Checking in on… the WAC

Posted by Brian Goodman on December 30th, 2010

Sam Wasson, Co-Founder and Editor of bleedCrimson.net covering New Mexico State athletics, and Kevin McCarthy, Founder of Parsing The WAC, are the RTC correspondents for the WAC.

A Look Back

The WAC finished up non-conference play and no team did better than the Hawai’i in closing out its non-conference season.  Playing shorthanded, the Warriors hung tough with the ACC’s Florida State and then picked up wins over Utah (just its tenth in 57 tries) and a short-handed Mississippi State team from the SEC (playing without Renardo Sidney and Elgin Bailey).  New Mexico State lost by 20 to St. Mary’s and Nevada lost by 30 at Washington and by four at Portland while Boise State also lost by nine at Portland.

Player of the Week: San Jose State’s Adrian Oliver was named the Player of the Week for the week of Dec. 20-26.  Oliver scored a career-high 42 points in just 25 minutes of play in a 95-62 win over Puget Sound. The 42 points broke the 30-year old San Jose State single-game scoring record of 40 points. Oliver also broke the SJSU single-game mark for the most points in a half with 30, besting his own mark of 25 which he set last season. He also set a San Jose State record for most consecutive three-point baskets made in a game with seven and tied the school record for most threes made in a single game.  Oliver out-scored Puget Sound by himself in the first half of the contest, 30-29.  In the game, Oliver tallied 42 points on 12-of-15 (80 percent) shooting from the field. He hit 7-of-9 (77.8 percent) shots from three-point range and was 11-of-13 (84.6 percent) from the free throw line. He also recorded three rebounds, four assists, one block and one steal.

Top 10 Scorers Heading Into Conference Play:

  1. Adrian Oliver (SJSU) – 25.8 PPG
  2. Robert Arnold (BSU) – 16.2 PPG
  3. DeAndre Brown (LTU) – 16.1 PPG
  4. Justin Graham (SJSU) – 16.1 PPG
  5. Olu Ashaolu (LTU) – 15.4 PPG
  6. Zane Johnson (UH) – 14.4 PPG
  7. Tai Wesley (USU) – 13.8 PPG
  8. La’Shard Anderson (BSU) – 13.5 PPG
  9. Malik Story (NEV) – 13.3 PPG
  10. Dario Hunt (NEV) – 13.1 PPG

Top 10 Rebounders Heading Into Conference Play:

  1. Dario Hunt (NEV) – 10.2 RPG
  2. Olu Ashaolu (LTU) – 9.1
  3. Brady Jardine (USU) – 8.6
  4. Tai Wesley (USU) – 8.3
  5. Wil Carter (SJSU) – 7.9
  6. Joaquim Vander (UH) – 7.1
  7. Shawn Henderson (UI) – 6.4
  8. Matt Ballard (SJSU) – 6.2
  9. Brandon Wiley (UI) – 6.0
  10. Greg Smith (FSU) – 6.0

Power Rankings

1. Utah State (11-2)

Up Next: 12/29 vs. Hawai’i, 12/31 vs. San Jose State

Utah State heads into conference play as the only WAC team in the RPI Top 100 (56th) but has dropped over 20 spots in the last two weeks despite not losing any games.  Utah State sports the league’s best record at 11-2, however, they haven’t exactly played a murderer’s row schedule-wise.  Believe it or not, their best win (based on RPI) is a win over 4-8 Long Beach State and four of their last five victories have come against teams with RPIs higher than 230 including last week’s pastings of Western Michigan and Troy.  The UtAgs open up conference play at home versus a resurgent Hawai’i squad on Wednesday night and then host San Jose State, also a team playing well, on Friday night.  Tai Wesley is one of just three WAC players currently in the Top 10 in both scoring and rebounding in the league.

2. Hawai’i (7-2)

Up Next: 12/29 at Utah State, 12/31 at Nevada

Home cooking has aided the sparkling record (8-1 in games in the islands) but regardless, nobody expected such a record, especially early on with a mostly brand new team.  The Warriors head into conference play as one of the hotter teams in the league with solid wins over Utah and Mississippi State in the very competitive Diamond Head Classic (won by Butler).  Forward Bill Amis remains sidelined but seemingly should be back soon and guard Hiram Thompson is also hurting but still playing major minutes and performing effectively. Counting Amis, Gib Arnold‘s squad has five players scoring in double figures and boasting a 45% overall shooting percentage, plus 40% on three-pointers — this is not last year’s UH roster. Hawaii is also holding opponents to 37% shooting. But 213 turnovers in 12 games needs roundball liposuction.  UH opens up at Utah State and at Nevada so we’ll know very quickly how much momentum they generated from their 5th place showing at the Diamond Head Classic.

3. Louisiana Tech (9-5)

Up Next: 12/29 at Boise State, 12/31 at Idaho

Louisiana Tech, 8-5 against Division I teams, their best win is against 6-5 Houston (RPI 216).  They’ve played one game against a team with an RPI in the Top 100 and that was against Texas (10-2, RPI 26) to start the season.  The Bulldogs have two players in the Top 10 in the league in scoring, DeAndre Brown (3rd) and Olu Ashaolu (5th) and two of the Top 12 rebounders in the league, Olu Ashaolu (2nd) and Brandon Gibson (12th).  The Bulldogs are 3rd in the league in scoring averaging 71.3 points per game and they are third in the league in field goal percentage defense with opponents hitting 41.4 percent of their shots.  The Bulldogs open up conference play at Boise State and at Idaho.

4. San Jose State (8-3)

Up Next: 12/29 at Fresno State, 12/31 at Utah State

The split for the Spartans is 4-1 at home and 4-2 roadin’ it, the best away record in the league so far.  SJSU leads the conference in scoring offense (yes, pick yourself up off the floor) at 75.9 points per game and star backcourter Adrian Oliver is coming off a 42 point performance. It a backcourt-led team with Justin Graham averaging 16.1 points a game on 51% overall shooting and 58% with his 33 trey attempts. But frontcourters Wil Carter and Matt Ballard must do better than 37% and 24% shooting respectively or such deficiencies may prove harmful especially when matched up against the bigs of Utah State and New Mexico State.  SJSU meets Fresno State in Fresno on Wednesday and then heads to Logan for a New Year’s Eve matchup with Utah State on Friday.

