Pac-12 Power Rankings: Week Two

Posted by Connor Pelton on November 27th, 2012

Here’s a look at the power rankings that Drew, Parker, Adam, and I have compiled after the second week of Pac-12 games (delta in parentheses):

  1. Colorado, 5-0 (-): After a 4-0 opening week that got Colorado into the national Top 25 rankings, the Buffaloes only played one game in week two. It wasn’t always easy on Sunday night against Air Force, but Tad Boyle’s squad went on a 13-3 run halfway through the second half to put away the Falcons and cruise to a 15-point victory. Freshman forward Josh Scott led the way with 20 points for Colorado. This was a nearly unanimous pick, with only Drew not picking the Buffs at number one. They now have a warm-up game against Texas Southern before traveling to play a good Wyoming squad on Saturday. Up Next: 11/27 vs. Texas Southern.
  2. Arizona, 3-0 (-): Just like Colorado, it was a one-game week for Arizona, who has only played three games since the nationwide opening night back on November 9. But the Wildcats continued their winning ways, throttling a Long Beach State team that hung with North Carolina for 30 minutes. An 18-3 run late in the first half erased any doubt about the outcome, and UA cruised to a dominating 94-72 win. The Cats easily managed their way through their first three mini-tests, dispatching Charleston Southern and UTEP before the 49ers. The 3-0 start has been good enough to boost them to ninth in the nation in the AP/Coaches polls. Zona now gets a small reprieve against in-state rival Northern Arizona before going into a rough four-game stretch through early December. Up Next: 11/28 vs. Northern Arizona.

    Freshman Forward Brandon Ashley Leads The Ninth Ranked Wildcats With 13.7 PPG (credit: John Miller)

  3. California, 6-0 (^1): The team that has won the most games so far in 2012-13 comes in at number three after two weeks of play. All three of California’s week two wins came in the DirecTV Classic, where it got two less-than-impressive wins before dominating a solid Pacific team in the classic final. Justin Cobbs was undoubtedly the player of the week in the conference, averaging 19.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 4.3 assists per game in Anaheim. The Golden Bears’ perfect record will be put to the test in their next three games, when they go to Wisconsin and host UNLV and Creighton in Berkeley. Up Next: 12/2 @ Wisconsin.
  4. Oregon, 5-1 (^1): Oregon got maybe the conference’s biggest non-conference road win in what, two or three years, on Friday? The Ducks went into one of the most hostile environments in the country and pulled out a 83-79 win against UNLV, building their record to 5-0 on the season. They’d eventually lose a hard-fought battle with Cincinnati the next night, but the fact that they were a couple bounces away from knocking off back-to-back ranked opponents in the same weekend was enough to boost them up a notch in this week’s rankings. Freshman guard Damyean Dotson was the surprise of the weekend, averaging 14 PPG. If he can continue that kind of production in the coming weeks, Oregon’s schedule sets up so it can escape non-conference play with only one loss. Up Next: 11/29 vs. UTSA.
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Big 12 Weekend Games Primer

Posted by dnspewak on December 9th, 2011

GAME OF THE WEEKEND

  • Ohio State (8-0) at Kansas (6-2), Saturday 2:15 PM CT

Bill Self has gained a reputation during his long career for producing some of the most efficient offensive teams in the nation, but his 2011-12 team hasn’t performed up to his expectations quite yet. “Our offense sucks,” Self said. “It’s ridiculous to watch.” That’s a harsh statement to make in public, but Self has a point. Kansas turned the ball over 22 times in a win over Long Beach State this week, although it did tally 16 assists and hung 88 on the Big West favorites. To put Self’s comments into perspective, however, consider his team’s three games against Kentucky, Georgetown and Duke. The Jayhawks shot 28 percent from three-point land in those contests, and they totaled more than 10 team assists just once. Right now, much of the problem stems from the lackluster play of point guard Tyshawn Taylor, who owns an assist-to-turnover ratio of less than 1.0. He turned the ball over 11 times against the Blue Devils on national television last month in the Maui Invitational title game, and his subpar efforts seem to have major implications on the way KU runs its offense. But don’t give up on the senior point guard just yet. He has a chance for redemption against a smothering Ohio State defense, and in particular, he’ll need to rise to the occassion against the feisty Aaron Craft. The matchup at point guard will to some extent determine the outcome of this game, especially since star center Jared Sullinger‘s status is in question for the Buckeyes due to back spasms. If he plays opposite of KU’s Thomas Robinson, we’ll be treated to two of the best rebounders in America on Saturday afternoon.

