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2012-13 Big Sky Conference Preview

by - Published November 22, 2012 in Conference Notes
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Projected order of finish

1. Weber State (17-3)
2. Montana (16-4)
3. Northern Colorado (13-7)
4. North Dakota (12-8)
5. Portland State (11-9)
6. Eastern Washington (10-10)
7. Sacramento State (9-11)
8. Montana State (8-12)
9. Northern Arizona (5-13)
10. Southern Utah (3-15)
11. Idaho State (2-14)

 

Preseason Player of the Year

G Will Cherry (Montana) – 15.8 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 3.3 APG, 2.6 SPG (11-12)

The senior two-time unanimous selection is the league’s newest Damian Lillard, its newest Devon Beitzel, its newest Rodney Stuckey. Except he’s not because, well, he’s been producing since his sophomore season. A summer injury (more on that later) will impact his status, but he should be back by Big Sky play. If he’s not, or if he’s hobbled, it might be a Peyton Manning-injured situation: talk of him getting MVP votes if the Griz should happen to spiral downward.

 

Preseason Coach of the Year

Wayne Tinkle, Montana

The biggest issue, aside from the Cherry situation, is what to do with everyone else not named Cherry or Kareem Jamar? Mathias Ward is the lone frontcourt player with extended experience, but you can bet Tinkle, a career Euroleague/CBA center will mold the rest of the frontcourt in his image.

 

Preseason All-Conference

Sr. G Will Cherry (Montana) – The best defender in the Big Sky hands down, Cherry has developed a mid-range game to go with it. Plus he can get to the basket like few others in the conference.

Jr. G Kareem Jamar (Montana) – 13.6 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 3.7 APG, 44% 3FG – Jamar can hurt you many, many ways. Jamar is listed as a G/F, and has a game which lends itself to both mid-range and the near low-post.

Sr. G Scott Bamforth (Weber State) – 14.5 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 2.4 APG – One of the best pure shooters in the league, Bamforth has to step up his mid-range game and free throws (a still-solid 87.5 percent, 105-of-120) as Weber looks to replace NBA point guard Damian Lillard.

Sr. F Collin Chiverton (Eastern Washington) – 13.9 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 41% 3FG – Chiverton netted close to 14 points a game while wrestling with a foot injury all of last year. He’s healthy now, which could be lethal for the Eagles as Jim Hayford probably will let Chiverton shoot the lights out every night.

Jr. C Kyle Tresnak (Weber State) – 10.0 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 54% FG – Tresnak is the best post scorer in the conference, hands down, and can play with his back to the basket like traditional centers should. His weakness is rebounding – a 6-foot-10 body, even by marginal standards, should average more than 3.8 rebounds per game. (Tresnak, a 32-game starter, averaged less than power forward Byron Fulton, who came off the bench.)
Coaching changes

Out: Joe O’Brien, Deane Martin (Idaho State); Mike Adras, Dave Brown (Northern Arizona); Roger Reid (Southern Utah)

In: Bill Evans (Idaho State); Jack Murphy (Northern Arizona); Nick Robinson (Southern Utah)

 

What was and what will be

Montana was the Big Sky’s NCAA Tournament entry last season after going 15-1 in conference play and winning the conference tournament. UM’s regular-season title was 20 years after its last outright title was secured, and the Grizzlies went 25-7 overall as head coach Wayne Tinkle won Coach of the Year honors and its backcourt duo of Will Cherry and Kareem Jamar were named to the Big Sky All-Conference First Team.

Damian Lillard was the talk of the conference, and rightly so: he’s playing in the NBA now. Though league runner-up Weber State lost him – and a couple other key cogs – the Wildcats have continually been a Big Sky tournament/title game mainstay. The program has a league-best 455 wins and has played in the tournament championship four times in the last half-dozen seasons.

As the season unfolds, the Big Sky expands to 11 teams; it will expand to a full-fledged 12 in 2014-2015. For now, the tournament gets an extra team and just the No. 1 seed (instead of Nos. 1 and 2) will receive a bye. Newcomer North Dakota comes in from the Great West with a balanced and experienced team and has a chance at the expanded tournament field, and several people were bullish on Sacramento State at a recent coaches conference call.

 

Eastern Washington Eagles (15-17, 8-8)

Projected starting 5: F Jordan Hickert, F Collin Chiverton, F Jaylen Henry, G Jeffery Forbes, G Justin Crosgile

Dearly departed: G Cliff Colimon (16.5 ppg, 66 3-pointers, 160 assists, 52 steals); F Cliff Ederaine (10.5 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 96 assists, 41 blocks, 43 steals); F Laron Griffin (8.5 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 23 blocks, 26 steals)

We’re back, baby: G Chiverton (13.9 ppg, 88 3-pointers, 36.7% FG), G Forbes (6.9 ppg, 31 steals, 48 assists, 62% FG)

Welcome to your new home: G Justin Crosgile (St. Joseph’s; 5-11, 170 pounds), the junior is expected to slide into starting point guard role after sitting out last season; Hayford also has collected a quartet of Europeans (transfer Martin Seiferth and true freshmen Fredrik Jorg, Venky Jois and Thomas Reuter) for his roster.

Games to watch: Non-conference, at Washington State (Nov. 10). Conference stretch, Jan. 17-26 (at North Dakota, at Northern Colorado, at Southern Utah)

Predicted finish: 10-10, Big Sky quarterfinalist. Eastern lost three very good starters and have a very young roster this season with a lot of new faces and interchangeable parts save for Chiverton, who should be the go-to scorer/leader.

