Checking in on… the Big Sky

Posted by jstevrtc on February 13th, 2010

Glenn Junkert of Grizzly Journal is the RTC correspondent for the Big Sky Conference.


  1. Weber State (9-2/15-8/W1) Wildcats have clinched a playoff berth and — with three of their last five games at home — are in the catbird’s seat.
  2. Northern Colorado (8-3/19-5/W2) Bears match up well with Weber State, and, with Saturday’s clash against the Cats at Ogden, can move into a tie for first.
  3. Montana (8-4/17-7/W4) Led by senior MVP candidate Anthony Johnson, Montana is getting balanced scoring AND solid play from five underclass subs on the deepest bench in the conference.
  4. Montana State (7-5/12-11/L1) Home-court loss to Weber State last week hurt Bobcats’ hopes of earning post-season tourney bye.
  5. Portland State (5-5/10-13/L1) The Vikings lost Phil Nelson — the fourth-best three-point shooter in the Big Sky — to a broken foot at the end of a three-game slide. Expect the Vikes, who play four of their final six at home, to move up in the standings…and to play the spoiler in the fight for tourney seeding.
  6. Northern Arizona (5-6/11-11/L2) Lumberjacks look to avenge season-worst 25-point home-court loss to Weber State Friday. Junior Cameron Jones is Jacks’ all-everything MVP-contender.
  7. Idaho State (3-8/6-17/L3) Home court loss to Sacramento State and ankle injury to scoring leader Amorrow Morgan deals Bengals’ post-conference hopes a blow.
  8. Sacramento State (3-9/9-16/W1) Hornets snap four-year, 27-game Big Sky losing streak with 72-55 win at ISU.
  9. Eastern Washington (2-8/6-18/L7) Eagles play four of final six games at home in battle to qualify for conference playoffs.

RPI BOOSTERS — Despite a home-court loss to Montana, Northern Colorado maintained its lock on second place in the Big Sky with the league’s best overall record (19-5), good enough for a 10th place rank (441 points) in the College Insider’s Mid Major Poll. League leader Weber State broke into the top 25 (at 25th) with 120 points, while Montana’s 11 points equals a rank of 34th. USA Today’s Sagarin Rankings have the three teams bunched at 98 (Montana), 99 (Northern Colorado), and 100 (Weber State).

MVPs — Montana’s senior guard Anthony Johnson and Weber State’s sophomore guard Damian Lilliard have emerged as leading candidates for Big Sky MVP. Lilliard, twice recognized for POTW recognition, leads the conference in scoring (20.2 PPG) as league leader Weber State’s anchor.  Johnson — who has been named POTW eight times in two years (four this season, most recently on Feb. 7), has been the keystone of Montana’s resurgence after freshman Will Cherry stepped up as Griz point guard…freeing Johnson to play the open-court, ball-possession offense he does best.


HOT — After starting Big Sky play at 0-3, Montana has won 7-of-8 games, including a sweep at the two Northerns (Arizona & Colorado). Included in the run were convincing victories over league leader Weber State (75-61) and Idaho State (91-68), good enough for third place. The deep Grizzlies — shooting 60% from the field and 58% from three point range over the past four games —  can brand themselves as legit contenders with road wins at Portland State and Eastern Washington this weekend.

NOT — After a clutch win at Montana State — and being touted here as a potential Big Sky Spoiler — the Eastern Washington Eagles lost seven straight games. EWU finishes its season with 4-of-6 in Cheney. They’ll probably have to win all four if they hope to qualify for post-season Big Sky tourney seeding.


  • Scoring: Damian Lilliard (WSU) 20.2 PPG; Cameron Jones (NAU) 18.5; Dominic Waters (PSU) 18.1; Anthony Johnson (UM) 17.9; Amorrow Morgan (ISU) 17.5.
  • Rebounding: Jamie Jones (PSU) 7.5 RPG; Brandon Moore (EWU) 7.4; Demetrius Monroe (ISU) 7.0; Brian Qvale (UM) 6.7.
  • Steals: Will Bynum  (MSU) 2.1 SPG; Devon Beitzel (UNC) 2.0; Broderick Gilchrest (ISU) 2.0.
  • Blocked shots: Jamie Jones (PSU) 2.2 BPG; Brian Qvale (UM) 1.9.
  • Assists: Dominic Waters (PSU) 4.7 APG; Julian Olubuyi (NAU) 4.0; Glen Dean (EWU) 4.3.
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Checking in on… the MAAC

Posted by rtmsf on January 29th, 2010

Ray Floriani of College Chalktalk is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and NEC conferences.

