Checking in on… the WAC

Posted by rtmsf on December 26th, 2009

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

The WAC has picked up a little steam in the non-conference now that they have finished facing the tougher opponents and has a non-conference record of 65-42.  In the past week of play it posted a 17-7 record in non-conference play.  Unfortunately the league had plenty of wasted opportunities to notch RPI-boosting wins and as a result the highest rated team in the RPI is Louisiana Tech at #69 and they are the only team with a Top 100 RPI.  Nevada is the next closest at #102.  With most of the team wrapping up their non-conference play in the next week against weak opponents, the league as a whole is the 14th rated league according to conference RPI, much lower than they had hoped for heading into the season and even behind the Colonial Athletic, Conference USA, West Coast Conference and Horizon League and just ahead of the Mid-American and Big Sky.

Boise State (5-4)

The week’s results:  12/19 W vs. Houston Baptist, 96-59, 12/21 W vs. Portland State, 69-62, 12/23 W vs. Montana State, 58-56

Upcoming games:  12/29 vs. Northwest Nazarene

Ike Okoye leads the Broncos nearly averaging a double-double with 14.1 points and 9.0 rebounds per game.  La’Shard Anderson is averaging 12.1 points per game.  Two other Broncos are averaging double-digits in scoring as Robert Arnold is averaging 11.0 points per game and Kurt Cunningham is averaging 10 points per game for the Broncos.

The Broncos are riding a three game winning streak and should make it four in a row before they head into league play on the road.  Boise State notched wins over Houston Baptist and then took down a pair of Big Sky opponents in Portland State and Montana State.  The Broncos host Northwest Nazarene on Tuesday, December 29.

Fresno State (6-7)

The week’s results:  12/19 W vs. North Dakota State, 68-54, 12/21 L @ Montana, 59-56, 12/23 L @ Oregon State, 73-65

Upcoming games:  12/28 vs. Colorado State

The Bulldogs have lost two in a row to drop below .500 on the season after losses at Montana and Oregon State.  The Bulldogs came up three points shy versus the Grizzlies in Missoula in a  game that was tied at halftime.  Fresno State led until 2:47 left in the game and trailed by one point with 41 seconds left but Montana’s Anthony Johnson drained a foul-line jumper to give the Grizzlies a three point lead.  Paul George scored 28 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the game but it was not quite enough.  Against Oregon State the Bulldogs led 4-2 early on but after a 9-0 run by the Beavers, the Bulldogs trailed the rest of the game.  Paul George once again led the Bulldogs scoring 15 points and grabbing nine rebounds.  George is averaging 17.4 points and 8.2 rebounds per game this season.  Sylvester Seay is averaging 15.6 points and 5.5 rebounds while Greg Smith is averaging 11.5 points and 6.6 points per game.

The Bulldogs wrap up non-conference play at home against Colorado State on Monday, December 28.

Hawaii (6-5)

The week’s results:  12/22 W vs. College of Charleston (Diamond Head Classic), 84-71, 12/23 L vs. No. 20 UNLV (Diamond Head Classic), 77-53,  12/25 L vs. St. Mary’s (Diamond Head Classic), 84-75.

Upcoming games:  12/29 vs. Northwestern State

The Warriors picked up a solid win over College of Charleston in the Diamond Head Classic but were overmatched against No. 20 UNLV falling 77-53 and St. Mary’s on Christmas Day.  The Warriors will close out non-conference play against Northwestern State.

Roderick Flemings is averaging 15.0 points and 6.5 rebounds for the Warriors.  Petras Balocka is averaging a double-double with 10.4 points and 10.1 rebounds per game.  Dwain Williams and Hiram Thompson are both averaging double-digits in scoring with Williams at 12.0 points per game and Thompson at 10.2 points per game.

Idaho (6-4)

The week’s results:  12/22 L @ Portland, 82-52

Upcoming games:  12/29 vs. Lewis-Clark State (in Boise, ID)

The Vandals started the non-conference season with an impressive 94-87 win over Utah in Salt Lake City.  However, they ended the non-conference season with a disastrous 30-point loss to Portland.  Portland’s Jared Stohl torched the Vandals for 30 points on a school-record 10 threes.  Not helping the cause were the Vandals’ awful free throw shooting, 12-of-29 (41.4 percent) and they hit just 2-of-11 three point attempts.  Mac Hopson led the Vandals with 15 points while Marvin Jefferson pulled won eight rebounds.  The Vandals have a lengthy layoff to think about their last loss before they start conference play.  Idaho has a 12-day layoff before facing Hawai’i on the islands on January 3, 2010.

