WAC Quarterfinal Recap & Semifinal Preview

Posted by nvr1983 on March 13th, 2009

Kevin McCarthy of Parsing the WAC and Sam Wasson of bleedCrimson.net are the RTC correspondents for the WAC.

Note: Rush the Court will be live-blogging tonight’s WAC Semifinals, which starts at 8:30 PM ET.

The quarterfinals of the 2009 WAC Tournament are in the books and the league’s top two seeded teams–Utah State and Nevada–advanced. The #3 and #4 seeds Idaho and Boise State? Not nearly as fortunate. Each session brought its own upset as in the tournament’s first game #5 seed New Mexico State upended #4 seed Boise State. The Broncos had won the first two meetings of the season and were looking to make it three straight and looked to be off to a good start when they built a 30-20 lead midway through the first half. However, New Mexico State found its shot and took a 38-36 lead into the break. Boise State tied the game at 38 apiece less than a minute into the game after a pair of made free throws but that’s as close as they would get the rest of the way. Spurred by an 8-0 run, New Mexico State seized control of the game and timely free throws and a second half barrage of three pointers by junior guard Jonathan Gibson helped the Aggies to advance to the semifinals. Gibson finished with a team high 22 points for the Aggies. Boise State was led by Mark Sanchez who scored a game high 25 points. In all four Aggies finished with double figures in scoring while three Broncos achieved that mark. Boise State finishes the season at 19-12 and will await their postseason fate. The Aggies improve to 17-14 and will face top seed Utah State at 6:00 p.m. PT.

In the first session’s second game the regular season champion Utah State took on #9 seed Fresno State. Most Aggie fans approached this game with a bit of guarded optimism not normally seen in a 1 vs. 9 matchup. However, there was due cause for their concern as Fresno State had pushed Utah State to the brink in both regular season meetings. The Bulldogs had lost by just four in the always tough Dee Glenn Smith Spectrum in Logan and then later took Utah State to overtime before eventually losing. After Fresno State escaped the 8/9 play-in game against Hawai’i, they looked to spring the upset. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, the Aggies had different plans. Utah State jumped out to a 16-3 lead and never looked back. Utah State hit a season high 13 three pointers en route to an 85-68 victory. Utah State’s Stavon Williams finished with 22 points on 8-11 shooting including 6-8 from three point distance. Gary Wilkinson and Jared Quayle each pitched in 18 for the Aggies. Fresno State had four players reach double figures led by freshman Paul George with 16. Senior Dwight O’Neil, playing in his final game scored 14 points. Utah State rekindles their rivalry with New Mexico State in the first semifinal game at 6:00 p.m. PT.

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Checking in on the… WAC

Posted by rtmsf on February 6th, 2009

Kevin McCarthy of Parsing the WAC and Sam Wasson of bleedCrimson.net are the RTC correspondents for the WAC.

Current Standings (Updated through games played on 02/05/09):

  1. Utah State (10-0, 22-1)
  2. Nevada (6-6, 13-9)
  3. Boise State (5-3, 15-6)
  4. New Mexico State (5-5, 11-12)
  5. Idaho (4-4, 10-11)
  6. San Jose State (4-5, 10-10)
  7. Hawai’i (3-7, 11-11)
  8. Louisiana Tech (3-7, 9-14)
  9. Fresno State (1-7, 9-14)

Official WAC Player of the Week — Jahmar Young

The sophomore Young did just about everything but pop the popcorn and take tickets at the Pan-American Center last week and rightly came away with the WAC Player of the Week award. Young averaged 28.5 points per game on 72.7% shooting from the floor in wins against San Jose State and Hawaii. He was ‘en fuego’ from three-point range — seven for ten — and sank 18 of 20 free throws. Young also grabbed 10 rebounds and made four steals.

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Checking in on the… WAC

Posted by rtmsf on January 22nd, 2009

Kevin McCarthy of Parsing the WAC and Sam Wasson of bleedcrimson.net are the RTC correspondents for the WAC.

Current Standings:

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

Home Cookin’. Order was restored last week as after the first two weeks of conference play the road teams had jumped out to a 10-5 record against the hosts. However last week the home teams regained that home court advantage, going 6-1. Of the road losers, Fresno State could probably be declared the winner after two close losses to conference leaders Utah State and Nevada, falling by five points and four points respectively. Boise State probably had the toughest time as they went into the week undefeated in league play but came out nursing two double-digit defeats.