 

Idaho State Bengals (9-21, 7-9)

Projected starting 5: G Andre’ Hatchett, G Melvin Morgan, G/F Chris Hansen, F Dejan Kostur, F Nnamdi Ezenwa

Dearly departed: F Chase Grabau (12.8 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 93 assists, 52 steals, 50.6% FG, 37.3% 3-point); G Kenny McGowen (14.7 ppg, 66 assists, 67 3-pointers, 32.5% 3pt, 37.9% FG); G Abner Moreira (7.2 rpg, 6.2 ppg, 14 blocks, 45.8% FG)

We’re back, baby: G Hatchett (7.4 points, 4.5 rebounds, 13 blocks), G Morgan (12.2 points, 57 3pointers, 39.6% 3pt, 83 assists, 55 steals)

Welcome to your new home: Hansen (19 ppg, four rpg) is one of five transfers for new head coach Bill Evans. He is the only sophomore; there is one senior (Neveij Walters) and three juniors. Freshman Clint Thomas, an Idaho native, is the sole non-transfer.

Games to watch: Non-conference, at Oregon (Dec. 8). Conference stretch, Jan. 24-Feb. 2 (at Montana, at Montana State, at Northern Colorado, at North Dakota)

Predicted finish: 2-14, miss the Big Sky tournament. The Bengals lost four of their top five players from last season, which isn’t very helpful. Don’t know if Morgan can do it on his own; they just lost Sherrod Baldwin for the first semester due to academic ineligibility. It might be a long season, but they were predicted to be horrible last year, too.

 

Montana Grizzlies (25-7, 15-1)

Projected starting 5: G Will Cherry, G/F Kareem Jamar, F Mathias Ward, F Eric Hutchison, F Spencer Coleman

Dearly departed: F/C Derek Selvig (9.1 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 38 pointers, 43.7% 3pt, 87 assists, 35 blocks); F Art Steward 9.5 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 33 steals, 52.8% FG 113 FGs)

We’re back, baby: Cherry (15.8 ppg, 105 assists, 83 steals, team leader FG, 3pt, FT makes); Jamar (13.6 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 20 blocks, 36 steals, 49 3ptrs, 147 FGs, 92 FTs); Ward (10.9 ppg, 3.9 rpg53.8% FG, 129 FG)

Welcome to your new home: F Spencer Coleman (15.1 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 56 3ptrs,75% FT 66-88) is one of five newcomers to the Griz; transfer C Marko Kovavevic (JuCo, 6-11, 230) should be another key contributor. UM also has two redshirt Montanans (Morgan Young and Nick Emerson) who can contribute the way Shawn Stockton and Jordan Wood did – by doing the little things, like being a defensive specialist or harasser. Emerson has ability to put up points, too.

Games to watch: Non-conference, vs. BYU in Salt Lake (Nov. 28) or Feb. 23 at BracketBuster. Conference stretch, Feb. 14-March 4 (five road games, including BracketBuster)

Predicted finish: 16-4, Big Sky Tournament champions. OK, so how won’t they win the Big Sky regular season title? For one, Cherry is out indefinitely with a broken foot and Mathias Ward has no rebounding pedigree through his career so far. Why they’ll turn it around and win the Big Sky tournament – head coach Wayne Tinkle has an overall record of 116-71 (.620) and has guided the team to two NCAA tournaments in his seven-year tenure. The Griz have been to the postseason three seasons in a row, no reason to stop now.

 

Montana State Bobcats (12-17, 7-9)

Projected starting 5: G Antonio Biglow, G Xavier Blount, G Christian Moon, F Eric Norman, C Paul Egwuonwu

Dearly departed: G Rod Singleton (7.3 ppg, 105 assists, 61 FT, 75.3% FT, 40% FG); F Shawn Reid (10.6 ppg, 73.8% FT, 62 FTs, 101 FG); F Tre Johnson (8.8 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 29 blocks, 96 FG, 45% FG); C Mohamed Fall (7.2 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 51.7% FG, 78 FG)

Welcome to your new home: Biglow (6-0, 165) redshirted last season after going through NCAA issues and has been considered MSU’s best player since he was signed back in February of 2010. Averaged 22.4 points per game as a JuCo sophomore; he’s one of seven new people Brad Huse has on his roster.

Games to watch: Non-conference, at Oregon State (Nov. 25) or Feb. 24 at BracketBuster. Conference stretch, Feb. 14-28 (four road games, including BracketBuster)

Predicted finish: 8-12, miss the Big Sky Tournament. Where to begin? For the second straight year, Brad Huse brings in seven new players (variety of reasons, from graduation to NCAA to extra scholarships). That is a big issue, unless you ask Huse. The Missoula native is going into the final year of his contract, but that doesn’t seem to bother him: Eighteen of the 22 seasons he’s been a head coach, he had one year to prove himself.

Idaho State makes a decision

by - Published March 15, 2012 in Conference Notes

Last Thursday, Idaho State finally made it’s choice, hiring Montana assistant Bill Evans as it’s head coach. So far, reaction has been mixed by at least one of the couple of forum posts dedicated to the decision as well as the local scribe’s feelings. Here’s the traditional “welcome to town” article. We shall see what transpires from here; we’re also awaiting word on the NAU coaching search.
Coming Monday/Tuesday: A look at Montana’s matchup with Wisconsin in the NCAA tournament; other postseason matchups and thoughts.

Idaho State interim head coach Deane Martin will not have his tag taken off

by - Published March 6, 2012 in Columns

We’ve mentioned this before – what Deane Martin did for the Idaho State University Bengals basketball program. Long story short, a 3-13 record became third place in the Big Sky and ultimately fourth in a season everyone picked them to be dead last. Now comes word that Martin won’t be retained as full-time head coach. They’ve made a hiring, and they’ll announce it Thursday. Rumors are that it’s the longtime SUU coach Bill Evans. There has been some backlash, but not much. Pretty sure the hiring Thursday will bring out more backlash/intrigue/commentary. I disagree that they’d think Martin was part of the O’Brien regime; this was his first season in Pocatello. Bill Evans, if he’s hired, has a wealth of knowledge and experience in the region. That’s fine, but why wouldn’t you keep things simple? This will be the third coach in a calendar year for the Bengal players. We’ll have more Thursday when it comes; we’re also waiting on NAU’s coaching search (for now.)