5. Boise State (7-5)

Up Next: 12/29 vs. Louisiana Tech, 12/31 vs. New Mexico State

The Broncos dropped their final non-conference game of the season at Portland but head into conference play with a chance to make an early statement with home games versus Louisiana Tech and New Mexico State.  The Broncos are one of the four surprise teams in the league thus far.  While their record is just 6-5 and they’ve lost five of their last six games, first year head coach Leon Rice has them playing competitive ball.  They lost by just three against UNLV (11-2, RPI 13) in Vegas and by nine at Portland (10-3, RPI 36).  The Broncos are the league’s second best scoring team (74.9 PPG) and the third best scoring defense team (64.0 PPG).

6. Idaho (6-5)

Up Next: 12/29 vs. New Mexico State, 12/31 vs. Louisiana Tech

Idaho looks to get off to a good start in conference play against the outpost schools, New Mexico State and LA Tech.  Idaho head into league play as the lowest scoring team in the league averaging just 64.4 points per game but are second in the league in assists per game (13.4) and are the second best three point shooting team in the league (38.5 percent).  The Vandals are allowing just 66.0 points per game.  Not surprisingly the Vandals do not have a player in the Top 15 in scoring, however, they have three of the top 15 rebounders in the league in Shawn Henderson (7th), Brandon Wiley (9th) and Luiz Toldeo (15th).

7. New Mexico State (6-8)

Up Next: 12/29 at Idaho, 12/31 at Boise State

The Aggies’ struggles have come because of a spate of injuries that at one point had wiped out four of their five projected starters, Troy Gillenwater, Hamidu Rahman, Gordo Castillo and Wendell McKines.  Castillo is back on the court but McKines has not played all season due to the broken foot, Gillenwater has not played since the first half of the New Mexico game in Albuquerque on December 11th and Rahman has not played since the December 13th game against Arkansas-Pine Bluff.  The Aggies have played eight games against teams in the Top 125 RPI but have lost all eight.  The four wins have come against Louisiana twice (1-8, RPI 309), Arkansas-Pine Bluff (0-11, RPI 279) and Pacific (5-5, RPI 126).  Head Coach Marvin Menzies believes that two of the remaining three players who are out with injury could see action in the next couple of games.  Under Menzies, the Aggies have tied for the regular season title (’07/’08), reached the conference tournament semifinals (’08/’09) and won the conference tournament (’09/’10) in his first three seasons and has led the Aggies to a 32-16 record in conference play.  The Aggies have just one player in the Top 15 in scoring, Christian Kabongo (11.5 PPG, 13th) and just one Top 15 rebounder, Tyrone Watson (5.6 RPG, 11th).  The Aggies open up on the road making the Idaho swing first in Moscow then to Boise.

8. Fresno State (4-6)

Up Next: 12/29 vs. San Jose State, 01/03 vs. Nevada

The Bulldogs are actually in the positive at home with a 3-2 record but the road hasn’t been so hospitable at 1-4. Taking heed of the admonition that a child shall lead them, frosh backcourter Kevin Olekaibe tops the squad in scoring at 10.7 a contest. The Greg Smith Funk remains ongoing as he is mired at 9.7 points per game along with 6.3 boards each time out. Point guard Steven Shepp just returned from academic exile and should help with the assist-to-turnover ratio. Believe it or not, Steve Cleveland‘s team lacks a familiar name in the top 15 point producers in the WAC, indicating just how much Paul George and to a lesser extent Sylvester Seay are missed offensively.  League play commences with San Jose State coming to town on Wednesday, followed by Nevada on Monday.

9. Nevada (3-10)

Up Next: 12/31 vs. Hawai’i, 01/03 at Fresno State

Nevada’s struggles have come because they lost 83 percent of their scoring through the NBA Draft and graduation.  They have really struggled to find consistency and their two Division I wins have come against Montana (6-4, RPI 140) and Portland State (6-5, RPI 247).  Nevada opens up conference play versus resurgent Hawai’i and then heads to Fresno to take on Fresno State.

A Look Ahead

The league did not look good in non-conference play so the WAC will revert back to a one-bid league.  It’s the swan song for Boise State as it completes its farewell tour in the WAC before jumping to the Mountain West next season.  Everyone is 0-0 starting tonight and with the change in format to the conference tournament, finishing in the top four in the league assures playing no more than three games in three days (just two games if you’re the first or second place finisher) whereas a bottom four finish means a trip to the Big Dance will require winning a four-game in four days gauntlet.

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Checking in on… the WAC

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 25th, 2010

Sam Wasson, Co-Founder and Editor of bleedCrimson.net covering New Mexico State athletics, and Kevin McCarthy, Founder of Parsing The WAC, are the RTC correspondents for the WAC.

A Look Back

  • Fast Starts: Louisiana Tech, Hawaii and San Jose State all got off to hot starts as Hawaii posted a 4-0 record to open the season and is off to their best start in six seasons winning the 2010 Rainbow Classic.  San Jose State picked up wins on Eastern Washington and Oregon and is off to a 3-0 start to the season.  Louisiana Tech won the 2K Sports Coaches vs. Cancer Irvine Subregional and is 5-1 on the season.
  • New Coaches, New Results: Both Hawaii and Boise State hired new coaches and both are seeing immediate dividends as the two teams are a combined 7-0 to start the season.  Leon Rice has the Broncos rolling with a 3-0 start, including road wins at UC Davis and San Diego.  Gib Arnold and his Warriors are undefeated start the season including a solid 65-62 win over Central Washington, which was televised on ESPN as part of the network’s 24-hour tipoff marathon.

Player of the Week

Louisiana Tech’s DeAndre Brown earns the Western Athletic Conference Men’s Basketball Player of the Week for the week of November 15-21 as he led the Bulldogs in four wins last week, scoring double-digits in all four games. He scored ten points in a 60-54 win over Houston, 18 in an 85-72 win over Seattle, 15 points with a career-high five three-pointers in an 80-65 win against Navy and a career-high 26 points in a 76-72 win over UC Irvine. He was also was named MVP of the 2K Sports Classic Benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer Irvine subregional.  Over the four games, Brown averaged a team-high 17.3 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 3.5 APG and 1.5 SPG per game. He also shot 42.6 percent (26-of-61) from the field, including nine makes from three-point range.

Power Rankings

1. San Jose State (4-0)

Up Next: 11/24 at CS-Bakersfield, 11/28 vs. UC-Riverside, 11/30 at UT-San Antonio

Taking down Eastern Washington 67-60 on the road and San Francisco at home, 74-64, produced positive feelings for Spartan fans. Oregon was next on the schedule and, although the Ducks are down (this is no attempt to equate the Oregon basketball team members to comforter filling), any game on venerable McArthur Court is an experience for opponents due to both the rabidity (yes, Ducks with rabies is our next national nightmare) and the closeness of the vociferous UO fans. A three-point play (the traditional kind) by Justin Graham with 2.8 seconds to play allowed San Jose State to depart Eugene with a 75-72 victory. Like Hawaii, the Spartans remain undefeated. Adrian Oliver opened the season with 34 points, then tallied 25 versus San Francisco and put 19 on the scoreboard against Oregon.

