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. You should supplement this article with a post on the PSU website, which also has a great and detailed look at the team.
What They Lost: The biggest loss the Vikings are likely to feel comes from inside, where Kyle Richardson had a great senior year and really established himself inside in his lone season for PSU. He was a good inside scorer and rebounder, especially on the offensive glass. At times, he was the only big man that they could count on (though they should have more depth there this year), and really was a big reason why they were as successful as they were.
They also lost a couple of the backcourt contributors. Dre Winston would have been a senior, and he had a nice year for them. He shot a blistering 62% inside the arc, and was very good at getting to the foul line. While they have the depth to overcome that loss, he was a good player and would have contributed. Marcus Hall was another guy that could do some things for them, as he shot 39% from downtown last season. Both guys were good Big Sky players.
Who Returns: Even with those backcourt losses, they should still have ample depth, talent, and experience. They have three senior guards, all of whom could start and will play big roles. Tim Douglas is the PG, and he had his moments in his first year after transferring from Portland. He only shot 39% on twos, and can hit from outside. DaShaun Wiggins was co-sixth man of the year last year, and he gets to the line about as well as anyone in the country. His rate of fouls drawn ranked fourth in the nation, and he shot 76% when he did get there. Combined with his ability to hit from outside and his low turnover rate, and he could be PSU's best player this season. Gary Winston rounds out that trio of senior guards, and he is in his fourth year in the program. He is one of the best shooters in the conference, and is better off the bounce than you might expect.
Brandon Cataldo has always had hints of his potential, but he is running out of time to show it. If he can get minutes, he is a good inside scorer and rebounder (his offensive rebounding rate is huge), but he struggles to remain on the court due to injury, conditioning, and foul issues. However, he could be a really good player. One other returner of note is guard Zach Gengler, who showed potential as a marksman as a freshman. He made 11/22 from deep last year.
Newcomers: Tiegbe Bamba is a guy they hoped would make an impact last year, but he was never able to get healthy. He is 6'6'' but very athletic, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see him start at the 4. He could be one of the top newcomers in the Big Sky. Another guy they are excited about is Bryce White, who is a sophomore after transferring from Chemeketa CC. He averaged over 27 PPG last year, and led the team in scoring during their foreign trip.
Helping provide depth inside will be Collin Spickerman, a JUCO transfer who averaged 18 and 9 last year for his junior college. He could start right away for them. Dorian Cason and Braxton Tucker are two other JUCO transfers that will provide depth up front. If there is any more playing time in the backcourt, the first of those minutes will likely go to Sebastian Suarez. He redshirted last season, and the junior was billed as being an excellent shooter. Freshman Iziahiah Sweeney could also get some time, though he is also a redshirt possibility. He is an athletic combo guard.
General Outlook: Last year, PSU snuck up on some teams in the second half of the conference season, eventually making the Big Sky tournament and upsetting Montana in the opening round. They did it playing three and four guard lineups, in part due to necessity. However, they should me more talented and deep in the frontcourt this season, which is a reason they think they can win the conference. I see them residing closer to the second tier (four to six range) than the top, but it wouldn't be a shock if they did wind up competing for the Big Sky crown. Their backcourt is talented and experienced, and the frontcourt should get better and better as the year goes on.
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