Did the Mountain West Just Cannibalize the WAC?

Posted by rtmsf on August 19th, 2010

Andrew Murawa is the RTC correspondent for the Mountain West and Pac-10 Conferences and an occasional contributor.

Just a few hours ago, the Mountain West Conference was being left for dead. BYU was on its way to football independence and a WAC address for the rest of its sports, Boise State was potentially considering changing its mind about a move to the MWC, and we were contemplating a landscape in college athletics without the MWC, inarguably the most successful football non-BCS conference and also one of the most successful non-BCS basketball conferences. But MWC commissioner Craig Thompson was able to get quick agreements from Fresno State and Nevada to leave the WAC and join the MWC possibly beginning in 2011, although it could be pushed back to 2012 for financial considerations.

Thompson May Have Just Saved His League

The status of BYU is still somewhat in doubt as no official announcement regarding their future has been made. As of now, according to Thompson, “BYU is a member of the Mountain West Conference.” Given that the WAC is now comprised of just six teams, it is possible that BYU may reconsider and remain in the MWC as if nothing happened. Certainly the MWC would take them back without a second thought. Or, if BYU is still set on independence for its football program, it may look into the WCC as a potential home for it non-football teams.

Earlier in the day, it had been reported that all the schools in the WAC had last week signed a five-year agreement to remain in the WAC with a $5 million buyout penalty for leaving, and, as it turns out, it was BYU who instigated the buyout, hoping it was assuring a safe landing place for the Cougar non-football sports when they left the MWC. However, it turns out that Nevada never signed the agreement, although they did verbally agree to it, so they will have to pay some sort of exit fee, with the $5 million being the ceiling. However, if the WAC ceases to exist (a distinct possibility), it is possible that both Fresno State, who apparently signed the agreement, and Nevada will not have to pay the buyout penalty at all. If they wind up having to pay fees to the WAC for leaving, the MWC will aid those schools in paying their buyout penalties. According to Thompson, “We’re not going to bankrupt them to come into the Mountain West Conference.”

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BYU Sets Off New Wave of Realignment Positioning

Posted by rtmsf on August 18th, 2010

Andrew Murawa is the RTC correspondent for the Mountain West and Pac-10 Conferences and an occasional contributor. 

The Who, What, When, Where and Why

Just when you thought we were done with conference realignment talk, at least for the summer, out of nowhere comes a stunner that rocks the Mountain West Conference and could set in motion a new chain of events that could leave us without what had turned into arguably the best non-BCS conference in the nation.  No official announcement has been made, but as of mid-day on Wednesday, it seemed that BYU would leave the MWC beginning in 2011, play football as an independent and join up with the WAC for all other sports. The Salt Lake Tribune has reported the move as a “done deal,” pending approval by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the owner of the school.  However, the Mountain West, fighting for its life, immediately responded by officially inviting Fresno State and Nevada to join the conference, invitations which, if accepted, would pretty much cripple the WAC before BYU even arrived, and perhaps forcing BYU to reconsider the wisdom of such a move.

Maybe BYU Can After All?

BYU has been displeased with the television revenues associated with the Mountain West Conference and their dedicated cable television network, The Mountain, estimated to be somewhere around $2 million last season for football only. Comparatively, Utah, which just received and accepted in June an invitation to join the Pac-10, is expected to take home somewhere north of $15 million a season in football television revenues when it begins play in that league  in 2011. BYU was apparently shocked that it was passed over when the Pac-10 expanded, and shocked again when the Big 12 passed on inviting the school as well, so it began exploring the possibility of taking the matter into its own hands.

BYU already has its own television network, and athletic director Tom Holmoe notes that it has its own state-of-the-art broadcast facility and equipment, including their own HD production truck.  “There is nothing better than that west of the Mississippi. Nothing. For broadcasting,” said Holmoe at a meeting with reports on the BYU campus on July 16, according to Jay Drew of the Salt Lake Tribune. “And it is first class. The things that we can do with that, the opportunities and possibilities. Nobody in the country has that ability.” Aside from the prospect of broadcasting their own games, BYU is reportedly in negotiations with ESPN for its football rights.

Is the Mountain West Kaput?

The invitations issued by the MWC to Fresno State and Nevada make a lot of sense in not only strengthening the MWC but also perhaps killing the BYU defection before it starts.  The specifics of these invitations still need to be sorted out, as the MWC has a couple of things going against it:  (1) the remaining WAC schools reportedly signed an agreement just last week that imposes a $5 million buyout penalty on any school leaving the conference in the next five years; and, (2) the WAC has a television contract with ESPN that may be more attractive (if presently slightly less financially rewarding) than The Mountain. It is unknown at this time whether the MWC in the interest of self-preservation has attempted to sweeten the pot for Fresno State and Nevada by potentially ponying up some cash to pay their buyout fees or if other machinations are in the works. It had been reported earlier in the day that Fresno State and Nevada had already declined offers to join the MWC.

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Texas Standoff Ends With Survival of the Big 12, er, 10…

Posted by rtmsf on June 14th, 2010

Andrew Murawa is the RTC correspondent for the Pac-10 and the Mountain West conferences and an occasional contributor.

The Big 12 went all the way to the brink, peered over the other side into non-existence, and then veered away from the white light at the last minute. The patient is now resting comfortably in Austin, although it has lost a little weight.

After last week’s rumors that the University of Texas was all but signed up to head to the Pac-10, bringing Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, and potentially Texas A&M or Kansas along for the ride, Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe pulled off perhaps the biggest longshot in the college sports year, reportedly in conjunction with an influential group of concerned citizens both within and outside of the world of college athletics, pulling Texas back from the brink with promises of SEC-type money and an ability for the Longhorns to start their own television network, the revenues of which they’ll be able to keep all for themselves. And, just as a little bonus, the remaining ten Big 12 schools (yes, it appears that for the near future, the Big 12 will have ten schools and the Big Ten twelve) will get to split the nearly $20 million in buyout penalties that Colorado and Nebraska must pay for leaving the conference. Maybe Christian Laettner’s shot and Doug Flutie’s pass were more exciting to watch, but Beebe’s last chance attempt at holding the Big 12 together will have a much larger long-term impact on the college sports landscape.

The Most Powerful Athletic Program in College Sports

Texas

The biggest winner here is Texas, on several fronts. According to Beebe’s projections, the Big 12’s next television deal coupled with projected income from a Longhorn television network could provide the university with between $20-$25 million annually, a marked increase from the estimated $10-$11 million they are currently generating.  And, the Longhorns get to remain in a conference with its historic rivals, many of whom were either in the position a few days ago of  doing whatever Texas decided it was going to do, or being left behind if Texas did leave. While the Big 12 was already painted as Texas and the 11 dwarfs before the last week, that image has been cemented in everyone’s minds now. Clearly that will be just another useful recruiting tool for Texas athletics.

Texas A&M

The Aggies come across as the only school in the Big 12 whose leaders were able to think of themselves in a way other than their relationship to Texas. If Texas had made the decision to head west, A&M was already well on its way to paving its own road to the SEC. Whereas before this mess, most would have pointed at Oklahoma or maybe Nebraska as the strong number two program to the Longhorn Ace, Texas A&M went a long way this week toward establishing their own identity. And then, of course, at the last minute the Aggies blinked. Fortunately for them, big daddy Texas still had their backs.

The Little Twelve

So what happens to the conference as a whole? It gets significantly richer, while being in the excellent position of dividing up a bigger pie up into fewer pieces. Beebe’s number should certainly be retired, and any time that he shows up at a Big 12 sporting event for the rest of his lifetime, they should roll out the red carpet for him, sit him down at a nice courtside throne and pay off a few cheerleaders to fan him with feathers and feed him grapes. Iowa State in particular was certainly on the verge of relegation to a mid-major program with Baylor likely not far behind. Missouri’s administrators, who not long ago talked of their involvement in the Big 12 in the past tense, have been saved as well from peddling their wares on the street corner. Kansas and its pre-eminent basketball program has been spared the indignity of either playing out of region in the Big East or asking for shelter from the Mountain West. And all these longtime rivals (or at least most of them) get to continue beating each other up on the playing field. Without a doubt, the 2010-11 season has just taken on some added significance.

Beyond all that, there are the details. First, is this league still the Big 12? We’ve put up with the Big Eleven still calling themselves the Big Ten if only because they were sorta old and quaint, perhaps a little senile, and who could blame them if they couldn’t count anymore. Sure the Atlantic 10 has 14 members, but the Atlantic 14 sounds like a really bad sequel to Ocean’s Eleven. But we really can’t have the Big 12 operating with ten members (assuming they actually stay at ten – more on that in a second), still calling itself the Big 12, can we? The easy solution is to just have the Big Ten and Big 12 swap logos, but something tells me we’re stuck with these names.

