Summer School in the WAC

Posted by Brian Goodman on August 12th, 2010

 

 

Sam Wasson of bleedCrimson.net is the RTC correspondent for the WAC.

Around The WAC:

  • Ch-Ch-Changes: Change is the only constant in the WAC and this year is no different. New coaches, new players, a new tournament format and a farewell tour for one WAC school all headline the offseason ticker.
  • Realignment: The WAC wasn’t the biggest story in this summer’s conference realignment, but it was more of an unwilling participant as Boise State announced its intention to join the Mountain West Conference beginning in 2011. The decision led to the WAC’s announcement that they will play as an eight-team league during the 2011-12 season.  Unlike on the football side, Boise State is not one of the perennial powers in the WAC, despite their co-co-co-co regular season title and conference tournament title in the 2007-08 season. The 2010-11 year will not be a “one final shot at the bully” tour for Boise State basketball opponents, as it will be for Boise State football opponents.
  • Out With The Old, In With The New:  Two programs, Hawai’i and Boise State, find themselves with new head men after saying adios to a pair of longtime associates.  Hawai’i hired USC assistant Gib Arnold after three lackluster seasons (34-56 record) from Bob Nash.  Nash had been associated with the Hawai’i program as a player, longtime assistant and then head coach.  Boise State got rid of one of the WAC’s elder statesmen in Greg Graham and brought in Gonzaga’s top assistant, Leon Rice.  Graham had served as the Bronco head man for the past eight seasons, compiling a 142-112 record.
  • Protecting The Top Seeds: The WAC announced a change to the conference tournament format which will put more emphasis and reward on the regular season standings.  The format is identical to the one used by the West Coast Conference, in which the top two seeds get byes through the semifinal round.  Day one of the tournament will see the 5-seed vs. the 8-seed and the 6-seed vs. the 7-seed.  Day two of the tournament will see the winners of the 5-seed vs. 8-seed and 6-seed vs. 7-seed take on the 4-seed and 3-seeds, respectively.  Day three of the tournament will then see the top two seeds finally get some tournament action as they’ll take on the winner of the quarterfinal games.  As was the case last season, only the top eight teams advance to the conference tournament.
  • The Association:  The WAC boasted two first-round NBA draft picks, plus a second-round draft pick this year as Fresno State‘s Paul George went tenth to Indiana, Nevada‘s Luke Babbitt went 16th to Minnesota (and was subsequently traded to Portland) and Armon Johnson landed in Portland with his college teammate Babbitt with the 34th pick, signing a contract with the Blazers on August 2.

Adrian Oliver will be a major weapon for the Spartans, but he can't carry them on his own.

Power Rankings:

  1. Utah State – If the WAC power rankings had been published immediately after the season ended, the northern Aggies might have been ranked third.  Instead, they find themselves at the top of the heap and it’s a ranking that has almost as much to do with defections from two other teams (New Mexico State and Nevada) as it does with Utah State.  The Aggies return four seniors from last year’s NCAA Tournament team and are stockpiling junior college talent for the 2011 season, one in which they’ll have to replace half their roster due to graduations.
  2. New Mexico State: The southern Aggies would have likely landed in the top spot in the power rankings but the unexpected loss of would-be senior guard Jahmar Young means New Mexico State will have to replace two 20-point scorers instead of just one.  The Aggies have added Cristian Kabongo (Canada) and Tshilidzi Nephew (South Africa) to an already internationally flavored roster.  New Mexico State is also taking a preseason trip to Canada and as a result, had 10 extra practice days, something that will certainly help as the staff looks to build early chemistry with the squad.
  3. Nevada: With Luke Babbitt and Armon Johnson off to the NBA, Brandon Fields, Joey Shaw and Ray Kraemer gone after graduation, Nevada welcomes eight new players to the roster. Those eight newbies, plus the returning Wolf Pack players must figure out a way to replace the departed 84% of the team’s scoring.  Junior college transfer Illiwa Baldwin and Olek Czyz (eligible in December after transferring from Duke) should have an immediate impact on the Wolf Pack squad. Read the rest of this entry »
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Official RTC 2010 NBA Mock Draft

Posted by zhayes9 on June 23rd, 2010

Zach Hayes is an editor, contributor and bracketologist at Rush the Court.

I love the NBA Draft.

The Stage Rarely Changes, but the Players Do

There’s something gratifying and enjoyable about seeing the college players that we discuss, watch and evaluate move on from the collegiate game and find a home at the next level. There are no cliffhangers when it comes to the NBA Draft. Barring late summer dealings or undrafted snubs, Thursday will be the day we’ll find out where each of our favorite elite college players are going to play pro ball next winter, almost like watching your kids go off to school for the first time. It’s a grand conclusion to a celebrated (albeit, in plenty of cases, very short) college career and a transition to the riches of the NBA.

We’re all prognosticators and experts on Draft night. Opinions are thrown around as David Stern announces each choice. Emotions are prevalent when your favorite NBA squad picks, those moments and heartbeats before the selection that could change the course of a franchise forever. Or it could be Renaldo Balkman. Either way, Draft night for us hoops nerds is one of intrigue and interest.

Here’s my best shot at forecasting how the first round will play out. As someone that has watched these players intensely at the college level, someone that pays attention to the strengths/weaknesses of each NBA club and has been soaking in all of the Draft info since the Final Four ended in April, I’m honored to bring you the official Rush the Court 2010 NBA Mock Draft (RTC draft profile linked to each name):

1) Washington Wizards – John Wall, PG, Kentucky

The Consensus #1 Pick (WaPo/J. Newton)

This was a lock the moment the Wizards won the Lottery in mid-May, a stroke of unexpected luck for a city on the sports rise and the perfect face of the franchise-type player to lead this team out of the cellar. Wall could pair with a focused Gilbert Arenas in a potent backcourt and the Wiz may even shell out some money to bring in an intriguing free agent wing. He may be a top-five point guard in the NBA in only three years time if the jump shot improves. He’s that skilled and talented.

2) Philadelphia 76ers – Evan Turner, SG, Ohio State

I’m hearing the Sixers front office is enamored with Turner while newly minted coach Doug Collins would prefer big man Derrick Favors. In the end, I see Turner as the surer prospect emerging as the pick, and even the Sixers website prepared for that very possibility last Friday. Philly won’t trade the pick unless some team agrees to take on Elton Brand’s contract, an unlikely scenario. Turner could be the next Brandon Roy, a prospect just too mouth-watering to pass up on.

3) New Jersey Nets – Wesley Johnson, SF, Syracuse

Nets fans were positively crushed on Lottery night when they lost a chance to nab Wall. An underwhelming workout for Derrick Favors, one in which he was thoroughly outplayed by DeMarcus Cousins, gave the Nets brass pause after it was assumed for months Favors would be the selection at #3. The Nets have needs at both forward spots, so it would make sense for them to peg Johnson here and go after one of the big free agent power forwards with new owner Mikhail Prokhorov’s checkbook- Amare Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer or Chris Bosh.

