Checking In On… the Big West ConferencePosted by Brian Goodman on November 20th, 2011
The Week That Was
- Long Beach State Posts Signature Win: Possibly the biggest win of the season comes early for the conference with LBSU topping No. 9 Pitt 86-76 on the road. Casper Ware and the 49ers were a nationwide trending topic on Twitter when they took down a Top 10 team in its own arena on Wednesday night. Ware shined, pouring in a career-high 28 points and six assists in 39 minutes, while newcomer James Ennis verified his status as a noteworthy addition with 19 points and six assists. How big is this win? It’s the first time Long Beach State has beaten a Top 10 team since 1993. On top of that, Long Beach won emphatically, as the Panthers never seriously challenged a nine-point Long Beach lead at halftime. The win snapped Pittsburgh’s 58-game non-conference winning streak at home.
- UC Santa Barbara Gives Strong Outing: The Gauchos’ routed Santa Clara 89-56 last week. Although understandably not as headline-grabbing as Long Beach State’s win, the Gauchos’ 33-point drubbing of a middle of the pack West Coast Conference team is a good sign. The two-headed beast of Orlando Johnson and James Nunnally were back at it, leading UCSB with 21 and 24 points respectively.
- Pacific, UC Irvine Sluggish Out Of The Gate: Two teams pegged to struggle in the preseason poll have well, struggled. Pacific posted an uninspiring win over the D-II Otters of Cal State Monterey Bay before getting trounced by previously winless Nevada, 78-54. Coach Bob Thomason shuffled through 15 players, trying to sort out who could contribute the most to his team of new faces. UCI has looked shell-shocked in losses at No. 24 Cal and lowly San Jose State, which was nearly a buzzer-beating win until Adam Folker’s last second put-back was deemed too late by video review. There’s nowhere to go but up for these two teams.
- Long Beach State (2-1) – The huge win over Pittsburgh automatically puts Long Beach State on top of the Big West, where they could possibly stay for the entire season. A great start to what should be an exciting season to watch, so long as the 49ers can keep the energy and swagger up against lesser opponents.
- UC Santa Barbara (3-0) – A pair of wins over non-D-I opponents pads the record, but soon the Gauchos will have to take on quality opponents in Portland and San Diego State. Keep an eye on 7’3” senior Greg Somgyi, who recorded five blocks in 17 minutes against Santa Clara.
- Cal Poly (2-1) – The Mustangs opened the season with a 79-52 romp of San Jose State before stumbling at home against Cal State Bakersfield, putting a slight damper on the beginning of the season. But a 42-36 win at USC more than made up for it. Still, it’s too early to move Cal Poly just yet, especially when no other teams have done enough to merit such a shift.
- Cal State Fullerton (3-0) – It is evident that a number of players possess talent, but it hasn’t come together yet for the Titans. The season opening win against Nicholls State was sloppy, with CSUF committing a whopping 21 turnovers on the night.
- UC Riverside (1-2) – Offense has been a struggle for the Highlanders, as they only managed to put up 41 points against UTEP and 49 against Youngstown State (an OT affair). Not counting a win over D-III Cal Lutheran, UCR is shooting below .350 from the field, an abysmal mark.
- Cal State Northridge (0-3) – Hard to differentiate the bottom of the pack, but at least the Matadors played USC fairly closely. A 19-point loss to Hawaii saw the Matadors shoot 31 percent from the field and 3-23 from 3-point land however.
- UC Davis (1-4) – The Aggies struggled in the Basketball Traveler’s Tournament at San Diego State to open the season, losing all three games with leading returning scorer Eddie Miller and key transfer Harrison Dupont out due to injury. However, even with Dupont back, Davis barely scraped by D-III UC Santa Cruz.
- UC Irvine (0-3) – Poor free throw shooting and too many shots that went in and out doomed UCI against San Jose State, who was coming off a blowout loss to Cal Poly. Redshirt freshman Kevin Mulloy didn’t travel with the team to open the season for unknown reasons. This is a team still trying to get the training wheels off, and it will probably take another month before UCI can really get going.
- Pacific (1-1) – The Tigers don’t have much going for them right now. Junior Rodrigo De Souza leads the team with 10.5 points per game, while an array of others add in a few points here and there. It will be tough to get any sort of consistency in Stockton with a combination of so many new faces and no clear go-to guy.
Long Beach State dropped one to SDSU over the weekend, but LBSU takes on Louisville in the next couple of weeks, televised on ESPNU. It’s very possible that the 49ers could take down the Cards, further fueling the early season hoopla surrounding this bunch. UC Santa Barbara also plays San Diego State, but at home in Santa Barbara. It will be interesting to see how these two heavyweights of the Big West match-up against a common quality opponent. On the tournament front, UC Irvine heads to Alaska for the Great Alaskan Shootout, Cal Poly rolls the dice at the Las Vegas Invitational, and UC Riverside makes an appearance on ESPN2 in the 76 Classic in Anaheim.
Caught on Film
Check out these clips from the historic Long Beach State win over Pittsburgh.
Post-game interview with Casper Ware:
And just for kicks, Larry Anderson forgetting to in-bound the ball: