RTC Summer Updates: Western Athletic Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on July 15th, 2011

With the completion of the NBA Draft and the annual coaching and transfer carousels nearing their ends, RTC is rolling out a new series, RTC Summer Updates, to give you a crash course on each Division I conference during the summer months. Our newest update comes courtesy of our WAC correspondents, Sam Wasson of Bleed Crimson and Kevin McCarthy of Parsing The WAC.

Reader’s Take

Summer Storylines

Revolving Door.  The revolving door in the WAC consists of schools, coaches and players.  Last summer, it was the defection of four schools to the Mountain West and the addition of three schools (Denver, Texas State and UT-San Antonio). This summer, there are no more defections (thankfully) but there have been additions.  Seattle University will join the WAC for basketball starting in the 2012-13 season and the latest development has UT-Arlington joining their old Southland Conference brethren, Texas State and UT-San Antonio, in the WAC for the 2012-13 season.  While it’s still one full season away, the signs are pointing to an eventual East/West split of the WAC.  A pair of hopefuls in Utah Valley and Cal State-Bakersfield could bring the basketball league to 12 teams, but whether that comes to fruition remains to be seen.

Early Entries.  On the personnel front, the WAC once again saw several underclassmen declare for the NBA Draft, but unlike last season, which saw four get drafted, none of the 2011 early entries were selected.  New Mexico State scoring leader Troy Gillenwater was one of those who opted to enter early but he withdrew his name from the draft.  However, he will not be returning to New Mexico State after hiring an agent and will likely seek out options in either the NBDL or overseas.  Greg Smith from Fresno State opted to leave the Bulldogs after just two seasons but the 6’9″, 250-pound center did not hear his name called.  One other big name is no longer with his team and that is Louisiana Tech‘s Olu Ashaolu who has transferred to the University of Oregon.  Ashaolu averaged 14.2 points and 9.4 rebounds per game last season for the injury and suspension-depleted Bulldogs and was one of the conference’s top talents.  Ashaolu will be eligible immediately for the Ducks as he earned his undergraduate degree from LA Tech and because Oregon offers a graduate program not available there.

Coaching Carousel.  For coaching changes, it was a busy offseason for a few teams as Fresno State and Louisiana Tech both opted for a fresh start, hiring new head coaches. Both schools drew high praise for their hires.  The Fresno State Bulldogs lured Texas assistant Rodney Terry to Fresno while their namesake counterparts in Louisiana, the LA Tech Bulldogs, hired Ole Miss assistant Michael White. At just 34 years old, White is one of the youngest head coaches in the country joining familiar names Josh Pastner (Memphis) and Brad Stevens (Butler) at that age.  New Mexico State also saw some major turnover in their staff as the Aggies lost a pair of assistants in Mick Durham, who took the head men’s basketball position at Division II Alaska-Fairbanks, and assistant Gerald Lewis, who returned to his alma mater, SMU, as the Director of Basketball Operations.  The Aggies filled one of the two assistant positions by hiring former Kentucky standout Tony Delk who spent the past two seasons at his alma mater alongside John Calipari and staff in a non-coaching role.  Delk figures to have an immediate impact on recruiting, having played in the NBA and also owning a national championship ring while with the Wildcats.

The Dee Glen Smith Spectrum will have to rock even harder than usual in 2011-12 after Utah State lost several contributors from its sterling campaign last season.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

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
Share this story