Louisiana Tech (11-2)

The week’s results:  12/19 W vs. McNeese State, 87-81, 12/22 W vs. UT-Pan American, 79-58

Upcoming games: 12/29 @ Houston

The Bulldogs continued their impressive play with a pair of victories over McNeese State and UT-Pan American.  The Bulldogs have one final non-conference test against Houston.  Louisiana Tech continues to have five players averaging double-digits in scoring and are led by Kyle Gibson who is averaging 21.1 points per game.  Two Bulldogs are nearly averaging double-doubles as Olu Ashaolu is averaging 11.8 points and 8.5 rebounds per game and Magnum Rolle is averaging 11.7 points and 8.2 rebounds per game.

Nevada (7-5)

The week’s results:  12/19 W vs. Wagner, 74-61, 12/22 L vs. BYU (Las Vegas Classic), 110-104, 12/23 W vs. Tulsa (Las Vegas Classic), 99-68

Upcoming games:  12/28 vs. Portland

The Wolf Pack lost a shootout with the BYU Cougars in the Las Vegas Classic, 110-104.  The Pack led 50-46 at the half but BYU scored 64 points in the second half to erase the halftime deficit.  BYU’s Jimmer Fredette scored 33 points and dished out six assists and had three steals.  Armon Johnson nearly matched Fredette’s production for the Wolf Pack with 30 points and five assists.  Luke Babbitt scored 20 points and grabbed six rebounds for the Wolf Pack as well.  Nevada rebounded from the loss with a convincing 99-68 victory over Tulsa.  Luke Babbitt led the way for the Wolf Pack with 24 points and 11 rebounds.  Dario Hunt and Armon Johnson each chipped in 17 points as the Wolf Pack shot 56 percent (36-of-64) from the field for the game.

The Wolf Pack wrap up non-conference play against Portland on Monday, December 28.

New Mexico State (6-6)

The week’s results:  12/18 W @ Pepperdine, 78-72, 12/21 W vs. Alcorn State, 97-72, 12/23 W vs. Texas Southern, 79-75

Upcoming games:  12/28 vs. Prairie View A&M

The Aggies and head coach Marvin Menzies are on a three game winning streak but the bigger news for the squad is that they received a much needed boost in depth when is was announced that junior forward Wendell McKines was declared academically eligible and cleared to play with the team the rest of the season.  McKines suited up for the first time this season against Alcorn State, a 97-72 Aggie victory.  McKines scored eight points, grabbed eight rebounds and dished out six assists. However, his presence was much more noticeable in the Aggies’ 79-75 victory over a pesky Texas Southern squad.  The Aggies played without starting center Hamidu Rahman who is averaging 12.3 points and 9.3 rebounds per game.  McKines stepped up and scored 18 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and dished out another six assists as the Aggies avoided the upset against Texas Southern.

The Aggies host one final non-conference game at home versus Prairie View A&M as they try to push their record over .500 for the first time all season.

San Jose State (6-5)

The week’s results:  12/18 W @ UC-Irvine, 69-56, 12/21 L @ Northern Colorado, 93-69, 12/23 W @ Santa Clara, 74-68

Upcoming games:  12/28 vs. UC-Irvine

After a week without playing the Spartans took to the road for a three-game swing and came away with a 2-1 record.  The Spartans picked up a 69-56 victory over UC-Irvine but then traveled to Greeley, CO, and got whacked by Northern Colorado.  The Bears’ hit 18 three pointers en route the victory over the visiting Spartans.  SJSU rebounded with a solid 74-68 win at Santa Clara. The Spartans will wrap up their non-conference schedule with a return game from UC-Irvine as the Spartans try to sweep the Anteaters.

The Spartans have three players averaging double-digits in scoring as they’re led by Adrian Oliver at 19.9 points per game. Chris Oakes is averaging a double-double scoring 10.3 points and grabbing 11.4 rebounds per game and Justin Graham is averaging 10.4 points and 4.3 assists per game.