Official WAC Player of the Week. Nevada freshman frontcourter Luke Babbitt has been selected the Western Athletic Conference Men’s Basketball Player of the Week for the second straight week. In Wolf Pack wins over Boise State and Fresno State. Babbitt notched 18 points, 10 boards and two shot blocks in the former and 22 points along with 13 rebounds, against the latter.

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Checking in on the… WAC

Posted by rtmsf on December 4th, 2008

Kevin McCarthy from Parsing The WAC and Sam Wasson from bleedCrimson.net are the RTC correspondents for the WAC.

Not-so-happy WAC Happenings. A “one horse town” is usually offered as a disparaging comment towards a podunk community out in the hinterlands. The same applies with the term a “one bid league” in reference to Big Dance invites. Like it or not — accept it or not —  the WAC basketball programs are inexorably moving towards solely sending the conference tournament champion to the NCAAs, period. Sure, there are a number of WAC teams that will get better as the season progresses but a spate of unexpected early season defeats have already placed the league into ‘getting one invite’ standing.

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Checking in on the… WAC

Posted by rtmsf on December 1st, 2008

Kevin McCarthy from Parsing The WAC and Sam Wasson from bleedCrimson.net are the RTC correspondents for the WAC. 

(ed. note – we received this from our correspondents on Wednesday, Nov. 26, but due to unforeseen circumstances we were unable to post until today)

Flyspecks on the wall of the WAC

It’s a new season and mostly new lineups for the Western Athletic Conference in 2008-2009. A high percentage of the top players have graduated, leaving just two of the top 15 scorers back, Louisiana Tech junior guard Kyle Gibson and Utah State forward Gary Wilkinson.

In the snarkilicious So-What Department, WAC member teams went a perfect 14-0 in exhibition play this year. That’s not exactly the mighty flag Commissioner Karl Benson wants to fly. Once the real season started, the WAC has gone 19-13 in out-of-conference play. There have not been many notable victories, although, there have not been as many notable opponents as in seasons past either as the early schedule has been littered with the likes of Montana State-Northern, Grambling State, Evergreen and the mighty mighty California Maritime Academy, although, we’ll give San Jose State a pass because at least they didn’t schedule the Academy of Art (we’re looking at you University of San Francisco). The league has had early season battles with Southern Cal, San Diego, San Diego State, Michigan State, Gonzaga, St. Mary’s and Siena.

The conference player of the week was Boise State senior Mark Sanchez. A reserve last season, he’s playing the most minutes on the team and leading the Broncos in scoring, shooting percentage, free throws attempted and rebounding. Can he still have a place on the ‘Gettin’ No Love’ team or does the current attention he’s receiving disqualify him?

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2008-09 Season Primers: #13 – WAC

Posted by rtmsf on October 30th, 2008

Kevin McCarthy from Parsing The WAC and Sam Wasson from bleedCrimson.net are the RTC correspondents for the WAC. 

Predicted Order of Finish:

(Kevin’s Prediction)

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

(Sam’s Prediction)

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

WYN2K.  The most unusual aspect about the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) in the fast-approaching season is that there is no league favorite. Yes, the usual suspects Nevada, Utah State and possibly New Mexico State could very well finish at or around the top but there’s no bet-the-house team that will run roughshod over the other squads.  Adding some spice to the recipe, Louisiana Tech and San Jose State are now ready to complicate matters and join the big brothers of the league, making it a five-dom vying for the top spot in 2008-2009.  The WAC should be affixed with a ‘high degree of parity’ label but this new season also offers a definite divide: a schism of the five most competitive teams and then the four remaining and re-tooling squads.

Predicted Champion.  The winner can be reached via Highway 80…that’s Nevada (NCAA #12) for the geographically destitute.

Others Considered.  Utah State, Louisiana Tech, San Jose State and New Mexico State all offer the possibility of taking the league crown.

RPI Booster Games.  If any of these games become victories for The Big Five of the WAC or Boise State, Fresno State, Hawaii and Idaho then it’s a boost to the conference power ranking.