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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Paul George

Posted by rtmsf on June 13th, 2010

Over the course of the next month until the NBA Draft on June 24, RTC will be rolling out comprehensive profiles of the 30-35 collegians we feel have the best chance to hear their names called by David Stern in the first round that night.  There won’t be any particular order to the list, but you can scroll back through all the finished profiles by clicking here.

Player Name: Paul George

School: Fresno State

Height/Weight: 6’9, 215

NBA Position: Small Forward

Projected Draft Range: Late lottery

Overview: To the casual fan, Paul George may be the least recognizable potential lottery pick, having spent his two collegiate seasons in relative obscurity on bad teams at Fresno State.  National television appearances were few and far between, but when George’s Bulldogs found their way onto ESPN, he made the best of it.  Last season George did a little bit of everything for the Bulldogs, averaging 16.8 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 3.0 APG and 2.2 SPG while hitting 91% of this free throws in 33 minutes per game.  Still, he rarely faced elite defenders in the WAC so there is some lingering concern over the quality of competition he was doing it against, but the general feeling is that his athletic gifts and skill set are such that he will learn to excel against any defense.   The key question that draftniks have about George is whether his potential and upside are worth the risk of taking him with a lottery pick, and it appears as we get closer to draft day that several teams are more than willing to give him a shot.

George's Athleticism is Eye-Popping

Will Translate to the NBA:  George’s ridiculous athleticism, nearly seven-foot wingspan and astonishing leaping ability are attributes that will serve him very well at the small forward position in the NBA.  He can get to the rim and finish over and through defenders when necessary.  He also has exceptional range on his jumper — well beyond the college three-point line — although he can sometimes rely too much on this shot given his athleticism (43% of his field goal attempts were from distance in his two-year career).  There are quite a few swing players vying for a minutes at the next level who can run and jump like George, but not many can also shoot the ball with consistency.  He has had a tendency to take poor shots on occasion, but George will likely cut down on his chucker mentality when he realizes that he will not need to be the primary scoring threat in the NBA.

Needs Work: The areas of George’s game that need the most work are his sometimes sloppy handling of the ball (nearly three turnovers per game) and a lack of defensive intensity (especially considering his physical tools).  These are manageable problems that can be improved upon with repetition and improved focus during game action, but they’re also the type of mistakes that will get him pulled from the game quickly at the next level.  We imagine that some of this derives from being the star offensive player on a bad team and is correctable through management of his minutes and improved basketball IQ.  In other words, coaching.

Comparison Players: Reliable small forwards who can shoot from distance like Trevor Ariza, Danny Granger and Rudy Gay are several of the more popular comparisons we’re hearing.  George is probably a bit more athletic than those players so if he can shore up his handle and improve his shot selection, these are reasonable target players for him.  Should he not improve on his deficiencies, though, then Dorell Wright may be a more apt comparison over the long run.

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Some Notes from the Mountain West & WAC Tourneys

Posted by rtmsf on March 12th, 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 games.

Mountain West Tournament Quarters

  • After a long day and a drive from Los Angeles, I got into the Thomas & Mack Center to see TCU down only four to BYU just about halfway through the second half. Just a couple of minutes later, the Cougars had extended the lead to double figures and the only intrigue left was how much Jimmer Fredette would score. TCU threw everything they had at him, including sophomore point guard Ronnie Moss just wrapping his arms around Fredette’s waist at times, but it was no use. Fredette did it every way: deep threes, pull-up jumpers, taking it to the hole and, of course, hitting 23 of his whopping 24 free throw attempts on his way to 45 points (a MWC Tournament record), including 30 in the second half. And, if that weren’t enough, he added six assists as well.
  • Inside of a minute into the UNLV/Utah game, it was obvious it was going to be a physical game. Both teams tried to exploit the other teams inside, and Utah did so to the tune of 36 free throw attempts (of which they made 31). But if the Utes weren’t getting to the line, they were building a chimney; they made just 13 of their 40 field goal attempts, mostly because UNLV defenders were in their faces constantly.
  • It’s been said before I’m sure, so you won’t mind if I say it again: UNLV getting to play this tournament on their home court every year is a huge advantage. While there were pockets of Utah fans, this was little different than a UNLV home game.
  • After the Utes got three unanswered threes (by Marshall Henderson, Luka Drca and Chris Hines) wrapped around a David Foster rejection to cut what was a 13-point Rebel lead to just four at the half, the start of the second half was electric in the arena. But an early 12-3 run by the Rebels broke things back open and the rest of the half was the Runnin’ Rebels living up to their nickname.

WAC Tournament Quarters

(1) Utah State 84, (8) Boise State 60

  • If Utah State has a weakness it’s against pressure defenses. Boise State was able to hang in the game at halftime trailing by just five by turning the Aggies over and getting easy baskets in transition.
  • If you’ve followed WAC basketball at all this season you may wonder why Utah State’s Brian Green hits his elbow and points to the sky after every game. The answer? “These are my guns, I just reload them.” Green unloaded for 18 against Boise State, which was tied for the game high with both Tai Wesley and Pooh Williams.
  • Boise State fans don’t really like Greg Graham. Will he be joining Hawaii’s Bobby Nash in the WAC coaches unemployment line?

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RTC Live: WAC Qtrs – Fresno State vs. Louisiana Tech

Posted by rtmsf on March 11th, 2010

The Western Athletic Conference begins its postseason tournament here in The Biggest Little City in the World. The feature game of the afternoon pod is the #4-#5 seed matchup as Louisiana Tech takes on Fresno State to decide which set of Bulldogs will reign supreme in the WAC this season. Louisiana Tech sputtered out to end the season winning just one of its last five conference games, and they just weren’t the same without All-WAC second teamer Kyle Gibson down the stretch run. Gibson averaged 19 points a game for Tech and could have easily been a first team performer had he not missed several games, but he promises to be back for the stretch tourney run. The Fresno State Bulldogs have been the hardest team in the WAC to figure out. Steve Cleveland’s team has some of the best talent in the WAC in the form of future NBA players Paul George, Greg Smith and Sylvester Seay, but the west coast Bulldogs have a hard time putting it all together. Still they have scored some huge upsets in conference play, beating New Mexico State, Nevada and most recently Louisiana Tech just last Thursday. Will Gibson’s return be enough to get Louisiana Tech back on track and into the second round or will Fresno’s NBA talent finally gel and lead them to the semis? Find out whose NCAA dream will last at least one more day with us on RTC Live.

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Checking in on… the WAC

Posted by rtmsf on March 3rd, 2010

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

As the WAC enters its final week of regular season play, Utah State has clinched at least a share of the WAC regular season title for the third consecutive season. The navy-clad Aggies earned the share with a 76-39 pasting of Fresno State. New Mexico State takes to the road with a chance to tie for the regular season title as the crimson-clad Aggies will face Nevada and Utah State. At the bottom of the standings it’s three teams — Idaho, Hawai’i and Boise State — fighting for the final two spots in the conference tournament which begins next week.

Current Standings

  • 1) Utah State, 24-6 (13-2)
  • 2) New Mexico State, 19-9 (11-3)
  • T3) Louisiana Tech, 22-7 (9-5)
  • T3) Nevada 17-11 (9-5)
  • 5) San Jose State 14-14 (6-8)
  • 6) Fresno State, 14-17 (6-9)
  • 7) Idaho, 13-15 (4-10)
  • 8) Hawai’i, 10-18 (3-11)
  • 9) Boise State, 13-16 (3-11)

Team Breakdowns

Boise State, 13-16 (3-11)

The week’s results:  02/25 W @ Louisiana Tech, 72-59, 02/27 L @ New Mexico State, 95-92

Upcoming games:  03/04 vs. Hawai’i, 03/06 vs. San Jose State

After looking like they were going to be the odd man out of the conference tournament just a week ago, the Broncos have been re-energized by a road split at Louisiana Tech and New Mexico State. BSU pulled off the stunning upset over La. Tech, winning by 13 points, and then nearly pulled off another shocker mounting a huge second half comeback before falling just short by three at New Mexico State. The Broncos can play their way into the tournament as they host Hawai’i and San Jose State to end the regular season. A split by the Broncos could still end their season as Hawai’i would then own the tiebreaker over Boise State and a pair of losses would guarantee their missing the conference tournament.

Fresno State, 14-17 (6-9)

The week’s results:  02/23 W vs. Cal State-Bakersfield, 79-68, 02/27 L @ San Jose State, 72-45, 03/01 L @ Utah State, 76-39

Upcoming games:  03/04 vs. Louisiana Tech

The Bulldogs had a disastrous week of conference play, losing on the road at San Jose State and at Utah State by 27 and 37, respectively. In both games Fresno State was down big at halftime. FSU hosts Louisiana Tech on Senior Night in Fresno but a loss could drop them all the way to the seventh seed in the conference tournament.