JERSEY CITY , NJ – Siena took their unblemished MAAC record into Yanitelli Center on Thursday evening and edged St. Peter’s 66-58 . The Peacocks had been riding a five-game win streak and Siena was without the services of injured senior forward and offensive threat, Edwin Ubiles. In addition, a crowd of 1,609, one of St. Peter’s biggest this season,  was animated and provided an intense and exciting atmosphere.  Junior forward Ryan Rossiter was huge with a 21 point, 9 rebound night for the Saints. In the final minute Alex Franklin, nine points on the night, muscled his way in the paint for a crucial field goal for the Saints. Siena closed out the final seconds from the charity stripe.  “We never gave up the lead (in the stretch) and we got stops when we needed to,” said Siena coach Fran McCaffery.  “We came in and prepared for a close game. St.Peter’s is too good a team. You are not going to blow them out.”

Player of the Week.   Alex Franklin (F), Siena – Franklin averaged 24.5 PPG, 9 RPG and 2 BPG during the week. He scored a season high for Siena with a 27-point outing in the win over Manhattan.

Rookie of the WeekRashard McGill (G), Iona – Hit for 9 PPG while averaging 5.5 RPG as the Gaels went 2-0 for the week. McGill scored a career-best 13 points and added 7 rebounds in the Iona win at Manhattan.


  • Jeron Belin became the 29th player in St.Peter’s history to hit the 1000 point mark.
  • Ronald Moore of Siena inched closer to the all time and season record for assists. Moore is also targeting the all time MAAC assist total.
  • With 15 wins, Iona coach Ralph Willard’s Iona club already eclipsed the win total of the past two seasons.

Standings and tempo free breakdowns (courtesy of Basketball State). Only MAAC games are computed. Efficiency margin is the difference between offensive and defensive efficiency. Like a checking account, positive is good, negative not so good.

Team Breakdowns

  • Canisius – Split with New Jersey based schools, defeating Rider before dropping a decision to St. Peter’s. Progress!  The Griff win over Rider was number ten of the season and fifth in the MAAC. Last season Canisius put the uniforms away with ten wins  overall and just four in conference. The Canisius win over Rider saw the Griffs commit only seven turnovers and shoot 88 % from the charity stripe. Senior guard Frank Turner continued his torrid play averaging 19.5 PPG for the week.
  • Fairfield – Split the last two games, defeating Marist and losing at Iona. Anthony Johnson had a double-double week with 16.3  PPG and 11 RPG . The Stag center has eight double-doubles on the season.  Derek Needham continues his outstanding play at the point. A freshman, Needham is set to crack the school’s top ten single-season list in assists. Fairfield held Marist to 50 points, the eighth time they have held an opponent under 60 points this season.
  • Iona – Extended the win streak to six with victories at Manhattan and at home against Fairfield. Jermel Jenkins preserved the win at Manhattan with a late steal then matched his career high with 14 points and 7 assists against the Stags. Gael reserves outscored Fairfield’s bench 50-5 in the 68-58 decision. Iona’s 15 wins and .715 winning percentage is the highest among the fourteen Division I programs within a 30-mile radius of Madison Square Garden.
  • Loyola (MD) – Finished a stretch of three road games in seven days with a win at Marist. That was just after taking Siena to the wire in a six-point decision. Loyola had a seven-point lead before the Saints closed out with a 17-4 run. Loyola did not score a field goal the last eight minutes in that contest. Senior Garrett Kelly was a surprise against the Saints . He entered the game with eight career points and no treys. Kelly scored 11 points and canned three beyond the arc. Against Marist the Greyhounds shot 58.6 % the first half and never looked back.
  • Manhattan – The Jaspers close out January on the road. Manhattan has lost six of seven conference games in January but the first four by a combined total of 12 points. Guard Rico Pickett averaged 22 PPG for the week. Pickett hit 50% (8 of 16) from three and pulled down 4.7 rebounds per game. The rebounding leader is a guard — Darryl Crawford with 6.1 RPG. Crawford is also scoring 14.7 points per game. The Jaspers are the MAAC leaders, committing only 11 turnovers per game (a conference best 14.5 TO Rate).
  • Marist – Dropped games to Fairfield and Loyola. Junior forward Corey Bauer set the pace with a 16 PPG and 7.5 RPG week. Bauer hit for 21 against Loyola which tied the high scoring game for a Marist player this season. Sam Prescott, Marist’s freshman guard, also had 21. Ironically Prescott’s performance was against Loyola on January 15th in Baltimore.
  • Niagara – Dropped home games to St. Peter’s and Rider. Tyrone Lewis was out both games with an injury. Sophomore Austin Conley got the starting nod in Lewis’ absence. Conley had a career-high 13 points against Rider. Demetrius Williamson paced the Purple Eagles with a 20 PPG scoring mark over the two games. The loss to Rider left Niagara at 11-11. The last time they were 11-11 in late January was 2007 when they went on a 12-game winning streak that included a MAAC title and a first round NCAA Tournament victory.
  • Rider – Lost at Canisius where they had won six of the last eight and won at Niagara where they hadn’t in eight years. At Niagara, the Broncs erased an 11-point deficit and won on Novar Gadson’s tip-in. Gadson finished with 11 points and 11 boards. Rider has played 15 of its first 22 away from home. They return to Alumni Gym to play six of their final nine regular season games. Junior Justin Robinson canned five three-pointers at Canisius. Robinson has hit 15 consecutive free throws. Earlier this year he hit 26 straight from the charity stripe.
  • St. Peter’s – Swept Canisius and Niagara on the road to improve to 13-7, their best record after twenty games in eight years. Balance is a key. Nick Leon and Wesley Jenkins are factors outside while Ryan Bacon mans the paint. Against Canisius however, the leading scorer was junior forward Jeron Belin with 16 points. Bacon tied a career high with 16 rebounds against Niagara. Leon had 19 in the game, 18 of which came in the second half.
  • Siena – Entered the week on an eleven-game win streak, the second longest in program history and third longest current win streak in the country. Siena has a 32-game home winning streak and dominates virtually every statistical category in the MAAC. The only negative point to date is the medical report. Kyle Downey broke his foot on January 19th in practice and is out indefinitely. Edwin Ubiles missed several games with soreness in his back and shoulder and freshman guard Jonathan Breeden missed several contests with a migraine headache. Point guard Ronald Moore continues to excel with a gaudy 8.1 APG mark, the nation’s best.

