RTC Summer Updates: Western Athletic Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on July 15th, 2011

With the completion of the NBA Draft and the annual coaching and transfer carousels nearing their ends, RTC is rolling out a new series, RTC Summer Updates, to give you a crash course on each Division I conference during the summer months. Our newest update comes courtesy of our WAC correspondents, Sam Wasson of Bleed Crimson and Kevin McCarthy of Parsing The WAC.

Reader’s Take

Summer Storylines

Revolving Door.  The revolving door in the WAC consists of schools, coaches and players.  Last summer, it was the defection of four schools to the Mountain West and the addition of three schools (Denver, Texas State and UT-San Antonio). This summer, there are no more defections (thankfully) but there have been additions.  Seattle University will join the WAC for basketball starting in the 2012-13 season and the latest development has UT-Arlington joining their old Southland Conference brethren, Texas State and UT-San Antonio, in the WAC for the 2012-13 season.  While it’s still one full season away, the signs are pointing to an eventual East/West split of the WAC.  A pair of hopefuls in Utah Valley and Cal State-Bakersfield could bring the basketball league to 12 teams, but whether that comes to fruition remains to be seen.

Early Entries.  On the personnel front, the WAC once again saw several underclassmen declare for the NBA Draft, but unlike last season, which saw four get drafted, none of the 2011 early entries were selected.  New Mexico State scoring leader Troy Gillenwater was one of those who opted to enter early but he withdrew his name from the draft.  However, he will not be returning to New Mexico State after hiring an agent and will likely seek out options in either the NBDL or overseas.  Greg Smith from Fresno State opted to leave the Bulldogs after just two seasons but the 6’9″, 250-pound center did not hear his name called.  One other big name is no longer with his team and that is Louisiana Tech‘s Olu Ashaolu who has transferred to the University of Oregon.  Ashaolu averaged 14.2 points and 9.4 rebounds per game last season for the injury and suspension-depleted Bulldogs and was one of the conference’s top talents.  Ashaolu will be eligible immediately for the Ducks as he earned his undergraduate degree from LA Tech and because Oregon offers a graduate program not available there.

Coaching Carousel.  For coaching changes, it was a busy offseason for a few teams as Fresno State and Louisiana Tech both opted for a fresh start, hiring new head coaches. Both schools drew high praise for their hires.  The Fresno State Bulldogs lured Texas assistant Rodney Terry to Fresno while their namesake counterparts in Louisiana, the LA Tech Bulldogs, hired Ole Miss assistant Michael White. At just 34 years old, White is one of the youngest head coaches in the country joining familiar names Josh Pastner (Memphis) and Brad Stevens (Butler) at that age.  New Mexico State also saw some major turnover in their staff as the Aggies lost a pair of assistants in Mick Durham, who took the head men’s basketball position at Division II Alaska-Fairbanks, and assistant Gerald Lewis, who returned to his alma mater, SMU, as the Director of Basketball Operations.  The Aggies filled one of the two assistant positions by hiring former Kentucky standout Tony Delk who spent the past two seasons at his alma mater alongside John Calipari and staff in a non-coaching role.  Delk figures to have an immediate impact on recruiting, having played in the NBA and also owning a national championship ring while with the Wildcats.

The Dee Glen Smith Spectrum will have to rock even harder than usual in 2011-12 after Utah State lost several contributors from its sterling campaign last season.

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RTC Conference Primers: #14 – WAC

Posted by Brian Goodman on October 22nd, 2010

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

Predicted Order of Finish

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

All-Conference Team (key stats from last season in parentheses)

  • G: Adrian OliverSan Jose State (22.5 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 2.9 APG)
  • G: Hernst LarocheNew Mexico State (6.3 PPG, 3.7 APG, 1.4 SPG, 3.2 RPG, 2.1 A/TO)
  • F: Troy GillenwaterNew Mexico State (14.6 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.3 BPG)
  • F: Tai WesleyUtah State (13.7 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 3.3 APG, 1.3 BPG)
  • C: Greg SmithFresno State (11.5 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 1.2 BPG, 1.2 APG)

6th Man

F: Wendell McKines, New Mexico State (10.7 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 3.1 APG in 2009-10): McKines played a pivotal role as a junior in the Aggies’ run to the Big Dance. However, he suffered a broken foot in practice on October 18 and may not be back until mid-to-late January. The Aggies will miss him in the early part of conference play, but if he comes back healthy, he’ll make a major splash.