Hawai’i, 10-18 (3-11)

The week’s results:  02/26 L vs. Utah State, 61-50, 02/28 W vs. Nevada, 74-63

Upcoming games:  03/04 @ Boise State, 03/06 @ Idaho

The Warriors finally broke through by snapping a nine-game losing streak, eight of those in conference. It couldn’t have come at a better time for Hawaii as their win over Nevada on Saturday came on a tumultuous day that saw the islands threatened by a tsunami. It was coupled with a loss by Boise State at New Mexico State and enabled the Warriors to have a chance to play their way into the WAC tournament in the final week of the regular season. Hawai’i will travel to the mainland to face Boise State and Idaho. UH lost to Idaho and defeated Boise State on the islands in the first meeting but all that matters to the Warriors is winning two games this week and they’re in the conference tournament.

Idaho, 13-15 (4-10)

The week’s results:  02/24 L @ New Mexico State, 74-57, 02/27 L @ Louisiana Tech, 60-49

Upcoming games:  03/04 vs. San Jose State, 03/06 vs. Hawai’i

After looking like they had earned themselves a spot in the conference tournament, the Vandals are in danger of missing it after getting swept on the road at New Mexico State and Louisiana Tech. Combined with stunning victories by Hawai’i vs. Nevada and Boise State at Louisiana Tech, the Vandals have just a one-game lead over the two schools with two games left to play. Idaho will host San Jose State and Hawai’i. The Vandals just need one victory to earn their spot in the conference tournament, however, they would certainly want to win both to ensure they don’t drop to the eighth seed and have to face Utah State or New Mexico State in the first round.

Louisiana Tech, 22-7 (9-5)

The week’s results:  02/25 L vs. Boise State, 72-59, 02/27 W vs. Idaho, 60-49

Upcoming games:  03/04 @ Fresno State, 03/06 @ Nevada

The Bulldogs finish the week on the road visiting Fresno State and Nevada with a chance to lock up the third seed in the conference tournament. Louisiana Tech was stunned by Boise State and dropped into fourth place but they were aided when Hawai’i returned the favor against Nevada to tie things up between the Wolf Pack and Bulldogs.

Nevada 17-11 (9-5)

The week’s results:  02/25 W @ San Jose State, 83-79, 02/28 L @ Hawai’i, 74-63

Upcoming games:  03/04 vs. New Mexico State, 03/06 vs. Louisiana Tech

The Wolf Pack split a pair of road games last week but are assured a top four finish in the conference. Nevada can lock up second place in the league behind Utah State if they can take care of business at home against New Mexico State and Louisiana Tech.

New Mexico State (19-9, 11-3)

The week’s results:  02/24 W vs. Idaho, 74-57, 02/27 W vs. Boise State, 95-92

Upcoming games:  03/04 @ Nevada, 03/06 @ Utah State

New Mexico State took care of business at home last week to set themselves up for one of the biggest road trips they’ve had in a long time. A pair of wins would give the Aggies a share of the regular season title with Utah State and the number one overall seed in the WAC tournament. A split would give them second place in the league but a pair of losses could potentially drop them to the three seed.

San Jose State 14-14 (6-8)

The week’s results:  02/25 L vs. Nevada, 83-79, 02/27 W vs. Fresno State, 72-45

Upcoming games:  03/04 @ Idaho, 03/06 @ Boise State

The Spartans split a pair last week but moved up to fifth place in the league where they’ll look to stay with a pair of games at Idaho and at Boise State. SJSU is looking for their best conference record and finish in over ten seasons. Should the Spartans lose both games they could potentially drop to the seven seed.

Utah State, 24-6 (13-2)

The week’s results:  02/25 W @ Hawai’i, 61-50, 03/01 W vs. Fresno State, 76-39

Upcoming games: 03/06 vs. New Mexico State

The UtAgs clinched at least a share of the WAC’s regular season title for the third consecutive season with a pair of victories over Hawai’i and Fresno State. Utah State will look to win the title outright as they host New Mexico State on Saturday. The crimson Aggies are one of only two losses suffered by Utah State in conference play this season. The UtAgs have already avenged their only other loss when they defeated Louisiana Tech.

UPCOMING GAMES

  • 03/04 – Nevada vs. New Mexico State – 7:00 p.m. PT
  • 03/04 – Idaho vs. San Jose State – 7:00 p.m. PT
  • 03/04 – Boise State vs. Hawai’i – 7:00 p.m. MT
  • 03/04 – Fresno State vs. Louisiana Tech – 7:00 p.m. PT
  • 03/06 – Boise State vs. San Jose State – 3:15 p.m. MT
  • 03/06 – Idaho vs. Hawai’i – 5:00 p.m. PT
  • 03/06 – Utah State vs. New Mexico State – 7:00 p.m.
  • 03/06 – Nevada vs. Louisiana Tech – 8:00 p.m. PT
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Checking in on… the WAC

Posted by rtmsf on February 24th, 2010

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

The top four teams in the league put on an strong showing in the ESPNU BracketBusters on Saturday with Utah State, New Mexico State and Louisiana Tech all picking up victories in their nationally televised games. Nevada came up just short against Missouri State leaving the league with a 3-1 record. The rest of the league did not fare as well as the remaining five teams went 1-4 in their BracketBusters games with San Jose State being the only team to win their non-conference matchup.

With BracketBusters out of the way, fans now turn their attention back to the league race. It’s down to the final two weeks of play and the top four teams still all have a chance to win the league. Utah State leads the race to the finish line at 11-2. Just behind the Aggies are the league’s other Aggies, New Mexico State at 9-3. Louisiana Tech and Nevada are tied at 8-4 in third place. The path to the regular season title appears to heads through Logan, UT, as the UtAgs finish with two of three at home including a showdown with second place New Mexico State. NM State hosts the Idaho schools before closing out the season on the road at Nevada and Utah State. Nevada likewise finishes with two on the road and two at home as they’ll head to San Jose and Honolulu this week before returning home to face New Mexico State and La. Tech. La. Tech also hosts the Idaho schools before finishing the season at Fresno State and at Nevada. With quality competition among the top four it’s anyone’s guess how the top four seedings will shake out but it’s guaranteed to be an exciting finish.

Current Standings

  1. Utah State, 22-6 (11-2)
  2. New Mexico State, 17-9 (9-3)
  3. Louisiana Tech, 21-6 (8-4)
  4. Nevada 16-10 (8-4)
  5. Fresno State, 13-15 (6-7)
  6. San Jose State 13-12 (5-7)
  7. Idaho, 13-13 (4-8)
  8. Hawai’i, 9-17 (2-10)
  9. Boise State, 12-15 (2-10)

Team Rundowns

Boise State, 12-15 (2-10).  The Broncos split a pair of games against Big West foes as they defeated Cal State-Bakersfield 81-62 but fell 82-74 to UC Davis in an ESPNU BracketBusters game. The Broncos are fighting not only for their postseason lives but potentially their coach’s job as well. The Broncos head out on the road to face top half foes La. Tech and NM State this week. The Broncos lost by 15 to the Bulldogs in Boise while they were more competitive against the Aggies falling by just three.

The week’s results:  02/17 W vs. Cal State-Bakersfield, 81-62, 02/20 L vs. UC-Davis, 82-74

Upcoming games:  02/25 @ Louisiana Tech, 02/27 @ New Mexico State

Fresno State, 13-15 (6-7).  The Bulldogs lost a close contest to Big West leading UC Santa Barbara on Saturday in an ESPNU BracketBusters game. Fresno State had a chance to take the lead late in the game but a three pointer from Paul George clanked off the back of the rim and UCSB held on for the win. Up next for Fresno is a pair of in-state games against CS-Bakersfield and then a showdown at San Jose State, a battle for fifth place in the league and a chance to showcase two of the league’s most dynamic players in Paul George and Adrian Oliver.

The week’s results:  02/20 L vs. UC-Santa Barbara, 64-60

Upcoming games:  02/23 vs. Cal State-Bakersfield, 02/27 @ San Jose State, 03/01 @ Utah state

Hawai’i, 9-17 (2-10).  The slide continues for the Warriors as they’ve dropped eight in a row. Hawai’i fell on the road by 24 at New Mexico State in a game that wasn’t even that close. Then in an ESPNU BracketBusters game that the injury-riddled team would rather have not been playing, the Warriors lost to Cal Poly 102-89, again a game not nearly as close as the final margin indicated. UH fell behind by 21 points at halftime but to their credit they scored 59 points in the second half. Unfortunately for Warrior fans, the Mustangs scored 51 points in a half where defense was clearly optional. Hawai’i hosts Utah State and Nevada this week and perhaps the 59 point outburst is a sign that the Warriors are ready to emerge from the dark tunnel of losing.

The week’s results:  02/15 L @ New Mexico State, 88-64, 02/20 L vs. Cal Poly, 102-89

Upcoming games:  02/26 vs. Utah State, 02/28 vs. Nevada

Idaho, 13-13 (4-8).  The up and down season for the Vandals continues as they dispatched Seattle 82-72 only to fall to Long Beach State two nights later in the BracketBusters. Idaho appears to have clinched their spot in the WAC Tournament but need to win at least one more game to mathematically clinch a spot. UI travels to second place New Mexico State for a nationally televised game on ESPN2 followed by a trip to third place Ruston to take on La. Tech.