Utah State (9-4)

The week’s results:  12/18 L @ Long Beach State, 75-62, 12/21 W vs. Morehead State, 79-72, 12/22 W vs. Cal State-Fullerton, 83-60, 12/23 W vs. Weber State, 85-73

Upcoming games:  12/29 vs. Western Oregon

The Aggies should head into conference play on a four game winning streak.  After dropping a tough game at Long Beach State, the Aggies rebounded with three consecutive home wins versus Morehead State, Cal State-Fullerton and Weber State.  The Aggies’ game against Weber State pitted Stew Morrill against former assistant Randy Rahe.  It was the Aggies’ second win over Weber State this season and it earned them the Old Oquirrh Bucket which is awarded for basketball supremacy in the state of Utah each season.  The Aggies finished with a 5-1 record against their in-state rivals with their lone loss coming to BYU.

The Aggies have one final non-conference game versus Western Oregon before heading on the road to start WAC play.  Utah State has three players averaging double-digits in scoring and are led by Tai Wesley who is averaging 14.0 points and 6.8 rebounds per game.  Jared Quayle is averaging 12.0 points and 6.4 rebounds per game while Nate Bendall is averaging 11.3 points and 6.8 rebounds per game.

UPCOMING GAMES OF INTEREST:

  • 12/28 – San Jose State vs. UC-Irvine – 7:00 P.M. PT
  • 12/28 – Nevada vs. Portland – 7:00 P.M PT
  • 12/28 – Fresno State vs. Colorado State – 7:00 P.M. PT
  • 12/29 – Louisiana Tech at Houston – 7:00 P.M. CT
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Checking in on… the WAC

Posted by jstevrtc on December 18th, 2009

checkinginon

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 (9-2)
  2. Idaho (6-3)
  3. Utah State (6-3)
  4. Boise State (5-4)
  5. Nevada (5-4)
  6. Hawai’i (5-4)
  7. Fresno State (5-5)
  8. San Jose State (4-4)
  9. New Mexico State (3-6)

Louisiana Tech continues to lead the league after posting a pair of victories.  Utah State notched a pair of victories while Idaho narrowly escaped NAIA opponent Eastern Oregon.  Hawai’i picked up a victory over visiting Chicago State to break over the .500 mark.  In all, eight of the nine teams now stand at .500 or better with the lone outcast residing in Las Cruces, N.M.  The league now sports a 48-35 record as the teams head down the final stretch towards conference play.

Boise State (5-4)

The week’s results:  12/12 L vs. San Diego, 59-56

Upcoming games:  12/19 vs. Houston Baptist; 12/21 vs. Portland State; 12/23 vs. Montana State

The Broncos “spit the bit” against the visiting Toreros from San Diego as Boise State held a 27-19 halftime lead but lost 59-56 as the Toreros hit their fifth three pointer of the second half to steal the victory.  Free throw shooting aided the Bronco demise as the team hit just 13-of-21 attempts in the game (61.9%).

The Broncos have a chance to generate some good momentum heading into conference play as they host three more at home before Christmas.

Fresno State (5-5)

The week’s results:  12/12 L vs. BYU, 72-67; 12/17 W vs. UC-Davis, 68-57

Upcoming games:  12/19 vs. North Dakota State; 12/21 @ Montana; 12/23 @ Oregon State

The Bulldogs split a pair of games last week falling narrowly to BYU, 72-67, in a game that BYU led 58-41 midway through the second half. Greg Smith led the way for the Bulldogs in that game with 21 points and eight rebounds but the solid play of BYU’s Jimmer Fredette, and his 24 points and seven assists, was too much to overcome.  The Bulldogs bounced back with a 68-57 win over UC-Davis.  Mike Ladd scored 18 points and Smith added 17.  Paul George filled the stat sheet with 14 points, nine rebounds and six steals.  George and Sylvester Seay are averaging 17.3 and 17 PPG, respectively, while Smith has upped his scoring average to 12.3 PPG.

The Bulldogs also play three games before Christmas as they host North Dakota State and then take their show on the road to Montana and Oregon State.

