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Big West Conference Preview

November 10, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments



Big West Conference Preview

by Marcus Vanderberg

Tragedy, an NCAA investigation, grand theft auto and a change in the conference tournament: Just your average summer in the Big West conference.

If Big West Commissioner Dennis Farrell wanted to get his conference more publicity, he was successful. Unfortunately, most of the PR was negative.

The most significant news is the change in the Big West Tournament. Dubbed the “Get UC Irvine to the Big Dance theory” by yours truly, no longer will a team have to three consecutive games in order to win the tournament. The top two seeds will automatically be placed in the tournament semifinals and would just be two wins shy of advancing to the Big Dance.

Are we listening UCI, you just need to win two games in a row this year to win the tournament, a feat that has alluded them.

The third and fourth place teams will earn a bye in the first round but still will have to win three games to win the tournament.

Here comes the kicker.

The fifth through eighth teams have to win a whopping four times over four days to win the tournament.

Just like in the past, the ninth and tenth teams will not qualify for the NCAA Tournament.

If you were to ask Cal State Fullerton guard Ralphy Holmes what he did on his summer vacation, he might respond with something along the lines of “I stole a car, got into an accident, and was sentenced to 60 days of jail”

Holmes pleaded guilty on October 7 and was suspended by Cal State Fullerton for the first 18 games of the 2003-04 season. With Holmes gone, the Titans can almost forget about any outside shot of winning the Big West title.

Cross town, Cal State Northridge spent part of the summer holding their breath as they were being investigated by the NCAA for an apparent grade tampering incident involving guard John Clark. Assistant coach John Dahlager’s contract was not renewed as he was identified as being involved in the tampering situation. Currently, all is quiet on the CSUN front as they are waiting to hear back from the NCAA on their final decision.

The most tragic news of the summer was the death of UC Riverside guard Kellen Dixon. Dixon was killed when riding back with two other UCR basketball players from Las Vegas on Interstate 15.

Even though the Big West regular season title goes through Santa Barbara, don’t be surprised if the Gauchos lose five or six games in conference. Utah State and UC Irvine always poises as a threat year in and year out. The real question marks of the conference are the remaining seven teams. A team like Cal State Northridge or Idaho could finish 4th or 9th depending on how the ball bounces.

Big West All-Conference 1st Team
F – Ian Boylan – Cal State Northridge
F – Varnie Dennis – Cal Poly
G – Nate Carter – UC Riverside
G – Branduinn Fullove – UC Santa Barbara
F – Pape Sow – Cal State Fullerton

Big West All-Conference 2nd Team
F – Shane Schilling – Cal Poly
C – Adam Parada – UC Irvine
F – Spencer Nelson – Utah State
F – Vili Morton – UC Riverside
F – Tyrone Hayes – Idaho

Big West All-Conference 3rd team
G – Davin White – Cal State Northridge
G – Mark Brown – Utah State
F – Anthony Bolton – Cal State Fullerton
F – Kevin Roberts – Long Beach State
F – Christian Maraker – Pacific

Player of the Year: Pape Sow – Cal-State Fullerton

I had my player of the year speech all written out for Cal State Fullerton guard Ralphy Holmes and what does he go out and do? He gets arrested and sentenced to 60 days in jail along with an one year suspension from school. So his teammate Pape Sow, if he, himself, can stay out of more legal trouble should win this award even if Fullerton has a .500 season.

With Sow missing a majority of the season due to a team suspension, the 6-10 senior finished the season in a big way. The last six games of the year Sow averaged 13.1 points and 10.8 rebounds before spraining his MCL and twisting his left ankle in Fullerton’s first-round conference game against Utah State. With Holmes gone, Sow will pick up a bulk of the scoring. Don’t be surprised in June if Sow becomes the first player from the Big West conference to get selected in the NBA draft since Michael Olowokandi of Pacific.