2. Louisiana Tech (5-1)

Up Next: 11/26 vs. Arkansas-Little Rock, 12/01 at Southern Methodist

After losing 89-58 to Texas to start the season, the Bulldogs have rattled off five straight victories including wins over Houston (60-54), Seattle (85-72) and UC-Irvine (76-72).  Forward Olu Ashaolu has picked up where he left off last season and leads the team in rebounding averaging just over 10 rebounds per game.  Point guard DeAndre Brown has picked up his scoring pace and is averaging 16 points per game after averaging 10.6 PPG last season.  Thus far the Bulldogs have answered the question of how they would respond to losing their top three scorers and top three rebounders.

3. Hawaii (3-0)

Up Next: 11/24 vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 12/01 at Cal Poly

UH basketball fans are giddy over Gib. Here’s a prime example: on one of the message boards, someone has posted a query asking how UH can keep coach Gib Arnold from moving on up elsewhere? This after just four games have been played!  In the Rainbow Classic, Montana State fell first (77-59), then Fullerton (84-70) and finally Central Michigan succumbed to the ‘Bows (65-62). The latest to fall short? Central Arkansas 83-69, thus making Hawaii undefeated so far. The squad is a band of newcomers anchored by experienced seniors Hiram Thompson (14.0 PPG/22 assists) and Bill Amis (15.8 PPG/6.8 RPG). So, who among the newbies has contributed? Freshman Bo Barnes, once thought of as a redshirt candidate, for one. he’s shooting 54% on 26 three-point attempts, Josten Thomas, a 6’7 junior college transfer sophomore, is currently checking in at 12.5 PPG and 6.3 RPG.

4. Boise State (3-0)

Up Next: 11/24 vs. Eastern Washington, 11/27 vs. Denver, 11/29 at Northern Illinois

Like their football brethren, the Boise State Broncos have yet to lose a game.  While they’re only three games into the season, former top Gonzaga assistant Leon Rice has injected new life into the men’s basketball program.  The Broncos opened up with an easy win over Western State (78-52) and then picked up a strong 65-60 road win at WCC foe San Diego and then followed that up with a second road win at UC-Davis winning handily 67-47.  La’Shard Anderson and Robert Arnold lead the way for the Broncos in scoring, as Anderson is averaging 18.3 PPG and Arnold is averaging 18.0 PPG.

5. Utah State (2-1)

Up Next: 11/24 vs. Utah, 11/27 vs. Northeastern, 12/01 at Denver

The defending regular season champions and preseason favorites are off to a 2-1 start after picking up a pair of in-state wins over Weber State (77-65) and Southern Utah (66-53) while falling at BYU, 78-72.  Tai Wesley is leading the way once again for Utah State averaging 16.7 PPG and 6.7 RPG.  Newcomer Brockieth Pane has been solid thus far for the Aggies averaging 11.7 PPG.  Brian Green scored a career-high 19 points off the bench in the Ags’ win over Southern Utah.  The Ags will be tested as three of their next four games come against NCAA-caliber teams in Utah, Northeastern and Georgetown.

6. Nevada (1-4)

Up Next: 11/30 at South Dakota State

It’s been a struggle early for the Wolf Pack as they set out to replace 84% of their lost scoring from last season.  The Pack won their season opener against Montana, 81-66, but have since dropped four straight games in the Preseason NIT Tip-Off losing to Pacific (64-53), Pepperdine (76-75), George Washington (58-56) and Boston (66-57).  Dario Hunt leads the way for Nevada averaging 14.6 PPG and 8.0 RPG.  Malik Story is averaging 11.2 PPG but no other Nevada players are in double-digits in point production.

7. Fresno State (1-2)

Up Next: 11/26 vs. Washington State, 11/30 at Utah

Returning to his home away from home in a road opener, coach Steve Cleveland was treated rudely by BYU to the tune of a 83-56 rout. Then, the Vanguard Mutual Funders (for the ultra literal, we’re kidding about the nickname) came to town and the Bulldogs routed the Lions (shouldn’t it have been the Bears?) 74-42.  A visit to Santa Barbara followed and it wasn’t what the Bulldogs desired — a 69-54 loss. The Bulldogs were down 35-24 at the half with the Gauchos opening the game by scoring the first 13 points. Coach Cleveland’s squad pulled within four opening the second half but the momentum didn’t hold.  Sophomore Greg Smith put up 15 points and grabbed eight boards. The Bulldogs shot 40% for the game and 22% from long distance. Santa Barbara shot 51% overall. But for a team losing Paul George, at least one if not two seasons early, plus Sylvester Seay, any consistency, especially at the offensive end, will take time. Someone has to step up from the outside and be a threat. Interestingly enough, in the first three games of the season, the Bulldogs’ leading scorer has also been the top rebounder in each game but it has been a different player each game.  Nedeljko Golubovic had 12 points and eight rebounds in the Bulldogs’ first game, Bennie Rhodes scored 17 points and grabbed eight boards in the second game and Greg Smith had 15 points and eight rebounds in Fresno State’s third game.

8. Idaho (1-3)

Up Next: 11/27 at Eastern Washington

The Vandals have lost three straight since an 86-74 opening season victory against Eastern Oregon.  The Vandals were blown out, 88-71, by Washington State in the cross-border rivalry game then fell, 66-53, Portland but nothing compared to the Vandals’ abysmal performance against Montana earlier this week.  Idaho went into Missoula and was throttled, 75-33.  The 42-point loss was one of the worst in the program’s history.  Luiz Toledo scored nearly half of the team’s points (16) in the loss.  UI put up statistics that one will likely never again see in a collegiate basketball game.  The Vandals hit just six shots from the floor and were 3-22 in the first half (13.6 percent) and 3-28 (10.7 percent) in the second half.  If not for 20 free throw makes in the game, Idaho would not have even reached 20 points.

9. New Mexico State (2-4)

Up Next: 11/30 vs. UTEP

The New Mexico State Aggies have thus far been the league’s most disappointing team.  After opening up the season with a 92-76 win over the University of Louisiana-Lafayette and a 95-62 win over Division-II Western New Mexico, the Aggies have been pounded in four straight games and have been called out by their head coach for quitting in the second half against Arizona. To make matters worse, their top returner, Troy Gillenwater was benched for the second half of a loss against USC in the Hall of Fame Tip-off.  Meanwhile, the Aggies have lost by 26, 14, 19 and 17 points to Arizona, UMass, Southern Cal and UTEP, respectively.  The road does not get any easier for the Aggies as their next three games are against rivals UTEP and then a home-and-home against New Mexico.  Gillenwater is averaging 18.2 PPG while point guard Hernst Laroche is averaging 11 points and 4.83 RPG.  Freshman Christian Kabongo is averaging 8.8 points and 4.3 rebounds per game.

A Look Ahead

Non-Con Rivalries: New Mexico State gets a return trip from UTEP before an in-season home-and-home against New Mexico. Utah State will face their out-of-conference nemesis Utah.  The rest of the league will look to continue their solid play in non-conference, though the big opportunities to make some noise will come in December.

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RTC Live: WAC Qtrs – Fresno State vs. Louisiana Tech

Posted by rtmsf on March 11th, 2010

The Western Athletic Conference begins its postseason tournament here in The Biggest Little City in the World. The feature game of the afternoon pod is the #4-#5 seed matchup as Louisiana Tech takes on Fresno State to decide which set of Bulldogs will reign supreme in the WAC this season. Louisiana Tech sputtered out to end the season winning just one of its last five conference games, and they just weren’t the same without All-WAC second teamer Kyle Gibson down the stretch run. Gibson averaged 19 points a game for Tech and could have easily been a first team performer had he not missed several games, but he promises to be back for the stretch tourney run. The Fresno State Bulldogs have been the hardest team in the WAC to figure out. Steve Cleveland’s team has some of the best talent in the WAC in the form of future NBA players Paul George, Greg Smith and Sylvester Seay, but the west coast Bulldogs have a hard time putting it all together. Still they have scored some huge upsets in conference play, beating New Mexico State, Nevada and most recently Louisiana Tech just last Thursday. Will Gibson’s return be enough to get Louisiana Tech back on track and into the second round or will Fresno’s NBA talent finally gel and lead them to the semis? Find out whose NCAA dream will last at least one more day with us on RTC Live.

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WAC Tournament Preview

Posted by rtmsf on March 11th, 2010

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

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

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

Final Standings (conference tournament seeding order)

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

OUT) Hawai’i, 10-18 (3-13)

All-WAC Honors

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Checking in on… the WAC

Posted by jstevrtc on January 29th, 2010

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

At the halfway point of the conference race, Louisiana Tech continues to lead, posting a 6-1 record. A showdown between Louisiana Tech and New Mexico State looms large on Saturday. A victory by the Aggies could thrust the league into a three-way tie for first if Utah State is able to defeat a suddenly surging San Jose State squad. Utah State remains hot as they’ve gone from last place after the first weekend to a tie for second place at the midway point. Meanwhile the race to stay out of the WAC basement is currently a three-team battle between Boise State, Idaho and Hawai’i. The Broncos are currently the odd team out but notched an important victory over in-state rival Idaho earlier in the week in the first of two meetings between the schools.

Current Standings:

1) Louisiana Tech, 18-3 (6-1)

T2) New Mexico State, 12-8 (5-2)

T2) Utah State, 14-6 (5-2)

4) San Jose State 12-8 (5-3)

5) Nevada 12-8 (4-3)

6) Fresno State, 11-11 (4-4)

T7) Idaho, 9-10 (2-6)

T7) Hawai’i, 9-12 (2-6)

9) Boise State, 10-11 (1-7)

At the midway point there are several excellent candidates for Midseason Player of the Year. Instead of choosing a midseason POY and angering eight other fanbases in the process, we instead submit the Top 10 scorers and rebounders in the league (conference games only). Surprisingly, Utah State, tied for second place and certainly the league’s hottest team, has no player in the Top 10 in either scoring or rebounding.

Leading Scorers (Conference Games Only):

1. Adrian Oliver, SJSU – 25.1 PPG

2. Luke Babbitt, NEV – 24.7 PPG

3. Jahmar Young, NMSU – 22.9 PPG

4. Kyle Gibson, LT – 21.6 PPG

5. Jonathan Gibson, NMSU – 19.9 PPG

6. Paul George, FS – 17.7 PPG* (Injured, expected to be out 2-3 weeks)

7. Mac Hopson, ID – 17.5 PPG

8. Sylvester Seay, FS – 15.9 PPG

9. Magnum Rolle, LT – 15.4 PPG

10. Brandon Fields, NEV – 15.3 PPG

Leading Rebounders (Conference Games Only):

1. Luke Babbitt, NEV – 10.7 RPG

2. Magnum Rolle, LT – 10.3 RPG

3. Wendell McKines, NMSU – 10.0 RPG

4. Chris Oakes, SJSU – 9.4 RPG

5. Ike Okoye, BSU – 8.8 RPG

6. Hamidu Rahman, NMSU – 8.3 RPG

7. Dario Hunt, NEV – 7.3 RPG

8. Brandon Adams, UH – 7.0 RPG TIED WITH Olu Asaolu, LTU – 7.0 RPG

9. Greg Smith, FS – 6.9 RPG

Team Breakdowns:

Boise State (10-11, 1-7)

The week’s results: 01/25 W @ Idaho, 77-67 (OT)

Upcoming games: 01/30 vs. Fresno State

The Broncos finally notched a conference win, and it was a big one. Boise State traveled to Moscow, ID to face their in-state rival Idaho and the Broncos stunned the home team. Anthony Thomas hit a contested three pointer as time expired to send the game to overtime where they dominated the extra period. Boise State’s win saw them rally from a nine point second half deficit, and the win keeps the Broncos just one game behind Hawai’i and Idaho as they try to avoid missing the conference tournament. Up next for the Broncos is a game against an up and down Fresno State squad who is playing without their leading scorer, Paul George.

Fresno State (11-11, 4-4)

The week’s results: 01/23 W vs. Nevada, 87-77; 01/28 L @ Idaho, 74-59

Upcoming games: 01-30 @ Boise State

The Bulldogs split a pair of games this week, but it was not what anyone expected. The Bulldogs lost their leading scorer, Paul George, last week in the first half against Utah State and were soundly beaten by the Aggies. Just two nights later, the Bulldogs hosted Nevada in what was sure to be another sound beating. However, the Bulldogs rose up and stunned the visiting Wolf Pack, 87-77, behind a big night from Greg Smith (25 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists). Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, they came crashing back down to earth when they traveled to Idaho. The Bulldogs were beaten badly by the Vandals, losing 74-59. The Bulldogs trailed by just two at halftime a 6-0 run by the Vandals to start the half put the Bulldogs in a hole of which they couldn’t dig out. Up next for the Bulldogs is a trip to Boise, ID to face the Broncos.

