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Big Sky 2002-03 Season Recap

May 19, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments

Big Sky Conference 2002-03 Season Recap

by Nicholas Lozito

The 2002-03 Big Sky season saw one team obliterate the competition, and several others rise from their annual positions in the conference cellars. Weber State (26-6 overall, 14-0 in Big Sky), led by senior shooting guard Jermaine Boyette and junior forward Slobodan Ocokoljic, became only the second team to go undefeated in conference play in the history of the Big Sky. After knocking off Sacramento State in the semifinal round of the Big Sky Tourney, the Wildcats beat Eastern Washington, 60-57, in the championship game to advance to the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats lost to No. 5-seed Wisconsin, 81-74, in the first round of the NCAAs. Ocokoljic and Boyette finished the game with 26 and 25 points, respectively. Wisconsin advanced to the Sweet 16 before losing to Kentucky.

Eastern Washington, who finished second in regular season play, lost in the Big Sky Championship Game for the third-consecutive season. However, this time the Eagles earned a bid into the NIT, marking their first ever postseason berth at the Div. I level. Eastern Washington fell to Wyoming in the first round, 78-71, despite receiving nineteen points from senior Chris Hester and seventeen from junior Alvin Snow.

Idaho State and Sac State each had impressive conference seasons to advance to conference tournament play, with Sac State making their first-ever appearance. Idaho State was sparked by a pair of junior college transfers, point guard Marquis Poole and power forward Scott Henry, who led a balanced Bengals attack to a fourth-place finish. The Hornets, despite having their top-two scorers from the prior season out with academic ineligibility, snatched the final conference tournament seed with a 25-point performance by senior Derek Lambeth in the deciding game against Montana State. Lambeth scored 24 in a first round upset at Montana.

Montana, the 2002 Big Sky Champs, finished in third place under first-year coach Pat Kennedy. Northern Arizona, who was the hottest team coming into conference play having knocked off UCLA in the preseason, finished in fifth place. Montana State and Portland State both failed to make the conference tournament.

First Team All-Big Sky
Jermaine Boyette: senior guard, Weber State
Alvin Snow: junior guard, Eastern Washington
David Bell: senior guard, Montana
Derek Lambeth: senior forward, Sacramento State
Ryan McDade: senior forward, Northern Arizona

Honorable Mention:
Chris Hester: senior forward, Eastern Washington
Slobodan Ocokoljic: junior forward, Weber State
Marquis Poole: junior guard, Idaho State
Scott Henry: junior forward, Idaho State
Seth Scott: junior forward, Portland State

Conference Player of the Year

Jermaine Boyette: senior guard, Weber State

Boyette was unstoppable in the Wildcats’ championship game win over Eastern Washington. His play down the stretch single-handedly took Weber to the NCAA Tournament. Boyette (20.5 points, 1.78 steals) has the complete offensive package. He can pop from long range, take his man off the dribble and back him down in the post. Boyette finished his career No. 14 on the all-time conference scoring list.

Freshman of the Year

Kevin Criswell: shooting guard, Montana

Kevin Criswell is as scrappy as they come. This 6-foot-2, 180-pound kid (of the pasty complexion) used his unorthodox shooting style to finish fourth in the conference scoring, at 15.1 points. Criswell moved his way into the staring role as the year progressed, and finished the year with six games of 25-or-more points. Other candidates were Sac State freshman point guard DaShawn Freeman, Idaho State shooting guard David Schroeder and NAU swingman Kelly Golob.

Newcomer of the Year

Slobodan Ocokoljic: junior forward, Montana

Despite being suspended the first nine games for making unauthorized long distance phone calls from a Weber State office phone, Wildcat forward Slobodan Ocokoljic made a huge impact once he hit the floor. The Ohio State transfer averaged 15.3 points and 8.4 rebounds his junior season, complimenting MVP Jermaine Boyette.

