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Big Sky roundup, week 1

by - Published January 5, 2012 in Conference Notes

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

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.

Around the Horizon League: Week 7

by - Published December 28, 2011 in Conference Notes

The holidays made for a relatively quiet week around the Horizon League, with each team only playing one game.

Butler Bulldogs (6-7): Butler continued their road trip with a visit to Stanford. After being down by five points at halftime, the Bulldogs rallied for a 71-66 victory over the Cardinal. Butler was fueled by Ronald Nored’s career-best 15-point performance, which included several clutch free throws in the final minute of the game to seal the Bulldogs’ victory. The Bulldogs return to action on Thursday at home against the Green Bay Phoenix and end the year with a home game on New Year’s Eve against the Milwaukee Panthers.

Cleveland State Vikings (11-2): After suffering a disappointing loss earlier in the week to South Florida, the Vikings rebounded with a solid 65-43 victory at home over the Sam Houston State Bearkats. The Vikings forced 23 turnovers and used a balanced attack to defeat the visiting Bearkats. On Wednesday, Cleveland State will travel west to  Toledo to battle the Rockets. The Vikings will end the year with a home contest against the Youngstown State Penguins on New Year’s Eve.

Detroit Titans (6-8): Detroit hosted the Alabama State Hornets last Thursday. The Titans used a 32-13 second-half run and a double-double by Doug Anderson to defeat the Hornets by a score of 80-56. Detroit will end the year with two consecutive road games in Chicago. The Titans will square off against UIC Thursday and finish the year with a game against Loyola Saturday.

Green Bay Phoenix (6-6): The Phoenix evened their record with a 63-61 victory over Idaho last Thursday. Sparked by a 19 point, 19 rebound performance by Brennan Cougill, the Phoenix overcame foul trouble to standout sophomore Alec Brown and secured their sixth victory of the season. Cougill’s performance helped him earn Co-Horizon League Player of the Week honors. The Phoenix will travel to Butler on Thursday before ending the year against the Valparaiso Crusaders on New Year’s Eve.

Loyola Ramblers (5-7): In their only game of the week, Loyola traveled to Buffalo to square off against Canisius. The Ramblers earned their fourth straight win by defeating Canisius by a score of 59-45. Loyola was once again powered by Ben Averkamp and Walt Gibler, who helped them overcome a four point halftime deficit. Averkamp chipped in with 22 points while Gibler scored 17 points and pulled down 12 rebounds. Loyola will look to extend their winning streak when they host Wright State on Thursday and Detroit on Saturday.

Milwaukee Panthers (9-4): The Panthers traveled across Milwaukee to battle the nationally ranked Marquette Golden Eagles. Although the Panthers were only down by five points at halftime, Milwaukee’s poor shooting performance ultimately sunk their upset effort, and the Panthers lost by a score of 64-50. The Panthers will close out the year by traveling to Indiana for two road games. Milwaukee will battle Valparaiso on Thursday before squaring off against Butler on New Year’s Eve.

UIC Flames (4-8): UIC traveled to Dayton for a road contest against the Dayton Flyers last Thursday night. Although the Flames ended the first half with a two-point lead and remained within two points late in the game, UIC lost to the Flyers by a score of 64-57. UIC will host Detroit on Thursday before ending the year with a matchup on New Year’s Eve against Wright State.

Valparaiso Crusaders (8-5): Despite being down by 17 points at halftime to IUPUI, the Crusaders refused to quit and managed to tie the score eight minutes into the second half. However, IUPUI used a 17-4 run to defeat Valparaiso by the score of 97-88. The Crusaders will end the year at home with two games against Wisconsin teams. Valparaiso will battle Milwaukee on Thursday before squaring off against Green Bay on Saturday.

Wright State Raiders (6-8): The Raiders hosted Central Michigan last Thursday. The Raiders headed into the locker room at halftime with a nine-point lead and defeated the Chippewas by a score of 60-42. Junior guard Julius Mays’ 28 points and game-winning basket earlier in the month against Nevada helped him earn Co-Horizon League Player of the Week honors. The Raiders will end the year with a trip to Chicago for two games against Horizon League conference opponents. Wright State will play Loyola on Thursday before matching up against UIC on New Year’s Eve.

