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The Morning Dish – Friday, February 27, 2015

by - Published February 27, 2015 in The Morning Dish
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Normally, the Big South is not leading news items in college basketball, especially at the end of February, when never-ending talk of bubbles and No. 1 seeds dominate the discussion.

There are no teams from the Big South on the bubble-it’s automatic bid only to the NCAA’s. And the only race for a No. 1 seed is that for the league tournament in a conference that would be happy if its champion receives a 14 seed in the Big Dance.

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The Morning Dish – Sunday, February 22, 2015

by - Published February 22, 2015 in The Morning Dish
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The Big West Conference no longer includes UNLV, or even New Mexico State, Utah State or Fresno State as it once did. It’s no longer playing the third game on Big Monday. Once a regular top 10-12 conference and even considered better than the Pac-10 for a brief time in the 1980s, it has slipped far, far outside the mainstream media eye, and not without good reason.

None of the above are acceptable excuses, but they help explain why one of the truly special stories of this college basketball season has been so ignored. A doormat since it joined NCAA Division I in the early 2000s with not so much as a winning season, UC Davis is putting together what could end up being the finest turnaround in Division I history.

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The Morning Dish – Friday, January 30, 2015

by - Published January 30, 2015 in The Morning Dish
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It’s rare when we see TV networks do something even remotely outside the box when it comes to scheduling (sorry, pairing powerhouses against each other doesn’t count). Given this, yesterday’s announcement of the Big 12 and SEC moving their Challenge event to late January certainly qualifies as big news.

All 10 games in the event in the 2015-16 season will take place on Saturday, Jan. 30. The idea is to maximize exposure and separate the event from the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, as well as the glut of other tournaments and one-day events around late November. Of course, it also will keep it separated from football season, which with the way-too-long college football docket now results in games regularly played into December.
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How the conferences shape up as we hit 2015

by - Published January 1, 2015 in Columns, Conference Notes
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Non-conference play is basically done at this point. A handful of games remain for many teams, and we’ll see a non-conference game or two sprinkled in between conference games over the next couple of months, but conference play beckons. Several have already started, with the West Coast Conference getting jump on the rest of the country this past Saturday and Monday. For two months, we’ve had a look at teams to get an idea of who they are. They have shown us something thus far.

So with that in mind, let’s take a look at how the conference races shape up based on what we’ve seen in non-conference play.

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The Morning Dish – Sunday, November 9, 2014

by - Published November 9, 2014 in The Morning Dish
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More conference quick looks as we near the start of the college basketball season…

The Big Sky has typically been the domain of Weber State and Montana in recent years, and it may be again-Weber State in particular looks capable of continuing its excellence. But watch for Eastern Washington and Sacramento State. The Eagles return four starters, including high-scoring Tyler Harvey, while Sac State looks to have its best team in more than 20 years in Division I.

Coastal Carolina is a relatively big favorite in the Big South, and with good reason-the Chanticleers feature a high-quality backcourt (Josh Cameron, Warren Gillis, Elijah Wilson) that gets even better with Mount St. Mary’s transfer Shivaughn Wiggins. The Chants also have some nice size up front, but this still should be a good conference race. Radford returns everyone, Winthrop has become a tough out under Pat Kelsey, and High Point is the conference’s defending champion and has its best player in John Brown.

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How the conferences shake out as 2014 approaches

by - Published December 31, 2013 in Columns, Your Phil of Hoops
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Non-conference play is just about over at this point. Conference games are ready to take over the rest of the slate, with a few having an “opening day” of sorts, including the Big East with its well-publicized day of five games on Tuesday. A few have already had early conference games, with the West Coast Conference having its opening day on Saturday.

How are the conferences shaping up? Which ones look like we thought and which ones look nothing like what we thought before the season? Here is a look at all 32 conferences as conference play beckons.

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How the conferences shake out as 2013 approaches

by - Published December 28, 2012 in Columns, Your Phil of Hoops
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Non-conference play is almost over, and it has been quite a stretch. We’ve learned a good deal about a lot of teams, while some are still a mystery for various reasons – injuries, suspensions, ineligibility and a light schedule are all possible reasons. In addition, a few conferences have already seen a game or two mixed in with the non-conference schedule.