Impact Newcomer

Duke transfer Olek Czyz returns home to Reno, but won't be eligible for the Wolf Pack until the start of conference play.

Olek Czyz (F) – Nevada: Czyz, a native of Poland who graduated from high school in Reno, NV, is a 6’7 redshirt sophomore who left Duke to return to Reno, where he won two high school championships. Czyz will miss the first part of the semester fulfilling transfer requirements (he transferred from Duke midseason) but should have an immediate impact in conference play.  Even though Czyz only played in six games for the Blue Devils in 2009-10, the WAC is not the ACC and Nevada is certainly not Duke in terms of history nor talent level. Czyz will likely work himself into a starting spot for the Wolf Pack this season.

What You Need to Know

  • The 2009-10 season was in many ways a banner year for the league. Four teams saw postseason action, with two teams making the NCAA Tournament (New Mexico State and Utah State) while Louisiana Tech played in the CollegeInsider.com postseason tournament and Nevada played in the NIT postseason tournament.  The 2010-11 season figures to be a much different year for the WAC. Four players were selected in the NBA Draft and only Utah State and New Mexico State return more than three starters.
  • The league also welcomes two new head coaches, as Boise State hired Gonzaga top assistant Leon Rice and Hawai’i hired former USC assistant Gib Arnold.
  • This season will also be the final season of the current WAC. The league lost three teams to conference expansion with Boise State, Fresno State and Nevada all headed to the Mountain West. Boise State will play their final season in the WAC while Fresno State and Nevada are working on an exit strategy that would also see this as their final season.
  • Changes were not limited to coaching transitions and conference affiliations either. The WAC Tournament format will change along with its location this season from on-campus sites to neutral sites. The WAC followed the West Coast Conference’s lead and decided to take the tournament to The Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. They also adopted the WCC’s postseason format by giving the top two seeds double byes into the semifinal round.  The first day will see the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th place teams play in the first round, while day two will see the day one winners take on the 3rd and 4th place teams in the quarterfinal round.

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Morning Five: 04.14.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on April 14th, 2010

  1. You already know about Wright State’s Brad Brownell going to Clemson; here are some other comings and goings from yesterday.  Thirty-three year old associate head coach Billy Donlon will be promoted to the top spot at Wright State, making him one of the youngest head coaches in America.  In other coaching news, Dan Hurley has hired his brother, Bobby, to act as an assistant on his bench at Wagner.  On the player side, Baylor’s Ekpe Udoh announced that he will test the waters but he will not sign with an agent, therefore leaving open the (small) possibility of returning to what could be another nasty team in Waco next year.  Udoh is (14/10/4 blks) is projected as a lottery pick.  Duquesne’s Melquan Bolding is leaving the Duke program, whereabouts unknown, while New Mexico State’s Jahmar Young, recently accused of involvement in an attack on an officer in Las Cruces, will sign with an agent and not return to NMSU next season.  In some good news for college basketball, Tennessee’s Scotty Hopson will return to Knoxville next season rather than joining the hordes leaving for the NBA Draft.
  2. Today is a huge day for recruiting, as the first day of the spring signing period begins.  Of particular note are the announcements of the top remaining player in the Class of 2010, Brandon Knight, and the top player in the Class of 2011, Michael Gilchrist, both planning to announce their college choices at 4pm on ESPNU.  Kentucky is rumored to be the leader for both.  Door, revolveth.
  3. The NCAA Legislative Council relaxed a recruiting rule that will now allow coaches to have “recruiting discussions” while players are attending summer camps and clinics on their campuses.  This rule was nearly impossible to enforce in its previous iteration, so this is a natural consequence of what amounted to a worthless measure.  There are still limitations to what coaches can do, but this just validates the conversations that were already happening.
  4. John Wall is joining the Lebron James-backed LRMR Marketing Firm to help build his brand at the next level of basketball.  Considering that James himself is on the fast track to Ali/MJ/Tiger-dom, this is probably a good idea for Wall’s future marketability.  It says here that he’s got the chops (and game) to make himself into quite a conglomerate himself.
  5. This is sick, but totally justifies why police cameras are installed to watch the cops as much as the citizenry.  Dating back to Maryland’s win over Duke in late February, video was released yesterday that supports a student’s claim that he was attacked and beaten by several Prince George’s County police officers for simply skipping down the street in celebration.  This evidence directly contradicts the involved officers’ formal statements about the incident.  No sympathy here.  Strip these animals of their badges, lock them up and throw away the key.  There’s no place for this behavior from those who are supposed to be protecting us.