The week’s results:  02/18 W vs. Seattle, 82-72, 02/20 L vs. Long Beach State, 77-66

Upcoming games:  02/24 @ New Mexico State, 02/27 @ Louisiana Tech

Louisiana Tech, 21-6 (8-4).  The Bulldogs were two plays away from finishing the week 2-0 and two plays away from finishing the week 0-2. Instead they came away with a 1-1 record. A bad pass late in the game cost the Bulldogs a potential rare victory in Logan against Utah State but in their ESPNU BracketBusters game it was a banked three pointer by DeAndre Brown that gave the Bulldogs a 70-67 win over Northeastern. LTU hosts the Idaho squads this week before closing out the regular season on the road. The question for the Bulldogs is was the Northeastern victory enough to put them on the bubble? Aside from a loss at San Jose State, La. Tech doesn’t really have a bad loss. Their two non-conference losses were at New Mexico, a Top 15 team, and at Arizona. Conference losses to New Mexico State and Utah State are certainly nothing to be ashamed of.

The week’s results:  02/17 L @ Utah State, 67-61, 02/20 W @ Northeastern, 70-67

Upcoming games:  02/25 vs. Boise State, 02/27 vs. Idaho

Nevada 16-10 (8-4).  The Wolf Pack snuck out a victory over Fresno State 74-70 and lost a close game against Missouri State in the ESPNU BracketBusters. UNR head on the road to San Jose and Hawai’i this week. The game against the Spartans won’t be easy as SJSU has beaten both New Mexico State and Louisiana Tech earlier this season in San Jose and the trip to Hawai’i is never easy due in large part to the travel requirements. A road sweep this week will set up a demanding final week in which the Wolf Pack can potentially earn a regular season title with some help from Utah State’s opponents.

The week’s results:  02/17 vs. Fresno State, 02/20 @ Missouri State

Upcoming games:  02/25 @ San Jose State, 02/28 @ Hawai’i

New Mexico State (17-9, 9-3).  The crimson-clad Aggies earned a pair of victories last week with a 24-point win over depleted Hawai’i and then an 84-78 BracketBusters win over Pacific. NM State is now 5-0 in the BracketBusters event and they continued their domination of Pacific having won 30 of 38 meetings between the two schools. The Aggies host the Idaho schools this week. A home sweep will give the Aggies a chance to win at least a share of the regular season title with the northern navy-clad Aggies.

The week’s results:  02/15 W 88-64 vs. Hawai’i, 02/20 W @ Pacific, 84-78

Upcoming games:  02/24 vs. Idaho, 02/27 vs. Boise State

San Jose State 13-12 (5-7).  The Spartans earned the WAC’s only non-televised BracketBusters victory with their 77-66 win over Montana State. Up next for SJSU is Nevada and Fresno State at home. A home sweep can move Spartans up in the league standings and potentially set themselves up for a shot at a finish as high as fourth. The game at home against Fresno State gives the Spartans a chance to shine on national television on ESPNU.

The week’s results:  02/20 @ Montana State

Upcoming games:  02/25 vs. Nevada, 02/27 vs. Fresno State

Utah State, 22-6 (11-2).  The Aggies had the best week in the league defeating a pair of 20-win teams at home. Utah State escaped with a win over Louisiana Tech, 67-61, and dispatched of one of the Missouri Valley’s best in Wichita State, 68-58. USU has won 12 in a row and with an RPI of 33 has to be considered a strong bubble team. However, losses to Long Beach State (13-14) and Utah (12-14) don’t look good on the resume. The UtAgs can close out a regular season title if they’re able to take care of Hawai’i and Fresno State which could set up a one-game playoff for the regular season title and the top seed in the WAC tournament if the crimson-clad Aggies take care of their end of things.

The week’s results:  02/17 vs. Louisiana Tech, 02/21 vs. Wichita State

Upcoming games:   02/25 @ Hawai’i, 03/01 vs. Fresno State

UPCOMING GAMES

  • 02/23 – Fresno State vs. Cal State-Bakersfield – 7:00 p.m. PT
  • 02/24 – New Mexico State vs. Idaho – 9:00 p.m. MT (ESPN2)
  • 02/25 – San Jose State vs. Nevada – 7:00 p.m. PT (Comcast SportsNet California)
  • 02/25 – Louisiana Tech vs. Boise State – 7:00 p.m. CT
  • 02/25 – Hawai’i vs. Utah State – 7:00 p.m. HT
  • 02/27 – Louisiana Tech vs. Idaho – 7:00 p.m. CT
  • 02/27 – San Jose State vs. Fresno State – 7:00 p.m. PT (ESPNU)
  • 02/27 – Hawai’i vs. Nevada – 7:00 p.m. HT (Comcast SportsNet California)
  • 02/27 – New Mexico State vs. Boise State – 7:00 p.m. MT (KTVB-Boise, AggieVision-New Mexico)
  • 03/01 – Utah State vs. Fresno State – 7:00 p.m. MT (Bulldog Sports Network)
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Checking in on… the WAC

Posted by rtmsf on February 16th, 2010

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

After starting out conference play 0-2 the Utah State Aggies have stormed their way to the top of the conference. The Aggies are winners of ten straight and at 10-2, have a game and a half lead over second place New Mexico State and Louisiana Tech. The bottom of the league is starting to clear itself up as well as Idaho has gotten warm at the right time to move into seventh place. Boise State and Hawai’i are battling for the final conference tournament spot.

This weekend the WAC steps out of conference as they take on their BracketBusters foes highlighted by 20-6 Utah State hosting 20-6 Wichita State, 15-9 New Mexico State traveling to 16-8 Pacific, 20-5 Louisiana Tech traveling to 17-9 Northeastern and 15-9 Nevada traveling to 17-8 Missouri State. Additionally, Fresno State will face Big West leading UC-Santa Barbara. The rest of the WAC will face members from the middle of the standings in the Big West.

Current Standings

  1. Utah State, 20-6 (10-2)
  2. New Mexico State, 15-9 (8-3)
  3. Louisiana Tech, 20-5 (8-3)
  4. Nevada 15-9 (7-4)
  5. Fresno State, 13-13 (6-6)
  6. San Jose State 12-10 (5-7)
  7. Idaho, 12-12 (4-8)
  8. Hawai’i, 9-15 (2-9)
  9. Boise State, 11-14 (2-10)

Team Breakdowns

Boise State

The week’s results: 02/07 L vs. Idaho, 79-55, 02/11 L vs. Utah State, 72-67, 02/13 L vs. Nevada, 88-80 (OT)

Upcoming games: 02/17 vs. Cal State-Bakersfield, 02/20 vs. UC-Davis

The Broncos have dropped three in a row and sit in last place in the WAC and with a loss at eighth place Hawai’i earlier in the conference season, the Broncos appear to be the team on the outside looking in at the postseason. They’ll need to start winning some games and hope for some help from the Hawai’i opponents as the conference schedule winds down if they hope to make the eight-team conference tournament. The Broncos step out of conference this week to face a pair of Big West foes in Cal State-Bakersfield and UC-Davis as part of the ESPN BracketBusters event.

Fresno State (13-13, 6-6)

The week’s results:  02/06 W @ Hawai’i, 61-51, 02/11 W vs. New Mexico State, 83-64, 02/13 L vs. Idaho, 68-59

Upcoming games:  02/20 vs. UC-Santa Barbara

The Bulldogs continue their up and down season. Following wins over Hawai’i in Honolulu and a beating of then-first place New Mexico State, the Bulldogs followed up with a loss at home to seventh place Idaho, 68-59. The Bulldogs were swept by the Vandals this season and sit two games ahead of the Vandals with four tough conference games remaining as they will play three of their final four conference games on the road at Nevada, at San Jose State and at Utah State before closing out the season with Louisiana Tech. Their sweep at the hands of Idaho could play a big factor in the seedings in the conference tournament.

Hawaii (9-15, 2-9)

The week’s results:  02/06 L vs. Fresno State, 61-51, 02/13 L @ Louisiana Tech, 66-60

Upcoming games:  02/15 @ New Mexico State, 02/20 vs. Cal Poly

It continues to be close but no cigar for the extremely shorthanded Warriors. Hawai’i has now lost six games in a row and outside of a 23-point loss to San Jose State in SJ, the Warriors have lost five of those six games by 10 points or less and four of those by six or less. Head coach Bob Nash received more bad news as guard Jeremy Lay will miss the remainder of the season due to injury. The Warriors take on second place New Mexico State before hosting Cal Poly for their ESPN BracketBuster game.