Conference play is right around the corner, and while a non-conference resume doesn’t tell the whole story, it does shed some light on teams and conferences. In conference play, there is more familiarity since teams play each other every year, although the changing landscape is starting to diminish that factor a bit. That’s one reason why we see some teams put forth a very good non-conference showing, including some good wins, then go on to have a mediocre showing in conference play.

With that in mind, here’s a look at how every conference in America shapes up.

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Monson’s 49ers reap the rewards of a tough schedule

by - Published January 24, 2012 in Full Court Sprints
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If any team could claim to be battle-tested heading into conference play, it had to be Long Beach State.

The 49ers loaded up their nonconference slate with the likes of Kansas, North Carolina, San Diego State, Louisville and Xavier. The team struggled through many of those games, ending up with a 7-6 record heading into Big West play.

But don’t be fooled. The 49ers were more than competitive against the big boys, with single-digit losses on the road at San Diego State, Kansas and North Carolina. Plus, the 49ers beat Pittsburgh, Xavier and Auburn. None of those are particularly outstanding — the Xavier win came during the Musketeers’ tailspin following the brawl against Cincinnati. But in short, Dan Monson’s team learned how to win and how to believe in itself.

This team has taken that lesson and applied it well through the first seven games of Big West play. Long Beach State sits atop the conference standings with a 7-0 record, and only Cal Poly stayed within 10 points of the 49ers.

If Long Beach State can continue to plow through the Big West and claim an automatic to the NCAA Tournament, the 49ers should be a popular first-round upset pick. Their lack of hefty wins will prevent the team from earning a seed much higher than a No. 12 or 13 spot. But that just makes this team a sound pick to upset any No. 4 or 5 seed from a major conference on a neutral court.

The benefits of such a tough schedule might not show up in the win-loss columns immediately. But if Long Beach State goes 1-1 or 2-0 during the first weekend of March, that tournament success will be partially due to the team’s preparation early in the season.

We take you coast to coast with news from around the college basketball nation.

Murray State will get back leading rebounder Ivan Aska, who grabs 6.0 rpg and scores 12.6 ppg, for the team’s game against Eastern Illinois Saturday, according to the Associated Press.

Michigan could have big Jon Horford back for the Wolverines’ game against Purdue Tuesday, coach John Beilein told Wolverine Nation’s Chantel Jennings for ESPN.com. Horford has been out with a stress fracture since early December.

Arguably the most intense and spite-filled rivalry in the ACC, Maryland and Duke will clash for the first time this season Wednesday night in College Park. And the Terrapins will likely have freshman 7-footer Alex Len, even though he twisted his ankle during the Terps’ loss at Temple last weekend, according to the Washington Post’s Liz Clarke.

Of course, that’s no disrespect to the North Carolina vs. Duke rivalry. And this year, coach Roy Williams won’t have his best defender, Dexter Strickland, who tore his ACL in the team’s win against Virginia Tech Thursday, according ESPN.com’s Robbi Pickeral.

Arkansas coach Mike Anderson is considering adding a hometown hero to the Razorbacks squad, according to the Associated Press. Former Oklahoma State guard Fred Gulley has enrolled at Arkansas and plans to play for Anderson as a walk-on or scholarship player. He was a star high school basketball player in Arkansas before leaving the state to play for the Cowboys.

Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan railed against the rule that allows graduated players to transfer and play immediately during a news conference Monday, writes Benjamin Worgull for Badger Nation.com.

Big West Preview

by - Published November 6, 2007 in Conference Notes



Big West Conference 2007-08 Preview

by Phil Kasiecki

For several years, the Big West was ruled by Pacific, as Bob Thomason’s team was consistently at or near the top of the conference standings. Even in years after they lost key starters, they had other players who were ready to step up and did just that. But last season, that was no longer the case, as the young Tigers gave way to some veteran teams, including champion Long Beach State.

This season, the Tigers figure to be at least a dark horse again, but they will have plenty of company in that regard. Three teams located south of Stockton look to be favored, each fresh off a campaign in which they tied for second place behind Long Beach State.