Freshman of the Year: Thomas Shewmake – Cal State Northridge

In a year when the Big West Conference is dominated by upperclassmen, Thomas Shewmake, a 6-10 center from Cathedral City, CA could win this award based on the amount of playing time he will see in the post for the Matadors. Shewmake, who redshirted last season, was one of the Top 25 centers in the nation in 2002.

Coach on the hot seat: Larry Reynolds – Long Beach State

49ers fans let Reynolds slide after a disappointing 5-22 season but if he wants to hang around after this year, Long Beach State might have to at least make the Big West Conference Tournament. It won’t be easy as UC Riverside is eligible for the post-season fun, meaning two of the 10 teams in the conference will be sitting at home come March 10.

1. UC Santa Barbara Gauchos 18-14, (Big West 14-4, 1st )

G – Jacoby Atako (Sr., 4.7 ppg, 3.2 apg)
G – Nick Jones (Sr., 12.4 ppg, 4.3 rpg)
F – Branduinn Fullove (Sr., 14.6 ppg, 3.7 rpg)
F – Cameron Goettsche (So., 9.6 ppg, 7.5 rpg) *
C – Bryan Whitehead (Sr., 3.4 ppg, 4.2 rpg)

* – Stats at Salt Late Community College

To be the man, you got to beat the man. This is the case for UC Santa Barbara who returns Big West player of the year Branduinn Fullove along with three other starters.

It took nearly 20 years but the Gauchos won its first Big West regular season championship title outright. While they didn’t make it through the conference tournament, they were selected to participate in the NIT where they were defeated in the 1st round by San Diego State 67-62.

While the departure of forward Mark Hill is a major blow, the Gauchos have the deepest team in the conference. Transfers Joe See, a guard from Oregon State and Cameron Goettsche from Salt Lake Community College will see a majority of playing time in the off guard and power forward position respectively.

Returning players like Josh Davis, Cecil Brown, Brad Skultety and Chrismen Oliver add to the depth as coach Bob Williams could easily go 10 or 11 players deep off his bench.

Besides Fullove, Nick Jones, Jacoby Atako and Bryan Whitehead return as starts off last season’s team. Jones, a 6-4 senior guard was quietly overlooked as he had a solid season, averaging 12.4 points and 4.3 rebounds. Point guard Atako is the defending Big West Defensive Player of the Year.

In order to make a run through the conference tournament, the Gauchos will have to improve on crashing the boards. UCSB finished 9th in the conference in rebounding. Whitehead averaged 4.2 rebounds per game but what makes that average even more unimpressive is that Jones out-rebounded the 6-8 center.

Even if the Gauchos win the conference, they will probably fall short of a 20 win season once again. Last season UCSB struggled in non-conference play with defeats to Jacksonville State, Bucknell, Nebraska and Detroit. Luckily for the Gauchos, it had little impact on how they performed in their final 18 games of the season. UCLA, Kansas, Hawaii and Pepperdine highlight an even tougher non-conference schedule than last year.

2. Utah State Aggies 23-9, (Big West 12-6, 3rd)

G – Mark Brown (Sr., 8.6 ppg, 4.5 apg)
G – Cardell Butler (Sr., 8.7 ppg, 2.6 rpg)
F – Nate Harris (So., 5.1 ppg, 3.2 rpg)
F – Spencer Nelson (Jr., 10.2 ppg, 7.4 rpg)
C – Mike Ahmad (Sr., 3.6 ppg, 2.5 rpg)

Utah State will win 20 games.

Let’s get that out of the way now.

Aggies head coach Stew Morrill year in and year out proves that he knows how to get the most out of his players. While he heavily recruits JC players, Morrill has found a way to lead his team to four straight 20 or more win seasons including two appearances in the NCAA tournament.

Gone from last season are Desmond Penigar, Toriano Johnson and Ronnie Ross. The JC players that look to fill those shoes are Jason Williams and Quenton Harvey. Williams, a 6-6 forward from Vallejo was expected to compete for a spot in the starting lineup but he has struggled in practices so far.

“Jason is having a hard time adjusting to Division I college basketball and he is trying to find minutes,” Morrill said.

Harvey will compete with Cardell Butler for the off guard spot.