Youngstown State Penguins (6-6): The Penguins’ losing streak extended to four games with a 59-56 loss at home to the Robert Morris Colonials. Although the Penguins led by one point at halftime and led for most of the second half, a turnover by Kendrick Perry with the score tied 56-56 gave the Colonials one last chance to win the game. Coron Williams proceeded to nail a 3-point basket to secure the win for Robert Morris. Youngstown State will look to end its losing streak when they travel to Cleveland State on New Year’s Eve for a road contest against the Vikings.

Cleveland State messes with Texas, defeats Sam Houston State Bearkats

by - Published December 22, 2011 in Conference Notes

Although the Cleveland State pep band created an atmosphere full of Christmas cheer as they belted out a large number of Christmas tunes on Tuesday night at the Wolstein Center, the Cleveland State Vikings played the role of the Grinch as they defeated the visiting Sam Houston State Bearkats by a score of 65-43.

Powered by seven 3-point shots in the first half, the Vikings led 37-25 at halftime. The Vikings continued to control the game in the second half, outscoring the Bearkats 26-20.

Vikings coach Gary Waters was in a giving mood tonight as he doled out generous minutes to nearly every player on the roster. The Vikings’ young bench received significant minutes, with most of the Vikings’ freshmen playing at least 10 minutes. Senior center Aaron Pogue was limited by a thigh contusion that he reaggravated against South Florida, opening the door for sophomore Devon Long to receive 13 minutes of action.

The Vikings compensated for being outrebounded 30-29 by using their “Water Pressure” defense to force 23 turnovers and force the Bearkats into a 41.2% shooting performance. D’Aundray Brown led the Vikings’ balanced attack with 12 points. The Bearkats’ Demarcus Gatlin led all scorers with 13 points.

The Vikings will take the next week off and celebrate Christmas before returning to the Wolstein Center on New Year’s Eve for an afternoon match up against the Youngstown State Penguins.

Around The Horizon League: Week 6

by - Published December 22, 2011 in Conference Notes

Butler Bulldogs (5-7): Butler began the week with a matchup against the Purdue Boilermakers at Conseco Fieldhouse. Having struggled in the early part of the season, the Bulldogs probably weren’t given much of a chance by most observers against the Boilermakers. Summing up some of the magic that has helped the team advance to two straight NCAA Tournament Championship Games, the Bulldogs upset the Boilermakers by a score of 67-65 when Andrew Smith tipped in a missed shot from freshman Roosevelt Jones.  Three days later, the Bulldogs headed west to battle Gonzaga in a matchup of mid-major powers. Although sophomore Erik Fromm scored a career-best 16 points in his first career start, Butler lost to Gonzaga by a score of 71-55. The Bulldogs will remain on the road and square off against the Stanford Cardinal on Thursday.

Cleveland State Vikings (10-2): After dedicating a week to final exams, the Vikings returned to action on Monday on the road against South Florida. Despite outrebounding South Florida by a 37-34 margin, the Vikings were plagued by poor shooting and foul trouble and lost their first road game of the season by a score of 70-55. Senior D’Aundray Brown currently leads the Horizon League with 3.0 steals per game. Cleveland State will return to action at home on Thursday night against the Sam Houston State Bearkats.

Detroit Titans (5-8): After a multi-day break dedicated to final exams, the Titans returned to action against the nationally ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs. The Titans fought hard to overcome a second-half deficit that stretched to 15 points at one point in the game and even managed to tie the game with less than three minutes left in the game, but the Titans ultimately fell short by a score of 80-75. Although he did not return to the starting lineup, Eli Holman was very impressive in 17 minutes of action, scoring 12 points and pulling down 9 rebounds. Detroit is unique in the fact that they lead the Horizon League in scoring as well as points given up per game, and the return of Holman should help address the Titans’ defensive struggles. The Titans will return to action on Thursday night against Alabama State.

Green Bay Phoenix (5-6): During the past week, the Phoenix exemplified the meaning of the term “student-athlete” as they did not play a single game and focused on final exams. Alec Brown ranks second in the Horizon League in rebounds per game and blocked shots per game. The Phoenix will return to action on Thursday night at home against Idaho.

