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Big Sky Notebook

December 5, 2002 Conference Notes No Comments



Big Sky Notebook

by Nicholas Lozito

College basketball is a 40-minute game

If college basketball games lasted only seven minutes, the Big Sky Conference would have recorded wins over No. 15 Missouri and No. 1 Arizona this past week. The Sacramento State Hornets (1-3) held a 16-11 lead over Mizzou with 12:30 remaining in the first half. The Northern Arizona Lumberjacks (2-2) had a 16-13 lead with 13:28 remaining in the first half over the Wildcats. Unfortunately for both upset-minded teams, the game of college basketball lasts 40 minutes — two halves of twenty minutes each. The Big Sky duo combined to be outscored 105-47 in the second half.

The moral of these two stories is to never get your hopes up when playing with the big boys, because they just might be toying with you. They’ll let you hang around for a few minutes, get you thinking you have a chance to win, and then squash you like a bug (or Hornet).

One positive that Sacramento State and Northern Arizona can draw from these games is that they did battle, for a short period of time, with a pair of high-quality teams. Notably, Hornet center Tony Champion scored 14 points in the first half against All-America candidate Arthur Johnson. Champion, who lost significant weight over the summer, will become an even bigger force as the season rolls along. The 6-foot-11 center will also be able to exploit the undersized Big Sky.

Northern Arizona seems to have found a sniper in Kelly Golob, who scored 14 points in nineteen minutes against Arizona. The freshman guard has connected on 15-of-22 shots from beyond the arc in the last three games, including a 29-point effort in a win over St. Peter’s.

Whether the Hornets and Lumberjacks can build off of these brief glimpses of greatness, and extend them over a 40-minute stretch is yet to be seen. The two teams have combined to go 1-5 against Div. I competition so far this year.

Hornets in a huge hole

Cedric Thompkins is the latest Sacramento State academic casualty, as the forward will most likely redshirt the season after his summer school grades did not meet NCAA regulations. Thompkins joins swingman Joel Jones, guards Joseth Dawson and David Joiner, and forward Leo Cravey as Hornets who did not qualify academically to play in the Fall 2002 semester. Jones will red shirt the entire season, while Dawson, Joiner and Cravey will rejoin the team in early January, granted their fall grades meet NCAA standards.

Dawson and Jones served as the Hornets top-two scorers last season, while Thompkins was the team’s top rebounder. The five ineligibilities also creates a great lack of depth for the Hornets, who are currently suiting up only nine scholarship players. The team has only one backup guard and only four returning players.

Big Sky in a rut

The eight-team conference combined to go 5-13 over the past week, recording only one victory (Weber State beat Nevada) over a Div. I school. The conference had a 4-2 mark against lower division schools. The Big Sky went 0-3 versus schools from a fellow mid-major, the West Coast Conference.

The Weber State Wildcats (4-1) and Eastern Washington Eagles (3-2) are currently the only two teams with winning records in the conference, while Weber is the only team with a positive scoring margin. The Wildcats most recently received a 32-point performance from all-conference guard Jermaine Boyette in a 73-70 victory over Nevada. The senior guard shot 11-of-15 from the field.

Game of the Week

The Montana Grizzlies will take on previously-ranked Gonzaga on Thursday night in Montana. This will be first-year Montana coach Pat Kennedy’s first realistic shot to knock off a contending team. Prediction: Gonzaga 80, Montana 74.

Player of the Week

Weber State guard Jermaine Boyette averaged 23.5 points and five assists in wins over Nevada and Montana Tech.

     

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