Recent years have also seen changes with the makeup of the conference, as teams have exited and entered of late. This year, the conference welcomes another school in the University of California system, UC Davis, as a full member, and the Aggies are eligible for the conference tournament. They played a full Big West schedule last season and went 3-13 in those games, which did not officially count in the conference standings. Now a year older and with good size all around, the Aggies don’t figure to be an easy out, although they don’t project to contend just yet.

While many conferences tend to be guard-oriented, the best players in the Big West tend to have a little more balance between the perimeter and the interior. There are still plenty of good guards, but further evidence beyond the top players in the conference can be seen in UC Irvine’s frontcourt being the strength of their team and Long Beach State now possessing some good size, while UC Davis has good size at just about every position and have eight players who stand 6’7″ or taller.

Two teams changed coaches after last season, including defending champion Long Beach State. The 49ers didn’t renew the contract of Larry Reynolds amid an NCAA investigation of recruiting violations that also led the school to put assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Reggie Howard on indefinite leave during the NCAA Tournament. Former Gonzaga and Minnesota head coach Dan Monson replaces Reynolds and inherits a team that looks almost nothing like the one that went to the NCAA Tournament. The other coaching change also involved a former head coach at a high-major school, as David Spencer resigned due to health concerns and the school hired former Kansas State head coach Jim Wooldridge to replace him. Spencer was unable to be with the team for much of the season because of his health concerns.

Preseason Awards
Player of the Year:
Alex Harris, UC Santa Barbara
Top Newcomer: Donovan Morris, Long Beach State
Top Freshman: Greg Plater, Long Beach State
Defensive Player of the Year: Ray Reed, Cal State Fullerton
Best NBA Prospect: Alex Harris, UC Santa Barbara

All-Big West Team
Anthony Brown, Jr. F, Pacific
Chris Devine, Jr. F, UC Santa Barbara
Dawin Whiten, Sr. G, Cal Poly
Scott Cutley, Sr. F, Cal State Fullerton
Alex Harris, Sr. G, UC Santa Barbara

UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (18-11, 9-5 Big West)
Projected Starters:

So. G Justin Joyner (4.8 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 2.9 apg, 1.3 spg)
So. G James Powell (8.8 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 2.2 apg)
Sr. G-F Alex Harris (21.1 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 2.1 apg)
Jr. F Chris Devine (14.1 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 1.3 apg)
Sr. F Ivan Elliott (6.1 ppg, 6.0 rpg)
Schedule Highlights: The Gauchos have six home games in a non-conference slate that has some challenges. They begin in the Basketball Travelers Classic at Stanford, where they will play Southland contender Northwestern State, Harvard and the host school. Then they come home for four games, highlighted by West Coast contender San Francisco and UNLV, then later have two straight at home. A road date with North Carolina highlights the road games, which also include a BracketBusters game. Early in Big West play, they play three straight on the road in part of a tough stretch. The last two on the road are at Cal State Fullerton and Cal Poly, then they come home to play Pacific. The regular season ends with five of six on the road, including the BracketBusters game.
Outlook: The Gauchos are fresh off a strong season last year and look like the favorites this year with a strong group of holdovers. Harris leads the way as the best player in the conference and one of the best hidden gems in the country. He led the conference in scoring and double-doubles and was second in three-point shooting. If there’s one concern, it’s replacing point guard Cecil Brown, who led the conference in assist/turnover ratio, with either of two sophomores in Joyner and Powell, both of whom are capable players. Devine and Elliott are a solid, if unspectacular duo inside, with Devine being the better offensive player. The Gauchos led the Big West in field goal percentage and field goal percentage defense last year, and a repeat of that would go a long way towards getting the title this time around.