The Big Sky Championships: who’s gonna win

by - Published March 6, 2012 in Columns, Conference Notes

This is what the head honchos wrote on Monday:

Big Sky (March 3)
Top seed: Montana. The Big Sky regular-season championship came down to the final game, in which the Grizzlies avenged their only loss in Big Sky play by beating Weber State in Missoula.
Tournament stakes: Although Weber State and Montana have 23 wins apiece, neither team will reach the NCAA Tournament without the Big Sky’s automatic bid. If either team claims the Big Sky championship, it will probably enter the NCAA Tournament as a No. 15 seed. If any other team finds a way to win, it would likely receive a No. 16 seed.
Spoiler alert: No. 3 Portland State. The Vikings are the only other team in the tournament with a winning record, and Portland State won six of its final seven. Although they fell short in games against Denver, Wyoming, Oregon, Montana and Weber State, the Vikings kept games close against a few heavy favorites. This lineup featuring mostly juniors and seniors could find a way to make a run.
Predicted champ: Montana. The Grizzlies have lost just twice at home this season, and that was to San Francisco and Nevada by a combined nine points. Since mid-December, the Grizzlies have been shredding opponents, winning by double digits in 14 of 18 victories. A championship game against Weber State would likely be a thriller, but the Grizzlies should be heading back to the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three years.

Here’s three reasons why the Griz will capture it all.
1) Dahlberg Arena. There are benefits to having one of the loudest, tightest, most packed game-to-game arenas in the Big Sky. It averages roughly 4,500 a game, but can jam in almost 7,500. Montana is 41-6 at home in the past three seasons. And did I mention it gets loud in there when the Griz go hunting?

2) Will Cherry. The junior guard, recently named First Team All-Big Sky Conference, netted 16.1 points per game and 3.3 assists per game in Big Sky play. He’s money at the line, sinking 82.6% of his foul shots 71-of-86) and sinks 49.7% from the field (87-of-175). More importantly, he was the league’s Defensive Player of the Year honors after pacing the conference with 2.6 steals per game (sixth in the nation) and spearheaded a Griz defense that allowed a league-low 61.4 points per game, a league-low 39.8% shooting, and a league-low 32.8% from 3-point range.
And did I mentioned he held Weber State’s Damian Lillard, the conference MVP, to 19 points on 7-of-19 shooting, including a 2-of-11 3-point effort. If you watched that game, you noticed Lillard was hounded by Cherry every time he touched the ball in the winner-take-all game last Tuesday. Lillard did have three steals, but had no assists – and Lillard is a point guard.

3) The veteran presences and leadership. Of the five key contributors to the Griz, most of them have started much of their careers. Senior Derek Selvig has played in 91 games, starting 57 of them. Classmate Art Steward has played in 61 games in two seasons, starting 47 of them. Juniors Cherry and Mathias Ward have played in a 91 games, the most possible, and Cherry has started 80 of them. Sophomore Kareem Jamar has played in 56 games and started 37.
And we haven’t even touched on the coaching staff that’s been there since 2006 – or the fact the Griz have been to the last three BSC title games. So let’s touch on that by repeating it – UM has been to the last three BSC championship games.

Playing catch-up: the Big Sky all-conference team & “first-round” analysis

by - Published March 5, 2012 in Conference Notes
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Well, a lot has happened since yours truly was able to take a breath and get back to Big Sky updates.
First, we’ll look at the all-conference team.

Individual Award Winners
MVP
Damian Lillard, Weber State

Newcomer of the Year
Collin Chiverton, Eastern Washington

Freshman Of the Year
Dylan Garrity, Sacramento State

Defensive Player of the Year
Will Cherry, Montana

… Continue Reading

The curious case of Idaho State

by - Published February 22, 2012 in Columns
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They were selected to finish dead last in conference play. Their head coach resigned 10 games into the season. The interim coach was in his first year on staff when he was selected to his position.
So, how are the Bengals in position to end up as high as the No. 3 seed in the upcoming Big Sky Tournament? What has been the key to Idaho State’s resurgence, to Deane Martin’s 7-9 record this season, which is 7-6 in the BSC? What is going on in Pocatello?
… Continue Reading

Big Sky Conference update – Jan 26, 2012

by - Published January 26, 2012 in Conference Notes
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JUST IN TIME FOR TONIGHT’S GAMES… All the news you ever wanted to know about the Big Sky, the weekly edition.
YOUR WEEKLY DAMIAN LILLARD IS A STUD LINK-FEST: A Salt Lake Tribune story on his success. USA Today also jumped in sometime in the last week to talk about him. Then there’s this little blurb which went up at noon EST on Wednesday afternoon. Finally, here is Lillard’s Draft Express page.

Eastern Washington
Record: 9-11, 3-4, t5th
Weekend: 0-1
Major superlatives: Lost by 2 in OT; 76 ppg for, 78 against.
Season conference stats: 4th scoring offense (72.7 ppg), 4th scoring defense (69.9 ppg), 3rd scoring margin (plus-3.7). Percentages: 173-417 FG (9th), 67-196 3-point (7th) 96-140 FT (5th).
What it means: Portland State walked into Cheney and walked out with an OT win, which only intensifies this rivalry and makes the return trip on Feb. 25 potentially for anything from the No. 3 seed to maybe EWU getting into the tournament. And it’s just fun. Worse is the knowledge you had the lead throughout the second half, though it never got higher than five, but got outscored 7-3 in the final 1:28 of regulation. Also, having the lead until the final 40 seconds of OT and coughing it up is going to make Jim Hayford’s club really, really mad.

Idaho State
Record: 5-14, 3-4, t5th
Weekend: 1-0
Major superlatives: Won by 16; 78 ppg for, 62 ppg against; plus-16 scoring margin.
Season conference stats: T7th scoring offense (64.0 ppg), 3rd scoring defense (69.0 ppg), 7th scoring margin (minus-5). Percentages: 156-368 FG (7th), 42-123 3-point (8th), 94-138 (6th).
What it means: More road-warriorness from the Bengals – “NAU led by 11 points early in the contest, but the Bengals came back to tie the game at the half and carried the momentum into the second half. After extending the lead to 10 points at 52-42, the Bengals went on a 14-0 run to pull away from the Lumberjacks, leading by as many 25 points. NAU was out-scored 46-30 overall in the second half.” Now all they have to do is beat UNC in Greeley (which happens tonight) and they can start to maybe think about the postseason. Unless they continue to go 1-2 every three home games, which projects to a 2-6 or 3-5 home record. In conference.

Montana
Record: 13-6, 6-1, 2nd
Weekend: 2-0
Major superlatives: Won by 18, won by 29; 80.5 ppg for, 57 against; plus-23.5 scoring margin.
Season conference stats: 3rd scoring offense (75.0 ppg), 1st scoring defense (60/9 ppg), 1st scoring margin (plus-14.1). Percentages: 182-348 FG (1st), 48-113 3-point (2nd), 113-151 FT (3rd).
What it means: Feast on the weary and poor, bide time until the rematch with Weber State. And watch out for the intrastate rival, who could be nipping on UM’s heels when the first rivalry game comes around in Bozeman in a couple Saturdays.

Montana State
Record: 10-8, 5-2, 3rd
Weekend: 2-0
Major superlatives: Won by 7, won by 12; 78 ppg for, 68.5 against; plus-9.5 scoring margin.
Season conference stats: 5th scoring offense (72.0 ppg), 6th scoring defense (70.9 ppg), 5th scoring margin (plus-1.1). Percentages: 178-388 FG (5th), 56-132 3-point (3rd), 92-129 FT (4th).
What it means: There was crunch-time defense and MSU set itself apart, albeit at home vs. UNC. True test will come in Greeley, Colo. But MSU seems to have found a gameplan – shoot steady when possible, start hot and counter-punch when punched. MSU jumped from almost seventh in FT percentage to fourth and sank 34 free throws this past weekend at home, but it is relying on outscoring opponents and getting defensive stops only when it matters.

Northern Arizona
Record: 5-15, 1-7, 8th
Weekend: 0-2
Major superlatives: Lost by 14; lost by 16; 64.5 ppg for, 79.5 against; minus-15 scoring margin.
Season conference stats: t7th scoring offense (64.0 ppg), 9th scoring defense (76.8 ppg), 9th scoring margin (minus-12.6). Percentages: 181-431 FG (8th), 45-129 3-point (6th), 105-155 FT (7th).
What it means: Seven losses in a row, and now the big question becomes “Where does this program go once this season ends?” Safe to say there won’t be a playoff berth for NAU unless UNC and ISU completely fall apart. The chance to play spoiler is all the Lumberjacks can look for at this point and the administration must start thinking about the program’s future. There is a good young base to work with because Adras was a solid coach and he and his staff recruited well.

Northern Colorado
Record: 6-12, 3-4, t5th
Weekend: 0-2
Major superlatives: Lost by 18; lost by 12; 65 ppg for, 80 against; minus-15 scoring margin.
Season conference stats: 6th scoring offense (67.4 ppg), 5th scoring defense (70.0 ppg), 6th scoring margin (minus-2.4). Percentages: 157-313 FG (2nd), 32-62 3-point 42-89 (1st), 116-173 FT (8th).
What it means: Losses on the road to the Montana teams mean a logjam for one of the last two spots. Not much because the road record is 1-2 in conference, but the home games against the Montana schools become that much bigger. If the Bears sweep at home this weekend, they’re at 5-4 and right back in it. Big game tonight vs. ISU.

Portland State
Record: 10-9, 4-3, 4th
Weekend: 1-0
Major superlatives: Won by 2 in OT; 78 ppg for, 76 against.
Season conference stats: 1st scoring offense (77.7 ppg), t8th scoring defense (75.7 ppg), 5th scoring margin (plus-2). Percentages: 181-364 FG (3rd), 43-109 3-point (5th), 139-184 FT (2nd).
What it means: This home weekend is very big. Even a split might vault them into third. There’s not much more to add at this point; this weekend is very big and all the Vikings know it.

Sacramento State
Record: 5-13, 0-7, 9th
Weekend: 0-2
Major superlatives: Lost by 7, lost by 29; 60.5 points for; 78.5 against; minus-18 scoring margin.
Season conference stats: 9th scoring offense (61.1 ppg), 7th scoring defense (71.1 ppg), 8th scoring margin (minus-10.0). Percentages: 153-353 FG (6th), 29-104 3-point (9th), 93-142 FT (9th).
What it means: The tailspin continues and the fanbase is apathetic to it at this point.

Weber State
Record: 15-3, 7-0, 1st
Weekend: 1-0
Major superlatives: Won by 14; 81 ppg for, 67 against.
Season conference stats: 2nd scoring offense (77.1 ppg), 2nd scoring defense (65.3 ppg), 2nd scoring margin (plus-11.9). Percentages: 178-397 FG (4th), 58-146 3-point (4th), 126-151 FT (1st).
What it means: The top 3, right now, is intriguing. WSU has command of the Big Sky, but has to make the always-dreaded-by-everyone Montana trip later this year. Randy Rahe’s club, if it continues to play steady and solid, will host the BSC tournament for what feels like the hundredth year in a row, but they didn’t host last season and had only hosted six years in a row before that. If not, Missoula or even Bozeman has an outside shot at hosting a tournament.

Big Sky Conference update – January 18, 2012

by - Published January 18, 2012 in Conference Notes
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We’re back and slightly better than before, and we have the latest Big Sky notes.