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Comings & Goings: Weekend Edition

Posted by rtmsf on March 28th, 2010

We haven’t updated this over the weekend because there were some games to attend to, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the college basketball world stopped in its tracks.  So here goes…

The big news of the weekend was that Siena’s Fran McCaffery eschewed several openings in the Big East for a job outside of his comfort zone in the heartland at Iowa.  His work will be cut out for him in Iowa City, as the Hawkeyes were 10-22 (4-14 B10) last year and appear from a talent perspective to be light years away from the 1990s when they were an NCAA Tournament staple.  This article discusses some of the challenges that McCaffery will face coaching and recruiting in the Big Ten.

Meanwhile, St. John’s is apparently taking a hard look at former UCLA coach and current ESPN commentator Steve Lavin, whose hiring would satisfy the Red Storm’s desire for a big-name coach.  A west coast guy, Lavin would need to hire a strong New York-centric staff to handle recruiting the area.  His charisma and the UCLA ‘name’ would certainly help, and the truth is that a Sweet Sixteen-level coach — which is what Lavin was at UCLA and it wasn’t good enough — is probably plenty good enough for the Johnnies at this point.  At least one NY area columnist thinks this would be a great fit.  BC’s Al Skinner is also still reportedly in the mix.

Seton Hall has its guy, as the Pirates hired Iona coach Kevin Willard, who has led Iona out of a 2-28 quagmire to a situation where the Gaels are expected to be one of the top teams in the MAAC next season.  The Hall struck out on McCaffery in part because their pay offer of $700k annually could not approach what a Big Ten school could offer.  Willard was the MAAC Coach of the Year this past season and Rick Pitino is on record as calling him the “best assistant” he’s ever had.

In NBA Draft news, Michigan’s Manny Harris is expected to announce his intention to leave school on Monday.  Harris averaged 18/6/4 assts in a disappointing season for the Wolverines, who missed postseason play altogether.  The 6’5 guard who sometimes struggles with shot selection is projected as a second-round pick at best, but he will have time to assess his prospective position in the draft before making a final decision.

New Mexico State’s Jahmar Young will also test the draft waters after a junior campaign where he averaged 20/4/3 assts for the season.  The 6’5 wing is not currently projected as a pick in either of the first two rounds, so we’d expect to see him back in Las Cruces again next season.

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RTC Live: WAC Championship – Utah State vs. New Mexico State

Posted by rtmsf on March 13th, 2010

It comes down to this in the WAC tournament, a battle of Aggies to see who represents the conference in the NCAA Tournament. The Utah State Aggies have done their best impression of a steamroller, winning their two games in Reno by a combined 54 points, and have been able to empty the bench late in games to give the starters plenty of rest. The New Mexico State Aggies haven’t had things so easy. They rolled through San Jose State in the opening round, but just squeaked by the home  Wolfpack last night 80-79 on a Jahmar Young runner in the lane with three ticks left on the clock. These two teams split the regular season matchups, NMSU won 55-52 in Las Cruces to start conference play and Utah State won their game 81-63 just last week to end regular season conference play. Utah State is probably in the NCAA tournament win or lose tonight, but would sure feel better on Sunday with the auto-bid in hand. New Mexico State could burst someone’s bubble by stealing the bid. Which Aggies will rush the court here in Reno for the WAC title? Come check in with us at RTC Live to see who walks away with the hardware.