Loyola Ramblers (4-7): The Ramblers racked up two wins over the past week. On Saturday, Loyola used double-doubles by standouts Ben Averkamp and Walt Gibler to defeat Chicago State by a score of 64-49. Two days later, Loyola defeated Division II Rockhurst by a score of 69-46. Paced by another strong performance from Averkamp, the Rambers earned their third straight victory in a game that marked the return of the injury-plagued Jordan Hicks. The Rambers will attempt to secure their fourth straight victory when they head to New York to battle Canisus on Thursday.

Milwaukee Panthers (9-3): The Panthers are another team that was relatively idle over the past week. In their only game of the week, the Panthers used 15 3-pointers to dominate the visiting Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks by a score of 86-50. In a major intrastate battle, the Panthers will head over to Marquette’s campus to battle the nationally ranked Golden Eagles on Thursday night. The Panthers have limited opponents to a Horizon League-leading 58 points per game, and they will need to utilize their tough defense in order to keep pace with Marquette.

UIC Flames (4-7): Despite a career-best 20 points from junior guard Daniel Barnes, the Flames lost to Central Michigan by a score of 70-67 after they allowed a lead to slip away in the final minute. However, UIC found itself on the winning end of a close game three nights later. UIC edged Western Illinois at home by a score of 57-56. Gary Talton’s layup with 3.2 left in the game helped the Flames earn their fourth win of the season. Hayden Humes leads the Horizon League in 3-point percentage, nailing 50% of his shots. The Flames will battle the Dayton Flyers on the road on Friday night.

Valparaiso Crusaders (8-4): The Crusaders lost a close game at home to Oakland University by a score of 82-80. Oakland’s Reggie Hamilton, who led all scorers with 41 points, nailed a jumper to win the game. Three days later, Valparaiso used two big runs to defeat Northern Illinois by a score of 59-48. Kevin Van Wijk currently leads the Horizon League in field goal percentage and also ranks seventh in the Horizon League in points per game, averaging 14.4 points per contest. The Crusaders will return to action on Friday against IUPUI.

Wright State Raiders (5-8): Wright State’s youth and a tough non-conference schedule have combined to lead to a slow start to the season for the Raiders. However, if the Raiders continue to improve throughout the course of the season, they could be a tough opponent in the Horizon League Tournament. Wright State squared off at home against the Ohio University Bobcats. Fueled by a stellar shooting performance, the Bobcats knocked off the Raiders by a score of 82-54. However, Wright State hung on in overtime to defeat Idaho by a score of 80-78. Julius Mays’ 3-pointer in overtime helped propel the Raiders to their fifth victory of the season. Wright State will return to action on Thursday night against Central Michigan.

Youngstown State Penguins (6-5): Youngstown State’s turnaround hit a bit of a rough patch over the past week. On Saturday, the Penguins traveled across Ohio to battle the Toledo Rockets. Plagued by poor play in the first half, the Penguins fell behind early in the game and were down by as many as 17 points before rallying in the second half. However, the Penguins could never retake the lead and wound up losing by a score of 86-77. Two days later, the Penguins battled another in-state opponent when they squared off against the Akron Zips. Akron is a talented team, and the Penguins made matters worse for themselves by committing 21 turnovers—their highest total of the season. Needless to say, the turnovers led to a Penguins loss, and the Zips defeated the Penguins by a score of 88-62. The Penguins will attempt to end their losing streak on Thursday when they host Robert Morris.

Around The Horizon League: Weeks 4-5

by - Published December 14, 2011 in Conference Notes

Butler Bulldogs (4-6): Butler has continued to struggle in the early stages of the 2011-12 college basketball season. However, don’t start writing Butler’s obituary just yet. Horizon League fans shouldn’t forget that Butler began last season slowly and bottomed out with a loss to Youngstown State before turning their season around and not losing again until the NCAA Tournament final against Connecticut. The Bulldogs dropped their Horizon League opener to Valparaiso in overtime by a score of 77-71. Four days later, the Bulldogs lost at home to the nationally ranked Xavier Musketeers by a score of 73-61. On Saturday, Butler lost a road game against Ball State by a score of 58-55 in a game in which a furious second-half comeback fell short. The Bulldogs will face Purdue on Saturday in a neutral-site game at Conseco Fieldhouse.