Cal State Fullerton Titans (20-10, 9-5 Big West)
Projected Starters:

Sr. G Marcus Crenshaw (11.4 ppg, 1.4 rpg, 2.3 apg)
Sr. G Ray Reed (7.6 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 3.1 apg, 1.7 spg)
Sr. G-F Frank Robinson (11.9 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 2.6 apg, 1.3 spg)
Sr. F Scott Cutley (15.6 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 2.7 apg)
Sr. F-C Andrew Green (3.6 ppg, 2.8 rpg)
Schedule Highlights: Six home games are on tap for the Titans, including a BracketBusters game in February. The home slate is highlighted by Big Sky favorite Montana and Horizon contender Wright State to end a three-game stretch. Road games of note include Arizona, Montana and MAC contender Central Michigan. They play two home-and-homes in non-conference play, against Montana and Southern Utah. In Big West play, they get an early test at home with Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara before a road date with Pacific, then trade off important stretches late in the month. First is a four-game road stretch that ends at UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly, then a five-game homestand follows it.
Outlook: Bobby Brown may be gone, but the Titans have a plethora of guards to throw at opponents and one of the best players in the conference to complement them. Crenshaw, Reed and Robinson form as good a trio as there is in the conference, with Robinson being the best all-around player, Reed being one of the best defenders in the conference and Crenshaw the likely floor leader. They will get deeper with the addition of Washington State transfer Josh Akognon, who will likely play significant minutes and could also start. There is a concern in the backcourt, and that is taking care of the ball since the Titans averaged over 15 turnovers per game last season. Cutley is one of the best players in the league and anchors a frontcourt that may be small since its tallest players are also its least proven. But they will have to go without him to start the season, as he broke a bone in his ankle in an early practice and will be out until December. Junior college transfer Eddie Lima could get some minutes right away, as he’s 6’9″, and he could keep Green out of the starting lineup. There’s plenty of offensive firepower, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Titans led the conference in scoring again. If they want to take home the title, however, it’s a the defensive end that they must improve the most as no one allowed more points and opponents shot nearly 46 percent from the field against them last season.

Cal Poly Mustangs (19-11, 9-5 Big West)
Projected Starters:

Jr. G Trae Clark (9.1 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 3.7 apg, 1.3 spg)
Jr. G Chaz Thomas (8.6 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.2 spg)
Sr. G Dawin Whiten (11.6 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 3.1 apg, 1.2 spg)
Jr. F Titus Shelton (8.7 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 1.4 bpg)
Sr. F Dreshawn Vance (6.3 ppg, 4.8 rpg)
Schedule Highlights: The Mustangs have four home games on tap in non-conference play, highlighted by a visit from former Big West member Utah State. They open the season in the BTI Tipoff Tournament at Northern Iowa, where they will play UMass, the host school and Northern Illinois. Notable road games later in non-conference play include Arizona State and USC, as well as a BracketBusters game. Big West play gives them a chance to get some momentum early, as they open with four of the first six at home. A notable stretch in February starts with Cal State Fullerton at home before three straight on the road, starting with UC Santa Barbara and ending with their BracketBusters game.
Outlook: The Mustangs bring back three starters among their 11 letterwinners, making them one of the most experienced teams in the conference. The perimeter is small but very good, with Clark running the show and Whiten being the big marksman, while Thomas could break out if his 31-point effort in the conference title game last year is any indication. Whiten also makes his mark at the defensive end as one of the conference’s best defenders. Shelton and Vance are serviceable inside. There isn’t great proven depth inside, but there are bodies with some potential such as injury-plagued junior Coby Leavitt. Inside play is a key area for improvement, as the Mustangs were out-rebounded last season.

Pacific Tigers (12-19, 5-9 Big West)
Projected Starters:

