Sam Wasson, Co-Founder and Editor of bleedCrimson.net covering New Mexico State athletics, and Kevin McCarthy, Founder of Parsing The WAC, are the RTC correspondents for the WAC.
A Look Back
- Fast Starts: Louisiana Tech, Hawaii and San Jose State all got off to hot starts as Hawaii posted a 4-0 record to open the season and is off to their best start in six seasons winning the 2010 Rainbow Classic. San Jose State picked up wins on Eastern Washington and Oregon and is off to a 3-0 start to the season. Louisiana Tech won the 2K Sports Coaches vs. Cancer Irvine Subregional and is 5-1 on the season.
- New Coaches, New Results: Both Hawaii and Boise State hired new coaches and both are seeing immediate dividends as the two teams are a combined 7-0 to start the season. Leon Rice has the Broncos rolling with a 3-0 start, including road wins at UC Davis and San Diego. Gib Arnold and his Warriors are undefeated start the season including a solid 65-62 win over Central Washington, which was televised on ESPN as part of the network’s 24-hour tipoff marathon.
Player of the Week
Louisiana Tech’s DeAndre Brown earns the Western Athletic Conference Men’s Basketball Player of the Week for the week of November 15-21 as he led the Bulldogs in four wins last week, scoring double-digits in all four games. He scored ten points in a 60-54 win over Houston, 18 in an 85-72 win over Seattle, 15 points with a career-high five three-pointers in an 80-65 win against Navy and a career-high 26 points in a 76-72 win over UC Irvine. He was also was named MVP of the 2K Sports Classic Benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer Irvine subregional. Over the four games, Brown averaged a team-high 17.3 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 3.5 APG and 1.5 SPG per game. He also shot 42.6 percent (26-of-61) from the field, including nine makes from three-point range.
1. San Jose State (4-0)
Up Next: 11/24 at CS-Bakersfield, 11/28 vs. UC-Riverside, 11/30 at UT-San Antonio
Taking down Eastern Washington 67-60 on the road and San Francisco at home, 74-64, produced positive feelings for Spartan fans. Oregon was next on the schedule and, although the Ducks are down (this is no attempt to equate the Oregon basketball team members to comforter filling), any game on venerable McArthur Court is an experience for opponents due to both the rabidity (yes, Ducks with rabies is our next national nightmare) and the closeness of the vociferous UO fans. A three-point play (the traditional kind) by Justin Graham with 2.8 seconds to play allowed San Jose State to depart Eugene with a 75-72 victory. Like Hawaii, the Spartans remain undefeated. Adrian Oliver opened the season with 34 points, then tallied 25 versus San Francisco and put 19 on the scoreboard against Oregon.
2. Louisiana Tech (5-1)
Up Next: 11/26 vs. Arkansas-Little Rock, 12/01 at Southern Methodist
After losing 89-58 to Texas to start the season, the Bulldogs have rattled off five straight victories including wins over Houston (60-54), Seattle (85-72) and UC-Irvine (76-72). Forward Olu Ashaolu has picked up where he left off last season and leads the team in rebounding averaging just over 10 rebounds per game. Point guard DeAndre Brown has picked up his scoring pace and is averaging 16 points per game after averaging 10.6 PPG last season. Thus far the Bulldogs have answered the question of how they would respond to losing their top three scorers and top three rebounders.
3. Hawaii (3-0)
Up Next: 11/24 vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 12/01 at Cal Poly
UH basketball fans are giddy over Gib. Here’s a prime example: on one of the message boards, someone has posted a query asking how UH can keep coach Gib Arnold from moving on up elsewhere? This after just four games have been played! In the Rainbow Classic, Montana State fell first (77-59), then Fullerton (84-70) and finally Central Michigan succumbed to the ‘Bows (65-62). The latest to fall short? Central Arkansas 83-69, thus making Hawaii undefeated so far. The squad is a band of newcomers anchored by experienced seniors Hiram Thompson (14.0 PPG/22 assists) and Bill Amis (15.8 PPG/6.8 RPG). So, who among the newbies has contributed? Freshman Bo Barnes, once thought of as a redshirt candidate, for one. he’s shooting 54% on 26 three-point attempts, Josten Thomas, a 6’7 junior college transfer sophomore, is currently checking in at 12.5 PPG and 6.3 RPG.
4. Boise State (3-0)
Up Next: 11/24 vs. Eastern Washington, 11/27 vs. Denver, 11/29 at Northern Illinois
Like their football brethren, the Boise State Broncos have yet to lose a game. While they’re only three games into the season, former top Gonzaga assistant Leon Rice has injected new life into the men’s basketball program. The Broncos opened up with an easy win over Western State (78-52) and then picked up a strong 65-60 road win at WCC foe San Diego and then followed that up with a second road win at UC-Davis winning handily 67-47. La’Shard Anderson and Robert Arnold lead the way for the Broncos in scoring, as Anderson is averaging 18.3 PPG and Arnold is averaging 18.0 PPG.