Eastern Washington
Record: 9-9, 3-3, t5th
Weekend: 1-1
Major superlatives: Won by 5, lost by 1; 67.5 ppg for, 65.5 against; plus-4 scoring margin.
Season conference stats: 4th scoring offense (72.2 ppg), 6th scoring defense (68.5 ppg), 3rd scoring margin (plus-3.7). Percentages: 145-347 FG (7th), 61-171 3-point (6th) 82-116 FT (4th).
What it means: Middle of the pack after nearly halfway through, with the upper hand on Northern Arizona, Sac State and Montana State. Only MSU is above the Eagles in the standings, which makes a Jan. 28 home date with the Bobcats the most crucial game the rest of the month, even as they host Portland State on the 21st.

Idaho State
Record: 4-14, 2-4, 6th
Weekend: 1-1
Major superlatives: Won by 1, lost by 12; 68 ppg for, 73.5 ppg against; minus-5.5 scoring margin.
Season conference stats: 9th scoring offense (61.2 ppg), 6th scoring defense (70.2 ppg), 8th scoring margin (minus-9).
What it means: One step forward, one step back. Down 14 with under 5 to go, win on a four-point play with 8 seconds left had people in Pocatello happy until they went to Portland and somehow the Vikings took 36 foul shots. They’ve got two road wins, one over a team picked highly by coaches & media (Northern Colorado). That’s big, but they’re 0-3 at home in the conference. Anomaly city for interim head coach Deane Martin.

Montana
Record: 11-6, 4-1, 2nd
Weekend: 1-1
Major superlatives: Won by 25, lost by 16; 61.5 ppg for, 67.5 against; minus-6 scoring margin.
Season conference stats: 5th scoring offense (69.6 ppg), 7th scoring defense (71.8 ppg), 6th scoring margin (plus-10.4). Percentages: 128-248 FG (1st), 34-74 3-point (2nd), 74-101 FT (3rd).
What it means: For now, it means the Wildcats stand alone. UM played without center Derek Selvig, who can shoot and defend both outside and inside. Another post, Art Steward, fouled out with 16 minutes to go in the game. The Grizzlies are still on the path to finish top-2 right now, and shot a not horrible, but not great, 20-52 (38.5%) in the game to drop to 51.6% shooting in Big Sky play. You read that right – 51.6% despite a near-40% game in Ogden.

Montana State
Record: 8-8, 3-2, t3rd
Weekend: 1-1
Major superlatives: Lost by 14, won by 2, ; 71 ppg for, 66.5 against; plus-4.5 scoring margin.
Season conference stats: 8th scoring offense (60.4 ppg), 4th scoring defense (68.2 ppg), 8th scoring margin (minus-7.8). Percentages: 126-269 FG (4th), 38-87 3-point (3rd), 58-89 FT (7th).
What it means: One, the team is perimeter oriented. Nearly as many 3-pointers as free throws, and a better percentage from beyond the arc. Two, things are relatively as they should be for the Bobcats. MSU owns roadies over ISU and Northern Arizona now, but needed late heroics from a player or two to offset the fact it let a 15-point lead slip away. Suffice to say, crunch-time defense is not a current strong suit of the Bobcats’. Big game looms Saturday when Northern Colorado comes to Bozeman, but can’t overlook Sacramento State, as bad as the Hornets are.

Northern Arizona
Record: 5-13, 1-5, 7th
Weekend: 0-2
Major superlatives: Lost by 25, lost by 2; 62.5 ppg for, 76 against; minus-14.5 scoring margin.
Season conference stats: 7th scoring offense (63.8 ppg), t8th scoring defense (75.7 ppg), 9th scoring margin (minus-11.8). Percentages: 135-337 FG (8th), 30-93 3-point (8th), 83-119 FT (5th).
What it means: The honeymoon for interim head coach Dave Brown is over. Since the Arizona Styate upset at the buzzer, NAU has posted one victory, a 9-point win over fellow bottom-feeder Sac State. The next chance comes in Pocatello on Saturday, because they’re not losing in Ogden on Thursday. Outside of MSU, the losing streak margin is minus-18.75.

Northern Colorado
Record: 6-10, 3-2, t3rd
Weekend: 1-1
Major superlatives: Lost by 11, won by 1; 73 ppg for, 78 against; minus-5 scoring margin.
Season conference stats: 6th scoring offense (68.4 ppg), 3rd scoring defense (66.0 ppg), 4th scoring margin (plus-2.4). Percentages: 112-223 FG (3rd), 32-62 3-point (1st), 86-133 FT (8th).
What it means: If Portland State makes a charge, UNC will feel the pain of a loss. Staved off a Washington state sweep, barely, to stay above sea level after 5 BSC games. It’s been flip, flop since conference started and this weekend’s trip into Montana marks a four-game, two-weekend(ish) road trip for B.J. Hill’s team. They own a win over NAU, but ISU owns a win over them and hosts the Bears – after they get through playing UM and MSU.

Portland State
Record: 9-9, 3-3, t5th
Weekend: 0-1
Major superlatives: Won by 1, won by 12; 83 ppg for, 71.5 ppg against; plus-11.5 scoring margin.
Season conference stats: 1st scoring offense (77.7 ppg), t8th scoring defense (75.7 ppg), 5th scoring margin (plus-2).
What it means: The Washington teams are both on equal footing at this point, which was sort of expected but also seems strange in a way. This Saturday, they duke it out to get separation from each other in Cheney. PSU has a little momentum after two wins in a row, but Tyler Geving’s team seems mercurial at this point – like Hayford’s Eagles squad or both MSU and UNC.

Sacramento State
Record: 5-11, 0-5, 9th
Weekend: 0-2
Major superlatives: Lost by 5, lost by 1; 63.5 ppg for, 66.5 against; minus-3 scoring margin.
Season conference stats: 8th scoring offense (61.4 ppg), 4th scoring defense (68.2 ppg), 8th scoring margin (minus-7.8). Percentages: 106-245 FG (6th), 24-81 3-point (9th), 71-112 FT (9th).
What it means: People are starting to finally get fed up with Katz’s stagnancy and appalled he still has three years left on his contract. Second last in ppg (61.4), mid-pack in points allowed (68.2) and in the bottom four in most of the metric statistical categories. There’s not much more to say about a team on a six-game skid.