4) Minnesota Timberwolves – Derrick Favors, PF, Georgia Tech

This is a tricky situation for the Wolves. With Al Jefferson and Kevin Love already in the fold, the last thing Minnesota needs is another power forward. They covet both Turner and Johnson, so it’s extremely likely they try to persuade either Philly or New Jersey to let them move up a few spots in exchange for their pick at #16. It’s rumored the Minnesota brass isn’t too high on Favors, but Cousins has publicly expressed displeasure with playing in the Twin Cities.

5) Sacramento Kings – DeMarcus Cousins, C, Kentucky

Cousins has sent hinted messages that he wouldn’t be too thrilled if Sacramento (or Minnesota or Golden State) calls his name and he’d much prefer to end up in Detroit. The Pistons could very well move up a few spots to grab Cousins, but the workout Cousins just finished in SacTo apparently convinced ownership that his game outweighed any character concerns. I would take Cousins over Monroe (and maybe even Favors) in a heartbeat, and it’s my feeling that the Kings agree even with the recent Sam Dalembert acquisition.

6) Golden State Warriors – Greg Monroe, PF, Georgetown

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More Notes From the Mountain West and WAC Tourneys

Posted by rtmsf on March 13th, 2010

In our attempt to bring you the most comprehensive Championship Week coverage anywhere, RTC is covering several of the conference tournaments from the sites. We have RTC correspondents Andrew Murawa at the Mountain West Tournament and Kraig Williams at the WAC Tournament this weekend.  In addition to live-blogging select games throughout the tournament, they will both post a nightly diary with thoughts on each day’s action. Here are the submissions for last night’s semifinals.

Mountain West Semis

  • The difference between these four teams when they are playing at their peak is not a whole lot. New Mexico and BYU have been more consistent over the course of the season, but all four of these teams are highly talented and very evenly matched.
  • Even before tonight I felt pretty fortunate to have picked the MWC out of the hat to cover this year. After tonight, the MWC could start a new religion and I would be the first convert.
  • I overheard Danny Ainge talking with Steve Lappas during the break between games say that this iteration of this tournament was as good as any in the country over the last few years. At this point, I’m not inclined to disagree.

San Diego State 72, New Mexico 69.

  • Darington Hobson was the MWC Player of the Year, but San Diego State took some advantage of him defensively, especially in the first half when he was unable to control either Kawhi Leonard or Billy White. Further, in the postgame press conference, Aztec point guard D.J. Gay seemed to imply that they were more concerned about Dairese Gary than they were about Hobson, saying that they in the last sequence they were trying to force Gary to give the ball up to Hobson.
  • Speaking of Gary, when the Lobos found themselves down 11 early, it was he who sparked the team’s run back to eventually take the lead in the first half. But as important as Gary is to the Lobos hopes, it is the combination of Gary and Hobson, each of whom have point skills, that make the Lobos so tough.
  • Kawhi Leonard was the MWC Freshman of the Year, a first-team All-MWC selection and my choice as the MWC Defensive Player of the Year, and yet he is only beginning to scratch the surface of his talent. Tonight he added three threes (after shooting just 19% from three on the season), took on Hobson one-on-one defensively, and yanked down 12 rebounds, including a serious man’s rebound in the final seconds, just before knocking down two free throws to extend the final margin.
  • It was apparent in the postgame press conference just how much coach Steve Fisher loves his squad. At times it seemed like he almost had to control himself from gushing over his squad. Check this: “I told our team at halftime, this is big-time, high-level major college basketball. We played about as well as we can play and we’re one point behind. That’s what they’re telling their team, that San Diego State can’t play better. But we can. We have to. And we did.” And, on D.J. Gay: “I said to our team and the media that I thought D.J. Gay was our most important player. He had seven assists, no turnovers. Guards like crazy. Helps everybody else out and wins.” On Billy White: “He’s a really talented player and a terrific young guy. So I’m proud. I’m so happy for Billy today to have him come home and play as well as he did. He was sensational. When we went out before the game, I grabbed him and told him ‘Make your mom proud.’ Afterward I said, ‘You made everyone proud.’”
  • San Diego State’s freshman guard Chase Tapley and New Mexico’s sophomore post A.J. Hardeman may not get all the press that some of their teammates get, but both had key contributions. Hardeman wound up with 12 points, nine rebounds and three blocks, while Tapley, playing with a broken left hand which has cost him his starting position, knocked down three of his four attempts from three-point range.

UNLV 70, BYU 66.

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WAC Tournament Preview

Posted by rtmsf on March 11th, 2010

Sam Wasson of bleedCRIMSON.net and Travis Mason-Bushman of Vandal Nation are the RTC correspondents for the Western Athletic Conference.

It’s finally here, do or die time. The WAC tournament will begin on Thursday, March 11, for the eight teams who earned their way in. All eight teams feel like they have a shot to win the whole enchilada but in reality there are probably only five teams that have a chance. History is also not on four teams’ side as only once has a team seeded lower than #4 won the conference tournament as #5-seed Hawai’i pulled off the feat in the 2001 WAC Tournament. Utah State is the favorite as they ran roughshod over the WAC for a second straight season. Nevada is also a favorite but their lack of depth and need to win three games in four days will be something to keep an eye on. New Mexico State is the league’s second highest scoring team and perhaps most physically talented team, however, they are also the league’s worst scoring defense having given up at least 80 points in seven of their 16 conference games. Louisiana Tech was strong in the first half of the season but faltered down the stretch. They could get hot and run the table as well as they have wins over every WAC team except New Mexico State (whom they would not potentially face until the championship game). San Jose State is the darkhorse in the equation. They boast the league’s leading scorer in Adrian Oliver and they have the pieces in place to make a run. However, they too have fallen on tough times losing three of the final four conference games. Unfortunately for them their path to the title game goes through New Mexico State and potentially top seeded Utah State and that’s even before playing in the title game.

There is one team missing from the conference tournament and that is the University of Hawai’i. Not only did Hawai’i not play its way into the WAC tournament last week losing twice on the road, they played their coach out of a job. The University of Hawai’i announced on Monday that head coach Bob Nash would not be returning next season. The Warriors have fallen on tough times since winning the conference tournament in back-to-back seasons to start the new century. The Warriors won in 2001 and again in 2002 earning the automatic bid and then were NIT bound in 2003 and 2004 but have gone 85-93 in their past five seasons combined after amassing an 85-45 record from the 2000-01 season through the 2003-04 season.