Up front, the agile Spencer Nelson will be a force to deal with. Weighing in at 225 pounds, he uses his quickness and jumping ability to cause havoc on the boards. Nelson averaged 7.4 rebounds to go along with his 10.2 points per game. Senior Mike Ahmad, who redshirted last season returns for the Aggies and will provide the closest thing to a true center.

A flaw of Utah State’s was exposed last season and they might run into trouble with again. Force the Aggies to shoot from the perimeter. With their two best shooters in Penigar and Ross gone, this plan might be used this season. Point guard Mark Brown, who did an excellent job in distributing the basketball at times struggled in getting his offensive game going. He did, however, shoot 36 percent (29-81) from three point range. As a team, they made the least amount of three pointers in the conference but was number one in field goal percentage.

The one real knock on Morrill is he sometimes has the tendency to play a soft non-conference schedule. Outside of playing the big three programs in Utah (BYU, Weber State, Utah), contests with Ft. Lewis College, Illinois State, Jackson State and Texas-San Antonio leave much to be desired.

Even with a few cupcakes on the schedule, Utah State should get through conference play and will attempt to make the NCAA tournament for the second consecutive year.

3. Cal Poly Mustangs 16-13, (Big West10-8, 4th )

G – Eric Jackson (Sr., 4.8 ppg, 3.0 rpg)
G – Shane Schilling (Sr., 13.6 ppg, 5.6 rpg)
F – Nick Enzweiller (Jr. – 6.6 ppg, 2.9 rpg) *
F – Varnie Dennis (Sr., 17.5 ppg, 7.2 rpg)
C – Phil Johnson (Jr., 4.2 ppg, 2.5 rpg)

* – Stats at UTEP

Cal Poly was possibly a three pointer away from becoming the ultimate Cinderella team. After a reasonable 10-8 conference record, the Mustangs defeated Idaho and UC Santa Barbara in the first two rounds of the Big West conference tournament, setting up a showdown with the heavily favored Utah State.

The Aggies and the Mustangs battled back and forth with Cal Poly guard Jason Allen missing a three pointer that would have tied the game with three seconds left.

The state of the Mustangs team this season might rely on the knees of Varnie Dennis. Dennis, Cal Poly’s superstar power forward has struggled throughout his career with bad knees and there was even some talk about the 6-7, 265 pound senior redshirting this season. Last season he averaged 17.5 points and 7.2 rebounds per game while being selected to the All Big West first team.

Shane Schilling, a transfer guard./forward from the University of Minnesota struggled with his consistency at the start of the season but turned out to be the second scoring option head coach Kevin Bromley long desired. The duo of Dennis and Schilling combined for 40 percent of the Mustangs scoring.

To complement Dennis on the front line, returning center Phil Johnson will see an increase of playing time with big men Diaby Kamara and Jared Patterson gone.

Transfer forward Nick Enzweiller from UTEP will compete for the small forward position. As a sophomore in 2001-02, Enzweiller averaged 6.6 points per game before sitting out last season due to the transfer.

Even with Dennis and Schilling, Cal Poly has a few question marks, starting with his depth in the backcourt. Gone are their third and fourth leading scorers in Jason Allen (12.2 ppg) and Steve Geary (8.0 ppg). Senior Eric Jackson has the experience but is not much of a scorer. Seldom used sophomore guard Fernando Sampson and transfer point guard Kameron Gray, who Bromley said, “was the best JC point guard in California,” will have to fill the voids.

The senior Dennis feel this year everything will come together for the Mustangs. “This will be our year. I see us winning the conference and the tournament,” Dennis said. Thanks to a challenging non-conference schedule which includes California, Colorado and USC, the Mustangs should be ready to go when conference play rolls around on January 3rd. Their first test – UC Irvine at the Bren Events Center.

4. UC Irvine Anteaters 20-9, (Big West 13-5, 2nd )

G – Jeff Gloger (So., 8.2 ppg, 4.3 rpg)
G – Mike Efevberha (So., 5.0 ppg, 1.5 rpg)
F – Matt Okoro (Sr., 5.1 ppg, 4.6 rpg)
F – Stanislav Zuzak (Sr., 7.9 ppg, 2.7 rpg)
C – Adam Parada (Sr., 12.2 ppg, 6.2 rpg)

Year in and year out, UC Irvine seems to be near or at the top of the Big West Conference. With three consecutive 20+ win seasons, you would have expected the Anteaters to qualify for the NCAA Tournament but it has been quite the opposite. Head coach Pat Douglass has been unable to get his team through the Big West conference tournament, stumbling last year in the semifinals to Cal Poly.

With his entire frontcourt graduating this year, this might be Douglass’ best shot to get the Anteaters to the promise land. Senior center Adam Parada is coming off a disappointing year where he was unable to live up to the unfair expectations placed upon the 7-footer. When he wasn’t on the bench in foul trouble, Parada led his team in points and rebounds with 12.2 and 6.2 respectively. Also in the front court is sharpshooter Stanislav Zuzak and Matt Okoro.

Redshirt freshman Jeff Gloger took the conference by surprise last year with his tough defense and his solid offensive numbers all the way around (8.2 ppg, 4.3 rbg, 3.0 apg). Younger brother of guard Spencer Gloger at Princeton, he will be joined in the backcourt by Mike Efevberha, who at times made costly mistakes on the court.

A lack of depth is the one thing that could possibly hurt the Anteaters in their run for the NCAA Tournament. Outside of guards Ross Schraeder, Aras Baskauskas and center Greg Ethington, the bench is unproven. Freshman Mark Hill, a 6-5 recruit from Las Vegas should see his share of playing time backing up Matt Okoro at the small forward position.

Douglass expects a change of pace in this year’s team. “We are going to be a little more up-tempo. These players can run the court,” Douglass said.

The Anteaters arguably have the toughest non-conference schedule of the conference. UCI opens the season in the BCA Classic hosted by Xavier University, host the Stanford Cardinal at the Bren Events center before traveling north to take on California. But wait, there’s more as Irvine will take part in the Fresno State Tournament followed by coming home and hosting Pepperdine.

5. Cal State Northridge Matadors 14-15, (Big West 8-10, 7th )

G – Davin White (Jr., 28.0 ppg, 6.0 apg) *
G – Joseph Frazier (Jr., 6.8 ppg, 3.6 rpg)
F – Ian Boylan (Jr., 15.8 ppg, 4.5 rpg)
F – Chris Davis (Jr., 8.1 ppg, 3.9 rpg)
C – Thomas Shewmake (Fr. 18.1 ppg, 15.0 rpg) **

* – Stats at Chandler-Gilbert Junior College
** – Stats at Cathedral City High School

Maybe the third time will be the charm for Cal State Northridge.

The Matadors enter their third season as part of the Big West Conference and are coming off back-to-back losing seasons. Head coach Bobby Braswell faces a challenge replacing the scoring of 6-7 guard Curtis Slaughter but might have found a replacement in JC transfer Davin White. White, a 6-2 guard from Chandler-Gilbert Community College averaged 28 points and six assists in 2001-02. He will have to shake the rust off after sitting out last year from professional basketball.

Braswell didn’t stop there; landing the high-flying Eto Onyenegecha (City College of San Francisco) and power forward Austin Waggener (Culver City HS). While being recruited from such Pac-10 schools as Arizona State and Oregon State, Onyenegecha is expected to come in right away and compete for the starting small forward position.

All-conference swingman Ian Boylan will look to step up and take the leadership role as a junior. Last season Boylan averaged 15.8 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists.

“Even though Boylan is only a junior, he’s going to be my leader on the court,” Braswell said. “He is one of the toughest guys I have seen while coaching and hasn’t missed a practice in his two years at Northridge.”

In the frontcourt, the Matadors lack depth and experience. Junior Chris Davis, fresh off a summer where he attended Pete Newell’s Big Man Camp, will be looked upon to improve on his solid sophomore season. The 6-9 forward doubled his scoring average from his freshman year (8.2) but lacked in strong rebounding skills with just 3.9 rebounds per game.