Hawaii (5-4)

The week’s results:  12/13 W vs. Chicago State, 83-58

Upcoming games:  12/22 vs. College of Charleston (Diamond Head Classic); 12/23 vs. TBA (Diamond Head Classic); 12/25 vs. TBA (Diamond Head Classic)

The Warriors disposed of Chicago State 83-58 to improve their record to 5-4.  It’s the first time the Warriors have been above .500 all season and they’re currently on a three game winning streak.  Roderick Flemings led the way with 18 points and Petras Balocka returned from injury to post a 12 point and eight rebound performance.  The Warriors host the Dimaond Head Classic this coming week with a good lineup of teams coming to the islands including St. Marys (CA), Southern Cal, UNLV, Northeastern, Western Michigan, SMU, and College of Charleston.

Idaho (6-3)

The week’s results:  12/12 W vs. Eastern Oregon, 82-77

Upcoming games:  12/22 @ Portland

The Vandals squeaked by Eastern Oregon after leading by as many as 19 points early in the second half.  Mac Hopson and Marvin Jefferson helped the Vandals stave off the pesky Mountaineers.  The Vandals hit 55.1 percent of their shots from the field and shot 18 more free throws than Eastern Oregon (26 to 8 advantage) and had only 11 fouls called against them the entire game.

The Vandals will face Portland on the road on December 22, their final game before conference play.   The Vandals beat then 25th-ranked Portland 68-48 in Moscow on December 6.

Louisiana Tech (9-2)

The week’s results:  12/12 W @ Centenary, 102-96 (OT); 12/15 W vs. Murray State, 87-81

Upcoming games:  12/19 vs. McNeese State; 12/22 vs. UT-Pan American

The Bulldogs got a pair of victories last week as they held off Centenary 102-96 in overtime.  Kyle Gibson scored 28 points for the Bulldogs as they earned a road victory.  The Bulldogs followed that win up with a more impressive 87-81 home win over Murray State in the return game from last year’s ESPNU Bracketbusters matchup.  Jamel Guyton led the Bulldogs with 21 points as he finished the night going 5-for-6 from the field and 4-for-4 from beyond the three point arc.  The Bulldogs won last year’s game against Murray State as well.

The Bulldogs have five players averaging double figures in scoring.  Gibson averages 21.7 PPG, Guyton averages 13 PPG, Olu Ashaolu averages 12 PPG and 8.7 RPG, Magnum Rolle averages 11.1 PPG and 7.8 RPG and DeAndre Brown is averaging 10.5 PPG.

Nevada (5-4)

The week’s results:  12/12 W vs. South Dakota State, 92-72; 12/17 W vs. Eastern Washington, 73-70

Upcoming games:  12/19 vs. Wagner; 12/22 vs. BYU (Las Vegas Classic); 12/23 vs. Nebraska or Tulsa (Las Vegas Classic)

The Wolf Pack climbed back above .500 and are on a three-game winning streak after having suffered three consecutive losses.  The Wolf Pack scored a 20-point victory over South Dakota State as Brandon Fields led the way with 20 points.  Armon Johnson added 17 points and Luke Babbitt posted another double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds.  The Wolf Pack struggled a bit with Eastern Washington holding on for a 73-70 victory.  Babbitt scored 29 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead the way for the Wolf Pack.   He finished the night 10-of-18 from the field and 8-of-9 from the free throw stripe.  The Wolf Pack got virtually no production from their bench as they were outscored 31-4 by Eastern Washington’s bench.

Nevada will host one more home games in the coming week and hope to keep their perfect record at home (5-0) intact and then will face BYU and Nebraska or Tulsa in the Las Vegas Classic.

New Mexico State (3-6)

The week’s results:  12/13 W @ Texas-El Paso, 87-80; 12/15 L @ UCLA, 100-68

Upcoming games:  12/18 @ Pepperdine; 12/21 vs. Alcorn State; 12/23 vs. Texas Southern

The Aggies finally notched a victory in a rivalry game this season as they stunned previously undefeated UTEP 87-80 on UTEP’s home court.  The game saw the ejection of head coach Marvin Menzies midway through the first half of the game but assistant head coach Mick Durham rallied the troops and the Aggies battled from 11 points down in the second half to pull out the much-needed win.   For the second consecutive season the I-10 rivalry game played in El Paso was a heated one an in the past two games played at The Don Haskins Center the two teams have combined for nine technical fouls and two ejections (five technicals in 2008 and four in 2009 and one ejection in each game).  The Aggies couldn’t sustain the momentum as they were drilled by UCLA at Pauley Pavilion.   The Bruins put together their most complete game of the season and the Aggies were no match.  The team also received tough news as the two post players who sat out the first semester due to academic ineligibility, Wendell McKines and Troy Gillenwater, were declared ineligible for the second semester as well.  McKines and Gillenwater were both starters on last season’s team and both averaged over 10 PPG with McKines averaging a double-double last season, the only player in the league to do so.