If Jared Sullinger Plays, KU Is In Trouble

The key individual match-up isAaron Craft vs. Tyshawn Taylor. It doesn’t take long to recognize Craft’s impact on a basketball game. Making his mark as a distributor and defender, Craft may actually be the most publicized player in college basketball who does not average double figures in scoring. He has the ability to frustrate Taylor with his intensity and aggressiveness, but it’d be silly to write off Taylor in this match-up. Craft is a sophomore; Taylor, on the other hand, is a senior who’s never turned the ball over at this rate (4.0 TPG) at any point in his career. As long as he takes care of the ball, Taylor is a good enough player to hold his own here.

Kansas wins if… It executes better offensively. You heard Bill Self — the offense “sucks” right now. With Self’s track record, that shouldn’t last for long. If the Jayhawks share the ball better and limit turnovers, they have more than enough scoring options to hang with the Buckeyes at Allen Fieldhouse.

Ohio State wins if… Jared Sullinger plays– and dominates. With Robinson and Jeff Withey, Kansas has the interior defense to contain Sullinger… sort of. No matter who he faces, Sullinger finds a way to score by playing within the offense and making high-percentage shots. If Thad Matta slots him in the starting lineup, it won’t matter who guards him.

OTHER GAMES OF NOTE

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The Big 12 Week Ahead: Thanksgiving Tournament Edition

Posted by dnspewak on November 21st, 2011

With all the holiday tournaments going on this week, it’s time to take a look at the tournaments involving Big 12 teams.

CBE Classic: Missouri

Opening Round Opponent: vs. Notre Dame, Monday 6:30 p.m. CT

Down the Road: vs. Cal/Georgia, Tuesday

First-year head coach Frank Haith will get his first taste of real competition at Missouri this week, as his Tigers square off against Notre Dame on Monday night. The Irish are undefeated, but their only marquee victory came against a solid Detroit team at home by six points. They’ve completed their 4-0 run without forward Tim Abromaitis, who was suspended by the NCAA for participating in an exhibition game a few years ago. Monday will mark the senior’s first game back, however, and he changes the entire dynamic of the lineup. He was preseason First Team All-Big East selection, after all. Abromaitis is one of just two returning starters for Mike Brey along with Scott Martin, while Missouri, of course, returns just about everybody from an NCAA Tournament team. The Tigers have picked up Haith’s new style of play quickly so far, but we’ll have to wait until tonight to judge this team’s true progress.

Frank Haith Faces His First Test at Missouri

Pre-Season NIT: Oklahoma State

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Morning Five: 10.26.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on October 26th, 2011

  1. The big news of the day came in the world of conference realignment as Oral Roberts announced that it would be leaving the Summit League and moving to the Southland Conference next year. The move is big for the Southland Conference because the addition brings it back to 10 teams after three schools (Texas State, UT-Arlington, and UT-San Antonio) announced that they would be moving to the WAC next year. The Golden Eagles should be one of the better basketball teams in the Southland as the move will be a major step down in terms of the quality of basketball played in the conference even before those three teams left the conference.
  2. Oh, you were expecting the “other” conference realignment news to lead off today? I guess we will get to that too. Yesterday, an anonymous source reported that the Big 12 was set to offer West Virginia an opportunity to join the conference when Missouri completes their move to the SEC, a move that has not become official yet, but seems to be a near certainty. Before the past few months we would have looked down on this move by West Virginia from a basketball perspective because the Big East was a much better basketball conference, but the way things are going we are not even sure if the Big East will exist in a recognizable form in five years.
  3. One team that appears to be staying in the Big East for now is defending national champion Connecticut. As we mentioned yesterday, the Huskies appeared to have trouble headed their way with a potential (ridiculous) ruling by the NCAA related to APR scores that turned out to be a miscommunication by the NCAA. While the Huskies avoided the NCAA’s wrath for now they need to step it up because their graduation rate of 25% is appalling especially when compared to the increased graduation rate nationwide where 82% of all student-athletes and 68% of men’s basketball players graduate. The full data set is available here and is pretty interesting if you have the time to browse through it.
  4. DaJuan Coleman decided to stay close to home for college as he committed to Syracuse yesterday in a press conference at his high school. Coleman opted to play for the Orange over Kentucky and Ohio State. Although Coleman listed those three schools as his finalists it was pretty clear to most observers that he was staying home as he went to Big Blue Madness then Syracuse this weekend at which point he called the press conference and never even went on an official visit to Columbus. In a move that is symbolic for the current state of college sports Syracuse celebrated his commitment by announcing it on two of their official Twitter accounts, which is a secondary violation (the tweets were deleted before any screencaps were taken).
  5. ESPN’s Diamond Leung had a nice feature story on College of Charleston freshman Adjehi Baru and the path he took to become a Division I basketball player from the Ivory Coast. Last year, Baru shocked many observers when he chose Charleston over several other higher-profile programs including North Carolina, but from Leung’s piece it seems like Baru felt a connection with the program and Bobby Cremins. We are sure that Baru’s story will be told many times over the next few years and he should be featured prominently on this year’s telecasts as he could play a significant role for a team that will be adjusting to life after Andrew Goudelock although the team does return a solid supporting cast.
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2011 NIT Season Tip-Off Bracket Announced