Hawaii (9-12, 2-6)

The week’s results: 01/24 L vs Louisiana Tech, 65-60; 01/28 L @ San Jose State, 83-60

Upcoming games: 01/30 @ Nevada

The Warriors have lost three in a row and now sit tied with Idaho in seventh place in the league. The Warriors hung tough with league leader Louisiana Tech in a home game, falling 65-60. The Warriors were down just two with 34 seconds to play but could get no closer. A rematch against San Jose State gave the Warriors their third straight loss after beating San Jose State 66-65 in overtime in Honolulu. The Warriors led just once at 7-6, but could not stop the Spartans. Things don’t get any easier for the Warriors as they travel to Reno to take on Nevada.

Idaho (9-10, 2-7)

The week’s results: 01/23 L vs. Utah State, 60-48; 01/25 L vs. Boise State, 77-67 (OT); 01/28 W vs. Fresno State, 74-59

Upcoming games: 01/30 @ Seattle; 02/03 @ Utah State

The Vandals snapped a six game losing streak with a victory over shorthanded Fresno State, winning handily, 74-59. The victory helped erase the pain of giving up a nine point lead late in the game against in-state rival Boise State and a hard fought 60-48 loss to Utah State. The Vandals’ victory over Fresno State was an important win in the league race as they moved into a tie with Hawai’i for 7th place in the league and strengthened their hopes of making the conference tournament. Idaho steps out of conference play with a game at Seattle before heading back to Logan, UT to face the USU Aggies.

Louisiana Tech (18-3, 6-1)

The week’s results: 01/24 W @ Hawai’i, 65-60

Upcoming games: 01/30 vs. New Mexico State; 02/04 vs. San Jose State

The Bulldogs continue to lead the WAC race as they picked up a victory over Hawai’i, 65-60. Magnum Rolle scored 23 points and grabbed a career-high 17 rebounds. Kyle Gibson scored 19 points and Jamel Guyton recorded his first career double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds. The Bulldogs host the New Mexico State Aggies as they attempt to stay in solo first place in the league standings. Following their date with the Aggies, the suddenly hot San Jose State Spartans come to town.

Nevada (12-8, 4-3)

The week’s results: 01/23 L @ Fresno State, 87-77

Upcoming games: 01/30 vs. Hawai’i

The Wolf Pack were stunned by a short-handed Fresno State squad and they missed a golden opportunity to move into a tie for second place with New Mexico State and Utah State. Luke Babbitt scored 29 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the loss. The Wolf Pack will try to rebound when they host Hawai’i.

New Mexico State (12-8, 5-2)

The week’s results: 01/23 L @ San Jose State, 93-84

Upcoming games: 01/30 @ Louisiana Tech

The Aggies had their four game win streak snapped by San Jose State as the two teams had a shootout. Jahmar Young scored a career-high 34 points in the loss and the Aggies dropped into a tie for second place with Utah State. The Aggies finish up a three game road trip with a trip to Ruston, LA to take on league-leading Louisiana Tech.

San Jose State (12-8, 5-3)

The week’s results: 01/23 W vs. New Mexico State, 93-84; 01/28 W vs. Hawai’i, 83-60

Upcoming games: 01/30 @ Utah State; 02/04 @ Louisiana Tech

The Spartans knocked off New Mexico State in a shootout and then exacted revenge for a last-second loss at Hawai’i. The Spartans have won three in a row (and four out of five) but their hot streak will get a stiff test as they face Utah State in Logan, and then Louisiana Tech in Ruston. Adrian Oliver was named the WAC Player of the Week for his 39-point performance against Louisiana Tech, and 22-point performance against New Mexico State. He added a 31-point performance against Hawai’i.

Utah State (15-6, 5-2)

The week’s results: 01/23 W @ Idaho, 60-48

Upcoming games: 01/30 vs. San Jose State; 02/03 vs. Idaho

The Aggies continued their strong run with a victory over Idaho in Moscow. The game pitted teacher versus student at Stew Morrill’s Aggies took down Don Verlin’s Vandals. The win by Utah State was Morrill’s 500th career victory. The Aggies host a hot San Jose State team and then get a rematch at home against Idaho.

UPCOMING GAMES

* 01/30 – Utah State vs. San Jose State – 7:00 p.m. MT (CW30-Utah)

* 01/30 – Seattle vs. Idaho – 7:10 p.m. PT

* 01/30 – Nevada vs. Hawai’i – 7:00 p.m. PT (ESPNU)

* 01/30 – Boise State vs. Fresno State – 8:15 p.m. MT (Bulldog Sports Network)

* 01/30 – Louisiana Tech vs. New Mexico State – 8:00 p.m. CT

* 02/03 – Utah State vs. Idaho – 9:00 p.m. MT (ESPN2)

* 02/04 – Louisiana Tech vs. San Jose State – 7:00 p.m. CT (ESPN Regional)

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Checking in on… the WAC

Posted by jstevrtc on January 16th, 2010

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

The WAC opened up league play this past weekend and after the first weekend there were a couple of surprises.  The biggest surprise came from Utah State.  The Aggies went on the road to open up league play and lost to New Mexico State in a close game and then were blown out by Louisiana Tech two nights later.  The preseason pick to win the league by both the media and coaches has their work cut out for them if they hope to win the league title for a third consecutive season.

Current Standings:

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

After the first two weekends of play there has been some significant shifting among the top and bottom.  Louisiana Tech continues to lead the league race starting out 5-0 while on the opposite end of the spectrum, Boise State is really behind the eight ball after losing their first five games of conference play.  With this year’s tournament no longer having a play-in game between the 8th and 9th place teams, the Broncos will be fighting for their postseason lives the rest of the way.

Boise State (9-9, 0-5)

The week’s results:

  • 01/09 L vs. New Mexico State, 88-85
  • 01/11 L vs. Louisiana Tech, 79-64
  • 01/14 L @ San Jose State, 76-74

Upcoming games:

  • 01/16 @ Utah State
  • 01/20 vs. Nevada

Disaster.  After entering league play at 9-4 the Broncos are on a five game skid and, even though it’s only a quarter way through the league schedule, they have to be in a bit of a panic mode.  Only the top eight teams in the league will participate in the WAC tournament this season as the league has gotten rid of the play-in game between the 8th and 9th place team.  The Broncos’ road does not get any easier with games at Utah State and then versus Nevada at home followed by the in-state rivalry game at Idaho.  It is entirely possible that the Broncos could be 0-8 midway through the conference race.