The Aggies face Pepperdine on Friday and then return to Las Cruces to close out three non-conference games before the start of league play.

San Jose State (4-4)

The week’s results:  None

Upcoming games:  12/18 @ UC-Irvine; 12/21 @ Northern Colorado; 12/23 @ Santa Clara

The Spartans did not play any games in the past week but will make up for it with four non-conference games before the end of the New Year.  The Spartans will play the next three on the road as they travel to UC-Irvine, then to Northern Colorado and then back to California to play Santa Clara, all before Christmas.

Adrian Oliver leads the Spartans averaging 17.4 PPG and 6.0 RPG.  Justin Graham is averaging 10.5 PPG and 5.5 RPG and center Chris Oakes is averaging a double-double with 10.3 PPG and 11.4 RPG.

Utah State (6-3)

The week’s results:  12/12 W vs. Utah Valley, 87-56; 12/16 W @ Cal State-Bakersfield, 68-51

Upcoming games:  12/18 vs. Long Beach State; 12/21 vs. Morehead; 12/22 vs. Cal State-Fullerton; 12/23 vs. Weber State

The Aggies rebounded from their loss to St. Mary’s with back-to-back blowout wins.  The Aggies stomped in-state rival Utah Valley to re-establish the winning feeling at Dee Glenn Smith Arena and then went on the road and defeated Cal State-Bakerfield.   The Aggies had five players score in double-figures against Utah Valley.  Tai Wesley recorded a double-double against CS-Bakersfield scoring 15 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.

The Aggies wrap up their road non-conference slate against Long Beach State before returning home to host the Basketball Travelers Invitational.

UPCOMING GAMES OF INTEREST:

  • 12/18 – New Mexico State at Pepperdine – 7:30 P.M. PT
  • 12/18 – Utah State at Long Beach State – 7:00 P.M. PT
  • 12/18 – San Jose State at UC-Irvine – 7:00 P.M. PT
  • 12/19 – Fresno State vs. North Dakota State – 7:00 P.M. PT
  • 12/21 – Fresno State at Montana 7:00 P.M. MT
  • 12/21 – San Jose State at Northern Colorado – 7:30 P.M. MT
  • 12/22 – Nevada vs. BYU – 7:30 P.M. PT (ESPN Full Court)
  • 12/22 - Idaho at Portland – 7:00 P.M. PT
  • 12/22 – Utah State vs Cal State-Fullerton – 8:00 P.M. MT
  • 12/23 – Fresno State at Oregon State – 5:30 P.M. PT
  • 12/23 – San Jose State at Santa Clara – 7:00 P.M. PT
  • 12/23 – Nevada vs. Tulsa or Nebraska – TBA
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Checking In On… the WAC

Posted by jstevrtc on December 3rd, 2009

checkinginon

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

The WAC finally got another win over the Mountain West as Utah State struck down BYU, 71-61, in Logan, UT.  The league is now just 3-8 against the Mountain West.  As for the rest of the WAC?  The non-conference has been unkind. The top four teams in the standings are 18-6 in non-conference play.  The other five teams, however, are just 10-18 and the league as a collective whole is just 28-24.  Aside from Idaho’s win over Utah (3-4)  — which is has lost some of its luster following Utah losses to Seattle and Weber State — Utah State’s win over BYU (5-1), and San Jose State’s win over Pacific (5-1), the marquee wins have not been there.  Nevada came oh-so-close last week as they fell to VCU 85-76 and hung tough with defending national champion North Carolina 80-73, but the league went 7-8 over the past seven days.

The WAC, however, can redeem itself as it prepares for perhaps its toughest week of non-conference play.  Boise State travels to Illinois (5-2), New Mexico State travels to New Mexico (7-0), Utah State hosts St. Mary’s (5-1), Nevada travels to Pacific (5-1), Fresno State hosts San Diego (4-3), Idaho hosts #25 Portland (5-2) and then faces border rival Washington State (6-1), and Louisiana Tech heads to Arizona (3-3).  Eight games, eight chances to notch RPI-boosting victories.