Posted by nvr1983 on July 20th, 2011

Earlier today the match-ups for the 2011 NIT Season Tip-Off were announced. Unlike many preseason tournaments where the team that will advance is already pre-determined in this tournament you actually have to win to advance, which apparently is a novel concept for preseason tournaments. Like most preseason tournaments it features early-round games at a regional host site with a team from each region advancing to a different destination (in this case Madison Square Garden) for the semifinals and finals.

Scoop and the Orange hope to be back at Madison Square Garden

The host teams for the regional sites (November 14-16) will be Syracuse, Oklahoma State, Virginia Tech, and Stanford. Here are the match-ups for each site for the first round (full bracket here).

  • Syracuse versus Manhattan and Albany versus Brown
  • Virginia Tech versus Monmouth and George Mason versus Florida International
  • Oklahoma State versus Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Oral Roberts versus Texas-San Antonio
  • Stanford versus Fresno State and Colorado State versus Southern Methodist
The winners of the first round games in each region will play against each other with the team and the winner of that game will advance to play in Madison Square Garden for the semifinals and finals (and consolation game for the losers of the semifinals) on November 23 and 25. The losers of the first round games in each region will meet on campus sites on November 21 and 22.
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The Other 26: Bracket Analysis Part II

Posted by KDoyle on March 17th, 2011

Kevin Doyle is an RTC Contributor.

Call it what you want with this seemingly erroneous preamble of the NCAA Tournament known as the “First Four,” but the opening game of this year’s edition of the Dance could not have been much more entertaining. We have already had a clutch shot in the final seconds and an overtime game under our belts. Many people will not even remember that UNC-Asheville and Arkansas-Little Rock even partook in the Tournament, but for a few hours last evening the stage was all theirs. Even if it is merely a play-in game—errr, first round game—this is the NCAA Tournament and keen basketball observers were no doubt glued to their screens and smartphones last night tracking the game.

Just as a refresher in case you missed yesterday’s look into the Other 26 teams in the East and West Regions, I elected to break down the 16 teams by inserting each into one of the four categories: 1) Have a legitimate shot at actually advancing far into the Tournament; 2) Can win a game, but not much more; 3) If their shots are falling and their opponents are not, they have an outside shot; and, 4) We are just happy to be here.

Ability to advance to the second weekend

(8, Southwest) UNLV—After the conclusion of the 2010 Tournament, there is no doubt that a bitter taste was left in UNLV’s mouth. The Runnin’ Rebels lost to Northern Iowa in the final minute and then two nights later, in one of the gutsiest shots in Tournament history, Ali Farokhmanesh drilled a three from the wing to seal the victory over Kansas. UNLV had to painfully watch the remainder of the Tournament and endure the arduous offseason pondering the question: “Why couldn’t that have been us?” Now, UNLV is in a similar situation, as they are in the 8 vs. 9 game again. They are an experienced bunch with Tournament experience under their belts; if they are fortunate enough to get by Illinois, they will ironically play none other than Kansas.

(12, Southwest) Richmond—The Spiders were upset by St. Mary’s last year, and this year they are the ones who will have to be playing spoiler. Richmond has arguably the most dynamic player in the field with 6’10 senior forward Justin Harper. To make a comparison, Harper is the Atlantic 10’s version of Dirk Nowitzki. Although he spends most of his time inside the arc, his ability to step outside and hit a three poses endless match-up problems for opponents. Harper is complemented nicely by his running mate Kevin Anderson. Richmond matches up well against Vanderbilt, but containing John Jenkins—maybe the best shooter in the Tournament—will be a challenge. Expect a variety of match-up and 2-3 zones from Chris Mooney.

 

Harper is a Tough Matchup for Vandy

(3, Southeast) BYU—It is painfully obvious that the loss of Brandon Davies has detrimentally affected BYU’s play considerably; in the first game after his absence the Cougars were thrashed by New Mexico 82-64 on their home floor. While there is little doubt that Jimmer Fredette is the face of the program and their top player, the country is now officially seeing that there is much more going on in Provo, Utah, that can be attributed to BYU’s success  other than simply Fredette. While a deep run no doubt becomes more difficult without the services of Davies, the backcourt of Fredette and Jackson Emery has the ability to carry the Cougars to the second weekend.