Upcoming games :

January 30 – Rider at Fairfield

January 31

  • Niagara at Loyola
  • Manhattan at St.Peter’s

February 1 – Canisius at Iona

February 5

  • Iona at Siena
  • St.Peter’s at Fairfield

February 7

  • Iona at Marist
  • Loyola at Manhattan

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Checking in on… the Big Sky

Posted by rtmsf on January 8th, 2010

Glenn Junkert of Grizzly Journal is the RTC correspondent for the Big Sky Conference.

Standings (records are CONF/ALL/STREAK)

  1. Portland State (2-0/7-7/W2)  Vikings lead the Big Sky in scoring offense at 79.4. Can any team in this defense-oriented league slow them down?   
  2. Northern Colorado (3-1/14-3/W4)   Senior guard Yahosh Bonner leading the Bears with iron-trap defense… usually against each opponent’s top scoring guard.    
  3. Montana State (3-1/8-6/W1)  The Cats are taking care of the ball on offense… and just winning.
  4. Weber State (3-1/9-7/W2)  Sophomore point guard Damian Lillard best in the Big Sky so far.
  5. Eastern Washington (1-1/5-10/W-1)  Speedy frosh guard Glen Dean stepping up as scorer and playmaker for Eagles.   
  6. Montana (1-3/10-6/L2)  Junior 6’11 post Brian Qvale starting to dominate key on both ends of floor (6.1 rebounds per game and 2.0 blocks per game average)   
  7. Northern Arizona (1-3/7-8/L1)  Junior guard Cameron Jones scores 26 in Jacks’ first Big Sky win.  
  8. Sacramento State (1-3/6-10/L3) Sac State junior guard Sultan Toles-Bey making strides at point for Hornets.   
  9. Idaho State (1-3/4-12/L1)  Amorrow Morgan leads conference in minutes played (35.1), carrying Bengals on offense (17.0 per game).


Northern Colorado Bears jumped to 16th in this week’s College Insider Mid Major top 25 poll with 249 votes, up from 23rd last week. The Bears are the lone Big Sky team to receive votes.


