Sunday, May 18, 2014

Wayne Tinkle Reportedly Leaving for Oregon State

I know I'm on summer break, but had to post about this. It appears that Wayne Tinkle will be offered the Oregon State head coaching job, and is expected to take it (and might have already by the time you read this). It was bound to happen eventually... Tinkle is a fantastic coach that has done great things at Montana, and had been rumored for various jobs over the past couple of seasons.

Tinkle as a candidate for Oregon State was first rumored a couple weeks ago, but didn't seem to have a ton of steam. However, things must have moved quickly. It's a big loss for Montana, but coaches leaving can also be a great thing for program recognition. Plus, you can't help but be happy for Tinkle.

With a tough Big Sky coming at the top, and a talented but largely inexperienced roster set for next season, it appeared Tinkle was ready to seriously consider any opportunities that came his way. It is a good fit timing wise in that sense for him. Montana will be a good team, but it's not a given they will be in the top half of the Big Sky next season, because there should be a lot of solid teams.

So, where does Montana turn to next? Some logical names including former Montana player and current Cal assistant Travis DeCuire, former Griz assistant Freddie Owens, and current assistant Jono Metzger-Jones. All three are logical names to keep in mind, and all three seem like they would be fantastic head coaches.

It will be interesting to follow, because clearly Montana is one of the premier programs in the Big Sky, if not the premier program. You have to figure Montana will act quickly, to save their recruiting class.

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Friday, May 9, 2014

Summer Break

With the offseason in full swing, this blog will be taking a summer break as well.

I posted my early rankings for next year, and have updated the recruiting tracker as best as I can.

I will be posting sparingly or not at all during the offseason - likely not saying much unless there is some big news. Feel free to contact me via email or twitter if anything major does happen and I see to miss it! I will most likely be back in the fall for one more season of Big Sky basketball coverage on the blog - that is the plan at least for now. I'll just see how I'm feeling when the time comes!

In the meantime, have a great summer! Get outside and stay adventurous!

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Early 2014-15 Big Sky Rankings

It's that time of the offseason where we take a VERY early look to how next season will play out. Since I've started blogging about the Big Sky (three years ago), there was always one or two favorites to win (Weber State and/or Montana). Next season, that won't be the case.

Honestly, to me, the top seven teams look remarkably even. It is going to be an absolutely wide open race for the Big Sky title, which should be pretty fun. So, if you disagree with these rankings, I don't blame you. Would love to hear thoughts and reasoned opinions on where you differ - I think it'd be very interesting to see what people think, because it was hard to come up with an order!

1. Weber State
They are first in part because they are the defending champions, they return a lot of talent (even though they also lose a lot), and there is no other clear favorite. But, it's clear they won't be the favorites as in some past seasons. For one, they will have one senior on the team, relying a lot on young guys. Second, they will be relying on guys to grow in ways they haven't shown yet. The good news is that the talent is there. Joel Bolomboy could be the conference POY - an NBA level rebounder and defender whose offensive game continues to develop. They need their sophomore backcourt of Jeremy Senglin and Richaud Gittens to make the leap from super talented freshmen contributors to cornerstones - a process that will happen, but it's just a matter of how long it takes. Would it be a surprise to see the Wildcats win the Big Sky again next season? No. But unlike past year, it also wouldn't be a surprise if they are in a dogfight just to finish in the top four.

2. Sacramento State
The Hornets get my vote for second based on the strength of their backcourt, which was arguably the best in the conference last season, and will be the best this season. Both Dylan Garrity and Mikh McKinney are superb ballhandlers, scorers, and passers. Garrity may be the elite shooter in the Big Sky, while McKinney is excellent at breaking down a defense, getting into the lane, and getting to the line. The key will be frontcourt production. They have a nice recruiting class, but they can't count too much on those guys this season. Zach Mills is a nice player, and he will produce. The key will be Eric Stuteville, who came on strong at the end of his freshman season. If he can develop into a double digit scorer (and he has that talent level), the Hornets should have the best offense in the Big Sky.

3. Northern Arizona
Last year, I think, was almost a year ahead of schedule for the Lumberjacks. They finished third in the Big Sky, an impressive showing considering their age and inexperience. They lose Max Jacobsen, but the rest of their main guys returns. They will have a strong backcourt with Aaseem Dixon, Kris Yanku, and Quinton Upshur, and guys like Ako Kaluna and Len Springs will be even better inside. Head coach Jack Murphy has done a great job recruiting, and they should have the athletes and talent to compete for a Big Sky title next season.

4. Montana
There are reasons to think this is too optimistic. They weren't that good last year (despite finishing fourth, they had major issues), and they lose do everything Kareem Jamar. But take them lightly at your own peril. For one, their backcourt will remain strong - Jordan Gregory and Keron DeShields will be a solid senior duo, and Mario Dunn is ready to become a star in the Big Sky. The other thing is that the frontcourt will be much better than in past year. Martin Breunig will become eligible, and he was the best post man in the program last season. They also have young bigs coming in, which will greatly help the depth. Bottom line, the Grizzlies lose Jamar, but they could be an improved team anyway.