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RTC 2009-10 Impact Players – Wrap-Up

Posted by rtmsf on November 8th, 2009

impactplayersOver the course of the last ten weeks we’ve broken down sixty players from around the country whom we expect will have the biggest impact on college basketball this season.  We performed this exercise geographically, choosing five high-major and one mid-major player from each of the somewhat arbitrary ten regions of the country.  If you’d like to read through the individual regions (and we highly encourage that), you can check all ten here.

impactcountry(2)

If you don’t have the time or inclination to read through all of the previous posts, we’ll summarize here for you by rating the strongest to the weakest regions.

(ed. note: we started this so long ago that Binghamton still had a promising basketball program, and DJ Rivera still had a place to play)

1.  Lower Midwest Region (OH, IN, IL, IA, NE, KS)

lower mw summary

Overview. This seemed pretty clear just at a first glance.  Aldrich, Collins and Harangody are three of the 1st team AAs on the RTC preseason list, and Brackins and Turner are on the 2d team.  This group has unbelievable scoring ability, size and experience.  The only weak link is the mid-major inclusion of Eldridge, who is a fine player, but not in the class of the rest of these superstars.  The nation’s heartland is the epicenter of college basketball talent this year.

Best Players Left Out. Where to start?  The depth in this region is incredible.  Gordon Hayward and Matt Howard at Butler, Robbie Hummell and E’Twaun Moore at Purdue, even Lance Stephenson at Cincinnati.  The #6-10 players in this region would probably be better than all but a few of the other regions.

2.  Mid-South Region (KY, TN, MO, AR, OK)

mid-south summary

Overview.  It was a very close call between this region and the South Atlantic, but we felt that the guard play of Warren and Wall with Anderson on the wing would compensate for what this team gives up in size.  And it doesn’t give up much, considering Patterson, Smith and Jordan are all exceptional inside.  Tough call, but Wall is the likely #1 pick, so he’s the x-factor.

Best Players Left Out.  Plenty of raw size here, including Samardo Samuels at Louisville, Michael Washington at Arkansas and DeMarcus Cousins at Kentucky.  Throw in the skilled size of AJ Ogilvy at Vanderbilt and Wayne Chism at Tennessee and this area will punish you on the interior.

3.  South Atlantic Region (DC, VA, NC, SC, GA)

s.atlantic summary

Overview.  This is the third region that’s chock full of NBA talent – each of the rest below have smatterings of it, but not nearly as much.  Aminu, Booker and Singler all define skilled versatility, while Monroe could end up the best big in the entire country if he wants it enough.  Sanders is a little undersized but relentless as well.

Best Players Left OutEd Davis at UNC was a lighting rod topic, as some felt that he’d be an all-american this year with his length and skill set.  Derrick Favors and Gani Lawal are two others.  A good argument could be made that this region had the best players left out, but it sorta depends on how this year plays out due to their relative youth and inexperience.

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RTC 2009-10 Impact Players – Southwest Region

Posted by rtmsf on October 30th, 2009

impactplayers

Ed. Note: the previous posts in this series (Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Atlantic South, Deep South, Mid-South, Lower Midwest, Upper Midwest and Mountains) are located here.

It’s time for the ninth installment of our RTC 2009-10 Impact Players series, the group of hot, dry, desert-y states known as the Southwest Region.   Each week we’ll pick a geographic area of the country and break down the five players who we feel will have the most impact on their teams (and by the transitive property, college basketball) this season.  Our criteria is once again subjective – there are so many good players in every region of the country that it’s difficult to narrow them down to only five  in each – but we feel at the end of this exercise that we’ll have discussed nearly every player of major impact in the nation.  Just to be fair and to make this not too high-major-centric, we’re also going to pick a mid-major impact player in each region as our sixth man.  We welcome you guys, our faithful and very knowledgeable readers, to critique us in the comments where we left players off.  The only request is that you provide an argument – why will your choice be more influential this season than those we chose?