Weber State
Record: 14-3, 6-0, 1st
Weekend: 2-0
Major superlatives: Won by 14, won by 16; 71.5 ppg for, 56.5 against; plus-15 scoring margin.
Season conference stats: 2nd scoring offense (76.5 ppg), 2nd scoring defense (65 ppg), 1st scoring margin (plus-11.5). Percentages: 145-321 FG (5th), 54-132 3-point (5th), 115-138 FT (1st).
What it means: The cheese stands alone. The Wildcats turned a 21-19 deficit into a 16-point rout, outscoring the Griz 61-43 from the 9 minute mark of the first half onward. Weber’s lead was 27-22, then ballooned to 49-36 at the half. Kyle Bullinger and Frank Otis came back to play, with Otis chipping in seven points in 11 minutes off the bench. They’re starting to get healthier, which means problems for the rest of the Big Sky.

Big Sky roundup, week 1

by - Published January 5, 2012 in Conference Notes
bigsky

Opening weekend in the Big Sky

Eastern Washington
Record: 7-7, 1-1
Weekend: 1-1
Major superlatives: Won by 16, lost by 8; 76.5 ppg for, 72.5 against; plus-4 scoring margin; 52-112 FG; 20-53 3pt; 29-43 FT.
Summary: One night, the lead stuck. The other, it didn’t. The Eagles made an early 25-10 lead against Montana State and rode it to an 82-66 victory. How? EWU was outrebounded and committed 21 turnovers, but shot 50% (FG)-40%(3pt)-70% (FT), four in double digits and forced 22 turnovers themselves.
Two days later, Eastern took a nine-point lead (47-38) on Laron Griffin’s jumper but quickly fell silent from there. Cliff Ederaine split a pair of foul shots to cut UM’s lead to 49-48, then didn’t score for three minutes after that. The Eagles trimmed it to a point a couple times, but couldn’t flip it around.
What it means: Middle of the pack, but a big road win in Bozeman (only the ninth time in 36 tries) gives EWU the upper-hand over the Bobcats at this point.

Idaho State
Record: 3-10, 1-1
Weekend: 1-1
Major superlatives: Lost by 14, won by 2; 60.5 ppg for, 66.5 against; minus-6 scoring margin; 42-98 FG; 15-41 3pt; 22-35 FT.
Summary: Chase Grabau put up a career-best 31 in the loss and ISU kept up with Weber in the second half, but no one else scored in double figures. On Monday, two more three-pointers and three more two pointers (12) offset UNC hitting 10 more free throws (plus-2) and the fact that five Bengals scored just one more point than Morgan (11).
What it means: See above, replace road win in Bozeman with Greeley and MSU with UNC.

Montana
Record: 9-5, 2-0
Weekend: 2-0
Major superlatives: Won by 11, won by eight; 77 ppg for, 67.5 against; plus-9.5 scoring margin; 48-95 FG; 15-31 3pt; 43-56 FT.
Summary: Montana made 15-of-26 (57.7%) field goals in the first half and was 7-of-9 (77.8%) from three-point range against Portland State. Against EWU, an 18-1 run turned the tide and Mathias Ward scored a career-best 28 as the Griz shot 50.5% from the field in weekend 1
What it means: The start of a solid BSC season and the second 2-0 start in Big Sky play after weekend 1.

Montana State
Record: 6-7, 1-1
Weekend: 1-1
Major superlatives: Lost by 16, won by 13; 76 ppg for, 77.5 against; minus-1.5 scoring margin; 52-112 FG; 13-32 3pt; 35-50 FT.
Summary: The biggest win-loss swing goes to the Bobcats, who played … not good against EWU, then found itself against PSU to snap a four-game skid. Looking back, the only thing MSU did badly was allow 11 3-pointers to the Eagles. They hit 21 FGs to 27 for EWU in the same amount of shots.
What it means: A huge three-game road swing looms, with a chance to steal two road wins and momentum from teams purportedly weaker (Idaho State and Northern Arizona). Middle of the pack with four other schools.

Northern Arizona
Record: 5-9, 1-1
Weekend: 1-1
Major superlatives: Won by 9, lost by 16; 68.5 ppg for, 72 against; minus-3.5 scoring margin; 49-119 FG; 17-40 3pt; 22-34 FT.
Summary: Simple enough. Won the game they should have, lost the game they should have (maybe, depending on who you ask).
What it means: Middle of the pack with four other schools, won at home, lost on the road.

Northern Colorado
Record: 4-9, 1-1
Weekend: 1-1
Major superlatives: Won by 16, lost by 2; 67.5 ppg for, 60.5 against; plus-7.5 scoring margin; 44-80 FG; 12-20 3pt; 35-52 FT.
Summary: A last-second layup went awry. Sophomore guard Tate Unruh, the team’s leading scorer, sat out most of the game with a left ankle injury sustained early in the first half and played just seven minutes. Add Unruh, or even that layup make, and UNC might be 2-0. Also, a minus-10 turnover margin (17) in the game didn’t help
What it means: Unruh most likely is there for the return trip to Pokey. Go into Sacramento and get a win and things will be right again before a huge homestand against the state of Washington.

Portland State
Record: 6-8, 0-2
Weekend: 0-2
Major superlatives: Lost by 11, lost by 13; 68.5 ppg for, 80.5 against; minus-12.0 scoring margin; 48-115 FG; 9-31 3pt; 32-41 FT.
Summary: The Vikings couldn’t defend against the Treasure State, allowing a combined 53% on field goals (56-105). Twenty-two missed 3-pointers, which is about right (PSU shot 27% in the pre-conference play and averaged 4.5 a game). Charles Odum didn’t show up early in either road game – 23.5 points in two games, but scored 37 of his 47 points in the second half.
What it means: Depends on whom you ask. They say you never lose in conference until you lose at home (or something to that effect). But starting 0-2 in conference and falling into a four-game tailspin can’t be good for confidence or egos.