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RTC Live: WAC Semis – Utah St vs. La Tech & Nevada vs. NMSU

Posted by rtmsf on March 12th, 2010

Day 1 of the WAC tournament eliminated all the pretenders and now we are left with just the top four teams in the league battling it out.  The first matchup will feature the number one seed Utah State Aggies taking on the number four seed Louisiana Tech Bulldogs.  The Aggies have played the part of the steamroller lately, and after dispatching Boise State yesterday 84-60 have now run their winning streak up to 16 straight games.  Despite the blowout score, Boise State tested the Aggies, forcing an uncharacteristically high 15 turnovers with a full court pressure defense.  Louisiana Tech will likely try to exploit this by pressuring the Aggies as well, probably using the same 1-3-1 zone we saw in a previous RTC Live that features 6’11 Magnum Rolle at the top of the key trapping Utah State’s much smaller guard line.  The key for the Bulldogs will be generating offense.  Kyle Gibson still does not look like his old self, scoring just seven points yesterday, but backcourt mate Jamel Guyton scored 31 to lead the Bulldogs over Fresno State 74-66.  If the Bulldogs can get that kind of offensive explosion again it should be a great game to decide who moves onto the championship game tomorrow.

In the night cap in the WAC tournament the homestanding Nevada Wolfpack will take on the New Mexico State Aggies.  Neither team had any trouble in the opening round here in Reno as Nevada blasted Idaho 87-71 and New Mexico State had no problems with San Jose State winning 90-69.  These two teams met just a week ago here in Reno and the Wolfpack won in a shootout 100-92, led by Brandon Fields ‘career high 32 points.  If Nevada is getting scoring in bunches from players besides Luke Babbitt and Armon Johnson then it’s going to be a long night for New Mexico State.  The Aggies need to get some big numbers out of guards Jahmar Young and Jonathan Gibson, and find someone to slow down Luke Babbitt.  Expect another high scoring, and fast-paced matchup between these two, with the winner moving on to face Louisiana Tech/Utah State for the championship tomorrow night. The game is on ESPN2 so tune and follow along with us on RTC Live.

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RTC Live: WAC Qtrs – San Jose State vs. New Mexico State

Posted by rtmsf on March 11th, 2010

The night cap from the first day of play in the WAC tournament features the #3 seed New Mexico State Aggies versus the #6 seed San Jose State Spartans. New Mexico State comes into the tourney on a two game slide after losing at Nevada and Utah State when two wins would have meant a WAC championship. The Aggies have been a much better team since Troy Gillenwater and Wendell McKines became available during the spring semester, and combined with first team All-WAC player Jahmar Young, they make for a dynamic team capable of scoring in bunches. San Jose State counters with the best pure scorer in the WAC in Adrian Oliver (also a first team All-WAC player) and an odd lineup in which they will play up to four guards at once and try to push the pace of the game. New Mexico State also loves to play the uptempo game so expect each team to finish in the 80s or 90s. The winner of this game gets a semifinal matchup with the winner of the Nevada/Idaho on Friday night, while the loser packs up and hopes for a better season next year. Stay up late and see who can survive and advance to Friday night in Reno.

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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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Checking in on… the WAC

Posted by jstevrtc on January 29th, 2010

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

At the halfway point of the conference race, Louisiana Tech continues to lead, posting a 6-1 record. A showdown between Louisiana Tech and New Mexico State looms large on Saturday. A victory by the Aggies could thrust the league into a three-way tie for first if Utah State is able to defeat a suddenly surging San Jose State squad. Utah State remains hot as they’ve gone from last place after the first weekend to a tie for second place at the midway point. Meanwhile the race to stay out of the WAC basement is currently a three-team battle between Boise State, Idaho and Hawai’i. The Broncos are currently the odd team out but notched an important victory over in-state rival Idaho earlier in the week in the first of two meetings between the schools.

Current Standings:

1) Louisiana Tech, 18-3 (6-1)

T2) New Mexico State, 12-8 (5-2)

T2) Utah State, 14-6 (5-2)

4) San Jose State 12-8 (5-3)

5) Nevada 12-8 (4-3)

6) Fresno State, 11-11 (4-4)

T7) Idaho, 9-10 (2-6)

T7) Hawai’i, 9-12 (2-6)

9) Boise State, 10-11 (1-7)

At the midway point there are several excellent candidates for Midseason Player of the Year. Instead of choosing a midseason POY and angering eight other fanbases in the process, we instead submit the Top 10 scorers and rebounders in the league (conference games only). Surprisingly, Utah State, tied for second place and certainly the league’s hottest team, has no player in the Top 10 in either scoring or rebounding.

Leading Scorers (Conference Games Only):

1. Adrian Oliver, SJSU – 25.1 PPG

2. Luke Babbitt, NEV – 24.7 PPG

3. Jahmar Young, NMSU – 22.9 PPG

4. Kyle Gibson, LT – 21.6 PPG

5. Jonathan Gibson, NMSU – 19.9 PPG

6. Paul George, FS – 17.7 PPG* (Injured, expected to be out 2-3 weeks)

7. Mac Hopson, ID – 17.5 PPG

8. Sylvester Seay, FS – 15.9 PPG

9. Magnum Rolle, LT – 15.4 PPG

10. Brandon Fields, NEV – 15.3 PPG

Leading Rebounders (Conference Games Only):

1. Luke Babbitt, NEV – 10.7 RPG

2. Magnum Rolle, LT – 10.3 RPG

3. Wendell McKines, NMSU – 10.0 RPG

4. Chris Oakes, SJSU – 9.4 RPG

5. Ike Okoye, BSU – 8.8 RPG

6. Hamidu Rahman, NMSU – 8.3 RPG

7. Dario Hunt, NEV – 7.3 RPG

8. Brandon Adams, UH – 7.0 RPG TIED WITH Olu Asaolu, LTU – 7.0 RPG

9. Greg Smith, FS – 6.9 RPG

Team Breakdowns:

Boise State (10-11, 1-7)

The week’s results: 01/25 W @ Idaho, 77-67 (OT)

Upcoming games: 01/30 vs. Fresno State

The Broncos finally notched a conference win, and it was a big one. Boise State traveled to Moscow, ID to face their in-state rival Idaho and the Broncos stunned the home team. Anthony Thomas hit a contested three pointer as time expired to send the game to overtime where they dominated the extra period. Boise State’s win saw them rally from a nine point second half deficit, and the win keeps the Broncos just one game behind Hawai’i and Idaho as they try to avoid missing the conference tournament. Up next for the Broncos is a game against an up and down Fresno State squad who is playing without their leading scorer, Paul George.

Fresno State (11-11, 4-4)

The week’s results: 01/23 W vs. Nevada, 87-77; 01/28 L @ Idaho, 74-59

Upcoming games: 01-30 @ Boise State

The Bulldogs split a pair of games this week, but it was not what anyone expected. The Bulldogs lost their leading scorer, Paul George, last week in the first half against Utah State and were soundly beaten by the Aggies. Just two nights later, the Bulldogs hosted Nevada in what was sure to be another sound beating. However, the Bulldogs rose up and stunned the visiting Wolf Pack, 87-77, behind a big night from Greg Smith (25 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists). Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, they came crashing back down to earth when they traveled to Idaho. The Bulldogs were beaten badly by the Vandals, losing 74-59. The Bulldogs trailed by just two at halftime a 6-0 run by the Vandals to start the half put the Bulldogs in a hole of which they couldn’t dig out. Up next for the Bulldogs is a trip to Boise, ID to face the Broncos.

Hawaii (9-12, 2-6)

The week’s results: 01/24 L vs Louisiana Tech, 65-60; 01/28 L @ San Jose State, 83-60

Upcoming games: 01/30 @ Nevada

The Warriors have lost three in a row and now sit tied with Idaho in seventh place in the league. The Warriors hung tough with league leader Louisiana Tech in a home game, falling 65-60. The Warriors were down just two with 34 seconds to play but could get no closer. A rematch against San Jose State gave the Warriors their third straight loss after beating San Jose State 66-65 in overtime in Honolulu. The Warriors led just once at 7-6, but could not stop the Spartans. Things don’t get any easier for the Warriors as they travel to Reno to take on Nevada.

