable for college basketball wisdom, and I would recommend anyone that follows the sport to subscribe.

So when he released his preseason rankings, of course I was going to check them out. They are, shall we say, a little bit different from my rankings. Here they are (with national rank in parenthesis):

1. Montana (103) - 16-4
2. Northern Colorado (170) - 13-7
3. Weber State (187) - 13-7
4. North Dakota (203) - 12-8
5. Southern Utah (263) - 10-10
6. Sacramento State (271) - 9-11
7. Eastern Washington (278) - 9-11
8. Portland State (279) - 9-11
9. Montana State (311) - 7-13
10. Northern Arizona (325) - 6-14
11. Idaho State (328) - 6-14


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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Top Newcomer, Per Team

Under each team's profile in the Big Sky Prospectus, they have the newcomer to watch, which I presume they get from someone on the coaching staff, which can make it interesting. Here is who they have listed for each team. As a bonus, after the slash is the newcomer on the team I am most excited to see (didn't want you to think I was being lazy with this post!):

Eastern Washington - G Justin Crogsile / Crogsile
Idaho State - G Chris Hansen / G Tomas Sanchez
Montana - F Spencer Coleman / Coleman
Montana State - G Antonio Biglow / Biglow
North Dakota - none listed / F Jaron Nash
Northern Arizona - G DeWayne Russell / Russell
Northern Colorado - F Derrick Barden / Barden
Portland State - F Lamont Prosser / G Andre Winston
Sacramento State - G Mikh McKinney / McKinney
Southern Utah - none listed / F Jayson Chessman
Weber State - F Davion Berry / F Joel Bolomboy (along with Berry)

Any other newcomer you are excited to see?

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NBC Sports Big Sky Preview

NBC Sports has one of the best college basketball blogs around, and Raphielle Johnson of the site has his Big Sky preview up. Like most others, he has Montana pegged as the favorite to win the conference.

So while the Grizzlies remain the favorites the door has opened a bit wider for the competition in the Big Sky, with Weber State once again the chief challenger. Scott Bamforth and Gelaun Wheelwright are back along with front court standouts Kyle Tresnak and Byron Fulton. Northern Colorado returns four starters led by guard Tate Unruh from a team that was a bit young to be expected to contend last season, but the Bears are ready to go in 2012-13.
Here is his order.

1. Montana
2. Weber State
3. Northern Colorado
4. Sacramento State
5. North Dakota
6. Eastern Washington
7. Portland State
8. Montana State
9. Idaho State
10. Northern Arizona
11. Southern Utah

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Monday, October 29, 2012

Montana State Gets Verbal From Stephan Holm

From Gidal Kaiser of the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, MSU has received its second verbal committment of the fall, as guard Stephan Holm has given his verbal. He chose MSU over UC-Riverside (and also had offers from UC-Davis and Idaho State). Gidal has some nice interviews at the link.

Holm is a 6'3'' guard out of Riverton, Utah. He is a good shooter who is unique in that he is a lefty. He may be best known for his buzzer beater to win a state playoff game in double OT (video below). According to Gidal, he averaged 14 points per game last year, and like the "college town atmosphere" of Bozeman.

It's interesting to note that his game is similar to the Bobcats' first recruit, Vance Wentz, in that they are both excellent shooters that will need to work on expanding their game. You can never have enough good shooters, and that appears to be Brad Huse's philosophy for next year's class.

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Sherrod Baldwin Academically Ineligible For Fall Semester

Idaho State is already thin on experience in the backcourt, and they will be a little more thin during the first half of the year, as Sherrod Baldwin has been declared academically ineligible for the fall semester. I saw this first reported by Jeff Landers.

Obviously it is never good when you lose a rotation guy, but it is a loss they should be able to make up for. He averaged five points per game last year, shooting 16/34 from downtown (which is solid), but he shot just 43% from inside the arc. He turned it over more than he assisted it as well. He didn't appear to be in line to start, but should have seen some minutes off the bench.

He is a senior this year, which makes it a little more puzzling than when a young guy has academic issues, because he should know what to expect in the classroom. Hopefully he will use the time away from basketball to really focus on the studies and realize that the most important thing he can get out of his basketball scholarship is a degree.

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A Few Other Verbal Commits

Occasionally, believe it or not, things slip through the cracks here. It has come to my attention this has happened with a few recent verbal commitments which I have not written about, so I wanted to write briefly on some I believe I have missed.

- McKay Cannon signed with Weber State, and will join the team in 2015 following his mission. He also had offers from Montana, Idaho State, and Southern Utah out of the Big Sky. Cannon is a good looking guard that averaged over 14 points and about five assists per game as a sophomore. He appears to be a bit on the small side, so having the extra years of growth while on his mission should help.

- Southern Utah signed 6'1'' Arizona guard John Marshall, a nice looking PG prospect. He is a tough, pass-first point guard prospect, who has displayed good leadership skills throughout his time in high school. His scouting report also talks about how he is a very good defender. It looks like he may need to work on his jumper, but his game should translate well to the Big Sky.

Plus, he won't be lacking for confidence. From his website:

John Grant Marshall should be considered one of basketballs top prospects entering the College level class of 2013.
He was also looked at by Utah State.

- Last, Northern Arizona has had a couple of recruits that I have noted on my recruiting tracker, but haven't written anything about them.

One is 6'8'' Zachary Reynolds, who will come out of Gulf Coast CC in Florida. I haven't been able to find out a ton about him yet.

The other is 6'3'' G Chris Miller, a combo guard out of Arizona. He is described as being a high character kid, a good athlete, and solid midrange scorer. As a junior, he averaged 20.7 points and five rebounds per game. Once again, Jack Murphy is putting together a very stellar class.

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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Justin Smith Commits to Idaho State

Idaho State scored their second commitment for 2013, as they have gotten a verbal commit from Colorado wing Justin Smith. He is 6'6'', 195 pounds.

"Smith committed to the Bengals for a variety of reasons.," Colorado Chaos director David Matthews said. "He visited the Pocatello, Idaho campus a few weeks ago and felt extremely comfortable with new Idaho State coach Bill Evans and also really enjoyed the atmosphere in Pocatello."
One article says that he averaged 14 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists last year. Another says he averaged 12.4 points and 5 rebounds per game. He plays on a high school that went 27-1 last year, and he hit the game winning three point shot in the state title game.