Jr. G Steffan Johnson (9.7 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 3.6 apg, 1.2 spg)
So. G C.J. Morgan (6.1 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 1.2 apg)
Sr. G Solomon Horsechief (6.8 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 2.6 apg)
Jr. F Anthony Brown (14.3 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 1.6 apg)
Jr. F Michael Nunnally (junior college transfer)
Schedule Highlights: The Tigers will play six home games in a challenging non-conference slate, highlighted by visits from Nevada, improving Pepperdine and Big Sky favorite Montana, as well as a BracketBusters game. They open the season in the World Vision Invitational at Oregon, where they play MAC favorite Western Michigan, host Oregon and Pepperdine. They also go on the road to play Saint Louis, Fresno State and West Coast contenders San Francisco and Santa Clara. On two occasions in Big West play, they have consecutive games against two good contenders: at UC Santa Barbara and at home against Cal Poly to close out January, then at Cal State Fullerton and at home against UC Santa Barbara in February right before the BracketBusters game.
Outlook: The Tigers were young and inexperienced last season, but don’t expect them to be down for long. Although just two starters return, they return four of their top seven scorers and tried to address frontcourt needs to complement star junior Anthony Brown. Brown will lead the way, while Johnson is a steady floor leader and Morgan and HorseChief need to improve as complements on the perimeter. One player who will help there is Miami (Ohio) transfer Chad Troyer. Junior college transfers Nunnally and Bryan LeDuc were brought in to help inside, where the Tigers had some struggles as they were last in the Big West in rebounding. The biggest area for improvement is at the defensive end, where opponents shot over 47 percent from the field against them last season, including nearly 40 percent from long range, both of which placed last in the conference. HorseChief is the only senior on the team, so the Tigers might be a year away.

UC Irvine Anteaters (15-18, 6-8 Big West)
Projected Starters:

So. G Michael Hunter (6.8 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 2.4 apg, 1.0 spg)
Sr. G Chuma Awaji (7.9 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 1.9 apg)
So. G Chad DeCasas (4.0 ppg, 2.2 rpg)
Sr. F Patrick Sanders (11.9 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 1.6 apg, 1.5 bpg)
Sr. F-C Darren Fells (10.2 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 2.0 apg)
Schedule Highlights: Six home games are on tap in non-conference play, plus a date with Nevada at the Anaheim Convention Center. Former Big West member Utah State and West Coast contender San Francisco highlight the home slate, which also includes a BracketBusters game. They will also play in the inaugural Anaheim Classic, opening with Mississippi State and possibly playing Southern Illinois in the next game. Later road dates include Utah, Southland contender Sam Houston State, Texas A&M and South Carolina. Big West play begins with a bang, as they open at Cal State Fullerton before coming home for UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly, then are at Pacific a week later. Their BracketBusters game begins a regular season-ending five-game homestand.
Outlook: The Anteaters could be a sleeper team as they return four starters and have arguably the best 1-2 frontcourt punch in Sanders and Fells. The duo helped the Anteaters post the second-best rebounding margin in the conference last year, and both can score inside and pass when someone else has a better shot. Hunter and Awaji lead the perimeter, and if both can improve, the offense should be better overall. What makes the perimeter a question mark is that there isn’t a great deal of experience beyond Hunter and Awaji. The Anteaters led the conference in scoring defense and were second in field goal percentage defense, meaning that offense would seem likely to be the place of concern if they are to improve. The biggest issue on offense will be keeping the ball, as only Cal State Northridge turned the ball over more last season.

Cal State Northridge Matadors (14-17, 5-9 Big West)
Projected Starters:

Sr. G Rai Colston (3.3 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 2.0 apg)
Jr. G Rob Haynes (8.5 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 1.8 apg)
Sr. G-F Jonathan Heard (13.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.4 spg)
Sr. F Calvin Chitwood (13.2 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 1.1 spg)
Sr. F Jayme Miller (5.8 ppg, 3.1 rpg)
Schedule Highlights: The non-conference slate has four home games on tap and several challenging road games. They head to Iowa for the Drake Tournament, where they open with Duquesne. They have later road dates with Gonzaga and Washington and have a home-and-home with Utah Valley State. A road game is on tap for BracketBusters as well. Big West play gets tough quickly, as their first two games are at Cal Poly and at UC Santa Barbara. The BracketBusters game is in the middle of a four-game road stretch late in the regular season.
Outlook: The Matadors bring back three starters and have a couple of horses in Heard and Chitwood, as well as a good complement in Haynes, but they start to get thin after that. Only five players who saw the court for them last season return, and the point guard spot starts off as a question mark with Colston as the projected starter but no proven player behind him. Chitwood will need to stay out of foul trouble if he is to close out his career on a good note. That’s a sign of a larger issue, as only one team allowed more points than the Matadors last season, and it becomes more important if they surrender possessions like they did last season as they led the conference in turnovers.

