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December 13, 2002 Featured No Comments

Bar Room Bicker – Big Sky vs. West Coast

by James Burns and Nicholas Lozito

Note: This is the first installation of The Bar Room Bicker, which pits two college basketball enthusiasts against one another. James Burns covers the West Coast Conference while Nicholas Lozito covers the Big Sky Conference. Each week the two pick an array of topics and argue their sides.

Week one: The Big Sky Conference vs. The West Coast Conference

Which is the toughest conference?

James Burns: The West Coast Conference is the tougher of the two conferences by far. You can’t honestly compare the two conferences; it’s not fair … to the Big Sky Conference. Look at the head-to-head match-ups this season. I think the West Coast has lost just one game to the Big Sky and still San Francisco almost won that game. Bottom line, the West Coast has star-talent across the board, NCAA Tournament experience and national exposure. The Big Sky has the NIT and Jermaine Boyette.

Nicholas Lozito: From top to bottom the Big Sky is the better conference. Teams that were expected to finish near the bottom of the conference, such as the Sacrament State Hornets and Northern Arizona Lumberjacks, currently have winning records. The Hornets, picked last, knocked off the team picked No. 3 in the WCC, San Francisco.

Eastern Washington vs. Gonzaga?

JB: Gonzaga wins that game by a landslide. I know, I know, anything can happen. But Gonzaga has way too much for Eastern Washington to handle. Throw defense out of the window because Gonzaga will punish Eastern Washington on the offensive-side of the ball. Double down on Ronny Turiaf and Corey Voilette, who will beat you up inside, and Blake Stepp will murder you from behind the arc. The kid can flat out shoot. Stepp’s got people in the West Coast wondering: Dickau who? And when he does miss (which he doesn’t do too much), Turiaf and Voilette are there to clean up his mess.

NL: Alvin Snow, one of the best defensive guards in the country, keeps Blake Stepp in check all night. Chris Hester will slash through the unathletic Bulldogs defense. Brandon Merritt will hammer 3-point shots all night and Marc Axton is a solid defender in the post along with T.J. Williams. If the Eagles can push the pace, they can run with any team. The are 10 times more athletic than the ‘Zags.

Darrell Tucker vs. Jermaine Boyette?

JB: Boyette’s got game. The kid can hoop, I’ve said it all along. Heck, I dedicated 15-inches of column space to his skills. But when matched up against the West Coast’s Darrell Tucker, there is little Boyette can do to keep up. All Tucker would have to do is back Boyette into the paint and muscle the ball up over the top of him. What’s a scrawny 6-0 guard going to do to stop a 6-9 power forward trucking down on him? Take a charge? If he’s smart he’d get out of the way. And that is why Tucker wins this head-to-head.

NL: Give me a break! Boyette, 6-2 by the way, would run circles around Tucker. On defense, he would pick the big man’s pocket every time. Tucker needs to be on the court with four teammates; Boyette is a chameleon, he can adapt to any situation, including a one-on-one battle with Tucker. That’s what true ballers do – adapt. Tucker can bang in the post; he even has range out to fifteen feet. But Boyette has the one asset that is necessary in any one-on-one battle – driving ability. He would shake right (watch your ankles big man), cross back over to the left and leave the big man in the dust.

Mascots: Waves (Pepperdine) vs. Lumberjacks (Northern Arizona)?

JB: Laugh it up. Sure, Pepperdine’s mascot doesn’t appear to be scary. I’m sure you’re all silently mocking the West Coast mascot, “Oohh, I’m the big, bad Wave. I’m going to crush you.” The heckling gets even worse when you consider Doug Christie was a Wave. But if you’ve seen the 2002 rendition of the Waves logo, you’d know that this Wave is no ordinary Wave – it’s a super Wave. A tsunami, if you will. Piss this Wave off and you’re in trouble, he’ll storm the shore and swallow you alive.

NL: It’s a Lumberjack. They carry a big axe. They wear flannel shirts. They have somebody to look up to – Paul Bunyan, the legend himself. Bunyan is huge. There is no doubt in my mind that the guy could dunk a basketball. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if he would take down the whole backboard. A Wave has no impact on a basketball game whatsoever. The only thing it could do is flood a court, and that would simply call off the game. It’s like naming your team the “Snow Storms,” or the “Blackouts.”

James Burns and Nicholas Lozito are a Hoopville Staff writers living in Sacramento.

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