Final Standings (conference tournament seeding order)

  1. Utah State, 25-6 (14-2)
  2. Nevada 19-11 (11-5)
  3. New Mexico State, 19-11 (11-5)
  4. Louisiana Tech, 22-9 (9-7)
  5. Fresno State, 15-17 (6-10)
  6. San Jose State 14-16 (6-10)
  7. Idaho, 15-15 (6-10)
  8. Boise State, 15-16 (5-11)

OUT) Hawai’i, 10-18 (3-13)

All-WAC Honors

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RTC Live: Nevada @ Utah State

Posted by rtmsf on February 6th, 2010

Since Utah State entered the WAC in the 05-06 season this has been the league’s premier rivalry. Every year since at least one of these teams has owned a share of the WAC title. Nevada is struggling by their high standards this season (5-3 in conference), mostly due to a lack of depth. For what the Wolfpack lack in depth however, they make up in star power with PG Armon Johnson and do-everything forward Luke Babbitt both looking like 1st team All-WAC performers so far this season. Johnson is second on the team in scoring (15.9 PPG) and can get to the rim at will and dishes the ball as well as anyone in the conference (5.4 APG, first in the WAC). Babbitt does just about everything else for Nevada. He’s in the top 20 nationally in scoring (21.4 PPG) and also leads the team in rebounding, steals, FG%, and FT%. Utah State will counter with a balanced line-up, that includes five players averaging at least 10 points a game during their current 7 game winning streak, which included a 79-72 win in Reno. During that game the Aggies wore down Nevada with their depth, and Tai Wesley forced Babbitt to play a lot of post defense which isn’t his specialty. Since this rivalry renewed neither team has been able to complete the season sweep of the other, can the Aggies pull it off? Join us at RTC Live to find out.

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Checking in on… the WAC

Posted by jstevrtc on January 1st, 2010

Sam Wasson of bleedCrimson.net and Travis Mason-Bushman of Vandal Nation are the RTC correspondents for the Western Athletic conference.

The WAC begins conference play this weekend and the league has made a switch to a Saturday/Monday schedule from a Thursday/Saturday schedule in years past.  The breakout non-conference season for the WAC never materialized. The good news is the league finished 73-43 in non-conference play.  The bad news is the league was 0-7 against BCS teams, 7-9 against the West Coast Conference, 5-7 against the Big West and just 4-12 against the Mountain West, the league the WAC most likes to compare itself to due to the fact that MWC is made up of former WAC teams (records via Chris Murray, Reno Gazette-Journal and Jason Erickson, WAC Media Relations)

As the nine teams enter league play the standings are as follows:

  1. Louisiana Tech, 12-2
  2. Utah State, 10-4
  3. Boise State, 9-4
  4. Nevada, 8-5
  5. Idaho, 6-4
  6. San Jose State, 7-5
  7. Hawai’i, 7-6
  8. New Mexico State, 7-6
  9. Fresno State 7-7

The conference season could produce plenty of high scoring games.  Eight of the nine teams are averaging at least 73.5 PPG.  Only Fresno State lags behind, averaging 67.4 PPG.  All but two teams in the league are giving up at least 70 PPG with Utah State leading the way giving up just 60.2 PPG.   Fresno State is the only other giving up just 63.1 PPG.

Should there be close conference games, which there almost always are, free throw shooting will be vital and seven of the nine teams in the league hit at least 70% of their free throws.  Only Idaho (66.5%) and Fresno State (66.4%) are below 70%.

The league features 10 players averaging at least 15 PPG.  Louisiana Tech’s Kyle Gibson leads the league in points per game with 21.6.  There are two players averaging at least 10 rebounds per game, San Jose State’s Chris Oakes (10.6) and Petras Balocka (10.1).

Boise State (9-4)

The week’s results:  12/29 W vs. Northwest Nazarene, 76-58

Upcoming games:  01/02 @ Fresno State, 01/05 @ Hawai’i

The Broncos enter league play riding a four game win streak and sport a 9-4 non-conference record.  They were competitive in three of their four losses (a 26-point loss to Wyoming being the exception).  The Broncos will open up league play on the road after having played at home for five straight games.   The Broncos will travel to an improved Fresno State team and then travel to the islands to take on Hawai’i.  The Broncos are 2-3 on the road this season and are led by forward Ike Okoye who is averaging 14.2 points and 9.2 rebounds per game.  La’Shard Anderson is averaging 12.2 points and 3.8 assists per game and Robert Arnold is averaging 10.8 points and 3.7 points per game.  Kurt Cunningham is averaging 9.6 points and 3.8 rebounds per game and is second in the league in field goal percentage and is hitting 64.5 percent of his shots.

Fresno State (7-7)

The week’s results:  12/28 W vs. Colorado State, 73-50

Upcoming games:  01/02 vs. Boise State

The Bulldogs will enter league play on a high note after pounding Colorado State 73-50 in their non-conference finale. The Bulldogs host Boise State to open up league play.  Fresno State is 5-3 at home this season and are led by the duo of Paul George and Sylvester Seay.  George is averaging 16.7 points and 8.0 rebounds per game while Seay is averaging 15.7 points and 5.4 rebounds per game.  Center Greg Smith is averaging 12.0 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. Fresno State leads the WAC in field goal percentage defense allowing opponents to hit just 39.1 percent of their shots. They’re second in the league in points allowed per game giving up just 63.1 PPG.

Hawaii (7-6)

The week’s results:  12/25 L vs. St. Mary’s (CA) (Diamond Head Classic), 84-75; 12/29 W vs. Northwestern State, 81-62

Upcoming games:  01/03 vs. Idaho, 01/05 vs. Boise State

The Warriors hung tough with a very good St. Mary’s (CA) team losing by nine.  The Warriors rebounded with a win against Northwestern State winning handily by 19 points.  The Warriors have a great opportunity to make their mark early in league play with Idaho and Boise State coming in to the islands for the opening weekend of play.   Hawai’i is 7-5 at home this season and have won five of their last seven games after dropping four straight.  Dwain Williams leads the Warriors with 15.6 PPG.  Roderick Flemings is averaging 15.0 points and 6.5 rebounds per game.  Petras Balocka is averaging a double-double with 10.3 points and 10.1 rebounds per game and Hiram Thompson is averaging 10.1 points, 4.2 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game.

Idaho (7-4)

The week’s results:  12/29 W vs. Lewis-Clark State (in Boise, ID), 71-52

Upcoming games:  01/03 @ Hawai’i, 01/04 @ San Jose State

The Vandals have a tough task to start the conference season as they’ll face Hawai’i on January 3 and then turn around and play San Jose State on January 4.  The Vandals wrapped up non-conference play with a resounding victory over Lewis-Clark State 71-52.  The Vandals are just 2-4 on the road this season.  Mac Hopson leads the way for the Vandals with 13.0 points and 4.0 rebounds per game.  He is also averaging 4.5 assists per game.  Steffan Johnson is averaging 11.7 points, 3.1 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game.  Kashif Watson rounds out the double-digit scorers averaging 11.4 points and 3.5 rebounds per game.