Southwest Region (NM, AZ, NV, HI, southern CA)

sw_impact_players_v.2

  • Rihards Kuksiks – F, Jr – Arizona State. Advice to Pac-10 coaches writing up their scouting reports for when they go up against Arizona State this season: when Rihards Kuksiks enters the building, get a man on him. Don’t bother waiting until the game actually starts. You don’t want him getting comfortable, because he’s the kind of shooter who can change a game just that quickly. The guy can touch the ball a few times and the next thing you know you’re down nine before the first TV timeout. Or you get a little comfortable with your late-game lead and after Kuksiks gets a couple of touches the lead is gone and you’re wondering how time can tick so slowly. You want numbers? Fine. Kuksiks is third in terms of returning individual leaders in 3-point field goal percentage (44.3%) in the country among players who hit at least two threes a game and finished 8th in that category last year. A recent article on FoxSports.com by Jeff Goodman reveals some other incredible stats: in games decided by 2 points or less, Kuksiks shot 47% from behind the 3-point line; against ranked opponents he shot 46% from beyond the arc, and in the loss to Syracuse in the NCAA Tournament’s second round last year, he put up his career high in points with 20, with 18 of those coming from long range. In other words, the man steps up during big games. If the numbers don’t interest you, then consider the fact that many of these threes are not from a hair behind the line. They are often from distance. And they are often clutch (ask Arizona about a couple of late ones he nailed in that February game last year). Most importantly, watch the form. It should be an instructional video. He gets good height on his jumper but doesn’t overdo it, and you can see how he gets his legs into the shot. He releases the ball out in front just a little bit, but then the follow-through is a perfect example of that “reach into the cookie jar” that basketball coaches start teaching kids from the moment they can lift a basketball. By the way, he’s 6’6 and more than happy to mix it up in the paint, if needed. My favorite bit about Kuksiks comes from an interview he did for a site called EuropeanProspects.com in which he was asked what kind of player he was. The first words out of his mouth? “I am a sharpshooter.”  This is confidence, not cockiness, from the big man from Riga, Latvia. But I think it’s just fine if there actually is a little cockiness there. Long-range shooters are like neurosurgeons. They’re often asked to do the most difficult things in their field…and if I get to the point where I need to depend on one, I want them a little bit cocky.

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2009-10 Conference Primers: #12 – WAC

Posted by rtmsf on October 26th, 2009

seasonpreview

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

Travis’ Predicted Order of Finish:

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

Sam’s Predicted Order of Finish:

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

All-Conference Team:

  • Mac Hopson (G), Idaho
  • Jahmar Young (G), New Mexico State
  • Luke Babbitt (F), Nevada
  • Sylvester Seay (F), Fresno State
  • Magnum Rolle (C), Louisiana Tech

6th Man. Kyle Gibson (G), Louisiana Tech

Impact Newcomer. Steffan Johnson (G), Idaho

wac logoWhat You Need to Know. Once a solid multi-bid league, the WAC has struggled to gain national traction in recent years but appears poised to send multiple teams to the Big Dance after graduating just eight starting seniors in the entire league after last season. Five of the nine WAC teams return at least four starters and New Mexico State returns all five starters. The league also returns 14 of the 15 top scorers this season.

Travis’ Predicted Champion. Idaho (NCAA #12) — one and done.  The Vandals have a storied tradition in college hoops — in the early 1980s, Idaho dominated the Big Sky under legendary coach Don Monson, leading an unlikely charge to the 1982 Sweet 16. But that remains the high-water mark for Idaho basketball. In the first three seasons after joining the Western Athletic Conference in 2005, the Vandals were a perennial bottom-feeder.

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RTC 2009-10 Top 65 Games: February/March (Part One)

Posted by zhayes9 on October 25th, 2009

seasonpreview

The final two-part edition of our Top 65 games delves into the exciting stretch run of the final five weeks. These highlighted games should have tremendous implications on seeding and conference standings with heated rivals doing battle in the final push towards March Madness. Here’s a preview of what’s guaranteed to be the best slate of games 2009-10 has to offer (top games of November/December and January in case you missed it):

Note: we are not including projected matchups from the preseason tournaments in these 65 games because those will be analyzed separately.

February 1- Texas @ Oklahoma State (#33 overall)- Hard to imagine you won’t see plenty of scoring in this Big 12 clash. The point guard situation is a bit dicey in Stillwater with Byron Eaton’s departure, but Travis Ford loves to run and James Anderson can score with the best. Expect this to be one of the toughest tests for Texas in their pursuit of a regular season Big 12 title.