(9, Southeast) Old Dominion—ODU presents all of the intangibles to be successful in the Tournament. They have an intelligent and proven coach in Blaine Taylor, a senior-laden team with NCAA experience, and the confidence that they belong here and can win—especially after knocking off Notre Dame as an 11 seed last year. It is more than merely intangibles for ODU though. The Monarchs are quite possibly the best rebounding team in the field, incredibly tough on the defensive end—according to Frank Hassell: “We go 50% man and 50% zone”—and run a deliberate offense that minimizes their opposition’s possessions. Blaine Taylor has created a formula for his team to have success in the NCAA Tournament.

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The Other 26: Bracket Analysis Part I

Posted by KDoyle on March 15th, 2011

Kevin Doyle is an RTC contributor.

By now, we have all read, watched, and heard the breakdown of those teams fortunate enough to have earned a top seed in this year’s Tournament. We know Pittsburgh has the easiest road to Houston of the four #1 seeds—or do they? Georgetown, with Chris Wright returning to the lineup, is poised to make a run to the second weekend. Ohio State and Kansas are the favorites to advance to the Final Four according to many of the so-called experts. They can only review so many times how teams with Tournament experience traditionally perform well, and that having a formidable frontcourt is essential to reaching the Final Four. But, what about those pesky teams from the Other 26 conferences? While there are several popular teams that have the capability of playing the role of Cinderella this year that have received ample coverage—Belmont, Utah State and Oakland just to name a few—let’s dive in and investigate the fifteen O26 teams on the left-hand side of the bracket: the East and West Regions. Yes, even you, Texas-San Antonio and Long Island, are getting some love here.

I elected to break down the 15 teams by inserting each into one of the four categories: 1) Have a legitimate shot at actually advancing far into the Tournament; 2) Can win a game, but not much more; 3) If their shots are falling and their opponents are not, they have an outside shot; and, 4) We are just happy to be here

Ability to advance to the second weekend

(6, East) Xavier—Despite a setback to Dayton in the Atlantic 10 Tournament, Xavier breezed through their conference schedule with their only loss coming to Charlotte. Subsequently, they are one of the hotter teams entering the Tournament and possess one of the most dynamic and potent point guards in the country in Tu Holloway. The Musketeers’ date with Marquette in the first round is one of the most intriguing early match-ups of the tournament. Getting by the Golden Eagles would undoubtedly give them confidence against another Big East foe in Syracuse in the following round. Bare in mind, Xavier has reached the Sweet 16 in the past three NCAA Tournaments.

Tu Holloway Makes the XU Offense Go

(2, West) San Diego State—The Aztecs are one of the best feel good stories of the entire year. They have a very likable team with guys like D.J. Gay and Kawhi Leonard being the face of the program, and Steve Fisher’s journey back to the top of the college basketball world has been great to watch. San Diego State sprinted through their entire regular season schedule with their only two blemishes coming at the hands of Jimmer Fredette and BYU. The play of Gay in the backcourt and Leonard in the frontcourt makes it hard for any opponent to cope with. SDSU will look to avenge their first round loss to Tennessee in last year’s tournament with a much deeper run this year.

(7, West) Temple—In the illustrious career of Fran Dunphy, the longtime coach has never won an NCAA Tournament game. After a strong non-conference performance that translated to a 14-2 record in the Atlantic 10, Temple seems poised to give Dunphy that first “W.” The Owls are one of the best defensive teams in the tournament, which will suite them well for Penn State’s hard-nosed and methodical offense. The match-up featuring Ramone Moore and Talor Battle will no doubt be a great one that may determine the outcome of the game.

Can win a game

(8, East) George Mason—The nation is finally witnessing the highly touted recruits that Jim Larranaga attracted to George Mason following their magical Final Four run back in 2006. The play of Ryan Pearson and Cam Long has been nothing short of exceptional during the second half of the season as GMU won 16 consecutive games. The streaking Patriots will take on the slumping Villanova Wildcats in the first round who have lost five straight games and 10 of their last 15. While the Nova backcourt is one of the best around with Corey Fisher and Corey Stokes, GMU is playing with confidence and swagger that Villanova seems to have lost. I’ll take the hotter team in this one.

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The Other 26: Week 13

Posted by KDoyle on February 11th, 2011

Kevin Doyle is an RTC contributor.