Defensive Player of the Year

Alvin snow: junior point guard, Eastern Washington

If Alvin Snow were to ever stop playing basketball, he could probably find a lucrative career as a football fullback. He’s a strong man. For now, Snow uses his powerful 6-foot-2, 205-pound frame to destroy him offensive opposition on the court. Snow finished second in the conference with 2.19 steals, while blocking 0.45 shots per game.

Coach of the Year

Doug Olivier: Idaho State

In one year’s time, Idaho State head coach Doug Olivier turned a program in shambles into a conference contender. And that was after he lost leading scored D’Marr Suggs to graduation. Olivier took a collection of JuCo transfers, freshmen and returning players, and molded them into a team of believers.

Weber State Wildcats (26-6, 14-0)

Starters Leaving/Staying: 3/2

Key Players Leaving:
Jermaine Boyette, shooting guard: graduated
Stephen Bachman, center: graduated
Guard Brad Barton, guard: graduated
Stevie Morrison, guard: graduated

Key Players Staying:
Nic Sparrow: senior forward
Slobodan Ocokoljic: senior forward
John Hamilton: senior guard

Coaches Corner: Weber State signed coach Joe Cravens to a four-year contract.

Scoring Leader: Jermaine Boyette, 20.5
Rebounding Leader: Slobodan Ocokoljic, 8.4
Assist Leader: Brad Barton, 3.6

Notes: Weber State signed two JuCo transfers on April 16. Troy Goodell, a 6-foot-6 forward, and Ryan Davis, a 6-foot guard, will both be eligible to play for the Wildcats next season.

Eastern Washington Eagles (18-13, 9-5)

Starters Leaving/Staying: 2/3

Key Players Leaving:
Chris Hester, small forward: graduated
T.J. Williams, power forward: graduated
Keith Brown, small forward: graduated

Key Players Staying:
Alvin Snow: junior point guard
Brandon Merritt: senior shooting guard
Danny Pariseau: sophomore guard
Greg Smith: senior center
Marc Axton: junior forward

Coaches Corner: Carl Howell, former head coach at Tacoma (Wash.) Community College, will join the Eagles’ staff as an assistant, replacing the departed Mike Burns.

Scoring Leader: Chris Hester, 14.0
Rebounding Leader: T.J. Williams, 5.7
Assists Leader: Alvin Snow, 3.8

Notes: Eastern Washington signed two high school recruits on April 16. Josh Love, a 6-foot-7 forward from Rainier Beach High School in Tacoma, and J.J. Jackson, a 6-foot-8 forward from Jefferson High in Portland.

Montana Grizzlies (13-17, 7-7)

Starters Leaving/Staying: 3/2

Key Players Leaving:
Sam Riddle, point guard: transferring to Montana-Western
David Bell, shooting guard: graduated
Marcus Rosser, forward: graduated

Key Players Returning:
Brent Cummings, senior forward
Kevin Criswell, sophomore guard
Derrick Mansell, senior guard
Mike Chavez, sophomore forward
Steve Horne, senior forward
Victor Ventors, senior forward

Scoring Leader: David Bell, 17.6
Rebounding Leader: Marcus Rosser, 7.2
Assists Leader: Sam Riddle, 2.9

Notes: With Sam Riddle leaving the program, Derrick Mansell will take over at the point with Kevin Criswell at shooting guard. Brent Cummings will also most likely return as a starter after red shirting due to injury.

Idaho State Bengals (15-14, 7-7)

Starters Leaving/Staying: 2/3

Key Players Leaving:
Jeremy Brown, shooting guard: graduated
Danny Boticki, guard: graduated
Rashad Kirkland, small forward: graduated
Ray Munyagi, guard: graduated

Key Players Staying
Marquis Poole, senior point guard
Jesse Smith, junior center
Scott Henry, senior forward
Arzelle Lewis, senior guard
Davis Schroeder, sophomore guard

Scoring Leader: Scott Henry, 11.7
Rebounding Leader: Scott Henry, 8.2
Assists Leader: Marquis Poole, 4.2

Notes: Idaho State signed four players in the month of April. Carl Lee, a 6-foot-6 forward from Fresno City College, Logan Kinghorn, a 6-foot-5 guard from Rigby High, Nate Rede, a 6-foot-7 forward from Monterey Peninsula, and Jeff Gardner, a 6-foot-2 point guard from Snow College will all be eligible to play this season.