HOT — The Montana State Bobcats and the Northern Colorado Bears – at 3-1 and tied for second going into the third week of conference play – can move into a tie for first with home floor sweeps this weekend. The Bears and Bobcats have already notched important road wins and both are poised to build some early separation in the standings.

NOT — Already at 1-3 in conference play, the Idaho State Bengals and Montana Grizzlies – both pre-season picks to contend – have each suffered home-court losses and are mired in a four-team bottom-tier throng with Northern Arizona and Sacramento State. What’s worse for Montana: the Bengals’ lone win was a last-second stunner over the Grizzlies in Pocatello. Montana then traveled to Ogden and – after leading through much of the second half – lost in the final minute at Weber State.


  • The Big Sky’s top scorers are all guards: Damian Lillard (WSU) 19.1; Dominic Waters (PSU) 18.7; Amorrow Morgan (ISU) 17.0; Cameron Jones (NAU) 16.7; Anthony Johnson (UM) 16.4; Will Figures (MSU) 15.9; Devon Beitzel (UNC) 15.4; and Broderick Gilchrest (ISU) 13.9.
  • Northern Colorado’s 136-341 three point field goals is the Big Sky’s best, slightly ahead of Portland State’s 128-309. The Viks shoot a better percentage though (.414 to .399).
  • Not only are the Portland State Vikings the most potent offensive team in the Big Sky, they’re the best shooting team. The Viks, who score at a per-game clip of 79.4, lead the league in three point field goal percentage (see above), field goal percentage (.490) and free throw percentage (.755).
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Checking in on… the MAAC

Posted by rtmsf on December 19th, 2009

Ray Floriani of College Chalktalk is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and NEC conferences.

LYNDHURST, NJ – Virtually every MAAC team has two conference games in the books as we head into the holidays. By Christmas everyone will have played a pair as Siena hosts Rider on December 23 in a meeting of 1-0 teams with title aspirations (not just sugar plums) ‘dancing in their heads’…

Early on in league play things are shaping up as expected but it is very early. The one mark that stands out is Iona at 0-2. The Gaels, off their win against Albany, are 5-2 out of conference with wins over Creighton ( in the Old Spice) and at Providence on their resume. They played both MAAC games at home but dropped meetings with St. Peter’s and Siena.

The MAAC nearly made it 2-0 against the Big East on the week. Following Iona’s won, Rider lost a tough one in overtime at Rutgers.

A tempo free note…  POSS is the average possessions per game. All games are counted. When conference play heats up the focus will be on MAAC games only. The TO rate is turnovers divided by possessions. Under 20% is an excellent figure. That means only one fifth or less of total possessions end in a turnover. Again thanks to the people at Basketball State for the data.


  • Frank Turner of Canisius has 27 straight double figure scoring games, the nation’s 7th best mark among active players.
  • Prior to Providence, the last Iona win versus a Big East team was December 27, 2001 over Seton Hall in the Holiday Festival at the Garden.
  • Antoine Pearson of Manhattan became the program’s 32nd player to hit the 1,000 point mark.
  • Marist has hit at least one three-pointer in 299 consecutive games.
  • Tyrone Lewis broke Niagara’s career three-point field goal record. Lewis has 227 treys to date. The record was held by former teammate Lorenzo Miles (220).  He also became Niagara’s 11th player to hit the 1,000-point select circle.
  • Ryan Thompson moved to 9th on Rider’s all-time scoring list. Thompson passed Rider Hall of Famer Greg Burston ‘99. Thompson went over the 1,500 point mark in the game at Rutgers.

Co-Players of the Week.

  • Anthony Johnson (C), 6-8 SR, Fairfield – Averaged double-doubles in two wins. Scored 21 against Sacred Heart and pulled down 8 offensive rebounds in a win over Holy Cross. Shot 57% from the floor for the two outings.
  • Tyrone Lewis (G), 5-11 SR, Niagara – Enjoyed back to back 26-point performances. Had 6 treys is a loss to Buffalo then canned 5 beyond the arc in a win at Illinois State.

Rookie of the Week. Kyle Smyth (G), 6-4 Fr, Iona – Led the Gaels in scoring in their two wins. Highlight was a career high 21 points in the victory at Providence. Shot 71% from the field and 6 of 10 (60%) beyond the arc for the three games.

Team Breakdowns.