Fresno State (10-8, 3-1)

The week’s results:

  • 01/09 W vs. Hawai’i, 78-64
  • 01/11 W vs. San Jose State, 80-70
  • 01/14 L @ Louisiana Tech, 81-73

Upcoming games:

  • 01/16 @ New Mexico State
  • 01/21 vs. Utah State

The Bulldogs won two of three games over the past week and sit tied for second with New Mexico State.  The Bulldogs picked up a solid win over San Jose State and made one of the longest road trips in the WAC when they faced Louisiana Tech in Ruston.  The Bulldogs made the trip a man down as starting guard Steven Shepp did not make the trip to Ruston due to “academic” reasons as outlined in a statement from head coach Steve Cleveland.  Fresno State found themselves down big in the second half, falling behind by 20 points at 53-33 with 14:33 left to play.  Fresno State, however, showed some fight in the face of adversity and close the gap to just six at 74-68 with three minutes left — but couldn’t climb any closer over the final stretch.  Sylvester Seay and Paul George combined to score 37 points while Mychal Ladd and Greg Smith each pitched in 27.  Backup guard Brandon Sperling filled in for Shepp with five points.  The Bulldogs got just four points off the bench in the loss. Fresno State travels to New Mexico State on Saturday where they’ll battle the suddenly resurgent Aggies as both teams try to keep pace with Louisiana Tech.

Hawaii (8-9, 1-3)

The week’s results:

  • 01/09 L @ Fresno State, 78-64
  • 01/11 L @ Utah State, 98-54

Upcoming games:

  • 01/18 vs San Jose State

Back-to-back losses by Hawai’i on the mainland have dropped the Warriors below the .500 mark.  They suffered a 14 point defeat at Fresno State and then made the trip to Logan, UT where they were punished from start to finish by Utah State.  While there is certainly no shame in losing in Logan — most teams that enter the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum do not leave victorious — it was the observation of the Salt Lake Tribune‘s Tony Jones that is cause for concern.  Jones stated after the game, “Hawaii flat out quit in this game and that’s pretty embarrassing for a Division I team to do with 30 minutes remaining in a basketball game.” The Warriors host San Jose State as the try to get back on the positive side of things.

Idaho (8-7, 1-3)

The week’s results:

  • 01/09 L vs. Louisiana Tech, 77-71
  • 01/11 L vs. New Mexico State, 75-72

Upcoming games:

  • 01/16 @ Nevada

After splitting their conference-opening road trip the Vandals’ regular season title hopes took a big hit as they were swept by Louisiana Tech and New Mexico State at home.  Both games were within reach for the Vandals down the stretch but the inability to make free throws (or any shot, for that matter) in the latter stages of the second half against Louisiana Tech and then the inability to make a defensive stop against New Mexico State in the same time frame cost the Vandals both games.  With a 1-3 record Idaho sits effectively four games behind Louisiana Tech — three games in the  loss column, plus losing the first head-to-head matchup.  The road does not get any easier as they face Nevada at Lawlor Arena in Reno on Saturday, a place where they have only won once since joining the WAC (it was just last season).

Louisiana Tech (16-2, 4-0)

The week’s results:

  • 01/09 W @ Idaho, 77-71
  • 01/11 W @ Boise State, 79-64
  • 01/14 vs. Fresno State, 81-73

Upcoming games:

  • 01/21 @ San Jose State

The Bulldogs continue to impress after a road sweep in the state of Idaho and a home victory over second place Fresno State.  After securing a hard fought victory over Idaho, the Bulldogs ran roughshod over the Broncos, winning 79-64.  At 17-2 the Bulldogs are off to their best start since the 1984-85 season and have rattled off ten consecutive victories.  Their 5-0 league record is their best start since joining the WAC.  Kyle Gibson scored a career-high 33 points in the victory over visiting Fresno State. Louisiana Tech takes their show back on the road as they’ll face San Jose State on the 21st, part of their longest road trip of the season as they’ll face Hawai’i two nights later.

Nevada (10-7, 2-2)

The week’s results:

  • 01/09 W vs. San Jose State, 96-67
  • 01/13 L vs. Utah State, 79-72 (OT)

Upcoming games:

  • 01/16 vs. Idaho
  • 01/20 @ Boise State

After splitting their opening road trip in conference play the Wolf Pack did the same in their first two home conference games.  After picking up an impressive 96-67 victory over a better-than-their-record San Jose State squad the Wolf Pack hosted Utah State on Wednesday night in a nationally televised game on ESPN2.  While the two teams did not disappoint on the court for most home viewers, it was the Wolf Pack fans who went home disappointed.  Nevada gave up a 10-point second half lead and were pushed to overtime where Utah State took over the game.  The Wolf Pack hit just 9-18 free throws in the game.  The loss evened the Wolf Pack’s record to 2-2 in league play but with games against the two Idaho schools coming up, they could put themselves in a good position nearly midway through the league race.

New Mexico State (10-7, 3-1)

The week’s results:

  • 01/09 W @ Boise State, 88-85
  • 01/11 W @ Idaho, 75-72

Upcoming games:

  • 01/16 vs. Fresno State

New Mexico State erased the disappointment of their home loss to Nevada by sweeping the state of Idaho in a pair of down-to-the-wire games.  The Aggies faced off against Boise State in a game in which neither team seemed to be able to hold a lead.  In the first half the Aggies led by six, then trailed by ten, but cut the lead to four by halftime.  Then in the second half the Aggies led by two early in the second half, but then trailed by seven shortly thereafter…only to go up by nine with under nine minutes left.  They then gave up the lead and trailed by four with just under two minutes left before finally rallying to win by three.  It was the sixth consecutive game between the two that the victorious team scored at least 80 points.  Against Idaho, the Aggies’ Jahmar Young scored 32 points, one shy of his career high; every point was critical as the Aggies held off Idaho down the stretch.  The Aggies have never had an easy time in Moscow but continued their dominance over the Vandals, having now won nine of the last ten meetings. The Aggies host Fresno State on Saturday with second place in the standings on the line.  With Louisiana Tech threatening to make the league race a fight for second, the Aggies and Bulldogs will both be hungry for the win to try to keep pace with Louisiana Tech.

San Jose State (9-7, 2-2)

The week’s results:

  • 01/09 L @ Nevada, 96-67
  • 01/11 L @ Fresno, 80-70
  • 01/14 W vs. Boise State, 76-74

Upcoming games:

  • 01/18 @ Hawai’i
  • 01/21 vs. Louisiana Tech

The Spartans played three games over the past week and came away with a 1-2 record.  After getting blown out by Nevada and losing on the road to Fresno State, the Spartans bounced back with a win over Boise State at home.  Adrian Oliver led the way with a season-high 33 points.  It was SJSU’s first win over Boise State in their past 15 games and just their second win in the past 21 meetings.  San Jose State makes the trip to the islands to face a reeling Hawai’i squad before returning home to host league leader Louisiana Tech.