One report says that he scores well both at the rim, and has a nice outside shot. He is an athletic guy that is a good defender (which is probably a given when Bill Evans is recruiting him), and could have a chance to play immediately for the Bengals.

Very nice signing for ISU. In past year the Bengals have struggled to pick up early commitments, so this is a very positive sign for the program.

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Will Cherry is the 27th Best PG in America

According to CBS:

Will probably miss the first few weeks of the season with a broken foot, but he's on the NBA's radar due to his athleticism, improved offensive game and ability to dominate a game on the defensive side of the floor. -- J.G.
Last year, Damian Lillard starting the year high on people's lists, and ended the year as the best point guard in the country. This year, if Will Cherry is able to come back fully healthy from his foot injury, I suspect that by the end of the year he could be among the top ten best point guards in America. And that might be too low. He is simply that good, as he combines an improving offensive game with perhaps being the best perimeter defender in the country.

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Friday, October 26, 2012

Summary of Preseason Coaches Conference Call

On Thursday morning, all of the coaches gathered for a conference call, with the media getting six minutes or so to ask them questions. The audio of the call can be found here. I decided I would provide a quick summary as well of what the coaches say, just in case you don't want to listen! Surely I am missing some things, but here are some of the key things they touched on.

- Hayford talked a little bit about the trip to Canada over the offseason, and how that was helpful with so many newcomers.
- When asked about Collin Chiverton, he said he is a lot healthier, and that he is looking for more consistency from him. He said when Chiverton is good, he is really good, and when he is bad, he is really bad. More consistency will help the whole team.
- I asked him about the PG spot, and he said that transfer Justin Crogsile has the ability to be a special player in the Big Sky. He also had good words for freshman Daniel Hill, who has played a lot of minutes in Australia. Hayford noted that the PG spot is extremely important in his offense.
- He talked about Parker Kelly, and how he was a very hard worker and a big part of the team down the stretch last year.
- I asked him about Venky Jois, who has gotten a lot of praise. He said in a closed scrimmage, Jois pulled down 20 rebounds. He is a very athletic and intelligent player. He said that Jois and fellow freshman Thomas Reuter have the chance to both be four year starters.

- Evans talked about his past experience in the Big Sky (as an assistant at Montana) has given him a good feel for the conference. He is familiar with the teams and coaches.
- He said the transition  has been made easier by the fact that he has some really good kids with the program. Even though he is the third head coach in two years, the transition has been smooth, with most of the credit for that going to the kids.
- He talked about how it will be an emotional return to Cedar City when Idaho State travels to take on Southern Utah, where he used to be the head coach. He believes that even though the Summit League has really good teams up top, and is a little more athletic than the Big Sky, that the Big Sky is more competitive top to bottom. One of the biggest reasons for this is the stability of the conference.

- I asked him right off the bat if he was concerned about the frontcourt with all of the losses, and he said it was one of his biggest concerns. He is happy to have Mathias Ward back, and Eric Hutchison has really stepped up and grabbed the 5 spot. He said they were hoping to redshirt Andy Martin, but circumstances mean he will be playing now. He also said Jake Wiley has been a pleasant surprise, and that he is the most athletic post player he has had at Montana since he got there.
- He talked about the decision for Will Cherry not to have surgery, and said it was the safer route for his future. He will be getting the cast off this week, and they are hoping he can return by early December.
- He mentioned that Kareem Jamar is a guy that they are counting on to be a leader, on and off the court. They toyed with the idea of playing him at PG, but they don't want to take away from his skills on the wing.
- He talked a lot about Jordan Gregory and Keron DeShields, the two guys trying to replace Will Cherry. Gregory is a guy that they saw as someone that can lead a team, as he can be a vocal leader. He is very physically strong, and can get almost anywhere he wants on the court through his strength. He is also a very good shooter. DeShields is a bit more unorthodox and herky jerky, but also seems to get where he wants. He is a very confident player (which Tinkle said can be good and bad), who is very athletic.
- Tinkle did say that the thing they are most trying to preach with the young PGs is that they don't need to score a lot of points to get time and to impress the coaches. He compared it to a young QB, who you just want to not be the reason you lose a game.

- Huse talked about how even though there are a lot of new guys with the program, they do return a core group of guys that will provide continuity for them.
- He talked about how the frontcourt production will be a bit by committee, but that Flavien Davis, Paul Egwuonwu, and Eric Norman have all really asserted themselves. He has also been pleased with the freshmen in the frontcourt.  He believes this year's group doesn't quite have the size of last year's group, but that they are more skilled.
- He believes that the frontcourt defense will come down to having the right mentality.
- I asked a question about newcomer Antonio Biglow, and Huse talked about how talented and unselfish he is. Huse made sure to note he did not want to overhype him (I noted in my question that Biglow was much hyped) or put too much on his shoulders, but noted that he has the ability to play both guard spots. Huse has been very pleased with his approach.

- I asked him if he was worried at all about the team having to go on long roadtrips whenever they played any road games in the conference, but he said that the players and coaching staff have learned a lot about how to handle those from the last two years in the Great West.
- Jones said he is a big believer that you win at this level with great guard play, and he feels very good about his talent and depth there, as they return a bunch of talent.
- I asked him about Troy Huff and his potential. Jones said there is no doubt that Huff is as athletically gifted as anyone in the conference, but his biggest hurdle is mental. Last year, he did not sneak up on anyone as he did the year before, and he was impressed with how he battled through it. He did say that they will do their best to have a balanced scoring attack.
- I asked him about the status of Jaron Nash, the transfer from Texas Tech. He said that the NCAA has requested more medical documentation that they are working on sending over to them. He just wants to make sure that the NCAA has everything they need to make the best decision for everyone. He didn't say it but I will - it would be a shame if the NCAA does not grant Nash immediate eligibility.

- Murphy started off my talking about how the seniors (six of them) have been through a lot, but have really come in really willing to work hard, and to bring along a lot of the younger guys in the program. This has obviously been a big help for the transition.
- The team will be relying a lot on seniors Gabe Rogers and Stallon Saldivar for leadership. They will be relied on in the backcourt in many ways. They are counting on Saldivar to do even more offensively, and provide a bit more scoring in addition to his passing.
- Of the big guys, Ephraim Ekanem is a guy that has really stood out to the staff, and seems to be in line for a starting gig. The other guy is Gaellen Bewernick. Coach Murphy called both of them "lunch pail type of players." He did say there is a lot of good competition after that, but those two were head and shoulders above the rest.
- He talked about freshman guard DeWayne Russell, who he said is a winner and plays with a ton of heart. He takes care of the ball and makes good decisions. It sounded like he will be relied on immediately. Murphy even said there could be times when he would be on the court with Rogers and Saldivar, as they want to do what they can to get their best players on the court.