  • Canisius – Lost Saturday to Bowling Green to put the Griffs at 4-4. It marked the first time in six years Canisius was at .500 eight games into the season. The Bowling Green game was a return for the 2009 Bracket Buster won by Canisius on the road. Senior guard Frank Turner scored 12 points and has scored in double figures 27 consecutive games. It is not all Turner as junior Julius Coles had 17 against Bowling Green. Freshman Alshwan Hymes looked good (9 pts 7 rebs) against Bowling green and junior Tomas Vazquez-Simmons had four blocks in that contest.
  • Fairfield – Victories over Sacred Heart and Holy Cross raised their record to 8-2, their best start since the 1977-78 team got out to a 9-1 beginning. That club went 22-5 and earned a NIT berth. Triple threat! Anthony Johnson and freshman guard Derek Needham averaged double figures the two games but the team’s leading scorer for the week was Yorel Hawkins at 19.5 ppg. Six Stags scored in double figures in that 93-77 win over Sacred Heart.
  • Iona – Won two of three with the highlight a 82-73 victory at Providence. Freshman Kyle Smyth (see Rookie of the Week) led the way for the Gaels. Iona also received contributions from sophomore Scott Machado (11 ppg, 3.3 apg) and senior Jonathan Huffman who scored 11 points while grabbing 7 rebounds at Providence. Push the pace! Iona is 7-1 when scoring 80+ under coach Kevin Willard.
  • Loyola (MD) – The Greyhounds dropped their third straight with  a 63-58 OT loss at Coppin State. Their defeat was the first after six straight extra session victories by Loyola, five coming under current mentor Jimmy Patsos. Shooting was the downfall as Loyola shot 28% and 5 of 27 ( 19%) from three point range. Jamal Barney led the way with 16 points but the senior guard was 0-8 from three. The Greyhounds rejected 9 shots in that contest, matching the second highest total in school history. Interior defense has been a constant as Loyola blocked less than three shots in a game only once in the first nine outings.
  • Manhattan – The road was unkind to the Jaspers with losses at Hofstra and Morgan State. The 44-39 contest on Long Island saw the Jaspers force the Pride into 19 turnovers but fail to capitalize, suffering  a 21% shooting night from the floor. Manhattan then dropped an 83-74 decision at two time defending MEAC champion Morgan State. Despite the loss, balance was the key as five Jaspers scored in double figures. Darryl Crawford’s play was a bright spot (15 pts, 6.5 rpg) for the week.
  • Marist – Lost its home opener to Boston University 88-72. The December 12 date for the first home game was the latest in the program’s history. Marist played its initial six games away from the friendly confines of McCann Center. They had three double figure scorers against BU, all freshman. Guard Candin Rusin (a career high 15 points), forward  (13 points) and guard Devin Price (a career high 12 points). Marist frosh have accounted for 55% of the offense to date and three freshmen routinely are on the floor for the opening tip.
  • Niagara – Handed Illinois State its first loss of the season with a 76-68 road victory. Illinois State owned the boards 49-28 but the Purple Eagles shot 47.6% (10 of 21) from beyond the arc. Tyrone Lewis (Co-Player of the Week) hit five treys at Illinois State including two in a 25-second stretch that all  but clinched it for Niagara. Kashief Edwards has been a productive scorer and shot blocker for the Purple Eagles. Edwards rejected four shots (for the fifth time this season) at Illinois State. The Redbirds had won 34 of their last 38 at home.
  • Rider – Defeated UMBC in a road game that was a return from last year’s Bracket Buster, also won by the Broncs. Ryan Thompson had 21 points and 7 rebounds at UMBC then followed up with a game high 26 points in a 80-70 overtime loss at Rutgers. The Broncs were scoreless in the extra session at Rutgers. Rider lost to LaSalle at home, 69-60, on December 9th. It was only the fifth loss in 31 games at on-campus Alumni Gym. Justin Robinson had a 19 consecutive free throws made stretch and leads the MAAC with a 91% mark (31 of 43).
  • St. Peter’s – Posted a 1-1 week defeating NJIT and losing a heartbreaker to Wagner. Both games were at home. Nick Leon and Wesley Jenkins continue to score for the Peacocks. Jenkins had 25 in the win over NJIT. Added production is coming from 6-7 forward Darius Conley, 11 points VS NJIT and a double double against Wagner. Next two games have a NJ flavor as St.Peter’s visits FDU Saturday and Rutgers on Tuesday.
  • Siena – Dropped a road game at Northern Iowa. The four losses (Goergia Tech, Temple, St.John’s and UNI) saw the opponent hit over 60% from the floor the second half. Saints drew first blood in the MAAC with a 73-60 victory at Iona. In the process Siena earned its 38th victory in the last 46 MAAC contests and made it 15 of the last 19 wins in  conference games on the road. Four starters average 11 points or better while the fifth, Ronald Moore, leads the nation with 8 assists per game.

