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2013-14 Big Sky Post-Mortem

by - Published July 1, 2014 in Columns, Conference Notes
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The 2013-14 season saw one of the Big Sky’s signature programs, and the one that has given it arguably the biggest NCAA Tournament wins in recent memory, return to the Big Dance. It wasn’t that Weber State wasn’t good; they have been a consistent postseason team. They just couldn’t knock off one particular team in the conference tournament that had their number.

Since reaching the NCAA Tournament in 2007, Weber State lost three times – all to Montana – in the Big Sky championship game. This time around, the Wildcats didn’t have to go through the Grizzlies, who were bounced in the quarterfinals, and handily beat North Dakota in the championship game. It finished what was pretty much a dominating season for them, as they also won the regular season title and dominated the postseason awards.

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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.

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?
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The coaching carousel continues for the Big Sky

by - Published December 19, 2011 in Columns

Merry Christmas, and thanks for playing. Word came out today that Idaho State coach Joe O’Brien resigned from Idaho State this afternoon on the heels of a 2-8 record. O’Brien was head coach of the Bengals since 2006 and in his first three years, led the Bengals to the Big Sky Tournament and a fourth place finish in the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons. For his career at Idaho State he finished with a 56-105 record and 33-46 in Big Sky play.

This one doesn’t seem like a “resign-or-get fired” ultimatum deal at face value. In a sense, seems like O’Brien saw the writing on the wall. His best ISU team finished fourth in the Big Sky in 2008-09, going 9-7 in conference but 13-19 overall. O’Brien never won more than 13 games total in five full seasons, doing it twice, but fell down the last two. He had two starters returning in Chase Grabau and Abner Moreira.

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Big Sky news and notes

by - Published November 16, 2011 in Conference Notes

We’ll start with simplicity: Sacramento State’s Joe Eberhard has been selected as the first Big Sky Conference men’s basketball Player of the Week. And here’s the weekly news and notes that come out each Tuesday afternoon.

Of course, it doesn’t include Weber State’s 73-63 win over Utah State. Junior shooting guard Scott Bamforth scored a career-high 28 points on 7-of-9 shooting from beyond the arc. His performance, and that of his team (12-of-23) brings the season total to 29-of-52 (.558), which is emblematic of an opening-week trend in the conference. The Wildcats (2-0) and Eastern Washington Eagles (1-1, 24-59, .407) have used the long-range bomb to score close to half their total baskets made (29-of-57, .508, Weber; 24-of-50 .480, EWU), and six teams have already sunk 10 or more 3-pointers just a couple games into the campaign. With five straight days of games opening today, it will be interesting to see how this early trend plays out.

There’s not much else to discuss aside from a handful of blowouts over cupcakes and “moral victories” as Montana State came back from a 12-point halftime deficit before falling by six at Arizona State; Oklahoma dispatched Idaho State but just by four points; and Eastern Washington held a 64-62 lead at Gonzaga before the West Coast Conference powerhouse turned it around for an eight-point win. It did produce one of the better quotes I’ve read in a while.

“I am pleased with our effort,” Idaho State coach Joe O’Brien told isubengals.com. “I would have loved to win the game, but when you have 21 turnovers on the road, you don’t win. You can stay close and some people can call it a moral victory, but I am too old for moral victories. I am greedy. I want to win.”

We’ll have a more complete weekend wrap on Sunday — though there will be games Sunday and Monday — and then get into a regular news & notes blog for Wednesday mornings.

Idaho State Bengals 2011-12 Preview

by - Published November 6, 2011 in Conference Notes

Idaho State Bengals (9-20, 3-13)

 

 

 

 

Projected starting five:

Sr. G Chase Grabau
Sr. G Kenny McGowan
Jr. G Melvin Morgan
Sr. F Abner Moreira
Jr. C Jakub Kusmieruk

Important departures:

Broderick Gilchrest (15.0 ppg, 2.2 apg, 1.1 steals per game, 52 3-pointers made per game)
Deividas Busma (11.8 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 1.9 blocks per game)

Top returnees:

McGowan: 9.3 ppg, 0.9 steals per game, 34 3-pointers made per game
Grabau: 6.3 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.4 steals per game
Moreira: 5.8 ppg, 6.7 rpg

Additions:

Jr. C Jakub Kusmieruk, transfer from Central Florida
Jr. G Melvin Morgan, transfer from Itawamba Community College (15.9 points. 3.4 assists per game)

Schedule highlights:

Toughest nonconference match up: at Oklahoma, at New Mexico or at Utah.

Hardest conference stretch: First four games at Weber State, at Northern Colorado, home against Montana State, home against Montana.

Outlook:

Head coach Joe O’Brien said transfer Morgan “gives us our best true point guard we’ve recruited since we’ve been here.” That’s both good and bad: O’Brien’s ISU record is 54-97, 33-47 in the Big Sky, but the past two years are the first in his tenure that the team hasn’t played at least .500 ball. The Bengals also welcome 7’4’’ 285-pound Kusmieruk, who left sunny Orlando after two seasons to move to snowy Pocatello, the biggest man in the conference. He’ll be challenged by Montana’s Derek Selvig (7-foot, 220 pounds) and maybe just a handful of others in the post, which should help continual growth and development. The Bengals’ growth hinges on the production of Morgan, Kusmieruk and a so-so four-man senior class.

Prediction: Eighth, 3-13 Big Sky record

Next: Montana Grizzlies

Back to Big Sky preview

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