Utah State (12-6, 2-2)

The week’s results:

  • 01/11 W vs. Hawai’i, 98-54
  • 01/13 W @ Nevada, 79-72 (OT)

Upcoming games:

  • 01/16 vs. Boise State
  • 01/21 @ Fresno State

Shellshocked no more. Whatever the Aggies were missing on offense in their first two league games in averaging just 55 points per game, they found it when they returned to Logan.  The Aggies stomped visiting Hawai’i, scoring 98 points —  43 above their average in the first two games.  They followed it up with a gritty road victory over Nevada in overtime.  The Aggies erased a 10-point deficit late in the second half to force overtime,  subsequently outscoring Nevada 10-3 as Jared Quayle and Tyler Newbold each hit three pointers for the Aggies.  Utah State found their shot as they hit 50% of their three point attempts in the game (8-16) and were 11-13 from the free throw line.

UPCOMING GAMES

  • 01/16 – Nevada vs. Idaho – 7:00 p.m. PT
  • 01/16 – Utah State vs. Boise State – 7:00 p.m. MT (CW30-Utah)
  • 01/16 – New Mexico State vs. Fresno State – 7:00 p.m. MT (AggieVision, Bulldog Sports Network)
  • 01/17 – Hawai’i vs. San Jose State – 7:00 p.m. HT (KFVE Honolulu)
  • 01/20 – Boise State vs. Nevada – 7:00 p.m. MT (Comcast SportsNet California)
  • 01/21 – Fresno State vs. Utah State – 7:00 p.m. PT
  • 01/21 – San Jose State vs. Louisiana Tech – 7:00 p.m. PT
  • 01/21 – Hawai’i vs. New Mexico State – 7:00 p.m. HT (KFVE Honolulu)
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Checking in on… the WAC

Posted by jstevrtc on January 1st, 2010

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

The WAC begins conference play this weekend and the league has made a switch to a Saturday/Monday schedule from a Thursday/Saturday schedule in years past.  The breakout non-conference season for the WAC never materialized. The good news is the league finished 73-43 in non-conference play.  The bad news is the league was 0-7 against BCS teams, 7-9 against the West Coast Conference, 5-7 against the Big West and just 4-12 against the Mountain West, the league the WAC most likes to compare itself to due to the fact that MWC is made up of former WAC teams (records via Chris Murray, Reno Gazette-Journal and Jason Erickson, WAC Media Relations)

As the nine teams enter league play the standings are as follows:

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

The conference season could produce plenty of high scoring games.  Eight of the nine teams are averaging at least 73.5 PPG.  Only Fresno State lags behind, averaging 67.4 PPG.  All but two teams in the league are giving up at least 70 PPG with Utah State leading the way giving up just 60.2 PPG.   Fresno State is the only other giving up just 63.1 PPG.

Should there be close conference games, which there almost always are, free throw shooting will be vital and seven of the nine teams in the league hit at least 70% of their free throws.  Only Idaho (66.5%) and Fresno State (66.4%) are below 70%.

The league features 10 players averaging at least 15 PPG.  Louisiana Tech’s Kyle Gibson leads the league in points per game with 21.6.  There are two players averaging at least 10 rebounds per game, San Jose State’s Chris Oakes (10.6) and Petras Balocka (10.1).

Boise State (9-4)

The week’s results:  12/29 W vs. Northwest Nazarene, 76-58

Upcoming games:  01/02 @ Fresno State, 01/05 @ Hawai’i

The Broncos enter league play riding a four game win streak and sport a 9-4 non-conference record.  They were competitive in three of their four losses (a 26-point loss to Wyoming being the exception).  The Broncos will open up league play on the road after having played at home for five straight games.   The Broncos will travel to an improved Fresno State team and then travel to the islands to take on Hawai’i.  The Broncos are 2-3 on the road this season and are led by forward Ike Okoye who is averaging 14.2 points and 9.2 rebounds per game.  La’Shard Anderson is averaging 12.2 points and 3.8 assists per game and Robert Arnold is averaging 10.8 points and 3.7 points per game.  Kurt Cunningham is averaging 9.6 points and 3.8 rebounds per game and is second in the league in field goal percentage and is hitting 64.5 percent of his shots.

Fresno State (7-7)

The week’s results:  12/28 W vs. Colorado State, 73-50

Upcoming games:  01/02 vs. Boise State

The Bulldogs will enter league play on a high note after pounding Colorado State 73-50 in their non-conference finale. The Bulldogs host Boise State to open up league play.  Fresno State is 5-3 at home this season and are led by the duo of Paul George and Sylvester Seay.  George is averaging 16.7 points and 8.0 rebounds per game while Seay is averaging 15.7 points and 5.4 rebounds per game.  Center Greg Smith is averaging 12.0 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. Fresno State leads the WAC in field goal percentage defense allowing opponents to hit just 39.1 percent of their shots. They’re second in the league in points allowed per game giving up just 63.1 PPG.

Hawaii (7-6)

The week’s results:  12/25 L vs. St. Mary’s (CA) (Diamond Head Classic), 84-75; 12/29 W vs. Northwestern State, 81-62

Upcoming games:  01/03 vs. Idaho, 01/05 vs. Boise State

The Warriors hung tough with a very good St. Mary’s (CA) team losing by nine.  The Warriors rebounded with a win against Northwestern State winning handily by 19 points.  The Warriors have a great opportunity to make their mark early in league play with Idaho and Boise State coming in to the islands for the opening weekend of play.   Hawai’i is 7-5 at home this season and have won five of their last seven games after dropping four straight.  Dwain Williams leads the Warriors with 15.6 PPG.  Roderick Flemings is averaging 15.0 points and 6.5 rebounds per game.  Petras Balocka is averaging a double-double with 10.3 points and 10.1 rebounds per game and Hiram Thompson is averaging 10.1 points, 4.2 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game.

Idaho (7-4)

The week’s results:  12/29 W vs. Lewis-Clark State (in Boise, ID), 71-52

Upcoming games:  01/03 @ Hawai’i, 01/04 @ San Jose State

The Vandals have a tough task to start the conference season as they’ll face Hawai’i on January 3 and then turn around and play San Jose State on January 4.  The Vandals wrapped up non-conference play with a resounding victory over Lewis-Clark State 71-52.  The Vandals are just 2-4 on the road this season.  Mac Hopson leads the way for the Vandals with 13.0 points and 4.0 rebounds per game.  He is also averaging 4.5 assists per game.  Steffan Johnson is averaging 11.7 points, 3.1 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game.  Kashif Watson rounds out the double-digit scorers averaging 11.4 points and 3.5 rebounds per game.