For the first time in a few years, Braswell lacks a real deep bench. In the past, he was never afraid to go up to 11 deep with his team as the Matadors play an aggressive style of defense and high-paced offense.

Junior Joseph Frazier led the Matadors in steals at 2.2 per game and is a spark of energy every time he hits the court. Frazier has the ability to play the point guard position but his natural position is shooting guard. Braswell will have to look to some of his freshmen to provide minutes off the bench such as Austin Waggener and Robert Locke, both local players from the Los Angeles area.

In an off-season that saw nearly the entire assistant coaching staff leaving and an investigation by the NCAA regarding former guard John Clark, the Matadors will just be happy to hit the floor on November 21 when they take on Menlo College. Yes, Menlo College.

6. Idaho Vandals 13-15, (Big West 9-9, 5th)

G – Tanoris Shepard (Jr., 12.7 ppg, 2.9 rpg)
G – Dwayne Williams (Sr., 10.4 ppg, 3.0 rpg)
F – Tyrone Hayes (Sr. 13.1 ppg, 6.6 rpg)
F – Rashaad Powell (Sr., 5.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg)
C – Jon Tinnon (Sr., 8.0 ppg, 4.6 rpg)

Yes, Idaho is still in the Big West Conference

Often forgotten about because it is one of the two teams in the Big West not in the state of California, the Vandals could be participating in what might be their last season in the Big West. Idaho and Utah State are scheduled to move to the Sun Belt conference in time for the 2004-05 season.

Head coach Leonard Perry has quietly turned around a sub-par program into a team that could possibly do some damage in conference play. The Vandals have five seniors including Tyrone Harris, the team’s leading scorer and rebounder from last year. He was selected to the All-Big West second team for his all around play, averaging 13.1 points and 6.6 rebounds per game.

While a bit undersized, the Vandals should have no problem putting up points this season if everyone remains healthy.

Prior to going down with a season-ending knee injury, guard Tanoris Shepard was averaging 12.7 points in seven games. All accounts so far is that he is nearly at 100 percent physically. With point guard Justin Logan gone, Shepard should see a majority of time handling the rock. Also returning in the backcourt is Dwayne Williams, a shooting guard who didn’t see a three pointer he didn’t like, jacking up 169 attempts from beyond the arc.

With Jack May transferring, Jon Tinnon is left as the lone proven player of any height. The senior Tinnon averaged 8.0 points and 4.6 rebounds last season. Sophomore center David Radlovic some limited playing time last season and is steadily improving his game.

After last’s year success, Perry feels that his team won’t be able to surprise people like last season.

“Will we sneak up on teams this year? No, I don’t think so,” Perry said. “Hopefully when the pre-season polls come out, the players will take some pride in themselves.”

Perry did a great job of recruiting, landing Zack Proett and Armend Kahrimanovic. Proett is expected to redshirt this season after going through knee surgery in the spring. Idaho is facing probably their toughest schedule in the past 10 years. With contests against mid-major powerhouse Gonzaga, Washington State and possibly South Carolina in the Guardians Classic tournament, the Vandals will be put to the test well before conference play.

7. Cal State Fullerton Titans 10-19, Big West 8-10, 6th )

G – Zakee Smith (Sr., 4.2 ppg, 4.7 apg)
G – Derick Andrew (Sr., 9.6 ppg, 2.2 apg)
F – Anthony Bolton (Sr., 10.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg)
F – Babacar Camara (Sr., 0.4 ppg, 0.6 rpg)
C – Pape Sow (Sr., 13.8 ppg, 8.8 rpg)

Welcome to the Cal State Fullerton family, Bob Burton.

You take the position as the new Titans coach on June 6 with hopes of possibly being the “sleeper” team of the conference only to find out that your star all-conference player, Ralphy Holmes, was charged with felony auto theft and a misdemeanor hit-and-run 10 days later. Holmes pleaded guilty October 7 and was sentenced to 60 days in jail and was suspended for the entire 2003-04 season.

