Summer School in the WAC

Posted by Brian Goodman on August 12th, 2010

 

 

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

Around The WAC:

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

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

Power Rankings:

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

Posted by zhayes9 on June 23rd, 2010

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

I love the NBA Draft.

The Stage Rarely Changes, but the Players Do

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

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

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

1) Washington Wizards – John Wall, PG, Kentucky

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5) Sacramento Kings – DeMarcus Cousins, C, Kentucky

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

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

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RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Luke Babbitt

Posted by rtmsf on June 21st, 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: Luke Babbitt

School: Nevada

Height/Weight: 6’9, 218

NBA Position: Small/Power Forward

Projected Draft Range: Mid-First Round

Overview:  Much like fellow WAC star Paul George, most basketball fans would have a lot of trouble picking Luke Babbitt out of a lineup.  When pressed, they might guess he was Kyle Singler or maybe even Gordon Hayward.  But Babbitt will probably be selected higher than either of those collegiate stars as a result of his rare mixture of NBA-range shooting ability and post play.  The 6’8 wing player who was named the WAC Player of the Year in 2010 averaged 21.9 PPG, 8.8 RPG and 2.1 APG while shooting over 50% from the floor last season, and in part because Nevada was only an NIT team, nobody outside of Reno and its environs has ever seen the kid play.  Luckily for Babbitt, the scouts go everywhere to find talent, and depending on which pundit you believe, the Wolfpack sophomore could be looking at a draft spot from somewhere in the lottery to as far down as the mid-20s.  The reason for the large disparity in his projection has to do with the fact that he’s considered a tweener with tremendous offensive skills who may really struggle to guard people at the next level.  The big question is whether he’ll be able to overcome that deficiency to justify giving him minutes on the offensive end of the floor, and the general feeling among many is that he will figure out a way to do so.   

Who is This Floppy-Haired Man?

Will Translate to the NBA:  You can teach shooting to a certain extent, but those who have the magic touch usually have had it from a very early age.  Babbitt is one of those players.  You cannot leave this guy open out to 25 feet.  The smooth lefty drained 75 treys in two seasons at Nevada at an excellent rate of 42% and utilized his mid-range game to draw numerous fouls for automatic points at the line (where he shot 89%).  He has a number of crafty jab step and fadeaway moves both in the post and on faceups that he uses to create separation from his defender and get clean looks — more often than not, the shot results in the other team catching the ball out of the net.  Babbitt is the kind of player who will be able to provide instant offense off the bench or as a third scoring option on the wing.  His offensive repertoire is NBA-ready.

Needs Work:  This will sound stereotypical, but there are legitimate questions about Babbitt’s ability to defend at the next level.  At the small forward position, he doesn’t currently have the lateral quickness to stay in front of the explosive first steps of the players he’ll be asked to defend.  At the power forward position, he doesn’t have the strength at 218 pounds to withstand nightly punishment in the post.  If he hopes to find significant minutes in an NBA rotation, he will have to shore up one of these areas.  The more likely option is that he adds muscle and gets used to blocking out bigger players down low.  If he can do that successfully, he can become a solid player in this league.

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Morning Five: 04.21.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on April 21st, 2010

  1. The pickings are getting a little lean on the NBA Draft front, as Louisville’s Samardo Samuels, Oklahoma’s Tiny Gallon and Nevada’s Luke Babbitt all declared yesterday.  Babbitt has the best shot at becoming a first rounder, as Gallon and Samuels are not considered by most experts to be in that range.  By our count, these three players make a total of 62 early entries for thirty guaranteed first round spots in the June 24 NBA Draft.  Although the May 8 withdrawal deadline is a complete and utter joke, we hope that many of these players will find the proper counsel needed to make an informed decision about their realistic prospects.
  2. This situation involving the new women’s head coach at Missouri could get interesting.
  3. The three reasons that Kyle Singler decided to buck the trend and return to school despite being a guaranteed first round pick?  1) Duke; 2) improvement; 3) his senior year.  If he played anywhere other than Duke, everyone would be holding this kid up as everything that’s great about college basketball.
  4. Keep an ear to any choice quotes coming from Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delaney today, as he will be holding a press conference in Arizona as part of the annual BCS meetings.  Question we’d pay a reporter to ask: why, sir, must you and your ilk try to ruin everything?
  5. Butler’s Brad Stevens will throw out the ceremonial first pitch for the Chicago Cubs’ May 10 game against the Florida Marlins, and as if that weren’t enough, he’ll also lead the crowd in the singing of Take Me Out to the Ballgame during the 7th inning stretch.  Afterward, Stevens will save a kitten from a tree outside the stadium and offer a homeless man a job.  Seriously, though, good for him so long as he does a little better with the pitch than the Prez did
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More Notes From the Mountain West and WAC Tourneys

Posted by rtmsf on March 13th, 2010

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

Mountain West Semis

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

San Diego State 72, New Mexico 69.

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

UNLV 70, BYU 66.

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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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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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WAC Tournament Preview

Posted by rtmsf on March 11th, 2010

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

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

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

Final Standings (conference tournament seeding order)

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

OUT) Hawai’i, 10-18 (3-13)

All-WAC Honors

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RTC Live: Nevada @ Utah State

Posted by rtmsf on February 6th, 2010

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

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Checking in on… the WAC

Posted by jstevrtc on January 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 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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