Louisiana Tech (12-2)

The week’s results:  12/29 W @ Houston, 99-94

Upcoming games:  01/02 vs. Nevada, 01/04 vs. Utah State

The Bulldogs wrapped up non-conference play with an impressive 99-94 win over Houston to enter conference play with the best record in the league at 12-2.  The Bulldogs have a chance to back up their impressive non-conference record when they host the WAC preseason favorites in Nevada and Utah State.  Louisiana Tech is a perfect 5-0 at home while Nevada is 0-4 on the road and Utah State is 2-3 on the road.  The Bulldogs have five players averaging double-digits in scoring with Kyle Gibson leading the way at 21.6 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game.  Magnum Rolle is averaging 12.9 points and 8.4 rebounds per game, Olu Ashaolu is averaging a near double-double with 12.2 points and 9.4 rebounds per game.

Nevada (8-5)

The week’s results:  12/28 W vs. Portland, 78-69

Upcoming games:  01/02 @ Louisiana Tech, 01/04 @ NMSU

The Wolf Pack earned a solid 78-69 victory over Portland and will enter conference play at 9-4.  They travel to surprising Louisiana Tech and also surprising New Mexico State.  The Pack is 0-4 on the road this season.  Nevada is the league’s highest scoring team at 82.9 PPG.  They’re led by sophomore sensation Luke Babbitt who is averaging 19.8 points and 9.5 rebounds per game.  Armon Johnson is averaging 17.0 points, 3.5 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game.  The big question for the Wolf Pack is how will their team hold up through what promises to be a wide open conference schedule.  The Pack essentially are getting all their production from just six players.

New Mexico State (7-6)

The week’s results:  12/28 W vs. Prairie View A&M, 95-76

Upcoming games:  01/02 vs. Utah State, 01/04 vs. Nevada

The Aggies wrapped up non-conference play with a 19 point victory over Prairie View A&M and are on a four game win streak heading into conference play.  The Aggies are above .500 for the first time this season and after a somewhat rocky non-conference portion of the season they have a chance to flex some muscle in the first two games.  The Aggies host the two league favorites in Utah State and Nevada in the opening weekend and both games will be nationally televised on ESPNU.  The Aggies are 5-2 at home this season.  Jahmar Young leads the team in scoring averaging 20.5 points and 4.1 rebounds per game.  Mid-season addition Wendell McKines has made his presence felt and is already averaging a double-double with 16.0 points and 10.7 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game.   Hamidu Rahman is averaging 12.4 points and 9.3 rebounds per game but is coming off an ankle injury that sidelined him in their game against Texas Southern.

San Jose State (7-5)

The week’s results:  12/28 W vs. UC-Irvine, 78-68

Upcoming games:  01/04 vs. Idaho

The Spartans will enter league play on a two game win streak after defeating UC-Irvine 78-68.  The Spartans will open up league play at home against Idaho.  The Spartans are 4-1 at home this season.  Adrian Oliver leads the way for SJSU averaging 20.7 points and 6.6 rebounds per game.  Big man Chris Oakes is averaging 9.8 points and 10.6 rebounds per game while fellow big C.J. Webster is averaging 9.1 points and 6.1 rebounds per game.

Utah State (10-4)

The week’s results:  12/29 W vs. Western Oregon, 78-42

Upcoming games:  01/02 @ NMSU, 01/04 @ Louisiana Tech

The Aggies handled their business against Western Oregon winning 78-42 in a blowout.  Utah State enters league play on a four game win streak but will take to the road to open conference play.  The Aggies will face the southern Aggies to open up league play.   Utah State is just 2-3 on the road this season.  After a trip to Las Cruces the Aggies will head to Ruston to face the surprising Louisiana Tech Bulldogs.  The UtAgs were picked to win the league by both the coaches and the media and will be looking to get at least a road split to get things off on the right foot.  The Aggies rarely lose at home and if they can split their road conference games and win all their home games, they have a great chance to wrap up the league’s regular season title for the second straight year.  Utah State is led by reigning WAC Player of the Week Tai Wesley who is averaging 14.0 points and 6.7 rebounds per game.  Point guard Jared Quayle is averaging 12.4 points and 6.3 rebounds per game to go along with 4.5 assists per game.   The Aggies will get forward Nate Bendall back from a scary situation.  Bendall is averaging 11.3 points and 6.8 rebounds per game but was sidelined briefly after having a cardiac ablation last Wednesday and having ‘minor surgery’ to repair an atrial flutter.  The Aggies expect Bendall to suit up and start against New Mexico State on Saturday.

UPCOMING GAMES

  • 01/02 – Fresno State vs. Boise State – 7:00 p.m. PT
  • 01/02 – Hawai’i vs. Idaho – 7:00 p.m. HT (KFVE Hawai’i)
  • 01/02 – Louisiana Tech vs. Nevada – 7:00 p.m. CT (Comcast Sports Net California)
  • 01/02 – New Mexico State vs. Utah State – 9:00 p.m. MT (ESPNU)
  • 01/04 – Hawai’i vs. Boise State – 7:00 p.m. HT (KFVE Hawai’i, KTVB Boise)
  • 01/04 – San Jose State vs. Idaho – 7:00 p.m. PT
  • 01/04 – Louisiana Tech vs. Utah State – 7:00 p.m. CT
  • 01/04 – New Mexico State vs. Nevada – 9:00 p.m. MT (ESPNU)
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Checking in on… the WAC

Posted by rtmsf on December 26th, 2009

Sam Wasson of bleedCrimson.net and Travis Mason-Bushman of Vandal Nation are the RTC correspondents for the Western Athletic Conference.

CURRENT STANDINGS:

  1. Louisiana Tech (11-2)
  2. Utah State (9-4)
  3. Boise State (8-4)
  4. Idaho (6-4)
  5. Nevada (7-5)
  6. Hawai’i (6-6)
  7. San Jose State (6-5)
  8. New Mexico State (6-6)
  9. Fresno State (6-7)

The WAC has picked up a little steam in the non-conference now that they have finished facing the tougher opponents and has a non-conference record of 65-42.  In the past week of play it posted a 17-7 record in non-conference play.  Unfortunately the league had plenty of wasted opportunities to notch RPI-boosting wins and as a result the highest rated team in the RPI is Louisiana Tech at #69 and they are the only team with a Top 100 RPI.  Nevada is the next closest at #102.  With most of the team wrapping up their non-conference play in the next week against weak opponents, the league as a whole is the 14th rated league according to conference RPI, much lower than they had hoped for heading into the season and even behind the Colonial Athletic, Conference USA, West Coast Conference and Horizon League and just ahead of the Mid-American and Big Sky.

Boise State (5-4)

The week’s results:  12/19 W vs. Houston Baptist, 96-59, 12/21 W vs. Portland State, 69-62, 12/23 W vs. Montana State, 58-56

Upcoming games:  12/29 vs. Northwest Nazarene

Ike Okoye leads the Broncos nearly averaging a double-double with 14.1 points and 9.0 rebounds per game.  La’Shard Anderson is averaging 12.1 points per game.  Two other Broncos are averaging double-digits in scoring as Robert Arnold is averaging 11.0 points per game and Kurt Cunningham is averaging 10 points per game for the Broncos.

