Big West Recap
by Shaan Hassan
Last season, seven of the ten teams in the Big West Conference finished with a .500 record or better (just Idaho, UC Riverside and Cal State Fullerton had a losing record) and that strong competition opened the door for a wide open conference tournament at the Anaheim Convention Center Arena in Anaheim, Calif.
Utah State and UC Irvine (both 13-5 conference records) were the favorites going in, but UC Santa Barbara (11-7) ending up playing the roll of the underdog and won the tournament. However, the Gauchos’ bubble was soon burst by the Arizona Wildcats in the first round of the NCAA tournament, while UCI and Utah State also faced first round exits in the NIT.
Despite the Anteaters’ disappoints recently in the Big West tournament, the reason they even got that far was due to the help of two-time conference MVP Jerry Green. The standout guard is now playing professional basketball in Germany on a one-year contract and according to reports, is averaging just below 30 points per game. Cal Poly’s forward David Henry also chose to play overseas in Europe.
The only coaching move made in the conference was at Long Beach State, where Wayne Morgan departs in favor of Larry Reynolds who comes from the head coaching position of Cal State San Bernardino. The other news coming out of Long Beach State is that guard Anthony Davis has asked the program to release him from his scholarship to pursue other options.
Gone from CSUN is leading scorer Markus Carr and big man Jermar Welch, who both graduated. UCSB loses center Adama Ndiaya, their third-leading scorer and leading rebounder due to graduation, as well. Fullerton will have to do without forward Josh Fischer, who graduated this past season.
Idaho is entering the season with a seven-man roster, which means they have lost four players from last year’s team. Most notably is Rodney Hilaire, the team’s leading rebounder. Pacific, however, had eight seniors on last year’s squad and just five underclassmen. Meanwhile, Riverside said good-bye to forward Lloyd Cook, the team’s third-leading scorer.
Utah State, meanwhile, loses their on-court leader Troy Brown from graduation, before he was named National Multiple Sclerosis Society Utah State Chapter Collegiate Male Athlete of the Year.