Introduction

In last week’s article I touched on the notion of parity and how great it is within the world of sports. After analyzing many of the Other 26 conferences this week, I could not help but notice how in several of the conference there is not one team that has distinguished themselves from the pack yet, and we are already nearing mid-February. In some cases, there are not even two or three teams that are running away with the league. Competitiveness or mediocrity? Well, does it really matter? All this means is that conference tournament week becomes that much more unpredictable and exciting. Here are a few of the conferences that are still completely wide open:

  • Atlantic 10: Four teams—Xavier, Duquesne, Temple, and Richmond—have records between 8-2 and 8-1.
  • CAA: Four teams—George Mason, Virginia Commonwealth, Old Dominion, and Hofstra—have records between 12-2 and 10-4.
  • The A10 and CAA are both very similar as each have four teams in legitimate contention, and both appear to be two-bid leagues at the moment.
  • Conference USA: Six teams—UTEP, Southern Mississippi, UAB, Memphis, SMU, and Tulsa—have records between 6-2 and 7-3.
  • Horizon League: Five teams—Valparaiso, Cleveland State, Wright State, Butler, and Wisconsin Milwaukee—have records between 10-3 and 9-5.
  • MAC: Eight teams—Kent State, Buffalo, Miami (OH), Bowling Green, Akron, Ohio, Ball State, and Western Michigan—have records between 7-2 and 5-4.
  • Southern Conference: Four teams—Charleston, Furman, Wofford, and Chattanooga—have records between 11-2 and 10-3.
  • Southland Conference: Nine teams—Northwestern State, McNeese State, Southeastern Louisiana, Nicholls State, Texas State, Stephen F. Austin, Sam Houston State, UTSA, and Texas Arlington—have records between 7-3 and 5-4.

Very elaborate, I know. But, it is pretty remarkable the balance in the leagues. Of these seven conferences, there are a total of 40 teams who can still say they are capable and have a legit shot at winning their conference. What does this all mean? A great week of basketball during the conference tournaments, followed by more weeks of deliciousness during the NCAA Tournament. Enjoy.

The Other 26 Rankings

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Checking in on… the Southland

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 14th, 2011

Russell Burnett is the RTC correspondent for the Southland Conference.

A Look Back

  • Statistically Speaking: The McNeese State Cowboys lead the East Division in the Southland Conference with a 2-0 mark, but they don’t lead in any of the team statistical categories. Individually, senior P.J. Alawoya leads the SLC in defensive rebounding with 5.7 boards per game.
  • Two D-I Wins: Suffice it to say that the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders played a tough non-conference schedule, but the season still hasn’t been what their fans thought it would be. The Islanders’ only D-I wins have come over Bethune-Cookman and the University of Houston en route to a disappointing 5-11 mark thus far.
  • Here Today, Gone Tomorrow: Heralded Kentucky transfer A.J. Stewart played in all of 12 games before being dismissed by Texas State. It is unclear why the 6’9 forward was kicked off the team. He averaged 9.1 points and 6.3 rebounds in 12 games.
  • Player of the Week: Lamar guard Mike James made national headlines by scoring 52 points against Louisiana College to earn SLC Player of the Week honors. James followed up the outburst with 22 points against Central Arkansas.

Power Rankings

  1. Stephen F. Austin (10-4, 1-1) – The Lumberjacks barely hold down the No. 1 spot after losing their SLC opener to Southeastern Louisiana 64-54, but bounced back with a win over Central Arkansas. SFA faces big tests in UTSA and UT-Arlington next week.
  2. McNeese State (10-5, 2-0) jumps up from No. 5 into the second spot after going 2-0 to open SLC play with wins over A&M-CC and Lamar. Patrick Richard (14.9 ppg) and Diego Kapelan (13.7 ppg.) remain the steady forces for the Cowboys, who test Texas State and SELA next week.
  3. Sam Houston State (8-7, 1-1) – The Bearkats hang onto the No. 3 spot by the skin of their teeth after a road win over UTSA and a home loss to UT-Arlington. Gilberto Clavell continues to carry SHSU on his back, but teams are starting to realize the Kats don’t have very good perimeter shooting and are double-teaming Clavell (19.3 ppg).
  4. Southeastern Louisiana (7-6, 1-0) – The Lions make the move from No. 7 to No. 4 by virtue of a ten-point win over Stephen F. Austin in their SLC home opener. SELA faces A&M-CC and McNeese State in its next two games.
  5. UTSA (7-7, 1-1) – The Roadrunners barely lost to SHSU, then defeated A&M-CC to even its SLC mark. Two games next week against SFA and Northwestern State will give the UTSA faithful a look at how good this team might be.
  6. Nicholls State (7-6, 1-1) – The Colonels played a very tough non-conference schedule and split their first two conference games. Anatoly Bose (23.5 points per game) needs help, and he often gets it from Fred Hunter (15.8 ppg), but after those two players, it’s rough for the Colonels to score. NSU faces Sam Houston and Central Arkansas in its next two contests.
  7. UT-Arlington (7-8, 1-1) – The Mavericks were hammered by Nicholls State 66-48 in the conference opener, then went on the road to dispose of SHSU. LaMarcus Reed III and Bo Ingram are the only starters in double figures. UTA will host both Lamar and A&M-CC and try to improve to 3-1.
  8. Northwestern State (9-8, 1-1) – The Demons could be ranked higher, but drop from No. 4 after losing five of their last six, including an embarrassing defeat to LSU Shreveport. Northwestern State bounced back and topped NSU 73-64. Things could get better as they face UCA and UTSA.
  9. Lamar (7-8, 1-1) – The Cardinals stay in the No. 9 spot after splitting their first two conference games. With his 52-point scoring effort, Mike James leads the Cardinals in scoring at 15.3 ppg. Lamar hits the road to play Texas-Arlington then battles Arkansas State in a non-SLC game.
  10. Texas State (6-9, 1-0) – The Bobcats move up from the cellar after winning their last three games. A huge week lies ahead with a road game against McNeese State and a home game with Sam Houston. Cameron Johnson (13.4 ppg) is rounding back into form as he has scored 18, 19, 19 in his last three games.
  11. Texas A&M-CC (5-11, 0-2) – The Islanders aren’t getting much from their backcourt or from senior forward Justin Reynolds these days. McNeese put a 72-49 whipping on A&M-CC, then it fell to UTSA. Reynolds averaged 8.5 points and four rebounds in the losses. Terence Jones leads the team with a meager 2.3 assists per game.
  12. Central Arkansas (4-11, 0-2) – Having lost five of their last six, the Bears started the SLC schedule with two losses. UCA doesn’t put up many impressive stats as their leading scorer, Imad Qahwash, averages 12.8 points and Chris Henson paces the team with 5.3 rebounds. Northwestern State and Nicholls State are on tap for the Bears.