Idaho (12-12, 4-8)

The week’s results: 02/07 L @ Boise State, 79-55, 02/10 L vs. Nevada, 67-66, 02/13 L @ Fresno State, 68-59

Upcoming games:  02/18 vs. Seattle, 02/20 vs. Long Beach State

The Vandals avenged their stunning home loss to in-state rival Boise State by taking them to the woodshed in the return game. The Vandals handed BSU their worst loss in the rivalry series. Idaho followed that win up with an oh-so-close loss to Nevada in which they led by two points with six seconds left before losing on a three point play by Nevada’s Armon Johnson. The Vandals regrouped to knock off Fresno State who was coming off a big victory over New Mexico State. Idaho hosts a pair of non-conference games when Seattle and Long Beach State come to Moscow.

Louisiana Tech (20-5, 8-3)

The week’s results:  02/08 L @ New Mexico State, 70-68, 02/13 W vs. Hawai’i, 66-60

Upcoming games:  02/17 @ Utah State, 02/20 @ Northeastern

After leading the WAC through the first half of the conference schedule, the Bulldogs have gone 3-3 in their past six games and have a very long road trip for a pair of tough upcoming games, at Utah State and then all the way back across the country to face Northeastern in a televised ESPN BracketBusters game. The Bulldogs were the last team to beat Utah State when they trounced the Aggies 82-60 in Ruston.

Nevada (15-8, 7-4)

The week’s results:  02/06 L @ Utah State, 76-65, 02/10 W vs. Idaho, 67-66, 02/13 W vs. Boise State, 88-80

Upcoming games: 02/17 vs. Fresno State, 02/20 @ Missouri State

The Wolf Pack lost on the road at Utah State, 76-65, and stole a victory in Moscow 67-66 on a three-point play with under six seconds left to stun Idaho. Nevada then outlasted Boise State 88-80 in overtime. The Wolf Pack sit just one game behind both Louisiana Tech and New Mexico State with both teams still facing road trips to Reno. They’ll host Fresno State before heading on the road to face Missouri State in their ESPN Bracketbusters game.

New Mexico State (15-9, 8-3)

The week’s results:  02/06 W vs. San Jose State, 94-82, 02/08 W vs. Louisiana Tech, 70-68, 02/11 L @ Fresno State, 83-64

Upcoming games: 02/15 vs. Hawai’i, 02/20 @ Pacific

The Aggies briefly moved into first place with a pair of victories over visiting San Jose State and Louisiana Tech but fell back into a tie for second place after a loss to Fresno State in their building.  Against Louisiana Tech, the Aggies saw a 32-point swing as they were down by 15 points in the first half and up by 17 points in the second before holding on for a two-point win. In the loss against Fresno State the Aggies had one of their worst free throw shooting performances as they finished the game 9-of-26 from the free throw stripe. They had a higher shooting percentage from the three point line, 9-of-22, than they did from the charity stripe. The Aggies will look to bounce back against a depleted Hawai’i squad before heading west to face Pacific in their ESPN BracketBusters game.

San Jose State (12-12, 5-7)

The week’s results:  02/06 L @ New Mexico State, 94-82, 02/13 L vs. Utah State, 81-65

Upcoming games:  02/20 @ Montana State

The Spartans have now lost four in a row and dropped to 5-7 in the league after suffering Ls at New Mexico State and at Utah State. The Spartans play just one game, their ESPN BracketBusters game on the road against Montana State this weekend, one of two consecutive games outside the conference as they’ll face Seattle before heading down the home stretch in conference.

Utah State (20-6, 10-2)

The week’s results:  02/05 W vs. Nevada, 76-65, 02/11 W @ Boise State, 72-67, 02/13 W@ San Jose State, 81-65

Upcoming games: 02/17 vs. Louisiana Tech, 02/21 vs. Wichita State

The Aggies find themselves atop the conference with just four conference games left and with only one of the three games on the road they have the inside track to the regular season title. If they can win out and reach the title game of the WAC tournament, they could have a strong case for an at-large bid with wins over BYU and a would-be win over Wichita State. The Aggies can build that case for an at-large if they can defeat Wichita State this Saturday, however, losses to Long Beach State and Utah in the non-conference don’t help their cause.

UPCOMING GAMES

02/17

  • Nevada vs. Fresno State – 7:00 p.m. PT (Comcast SportsNet)
  • Boise State vs. Cal State-Bakersfield – 8:15 p.m. MT
  • Utah State vs. Louisiana Tech – 9:00 p.m. MT (ESPN2)

02/18

  • Idaho vs. Seattle – 7:00 p.m. PT

02/20

  • Northeastern vs. Louisiana Tech – 1:00 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
  • Missouri State vs. Nevada – 2:00 p.m. CT (ESPN2)
  • Idaho vs. Long Beach State – 5:30 p.m. PT
  • Montana State vs. San Jose State – 7:00 p.m. MT
  • Pacific vs. New Mexico State – 7:00 p.m .PT (ESPNU)
  • Hawai’i vs. Cal Poly – 8:00 p.m. HT
  • Utah State vs. Wichita State – 10:00 p.m. MT (ESPN2)
  • Boise State vs. UC-Davis – TBA
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Checking in on… the WAC

Posted by rtmsf on February 5th, 2010

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

Three sets of three teams, that’s how the standings look as the nine teams look to start the second half of the conference schedule. The top three teams are Utah State, winners of seven in a row, Louisiana Tech and New Mexico State. The middle tier is led by Nevada with the two California schools, San Jose State and Fresno State close behind. Then there are the bottom three teams. Boise State, Idaho and Hawai’i are all 2-7 in conference play and it appears that the three will battle for the final two spots in the WAC tournament.

Current Standings

  1. Utah State, 17-6 (7-2)
  2. Louisiana Tech, 19-4 (7-2)
  3. New Mexico State, 13-8 (6-2)
  4. San Jose State 12-10 (5-5)
  5. Fresno State, 11-12 (4-5)
  6. Boise State, 11-11 (2-7)
  7. Idaho, 10-11 (2-7)
  8. Hawai’i, 9-13 (2-7)

This week the ESPNU BracketBusters pairings were announced and the league received four televised games in the event.

  • Sat., 2/20, Louisiana Tech at Northeastern, 1 p.m. (ESPN2 HD / ESPN360.com)
  • Sat., 2/20, Nevada at Missouri State, 3 p.m. (ESPN2 HD / ESPN360.com)
  • Sat., 2/20, New Mexico State at Pacific, 10 p.m. (ESPNU)
  • Sat., 2/20, Wichita State at Utah State, 11:59 p.m. (ESPN2 HD / ESPN360.com)

The other five teams also face non-conference opponents as part of the event but their games will not be televised.

  • UC Santa Barbara at Fresno State
  • San Jose State at Montana State
  • Long Beach State at Idaho
  • UC Davis at Boise State
  • Cal Poly at Hawai‘i

The WAC will certainly look to put its best foot forward in the BracketBusters event as two teams, New Mexico State and Louisiana Tech, will face conference leaders Pacific and Northeastern respectively while Nevada and Utah State will face two teams from The Valley in Missouri State and Wichita State.

Team Breakdowns

Boise State (11-11, 2-7)

The week’s results:  01/30 W vs. Fresno State, 65-49

Upcoming games:  02/07 vs. Idaho, 02/11 vs. Utah State

The Broncos have won two in a row in conference play after handling a Paul George-less Fresno State squad 65-59 in Boise. The Broncos led for most of the game and never trailed in the second half. Daequon Montreal and Kurt Cunningham each scored 13 points while Paul Noonan hit four three-pointers to finish with a dozen points. The Broncos earned a season split with Fresno State with the win and moved into a three-way tie for 7th place along with Idaho, their next opponent, and Hawai’i.

Fresno State (11-12, 4-5)

The week’s results:  01/30 L @ Boise State, 65-49

Upcoming games:  02/06 @ Hawai’i, 02/11 vs. New Mexico State

It appears the effects of losing leading scorer Paul George have caught up to the Bulldogs. Fresno State lost back-to-back games in the state of Idaho and both by similar margins. Their latest loss was a 65-49 loss at the hands of Boise State. The Bulldogs remain winless on the road and must face Hawai’i in Honolulu on Saturday before coming home to host New Mexico State. The Bulldogs are winless on the road in conference play.

Hawai’i (9-13, 2-7)

The week’s results:  01/30 @ Nevada

Upcoming games:  02/06 vs. Fresno State

The Warriors’ slide continues as they put up a valiant fight but still fell to Nevada 66-60 in Reno. The Warriors have lost six of their last seven games and with four of their next five games coming against the top four teams in the league, there is not much a light at the end of the tunnel. Hawai’i can take solace from the fact that they battled in Reno in a game in which nobody gave them a chance. Roderick Flemings scored 17 points for Hawai’i and they tied the game at 56 with four minutes left to play but six consecutive free throws in the final 37.5 seconds by Nevada was the difference.