UC Davis Aggies (5-23, 3-13 Big West*)
Projected Starters:

Jr. G Vince Oliver (12.7 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 2.2 apg)
Jr. G David Carter (4.9 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 1.2 apg)
So. G-F Shane Hanson (4.8 ppg, 2.0 rpg)
So. F C.J. Portz (4.7 ppg, 2.4 rpg)
So. F Dominic Calegari (6.1 ppg, 3.1 rpg)
Schedule Highlights: The Aggies have six home games on their non-conference schedule, including two in the Legends Classic as a regional host and a later date with Oregon State. They have road games at WAC favorite New Mexico State and Texas, as well as UCLA, make a New England swing in early December to play Brown and Dartmouth, and go on the road in February for a BracketBusters game. In Big West play, they get two three-game stretches where they play UC Santa Barbara, Cal State Fullerton and Cal Poly.
Outlook: Now eligible for the conference tournament, don’t expect the Aggies to become instant contenders. They are still a young bunch as there is not a senior on the roster, and they have plenty of size. Oliver and Carter have played alongside each other for two years now, with Oliver an all-conference candidate. The backcourt is also home to several newcomers, of whom Adam Malik and Mark Payne could make an immediate impact and have great size for the perimeter at 6’8″ and 6’7″ respectively. The frontcourt will get back two players who were hit by injury last season in Kyle Brucculeri and Jesse Lopez-Low. There are lots of areas for improvement if the Aggies are to be contenders. They need to take better care of the ball, as they averaged almost 18 turnovers per game last season and only two players had more assists than turnovers. Defense is another area for improvement after teams shot nearly 49 percent from the field, including 39 percent from three-point range last season. And for all their size, the Aggies were out-rebounded by six per game last season.

Long Beach State 49ers (24-8, 12-2 Big West)
Projected Starters:

Fr. G Greg Plater
Jr. G Artis Gant (1.9 ppg, 1.3 rpg)
Jr. G Donovan Morris (transfer from Fresno State)
Jr. F Brandon Johnson (junior college transfer)
Jr. C Brian Freeman (junior college transfer)
Schedule Highlights: The season opener against Brigham Young is the highlight of four non-conference home games. The road games on tap are plenty challenging, as they include trips to Washington, Saint Louis and Hawaii, as well as an appearance in the Golden Bear Classic against host California and either Patriot League contender Bucknell or North Dakota State. They also have a road game in the BracketBusters. Big West play starts out tough, as their first three games are at UC Santa Barbara, at Cal Poly and at home against Pacific.
Outlook: It’s fitting that the 49ers have a new head coach, as it makes one more way in which this year’s team won’t resemble last season’s. Dan Monson will be counting on new players just about all the way, although there is some college experience in Gant and Morris to start with. Morris should be the go-to guy right away, while Plater should start right away as well. There is some size in the frontcourt, as Freeman is 6’10” and sophomore Andrew Fleming is a seven-footer, but this team is very inexperienced as there isn’t a senior on the roster and will take time to develop. In addition to the many newcomers, none of the holdovers is a senior, so there is youth and inexperience at the Division I level on this squad.

UC Riverside Highlanders (7-24, 1-13 Big West)
Projected Starters:

Jr. G Chris Johnson (10.0 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 1.0 apg)
Sr. G Larry Cunningham (13.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.8 apg, 1.1 spg)
So. G Charles Jim-George (4.0 ppg, 1.5 rpg)
Jr. F Christian Soto (4.4 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 1.1 apg)
Jr. F B.J. Visman (redshirt)
Schedule Highlights: The Highlanders won’t have it easy in non-conference play, as they have five home games and plenty of challenging road games. The home slate is highlighted by a BracketBusters game in February. The road games of note are at Texas Tech, Gonzaga, Minnesota, San Diego State and USC. In Big West play, the most noteworthy portion is a three-game homestand in early January.
Outlook: The Highlanders had a rough go of it last year, as injuries took their toll and former head coach David Spencer had health concerns of his own that kept him away from the team and ultimately led to his resignation. They return a solid backcourt with Johnson and Cunningham for new head coach Jim Wooldridge to build around, and Jim-George showed some potential in his first season as he started ten games. Cunningham, the team’s only senior, should be one of the best guards in the conference. The frontcourt is where the question marks are, as well as where some of the injuries were. Visman and classmate Benoit Bekono had to redshirt, with Bekono suffering another severe knee injury to end his season after six games. Both are very capable players if they stay healthy. With all the injuries and the change in the coaching staff, it’s difficult to project this season’s team based on last year’s.

* – UC Davis’ games against Big West opponents in 2006-07 did not officially count in the conference standings, but their record in those games is included here for informational purposes.

Conference Outlook

The conference looks a bit top-heavy this season, as there is strength at the top with UC Santa Barbara, Cal State Fullerton and Cal Poly leading the way and rebuilding teams at the bottom. The competition should be stiff between those three, and don’t count out a bounce-back year from Pacific now that they are more experienced and have help for Anthony Brown. UC Davis has some potential in the long run, while Long Beach State has a new team all around and UC Riverside starts over with a new coach.

     

Big West Tournament Recap

by - Published March 14, 2005 in Conference Notes




Big West Conference Tournament Recaps

by Phil Kasiecki

For the fifth consecutive year, the Big West Tournament was held at the Anaheim Convention Center right near Disneyland. With the location right near Disneyland, the conference holds a Fan Fest over the duration of the tournament, featuring events at the ESPN Zone in Downtown Disney and the nearby House of Blues.

In the first round, No. 5 UC-Irvine outrebounded No. 8 Idaho (8-22) 47-21 and got a career-high 30 points from Aaron Fitzgerald en route to an 80-67 win. In the other game, No. 7 UC Santa Barbara used a big second half to knock off No. 6 Long Beach State (10-20) by a scored of 55-49. They got 19 points from Joe See and ended the game on a 12-4 run.

With that, it’s on to the quarterfinals, where the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds each received a bye.

Quarterfinal Recaps

No. 3 Cal State Fullerton 66, No. 7 UC Santa Barbara 55

Cal State Fullerton rode strong play from its starters to a 66-55 win over UC Santa Barbara. Ralphy Holmes had his ninth double-double of the season with 20 points and 11 rebounds to lead the way, and he combined with Bobby Brown (16 points), Yaphett King and Jamaal Brown (11 points each) to produce 58 of the team’s points. The Gauchos (11-18) shot below 35 percent from the field and were led by Josh Davis’ 15 points and Chrismen Oliver’s 14.

No. 4 Cal State Northridge 72, No. 5 UC Irvine 56

Cal State Northridge used a strong second half to pull away from UC Irvine for a 72-56 quarterfinal victory. The Matadors shot 54 percent in the second half and held the Anteaters (16-13) to 29 percent on the defensive end, never trailing during the contest. Joseph Frazier led the Matadors with 18 points and Ian Boylan added 16. Jeff Gloger led the Anteaters with 14 points, while Aaron Fitzgerald was held to just five points after scoring a career-high 30 in the first round.

Semifinal Recaps

No. 1 Pacific 63, No. 4 Cal State Northridge 61

Pacific kept the nation’s longest winning streak alive with a close one, as they needed three free throws in the final 22 seconds to hang on for a 63-61 win over Cal State Northridge. The Tigers had a 38-24 edge on the boards, but gave the Matadors plenty of opportunities by committing a season-high 23 turnovers.

Guillaume Yango led the Tigers with 15 points and eight rebounds, as they overcame a terrific 32-point effort from Ian Boylan to lead the Matadors (18-13). The Tigers have now won 22 straight games and will carry that streak into the championship game.

No. 2 Utah State 84, No. 3 Cal State Fullerton 77

Cass Matheus and Nate Harris each scored 21 points, and Utah State held off a late rally by Cal State Fullerton in their 84-77 win to advance to their fifth Big West title game in six seasons.