Sacramento State
Record: 5-8, 0-2
Weekend: 0-2
Major superlatives: Lost by 9, lost by 11; 63.5 ppg for, 73.5 against; minus-10 scoring margin; 48-109 FG; 10-32 3pt; 21-37 FT.
Summary: Decent shooting, bad free throws. Three players in double figures for the weekend and a almost great game against Weber – down 40-27, Sac State pulled within 42-36 at the 15:27 mark, but never got closer – gives Hornet supporters mixed feelings. The Hornets had a fifth player in the last two seasons leave recently, as Walter Jackson announced he was leaving the program on Dec. 26, three days before the conference opener at NAU. Boosters have come out in support of Katz and noted he will get through his contract, which runs out after 2013-14.
What it means: See Portland State, change four-game skid to three.

Weber State
Record: 10-3, 2-0
Weekend: 2-0
Major superlatives: Lost by 14, won by 9; 76 ppg for, 63.5 against; plus-12.5 scoring margin; 48-101 FG; 16-39 3pt; 40-46 FT.
Summary: Ho-hum, kind of. Lillard went for 48 on opening weekend at home, but Scott Bamforth returned in a scoring aspect (20 points, 4.5 rebounds & 4 assists) while shooting 42 percent from the field and 91 percent from the free throw line. Bamforth averaged 12.3 points in the month of December prior to Big Sky play. Jordan Richardson, Darin Mahoney and Kyle Tresnak have also come together in Kyle Bullinger’s absence and will be the starting lineup from now on.
What it means: See Montana. Things will start to separate for WSU (and the Griz) this weekend.

Your Big Sky Conference primer

by - Published December 28, 2011 in Conference Notes
bigsky

For all the information you’ll ever need heading into tonight’s Big Sky opener for a few teams, look here.

For some quick-hit material, team-by-team capsules are below. Looking at the preconference standings, well, the cream rises to the top. The order is pretty much how many around the league figure the conference season will go, save for Sacramento State being among the Big Sky Tournament teams. The bigger picture is accurate: Weber State on top, then Montana and then a giant jumble that needs to be put together like a jigsaw puzzle.

Big Sky Conference capsules

Eastern Washington

  • Record: 6-6
  • Streak: Lost 1
  • Go-to guy: Collin Chiverton, Jr., F (18.0 points per game; 40-95 3-pointers, 42.1 percent). Chiverton is joined by two others in double-figure scoring, but is far and away the main option for the Eagles. Half of his shot attempts (95-189) are from 3-point range, but he is also an 82.8 percent free-throw shooter.
  • Quick hits: The Eagles have lost 18 players to fouling out throughout the season, including Laron Griffin five times, Cliff Ederaine four times and both Chiverton and Cliff Colimon three times. … Colimon, EWU’s point guard, averages 5.58 assists and has eclipsed his assist and steal totals from last year before conference play begins. … The Eagles top four free-throw shooters are a combined 75 percent (118-157) from the line.

Idaho State

  • Record: 2-9
  • Streak: Lost 4
  • Go-to guy: Chase Grabau, Sr., G (10.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4 assists, 2.2 steals per game; 34-72 field goals). Though he is only third on the list in scoring, Grabau is an all-around player for the Bengals: first in field goal percentage (min. 60 attempts), first in assists and steals, second in rebounds, third in blocks.
  • Quick hits: ISU has three players netting double figures heading into conference play, but non have more than 133 points. … Grabau is 11 assists from breaking his total from last season … Seven-foot-4 redshirt junior center Jakub Kusmieruk is fourth on the team in rebounding with 3.2 per game.

Montana

  • Record: 7-5
  • Streak: Won 2
  • Go-to guy: Will Cherry, Jr., G (14.0 points, 3.5 assist, 2.2 steals, 50-136 field goals). Cherry has led the team in scoring five times and leads them in most categories (free throws made and taken, field goals taken, 3-pointers taken, assists, steals).
  • Quick hits: Forward Derek Selvig has missed three games but is still third on the team in scoring (8.3 ppg) and first in rebounds (7.1 rpg). … UM is one of only two teams in the Big Sky at .500 or better whose field goal percentage is worse than its opposition (42 percent to 41). … The Griz are also being outrebounded (35.2-33.4) by nearly two boards a game.

Montana State

  • Record: 5-6
  • Streak: Lost 3
  • Go-to guy: Xavier Blount, Jr., G (11.6 points, 1.27 steals per game; 40-99 field goals, 40.4 percent). Blount has established himself as the No. 1 option on offense; he can score coming off a screen, taking his man to the basket or with a mid-range jumper.
  • Quick hits: Centers Jourdain Allou (31-49 FG) and Mohammed Fall (32-59 FG) are shooting a combined 58 percent. … Despite missing two games, forward Tre Johnson leads the team in rebounds (58 total, 6.4 per game) and is second in points per game (9.9) and blocks (10). …Four different Bobcats have doled out 21 or more assists, while five have collected 11 or more steals.

Northern Arizona

  • Record: 4-8
  • Streak: Lost 1
  • Go-to guy: James Douglas, Fr., G (12.5 ppg; 57-136 FG). Douglas is a scorer in the mold of Cameron Jones based on his first non-conference slate. He’s put up the most shots and 3-pointers for the Lumberjacks – sinking the most, too – and has a shooting percentage that hovers around 40 percent.
  • Quick hits: Point guard Stallon Saldivar has taken on more of a scorer’s role (9.0 ppg) but hasn’t lost his penchant for being a pass-first playmaker, averaging 5.4 assists a game. … Redshirt freshman forward Gaellan Bewernick is second on the team in rebounds (56, 4.7 per game) and first in blocks (six). … Senior guard Durrell Norman leads the team in rebounds (78. 6.5 per game) and steals (16, 1.3 per game).