Louisiana Tech (12-2)

The week’s results:  12/29 W @ Houston, 99-94

Upcoming games:  01/02 vs. Nevada, 01/04 vs. Utah State

The Bulldogs wrapped up non-conference play with an impressive 99-94 win over Houston to enter conference play with the best record in the league at 12-2.  The Bulldogs have a chance to back up their impressive non-conference record when they host the WAC preseason favorites in Nevada and Utah State.  Louisiana Tech is a perfect 5-0 at home while Nevada is 0-4 on the road and Utah State is 2-3 on the road.  The Bulldogs have five players averaging double-digits in scoring with Kyle Gibson leading the way at 21.6 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game.  Magnum Rolle is averaging 12.9 points and 8.4 rebounds per game, Olu Ashaolu is averaging a near double-double with 12.2 points and 9.4 rebounds per game.

Nevada (8-5)

The week’s results:  12/28 W vs. Portland, 78-69

Upcoming games:  01/02 @ Louisiana Tech, 01/04 @ NMSU

The Wolf Pack earned a solid 78-69 victory over Portland and will enter conference play at 9-4.  They travel to surprising Louisiana Tech and also surprising New Mexico State.  The Pack is 0-4 on the road this season.  Nevada is the league’s highest scoring team at 82.9 PPG.  They’re led by sophomore sensation Luke Babbitt who is averaging 19.8 points and 9.5 rebounds per game.  Armon Johnson is averaging 17.0 points, 3.5 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game.  The big question for the Wolf Pack is how will their team hold up through what promises to be a wide open conference schedule.  The Pack essentially are getting all their production from just six players.

New Mexico State (7-6)

The week’s results:  12/28 W vs. Prairie View A&M, 95-76

Upcoming games:  01/02 vs. Utah State, 01/04 vs. Nevada

The Aggies wrapped up non-conference play with a 19 point victory over Prairie View A&M and are on a four game win streak heading into conference play.  The Aggies are above .500 for the first time this season and after a somewhat rocky non-conference portion of the season they have a chance to flex some muscle in the first two games.  The Aggies host the two league favorites in Utah State and Nevada in the opening weekend and both games will be nationally televised on ESPNU.  The Aggies are 5-2 at home this season.  Jahmar Young leads the team in scoring averaging 20.5 points and 4.1 rebounds per game.  Mid-season addition Wendell McKines has made his presence felt and is already averaging a double-double with 16.0 points and 10.7 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game.   Hamidu Rahman is averaging 12.4 points and 9.3 rebounds per game but is coming off an ankle injury that sidelined him in their game against Texas Southern.

San Jose State (7-5)

The week’s results:  12/28 W vs. UC-Irvine, 78-68

Upcoming games:  01/04 vs. Idaho

The Spartans will enter league play on a two game win streak after defeating UC-Irvine 78-68.  The Spartans will open up league play at home against Idaho.  The Spartans are 4-1 at home this season.  Adrian Oliver leads the way for SJSU averaging 20.7 points and 6.6 rebounds per game.  Big man Chris Oakes is averaging 9.8 points and 10.6 rebounds per game while fellow big C.J. Webster is averaging 9.1 points and 6.1 rebounds per game.

Utah State (10-4)

The week’s results:  12/29 W vs. Western Oregon, 78-42

Upcoming games:  01/02 @ NMSU, 01/04 @ Louisiana Tech

The Aggies handled their business against Western Oregon winning 78-42 in a blowout.  Utah State enters league play on a four game win streak but will take to the road to open conference play.  The Aggies will face the southern Aggies to open up league play.   Utah State is just 2-3 on the road this season.  After a trip to Las Cruces the Aggies will head to Ruston to face the surprising Louisiana Tech Bulldogs.  The UtAgs were picked to win the league by both the coaches and the media and will be looking to get at least a road split to get things off on the right foot.  The Aggies rarely lose at home and if they can split their road conference games and win all their home games, they have a great chance to wrap up the league’s regular season title for the second straight year.  Utah State is led by reigning WAC Player of the Week Tai Wesley who is averaging 14.0 points and 6.7 rebounds per game.  Point guard Jared Quayle is averaging 12.4 points and 6.3 rebounds per game to go along with 4.5 assists per game.   The Aggies will get forward Nate Bendall back from a scary situation.  Bendall is averaging 11.3 points and 6.8 rebounds per game but was sidelined briefly after having a cardiac ablation last Wednesday and having ‘minor surgery’ to repair an atrial flutter.  The Aggies expect Bendall to suit up and start against New Mexico State on Saturday.

UPCOMING GAMES

  • 01/02 – Fresno State vs. Boise State – 7:00 p.m. PT
  • 01/02 – Hawai’i vs. Idaho – 7:00 p.m. HT (KFVE Hawai’i)
  • 01/02 – Louisiana Tech vs. Nevada – 7:00 p.m. CT (Comcast Sports Net California)
  • 01/02 – New Mexico State vs. Utah State – 9:00 p.m. MT (ESPNU)
  • 01/04 – Hawai’i vs. Boise State – 7:00 p.m. HT (KFVE Hawai’i, KTVB Boise)
  • 01/04 – San Jose State vs. Idaho – 7:00 p.m. PT
  • 01/04 – Louisiana Tech vs. Utah State – 7:00 p.m. CT
  • 01/04 – New Mexico State vs. Nevada – 9:00 p.m. MT (ESPNU)
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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 11th, 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 (7-2)
  2. Idaho (5-3)
  3. Boise State (5-3)
  4. Utah State (4-3)
  5. San Jose State (4-4)
  6. Fresno State (4-4)
  7. Hawai’i (4-4)
  8. Nevada (3-4)
  9. New Mexico State (2-5)

Mediocrity continues for the WAC as the league came up largely empty against the toughest competition they faced this week and they now stand 38-32 in non-conference play.  Last week we talked about eight games and eight chances earn RPI boosting victories for the league.  The end result of those eight games was a 2-6 record.  Boise State lost to Illinois, New Mexico State was thumped by New Mexico, St. Mary’s snapped Utah State’s 37-game home winning streak, Pacific was snakebitten at Pacific, Idaho rocked then No. 25 Portland but got crushed on the road by Washington State, Louisiana Tech lost at Arizona and Fresno State knocked off San Diego.

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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 – 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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