5. Utah State (2-1)
Up Next: 11/24 vs. Utah, 11/27 vs. Northeastern, 12/01 at Denver
The defending regular season champions and preseason favorites are off to a 2-1 start after picking up a pair of in-state wins over Weber State (77-65) and Southern Utah (66-53) while falling at BYU, 78-72. Tai Wesley is leading the way once again for Utah State averaging 16.7 PPG and 6.7 RPG. Newcomer Brockieth Pane has been solid thus far for the Aggies averaging 11.7 PPG. Brian Green scored a career-high 19 points off the bench in the Ags’ win over Southern Utah. The Ags will be tested as three of their next four games come against NCAA-caliber teams in Utah, Northeastern and Georgetown.
6. Nevada (1-4)
Up Next: 11/30 at South Dakota State
It’s been a struggle early for the Wolf Pack as they set out to replace 84% of their lost scoring from last season. The Pack won their season opener against Montana, 81-66, but have since dropped four straight games in the Preseason NIT Tip-Off losing to Pacific (64-53), Pepperdine (76-75), George Washington (58-56) and Boston (66-57). Dario Hunt leads the way for Nevada averaging 14.6 PPG and 8.0 RPG. Malik Story is averaging 11.2 PPG but no other Nevada players are in double-digits in point production.
7. Fresno State (1-2)
Up Next: 11/26 vs. Washington State, 11/30 at Utah
Returning to his home away from home in a road opener, coach Steve Cleveland was treated rudely by BYU to the tune of a 83-56 rout. Then, the Vanguard Mutual Funders (for the ultra literal, we’re kidding about the nickname) came to town and the Bulldogs routed the Lions (shouldn’t it have been the Bears?) 74-42. A visit to Santa Barbara followed and it wasn’t what the Bulldogs desired — a 69-54 loss. The Bulldogs were down 35-24 at the half with the Gauchos opening the game by scoring the first 13 points. Coach Cleveland’s squad pulled within four opening the second half but the momentum didn’t hold. Sophomore Greg Smith put up 15 points and grabbed eight boards. The Bulldogs shot 40% for the game and 22% from long distance. Santa Barbara shot 51% overall. But for a team losing Paul George, at least one if not two seasons early, plus Sylvester Seay, any consistency, especially at the offensive end, will take time. Someone has to step up from the outside and be a threat. Interestingly enough, in the first three games of the season, the Bulldogs’ leading scorer has also been the top rebounder in each game but it has been a different player each game. Nedeljko Golubovic had 12 points and eight rebounds in the Bulldogs’ first game, Bennie Rhodes scored 17 points and grabbed eight boards in the second game and Greg Smith had 15 points and eight rebounds in Fresno State’s third game.
8. Idaho (1-3)
Up Next: 11/27 at Eastern Washington
The Vandals have lost three straight since an 86-74 opening season victory against Eastern Oregon. The Vandals were blown out, 88-71, by Washington State in the cross-border rivalry game then fell, 66-53, Portland but nothing compared to the Vandals’ abysmal performance against Montana earlier this week. Idaho went into Missoula and was throttled, 75-33. The 42-point loss was one of the worst in the program’s history. Luiz Toledo scored nearly half of the team’s points (16) in the loss. UI put up statistics that one will likely never again see in a collegiate basketball game. The Vandals hit just six shots from the floor and were 3-22 in the first half (13.6 percent) and 3-28 (10.7 percent) in the second half. If not for 20 free throw makes in the game, Idaho would not have even reached 20 points.
9. New Mexico State (2-4)
Up Next: 11/30 vs. UTEP
The New Mexico State Aggies have thus far been the league’s most disappointing team. After opening up the season with a 92-76 win over the University of Louisiana-Lafayette and a 95-62 win over Division-II Western New Mexico, the Aggies have been pounded in four straight games and have been called out by their head coach for quitting in the second half against Arizona. To make matters worse, their top returner, Troy Gillenwater was benched for the second half of a loss against USC in the Hall of Fame Tip-off. Meanwhile, the Aggies have lost by 26, 14, 19 and 17 points to Arizona, UMass, Southern Cal and UTEP, respectively. The road does not get any easier for the Aggies as their next three games are against rivals UTEP and then a home-and-home against New Mexico. Gillenwater is averaging 18.2 PPG while point guard Hernst Laroche is averaging 11 points and 4.83 RPG. Freshman Christian Kabongo is averaging 8.8 points and 4.3 rebounds per game.
A Look Ahead
Non-Con Rivalries: New Mexico State gets a return trip from UTEP before an in-season home-and-home against New Mexico. Utah State will face their out-of-conference nemesis Utah. The rest of the league will look to continue their solid play in non-conference, though the big opportunities to make some noise will come in December.