The Broncos are riding a three game winning streak and should make it four in a row before they head into league play on the road.  Boise State notched wins over Houston Baptist and then took down a pair of Big Sky opponents in Portland State and Montana State.  The Broncos host Northwest Nazarene on Tuesday, December 29.

Fresno State (6-7)

The week’s results:  12/19 W vs. North Dakota State, 68-54, 12/21 L @ Montana, 59-56, 12/23 L @ Oregon State, 73-65

Upcoming games:  12/28 vs. Colorado State

The Bulldogs have lost two in a row to drop below .500 on the season after losses at Montana and Oregon State.  The Bulldogs came up three points shy versus the Grizzlies in Missoula in a  game that was tied at halftime.  Fresno State led until 2:47 left in the game and trailed by one point with 41 seconds left but Montana’s Anthony Johnson drained a foul-line jumper to give the Grizzlies a three point lead.  Paul George scored 28 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the game but it was not quite enough.  Against Oregon State the Bulldogs led 4-2 early on but after a 9-0 run by the Beavers, the Bulldogs trailed the rest of the game.  Paul George once again led the Bulldogs scoring 15 points and grabbing nine rebounds.  George is averaging 17.4 points and 8.2 rebounds per game this season.  Sylvester Seay is averaging 15.6 points and 5.5 rebounds while Greg Smith is averaging 11.5 points and 6.6 points per game.

The Bulldogs wrap up non-conference play at home against Colorado State on Monday, December 28.

Hawaii (6-5)

The week’s results:  12/22 W vs. College of Charleston (Diamond Head Classic), 84-71, 12/23 L vs. No. 20 UNLV (Diamond Head Classic), 77-53,  12/25 L vs. St. Mary’s (Diamond Head Classic), 84-75.

Upcoming games:  12/29 vs. Northwestern State

The Warriors picked up a solid win over College of Charleston in the Diamond Head Classic but were overmatched against No. 20 UNLV falling 77-53 and St. Mary’s on Christmas Day.  The Warriors will close out non-conference play against Northwestern State.

Roderick Flemings is averaging 15.0 points and 6.5 rebounds for the Warriors.  Petras Balocka is averaging a double-double with 10.4 points and 10.1 rebounds per game.  Dwain Williams and Hiram Thompson are both averaging double-digits in scoring with Williams at 12.0 points per game and Thompson at 10.2 points per game.

Idaho (6-4)

The week’s results:  12/22 L @ Portland, 82-52

Upcoming games:  12/29 vs. Lewis-Clark State (in Boise, ID)

The Vandals started the non-conference season with an impressive 94-87 win over Utah in Salt Lake City.  However, they ended the non-conference season with a disastrous 30-point loss to Portland.  Portland’s Jared Stohl torched the Vandals for 30 points on a school-record 10 threes.  Not helping the cause were the Vandals’ awful free throw shooting, 12-of-29 (41.4 percent) and they hit just 2-of-11 three point attempts.  Mac Hopson led the Vandals with 15 points while Marvin Jefferson pulled won eight rebounds.  The Vandals have a lengthy layoff to think about their last loss before they start conference play.  Idaho has a 12-day layoff before facing Hawai’i on the islands on January 3, 2010.

Louisiana Tech (11-2)

The week’s results:  12/19 W vs. McNeese State, 87-81, 12/22 W vs. UT-Pan American, 79-58

Upcoming games: 12/29 @ Houston

The Bulldogs continued their impressive play with a pair of victories over McNeese State and UT-Pan American.  The Bulldogs have one final non-conference test against Houston.  Louisiana Tech continues to have five players averaging double-digits in scoring and are led by Kyle Gibson who is averaging 21.1 points per game.  Two Bulldogs are nearly averaging double-doubles as Olu Ashaolu is averaging 11.8 points and 8.5 rebounds per game and Magnum Rolle is averaging 11.7 points and 8.2 rebounds per game.

Nevada (7-5)

The week’s results:  12/19 W vs. Wagner, 74-61, 12/22 L vs. BYU (Las Vegas Classic), 110-104, 12/23 W vs. Tulsa (Las Vegas Classic), 99-68

Upcoming games:  12/28 vs. Portland

The Wolf Pack lost a shootout with the BYU Cougars in the Las Vegas Classic, 110-104.  The Pack led 50-46 at the half but BYU scored 64 points in the second half to erase the halftime deficit.  BYU’s Jimmer Fredette scored 33 points and dished out six assists and had three steals.  Armon Johnson nearly matched Fredette’s production for the Wolf Pack with 30 points and five assists.  Luke Babbitt scored 20 points and grabbed six rebounds for the Wolf Pack as well.  Nevada rebounded from the loss with a convincing 99-68 victory over Tulsa.  Luke Babbitt led the way for the Wolf Pack with 24 points and 11 rebounds.  Dario Hunt and Armon Johnson each chipped in 17 points as the Wolf Pack shot 56 percent (36-of-64) from the field for the game.

The Wolf Pack wrap up non-conference play against Portland on Monday, December 28.

New Mexico State (6-6)

The week’s results:  12/18 W @ Pepperdine, 78-72, 12/21 W vs. Alcorn State, 97-72, 12/23 W vs. Texas Southern, 79-75

Upcoming games:  12/28 vs. Prairie View A&M

The Aggies and head coach Marvin Menzies are on a three game winning streak but the bigger news for the squad is that they received a much needed boost in depth when is was announced that junior forward Wendell McKines was declared academically eligible and cleared to play with the team the rest of the season.  McKines suited up for the first time this season against Alcorn State, a 97-72 Aggie victory.  McKines scored eight points, grabbed eight rebounds and dished out six assists. However, his presence was much more noticeable in the Aggies’ 79-75 victory over a pesky Texas Southern squad.  The Aggies played without starting center Hamidu Rahman who is averaging 12.3 points and 9.3 rebounds per game.  McKines stepped up and scored 18 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and dished out another six assists as the Aggies avoided the upset against Texas Southern.

The Aggies host one final non-conference game at home versus Prairie View A&M as they try to push their record over .500 for the first time all season.

San Jose State (6-5)

The week’s results:  12/18 W @ UC-Irvine, 69-56, 12/21 L @ Northern Colorado, 93-69, 12/23 W @ Santa Clara, 74-68

Upcoming games:  12/28 vs. UC-Irvine

After a week without playing the Spartans took to the road for a three-game swing and came away with a 2-1 record.  The Spartans picked up a 69-56 victory over UC-Irvine but then traveled to Greeley, CO, and got whacked by Northern Colorado.  The Bears’ hit 18 three pointers en route the victory over the visiting Spartans.  SJSU rebounded with a solid 74-68 win at Santa Clara. The Spartans will wrap up their non-conference schedule with a return game from UC-Irvine as the Spartans try to sweep the Anteaters.