Without Holmes, reality of Fullerton basketball has settled back in and a finish in the bottom half of the conference is expected.

There is still one player the conference worth fearing and that’s in the form of 6-10 senior center Pape Sow. After battling his own legal issues last season, Sow finished the season strong before getting injured in the Titan’s first round conference tournament match up against Utah State. In just 18 games last season, Sow averaged 13.8 points and 8.8 rebounds.

Rounding out the starting five are three returning starters in Zakee Smith, Derick Andrew and Anthony Bolton. The 6-7 swingman Bolton made drastic improvement in the second half of the season to average 10.8 points per game and scored a combined 49 points in his final two games.

Smith, a senior point guard from Philadelphia led the Big West in assists with 4.7 per game but struggled with his shooting skills. He shot a Shaquille O’Neal like .443 from the free throw line and .315 from the field.

Burton’s coaching experience has already made an immediate impact as a recruiting tool. Jermaine Harper, a transfer guard from the University of Virginia will redshirt this year. He averaged 5.8 points as a freshman and 3.9 points as a sophomore. Ceylon Taylor, the sixth ranked point guard on the west coast from San Jose, CA, verbally committed to the Titans for the 2004-05 season. And if it weren’t for the Admissions and Records office at Cal State Fullerton, the Titans would have landed the number one power forward JuCo recruit in Chris Adams. From City College of San Francisco, the 6-10 Adams was denied late admission into the school by Jim Blackburn, director of Admissions and Records.

8. UC Riverside Highlanders 6-18, (Big West 5-13, 9th)

G – Ted Bell (Sr., 9.5 ppg, 1.4 rpg)
G – Kevin Butler (Sr., 8.5 ppg, 2.9 apg)
F – Nate Carter (So., 16.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg)
F – Vili Morton (Jr., 10.9 ppg, 9.3 rpg)
C – Klaus Schille (So., 3.9 ppg, 2.4 rpg)

Whatever the outcome might be of the UC Riverside basketball team this year won’t be important. For the Highlander players and coaching staff, they realized that basketball doesn’t matter nearly as much as it once seemed to.

On September 13, UC Riverside lost one of their own in guard Kellen Dixon. He, along with Mark Peters and Mike Ferrera were returning from a concert in Las Vegas on I-15 when the car they were riding in was involved in an accident with a big-rig truck. Both Peters and Ferrera suffered minor injuries but the memory of Dixon will live on in each and every Highlander player’s heart.

Returning this season to UC Riverside is power forward Vili Morton. In 2001-02, Morton averaged 10.9, 9.3 rebounds and 3.2 blocks. The 6-8 forward redshirted for the Highlanders program because this is the first season that UC Riverside is post-season eligible.

The decision to redshirt Morton was a hard decision for head coach John Masi but one he does not regret. “It was hard to pull the trigger on sitting Morton for the year,” Masi said. “I would look down at the end of the bench at times during last season and see Vili sitting there and just wanted to bring him in for a few minutes.”

What Morton didn’t know when he sat out is that he would have the Freshman of the Year playing next to him. Nate Carter, who could have easily been Big West Player of the Year if the Highlanders didn’t go 6-18, averaged 16.4 points and 5.4 rebounds per game along with shooting .491 from the field.

Ted Bell and Kevin Butler make up a senior backcourt that were the second and third leading scorers from last season. Bell is especially dangerous from three point range, shooting an impressive .431 percent (50-116).

As for the rest of the team, the jury is still out. The Highlanders took a minor blow losing such seniors as Mark Miller, Jake Wessel, John Galbreath and Aaron Hands.

Transfers Brett Ost and David Jobe, along with freshman recruit Larry Cunningham will headline the bench. Jobe, a 6-8 power forward transferred from Diablo Valley College and played well during summer league action.

The bench will be the one hurdle that prevents UCR from making the climb out of the Big West basement.