Cleveland State Vikings (10-1): Cleveland State has continued their strong start to the season with a series of close victories. The Vikings eked out a 45-43 victory over Wright State when senior D’Aundray Brown tipped in a shot at the buzzer. Two days later, Cleveland State hung tough in the second half and pulled out a 66-61 victory on the road over the Detroit Titans. The Vikings ended their long streak of road games with a matchup in Pittsburgh against Robert Morris. Although the Colonials significantly cut into the Vikings’ second-half lead, Cleveland State used solid free-throw shooting to clinch a 62-58 victory. The Vikings finally returned home last Saturday to face the Akron Zips. Despite once again losing a second-half lead, the Vikings escaped with a 69-66 victory on a Jeremy Montgomery 3-pointer in the final seconds. Cleveland State will spend this week taking final exams before taking their talents to South Florida for a road matchup next Monday.

Detroit Titans (5-7): The Titans began Horizon League play with a hard-fought 64-61 loss to the Youngstown State Penguins. Cleveland State kept the Titans winless in conference play with a 66-61 defeat two days later. The Titans rebounded with a nationally televised 69-63 win against St. John’s on the night when the basketball court at Calihan Hall was named “Dick Vitale Court”. Although he is now best known as one of the best-known commentators in sports, Vitale previously coached the Detroit Titans during the 1970’s. The Titans continued their winning ways against Western Michigan with a 92-81 triumph that marked the return of talented center Eli Holman. After being placed on a leave of absence at the start of the season following an offseason assault charge, Holman returned to action and scored 21 points, pulled down 7 boards, and blocked 4 shots in only 19 minutes of action. Poor shooting at the outset doomed the Titans in their next contest against the Alabama Crimson Tide, and the Titans lost 62-54. The Titans will spend the week concentrating on finals before returning to action against Mississippi State on Saturday.

Green Bay Phoenix (5-6): The Phoenix began Horizon League play with a 71-68 victory against the UIC Flames. Two days later, the Phoenix used tough defense to knock off the Loyola Ramblers by a score of 57-47. The Phoenix suffered a 70-42  defeat against the nationally-ranked Wisconsin Badgers in a game in which the Phoenix were only able to seriously challenge the Badgers during the opening 10 minutes. Facing another nationally-ranked opponent three days later, the Phoenix lost to the Marquette Golden Eagles by a score of 79-61 despite a career-best night from sophomore Alec Brown, who scored 22 points and pulled down 14 rebounds. The Phoenix rebounded from these resounding losses with a 69-61 victory over Division II Michigan Tech. After having over a week off to take final exams, the Phoenix will square off against Idaho at home on December 22nd.

Loyola Ramblers (2-7): The Ramblers began Horizon League conference play with a 59-41 loss to the talented Milwaukee Panthers. Two days later, the Ramblers lost to another Wisconsin team as they lost to the Green Bay Phoenix by a score of 57-47. Although the Ramblers narrowed Green Bay’s sizable second-half lead down to seven points with 52 seconds left in the game, the Ramblers could pull no closer as they dropped their second straight conference matchup. Despite a career-high 29 points from senior Walt Gibler, the Ramblers then lost to the DePaul Blue Demons four days later in a game in which the Ramblers trailed by as much as 33 points. The Ramblers finally secured their second win of the season three days later with a 57-55 victory over the Toledo Rockets when junior Ben Averkamp nailed a game-winning jump shot. The Ramblers’ victory is even more notable in light of the fact that they were without Gibler and Joe Crisman, two of their key players. Loyola will attempt to obtain their third win of the season at home against Chicago State on Saturday.

Milwaukee Panthers (8-2): Sparked by the return of talented senior forward Tony Meier, the Panthers began Horizon League conference play with a 59-41 triumph over the Loyola Ramblers that marked the return of talented guard Tony Meier. Two days later, the Panthers needed overtime in order to obtain their second straight victory in Horizon League conference play, a 73-71 victory over the UIC Flames. Playing their third game in six days, the Panthers used a barrage of 3-point shooting to knock off the DePaul Blue Demons by a score of 87-76. The Panthers suffered their first loss of the season to Northern Iowa by a score of 67-51. Three days later, the Panthers squared off against the nationally-ranked Wisconsin Badgers at home. Ja’Rob McCallum and Kyle Kelm, two Panther starters, missed the game due to injury. However, the Panthers fought hard and rallied in the second half behind Meier. Nevertheless, the Panthers fell short by a score of 60-54. The Panthers will return to action on the road on Saturday against Nebraska-Omaha.

UIC Flames (3-6): The Flames kicked off Horizon League conference play with a road matchup against the Green Bay Phoenix. Daniel Barnes was stripped of the ball by the Phoenix’s Kam Cerroni with five seconds left and the Phoenix escaped with a 71-68 victory over the visiting Flames. The Flames dropped another tough game two days later to the Milwaukee Panthers, losing by a score of 73-71 after Gary Talton missed a potential game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer. The Flames notched their third win of the season against Northern Illinois by a score of 62-55. Three days later, the Flames shot poorly and fell victim to the Oregon State Beavers by a score of 95-53. The Flames will return to action on Friday night against Central Michigan.

Valparaiso Crusaders (7-3): The Crusaders kicked off Horizon League conference play in dramatic fashion with a 77-71 overtime victory over the defending Horizon League Tournament champion Butler Bulldogs. Valparaiso could have won the game in regulation, but a potential game-winning 3-pointer from Matt Kenney came after the buzzer. Four days later, the Crusaders’ second-half rally against the IPFW Mastadons came up short as they lost by a score of 85-76. The Crusaders returned to their winning ways with a 82-79 triumph at home against the Bowling Green Falcons in a game that was hotly contested for much of the second half. Valparaiso will return to action on Saturday at home against Oakland University.

Wright State Raiders (4-7): One of the youngest teams in the Horizon League, Wright State has struggled in the early part of the 2011-12 college basketball season. The Raiders dropped their Horizon League opener in heartbreaking fashion to the Cleveland State Vikings by a score of 45-43. However, the Raiders rebounded in impressive style two days later with an impressive 63-62 victory over the visiting Youngstown State Penguins in a closely fought contest. Armond Battle’s free throw with 1.4 seconds remaining in the game gave the Raiders the lead, and the Penguins’ Damian Eargle missed a shot as time ran out that would have given the Penguins a road victory. However, the Raiders proceeded to lose on the road to Air Force by a score of 55-34. Returning home to Ohio, the Raiders squared off against neighboring Miami of Ohio and defeated the RedHawks by a score of 51-49. The Raiders faced another southern Ohio team on Wednesday as they battled the Cincinnati Bearcats. The Bearcats defeated the Raiders by a score of 78-58 in a game in which the Raiders only led once. Wright State will return to action on Saturday against Ohio University.

Youngstown State Penguins (6-3): Paced by a career-best 24 points from senior DuShawn Brooks, Youngstown State won its Horizon League conference opener with a 64-61 victory on the road over the Detroit Titans. The Penguins were then shocked on the road by the struggling Wright State Raiders by a score of 63-62. Three days later, the Penguins used a strong performance on defense to dominate Division III Fredonia State by a score of 69-35. The Penguins faced another New York team four days later when they traveled to Buffalo to face the Buffalo Bulls. Despite once again sinking a school-record 14 3-pointers, the Penguins lost to the Bulls by a score of 80-72. The Penguins will return to action on Saturday when they travel across Ohio to face the Toledo Rockets.

A busy and exciting week in the Big Sky

by - Published December 13, 2011 in Conference Notes

There has been a lot to discuss since last week. Let’s go down the line, team by team.

WEBER STATE

Weber State lost a crucial element to its success, but went 1-1 after Damian Lillard, whose shoulder has to be hurting, carried his team again and was named Big Sky Player of the Week for the second consecutive week (23 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 5.5 apg; 31 pts & personal-best 9 dimes against Southern Utah). Scott Bamforth has expressed recently through social media he’s unhappy with how he’s played the past couple weeks, though he’s still second on the team in scoring. Question is, can anybody stop Lillard and/or will he break down eventually trying to be Jordan/Kobe/the team’s superstar?

PORTLAND STATE

The Vikings have shown great improvement under Tyler Geving and stayed with Oregon most of the night before falling. Charles Odum and Chehales Tapscott have taken over as the leaders of this team and Renado Parker has come on strong after becoming eligible.