The Spartans have three players averaging double-digits in scoring as they’re led by Adrian Oliver at 19.9 points per game. Chris Oakes is averaging a double-double scoring 10.3 points and grabbing 11.4 rebounds per game and Justin Graham is averaging 10.4 points and 4.3 assists per game.

Utah State (9-4)

The week’s results:  12/18 L @ Long Beach State, 75-62, 12/21 W vs. Morehead State, 79-72, 12/22 W vs. Cal State-Fullerton, 83-60, 12/23 W vs. Weber State, 85-73

Upcoming games:  12/29 vs. Western Oregon

The Aggies should head into conference play on a four game winning streak.  After dropping a tough game at Long Beach State, the Aggies rebounded with three consecutive home wins versus Morehead State, Cal State-Fullerton and Weber State.  The Aggies’ game against Weber State pitted Stew Morrill against former assistant Randy Rahe.  It was the Aggies’ second win over Weber State this season and it earned them the Old Oquirrh Bucket which is awarded for basketball supremacy in the state of Utah each season.  The Aggies finished with a 5-1 record against their in-state rivals with their lone loss coming to BYU.

The Aggies have one final non-conference game versus Western Oregon before heading on the road to start WAC play.  Utah State has three players averaging double-digits in scoring and are led by Tai Wesley who is averaging 14.0 points and 6.8 rebounds per game.  Jared Quayle is averaging 12.0 points and 6.4 rebounds per game while Nate Bendall is averaging 11.3 points and 6.8 rebounds per game.

UPCOMING GAMES OF INTEREST:

  • 12/28 – San Jose State vs. UC-Irvine – 7:00 P.M. PT
  • 12/28 – Nevada vs. Portland – 7:00 P.M PT
  • 12/28 – Fresno State vs. Colorado State – 7:00 P.M. PT
  • 12/29 – Louisiana Tech at Houston – 7:00 P.M. CT
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Checking in on… the WAC

Posted by jstevrtc on December 18th, 2009

checkinginon

Sam Wasson of bleedCrimson.net and Travis Mason-Bushman of Vandal Nation are the RTC correspondents for the Western Athletic Conference.

CURRENT STANDINGS:

  1. Louisiana Tech (9-2)
  2. Idaho (6-3)
  3. Utah State (6-3)
  4. Boise State (5-4)
  5. Nevada (5-4)
  6. Hawai’i (5-4)
  7. Fresno State (5-5)
  8. San Jose State (4-4)
  9. New Mexico State (3-6)

Louisiana Tech continues to lead the league after posting a pair of victories.  Utah State notched a pair of victories while Idaho narrowly escaped NAIA opponent Eastern Oregon.  Hawai’i picked up a victory over visiting Chicago State to break over the .500 mark.  In all, eight of the nine teams now stand at .500 or better with the lone outcast residing in Las Cruces, N.M.  The league now sports a 48-35 record as the teams head down the final stretch towards conference play.

Boise State (5-4)

The week’s results:  12/12 L vs. San Diego, 59-56

Upcoming games:  12/19 vs. Houston Baptist; 12/21 vs. Portland State; 12/23 vs. Montana State

The Broncos “spit the bit” against the visiting Toreros from San Diego as Boise State held a 27-19 halftime lead but lost 59-56 as the Toreros hit their fifth three pointer of the second half to steal the victory.  Free throw shooting aided the Bronco demise as the team hit just 13-of-21 attempts in the game (61.9%).

The Broncos have a chance to generate some good momentum heading into conference play as they host three more at home before Christmas.

Fresno State (5-5)

The week’s results:  12/12 L vs. BYU, 72-67; 12/17 W vs. UC-Davis, 68-57

Upcoming games:  12/19 vs. North Dakota State; 12/21 @ Montana; 12/23 @ Oregon State

The Bulldogs split a pair of games last week falling narrowly to BYU, 72-67, in a game that BYU led 58-41 midway through the second half. Greg Smith led the way for the Bulldogs in that game with 21 points and eight rebounds but the solid play of BYU’s Jimmer Fredette, and his 24 points and seven assists, was too much to overcome.  The Bulldogs bounced back with a 68-57 win over UC-Davis.  Mike Ladd scored 18 points and Smith added 17.  Paul George filled the stat sheet with 14 points, nine rebounds and six steals.  George and Sylvester Seay are averaging 17.3 and 17 PPG, respectively, while Smith has upped his scoring average to 12.3 PPG.

The Bulldogs also play three games before Christmas as they host North Dakota State and then take their show on the road to Montana and Oregon State.

Hawaii (5-4)

The week’s results:  12/13 W vs. Chicago State, 83-58

Upcoming games:  12/22 vs. College of Charleston (Diamond Head Classic); 12/23 vs. TBA (Diamond Head Classic); 12/25 vs. TBA (Diamond Head Classic)

The Warriors disposed of Chicago State 83-58 to improve their record to 5-4.  It’s the first time the Warriors have been above .500 all season and they’re currently on a three game winning streak.  Roderick Flemings led the way with 18 points and Petras Balocka returned from injury to post a 12 point and eight rebound performance.  The Warriors host the Dimaond Head Classic this coming week with a good lineup of teams coming to the islands including St. Marys (CA), Southern Cal, UNLV, Northeastern, Western Michigan, SMU, and College of Charleston.

Idaho (6-3)

The week’s results:  12/12 W vs. Eastern Oregon, 82-77

Upcoming games:  12/22 @ Portland

The Vandals squeaked by Eastern Oregon after leading by as many as 19 points early in the second half.  Mac Hopson and Marvin Jefferson helped the Vandals stave off the pesky Mountaineers.  The Vandals hit 55.1 percent of their shots from the field and shot 18 more free throws than Eastern Oregon (26 to 8 advantage) and had only 11 fouls called against them the entire game.

The Vandals will face Portland on the road on December 22, their final game before conference play.   The Vandals beat then 25th-ranked Portland 68-48 in Moscow on December 6.

Louisiana Tech (9-2)

The week’s results:  12/12 W @ Centenary, 102-96 (OT); 12/15 W vs. Murray State, 87-81

Upcoming games:  12/19 vs. McNeese State; 12/22 vs. UT-Pan American

The Bulldogs got a pair of victories last week as they held off Centenary 102-96 in overtime.  Kyle Gibson scored 28 points for the Bulldogs as they earned a road victory.  The Bulldogs followed that win up with a more impressive 87-81 home win over Murray State in the return game from last year’s ESPNU Bracketbusters matchup.  Jamel Guyton led the Bulldogs with 21 points as he finished the night going 5-for-6 from the field and 4-for-4 from beyond the three point arc.  The Bulldogs won last year’s game against Murray State as well.