Upcoming games of note.

December 20

  • Fairfield at Rhode Island

December 22

  • Loyola at Indiana
  • St. Bonaventure at Niagara
  • St. Peter’s at Rutgers

December 23

  • Rider at Siena

December 27

  • Iona at UConn

December 29

  • St. Joseph’s at Siena

December 30

  • Canisius at St. Bonaventure
  • Manhattan at Vanderbilt

To all… a Happy Holiday!!!

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Checking in on… the Big Sky

Posted by rtmsf on December 11th, 2009


Glenn Junkert of is the RTC correspondent for the Big Sky Conference.


  1. Northern Colorado (8-1, 1-1) W1.   Assuming role of conference favorite.
  2. Montana (6-3 1-1) W1.   Tough homecourt loss in conference play.
  3. Montana State (4-4 2-0) L1.   Leads conference standings with two home wins.
  4. Portland State (4-4 1-0) W3.   Leads conference in most offensive categories.
  5. Weber State (4-4 1-0) W3.   Soph point guard Damian Lillard assuming leadership role for Cats.
  6. Sacramento State (4-6 0-1) L2.   Lose last 4-of-5 after hot start.
  7. Eastern Washington (3-5 0-1) L1.   Eagles hit road on tough 2-week, five-game swing.
  8. Northern Arizona (2-5 0-2) L3.   Jacks face brutal 4-game road swing through hollidays.
  9. Idaho State (2-7 0-0) L3.   Injuries, suspensions affect Bengals front-court.


Northern Colorado – Earned a Mid Major Poll rank of 22nd (153 points) with a road breakthrough at 2nd place Montana, the only other Big Sky team with Mid-Major votes (8).


  • Portland State Vikings – after starting the season at 0-3 under first year head coach Tyler Geving – the Vikings have gone 4-1 since, a tear that includes an 86-82 win at Mid-Major 10th ranked Portland and a 23-point, 98-75 conference opener over Eastern Washington. 
  • The road has been long and winding for the 2-7 Idaho State Bengals, who have played seven of nine pre-season games on the road. The Bengals notched one of their two wins on the road, edging UMKC 68-65, but dropped a 79-67 verdict to in-state rival Boise State in Pocatello.

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Checking in on… the MAAC

Posted by rtmsf on December 5th, 2009


Ray Floriani of College Chalktalk is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and NEC conferences.

EAST ORANGE , NJ –  The conference play started on Thursday with Marist visiting Fairfield. With everyone having roughly seven games in the book it is time to look at the conference from a tempo-free angle. Again thanks to for making this information possible and easy to obtain. When conference play heats up in January we will look at the figures from a conference games only perspective. For now all games are considered.  Efficiency is points per possession multiplied by 100. Siena at 101 actually averages 1.01 points per possession. On the other end the Saints allow .91 points per possession, a nice defensive figure.  At this point the conference average pace is 70.3 possessions per game. A fast pace, largely the result of different matchups and opposite playing styles. Expect that figure to hit the sixties in league play.

Standings (through 12/3)

maac standings 12.04

Player of the Week. Julius Coles (G), Canisius – Averaged 26.5 points and 3.5 rebounds in non-league wins over Howard and Buffalo. On the week Coles shot 54% from the floor and 50% from three.

Rookie of the Week. Derek Needham (G), Fairfield – Needham’s week was highlighted by a 13 point, 7 assist performance in a win at American.

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Checking in on… the Big Sky

Posted by rtmsf on November 27th, 2009


Glenn Junkert of Grizzly Journal is the RTC correspondent for the Big Sky Conference.


  1. Northern Colorado 5-0 W5
  2. Montana 4-1 W1
  3. Sacramento State 3-3 L1
  4. Eastern Washington 2-3 L1
  5. Montana State 2-2 L1
  6. Northern Arizona 2-2 L2
  7. Portland State 1-3 W1
  8. Weber State 1-3 W1
  9. Idaho State 1-4 L1


  • Northern Colorado – Earned a Mid Major Poll rank of 25th with championships in both the Rainbow Classic and the Reggie Minton Air Force Classic and are currently ranked 69th in the USA Today Sagarin Ratings.
  • Sacramento State – Defeated Oregon State 65-63 in Corvallis.
  • Montana – Defeated Oregon 68-55 in Portland.