Northern Arizona Lumberjacks (15-13, 6-8)

Players Leaving/Staying: 1/4

Key Players Leaving
Ryan McDade, power forward: graduated
Chris Ferguson, guard: graduated

Key Players Staying
Kelly Golob, sophomore forward
Stephen Garnett, junior shooting guard
Kyle Feuerbach, junior guard
Aaron Bond, senior forward
Kodiak Yazzie, senior forward
Ben Powell, senior power forward

Scorer Leader: Ryan McDade, 18.0
Rebounding Leader: McDade, 8.6
Assists Leader: Kyle Feuerbach, 5.3

Notes: Northern Arizona added a much needed big man this off-season, signing Joakim Kjellbom, a seven-foot center from Irvine Valley College.

Sacramento State Hornets (12-17, 5-9)

Starters Leaving/Staying: 3/2

Key Players Leaving
Derek Lambeth, small forward: graduated
Raashad Hooks, point guard: graduated
Jimmy White, power forward: graduated

Key Players Staying
DaShawn Freeman, sophomore point guard
Chris Lange, sophomore forward
Tony Champion, senior center
Cedric Thompkins, senior forward
Brandon Guyton, senior guard
Joel Jones, senior guard
Joseth Dawson, senior guard
Emir Medunjanin, senior small forward

Coaching Corner: Head coach Jerome Jenkins recently received a two-year rollover contract worth $70,000 a year.

Scorer Leader: Derek Lambeth, 13.0
Rebounding Leader: Jimmy White, 6.0
Assists Leader: Raashad Hooks, 4.0

Notes: The Hornets will add Div. I transfers Jameel Pugh, a shooting guard from UMass, and E.J. Harris, a point guard from Washington State. The Hornets will also likely see the return of their top-two scorers from the previous year’s team, as swingman Joel Jones and shooting guard Joseth Dawson return from academic ineligibility. With a stacked backcourt, expect senior swingman Emir Medudjanin to most likely redshirt. The hornets recently signed power forward Mark Schmidt to a letter of intent. Schmidt, who played one season at Yuba College, will be eligible to play next season as a sophomore.

Montana State Bobcats (11-16, 5-9)

Starters Leaving/Returning: 2/3

Key Players Leaving
Pete Conway, shooting guard: graduated
Casey Reynolds, forward: graduated
Shea Washington, sophomore forward: transferring

Key Players Returning
Jason Erickson, senior point guard
Bo Segeberg, senior center
Josh Barsh, senior forward
Calvin Ento, senior forward
Frank Brown, sophomore guard

Coaches Corner: Bobcat head coach Mick Durham can’t expect to have another season without a conference tourney and expect to keep his job.

Scoring Leader: Pete Conway, 14.3
Rebounding Leader: Casey Reynolds, 6.1
Assists Leader: Frank Brown/Jason Erickson, 3.1

Notes: Sophomore forward Shea Washington has announced that he’s leaving to Bobcats to transfer to Southern Oregon University, an NAIA school closer to his hometown.

Portland State Vikings (5-22, 3-11)

Starting Leaving/Returning: 1/4

Key Players Leaving
Jeb Ivey, point guard: graduated

Key Players Returning
Seth Scott, senior forward
Kevin Briggs, senior guard
John Glaser, senior guard
John Giannoni III, senior guard
Marshal Hartman, freshman forward
Seamus Boxley, junior forward
Brandon Haughton, senior forward

Scoring Leader: Jeb Ivey, 15.0
Rebounding Leader: Brandon Haughton, 6.2
Assists Leader: Kevin Briggs, 3.1

Notes: After using their medical red shirts last season, Marshal Hartman and Seamus Boxley will both return to start on the Vikings’ frontline. Portland State head coach Heath Schroyer also signed JuCo transfer Nguye Kaladokubo, a 6-foot-10 center from Midland College in Texas.


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