Boise State

  • @ BYU  (10.10.08)
  • @ San Diego (10.22.08)

Fresno State

  • @ St. Mary’s (11.17.08)
  • v. UNLV (12.03.08)


  • @ Illinois  (12.08.08)


  • @ Michigan State  (11.16.08) 
  • @ Gonzaga  (11.18.08)
  • @ Washington State  (12.21.08)

Louisiana Tech

  • @ UCLA  (12.28.08)

New Mexico State

  • @ USC  (11.18.08)
  • @ Kansas  (12.03.08)
  • @ New Mexico  (12.23.08)
  • v. New Mexico  (12.30.08)


  • @ San Diego  (11.15.08)
  • v. UNLV  (12.06.08)
  • v. North Carolina  (12.31.08)

San Jose State

  • @ San Diego  (11.08.08)
  • @ St. Mary’s  (11.27-28.08)

Utah State

  • @ BYU  (12.06.08)
  • v. Utah  (12.22.08)

The Circular Firing Squad. In 2008-2009, leaving town to play league opponents will not have any WAC teams cheerily singing of yellow brick roads, more a frosty recital wishing for roads less taken.

Multiple NCAA Bids. It won’t happen this season due to multiple poor non-conference schedules and also because of intra-conference battles that will hemorrhage league win-loss records.

Possible NCAA Success. Not likely as Nevada will be a year of experience and another solid frontcourter away from nabbing at least one Big Dance victory.

NIT.  After the WAC champion heads off to the NCAAs, complete with visions of making it to Ford Field dancing in their heads, look for four NIT invites to be extended to Utah State, Louisiana Tech, San Jose State and New Mexico State respectively. Utah State has a string of nine straight postseason bids while Louisiana Tech and San Jose State will be game to host or head anywhere after the WAC tournament in order to extend their seasons, as will New Mexico State.

The Widest WAC Shoulders aka The MVP.  Luke Babbitt. This Nevada freshman will be THE MAN in the frontcourt for Coach Mark Fox. He needs to be as the Wolf Pack has very little firepower at the one and two positions except for him. So how long will it take Reno-ites to label Babbitt as Hot Hand Luke?

WAC All-Leaguers. Gary Wilkinson – Utah State, Brandon Fields – Nevada, Jonathan Gibson – New Mexico State, Magnum Rolle – Louisiana Tech, Adrian Oliver – San Jose State.

Contenders.  Kyle Gibson, Louisiana Tech, Roderick Flemings – Hawaii, Armon Johnson – Nevada, Sylvester Seay – Fresno State, Jahmar Young – New Mexico State, C.J. Webster – San Jose State, Mac Hopson – Idaho

Questions to be answered.

  • Can Utah State’s 6′ 9″ Gary Wilkinson dominate this season?
  • Who will be the greater contributor for USU, Tai Wesley, Tyler Newbold or will it be equal?
  • Will 6′ 10″ Brandon Webster step forward this season or remain a ‘tease’ for Fresno State?
  • Can Roderick Flemings average a double-double for Hawaii?
  • Will someone step up at the point for Louisiana Tech head coach Kerry Rupp?
  • Can oft-injured Richie Phillips and necomers Dario Hunt and Ahyaro Phillips provide enough help upfront for Luke Babbitt at Nevada?
  • How long will it take for San Jose State’s Adrian Oliver to discard his rustiness from sitting out?
  • Will Johnathan Gibson or Jahmar Young, or both, step up the most for New Mexico State?
  • How will the roster turnover at New Mexico State roster affect the team’s chemistry. Five seniors graduated and underclassmen Herb Pope, Jaydee Luster, DeAngelo Williams, Chris Cole, Paris Carter, Johnnie Higgins left the program in the offseason while Wendell McKines left briefly but came back. The Aggies also added Mick Durham as assistant coach to replace Matt Grady.

Did You Know.  The 2007-08 season saw four teams tie for the regular season title at 12-4 (Nevada, Utah State, Boise State and New Mexico State).

Final Thoughts.  Unlike last season, most of the better talents in the WAC should be returning in 2009-2010 as just Gary Wilkinson among the top players completes his eligibility. This bodes well for multi-Big Dance WAC invites down the road, as the league could be a year away from returning to its perch as one of the premier high mid-major conferences.

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