The Bulldogs have five players averaging double figures in scoring.  Gibson averages 21.7 PPG, Guyton averages 13 PPG, Olu Ashaolu averages 12 PPG and 8.7 RPG, Magnum Rolle averages 11.1 PPG and 7.8 RPG and DeAndre Brown is averaging 10.5 PPG.

Nevada (5-4)

The week’s results:  12/12 W vs. South Dakota State, 92-72; 12/17 W vs. Eastern Washington, 73-70

Upcoming games:  12/19 vs. Wagner; 12/22 vs. BYU (Las Vegas Classic); 12/23 vs. Nebraska or Tulsa (Las Vegas Classic)

The Wolf Pack climbed back above .500 and are on a three-game winning streak after having suffered three consecutive losses.  The Wolf Pack scored a 20-point victory over South Dakota State as Brandon Fields led the way with 20 points.  Armon Johnson added 17 points and Luke Babbitt posted another double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds.  The Wolf Pack struggled a bit with Eastern Washington holding on for a 73-70 victory.  Babbitt scored 29 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead the way for the Wolf Pack.   He finished the night 10-of-18 from the field and 8-of-9 from the free throw stripe.  The Wolf Pack got virtually no production from their bench as they were outscored 31-4 by Eastern Washington’s bench.

Nevada will host one more home games in the coming week and hope to keep their perfect record at home (5-0) intact and then will face BYU and Nebraska or Tulsa in the Las Vegas Classic.

New Mexico State (3-6)

The week’s results:  12/13 W @ Texas-El Paso, 87-80; 12/15 L @ UCLA, 100-68

Upcoming games:  12/18 @ Pepperdine; 12/21 vs. Alcorn State; 12/23 vs. Texas Southern

The Aggies finally notched a victory in a rivalry game this season as they stunned previously undefeated UTEP 87-80 on UTEP’s home court.  The game saw the ejection of head coach Marvin Menzies midway through the first half of the game but assistant head coach Mick Durham rallied the troops and the Aggies battled from 11 points down in the second half to pull out the much-needed win.   For the second consecutive season the I-10 rivalry game played in El Paso was a heated one an in the past two games played at The Don Haskins Center the two teams have combined for nine technical fouls and two ejections (five technicals in 2008 and four in 2009 and one ejection in each game).  The Aggies couldn’t sustain the momentum as they were drilled by UCLA at Pauley Pavilion.   The Bruins put together their most complete game of the season and the Aggies were no match.  The team also received tough news as the two post players who sat out the first semester due to academic ineligibility, Wendell McKines and Troy Gillenwater, were declared ineligible for the second semester as well.  McKines and Gillenwater were both starters on last season’s team and both averaged over 10 PPG with McKines averaging a double-double last season, the only player in the league to do so.

The Aggies face Pepperdine on Friday and then return to Las Cruces to close out three non-conference games before the start of league play.

San Jose State (4-4)

The week’s results:  None

Upcoming games:  12/18 @ UC-Irvine; 12/21 @ Northern Colorado; 12/23 @ Santa Clara

The Spartans did not play any games in the past week but will make up for it with four non-conference games before the end of the New Year.  The Spartans will play the next three on the road as they travel to UC-Irvine, then to Northern Colorado and then back to California to play Santa Clara, all before Christmas.

Adrian Oliver leads the Spartans averaging 17.4 PPG and 6.0 RPG.  Justin Graham is averaging 10.5 PPG and 5.5 RPG and center Chris Oakes is averaging a double-double with 10.3 PPG and 11.4 RPG.

Utah State (6-3)

The week’s results:  12/12 W vs. Utah Valley, 87-56; 12/16 W @ Cal State-Bakersfield, 68-51

Upcoming games:  12/18 vs. Long Beach State; 12/21 vs. Morehead; 12/22 vs. Cal State-Fullerton; 12/23 vs. Weber State

The Aggies rebounded from their loss to St. Mary’s with back-to-back blowout wins.  The Aggies stomped in-state rival Utah Valley to re-establish the winning feeling at Dee Glenn Smith Arena and then went on the road and defeated Cal State-Bakerfield.   The Aggies had five players score in double-figures against Utah Valley.  Tai Wesley recorded a double-double against CS-Bakersfield scoring 15 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.

The Aggies wrap up their road non-conference slate against Long Beach State before returning home to host the Basketball Travelers Invitational.

UPCOMING GAMES OF INTEREST:

  • 12/18 – New Mexico State at Pepperdine – 7:30 P.M. PT
  • 12/18 – Utah State at Long Beach State – 7:00 P.M. PT
  • 12/18 – San Jose State at UC-Irvine – 7:00 P.M. PT
  • 12/19 – Fresno State vs. North Dakota State – 7:00 P.M. PT
  • 12/21 – Fresno State at Montana 7:00 P.M. MT
  • 12/21 – San Jose State at Northern Colorado – 7:30 P.M. MT
  • 12/22 – Nevada vs. BYU – 7:30 P.M. PT (ESPN Full Court)
  • 12/22 - Idaho at Portland – 7:00 P.M. PT
  • 12/22 – Utah State vs Cal State-Fullerton – 8:00 P.M. MT
  • 12/23 – Fresno State at Oregon State – 5:30 P.M. PT
  • 12/23 – San Jose State at Santa Clara – 7:00 P.M. PT
  • 12/23 – Nevada vs. Tulsa or Nebraska – TBA
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Checking in on… the WAC

Posted by jstevrtc on December 11th, 2009

checkinginon

Sam Wasson of bleedCrimson.net and Travis Mason-Bushman of Vandal Nation are the RTC correspondents for the Western Athletic Conference.

CURRENT STANDINGS:

  1. Louisiana Tech (7-2)
  2. Idaho (5-3)
  3. Boise State (5-3)
  4. Utah State (4-3)
  5. San Jose State (4-4)
  6. Fresno State (4-4)
  7. Hawai’i (4-4)
  8. Nevada (3-4)
  9. New Mexico State (2-5)

Mediocrity continues for the WAC as the league came up largely empty against the toughest competition they faced this week and they now stand 38-32 in non-conference play.  Last week we talked about eight games and eight chances earn RPI boosting victories for the league.  The end result of those eight games was a 2-6 record.  Boise State lost to Illinois, New Mexico State was thumped by New Mexico, St. Mary’s snapped Utah State’s 37-game home winning streak, Pacific was snakebitten at Pacific, Idaho rocked then No. 25 Portland but got crushed on the road by Washington State, Louisiana Tech lost at Arizona and Fresno State knocked off San Diego.

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Checking In On… the WAC

Posted by jstevrtc on December 3rd, 2009

checkinginon

Sam Wasson of bleedCrimson.net and Travis Mason-Bushman of Vandal Nation are the RTC correspondents for the Western Athletic Conference.