A Look Ahead

After getting all the butterflies out in the first week of conference play, things will heat up this week. Nicholls State travels to Huntsville in a rematch of last year’s first-round SLC conference tilt. Bose scored 40 on the Bearkats in the loss. Other games of note include SFA on the road against UTSA on Saturday. McNeese State will battle Southeastern Louisiana in Hammond on Wednesday, Jan. 19.

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Checking in on… the Southland

Posted by Brian Goodman on December 19th, 2010

Russell Burnett is the RTC correspondent for the Southland Conference.

A Look Back

  • Puzzling Player: Stephen F. Austin senior Eddie Williams was selected as a preseason first-team Southland Conference pick, but the 6’2 guard is having a down year thus far. Williams is averaging only seven points and three rebounds after putting up 13 points and six boards a year ago. His shooting percentage is down nearly 16 points from last year – 51.5% last year compared to 35.9% this season.
  • Roadrunner from Australia: Texas-San Antonio freshman Jeromie Hill, from Cairns, Australia, is making an early case for Newcomer of the Year. Hill has scored in double figures in all but one game and is averaging 14.6 points and 6.5 rebounds. His best game came against Evansville, when he tallied 27 points and 12 rebounds.
  • Surprise, Surprise, Surprise: Two players who were going to be counted on by their teams have stepped up their beyond expectations this year. Texas State senior guard Tony Bishop has scored in double figures in all eight games this year after hitting double figures only 10 times last year. The 6’6 forward is averaging 13 points and 10 rebounds, compared to seven points and five boards last year. Demond Watt, a 6’8 forward for the Islanders, could challenge for player of the year honors if he keeps up his current pace. Watt is averaging 16.6 points and 10.2 rebounds and is the only Texas A&M-CC player scoring in double figures.
  • Player of the Week – UTSA junior forward Stephen Franklin earned the award after going for 18 points and nine rebounds in a five-point loss to the University of Houston. Players named as honorable mention for the award include David Ndoumba (SELA), Patrick Richard (McNeese), Gilberto Clavell (SHSU) and Jereal Scott (SFA).