5. Eastern Washington
The Eagles return everyone from last year's squad, which is good for a team that improved by three conferences games from the year before and was 5th in the conference offensively. They will have tons of weapons, including guard Tyler Harvey, who developed into possibly the best scorer in the conference. They have balance as well, with guys like Venky Jois, Martin Seiferth, and Ognjen Miljkovic in the frontcourt. Like others, the Eagles absolutely are talented enough to win the Big Sky.

6. Northern Colorado
The Bears probably head up the "second tier," but they are still a really talented team, even after losing some cornerstone players. Tevin Svihovec has been around forever, and he'll be the senior leader. Of course, they won't be hurting for backcourt talent - Jordan Wilson was steady as a freshman PG, Corey Spence adds a spark, and eligible transfer Cam Michael is ready to play after sitting out a year (and don't be surprised if he is the Newcomer of the Year). The key to the year might be senior forward Tim Huskisson, who is an all-conference talent when things are going well. The problem has been staying in BJ Hill's good graces and bringing consistency every night. If he does, UNC can and will beat anyone on any given night.

7. Portland State
With the way the Vikings finished and the fact that they don't lose that many guys, this may be too low. They will have a deep backcourt, with guys like Gary Winston, Tim Douglas, Marcus Hall, and DaShaun Wiggins all proven contributors. The key will be the frontcourt, where they lose Kyle Richardson, but will hopefully have a healthy Tiegba Bamba and some solid JUCO guys coming in. Their defense was better last year but still just seventh in the Big Sky last year. If they can get even a little better there, the ceiling could be a top 3 Big Sky finish.

8. Idaho
I looked at them in more depth a couple weeks ago, but they look like a typical Big Sky team - they can put points on the boards, but they won't get too many stops. They lose two of their top six, but return Connor Hill, who could be one of the best shooters in the Big Sky in his first season in the conference. During WAC play, they were worst in the conference in defensive efficiency. How they do on that end will determine if they are battling for the final tournament spot, or if their sights should be set a little higher.

9. Idaho State
They lose Tomas SanchezAndre Hatchett, and Aviabkuro Preh, who were a huge part of the program and are a lot to replace. As I have said, I think Bill Evans is an excellent coach, but we knew it would take time to build the talent level of the program back up. There are question marks heading into this season - who plays point guard? But there is talent with guys like Chris Hansen and Jeffrey Solarin, and they should be good enough to being on the edge of conference tournament qualification.

10. Montana State
The Bobcats lose three starters (including their top two frontcourt players) and their head coach, so clearly there is some work to be done. Brian Fish looks like a nice fit on paper, so we will see how the first season of his reign goes. He made a quick statement by signing two solid athletes out of Arizona, but the problem in Bozeman lately has not been getting good players to campus, but molding them into a good team. Expectations should be tempered in year one, but the Bobcats could have enough talent to be frisky.

11. North Dakota
All UND is losing is the best class in program history, and the one that brought them into the DI level. They can't replace guys like Troy Huff, Aaron Anderson, Jamal Webb, and others, so this is a team that will look very different. Brian Jones will need a backcourt of Quinton Hooker and Cole Stefan to log a lot of productive minutes for UND, who will be replacing the majority of their scoring from one of the most experienced teams in the country last season. It is a rebuilding year in Grand Forks.

12. Southern Utah
They will be much improved from last year's team, but this is still a program with a long ways to go. They have young guys that they hope can be cornerstone players - the five guys that played the most minutes last season are all returning, and none of them will even be seniors this year(!), but this year will be about continuing that growth and building toward 2015-16. If they improve their Big Sky win total by five games and continue to show the growth that was evident throughout last season, they might finish last again, but their rebuilding plan will be right on schedule for Nick Robinson.

Please share any of your thoughts and opinions! As I've said, this is all guesswork, but one of the most fun articles to write and think about. Would love to hear some discussion.

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ScoreBig Review

I got the chance to review ScoreBig, which is a new ticketing website (like StubHub). It works a little differently in that you aren't necessarily purchasing a specific ticket - you bid on tickets in certain sections, and then either get the bid or don't get the bid. You also get an instant answer, which is nice.

I bid on tickets for the a Minnesota Twins vs Colorado Rockies game, and it went well and was actually a little fun. I bid for two tickets - once I put my tickets and corresponding section, it told me roughly how likely I was to get the tickets. Then I pressed the button, and right away it told me my bid was successful!

Also, there were no fees at all, which was pretty nice, because those have a tendency to gouge you! Just for fun, I compared my tickets and pricing to stubhub, and my tickets were cheaper than they would have been on stubhub for that particular area. So, I would recommend trying out ScoreBig, and I will likely try it out again. I can't speak to their amount of tickets or ubiquity of events, but I can say that my experience was a successful one!

Here is some more information on them: enables consumers to get great tickets for live sports, concert and theater events – at guaranteed savings of up to 60 percent. customers pick their own price on seats from the floor to the rafters, always pay less than box office price, and never pay any fees. For its partners, is the first and only opaque sales channel to move unsold ticket inventory in a way that protects the ticket owner’s brand and full-price sales. Headquartered in Los Angeles, Calif., was founded in 2009 and is backed by Bain Capital Ventures and U.S. Venture Partners. was recently recognized by Forbes as one of America’s Most Promising Companies and by Billboard as one of the 10 Best Start-ups of 2012.
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