CURRENT STANDINGS:

  1. Louisiana Tech (6-1)
  2. Idaho (4-1)
  3. Boise State (4-2)
  4. Utah State (4-2)
  5. Nevada (2-3)
  6. San Jose State (2-3)
  7. Fresno State (2-4)
  8. Hawai’i (2-4)
  9. New Mexico State (2-4)

The WAC finally got another win over the Mountain West as Utah State struck down BYU, 71-61, in Logan, UT.  The league is now just 3-8 against the Mountain West.  As for the rest of the WAC?  The non-conference has been unkind. The top four teams in the standings are 18-6 in non-conference play.  The other five teams, however, are just 10-18 and the league as a collective whole is just 28-24.  Aside from Idaho’s win over Utah (3-4)  — which is has lost some of its luster following Utah losses to Seattle and Weber State — Utah State’s win over BYU (5-1), and San Jose State’s win over Pacific (5-1), the marquee wins have not been there.  Nevada came oh-so-close last week as they fell to VCU 85-76 and hung tough with defending national champion North Carolina 80-73, but the league went 7-8 over the past seven days.

The WAC, however, can redeem itself as it prepares for perhaps its toughest week of non-conference play.  Boise State travels to Illinois (5-2), New Mexico State travels to New Mexico (7-0), Utah State hosts St. Mary’s (5-1), Nevada travels to Pacific (5-1), Fresno State hosts San Diego (4-3), Idaho hosts #25 Portland (5-2) and then faces border rival Washington State (6-1), and Louisiana Tech heads to Arizona (3-3).  Eight games, eight chances to notch RPI-boosting victories.

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RTC 2009-10 Impact Players – Southwest Region

Posted by rtmsf on October 30th, 2009

impactplayers

Ed. Note: the previous posts in this series (Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Atlantic South, Deep South, Mid-South, Lower Midwest, Upper Midwest and Mountains) are located here.

It’s time for the ninth installment of our RTC 2009-10 Impact Players series, the group of hot, dry, desert-y states known as the Southwest Region.   Each week we’ll pick a geographic area of the country and break down the five players who we feel will have the most impact on their teams (and by the transitive property, college basketball) this season.  Our criteria is once again subjective – there are so many good players in every region of the country that it’s difficult to narrow them down to only five  in each – but we feel at the end of this exercise that we’ll have discussed nearly every player of major impact in the nation.  Just to be fair and to make this not too high-major-centric, we’re also going to pick a mid-major impact player in each region as our sixth man.  We welcome you guys, our faithful and very knowledgeable readers, to critique us in the comments where we left players off.  The only request is that you provide an argument – why will your choice be more influential this season than those we chose?

Southwest Region (NM, AZ, NV, HI, southern CA)

sw_impact_players_v.2

  • Rihards Kuksiks – F, Jr – Arizona State. Advice to Pac-10 coaches writing up their scouting reports for when they go up against Arizona State this season: when Rihards Kuksiks enters the building, get a man on him. Don’t bother waiting until the game actually starts. You don’t want him getting comfortable, because he’s the kind of shooter who can change a game just that quickly. The guy can touch the ball a few times and the next thing you know you’re down nine before the first TV timeout. Or you get a little comfortable with your late-game lead and after Kuksiks gets a couple of touches the lead is gone and you’re wondering how time can tick so slowly. You want numbers? Fine. Kuksiks is third in terms of returning individual leaders in 3-point field goal percentage (44.3%) in the country among players who hit at least two threes a game and finished 8th in that category last year. A recent article on FoxSports.com by Jeff Goodman reveals some other incredible stats: in games decided by 2 points or less, Kuksiks shot 47% from behind the 3-point line; against ranked opponents he shot 46% from beyond the arc, and in the loss to Syracuse in the NCAA Tournament’s second round last year, he put up his career high in points with 20, with 18 of those coming from long range. In other words, the man steps up during big games. If the numbers don’t interest you, then consider the fact that many of these threes are not from a hair behind the line. They are often from distance. And they are often clutch (ask Arizona about a couple of late ones he nailed in that February game last year). Most importantly, watch the form. It should be an instructional video. He gets good height on his jumper but doesn’t overdo it, and you can see how he gets his legs into the shot. He releases the ball out in front just a little bit, but then the follow-through is a perfect example of that “reach into the cookie jar” that basketball coaches start teaching kids from the moment they can lift a basketball. By the way, he’s 6’6 and more than happy to mix it up in the paint, if needed. My favorite bit about Kuksiks comes from an interview he did for a site called EuropeanProspects.com in which he was asked what kind of player he was. The first words out of his mouth? “I am a sharpshooter.”  This is confidence, not cockiness, from the big man from Riga, Latvia. But I think it’s just fine if there actually is a little cockiness there. Long-range shooters are like neurosurgeons. They’re often asked to do the most difficult things in their field…and if I get to the point where I need to depend on one, I want them a little bit cocky.

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RTC 2009-10 Top 65 Games: February/March (Part One)

Posted by zhayes9 on October 25th, 2009

seasonpreview

The final two-part edition of our Top 65 games delves into the exciting stretch run of the final five weeks. These highlighted games should have tremendous implications on seeding and conference standings with heated rivals doing battle in the final push towards March Madness. Here’s a preview of what’s guaranteed to be the best slate of games 2009-10 has to offer (top games of November/December and January in case you missed it):

Note: we are not including projected matchups from the preseason tournaments in these 65 games because those will be analyzed separately.

February 1- Texas @ Oklahoma State (#33 overall)- Hard to imagine you won’t see plenty of scoring in this Big 12 clash. The point guard situation is a bit dicey in Stillwater with Byron Eaton’s departure, but Travis Ford loves to run and James Anderson can score with the best. Expect this to be one of the toughest tests for Texas in their pursuit of a regular season Big 12 title.

February 6- Texas @ Oklahoma (#25 overall)- This could very well be another test. Two freshmen will have to fill major roles for Jeff Capel’s squad with Tommy Mason-Griffin helping out Willie Warren in the backcourt and Tiny Gallon bulldozing opponents in the paint with Blake Griffin in LA. It’s entirely possible defensive stud Avery Bradley could earn the job of trying to lock down the quick Warren.

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February 6- Villanova @ Georgetown (#31 overall)- A Big East clash in February between two teams that have top-three aspirations in the conference. The point guard duel is a dandy with Chris Wright of the Hoyas matched up with Scottie Reynolds of the Wildcats. This should prove a worthy test for Villanova’s thin frontline trying to contain Greg Monroe, Hollis Thompson and Henry Sims.

February 6- Michigan State @ Illinois (#37 overall)- The orange-clad students right on top of the floor will be out in full force to support their Illini in hopes of knocking off the loaded Spartans. With Chester Frazier departed, it could be the freshman guard D.J. Richardson trying to contain potential All-American Kalin Lucas. There’s some tremendous outside shooting in this one from State’s Durrell Summers to the Illini’s Demetri McCamey.

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