Idaho (9-10, 2-7)

The week’s results: 01/23 L vs. Utah State, 60-48; 01/25 L vs. Boise State, 77-67 (OT); 01/28 W vs. Fresno State, 74-59

Upcoming games: 01/30 @ Seattle; 02/03 @ Utah State

The Vandals snapped a six game losing streak with a victory over shorthanded Fresno State, winning handily, 74-59. The victory helped erase the pain of giving up a nine point lead late in the game against in-state rival Boise State and a hard fought 60-48 loss to Utah State. The Vandals’ victory over Fresno State was an important win in the league race as they moved into a tie with Hawai’i for 7th place in the league and strengthened their hopes of making the conference tournament. Idaho steps out of conference play with a game at Seattle before heading back to Logan, UT to face the USU Aggies.

Louisiana Tech (18-3, 6-1)

The week’s results: 01/24 W @ Hawai’i, 65-60

Upcoming games: 01/30 vs. New Mexico State; 02/04 vs. San Jose State

The Bulldogs continue to lead the WAC race as they picked up a victory over Hawai’i, 65-60. Magnum Rolle scored 23 points and grabbed a career-high 17 rebounds. Kyle Gibson scored 19 points and Jamel Guyton recorded his first career double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds. The Bulldogs host the New Mexico State Aggies as they attempt to stay in solo first place in the league standings. Following their date with the Aggies, the suddenly hot San Jose State Spartans come to town.

Nevada (12-8, 4-3)

The week’s results: 01/23 L @ Fresno State, 87-77

Upcoming games: 01/30 vs. Hawai’i

The Wolf Pack were stunned by a short-handed Fresno State squad and they missed a golden opportunity to move into a tie for second place with New Mexico State and Utah State. Luke Babbitt scored 29 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the loss. The Wolf Pack will try to rebound when they host Hawai’i.

New Mexico State (12-8, 5-2)

The week’s results: 01/23 L @ San Jose State, 93-84

Upcoming games: 01/30 @ Louisiana Tech

The Aggies had their four game win streak snapped by San Jose State as the two teams had a shootout. Jahmar Young scored a career-high 34 points in the loss and the Aggies dropped into a tie for second place with Utah State. The Aggies finish up a three game road trip with a trip to Ruston, LA to take on league-leading Louisiana Tech.

San Jose State (12-8, 5-3)

The week’s results: 01/23 W vs. New Mexico State, 93-84; 01/28 W vs. Hawai’i, 83-60

Upcoming games: 01/30 @ Utah State; 02/04 @ Louisiana Tech

The Spartans knocked off New Mexico State in a shootout and then exacted revenge for a last-second loss at Hawai’i. The Spartans have won three in a row (and four out of five) but their hot streak will get a stiff test as they face Utah State in Logan, and then Louisiana Tech in Ruston. Adrian Oliver was named the WAC Player of the Week for his 39-point performance against Louisiana Tech, and 22-point performance against New Mexico State. He added a 31-point performance against Hawai’i.

Utah State (15-6, 5-2)

The week’s results: 01/23 W @ Idaho, 60-48

Upcoming games: 01/30 vs. San Jose State; 02/03 vs. Idaho

The Aggies continued their strong run with a victory over Idaho in Moscow. The game pitted teacher versus student at Stew Morrill’s Aggies took down Don Verlin’s Vandals. The win by Utah State was Morrill’s 500th career victory. The Aggies host a hot San Jose State team and then get a rematch at home against Idaho.

UPCOMING GAMES

* 01/30 – Utah State vs. San Jose State – 7:00 p.m. MT (CW30-Utah)

* 01/30 – Seattle vs. Idaho – 7:10 p.m. PT

* 01/30 – Nevada vs. Hawai’i – 7:00 p.m. PT (ESPNU)

* 01/30 – Boise State vs. Fresno State – 8:15 p.m. MT (Bulldog Sports Network)

* 01/30 – Louisiana Tech vs. New Mexico State – 8:00 p.m. CT

* 02/03 – Utah State vs. Idaho – 9:00 p.m. MT (ESPN2)

* 02/04 – Louisiana Tech vs. San Jose State – 7:00 p.m. CT (ESPN Regional)

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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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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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