Power Rankings

  1. Stephen F. Austin (6-2) – The Lumberjacks’ only two losses have come at the hands of Big 12 members Texas A&M and Texas Tech. SFA could be 10-2 heading into Southland Conference play with the biggest challenge coming December 20 at UTEP.
  2. UTSA (6-2) – The Roadrunners have played a pretty good non-conference schedule and could be sitting at 8-0, but fell on the road to Evansville and UC-Riverside. They open SLC play at home against Sam Houston State.
  3. Sam Houston State (5-3) – The Bearkats fell from the top spot of the power rankings, but their losses have come at the hands of the University of Texas, the University of Houston and Cleveland State. Gilberto Clavell leads the team with 19.8 points and 8.1 rebounds.
  4. Northwestern State (7-3) – The Demons have won six of their last seven games with the three losses coming against LSU, Memphis and Indiana. Will Pratt (17.5 PPG) and Devon Baker (15.7 PPG) lead NW State in scoring.
  5. McNeese State (6-4) – The Cowboys have three players in double figures and will have a big best right before conference play starts when they face No. 25 Texas A&M in College Station.
  6. Nicholls State (5-4) – As senior forward Anatoly Bose goes, so go the Colonels, but at times, even Bose can’t do enough. Bose is averaging 25 points a game and has topped 30 points twice. Fred Hunter provides help with 15 points a game.
  7. Southeastern Louisiana (5-3) – The Lions face two SEC teams before conference play begins. SELA hits the road to play Vanderbilt and Mississippi before opening up at home versus SFA. Senior Trent Hutchins paces the squad with 16.6 points per contest.
  8. UT-Arlington (5-3) – After four wins in a row, the Mavericks have fallen twice to North Texas and Samford, respectively. Freshman Darius Richardson was a heralded recruit coming out of Fort Bend Bush High School, and he is living up to the status, averaging 9.6 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.9 assists in his first go-round.
  9. Lamar (5-4) – The Cardinals played Texas tough before going down 76-55, then had Rice down by ten at halftime before losing, 75-73. Is Lamar close to tunring the corner? Senior guard Kendrick Harris paces the team in scoring at 12.8 points a clip.
  10. Texas A&M-CC (3-6) – The tough schedule continues for the Islanders as they face Houston, Memphis and Texas Tech before conference begins. They have defeated only one Division-I opponent in Bethune Cookman.
  11. Central Arkansas (3-7) – The Bears have beaten only one Division I foe in Chicago State and have #13 Missouri and Oklahoma on tap. Their leading scorer, Chris Henson, averages a paltry ten points per game.
  12. Texas State (2-6) – A preseason full of hope has turned ugly thus far. The Bobcats have lost five straight, including a 14-point defeat at home to Texas Southern. Senior Cameron Johnson is a preseason all-SLC pick, but is having a hard time staying on the court. The 6’7 forward is only playing 19 minutes a game and has fouled out of two contests and picked up four fouls in two more games.

A Look Ahead

The Southland Conference slate begins in three weeks on January 8 with a full allotment of games. In the meantime, SLC schools will play the likes of Missouri, Vanderbilt, Memphis, Ole Miss, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Texas A&M.

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Checking in on… the Southland

Posted by Brian Goodman on December 4th, 2010

A Look Back

  • Off to Greener Pastures: The University of Texas-San Antonio and Texas State were offered and accepted membership on Nov. 11, 2010 into the Western Athletic Conference beginning in 2012.
  • Suprise addition: Texas A&M-Corpus Christi received news before the season that guard Garland Judkins would be eligible to play this season. The 6’4 junior left Arizona in January, but was granted a hardship waiver by the NCAA after his father’s death. Judkins is averaging 6.4 points per game.
  • Top This Schedule: Southland Conference men’s basketball teams have played a murderous schedule thus far. Opponents to date include: Houston, LSU (twice), Washington, Oregon State, Texas A&M (twice), Oklahoma State (twice), Memphis, UNLV, Texas Tech, Kansas, Texas (twice), Miami and Indiana.
  • Players of the Week: Anatoly Bose, Nicholls State – The senior from Sydney, Australia, averaged 29 points in four games to grab Week 1 honors. His performances included a 28-point performance against LSU and a 37-point outburst against Oklahoma State (twice). Bose nailed five 3-pointers against OSU, which is one short of his career best.
  • Sam Houston State senior Gilberto Clavell earned Week 2 honors by posting a season-high 29 points to lead the Bearkats past Colorado State 92-81.