Early results in the Big Sky indicate a return to parity after several seasons of distinct “upper-lower division split.” PROOF: perennial bottom-feeder CSU Sacramento, under the reins of second-year coach (and Sac State alum) Brian Katz, is 3-3 with an impressive 65-63 win at Oregon State and a decent showing at Idaho. Katz’ rebuilding project of a decimated Hornet program appears decidedly ahead of schedule.

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ATB: Feast Week Debuts

Posted by rtmsf on November 24th, 2009


Game of the NightPurdue 73, Tennessee 72.  This game between two of the best teams in the Big Ten and SEC was a back-and-forth affair that predictably came down to the final possession.  It was that final possession, however, that exhibited why we tend to not believe in Bruce Pearl’s Vols as a true contender while giving Purdue much more credit.  After Purdue’s Kelsey Barlow bricked two FTs that would have given the Boilermakers a three-point lead with 17 seconds remaining, UT’s Bobby Maze dribbled down and found career 32% three-point shooter Wayne Chism at the top of the key… for a three?  Um, guys, all you need is a two!  Penetrate the lane and put it on the rim!  It’s not that Chism couldn’t have made the shot — he was in fact having a great game with 24/6 — but it wasn’t a high-percentage shot, and the Vol players need to know that.  It’s that kind of shoddy decisionmaking (and defense) that we’ve routinely seen out of these Vols that makes us have our doubts.  Purdue gutted out this one behind Robbie Hummel’s 20/7 and E’Twaun Moore’s 22/3/3 assts, and Matt Painter’s team will go home with the trophy from the Paradise Jam this year.

Maui Invitational.

  • Gonzaga 76, Colorado 72. The Zags’ heads were clearly still on the mainland tonight as they came out very sluggish and allowed Colorado to build a double-digit lead and shoot 53% from the floor before rallying back to take a late lead and win a first-round Maui tilt against Colorado.  Steven Gray (27/4) and Matt Bouldin (25/4/4 assts) led the way for Gonzaga, while Cory Higgins (19/6) led the charge for the Buffs.
  • Wisconsin 65, Arizona 61.  Other than UT-Purdue, this was the next best game of the day, and for a while, it appeared that Sean Miller’s young Arizona team might get a confidence-inspiring win after getting off to a horrific start (down 16-2) in this game.  In a typically ugly fashion, Wisconsin defended all over the place, but Arizona freshman Derrick Williams (25/8) kept making big plays on the interior to keep UA in the game.  Is it possible that Arizona, with all their personnel losses, is one of the best teams in the Pac-10 (answer: yes)?
  • #22 Maryland 79, Chaminade 51.  Is something wrong with Greivis Vasquez?  For the fourth straight game this season, the electrifying guard put up only single-figure points (6/5 assts).  Having not seen his games, it’s possible that he is eschewing individual scoring to set up his teammates (such as Sean Mosley, who had 19/8), but we’re intrigued at this point to see what he does against Cincinnati tomorrow.
  • Cincinnati 67, #24 Vanderbilt 58.  This is the Cincy team that everyone was talking about leading up to the season, as the tougher Bearcats dominated Vandy on the glass (45-27) and took residence in their jerseys the rest of the time, holding Vandy to a paltry 28% from the field.  In an ugly game, Yancy Gates led the way with 16/10, and hyped super-recruit Lance Stephenson contributed 8/5.

Upset of the Night (aka Pac-10 Loser of the Night)Montana 68, Oregon 55.  When oh when will the embarrassments for the Pac-10 end?  Sacramento State, Loyola Marymount, Cal State Fullerton… now add Montana to the list.  Look, we know that Montana is a favorite in the Big Sky, but this is Oregon’s McArthur Court, a place that used to be a difficult venue for opposing teams — especially those from mid-major conferences — to play.  The Grizzlies’ star, Anthony Johnson, lived at the line for 20/4/3 assts as the league picked up its twelfth loss of the early season already.  Montana shot 51% while Oregon foundered in the low 30s… at home.  Things may not get better for this league until they start playing each other in January (it doesn’t look so bad because not everyone can lose). 

