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Big West Notebook

December 2, 2002 Conference Notes No Comments

Big West Conference Notebook

by Shaan Hassan

It’s no secret that the Big West struggles to gain the national publicity that bigger conferences such as the Pacific 10, Southeastern Conference and the Atlantic Coast Conference receive. And with a chance to change some of that, two Big West teams recently played top 10 powerhouses. However, the results were unfortunate.

Cal State Northridge, a team hoping to challenge for the conference crown, took on ninth-ranked Oregon and lost 86-77, Nov. 25 at Oregon. The Matadors held a small lead in the second half, but then were called for several fouls and the Ducks, within moments, had a 10-point lead on their way to the nine-point win.

The UC Irvine Anteaters weren’t as lucky to get so close. They recently took part in the Sooner Invitational in Norman, Okla., Nov. 22-23. In their first game, the Anteaters took on third-ranked national title contender Oklahoma. The final results showed why the Sooners are expected to challenge for the NCAA championship and the Big West doesn’t get much ink. The final score read: Oklahoma 87, UCI 65.

Irvine trailed the entire game and was within seven points just under the 10-minute mark. Sooner or later you had a feeling Oklahoma would turn it on, and they did. The very next day UCI took on Western Michigan, who’s not nearly on par with Oklahoma. Yet, the Anteaters still got drummed, 73-62.

Starting Dec. 2, the conference will attempt to further expose itself to the nation. Upcoming games for the week of Dec. 1 include: One of the best mid-major teams in the country, Pepperdine, visiting Long Beach State and Cal State Fullerton before hosting UCSB. Santa Barbara will also host USC. The Pac-10 Conference gets in the middle of the Big West when underachieving UCLA hosts Long Beach State on Dec. 8 and Cal-Berkeley hosts UCSB.

If the Big West wants to begin looking for the national exposure that other prominent conferences get, these next couple weeks will allow them to do so. If the conference comes away looking unimpressive, the rest of the nation might be saying, “Good riddance to the rest of the (Big) West.”

Pacific, Utah State, Irvine Sign Recruits for Next Season

On Nov. 14, the Tigers announced that they have signed Marko Mihailovic, Allan Purnell and Michael White to national letters of intent. Mihailovic, a 6-5 guard from Pacific Palisades, Calif. averaged just under 10 points per game to go with four assists and five rebounds last season at Santa Monica JC. Purnell, a 6-4 guard from Fullerton College, averaged an Ally McBeal-shade over 12 points per game to go with 4.6 rebounds. White is a 6-8 forward from Monte Vista H.S. in Watsonville, Calif. who averaged 16.2 points and 10 rebounds per game. All players are expected to contribute heavily to the team next season.

This just in: Jason Williams joins the Big West. No, not that one, and, no, not that one either. First Florida, then Duke had their own Williams’ and now Utah State has one as well. The Aggies announced, Nov. 21, the signing of Jason Williams, a 6-7 forward from Santa Rosa JC to a national letter of intent. He averaged 16 points and eight rebounds per game last season and shot 53.8 percent from beyond the arc.

The Anteaters, Nov. 19, announced the signing of Jim Paullin to a national letter of intent. Paullin is a seven-footer from Battle Ground H.S. in Washington who averaged 13.5 points and just under nine rebounds per game last season.

Big West Names Idaho’s Williams Player of the Week

Junior Dwayne Williams was named the Big West Conference Player of the Week, Nov. 25, as he scored 23 points to lead the Vandals passed Oregon State 76-73 in an overtime win. He nailed five three-pointers and shot 8 of 13 from the field.


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