9. University of the Pacific Tigers 12-16, (Big West 7-11, 8th)

G – David Doubley (Jr.,16.0 ppg, 9.1 apg) *
G – Miah Davis (Sr., 10.1 ppg, 3.4 rpg)
F – Tom Cockle (Sr., 6.0 ppg, 2.8 rpg)
F – Christian Maraker (So., 11.3 ppg, 6.1 rpg)
C – Matt Kemper (Jr., 7.5 ppg, 5.9 rpg)

* – Stats at Skyline Junior College

The University of the Pacific Tigers were on top of the world.

With victories over Western Kentucky and Saint Joseph’s, the Tigers suddenly went from a team predicted to finish in the bottom of the pack to possibly winning the Big West conference.

Then reality set back in.

Thanks to a stretch where they dropped 12 out of their last 16 games, the Tigers finished with a 12-16 overall record.

Head coach Bob Thomason is in a good position for a winning season with three seniors and eight juniors on this year’s roster. Unfortunately, only six of those players saw significant playing time as the Tigers used just 10 players all of last season.

The success of the Tigers this season rides on the play of Christian Maraker. The injury prone 6-10 forward is currently battling a mid-foot sprain. Last season, the sophomore tore his plantar fascia in his right foot. The season prior, Maraker broke a bone in his left wrist, sideling him for the season as he used his redshirt year.

If you notice an improvement in Maraker’s game, it was from playing for the Swedish National team where he took on current NBA players such as Dirk Nowitzki and Tony Parker.

Miah Davis and Myree Bowden return in the backcourt from last season. Davis started all 28 games last season as a JC transfer, averaging 10.1 points per game. Junior college transfer David Doubley is expected to the start in the backcourt with Davis. Doubley averaged 16.0 points and 9.1 assists per game at Skyline Junior College in San Bruno, Calif.

Thomason gives his players the green light when shooting three pointers and this is apparent when looking at forward/center Matt Kemper. You wouldn’t be able to tell by looking at the 6-9, 250 pounder that he shot .344 percent from three-point range. Just because Kemper might be seen hanging out on the perimeter doesn’t mean he’s not afraid to bang it up inside, averaging 5.9 rebounds per game.

Thanks to a new found sense of some depth, Thomason won’t be afraid to miss and match lineups.

“We are flexible on how we can play every night,” Thomason said. “We can play small or big and adjust depending on the tempo of the game.”

Injuries to Maraker and Jason Korajkic have slowed the team’s progess early on. At practice on Tuesday, the Tigers had five players sitting out due to injuries. “Things are going slow, real slow right now,” Davis said.

The Great Alaskan Shootout highlights Pacific’s non-conference schedule, as they take on the Duke Blue Devils in the first round on ESPN2 on Thanksgiving night. Also, a trip to the city of Brotherly Love where they take on Saint Joseph’s who will be seeking redemption from last year’s game.

10. Long Beach State 49ers 5-22 (Big West 4-14, 10th)

G – Mark Bowens (So., 1.4 ppg, 0.4 rpg)
G – Jibril Hodges (So., 6.0 ppg, 2.1 apg)
F – Cody Pearson (Jr., 4.1 ppg, 3.5 rpg)
F – Kevin Roberts (Sr., 12.3 ppg, 6.0 rpg)
C – Antoine Jackson (Sr., 3.8 ppg, 3.4 rpg)

If you are a Long Beach State fan, you probably were riding high this off-season after what was thought to be a great recruiting year. Anthony Coleman, a transfer from Xavier University, along with Louis Darby, Kevin Houston and Travon Free all committed to Long Beach State.

Even without the addition of Hawkins, head coach Larry Reynolds can’t do much worse than last year’s 5-22 campaign. It was the first time the 49ers didn’t qualify for the post-season tournament since 1996.

Senior Kevin Roberts is the leader of this team as he will be surrounded with 10 returning lettermen.

The 6-7 forward who started all 27 games last year for the 49ers averaged 12.3 points and 6.0 rebound per game. With the losses of Vance Lawhorn and Tony Darden, Roberts will be looked upon as the go-to-guy in clutch situations.

