WAC Tournament Preview

Posted by rtmsf on March 11th, 2010

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

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

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

Final Standings (conference tournament seeding order)

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

OUT) Hawai’i, 10-18 (3-13)

All-WAC Honors

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Checking in on… the WAC

Posted by jstevrtc on 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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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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Checking in on the… WAC

Posted by rtmsf on February 26th, 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 (12-1, 25-3)
  2. Nevada (8-4, 16-10)
  3. New Mexico State (8-5, 15-12)
  4. Boise State (7-5, 17-9)
  5. Idaho (6-6, 13-13)
  6. Hawai’i (5-8, 13-13)
  7. San Jose State (4-8, 11-14)
  8. Louisiana Tech (4-9, 12-16)
  9. Fresno State (2-10, 11-17)

The race for the league title and the automatic bid to the NIT should be decided on Thursday night. Utah State hosts Hawai’i with a chance to wrap up the regular season title, their second in the past two seasons. For Utah State however, they’re looking to make their first NCAA tournament appearance since the 2005-06 season, that year they received an at-large bid after finishing second in the regular season and losing to Nevada in the title game of the conference tournament. The UtAgs, despite a record of 25-3 don’t want to leave anything to chance as they still feel the sting of finishing 25-3, being ranked 21st but not receiving an at large bid after losing in the Big West semifinal to Cal State-Northridge 63-62.

As for the rest of the league, the race for second place is on as Nevada (8-4), New Mexico State (8-5), Boise State (7-5) and Idaho (6-6) can all finish as high as 2nd.

And not to be left out, the bottom four teams, Hawai’i (5-8), San Jose State (4-8), Louisiana Tech (4-9) and Fresno State (2-10) are all playing to stay out of the league’s 8/9-seed play-in game (with the winner having to face likely 1-seed Utah State) in the quarterfinal round.

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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 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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