EASTERN WASHINGTON

The Eagles play at UCLA tomorrow night and have been in a little bit of tailspin against D-I teams. The 3 C’s (Collin Chiverton, Cliff Colimon and Cliff Ederaine) head the Eagles’ effort

MONTANA STATE

A very strange game played out in a loss for the Bobcats despite a team-record FTs made. Xavier Blount is emerging as a bona fide option on offense and settling into the No. 2 scorer’s role.

MONTANA

Montana lost the MWC-Big Sky crossover to fall to 5-5. Guards Will Cherry and Kareem Jamar lead the team, while Derek Selvig seems to be struggling as he returns from a foot injury.

SACRAMENTO STATE

The Hornets beat up on some non D-I school and Dylan Garrity has started to come back to earth after starting the season with 31 assists and six turnovers in four games. He’s still good, better than projected, but conference season will tell a lot about development.

NORTHERN COLORADO

The Bears host Denver tonight and are struggling relative to the competition, even in wins. Plus that lost to Westminster is an albatross.

NORTHERN ARIZONA

Yes, the Lumberjacks won in Dave Brown’s debut. No, not many think this is the start of a turnaround. NAU is still struggling.

IDAHO STATE

The Bengals lost in OT and seem to be falling apart. Melvin Morgan and Chase Grabau must feel like they’re on an island alone most nights.

**UPDATE**
The weekly Big Sky notes

Oklahoma has the best Big 12 player you don’t know

by - Published December 12, 2011 in Conference Notes

The most improved player in the Big 12 has to be a member of one of the conference’s undefeated teams, Missouri or Baylor, right?

We’re talking about two top 10 teams there, with NBA-caliber talent on the roster. The Bears’ Perry Jones III has been a beast since becoming eligible, and the Tigers’ Marcus Denmon, Phil Pressey and Ricardo Ratliffe are playing out of their minds.

That’s all true, but we’re going in a different direction: Oklahoma’s Steven Pledger.

Really?

The stats don’t lie for Lon Kruger’s top player, who has helped the Sooners get out to a 7-1 start. That includes some decent wins against Arkansas and Washington State. I love Missouri and think the Tigers are a Final Four-caliber squad, but they need to prove it against teams better than Navy, Binghamton and Niagara. Yes, they have respectable wins against Villanova and California, but overall, the strength of schedule is abysmal. Plus a team filled with talent can cause all sorts of match up problems, which benefits everyone on the roster. Oklahoma has far fewer options, yet Pledger remains ridiculously productive. Let’s take a closer look.

Based on Hoopville’s Total Impact Quotient player rating system, Pledger had a mediocre TIQ of 18.1 points per 40 minutes last season. The junior guard has nearly doubled that to 34.7 points per 40 minutes this season despite playing nearly an identical number of minutes per game.

For Pledger, it starts behind the arc, where he’s shooting a phenomenal 17-of-36, or 47.2 percent. That’s in comparison to a pedestrian 35.0 percent last season. But Pledger didn’t stop his improvement there. He’s shooting an amazing 57.7 percent from the field overall, 66.7 percent inside the arc. For a guy that shot worse than 40 percent from the field in his first two seasons, that improvement is utterly astounding.

We’ll see if Pledger can maintain this shooting streak, especially when the Sooners open the Big 12 schedule with back-to-back games against Missouri and Kansas. But he’s doing more than just scoring for Kruger. Pledger also averages 3.0 rpg and 2.1 apg. His defense is also significantly better, with 11 steals on the season. He only got 11 steals in his entire freshman season.

Several other Big 12 players have made significant strides since last season.