From what Roberts has seen of the other freshmen in practice, he is confident about this season.

“The freshmen are freshmen, but they are at least open minded,” Roberts said. “They have their ups and downs in practice like anyone else.”

The backcourt will miss the presence of Tony Darden and his 15.9 points per game. Sophomore point guard Jibril Hodges, the son of former Chicago Bulls rifleman Craig Hodges was thrown into the starting lineup towards the end of last season and held his own.

Cody Pearson, who at times have show flashes of talent and his aggressive style of play will have to take his game to the next level. If not, expect Darby to take his playing time.

Adding some depth to the front court will be Coleman when he becomes eligible on December 23rd.

“It is hard for a player to mix six games and then work his way into the loop,” Reynolds said. “He will have to come in and find his niche.”

Wayne Morgan left a parting gift for last season’s team before his departure to Iowa State. The 49ers had a brutal non-conference schedule for the 2002-03 season with contests against Pepperdine, UCLA (OK, OK, I know they tanked), San Diego State and Gonzaga. Their only win in non-conference play was against DIII Cal State Monterey Bay. Even more remarkable is they only won the game by 11 points and it was at the Pyramid. This year is not nearly as bad with Reynolds would hope will be easy “W’s” against Cal State Stanislaus, Sacramento State and Colgate.

     

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-Patrick Ewing, NBA Hall of Fame center

"Mike Jarvis' is one of my special friends. I am so pleased that he has taken the time to write this fabulous book."
-Mike Krzyzewski, Five-time NCAA championship head coach, Duke Blue Devils

"In reading this book, I can see that Mike hasn't lost his edge or his purpose. Readers should take a look at what he has to say."
-Jim Calhoun, Three-time NCAA champion, UConn Men's basketball

Review on Hoopville coming soon!

Coaching Changes and NBA Draft Early Entrants

The coaching carousel is moving. Keep track of the latest coaching changes right here on Hoopville.

Also, keep track of players who have declared early for the NBA Draft.

Hoopville Podcasts

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – October 2, 2017

October 2, 2017 by

The FBI has zeroed in on college basketball in a big way, and what has happened may be the beginning of a massive hit to the sport. We discuss what we know thus far in our latest podcast.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – August 17, 2017

August 18, 2017 by

In our latest podcast, we check in with some good news from a few teams overseas after a big scare, plus a big addition for a championship contender, a conference on the rise, and a great coach thinking about a return to the bench.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – June 21, 2017

June 21, 2017 by

In our latest podcast, we talk about the NBA Draft, of course, but spend much more time on the happenings at Ohio State and Louisville and the implications starting next season.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – May 17, 2017

May 18, 2017 by

In our latest podcast, we start with the NBA Draft Lottery, then talk about a big pickup for Duke, important transfers, the coaching carousel winding down and much more.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – April 27, 2017

April 27, 2017 by

In our latest podcast, the business of college sports, as well as that of sports media, takes center stage. We talk about the layoffs at ESPN, college basketball’s opening night, and Wichita State’s departure from the Missouri Valley Conference. We close with thoughts on a departed friend of the media business as well.

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

Lincoln captures Hamilton Park title

August 15, 2017 by

For the first time, a public school won the Hamilton Park Summer League, and they were led by a big effort from a junior point guard in the title game.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Boston Shootout

June 12, 2017 by

Some news and notes coming from the second and final day of action at the 2017 Boston Shootout, where the host program provided plenty of talent, but so did a program that produced a team that beat them.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Northeast Hoops Festival

April 11, 2017 by

The Northeast Hoops Festival helped bring in the new spring travel season in New England, and we have notes from some of Saturday’s action.

2016 Boston Back to School Showcase notes

September 12, 2016 by

We look back at the 2016 Boston Back to School Showcase, where a couple of Boston City League teams were among the most impressive on the day.

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale championship recap

June 28, 2016 by

We look back at the championship games of the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, which had a big local flavor as one might have expected.