2009-10 Conference Primers: #12 – WAC

Posted by rtmsf on October 26th, 2009

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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 Impact Players: Deep South

Posted by zhayes9 on September 29th, 2009

impactplayers

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

It’s time for the fourth installment of our RTC 2009-10 Impact Players series, the group of states bordering the Gulf of Mexico known as the Deep South 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?

Deep South Region (FL, AL, MS, LA, TX)

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Ed. Note: our assumption is that Mississippi State’s Renardo Sidney will not be eligible to play this season.

  • Aubrey Coleman – Sr, G – Houston. Young Mr. Coleman was a controversial pick for our panel, to say the least.  There’s no denying his talent, but the 6’4 rock of a player went national (and viral) last season for his footplant on Chase Budinger’s face during a game at Arizona.  Seriously, that thing made what Christian Laettner did to Aminu Timberlake in 1992 look like playtime in the sandbox.  Coleman served his one-game suspension for the ugly incident, and proceeded to take out any residual anger he might have on the rest of Conference USA to the tune of twelve double-doubles and becoming the only player to finish in the top five in both CUSA scoring and rebounding.  Yeah, rebounding.  At 6’4.  Playing guard.  If that doesn’t give you a clue as to Coleman’s toughness (despite his cowardly act against Budinger), we don’t know what will.  Despite his position, Coleman makes it a common practice to regularly venture into the lane for frequent trips to the foul line on offense and for rebounds on defense (ranks #294 in def reb%).  He also ranked in the top 25 nationally in steals, and we should point out that only three guards in the entire country pulled down more boards per game than Coleman.  About the only part of Coleman’s game that isn’t quite honed is his outside shot (21% on threes), but he doesn’t take many, which shows recognition of his strengths and weaknesses.  With two star players (including Kelvin Lewis) returning for their senior seasons in Houston, it’s safe to say that Tom Penders is sitting on an explosive duo who could lead UH to a successful slate in a wide-open CUSA and its first NCAA Tournament appearance in nearly twenty years.
  • Damion James – Sr, F – Texas. Just three days prior to the declaration deadline for the 2009 NBA Draft, Damion James told Texas head coach Rick Barnes that he’d be returning for a final season in Austin, a decision that drastically alters the expectations of a Longhorns team that underachieved a campaign ago. Texas should be a top-five team in 2009-10 due to an influx of talent from all angles: from returnees like Dexter Pittman, to transfers like Jai Lucas, stud freshmen like Avery Bradley and, most importantly, a senior season from Damion James. James has just about as much pure athletic talent as any forward in the nation featuring an NBA-ready body, constant activity on the glass and an ability to run the floor like few other 6’7 forwards. The issue with James has always been complacency and wavering effort. Often James will hang around the perimeter, settle for outside shots, disappear when his team needs him the most or settle for being a secondary figure when a player with the ability of James should always be The Man. When James is motivated, you’d be hard-pressed to find a player in the Big 12 that can contain him. James finished on the All-Big 12 Second Team his junior season after finishing with 15.4 ppg and 9.2 rpg a year following a sophomore campaign in which James averaged a double-double. James ranked fourth in the Big 12 in rebounding, tenth in the conference in scoring and totaled double-figures on 31 occasions in 2008-09. A player the caliber of James should be right there with Cole Aldrich and Craig Brackins at the top of potential Big 12 POY candidates for the upcoming season. He should be a first round pick and he should average another double-double. One of the reasons I have Texas pegged #2 in the nation preseason is because I trust James to provide that consistent effort for Rick Barnes in search of a very realistic Final Four.
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WAC Tournament Semifinals Wrapup

Posted by rtmsf on March 14th, 2009

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

The semifinal games featured the top two seeds Utah State and Nevada taking on the five and six seeds New Mexico State and Louisiana Tech. NM State and La. Tech were attempting to become the lowest seeds to ever face each other in the conference tournament finals. It was not to be however as both Utah State and Nevada held serve. Utah State defeated New Mexico State on a baseline jumper by Tyler Newbold with 3.1 seconds remaining to propel Utah State to the title game. Nevada meanwhile overcame an early first half deficit of 10 points to pull away from La. Tech 77-68.