- Hill talked about how they are returning a ton of guys, though he (humorously) noted that can be a good or bad thing when it was a 9 win team. A big key will be the backcourt taking care of the ball.
- He talked about Derrick Barden, and said a big thing is that even with his strong credentials, he is a very coachable guy with no ego. He is very versatile and good around the rim, but can also step out and stretch the defense.
- He talked about the turnovers and defensive issues from last year, and how those are generally the toughest areas for a young team.
- He ended with talking about how Tate Unruh and Tevin Svhihovec really have challenged each other and pushed each other, and how they will rely a lot on them. He said that more than anyone else, those two have worked hard in the offseason at adding different things to their game.

- Geving talked extensively early about how the team's defense should be improved this year, and that he has been happy with the team's effort. In particular, he noted that Andre Winston on the wing has the potential to be one of the best defenders in the Big Sky. He said Marcus Hall is another guy that brings a defensive presence.
- I asked him about Renado Parker, who he said was a warrior in the low post, especially in the second half of league play last year. He is a good rebounder, and a load down low who can have a really good year for PSU. I am also very high on Parker.
- After losing Chehales Tapscott and Charles Odum, he said they will be a lot more balanced offensively, and try to make up for that scoring hit with four or five guys.
- When asked about how there is no freshmen on the roster, he said it was not necessarily by design, but that he really liked the veteran makeup of the team, with no players under the age of 20. After losing Tapscott and Odum, they felt like they wanted to get JUCO help.

- Katz started off talking about how this is the best team that they have had in a while, but ultimately have to play the games. He talked about how they have a lot of experienced talent back (five guys that averaged around double figures in scoring), and will have a pretty set 8 man rotation.
- He said that three guys have really shown they can step up and be contributors off the bench, and they are Mikh McKinney, Cody Demps, and Joey Quigley.
- He had a lot of praise for Dylan Garrity, who he said is unique in that he is so pass-first. He is the best shooter on the team and may well be the best scorer, but he has an infectious unselfishness. Katz also had good things to say about Joe Eberhard, and how versatile he is with the ability to play three positions.
- I asked him about Konner Veteto and his foul trouble issues, and he said it is something that they have worked on everyday with him. They made it a big priority, but he says until he shows he can stay out of foul trouble in games, you still have to consider him foul prone.

- Robinson said they have had good enthusiasm and energy in practice, and talked about how it is a new year for everyone. He talked about one of the biggest challenges is whether or not players really buy into the system, and the seniors and leaders of the team have really done that here.
- He believes one of their strengths will be their balance. He also talked about his philosophy on defense being a strong man to man team.
- They have a difficult non-conference schedule, which he said would allow them to better prepare for the Big Sky season. They have a non-conference tournament that would prepare them for the Big Sky tournament, which is obviously where they want to be at the end of the year.
- One guy he talked about was newcomer Jayson Chessman, who will have an impact from 15 feet and in.

- Rahe started off by saying his team isn't very good yet, but that probably echoes the sentiments of many coaches at this time of the year. He thinks they can be competitive by conference time.
- He continually talked about how one of the biggest things they are losing from the departure of Damian Lillard is leadership, and how they are looking for somebody to fill that leadership role.
- As is pretty obvious, he talked about the fact that they will be more balanced this season.
- He said that Gelaun Wheelwright and Jordan Richardson are both playing some PG, but it's a spot they haven't played that much at before this season. Another sign of how much Lillard was counted on last year.

Anything stand out to you?

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2013 Recruiting Tracker is Updated

The recruiting tracker should be fully updated! Please take a look and let me know if I am missing anything. With the big whirlwind of verbal commitments rolling in, there is definitely a strong chance I am missing someone… please let me know! And as always, if you have any tips or links, please email them or tweet them to me, or even leave a comment on any of the posts on this site.

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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Portland State Signs Kyle Benton

Portland State has reeled in another recruit with forward Kyle Benton. He verball committed last week, joining Zach Gengler as commits for the 2013 recruiting class for the Vikings.

Benton is a 6'6'' forward out of Long Beach, CA, and the second high school recruit for Tyler Geving. Over the past few years, he has gone hard after junior college guys to build the program back up, but now he has started this class off with two high schoolers, which is probably a good trend for the long-term.

He projects as a four at the college level (and PSU has had a lot of success with shorter power forwards), with range out to 15 feet. He is solid athletically and has good length, according to scouting reports.

I haven't been able to find a stat line at all, but it seems he needs to improve a bit on rebounding, and his physicality. While he has a solid face-up game, he will need to work his back to the basket game. This will come in time.

PSU is off to a nice start.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Look At Northern Arizona's Rotation

In both the coaches and media poll, Northern Arizona is being picked to finish last in the Big Sky. Regardless of whether that seems too low (we will get to that in time), there is no denying the fact that NAU has the potential to be one of the most entertaining teams in the conference this season.

For one thing, the roster will be very guard-oriented, which can lead to an exciting style of play in the right system. It appears that new coach Jack Murphy wants to play that system. He told Blue Ribbon that the philosophy would be to, "Score early, get the ball up quick, and I'm not opposed to early shot - especially ones that are open, really an attack mentality. Defensively, we're going to have to play some different ways to promote that offense."

This is good on three fronts. One, players love playing in that type of system, and so it could help in recruiting. Two, they don't really have the personnel this year to be competitive playing a more traditional type of game (we will get to that), so an up-and-down style is probably their best chance to win this year. Three, Flagstaff is over 7,000 feet, so they could have a built in advantage there.

In the backcourt, they are led by two seniors in Gabe Rogers and Stallon Saldivar. Two years ago, Rogers was one of the best shooters in the conference. He struggled after returning from a shoulder injury last year. If he is back to 100%, he can be a very good scorer. Saldivar is one of the two or three best passers in the conference, and should have a great understanding of getting guys shots in his senior year.

Behind those two guys, there are some interesting options. The most intriguing is freshman DeWayne Russell, who led the state of Arizona with 27 ppg last year as a high school senior. The rest of his stat line was also impressive - over five assists, four rebounds, and four steals per game. He should be a big-time performer from the get go, and it wouldn't shock me to see occasional sets with Rogers, Russell, and Saldivar in the game.  

Michael Dunn should also get time in the backcourt, as he made 22 threes last year. Blake Hamilton and Bryce Gosar are two more freshmen that could get time in the frontcourt, but they could also be redshirt candidates.

Upfront, their best player is Gaellen Bewernick, who stands at 6'6''. He may have been their best rebounder last year. In Murphy's system, I would suspect that he will play a lot at the four again, though it wouldn't surprise me if he started games at small forward. Ephraim Ekanem, Ben Olaynika, and Max Jacobsen will all have chances to get time at the four and five spots, and all are more traditional big men returning to the roster. Len Springs was brought in as a JUCO recruit, and he could be a presence defensively.

The more interesting option up front could be Jordyn Martin, who was Murphy's first recruit. He is 6'7'', and averaged 11 and 9 last season. With the team likely building for the future, it would make sense that Martin could see a lot of time.

There are a lot of unknowns with a new coach and some new players, but NAU should be consistently entertaining. Not a lot of Big Sky teams try to pick up the pace a lot, so it would be a welcome change if the Lumberjacks do. They seem to have the personnel to make a lot of things interesting if they can push the temp.

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Marko Kovacevic Commits to Utah

Marko Kovacevic was supposed to be a key member of Montana's frontcourt this season before he was ruled ineligible because of academic issues.

Now he will definitely never suit up for the Grizzlies, as the Salt Lake Tribune reports that he has committed to the University of Utah, and will play there after spending another year at Western Nebraska Community College.

He looked like he would have been a solid start for the Grizzlies, and the Big Sky is a little worse since he is not eligible to play this year. Hopefully he has a successful career.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Where Will Sacramento State Get Bench Production?

If you have been reading this blog lately, you know I think that Sacramento State has the potential to have their best team in quite some time. Their starting lineup has a legitimate claim to be one of the top three best lineups in the conference. However, the problem comes when they have to go to their bench... where will they get production?

In the backcourt, their best reserve could be Mikh McKinney, a junior college transfer (with three years of eligibility left). He is a combo guard capable of backing up Dylan Garrity and Jackson Carbajal. Last year, he averaged 14 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 3.8 assists per game. I expect he should get the first chance at being a key performer off the bench.

There are three returning players in the backcourt - Jordan Estrada, Julian Demalleville, and Kendall Groom. Despite all the experience, all of them have been a bit underwhelming in their careers, and it seems like the newcomers will have all the chances they want to carve out a role. Cody Demps could be an interesting guy to watch, as he is extremely versatile at 6'4'', and Katz says he can play three spots. He could be a little raw, but he has the talent. Dreon Bartlett is also on the roster, but he seems like a prime redshirt candidate.

The frontcourt also has a lot of guys that could play, but not a lot of clarity, as three newcomers will likely be competing for most of the run. None of the three posted really impressive stat lines in junior college, but all bring different skill sets. Ryan Okwudibonye is the most traditional of the big men, and can play the three or four. He is not a strong offensive player, with just 4.6 points per game on 44% shooting, but could bring a defensive and rebounding presence.

Joey Quigley is a bit more skilled, and projects as more of a stretch four. He can handle the ball a bit more, and is a solid passer. Jordan Salley has good athleticism, but may struggle to produce consistently. He will be a backup at the four as well.

The Hornets need at least two or three of the newcomers to become consistent producers, and guys they can count on in the second unit. If they do, the Hornets will make the conference tournament. If they can't find that productivity, it could be another year watching the tournament from home.

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Read This Luke Winn Article

If you haven't read it yet, you should go read this article by Luke Winn, as he looks as the decrease in scoring (and slower pace of the game) over the past 20 years, with a 1990 LSU/Loyola Marymount game as a base for the article.

It is simply a great look at how things have evolved (and not for the better, in terms of pure entertainment aspect) in the sport over the past 20 years.

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Monday, October 22, 2012

Idaho Will Officially Be Playing Big Sky Basketball in 2014

Two new teams will be added to the conference this year, and in 2014 Idaho will again be playing Big Sky basketball, as was officially announced by the conference on Friday.

The majority of Idaho’s intercollegiate athletic teams will begin Big Sky Conference play during the 2014-15 academic year. The Vandal football program will play as an Independent at the Bowl Subdivision level of Division I football.

The University of Idaho will become the Big Sky’s 12th member. The Big Sky currently consists of 11 core institutions plus Cal Poly and UC Davis as football affiliate members.
With 11 schools, all Big Sky teams will be playing 20 conference games, and seven teams will make the Big Sky tournament this year. With the addition of Idaho, it likely means that more changes will eventually be on the horizon. 12 teams is more stable and more intuitive than eleven, so this looks to be a great development for the future of the conference.

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My Big Sky Preview at Rush The Court

A couple weeks ago, I wrote a preview on the Big Sky for Rush The Court, which can be found here.

When I post my preview on here in a couple weeks, some things will definitely change a bit (and it will be more in depth), as I am still finalizing all my thoughts and predicitons as we get closer to the start of the season. In particular, my order will be mixed up a bit from 4-8 as I study the teams a bit more in depth.

Let me know what you think!

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Saturday, October 20, 2012

James Douglas Winds Up At Cal-State Fullerton

Last year, James Douglas for Northern Arizona was one of the best freshmen in the conference, and he looked like he had the potential to one day lead the conference in scoring. He averaged 12.2 points per game, and shot 38% from downtown for a Lumberjacks team that did not have a lot of other offensive options.

However, he transferred after the season and the coaching change, and has wound up at Cal State Fullerton. He will presumably be sitting this season out, per transfer rules.

We wish him the best as he continues his career.

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Preseason Coaches and Media Poll Released

With the start of the season blissfully almost upon us, the preseason coaches and media poll were released. For those Big Sky fans among us starving for news and predictions before the season begins, there is a lot to look at. I'll give you the polls and then a few reactions.

Coaches Poll
1. Montana (8)
2. Weber State (3)
3. Northern Colorado
4. North Dakota
5. Portland State
6. Eastern Washington
7. Sacramento State
8. Montana State
9. Idaho State
10. Southern Utah
11. Northern Arizona

Media Poll
1. Montana (24)
2. Weber State (8)
3. Eastern Washington
4. Northern Colorado
5. Portland State
6. North Dakota
7. Montana State
8. Sacramento State
9. Idaho State
10. Southern Utah
11. Northern Arizona

Agreement at the top and bottom: As expected, both the coaches and media poll have Montana and Weber State at 1-2, with Montana getting about three times as many votes as Weber State. I am guessing Montana would have gotten even more of the vote if the polls had been taken a month ago, before the Will Cherry injury (sneak peek: that influenced my vote). These two teams look like the class of the conference once again. At the bottom, the 9-10-11 spots are the same for both polls. Almost everyone agree that these three teams will be at the bottom of the pecking order, but I've got the reverse order on my poll.

Biggest differences between the polls: The team with the biggest difference is Eastern Washington, who was ranked third in the media poll and sixth in the coaches poll. I tend to agree with the coaches poll on this one. Eastern Washington lost a bunch of talent, and will be particularly inexperienced up front. The other biggest difference is North Dakota, who the coaches have ranked fourth, and the media ranks sixth. I think there are two reasons for this: One, I am guessing much of the media doesn't really know all that much about North Dakota. Two, I have a feeling a lot of coaches are dreading the road trip to play to UND, which could be an underrated storyline heading into the season..

Most underrated: In both polls, Sacramento State looks a bit underrated to me. They are ranked seventh in the coaches poll and eigth in the media poll. On the surface, it is understandable. They haven't fielded a .500 team in years, and they finished 10-18 last year. On the other hand, they finished 5-3 in their last eight conference games last season, and return most of their key guys.Sac State fans think I am trying to jinx them, but I really do think they will be in the top half of the conference.

Most overrated: Portland State checks in fifth in each poll, but I think that's too high. Over the last couple of seasons, they have played a lot of offense and hardly any defense. However, they lost Charles Odum and Chehales Tapscott, who were two of the best and most efficient offensive players in the conference. I like Tyler Geving, and I like the guys they brought in, but I think their offense is bound to take a little step back, and I'm not sure their defense will be any better.

What are your reactions?

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CBS Sports Previews The Big Sky

Another Big Sky preview has rolled in, this time from CBS Sports. Here is how they see it.

1. Montana
2. Weber State
3. North Dakota
4. Eastern Washington
5. Northern Colorado
6. Sacramento State
7. Montana State
8. Portland State
9. Southern Utah
10. Idaho State
11. Northern Arizona

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Where Will Montana Get Frontcourt Production?

When the preseason polls come out, it is likely that Montana will be ranked first in both the coaches and media polls, even with Will Cherry missing the start of the season. It is understandable, because they were that good last year, and they do return a lot of talent.

However, the elephant in the room for them is this - where are they going to get frontcourt production?

On one hand, they were not a frontcourt dominated team last year. Their best post up player was probably their two guard, Kareem Jamar (which will be the case again this year), and their big men were not guys that would go down on the block. However, Derek Selvig (their starting five last year), added a bunch of production in many ways. Art Steward (their starting three), was a glue guy that did it all for the Grizzlies. I think these guys will be missed a little bit more than people think.

Mathias Ward is the returning frontcourt player for Montana. He is an outstanding player that averaged almost 11 points per game, and you could see him getting more comfortable as the season went along. He will be a major part of their offense. However, his game is as a jump shooter. He will not provide inside scoring.

Part of the frontcourt production was supposed to be taken care of by JUCO big man Marko Kovacevic, who averaged 12 and 8 last year in junior college. He looked like he could be the legitimate post threat that Montana did not have last year. However, he was ruled academically ineligible, and likely won't be able to play all season.

Who does that leave? Eric Hutchison is the most experienced, though he played just 7.2 minutes per game last year. He is a banger, and the Grizzlies hope he can provide tough defense and rebounding down low. Spencer Coleman is projected to start at the three, but there is word that he could play some smallball four as well. He will be a stud, and playing the four could provide them with their most talented lineup. Michael Weisner got a little time as well, but at a skinny 6'7'' might not hold up to the rigors of playing too much as a post player.

Then there are a couple of freshmen options. Andy Martin is a little more traditional as a big man, since he is a legit 7-footer, but he seems too raw to be a consistent threat. The more likely option could be Jake Wiley. Like Coleman, he is a bit of a hybrid 3/4 game, but he has a lot of potential because of his athletic abilities, especially on the defensive end.

There are lots of potential options, but nobody experienced that they know can rebound or score in the post. This is the biggest question mark for the Grizzlies heading into the season, even more than the loss of Cherry early in the year. How the young guys develop, and how Wayne Tinkle hashes out his rotation, will play big roles in whether or not Montana can repeat as Big Sky champions.

How do you guys see it shaking out?

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

North Dakota Begins Practice

From the Grand Forks Herald UND Sports Blog. One of the more interesting notes:

Expect Texas Tech transfer Jaron Nash to join those four in the starting lineup if the NCAA clears his eligibility. Nash is a lanky athlete who can cause mismatch problems on offense and cover a variety of style of players on defense.
If you are not familiar with him, Nash transferred to North Dakota from Texas Tech to be closer to his father, who is ill. It seems like a pretty clear cut case for him to be made eligible right away. Unfortunately, the NCAA doesn't always base their decisions strictly on logic.

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Gelaun Wheelwright Will Be A Breakout Player

A few weeks ago, I said that Gelaun Wheelwright would be one of the breakout sophomores of the Big Sky Conference, saying that he had only scratched the surface of his potential.

NBC Sports agrees, as they have named him one of their top 15 players with breakout potential this year.

Gelaun Wheelwright, Weber State: Wheelwright was a pretty highly regarded prospect coming out of high school in California, as Weber State was able to beat out San Diego State and USC, according to his ESPN profile, on the recruiting trail. He averaged 5.6 points as a freshman backing up Damian Lillard. With Lillard gone to the NBA, the Wildcats offense will be his to commandeer.
Athletically, Wheelwright might be the fastest player in the conference, and he will want to get out on the break often. He was dangerous in that role last year.

The key for his growth will be playing the half-court offense. Last year, he did not have a consistent jump shot, and he was not always the best decision maker with the ball. Those are not exactly rare traits for a young guy, so it will be interesting to see his growth.

If teams have to respect his jumper, he will be a deadly offensive player, but he might even have a quicker first step than the departed Damian Lillard. That athleticism also could mean that he can be a very good defensive player as well. The evolution of Wheelwright (reports are that he has gained a lot of upper body strength over the offseason), is one of the biggest reasons why nobody will be able to sleep on Weber State this season.

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Sacramento State Begins Practice

Sac State Sports provides lots of good Hornets' content, and they have a nice article on the start of practice.

They focus on transfer big man Alex Tiffin, and how he will be using his redshirt year during the transfer year to get stronger and better.

Katz has high hopes for Tiffin’s development. Konner Veteto had similar numbers (3.6 points, 3.6 rebounds, 12.6 minutes per game) when he transferred from UC Irvine.

“He’s getting an extra workout each week on weights on his own,” Katz said. “Our goal for him is to improve his vertical. He’s an ‘at the rim’ player right now. We feel like he can get above it.”
There is lots of optimism in the Sacramento State camp this year, and the presence of guys like Tiffin in practice every day should help to make the team better.

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Monday, October 15, 2012

Anything You Want To See?

In a few weeks, I will be posting my Big Sky preview. Other than the obvious (team rankings, award picks), anything you would like to see in the preview, or anything you would enjoy?

I can't promise any suggestions will make the final cut, but I will do what I can! All input is appreciated!

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Sunday, October 14, 2012

A Nice Portland State Basketball Preview

Portland State's official site has a solid and thorough preview on PSU's basketball program, and their outlook for this season.

“Everybody's production is going to go up a little. I would think Lateef McMullan, Gary Winston and Michael Harthun will have a lot more production than they did last year,” said Geving. “Renado Parker should have a lot more as well. Just from the guys returning, they will make up for the loss of Charles and Chehales. It's not just one guy, it is three of four of them doing their part to make up for it.”

Adding in a solid group of junior college transfers will help as well with the size of 6-8, 275-pound Lamont Prosser, 6-8 Aaron Moore, and athletic 6-4 wingman Marcus Hall.

“We are more balanced this year,” said Geving. “I feel like we can go eight or nine deep. All of them can contribute and all are capable of getting double figures. From that standpoint hopefully we are a little harder to prepare for. When you have good balance like that you can spread the wealth a little bit.”
It will be an interesting year for the Vikings as they begin life without Charles Odum and Chehales Tapscott.

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Saturday, October 13, 2012

New WAC Teams Could Impact Idaho's Future

This week it was announced that Utah Valley University and Cal State Bakersfield will be joining the WAC, as the WAC tries to put the pieces together and keep their conference.

This impacts the Big Sky because there has been talk that Idaho could potentially join the Big Sky conference in all sports except football. However, with the WAC adding teams, the likelihood that they would just remain in the WAC is stronger.

This is according to Vandals Nation:

Despite conversations with the Big Sky, the University of Idaho will still most likely be one of those schools playing WAC olympic sports for the 2013-14 calendar. As of today Idaho has not withdrawn from the WAC, nor has the school stated intentions to withdraw from the WAC.
Adding Idaho would make the Big Sky stronger, but there is a chance the conference will be stuck at 11 teams for the forseeable future.

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Friday, October 12, 2012

Mario Dunn Commits to Montana

Last week, Montana got a commitment from PG Mario Dunn, according to Coast 2 Coast Hoops.

Dunn is 5'11'', and looks like a nice prospect for the Grizzlies. He had scholarship offers from teams like UC Irvine, Pacific, and Santa Clara.

Here is ESPN's profile of him:

He's not tall but he is tough. Dunn has a little burst that can get him to the cup or into his shot off the drive. He's got a natural feel for the game in transition or the half court set. Goes to the spinner and has all kinds of finishing plays. Confident, tight handle.

Needs work on taking care of the ball when he's under duress. Knows what to do, just has to take his time and make crisp decisions. Would like to see more range and confidence with his perimeter shot.
For obvious reasons, Dunn is drawing comparions to Will Cherry, another point guard out of California. While those expectations may be a bit high, he is a good looking prospect for the Grizzlies.

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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Weber State's Restocked Roster

Roy Burton of the Standard-Examiner has a nice article on the restocking of Weber State's roster. They will look a lot different than last year, but they will arguably be even deeper across the roster.

Coach Randy Rahe said:

“In a perfect world, we’d get up to four guys averaging double figures, another guy or two averaging eight or nine points a game. Rebounding, the same (idea), we’re going to have to do that by committee, scoring by committee. It’s going to be more of a balanced approach in every area and that’s going to be an exciting thing. We’re going to have to have a lot of guys step up if we’re going to have a chance.
They will be fun to watch grow.

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Learning About Southern Utah: Jackson Stevenett

After taking a look at North Dakota's best player Troy Huff, it's time to take a look at the star for Southern Utah, Jackson Stevenett. This is all part of learning about the new teams entering the Big Sky!

Jackson Stevenett (Southern Utah):
There is no doubt that Stevenett will be asked to shoulder a big load in his senior season, and he appears up to the task. With the Thunderbirds losing three starters, he will be key in their quest to remain competitive in their first season in the Big Sky.

Last year, he averaged 14.1 points and 5.7 rebounds, but that only tells part of the story. He did it efficiently and knows his game. He is 6'4'', but he is a bit of a hybrid between and a guard and forward. He is extremely efficient inside the arc, which is where he spends most of his time. He made 53% of his twos last year (and 55% the year before), and took over 90% of his shots there. Combined with a good percentage at the free throw line, and he had a true shooting percentage of 56.9%, which is very solid.

He is not a great three-point shooter, and so he doesn't take a lot of them. He took 27 last year (making 9), after taking just four in his first two seasons. This is a relatively easy concept to understand in theory - if you are not as good at shooting outside, don't shoot outside that much - but it is amazing how many guys don't follow it. Stevenett does.

He also posted solid rebounding rates of 14.9% defensively last year, playing on a team that had other decent rebounders. He can help the team even if he is not scoring a bunch. He can also be counted on to play a lot of minutes... he played 32.5 per game last year. That will be key on a team that might be searching for depth early on.

Stevenett is not a guy that will blow you away with his numbers, but he is a solid contributor that will be relied on heavily by the Thunderbirds in their first season in the Big Sky. He could be one of the top scorers in the Big Sky, and will likely earn some all-conference mentions.

Has anyone seen him play more than I have that can add to his resume?

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Montana Ranked #10 in One Mid-Major Rankings

NBC Sports has one of the best college basketball blogs out there, and they released their preseason mid-major power rankings (top 15). One Big Sky team makes the list, and that is Montana:

10. Montana: Losing Will Cherry to a broken foot hurts a lot, but he’ll be back by league play and back to 100% by the NCAA tournament.

Player to know: Cherry is a potential star, but in his absence watch out for junior guard Kareem Jamar (13.6 points, 5.6 boards, 3.7 assists, 44.1% threes).
Can’t-miss game: Unfortunately, Cherry will be out against Colorado State and BYU, and maybe even against South Dakota State on Dec. 15th.
I have a feeling Weber State could be joining them on that list at some point this year.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Learning About North Dakota: Troy Huff

Among the many changes in the Big Sky Conference are the addition of North Dakota and Southern Utah. Many followers of the Big Sky don't know much about the teams, so I thought it would be good to start to get to know them. Let's start with each team's best player (who, by the way, is eligible for the Big Sky Newcomer of the Year Award). Today, we will focus on Troy Huff of North Dakota.

Troy Huff (North Dakota)
He will be a junior this year, and will enter the season with 872 career points. He has been the man on UND since the time he started playing, and will be the key determinant in whether UND can seriously challenge for the Big Sky title in their first year.

After his freshman year, Huff looked bound for stardom and a chance at a Big Sky POY award in his first year, but he regressed a bit in his sophomore campaign. While his scoring dropped only from 13.3 ppg to 13.1 ppg, he became a lot less efficient in the way he scored. Here is a little chart that breaks down the key numbers:

Of course, the rough numbers in his sophomore year are mostly driven by that really bad three-point shooting percentage, because he took a lot of threes. He took 118 treys, but made just 19 of them, for a measly 19.5%. Since he shot 33.3% as a freshman, it seems unlikely he will make only 19.5% of them, but it would be prudent for him to live inside the arc a little more.

Not everything was worse about his sophomore year, as he made other improvements across the board. He became a better rebounder, and snagged 5.9 per game with a 17.2 DR%. Of course, some of this was partly due to the lack of size on UND's frontcourt, and they should be improved in this area, which means he hopefully won't have to rebound as much. He improved his assist rate, to a respectable 16.3%. Even though he controlled the ball a little more, his turnover rate went down a bit, and it wasn't that high to start. He got to the line more (though he needs to improve that percentage, as he shot just 62% from the stripe). He became more opportunistic defensively, and had an impressive 1.6 steals per game.

The bottom line is this... he has the talent to be an all-conference talent, and perhaps even a conference player of the year at some point during his final two years. He is that good. But, he needs to improve his shot selection (or get back to his freshman year percentages, and he needs to become a better free throw shooter. For comparison sake, if he shot 33% from downtown, and 70% from the free throw line (a reasonable jump), here is his stat line compared to Kareem Jamar, who is without argument one of the best players in the conference.

Jamar is still the better player, but they are not that far off.

If Huff improves in those areas, UND is a potential top 4 team in their first season in the Big Sky. If he doesn't, it will be a battle for them to make the conference tournament. He is their best and most important player.

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The Big Sky Prospectus Is Out

We are officially close to the start of the season (games begin in less than a month!), which means that the Big Sky Prospectus has been released, and can be found here (warning: PDF).

Lots of good stuff as always, with a look back at last year and a look forward to this year.

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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Changes Coming to Mormon Missions

The Church of Latter Day Saints has announced a change to their mission rules, as announced last weekend. From the Salt Lake Tribune:

At last weekend’s General Conference in Salt Lake City, church leaders announced they were lowering the minimum mission age from 21 to 19 for women and from 19 to 18 for men. The policy change, which takes immediate effect, is expected to have a profound influence on college life across Utah, whose universities bid a temporary farewell each year to thousands of students answering the call of their church.
This will likely mainly affect schools in Utah, which is important for the Big Sky, which features both Southern Utah and Weber State.

Rob Dauster, who writes pretty much everywhere in the college basketball world, wrote a nice article on this issue for SI, and how it will be good for colleges, because it may help them in their planning.

While the rule change will make it significantly less likely that a school recruiting an LDS player intent on going on a mission will see an immediate impact from him, it's actually a change that will be beneficial to the programs.

"It's actually what we would prefer," said Stew Morrill, the coach at Utah State, a program that he estimates has between three and five missionaries on scholarship every season. "What we've always done is if a kid's old enough, if he's got a birthday that makes him 19 before he would enter college, about half the time that's the case, than we encourage them to go right away."
While there will be some issues during the implementation phase of this, it seems like it will be to the programs' benefit over the long-run. However, I know a lot of readers are a lot more tuned in on this issue than me, so I would love to hear your thoughts on what impact it will have?

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Monday, October 8, 2012

Davion Berry Will Be Key For Weber State

No one player is going to replace the production of Damian Lillard for Weber State, or even necessarily come close. Last year, Lillard had one of the best seasons in Big Sky history, and was selected sixth in the NBA draft. Those are huge shoes to fill.

One of the guys that will be tasked with helping to fill that void, especially in the scoring department, is Davion Berry.

Berry was a transfer player, which meant that he sat out all of last season. Last season, those close to the team and those who were able to see them practice were constantly talking about how impressive Berry was, and how he would have a big role and impact this season when he became eligible.

Berry played two seasons ago at Cal State Monterey Bay, a Division II school. In his sophomore year, he was fifth in DII with over 23 PPG, and he scored over 20 points in 18 of 26 games. He also averaged five rebounds per game along with 2.5 assists. He could score from all over, as he shot 40% from downtown and over 80% from the charity stripe. He excelled at getting to the line, as he led the country in free throw attempts.

Here is a good video from his game two years ago where he scored 41 points. He is not an elite athlete, but he can create his own shot, come off screens, hit from anywhere, and has a good release. He should score plenty in his first season in the Big Sky.

Weber State fans, anything I am missing about this guy?

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One Year Anniversary

If I have been slow to respond to emails or tweets this weekend, it's because my wife and I have been off in the beautiful Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Parks! One year ago today I married my best friend!

So big props to my wife, without whom this blog would not be possible!

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Saturday, October 6, 2012

Eastern Washington Has A Great Football Field

You likely already know this (though I am sure it doesn't look great to some). But I love the uniqueness, it is one thing that makes college football (and college sports) so great.

Picture comes from the Eastern Washington basketball blog, as this is the team doing sprints on the football field.

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Friday, October 5, 2012

Former Thunderbird Goes Pro

In Slovakia. Former Southern Utah guard Ray Jones Jr. has signed a professional contract with a Slovakian team.

Jones (Little Rock, Ark./Hall HS), who was named Southern Utah's Male Athlete of the Year for 2011-12, led SUU in assists, steals, field goal percentage and minutes played last season. He averaged 4.5 assists and 1.2 steals and finished the season with a .348 field goal percentage from 3-point range. He played an average of 32.8 minutes per game and scored at a 9.9 points per game clip. Jones also pulled down 4.0 rebounds per game, which ranked third on the team.
In an ideal world, lots of Big Sky players would turn pro in the NBA. However, that's not the type of league the Big Sky is. But it is great to see guys getting pro contracts overseas, because that is still a pretty darn good way to make a living.

Kudos to Southern Utah for preparing Jones for pro basketball, and hopefully he has a long and successful career.

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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Projecting the Big Sky Starters, Part 4

It is time for our final installment looking at the potential starters for the Big Sky teams, with two teams remaining.

G - Damon Heuir
G - Jordan Johnson
F - Jackson Stevenett
F - Tyson Koehler
F - Jaren Jeffery
FG - Chris Nsenki
FB - Wade Collie

Comments: I have said all offseason I don't have a great feel yet for Southern Utah, and it is especially true with three starters graduating from last season's team. Stevenett will be their rock, and he is good enough to be an all-conference player in his first year in the Big Sky. Heuir is the only other returning starter, having played over 31 minutes per game last year. He took excellent care of the ball last year. The frontcourt is less settled, but Koehler and Jeffery played well in limited minutes last season. I would love to hear more thoughts on SUU.

G - Jordan Richardson
G - Scott Bamforth
F - Davion Berry
F - Byron Fulton
F - Kyle Tresnak
FG - Gelaun Wheelwright
FB - Joel Bolomboy

Comments: I think by the end of the year there is a good chance that Gelaun Wheelwright will be starting at the point, but I think the more experienced Richardson will get the nod right away. There is still enough talent on this team to win the Big Sky, as they will have nice balance and depth at all positions. If Wheelwright can take the starting job and start to scratch the surface of his potential, it will surprise nobody if the Wildcats win the Big Sky. Scott Bamforth is a stud at the two spot, and will score tons of points. I will have more on Davion Berry soon, but it seems those in the know don't have enough good things to say about his ability. The frontcourt will be deep, as both Frank Otis and James Hajek will see playing time as well. Bolomboy is so talented he should see some time right away.

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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Yahoo Sports Previews The Big Sky

Jeff Eisenberg of Yahoo is one of the best college basketball writers on the planet, so I'm sure you will find his two part look at the Big Sky as interesting as I did.

He wrote one article focused on life after Damian Lillard for Weber State, and another one focusing on title favorite Montana, with a quick look around the rest of the league.

Here is his predicted order of finish:

1. Montana
2. Weber State
3. Northern Colorado
4. North Dakota
5. Sacramento State
6. Eastern Washington
7. Montana State
8. Portland State
9. Southern Utah
10. Northern Arizona
11. Idaho State

What are your thoughts on that order?

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Sir Washington Commits to Eastern Washington

Eastern Washington has secured its first commitment for the class of 2013 with the verbal from guard Sir Washington. Washington is a 6'3'' guard from Clark High School in Las Vegas.

Washington is a guard that fill up the stat sheet in a lot of areas. Last year he averaged 14.5 points, five rebounds, and four assists per game. His team took second in the Southwest League to Bishop Gorman, which is known as a national powerhouse, so he played against good competition in high school.

Sir Washington visited Eastern Washington over the weekend, saying the program’s 95-percent graduation rate was most appealing. He also fell in love with Cheney, Wash., where the school is located. He’s even ready for the heavy snow in the winters.

“Everybody knows each other in that town. I feel like I can fit in well there,” he said. “The cold weather won’t bother me. I like the snow.”
Washington also had an offer from Northern Arizona, according to The Las Vegas Sun. He projects as a shooting guard, and could be in the mix for playing time immediately with the graduation of Jeff Forbes, Collin Chiverton, and Kevin Winford.

Premier Ball has this to say about him:

Jim Hayford's recruiting class is off to a good start.

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Monday, October 1, 2012

Projecting Starters For Big Sky Teams, Part 3

I know you all have been anticipating this... so let's move forward with our look at projected starters for the Big Sky conference teams!

G - Tevin Svihovec
G - Tate Unruh
F - Tim Huskisson
F - Derrick Barden
F - Emmanual Addo
FG - Paul Garnica
FB - Connor Osborne

Comments: They will be deep, and a team that can hurt you in a lot of ways. The other interesting thing is that there are no seniors on the roster. This is a team that should improve a lot from last year, and they could be scary next season. They lost big man Mike Proctor, but from all accounts Derrick Barden will replace that production, and he could be the best newcomer in the conference. In the backcourt, I didn't even mention a guy like James Davis Jr., who could bring a new dimension to the Bears backcourt. If UNC has learned how to play some semblance of defense, and can take better care of the ball (which are two things that would come with experience), they absolutely can win this conference.

G - Lateef McMullan
G - Gary Winston
F - Michael Harthun
F - Renado Parker
F - Lamont Prosser
FG - Marcus Hall
FB - Aaron Moore

Comments: Their lineup is tough to project because they lost three starters who brought a lot of production, and weren't very deep behind them. I have Lamont Prosser and Aaron Moore in the frontcourt mix, two junior college players that they brought in. I think they will be able to match PSU's recent success of bringing in solid JUCO guys. Renado Parker is a guy that may not known to many Big Sky fans, but he is one of the best low post scorers in the Big Sky. He will not replace all of Chehales Tapscott's production, but he will replace much of the lost offense. In the backcourt, Gary Winston is a guy I really like, but they will have a tough time replacing Charles Odum's production.

G - Dylan Garrity
G - Jackson Carbajal
F - Joe Eberhard
F - John Dickson
F - Konner Veteto
FG - Jordan Estrada
FB - Jordan Salley

Comments: Hornet fans are excited about the season, and they have every right to be. Sac State will have one of the best starting lineups in the conference, with good experience across the board. Dylan Garrity was tops in the nation among freshmen in assists, and players like Dickson, Eberhard, and Veteto have the talent to be all-conference (not even mentioning Carbajal, who is capable of scoring 20 points in any given game). They have a real chance to be a top 4 team if they can get production from their bench. They brought in a big recruiting class, and they need some of those guys to be the foundation for the second unit. If they don't get it done this year, with this talent, it is far to wonder if Brian Katz will be able to get it done in Sacramento. Here is betting they break through and make the Big Sky tournament.

Thoughts? Anything that you would change?

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