February 6- Texas @ Oklahoma (#25 overall)- This could very well be another test. Two freshmen will have to fill major roles for Jeff Capel’s squad with Tommy Mason-Griffin helping out Willie Warren in the backcourt and Tiny Gallon bulldozing opponents in the paint with Blake Griffin in LA. It’s entirely possible defensive stud Avery Bradley could earn the job of trying to lock down the quick Warren.

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February 6- Villanova @ Georgetown (#31 overall)- A Big East clash in February between two teams that have top-three aspirations in the conference. The point guard duel is a dandy with Chris Wright of the Hoyas matched up with Scottie Reynolds of the Wildcats. This should prove a worthy test for Villanova’s thin frontline trying to contain Greg Monroe, Hollis Thompson and Henry Sims.

February 6- Michigan State @ Illinois (#37 overall)- The orange-clad students right on top of the floor will be out in full force to support their Illini in hopes of knocking off the loaded Spartans. With Chester Frazier departed, it could be the freshman guard D.J. Richardson trying to contain potential All-American Kalin Lucas. There’s some tremendous outside shooting in this one from State’s Durrell Summers to the Illini’s Demetri McCamey.

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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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WAC Wrapup & Tourney Preview

Posted by rtmsf on March 10th, 2009

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

A WACky regular season came to an end on Saturday night and after the dust settled the seedings were finally set. Heading into last week’s games just two of the nine seeds were cemented in place, the 1-seed (Utah State) and the 9-seed (Fresno State). The final seeds look like this 1) Utah State, 2) Nevada, 3) Idaho, 4) Boise State, 5) New Mexico State, 6) Louisiana Tech, 7) San Jose State, 8) Hawai’i, 9) Fresno State.

2009-wac-tourney-bracket

Tuesday night sees the two last place teams battle it out for the honor of facing top seed Utah State on Thursday in the quarterfinals.On Thursday the remaining eight teams will be whittled down to four.

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Checking in on the… WAC

Posted by nvr1983 on March 5th, 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 (13-2, 26-4)
2. Nevada (9-5, 17-11)
3. Boise State (8-6, 18-10)
4. New Mexico State (8-7, 15-14)
5. Idaho (7-7, 14-14)
6. San Jose State (6-8, 13-14)
7. Louisiana Tech (6-9, 14-16)
8. Hawaii (5-10, 13-15)
9. Fresno State (3-11, 12-18)

With the WAC tournament looming next week, the only two seeds that have been determined are the 1-seed and the 9-seed. Everything in between is a mess thanks in large part to a Thursday night ambush by the league’s bottom half. Ninth place Fresno State took down second place Nevada 66-64, eighth place Louisiana Tech took down third place New Mexico State 80-71 and seventh place San Jose State took down fifth place Idaho. Only Utah State managed to maintain order with their 20 point victory over Hawai’i. Fourth place Boise State did not play but added to the carnage two nights later when they fell to Louisiana Tech by 14.

Everything will be decided on Thursday and Saturday as the teams wrap up the regular season. Read the rest of this entry »

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Checking in on the… WAC

Posted by rtmsf on February 12th, 2009

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

Playing for second. The Utah State Aggies can wrap up a share of the regular season WAC title this week with a win over Idaho. And if they are to do it, they’ll have to do it on the road. Utah State is 11-0 in league play and is looking to complete the first undefeated season since TCU turned the trick in the 1997-98 season at 14-0 and then a year later when Utah also completed the feat going 14-0. In both cases the teams were playing in the then (and first) 16 team league and won their division. The race for the league’s 2-seed in the conference tournament is heating up as five teams are within two games of each other with anywhere from five (NM State) to seven (Idaho) league games remaining.

Current Standings:

  1. #17/21 Utah State (11-0, 23-1)
  2. Boise State (6-4, 16-7)
  3. Nevada (6-4, 13-10)
  4. New Mexico State (6-5, 12-12)
  5. Idaho (4-5, 10-12)
  6.  San Jose State (4-7, 12-11)
  7. Hawai’i (4-7, 12-11)
  8. Louisiana Tech (3-8, 9-15)
  9. Fresno State (2-7, 10-14)

Official Player of the Week: For the third time this season, Utah State’s Gary Wilkinson has been named the Western Athletic Conference Men’s Basketball Player of the Week.  Versus New Mexico State, he scored 18 points and nabbed 11 boards. He didn’t miss all night — going 5-5 from the floor and 8-8 at the foul line. Wilkinson then added 16 points against Louisiana Tech.

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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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