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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.

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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 nvr1983 on January 29th, 2009

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

Last week was a week of opportunities. Some took advantage while others did not. Boise State took their opportunities by the horns as they completed a home sweep to put themselves into third place. New Mexico State on the other hand did not falling twice on the road after having a chance to rise to third in the standings, instead of coming out of the week in fifth place. Idaho had an opportunity at redemption and took advantage by avenging an earlier loss to New Mexico State, a game that head coach Don Verlin felt they should have won. This week is another week of opportunities. Utah State has the opportunity to give themselves a two-game lead on the rest of the league. Idaho has the opportunity to lay claim to being the best team in the state of Idaho and then the opportunity to sweep Nevada for the first time since the 1998-1999 season.

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Checking in on the… WAC

Posted by rtmsf on January 22nd, 2009

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

Current Standings:

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

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

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

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Checking in on the… WAC

Posted by rtmsf on January 15th, 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 (3-0, 15-1)
  2. Boise State (3-0, 12-3)
  3. Nevada (2-1, 9-7)
  4. Idaho (2-1, 8-8 )
  5. New Mexico State (2-2, 8-9)
  6. Hawai’i (1-3, 9-7)
  7. San Jose State (1-3, 7-8 )
  8. Louisiana Tech (1-3, 7-10)
  9. Fresno State (0-2, 7-9)

Home Sweet Home… errr Road.  A strange thing has happened early in the WAC this season. Through 15 games the road teams are 10-5. Among the milestone victories this season was Utah State defeating New Mexico State in Las Cruces for the first time since 2000, Idaho winning for the first time in Reno since 1999 and San Jose State winning in Fresno for the first time since 1993. There is a strong chance the road wins will keep on coming as Idaho visits New Mexico State and Louisiana Tech, Boise State visits Nevada and Utah State and San Jose State visits Hawai’i.

What we know about the WAC

  • Fresno State’s Paul George is the real deal…but one that nobody expected to be so productive so soon nor that he would play every minute of every Bulldog WAC game so far.
  • Rainbow Warrior Roderick Flemings is also special…as presupposed
  • Look at Coach Steve Cleveland’s roster and then the squad’s 7-8 record — in what fantasy world do those expecting more reside?
  • BSU’s Kurt Cunningham has come back to earth with his shooting but any coach will take a 10-17 shooting ratio from his center.

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Checking in on the… WAC

Posted by rtmsf on December 20th, 2008

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

Making Headway. The league had a decent week in the win-loss column as the collective went 10-5 against their competition since the last check-in. Hawai’i (over Eastern Washington), New Mexico State (over Texas-El Paso) and Nevada (over Southern Illinois) all earned solid wins and the league also had a couple of close losses to decent opponents (San Francisco and Montana) . The WAC has another big week of competition upcoming as they’ll face teams from the Pac-10, Missouri Valley Conference, West Coast Conference, Mountain West Conference and Conference USA.

The WAC needs to earn some key victories as they are currently the 15th ranked conference in terms of RPI and just one of the league’s teams, Utah State (40) is inside the Top 100 RPI.

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Checking in on the… WAC

Posted by rtmsf on December 11th, 2008

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

The Move Along, There’s Nothing To See Here Edition… In a week that saw idle WAC football teams make more headlines than their hardwood counterparts, the WAC collective did little to bolster the hope that they will send more than one team to the NCAA tournament come March. The league had several opportunities to get victories against fellow mid-majors and a couple of high-majors but came up well short in the wins department. Of the 13 games of interest from last week the WAC combined to win just four of those games, two of those wins coming courtesy of Boise State, the other two coming courtesy of San Jose State (over San Diego) and Fresno State (over the U. of Pacific Tigers). The WAC is now 33-28 on the season against non-conference opponents.

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Checking in on the… WAC

Posted by rtmsf on December 4th, 2008

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

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

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Checking in on the… WAC

Posted by rtmsf on December 1st, 2008

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

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

Flyspecks on the wall of the WAC

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

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

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

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