Idaho (10-11, 2-7)

The week’s results:  01/30 W @ Seattle, 87-85,  02/03 L @ Utah State, 80-62

Upcoming games:  02/07 @ Boise State,  02/10 vs. Nevada

The Vandals had an up and down week, mostly down as they squeezed out a close win against Seattle 87-85 and then were spanked by Utah State on national television.  Although to be fair they played without leading scorer and team leader Mac Hopson, who was held out after violating curfew the night before the game. The Vandals travel to Boise State in a revenge game and an all-important game in the league standings. Should Boise State win, the Vandals would essentially be two games behind the Broncos in the league standings as BSU would hold the tiebreaker with Idaho. However, if Idaho can pull out a victory, it would put them a game ahead of the Broncos in the standings and ensure that the tiebreaker would require more than a look at the head-to-head results.

Louisiana Tech (18-4, 6-2)

The week’s results:  01/30 L vs. New Mexico State, 91-77, 02/04 W vs. San Jose State, 71-64

Upcoming games:  02/08 @ New Mexico State

The Bulldogs split a pair of games but remained in first place after getting manhandled by New Mexico State, as they used a 15-0 run to start their game against San Jose State en route to a 71-64 victory. The Bulldogs travel to New Mexico State where they’ll look to exact revenge for their loss just over one week ago.

Nevada (13-8, 5-3)

The week’s results:  01/30 W vs. Hawai’i, 66-60

Upcoming games:  02/06 @ Utah State, 02/10 vs. Idaho

The Wolf Pack nearly suffered deja vu as they allowed an undermanned Hawai’i squad to hang around before icing the game from the free throw line. Nevada jumped out to an early lead but allowed a 12-0 run to end the half to send them into halftime tied with Hawai’i. The second half was a back and forth battle before Nevada’s six made free throws in the final 37.5 seconds saved the Wolf Pack from another stunning loss. Nevada travels to Logan to take on league-leading Utah State on Saturday night and then a trip to Moscow, Idaho, to take on the Vandals.

New Mexico State (13-8, 6-2)

The week’s results:  01/30 W @ Louisiana Tech, 91-77

Upcoming games:  02/06 vs. San Jose State, 02/08 vs. Louisiana Tech

The Aggies handed Louisiana Tech their first home loss of the season in a convincing 91-77 victory in Ruston. They played arguably their best game in two seasons and got a major outing from Hamidu Rahman who scored 22 points and grabbed 12 rebounds and was named the WAC Player of the Week for his effort. The Aggies also got 24 points from their bench which proved to be the difference in the game. NMSU faces San Jose State and Louisiana Tech, the two teams they just faced, at home in Las Cruces as they try to keep pace with Utah State at the top of the standings. And they got another boost as the NCAA declared redshirt sophomore forward Troy Gillenwater academically eligible to play for the remainder of the season. New Mexico State filed an appeal on behalf of Gillenwater with the NCAA to grant him eligibility which ended in a favorable ruling. Gillenwater averaged 12.1 points per game last season as a redshirt freshman.

San Jose State (12-10, 5-5)

The week’s results:  01/30 L @ Utah State, 77-58, 02/04 @ Louisiana Tech

Upcoming games:  02/06 @ New Mexico State

The Spartans’ hot streak was cooled off by the red-hot Utah State Aggies. San Jose State trailed Utah State by just two less than a minute into the second half but a huge run by the USU buried San Jose State as they fell by 19 points, 77-58. Adrian Oliver scored 19 points for the Spartans. Against the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, the Spartans fell behind 15-0 to start the game and could never recover. They were able to cut the lead to seven points midway through the second half but the initial deficit was too much to overcome. The Spartans wrap up their road trip on Saturday night against New Mexico State, a team they defeated in San Jose.

Utah State (17-6, 7-2)

The week’s results:  01/30 W vs. San Jose State, 77-58, 02/03 W vs. Idaho, 80-62

Upcoming games:  02/05 vs. Nevada, 02/11 @ Boise State

The league’s hottest team resides in Logan, Utah. The preseason pick to win the league has risen to the top of the standings after a rough 0-2 start. Since getting blown out by 22 at Louisiana Tech, Utah State has won seven in a row and has had just one close game, an overtime win at Nevada 79-72. The other six games have been decided by an average of 23.5 points. The Aggies host Nevada in a rematch of that classic battle earlier in the season in Reno before taking a road trip to Boise State and San Jose State.

UPCOMING GAMES

  • 02/06 – New Mexico State vs. San Jose State – 7:00 p.m. MT (AggieVision, ESPN Full Court)
  • 02/06 – Boise State vs. Idaho – 7:00 p.m. MT
  • 02/06 – Hawai’i vs. Fresno State – 8:00 p.m . HT (KFVE Honolulu, Bulldog Sports Network)
  • 02/06 – Utah State vs. Nevada – 8:00 p.m. (ESPNU)
  • 02/08 – New Mexico State vs. Louisiana Tech (ESPN Regional)
  • 02/10 – Idaho vs. Nevada – 8:00 p.m. PT (ESPN2)
  • 02/11 – Boise State vs. Utah State – 7:00 p.m. MT
  • 02/11 – Fresno State vs. New Mexico State – 7:00 p.m. PT
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Checking in on… the WAC

Posted by rtmsf on January 22nd, 2010

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, 17-3 (5-1)
1.  New Mexico State, 12-7 (5-1)
3.  Nevada 12-7 (4-2)
3.  Utah State, 14-6 (4-2)
5.  San Jose State 10-8 (3-3)
5.  Fresno State, 10-10 (3-3)
7.  Hawai’i, 9-10 (2-4)
8.  Idaho 8-8 (1-4)
9.  Boise State, 9-11 (0-7)

The cream is starting to rise to the top as Louisiana Tech and New Mexico State lead the league at 5-1 but preseason pick Utah State is tied with perennial WAC power Nevada for third place at 4-2.  The battle for the middle of the league is being waged between a better-than-their-record-indicates San Jose State squad along with a slumping Fresno State and a beaten-up Hawai’i squad.  The battle for the WAC basement resides in the state of Idaho where the Broncos of Boise State are off to their worst league start ever and Idaho is off to a surprising 1-4 start.

Boise State (9-11, 0-7)

The week’s results:
01/16 L @ Utah State, 81-59
01/20 L vs. Nevada, 88-82

Upcoming games:
01/25 @ Idaho

Things did not get any better for the Broncos in the past week as they extended their losing streak to seven games after being blown out by Utah State and dropping a tight contest at home to Nevada.  The Broncos are now off to their worst start in league play ever and it’s their longest losing streak since the 2001-02 season.  Despite their seven-game losing streak, the Broncos are not out of contention just yet for a spot in the conference tournament.  Their in-state brethren, the Idaho Vandals, have won just one league game and with a game against Utah State before round one of the in-state showdown, it is conceivable that the Broncos could tie things up at the bottom with a win next week over Idaho.

Fresno State (10-10, 3-3)

The week’s results:
01/16 L @ New Mexico State, 86-77
01/21 vs. Utah State, 69-43

Upcoming games:
01/23 vs. Nevada
01/28 @ Idaho

The Bulldogs have lost three straight after starting league play 3-0.  Their latest setback was a thrashing at the hands of Utah State.  The Bulldogs’ bigger concern is the health of their leading scorer Paul George who sprained an ankle early in the loss and did not return.  His return to the court is up in the air and with a tough game against Nevada coming up, a hot start to the season is threatening to give way to a midseason slide.

Hawaii (9-10, 2-4)

The week’s results:
01/18 W vs San Jose State, 68-67
01/21 L vs. New Mexico State, 71-69

Upcoming games:
01/24 vs Louisiana Tech
01/28 @ San Jose State

The Warriors were involved in a pair of down-to-the-wire thrillers as they hosted San Jose State and New Mexico State.  They were on the winning side of one and the losing side of on, edging out San Jose State on a pair of free throws with 2.1 seconds remaining but then falling victim to a last second jumper from New Mexico State’s Jahmar Young.  The Warriors host their second league leading team when the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs come to town on January 24, and follow that up with a rematch against San Jose State.  A split of the two games would keep the Warriors in the middle of the WAC pack.

Idaho (8-8, 1-4)

The week’s results:
01/16 L @ Nevada, 76-68

Upcoming games:
01/23 vs. Utah State
01/25 vs. Boise State
01/28 vs. Fresno State

The Vandals are on a three-game losing streak after falling to Nevada on the road last week.  Idaho has a crucial three-game home stand starting with red-hot Utah State, then in-state rival Boise State in a game that could determine which of the two teams stays out of the WAC basement for the remainder of the season and ending with a game against a potentially Paul George-less Fresno State.  Idaho can put itself right back in the league race with a sweep of the home stand or, if they lose all three games, they could find themselves in the WAC basement.

Louisiana Tech (17-2, 5-0)

The week’s results:
01/21 L @ San Jose State, 87-76

Upcoming games:
01/24 @ Hawai’i

The Bulldogs’ winning streak came to an end in San Jose as the Spartans knocked off the league leader 87-76.   The loss snapped a 10-game win streak.  Kyle Gibson led the Bulldogs with 22 points but it was not enough to offset his career night by SJSU’s Adrian Oliver who scored 39 points.  The Bulldogs will look to get back on the winning track when they face Hawai’i.