Northern Colorado

  • Record: 3-8
  • Streak: Lost 3
  • Go-to guy: Tate Unruh, RSoph., G (13.1 points, 1 steal per game, team-best 26 3-pointers; 50-104 field goals) Unruh and true sophomore Paul Garnica have taken the scoring load upon themselves. Unruh is shooting 48 percent from the field, 45.6 from 3-point range and combines with Garnica to shoot 45 percent (96-for-214) from the field.
  • Quick hits: Veterans Emmanuel Addo, Elliot Lloyd and Mike Proctor were expected to be the main trio for BJ Hill, but are third, fourth and fifth, respectively, in scoring per game and second, eighth and third, respectively, in rebounding per contest. … Redshirt sophomore center Connor Osbourne, who sat due to injury last season, leads the team in blocks (seven), rebounds per game (5.2) and overall field goal percentage (56.1, 23-41).

Portland State

  • Record: 6-6
  • Streak: Lost 2
  • Go-to guy: Charles Odum, Sr., G (16.7 points, 1.5 steals, 68 field goals, 57 free throws; 68-138 FG). Odum is also the team leader in free throw percentage 89.1 percent (57-64) and assists (31, 2.6 per game). The 6-foot shooting guard has shot 61-66 (63.5 percent) from 2-point range this season.
  • Quick hits: Junior forward Renado Parker, a mid-season transfer in 2010-11, has scored 47 points (9.4 per game) and grabbed 22 rebounds (4.4 per game) in five contests since becoming eligible. … One of two conference teams who went 0-6 on the road during non-conference play. … The Vikings have hit one less field goal (334-333) and 22 less 3-pointers (76-54) than their opposition, but balance it with a plus-73 margin in free throws made (210-137) and a plus-106 margin in free throws attempted (285-1798).

Sacramento State

  • Record: 6-6
  • Streak: Lost 2
  • Go-to guy: Joe Eberhard, Jr., G/F (11.1 points, 6.4 rebounds per game, team-best 16 3-pointers; 46-93 field goals). Eberhard leads the Hornets in minutes and rebounds and is second in field goal percentage (min. 45 attempts), 3-point percentage (min. 20 attempts) and assists.
  • Quick hits: The Hornets have outscored their opponents, 726-719, and are plus 29 (391-362) in second-half scoring. … Sacramento State has lost six games by an average of 12.5 points per contest, but only two of those losses are by more than 11 points (26, 29). … Freshman point guard Dylan Garrity leads the conference in assists (76, 6.9 per game) and has hit 28-34 free throws.

Weber State

  • Record: 8-3
  • Streak: Won 2
  • Go-to guy: Damian Lillard, RJr., G (25.4 points, 1.1 steals, 3.6 assists per game; 83-170 FG). The two-time All-Big Sky first-team is up to his old tricks, having carried the Wildcats through Kyle Bullinger’s injury and Scott Bamforth’s recent shooting slump. He leads the team in points, steals assists, field goals (made and taken), free throws (made and taken), 3-pointers (made and taken) and total rebounds (64).
  • Quick hits: The Wildcats are the only Big Sky team to have a positive margin in 19 different statistical categories. The one stat it trails in? Blocks at minus-13 (33-20). … Center Kyle Tresnak, the team’s tallest player at 6-foot-10 and a full-time starter, is seventh on the team in rebounding (32, 2.9 per game)… Lillard has taken 75 more shots than anyone else on the team.

College Basketball Tonight

COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT is a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran college basketball broadcaster Ted Sarandis, who will be joined by former Manhattan and Seton Hall head coach Bobby Gonzalez and many great guests, including Hoopville's own Phil Kasiecki.

The show will air on AM 970 The Answer in New York City from 7-9 p.m. on every Sunday from Selection Sunday to the Final Four. You can listen to the show here.

Your Phil of Hoops

Watson’s transfer will sting BU the most

April 11, 2014 by

bostonuniversity

Boston University recently saw three players transfer. The impact of the departure of one of them will be felt more than the other two.

Mihalich’s first year at Hofstra is over but will have plenty of value

March 9, 2014 by

hofstra

The first year for Hofstra under Joe Mihalich is in the books. Many expected that wins would be hard to come by, and they were, but this season was about more than that and is hardly a throwaway year.

Cornell’s future can only be better

March 2, 2014 by

cornell

Cornell has had a rough season, as could be expected given some personnel losses. It’s almost in the books, and the future at least looks brighter.

2013 Prep School Tour

Missed a recap of an open gym workout? We have them all right here for you.

Sept. 9: St. Andrew's
Sept 10: Tilton
Sept. 11: South Kent School and Northfield Mount Hermon
Sept. 12: Putnam Science Academy
Sept. 16: St. Thomas More and Marianapolis Prep
Sept. 17: Brewster Academy and Phillips Exeter
Sept. 23: New Hampton School
Sept. 24: Brimmer and May
Sept. 25: Proctor Academy
Sept. 26: Notre Dame Prep and Cushing Academy
Sept. 29: Worcester Academy and Vermont Academy
Oct. 6: Charlestown High School and Milton Academy
Oct. 13: Tabor Academy
Oct. 15: Brooks School

Hoopville Archives

Even More: City Hoops Recruiting

Travel team profile: All For One

All For One has been one of the better travel programs in Massachusetts for players before they reach high school

Travel team profile: Blackstone Valley Chaos

Size and options on the wing are not lacking for this year’s junior team

Travel team profile: Expressions Elite

Expressions Elite has quickly become one of the deeper programs in New England

Cesar Fulcar commits to Wentworth

The senior guard led Watertown to the state semifinal this past season

Travel team profile: Bay State Magic

Bay State Magic doesn’t have much size on their junior team this season, so they’ll have to win with execution and intangibles

Coaching Changes and NBA Draft Early Entrants

The coaching carousel is already 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.

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter