Friday, October 3, 2014

Idaho State Outlook

It's time to get ready for the Big Sky season again with some overviews of each team this month, and then eventually we'll get into more detailed looks at everything.

What They Lost: The biggest loss is do-everything guard Tomas Sanchez, who was really their only PG on the roster last season. Sanchez played an astounding 95.3% of the team's minutes, which was the fourth highest mark for anyone in the country last season. His numbers were solid (but not great), but he was the guy with the ball in his hands at every key moment. It remains to be seen who that guy will be for them this year.

Andre Hatchett was one of the most improved Big Sky players last year, as he became a surprisingly good playmaker (21.4 Assist Rate), and had the ability to play and guard multiple positions. The other loss of note is big man Ayibakuro Preh, who had the top effective field goal percentage in the country last year, courtesy of shooting 37/52 from the floor.

Who Returns: The biggest returner is probably Chris Hansen, who is one of the best shooters in the conference. He made 75 threes last season, and has perhaps the quickest release in the Big Sky. He will need to be able to create his own shots a little bit more this season, but having him around helps space the offense well. Also returning is forward Jeffrey Solarin, who was one of the best offensive rebounders in the nation despite being just 6'4''.

Beyond those two guys, just role players return, a function of the losses and the fact that ISU was not a very deep team last season. Evann Hall showed some flashes as a sophomore in his first year, but he was not much of a scorer. Andre Slavic appears to be a talented forward, but he didn't get much time last year.

Newcomers: Marcus Bradley is a 6'7'' forward that should be a key cog for their frontcourt. He was an early Bill Evans recruit, and could have an immediate impact as a junior. Likewise, senior forward Nnamdi Ezenwa redshirted last season, but started four games two seasons ago. Those two should add to what should be the strength of team, up front with some athletic and versatile guys.

In the backcourt, the Bengals will be hoping that guard Geno Luzcando or Ian Fox are ready to play right away. Both are talented, but it might be a stretch to think they can lead the Bengals into the conference tournament in year one, if they are asked to contribute that much. Ben Wilson redshirted last year, and projects as a wing who can do a little bit of everything for them.

General Outlook: I think ISU is going in the right direction under Bill Evans. They haven't made the conference tournament in his two seasons, but they were close last year, and Evans has upgraded the talent base from where it was when he took over. Though they appear to be closer to the bottom than the top this year, they seem to have a nice incoming class, and they will break through eventually. It could be this year, if they can have some production from the youth in the backcourt.

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