Nevada (10-7, 2-2)

The week’s results:
01/16 W vs. Idaho, 76-68
01/20 @ Boise State, 88-82

Upcoming games:
01/23 @ Fresno State

The Wolf Pack beat the two Idaho schools, one at home and the other on the road to bounce back from their overtime loss to Utah State on national television.  The Wolf Pack improved to 4-2 and sit just a half game behind New Mexico State in the loss column.

New Mexico State (10-7, 3-1)

The week’s results:
01/16 W vs. Fresno State, 86-77
01/21 W @ Hawai’i, 71-69

Upcoming games:
01/23 @ San Jose State

New Mexico State is on a roll having won four in a row following a disappointing loss to Nevada back on January 4.  The Aggies have posted back-to-back comeback wins against Fresno State and Hawai’i.  Jahmar Young buried a last second 18-foot jumper with 0.9 seconds left on the clock to give the Aggies a win at Hawai’i.  That coupled with a loss by Louisiana Tech at San Jose State moved the Aggies into a tie for first place atop the WAC.  The Aggies face San Jose State on Saturday night in a game that will feature a couple of electric scorers in New Mexico State’s Jahmar Young and San Jose State’s Adrian Oliver, who torched Louisiana Tech for 39 points in SJSU’s win.

San Jose State (10-8, 3-3)

The week’s results:
01/18 L @ Hawai’i, 68-67
01/21 W vs. Louisiana Tech, 87-76

Upcoming games:
01/23 vs. New Mexico State
01/28 vs. Hawai’i

The Spartans split their two games, losing a heartbreaker to Hawai’i 68-67 when the Warriors hit a pair of free throws with 2.1 seconds left to win the game.  However, they bounced back to hand Louisiana Tech their first loss in conference play.  Adrian Oliver scored a career-high 39 points, one shy of the single game record of 40 set by Wally Rank on January 3, 1980.  The Spartans host league leading New Mexico State on Saturday in a game that should be a shootout.

Utah State (14-6, 4-2)

The week’s results:
01/16 W vs. Boise State, 81-59
01/21 W @ Fresno State, 69-43

Upcoming games:
01/23 @ Idaho

The Aggies have their mojo back.  After getting pounded by 22 at Louisiana Tech, Utah State has found whatever they were missing and is now the team doing the pounding.  Riding a four-game win streak the Aggies have beaten three of their past four opponents by an average of 30.7 points.  Their lone close game was an impressive overtime win in Reno, site of this year’s conference tournament.  The Aggies travel to Moscow, ID, to take on the Vandals where it will pit head coach Stew Morrill against long-time assistant Don Verlin who is now in his second season at Idaho.

UPCOMING GAMES

01/23 – Idaho vs. Utah State – 5:00 p.m. PT (ESPN360)
01/23 – Hawai’i vs. Louisiana Tech – 7:00 p.m. HT (KFVE Honolulu)
01/23 – San Jose State vs. New Mexico State – 7:00 p.m. PT
01/23 – Fresno State vs. Nevada – 7:00 p.m. PT (Comcast SportsNet California)
01/25 – Idaho vs. Boise State – 8:00 p.m. PT (ESPNU)
01/28 – San Jose State vs. Hawai’i – 7:00 p.m. PT
01/28 – Idaho vs. Fresno State – 7:00 p.m. PT

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Checking in on… the WAC

Posted by rtmsf on January 8th, 2010

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

The WAC opened up league play this past weekend and after the first weekend there were a couple of surprises.  The biggest surprise came from Utah State.  The Aggies went on the road to open up league play and lost to New Mexico State in a close game and then were blown out by Louisiana Tech two nights later.  The preseason pick to win the league by both the media and coaches has their work cut out for them if they hope to win the league title for a third consecutive season.

Standings

1) Louisiana Tech, 14-2 (2-0)
2) San Jose State, 8-5 (1-0)
3) Fresno State 8-7 (1-0)
T4) Idaho 8-5 (1-1)
T4) Nevada, 9-6 (1-1)
T4) Hawai’i, 8-7 (1-1)
T4) New Mexico State, 8-7 (1-1)
T8) Utah State, 10-6 (0-2)
T8) Boise State, 9-6 (0-2)

The league saw a significant drop in scoring in the first weekend of games.  Perhaps the familiarity of the offensive sets and plays had something to do with that but after two games Louisiana Tech leads the league in scoring and is averaging 79.5 points per game.  Five of the nine teams are averaging less than 70 points per game (in non-conference play seven of nine teams averaged at least 73 points per game) and Utah State has struggled to find their offense scoring just 56 points per game through two contests.

Team Breakdowns

Boise State (9-6, 0-2)

The week’s results:  01/02 L @ Fresno State, 71-68, 01/05 @ Hawai’i, 76-68

Upcoming games:  01/09 vs. New Mexico State, 01/11 vs. Louisiana Tech

The Broncos opened conference play on the road and were dealt two losses.  The Broncos led Fresno State nearly the entire game but Fresno State’s Paul George hit a layup and drew a foul on Boise State’s Robert Arnold to give Fresno State a 68-66 lead with 48.5 seconds left.  After Boise State tied the game up with 22.6 seconds left Paul George got another layup and was fouled giving the Bulldogs a 71-68 lead.  The Broncos were unable to hit the three-pointer as time expired as they let one slip away.  Against Hawai’i the Broncos trailed big early falling behind 21-7 with 8:59 left in the first half but by halftime they had erased the 14 point deficit and took a 28-27 lead into the break.  The Warriors went on a 12-2 run in the second half and built a lead they would not relinquish.  Boise State’s Daequon Montreal leads the Broncos in scoring in league play averaging 20 points per game and is sixth in the league in scoring through two conference games.  The Broncos are the second best team in the league in steals and are averaging 6.5 steals per game.  Despite their two losses the Broncos lead the league in assists per game averaging 15.0 per game.  The Broncos host New Mexico State and league leading Louisiana Tech this coming week. A minimum split of these two games at home is a must if the Broncos want to keep from falling behind in the league race.

Fresno State (8-7, 1-0)

The week’s results:  01/02 W vs. Boise State, 71-68

Upcoming games:  01/09 vs. Hawai’i, 01/11 vs. San Jose State

The Bulldogs played just one league game last week but they made it count as they rallied at home to defeat Boise State.  Paul George’s 21 points in the conference opener included two three-point plays in the final minute as they erased a 7 point deficit with 5:10 left to play.  George was 11-of-12 from the free throw line in the game.  The Bulldogs have a very favorable schedule to start league play with five of the first seven at home.  Fresno State leads the league in free throw percentage and are hitting 75 percent of their attempts. They are also fourth in the league in steals averaging 6.0 steals per game.  The Bulldogs host Hawai’i and San Jose State this coming week, a pair of games that the Bulldogs must win to establish themselves as an upper tier team in the conference.

Hawai’i (8-7, 1-1)

The week’s results:  01/03 L vs. Idaho, 59-52, 01/05 W vs. Boise State, 76-68

Upcoming games:  01/09 @ Fresno State, 01/11 @ Utah State

The Warriors split their opening weekend’s conference games as they fell 59-52 to Idaho in a defensive struggle.  The Warriors trailed 40-26 with 16:30 left to play but cut the Vandal lead down to four at 49-45 with 3:18 left to play but could get no closer.  The two teams combined to go just 26-of-43 from the free throw line as Hawai’i hit 14-of-21 and Idaho hit 12-of-22.  The Warriors rebounded two nights later as they hosted Boise State.  They used a 12-2 run early in the second half to put themselves comfortably ahead and then used a 14-for-15 performance from the free throw line in the final seven minutes to seal the deal.  In stark contrast to their previous game the Warriors hit 20-of-26 free throws (76.9 percent).  The Warriors lead the league in scoring defense through two games allowing just 63.5 points per game.  They are also third in the league in free throw percentage at 72.3 and have attempted the most free throws in the league with 47 attempts.  Paul Campbell leads the league in field goal percentage at 87.5 percent having hit 14-of-16 shots through two games.  The Warriors go on the road to Fresno State and Utah State this week.  A split of the two games would be considered a huge plus for the team.

Idaho (8-5, 1-1)

The week’s results:  01/03 W @ Hawai’i, 59-52, 01/04 L @ San Jose State, 78-75

Upcoming games:  01/09 vs. Louisiana Tech, 01/11 vs. New Mexico State

The Vandals split their road trip to Hawai’i and San Jose State as they held on for a hard fought 59-52 victory over Hawai’i but fell to the Spartans by three in a back-and-forth battle in San Jose.  Both teams shot above 50 percent for the game.  Mac Hopson led Idaho with 19 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.  Idaho held a six point lead early in the second half but were undone by a six-minute offensive drought.  Idaho is second in the league in three point percentage hitting 37.8 percent of their threes (14-of-37) and tops in the league in three point defense as opponents have hit just 7-of-28 through two league games.  The Vandals host league leading Louisiana Tech and New Mexico State this coming week and a sweep at home would put the Vandals in prime position as they play five of their next six conference games at home.

Louisiana Tech (14-2, 2-0)

The week’s results:  01/02 W vs. Nevada, 77-71, 01/04 W vs. Utah State, 82-60

Upcoming games:  01/09 @ Idaho, 01/11 @ Boise State, 01/14 vs. Fresno State

Doubters of Louisiana Tech’s gaudy 12-2 record in non-conference play were quickly silenced as the Bulldogs had a pair of statement victories to open league play.  The Bulldogs held off Nevada 77-71 and then obliterated preseason favorite Utah State 82-60.  Jamel Guyton led the way for the Bulldogs against the Wolf Pack scoring 21 points on 7-of-14 shooting and 6-of-7 shooting from the free throw stripe he added six rebounds and three steals and played 38 minutes.  Kyle Gibson played all 40 minutes against the Pack and added 17 points, seven rebounds and a pair of steals.  Against Utah State the Bulldogs trailed 2-0 but a three pointer gave them a 3-2 lead five minutes into the game and they would not trail for the remainder.  The Bulldogs held a 33-point lead at 69-36 before eventually winning by 22.  Magnum Rolle finished the game with 21 points on 9-of-15 shooting and added 14 rebounds for another double-double.  Louisiana Tech hit 53.3 percent of their field goals, 50 percent of their three point attempts (7-of-14) and 73.3. percent of their free throws (11-of-15) in the rout.  The Bulldogs lead the conference in scoring at 79.5 points per game and have a +14.0 scoring margin per game, the second best margin in the league is +3.0 (Fresno State and San Jose State).  The Bulldogs are second in the legaue in field goal percentage having hit 50 percent of their shots, they are also the best field goal percentage defense allowing just 41.6 percent of their opponents shots to go in.  To go along with the defensive effort the Bulldogs lead the league in steals per game at 7.5.  The Bulldogs will look to further silence their critics as they travel to the state of Idaho this weekend to face Idaho and Boise State.

Nevada (9-6, 1-1)

The week’s results:  01/02 W @ Louisiana Tech, 77-71, 01/04 W @ NMSU, 77-67

Upcoming games:  01/09 vs. San Jose State, 01/13 vs. Utah State

The Wolf Pack earned a road split in one of the most difficult road trips in the WAC, the Ruston/Las Cruces trip.  After dropping a game to Louisiana Tech to start the conference season, the second consecutive season in which they’ve dropped the season opener, the Wolf Pack rebounded with a commanding victory over New Mexico State.  Though the final margin in the victory over New Mexico State was just 10 points, there was little drama in the second half.  Leading by just seven at the break the Wolf Pack never allowed the Aggies to get closer than five points (41-36) and held a 17-point lead at 71-54 with 3:43 remaining to play.  Luke Babbitt played 39 minutes and scored a game high 26 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.  He finished 10-of-14 from the floor and a perfect 3-of-3 from behind the three point arc.  It was Babbitt’s seventh 20-plus point performance and fifth consecutive.  It was also his 10th double-double in 15 games this season.  The Wolf Pack lead the league in rebounding margin at +8.0 per game and are averaging 40.5 rebounds per game.  They also lead the league in offensive rebounds per game at 13.5 and defensive rebounds per game at 27.0 per game.  Lack of bench production continues to be a concern for the Wolf Pack as an article earlier this week by the Reno Gazette-Journal’s beat writer Chris Murray reported that Nevada’s bench contributes just 43 minutes per game, lowest in the league.  They score just 11.7 points per game, third worst in the league.  The Wolf Pack host their next three conference games as San Jose State, Utah State and Idaho all come to Reno.

New Mexico State (8-7, 1-1)

The week’s results:  01/02 W vs. Utah State, 55-52, 01/04 L vs. Nevada, 77-71

Upcoming games:  01/09 @ Boise State, 01/11 @ Idaho

New Mexico State grinded out a 55-52 victory over Utah State to string together their fifth victory of the season.  Jonathan Gibson’s jumper with 17 seconds remaining gave the southern Aggies a three point lead and when Utah State’s three pointer with three seconds left hit iron New Mexico State fans breathed a sigh of relief.  The Aggies went through a six minute scoring drought allowing Utah State to climb back into the game but solid defense down the stretch, a rarity in Las Cruces this season, enabled the southern Aggies to hang on for the victory.  Unfortunately for Marvin Menzies and his crew the euphoria was short lived as Luke Babbitt and Nevada strolled into town two nights later.  The Wolf Pack dominated the Aggies from start to finish.  The Aggies never led in the game and there was just one tie, 2-2, 2:18 into the game.  The Aggie defense had no answer for Luke Babbitt and he scored inside and outside on the Aggies and finished with 26 points.  The Aggies did have five players finish in double-figures in scoring, generally a stat that leads to a win, however, the Aggies’ high-scoring combo of Jahmar Young and Jonathan Gibson mustered only 27 points combined (the duo averaged nearly 40 points per game combined in non-conference play).  The Aggies lead the league in turnover margin at +4.0 and are second in the league in scoring defense giving up 64.5 points per game.  The high flying Aggie offense has been grounded through two league games and are averaging 61.0 points per game, only bettering the 56.0 points per game their fellow Aggies from Logan have put up through two games.  New Mexico State takes the trip to the state of Idaho as they face Boise State and Idaho this weekend.  The Aggies and Broncos have had some wild affairs the past several seasons and the Aggies have never had a particularly easy time in Moscow, even when the Vandals were way down.  Their largest margin of victory over Idaho is just 10 points and last season they suffered their first loss at Idaho since joining the league in the 2005-06 season.

San Jose State (8-5, 1-0)

The week’s results:  01/04 W vs. Idaho, 78-75

Upcoming games:  01/09 @ Nevada, 01/11 @ Fresno State, 01/14 vs. Boise State

The Spartans played just one conference game on opening weekend but they made it count.  SJSU squeaked by Idaho in an offensive slugfest.  Both teams shot above 50 percent from the game but it was Adrian Oliver’s three pointer late in the game that proved to be the difference maker.  The Spartans won a conference opener for the first time since the 1998-99 season.  Adrian Oliver led the Spartans with 22 points on 8-of-17 shooting.  C.J. Webster added 21 points and 11 rebounds on 10-of-14 shooting.  The Spartans are second in the league in scoring at 78.0 points per game and are second best in the league in free throw shooting hitting 73.3 percent of their attempts.  The Spartans will fully kick off the conference season with road trip to face Nevada and Fresno State followed by a home contest against Boise State.  A 2-1 stretch in the three games could signal that San Jose State is ready to get out of the WAC basement.

Utah State (10-6, 0-2)

The week’s results:  01/02 L @ NMSU, 55-52, 01/04 L @ Louisiana Tech, 82-60

Upcoming games:  01/11 vs. Hawai’i, 01/13 @ Nevada

Shellshocked. That’s what the Aggie faithful must be feeling after a shocking 0-2 road trip to open conference play.  After losing a grinder against New Mexico State in a game that favored the northern Aggies, Utah State went on the road and suffered their second worst loss in conference play since joining the WAC (a 100-70 loss at New Mexico State in the 2007-2008 season was the worst).  The last time the Aggies started 0-2 in the WAC they were 10-3 heading into league play and finished just 9-7 but advanced to the conference championship game before falling to host New Mexico State by two.  It’s no time to panic if you’re a Utah State fan. History is on your side.  Two games into the conference season the Aggie offense is nowhere to be found.  The Aggies are averaging a league worst 56 points per game.  The Aggies are second worst in the league in three point shooting 23.1 percent a departure from their normally hot three point shooting.  Utah State hosts Hawai’i as they try to get in the win column and then two days later they travel to Reno for they always contentious battle with the Wolf Pack.

UPCOMING GAMES

  • 01/09 – Idaho vs. Louisiana Tech – 5:00 p.m. PT
  • 01/09 – Fresno State vs. Hawai’i – 7:00 p.m. PT
  • 01/09 – Boise State vs. New Mexico State – 7:00 p.m. MT
  • 01/09 – Nevada vs. San Jose State – 7:00 p.m. PT
  • 01/11 – Fresno State vs. San Jose State – 7:00 p.m. PT
  • 01/11 – Idaho vs. New Mexico State – 7:00 p.m. PT (ESPNU)
  • 01/11 – Boise State vs. Louisiana Tech – 7:00 p.m. MT
  • 01/11 – Utah State vs. Hawai’i – 7:00 p.m. MT
  • 01/13 – Nevada vs. Utah State – 8:00 p.m. PT (ESPN2)
  • 01/14 – San Jose State vs. Boise State – 7:00 p.m. PT
  • 01/14 – Louisiana Tech vs. Fresno State – 8:00 p.m. CT (ESPN Regional)
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