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RTC Live: Fairfield @ Maryland

Posted by rtmsf on November 17th, 2009


We are currently in the midst of ESPN’s second annual college hoops tip-off marathon, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the college hoops world comes to a halt. Tonight at 7 pm, the Maryland Terrapins will host the Fairfield Stags, and we will be there to provide you with any and all minutiae that happens to get lost in your ESPN Gamecast. The Stags are 2-0 on the season, but this is a team that is far from 100%. Greg Nero, their best returning player, has yet to suit up after undergoing sinus surgery during the off-season, while junior forward Warren Edney, a starter that averaged 9.1 ppg last season, is still suffering from an ankle injury. But that doesn’t mean the Stags are coming in empty handed. Senior forward Anthony Johnson, a 6’8, 235 lb forward, is finally healthy after battling blood clots in his lungs. He’s averaged 15.5 ppg and 10.0 rpg thus far. Shimeek Johnson (11.0 ppg, 9.5 rpg) and Ryan Olander (8.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg) provide size inside. But the star thus far has been 5’11 freshman Derek Needham, as he comes into this game with averages of 16.5 ppg, 5.0 apg, and 3.0 spg.  Maryland, on the other hand, has a chance to be really good this season. For starters, they bring back arguably the most entertaining player in college basketball in Greivis Vasquez. Not only does Vasquez fill the stat sheet, but he is liable to do just about anything on a basketball court, including curse out his own fans. Maryland has a solid group of perimeter guys, including Eric Hayes, Landon Milbourne, and Adrian Bowie, but the key to their season will be how freshmen Jordan Williams and James Padgett handle D1 basketball.  Join us tonight for another exciting RTC Live, this time from College Park.

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RTC 2009-10 Impact Players – Wrap-Up

Posted by rtmsf on November 8th, 2009

impactplayersOver the course of the last ten weeks we’ve broken down sixty players from around the country whom we expect will have the biggest impact on college basketball this season.  We performed this exercise geographically, choosing five high-major and one mid-major player from each of the somewhat arbitrary ten regions of the country.  If you’d like to read through the individual regions (and we highly encourage that), you can check all ten here.


If you don’t have the time or inclination to read through all of the previous posts, we’ll summarize here for you by rating the strongest to the weakest regions.

(ed. note: we started this so long ago that Binghamton still had a promising basketball program, and DJ Rivera still had a place to play)

1.  Lower Midwest Region (OH, IN, IL, IA, NE, KS)

lower mw summary

Overview. This seemed pretty clear just at a first glance.  Aldrich, Collins and Harangody are three of the 1st team AAs on the RTC preseason list, and Brackins and Turner are on the 2d team.  This group has unbelievable scoring ability, size and experience.  The only weak link is the mid-major inclusion of Eldridge, who is a fine player, but not in the class of the rest of these superstars.  The nation’s heartland is the epicenter of college basketball talent this year.

Best Players Left Out. Where to start?  The depth in this region is incredible.  Gordon Hayward and Matt Howard at Butler, Robbie Hummell and E’Twaun Moore at Purdue, even Lance Stephenson at Cincinnati.  The #6-10 players in this region would probably be better than all but a few of the other regions.

2.  Mid-South Region (KY, TN, MO, AR, OK)

mid-south summary

Overview.  It was a very close call between this region and the South Atlantic, but we felt that the guard play of Warren and Wall with Anderson on the wing would compensate for what this team gives up in size.  And it doesn’t give up much, considering Patterson, Smith and Jordan are all exceptional inside.  Tough call, but Wall is the likely #1 pick, so he’s the x-factor.

Best Players Left Out.  Plenty of raw size here, including Samardo Samuels at Louisville, Michael Washington at Arkansas and DeMarcus Cousins at Kentucky.  Throw in the skilled size of AJ Ogilvy at Vanderbilt and Wayne Chism at Tennessee and this area will punish you on the interior.

3.  South Atlantic Region (DC, VA, NC, SC, GA)

s.atlantic summary

Overview.  This is the third region that’s chock full of NBA talent – each of the rest below have smatterings of it, but not nearly as much.  Aminu, Booker and Singler all define skilled versatility, while Monroe could end up the best big in the entire country if he wants it enough.  Sanders is a little undersized but relentless as well.

Best Players Left OutEd Davis at UNC was a lighting rod topic, as some felt that he’d be an all-american this year with his length and skill set.  Derrick Favors and Gani Lawal are two others.  A good argument could be made that this region had the best players left out, but it sorta depends on how this year plays out due to their relative youth and inexperience.

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