  • Baylor’s Perry Jones III: 35.9 TIQ this season; 24.4 TIQ last season (+11.5)
  • Missouri’s Marcus Denmon: 37.1 TIQ this season; 27.8 TIQ last season (+9.3)
  • Oklahoma’s Cameron Clark: 26.2 TIQ this season; 17.1 TIQ last season (+9.1)
  • Texas A&M’s Ray Turner: 30.1 TIQ this season; 21.1 TIQ last season (+9.0)
  • Oklahoma’s C.J. Washington: 27.3 TIQ this season; 18.4 TIQ last season (+8.9)
  • Missouri’s Ricardo Ratliffe: 35.1 TIQ this season; 26.8 TIQ last season (+8.3)
  • Iowa State’s Bubu Palo: 25.1 TIQ this season; 17.1 TIQ last season (+8.0)
  • Texas’ J’Covan Brown: 35.7 TIQ this season; 27.8 TIQ last season (+7.7)

Vikings pull out dramatic victory over Akron

by - Published December 10, 2011 in Conference Notes

Longtime Cleveland sports fans are familiar with the “Kardiac Kids,” which was the nickname bestowed on the 1980 Cleveland Browns team that won multiple games in the waning seconds of the game.

Although the 2011-12 college basketball season is still somewhat young, the Cleveland State Vikings have already given that famous Browns squad a serious challenge for this nickname. For the second time in less than a month, the Vikings won a game with a 3-pointer against a quality opponent in the final seconds as they defeated the Akron Zips by a score of 69-66.

Playing its second game in less than 48 hours, the Vikings hosted the Zips in a game billed as the “Backyard Battle” on Saturday afternoon in front of a large crowd at the Wolstein Center. Saturday’s match up was the Vikings’ first home game since their thrilling contest against St. Bonaventure Nov. 18, and a crowd filled with both Vikings and Zips fans from nearby Akron were eager for a contest between two strong mid-major programs.

As might have been expected after Thursday night’s hard-fought contest against Robert Morris, the Vikings came out a bit flat against the well-rested Zips, who last played Dec. 4 against Middle Tennessee State. After scoring the first points of the game, the Vikings eventually fell behind by a score of 15-9 with 13:27 remaining in the first half. Initially, the Vikings struggled to contain Zeke Marshall, the Zips’ talented junior center who dominated on both sides of the court. Eventually, the Vikings managed to slow him down with near-constant double teaming. The Vikings rallied with a 16-4 run that ended with a thundering block by senior center Aaron Pogue leading to a 3-pointer by freshman Ike Nwamu in transition that gave the Vikings a 25-19 lead with slightly over seven minutes remaining in the first half.
At halftime, the Vikings headed into the locker room with a 35-30 lead.

In the second half, the Vikings came out hot and extended their lead to 42-33. By the time the Vikings stretched their lead to 13 with 13 minutes left in the game, some fans may have expected Cleveland State’s intense pressure defense to clamp down on the visiting Zips and to take away any remaining chance they had of winning the game.

Instead, Cleveland State’s sloppiness nearly stripped them of a chance to win the game.

Multiple turnovers and missed shots by Cleveland State allowed Akron to rally and take a 65-64 lead on a layup by Chauncey Gilliam with 3:31 remaining in the second half. A foul shot by Demetrius Treadwell extended the Zips’ lead to 66-64 with 1:48 left.

However, those were the Zips’ last points of the game, and they could do nothing but watch as Cleveland State’s Jeremy Montgomery proceeded to single-handedly lead the Vikings’ tenth victory of the season.

After being fouled by Akron’s Alex Abreu, Montgomery sank two free throws to tie the game at 66-66. Following an Akron turnover, the Vikings regained possession with a chance to take the lead. After the Vikings missed two shots, Montgomery took a pass from Tim Kamczyc and hoisted up a 3-pointer with 22 seconds remaining that hit nothing but net and gave the Vikings at 69-66 lead.

Akron had one last chance to tie the game, but Demetrius Treadwell’s 3-point attempt was short and the Zips could not stop the clock with a foul before time expired.

With today’s win, the Vikings’ record improved to 10-1 and they currently have a firm grip on first place in the Horizon League. Before the game, Cleveland State honored the accomplishments of last season’s squad, who advanced to the second round of the NIT and won the school’s first regular-season Horizon League men’s basketball championship. Based on the Vikings’ current progress this season, their potential for improvement, and ability to close out close games, they have the potential to exceed the accomplishments of last year’s storied squad.

The Vikings will have over a week off to take finals before taking their talents to South Florida for a road game on December 19th.

Cleveland State Vikings Defeat Detroit Titans 66-61

by - Published December 4, 2011 in Conference Notes

When the Horizon League conference schedule was first announced earlier in the year, Saturday’s match up between the Cleveland State Vikings and Detroit Titans looked to be one of the more intriguing early -season match ups on the schedule.

