Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A Snapshot of the Big Sky

I missed a lot over the Thanksgiving break, but it was a great holiday! However, rather than trying to go over everything I missed, let's take a snapshot of what happened for each team the past few days, and any trends that we can see.

Eastern Washington - On Friday, they got a win over a decent Seattle team, powered again by a great offensive performance, as they scored 1.17 PPP. Tyler Harvey led the way with 30 points, including 6/9 from downtown. Through seven games, he has already attempted 55 threes... but being as he has made 28 of them (51%), I am sure the EWU coaches would just like him to keep shooting!

Idaho State - The Bengals have had a nice long break, as they haven't played since November 23. As we have talked about often, all four of their game have been over 70 possessions, a remarkable turn from last year. They are fun to watch.

Montana - They lost by 11 to Hawaii, dropping them to 1-4 on the young season. Against the Rainbow Warriors, Kareem Jamar was merely good - 16 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists. To beat good teams, they need Jamar to be great at this point in the season. The Grizzlies are continuing to get little to no production from their frontcourt.

Montana State - The Bobcats beat Cal State Northridge last Tuesday, before falling big at Wyoming (which is to be expected). One of the biggest reasons they are struggling is that Flavien Davis (87.3 ORtg) and Calen Coleman (91.5 ORtg) are both struggling. They were both solid last season, so they should pick up... but they need them to be good for MSU to compete.

North Dakota - UND took their high of beating NDSU... and promptly lost to Cal Poly (by 27), Oregon (15), and Pacific (17). That's not a good look for them or the Big Sky. UND was BAD defensively in all three games, allowing over 90 to both Oregon and Pacific. DI Opponents are shooting 58.7% on twos against them this year, which is really, really bad. They need to clean that up.

Northern Arizona - The Jacks fell to 2-6 with losses to CS Bakersfield, Drake, and Fresno State, three games they could have been reasonably expected to lose. They are shooting just 25% on threes against DI opponents this year, led by the struggles of Quinton Upshur (28% on almost seven attempts per game) and Aaseem Dizon (33% on almost six attempts per game). Combined with too high of a turnover rate and not getting to the foul line, and they are struggling offensively.

Northern Colorado - The Bears won a way too close game against Bethune Cookman (65-60) and then beat Prairie View A&M over the weekend. They trailed Bethune Cookman by as many as 18 before a late comeback to win. They didn't really learn from that, as they trailed Prairie View by as many as 11 in the first half before winning by 17. They have the talent to compete for a Big Sky title, but have to find the consistency... and not have any games where they go through the motions.

Portland State - PSU lost to Boise State on the road, but now stand at 4-2. They have been forcing a lot of turnovers, having the 45th best rate at that in the country. If they can keep that up, that can help make the defense at least average, which would be a big step up from the past couple years and position them to nab a conference tournament spot.

Sacramento State - The Hornets eeked out a win in a rivalry game against UC Davis, and then got blown out by a pretty good UC Irvine team. It still feels like we don't know that much about the Hornets. Dylan Garrity is great, Mikh McKinney is good... but then what? We are still waiting to see which big men will step up and be consistent rotational players for them.

Southern Utah - Through the first few weeks of the year, they still look like they will probably occupy the cellar in the Big Sky. They look like one of the worst offensive teams in college basketball, failing to crack 0.90 PPP in any game against DI competition (and that is not a very high benchmark). They have some good pieces, but there's not enough of them, and they are still too young to make a consistent impact.

Weber State - The national nightmare is over, as Weber State got their first win - a comfortable victory over San Jose State. They are still looking for a consistent impact from Jordan Richardson at the two spot, and their forced turnover rate is still ugly, but they have the talent to figure those things out. Joel Bolomboy continues to rebound the ball, with an OR% of 12.1 and DR% of 23.1. Two interesting road games against UT-Arlington and Utah Valley await.

Anything important I have missed?

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