The Titans ran out to an early 10-2 lead and later led by 10, but a late 12-2 first half run evened the score at 29 and the Aggies took a 34-33 lead at the half. Utah State never trailed in the second half, but the Titans (19-10) had runs of 12-5 and 11-4 that weren’t quite enough to complete the comeback.

Spencer Nelson added 14 points and 10 rebounds for his 10th double-double of the season for the Aggies. Yaphett King led the Titans with 26 points and eight rebounds, and Jermaine Harper added 21, all coming on three-pointers as he made 7-of-11 shots from behind the arc.

Championship Game

Utah State 65, Pacific 52

A year after losing in the title game and being a controversial exclusion from the NCAA Tournament, Utah State took over the game with a 19-2 run in the second half that broke open a close game, as the Aggies beat Pacific by a score of 65-52 to win the Big West championship.

During the run, which lasted over ten minutes, the Tigers (26-3) did not have a field goal, and their 52 point total was their lowest of the season. No Tiger scored in double figures, and they committed several unforced turnovers that aided the big second half run.

Freshman Jaycee Carroll was the tournament MVP and led Utah State (24-7) with 22 points and seven rebounds, and Spencer Nelson added 16. The Aggies have now won four conference tournament titles in the last six seasons.

Joining Carroll and Nelson on the All-Tournament team were teammate Nate Harris, Pacific’s Guillaume Yango, Ian Boylan of Cal State Northridge and Yaphett King of Cal State Fullerton.

     

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NC State is not making it easy on themselves

March 1, 2015 by

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North Carolina State appears to have put themselves in a good position for the NCAA Tournament, but they aren’t making this easy on themselves.

Saturday Notes – February 28, 2015

March 1, 2015 by

author_kasiecki

We look back at a very busy Saturday, one that was full of big games that included some conferences closing out their regular season with plenty of drama.

Saturday Notes – February 21, 2015

February 22, 2015 by

author_kasiecki

A busy Saturday saw a lot of results that shook up conference standings, including a three-way tie developing in one of them, and some at-large hopes took a hit as well.

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2015 Boston Winter Invitational: What to expect

January 23, 2015 by

hoopguy-divisionII

The Boston Winter Invitational is coming up on Sunday at UMass-Boston. Here is a look at some of what to expect in the four prep school games that are on the schedule.

2015 Spalding Hoophall Classic – Monday notes

January 21, 2015 by

hoophall

Monday was the big day despite having just five games, as all were big matchups and most were nationally televised. There was plenty of talent in these games, and some big names played well.

2015 Spalding Hoophall Classic – Sunday notes

January 19, 2015 by

hoophall

It was a bad weather day outside, but fortunately we play the games indoors. Prep schools took center stage on a busy Sunday with some good talent and good games all the way to the end.

2015 Spalding Hoophall Classic – Saturday notes

January 18, 2015 by

hoophall

The Spalding Hoophall Classic picked up on Saturday, with a few good games, a couple of blowouts, then the best game of the day at the end. There was also plenty of good talent in each game.

2015 Hoop Dreams Mag Prep Classic – Sunday notes

January 14, 2015 by

author_kasiecki

Sunday was the day for a trip a little down the road from Saturday’s destination to check out some prep school action. We take a look at some notes from the day’s games in the Hoop Dreams Mag Prep Classic.

2014 Prep School Tour

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

Sept. 9: Putnam Science Academy
Sept 10: Commonwealth Academy
Sept. 11: St. Andrew's
Sept. 12: Northfield Mount Hermon
Sept. 16: Brewster Academy and Phillips Exeter
Sept. 17: Brooks School
Sept. 21: Holderness School
Sept. 23: St. Thomas More and Marianapolis Prep
Sept. 24: South Kent School and Kent School
Sept. 25: Williston Northampton
Sept. 28: Wilbraham and Monson Academy and Suffield Academy
Sept. 30: New Hampton
Oct. 5: Worcester Academy
Oct. 7: Brimmer and May
Oct. 8: Cushing Academy
Oct. 9: Tilton
Oct. 12: Tabor Academy and Rivers School
Oct. 14: The Master's School
Oct. 16: Vermont Academy

You can also find them all right here.