Although the Vikings were losing talented senior guard Norris Cole to the NBA, Cleveland State coach Gary Waters’ senior-laden squad still returned four starters from last year’s team and would be replacing Cole with the experienced D’Aundray Brown. The Titans, who also returned an impressive corps of players, were picked by some national analysts to be the team that would knock Butler off of its perch atop the Horizon League.

In the meantime, however, a series of events have transpired that have combined to create a perfect storm of turmoil for the Titans. Prior to the season, center Eli Holman was involved with a physical altercation at a fraternity house that led the Titans to place him on an indefinite leave of absence. Although Holman has recently returned to team activities, the Titans have already lost several games without him. Additionally, starting forward Nick Minnerath suffered a knee injury and will miss the remainder of the season.

In contrast, the Vikings have not missed a beat since last season’s successful campaign. After upsetting nationally ranked Vanderbilt to start the season, the Vikings have won three games in the final seconds and defeated a variety of quality opponents on their way to an 8-1 start to the season. The Vikings’ debilitating pressure defense has helped them rack up a Horizon League-leading 10.2 steals per game and make it difficult for opponents to get the ball across the halfcourt line. Bolstered by strong bench play and dramatically improved play by senior center Aaron Pogue, the Vikings appear to be a strong contender for the Horizon League title this season.

Despite their struggles, the Titans took their home floor ready to play on Saturday afternoon against the visiting Vikings. Although they came up on the losing end of a 61-66 decision, the Titans showed that they still have a great deal of fight left in them and that the disappointments of this season have not killed their desire to compete.

Although the Vikings jumped out to an early 8-0 lead, the Titans retaliated with a 14-2 run to take a 14-12 lead with 11:32 remaining in the first half. The score was relatively close for much of the first half until a late Vikings run sent Cleveland State into the locker room with a 37-31 lead. With multiple starters plagued with foul trouble, the Vikings’ quality bench play helped them take the lead against a Titans squad that still boasts a significant number of talented players, such as guards Ray McCallum, Jr. and Chase Simon.

In the second half, the Titans hung tough and were able to pull within three points with slightly more than two minutes left in the game. However, a three-pointer from senior guard Jeremy Montgomery extended the Vikings’ lead to six points and the Titans could only whittle their deficit down to five points during the remainder of the game before heading to the locker room with their sixth loss of the season.

The Vikings will continue their long stretch of road games as they travel to Pittsburgh to square off against the Robert Morris Colonials on Thursday. The Titans will remain at home for a matchup against St. John’s in a game that will celebrate the dedication of their new home floor to famous ESPN broadcaster and former Titans head coach Dick Vitale.

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College Basketball Tonight

We hope you enjoyed COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT during the 2016 NCAA Tournament. COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT is a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran college basketball broadcaster Ted Sarandis, along with co-hosts Mike Jarvis and Terry O'Connor, both former Division I coaches. It also included many great guests, including Hoopville's own Phil Kasiecki.

The show aired on AM 710 WOR in New York City on Sunday evenings starting with Selection Sunday and running through the NCAA Tournament.

Here are links to the shows:

March 13, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 20, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 27, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

April 3, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

Everybody Needs a Head Coach

Former college basketball coach Mike Jarvis has a new book out, Everybody Needs a Head Coach.

"As you read this book, I hope that Coach Jarvis' experiences inspire you to find your purpose in life."
-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 – December 8, 2017

December 8, 2017 by

In our latest podcast, we talk about a bizarre finish to an early-season tournament game, the Pac-12’s early struggles, Florida teams going in different directions and two northeast teams trending less relevant even as they excite fans at a famous arena.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – November 22, 2017

November 22, 2017 by

In our pre-Thanksgiving podcast, we look at a key injury that is likely to be devastating for his team and an under-the-radar 4-0 week, then move on to some early SEC impressions and a couple of teams that just continue to win.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – November 9, 2017

November 10, 2017 by

The season is almost here, and we take a look at some of what to expect this coming season. We have preseason polls, conference changes, a look at some conferences and some matchups to start the season.

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.

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.