Thursday, February 14, 2013

Weber State Is The Best Team in the Big Sky

The standings will show that Montana is 14-1, while Weber State is 13-2. The Grizzlies still have Will Cherry and Kareem Jamar, who might be the two best players in the conference. They still have Wayne Tinkle, the best coach in the Big Sky. But on Thursday night, Weber State clearly looked like the best team in the Big Sky.

The Wildcats beat Montana 87-63 on Thursday night in Ogden, and the game was never really in doubt from about midway through the first half and on. Montana's record-setting winning streak ended with a thud, as they had no answer for Weber on either end of the court.

Weber has been the best defensive team in the Big Sky this year, so it was appropriate that they got started in this game defensively. Montana scored just 24 first half points, because the Wildcats were using their athleticism to shut down everything. Kareem Jamar had no room to operate (finishing with 4 points), and that caused Will Cherry to press a bit. The Grizzlies turned the ball over early, and WSU just got more and more aggressive.

Offensively, Weber State aggressively pounded the ball down low, and they got whatever they wanted. Kyle Tresnak had 19 points on 8/10 shooting, and Frank Otis had 14 points on 5/7 shooting. This is a winning blueprint for Weber, because the Grizzlies don't have the size to match up. Put it this way... when Tresnak or Otis have the ball down low, Montana does not even have one guy to match up defensively with them them, let alone a defender for each guy. They got anything they wanted inside, and that was not a fluke.

WSU also got big games from Gelaun Wheelwright (14 points, 4/4 from downtown) and Davion Berry (16 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds, 3 steals), as those two guys seemed to have an answer for Montana often in the second half.  Anytime the Grizzlies threatened to threaten (it would be a stretch to say they threatened in the second half), there was an answer.

On the year, Weber State has been the better offensive team by a smidgen, while being much better defensively. The fact that they lost by 2 to Montana and slipped against Montana State (which the Grizzlies almost did as well) does not change the fact that on a neutral court, Weber State is the better team.

However, that is the ace in Montana's hand. If they win out, they have home-cpurt advantage in the Big Sky tournament, meaning that if the teams meet again, it would be in Missoula. The Grizzlies have a tough schedule down the stretch, but with Tinkle at the helm and a leader like Will Cherry on the court, it would not surprise anyone if the Big Sky will still go through Montana.

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1 comment:

  1. Nice write up jon. Because both teams are so good at home, hosting the tournament is held is going to be huge. Will be fun to see how things shake out in the next three weeks.