Power Rankings

  1. Sam Houston State (4-1) – Last year’s SLC representative in the NCAA Tournament hasn’t done much to hurt its reputation, but doesn’t exactly look like world beaters either. SHSU came back from a big halftime deficit to blast Colorado State, but looked terrible in a 34-point loss to Texas. Until the Bearkats fall off the wagon and lose a couple of games, it’s likely they will stay atop the power rankings. Gilberto Clavell is still a monster down low, averaging 19 points and eight rebounds.
  2. Stephen F. Austin (4-2) – The Lumberjacks are right on SHSU’s heels, especially after giving Texas A&M all it could handle this week in a 62-53 loss. Both Jereal Scott and Jordan Glynn lead SFA in scoring at 13.8 PPG, while Denzel Barnes is doing a nice job running the team. The Jacks will need senior guard Eddie Williams to step up his play as he is averaging 6.5 points this year compared to 13.3 last year.
  3. Nicholls State (3-2) – The Colonels have played a tough schedule thus far and have done well against the big boys. Anatoly Bose, arguably the league’s best player, is averaging 27.4 points and hit for 28 in a 62-53 win over LSU. NSU’s two losses have come at the hands of Oklahoma State and Houston.
  4. Southeastern Louisiana (4-1) – The Lions lost post Patrick Sullivan to the NBA D-League, but senior guard Trent Hutchin has helped ease that loss by averaging 20.7 ppg. SELA’s non-conference schedule thus far leaves a little to be desired, but they have won the games they were supposed to win.
  5. Northwestern State (5-3) – Just like most of the other top teams in the conference, the Demons have lost to the top teams in the country and taken wins from schools in lower classifications. Both Will Pratt (19.1) and Devon Baker (15.9) have pushed their scoring averages up from a year ago. Freshman guard Gary Stewart has been a nice surprise as NW State’s third-leading scorer.
  6. UTSA (4-2) – The Roadrunners have two veterans and one newcomer who look like they’ll carry the load this year. Senior Devin Gibson (16 PPG), sophomore Melvin Johnson III (14.7) and true freshman Jeromie Hill (14.2) have paced UTSA so far. The Roadrunners have traveled far and wide to collect their two losses – on the road to Evansville and UC-Riverside.
  7. UT-Arlington (5-2) – Despite a nice non-conference record, the Mavericks have played a poor schedule. They have four wins over NAIA schools and have losses to Oregon State and North Texas. LaMarcus Reed II has pushed his scoring average up almost nine points from a year ago to 17 PPG. The Mavericks are a young team with only one senior and four juniors on the roster.
  8. Lamar (4-3) – It may take some time for the Cardinals to mesh as they have 11 new players on the roster, including seven JuCo transfers. Lamar has played four of its seven games on the road and played #19 Texas tough before bowing by 21 points. Senior Kendrick Harris leads the team with 12.4 points per game.
  9. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (3-5) – The Islanders have played one of the toughest schedules in the conference to date, including three teams from the Big 12. Senior forward Demond Watt has been a monster on the glass with four double-figure games to go with 16.7 points a game. TAMU-CC will have to get more production from 6’9 senior forward Justin Reynolds (8.6 PPG, 6.3 RPG) if they want to make a push when conference play begins.
  10. McNeese State (3-3) – The Cowboys’ top two scorers (Diego Kapelan and Patrick Richard) from a year ago return and they will have to keep producing for any hope of a winning season. MSU came back from a 43-25 halftime deficit to defeat Louisiana-Lafayette on December 1, and Cowboy fans hope that comeback will be a sign of things to come.
  11. Texas State (2-3) – Prognosticators picked Texas State to be one of the surprise teams in the SLC this year, but an influx of transfers haven’t jelled yet. The Bobcats have played only one game on the road, and lost by one point at home to NAIA school Our Lady of the Lake. While senior Tony Bishop has been a nice surprise by improving his scoring by seven points a game and rebounding by six per game, preseason all-SLC pick Cameron Johnson is down in scoring and rebounding.
  12. Central Arkansas (2-4) – Two wins over NAIA schools and two fairly close losses to SMU and Oklahoma State won’t get the Bears out of the power rankings cellar. Imad Qahwash has become the go-to guy (13.7 PPG) despite only averaging six points last year, but the biggest surprise has been Chris Henson’s 12.5 points so far versus 1.5 last season.

A Look Ahead

  • The next two weeks will be more of the same for SLC teams as they will face Marquette, Wichita State, Mississippi State, Texas, LSU, Missouri and Vanderbilt.
  • Conference play begins in just more than a month on January 8, and in the meantime, several Southland Conference schools will try to get freshmen and JuCo transfers on the same page as the veterans on their teams.
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RTC Conference Primers: #23 – Southland Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on October 12th, 2010

Russell Burnett is the RTC correspondent for the Southland Conference.

Predicted Order of Finish

East Division

  1. Southeastern Louisiana (13-3)
  2. Nicholls State (10-6)
  3. Lamar (9-7)
  4. Northwestern State (6-10)
  5. McNeese State (5-11)
  6. Central Arkansas (3-13)

West Division

  1. Stephen F. Austin (13-3)
  2. Sam Houston State (12-4)
  3. Texas State (9-7)
  4. UTSA (7-9)
  5. A&M-Corpus Christi (6-10)
  6. Texas-Arlington (3-13)

All-Conference Team (key stats from last season in parentheses)

  • Anatoly Bose (F) – Nicholls State (21.1 ppg, 86 three-pointers made)
  • Gilberto Clavell (F) – Sam Houston (17.1 ppg, 6.4 rpg)
  • A.J. Stewart (C) – Texas State (5.7 PPG in 2008-09 for Kentucky)
  • Anthony Miles (G) – Lamar (14 ppg, 3.0 apg)
  • Devin Gibson (G) – UT-San Antonio (12.5 ppg, 4.4 apg)

Sixth Man

  • Cameron Johnson (F) – Texas State (14.6 ppg, 7.9 rpg)

Impact Newcomer

  • A.J. Stewart (F) – Texas State pulled in several transfers, but none bigger than the 6’9 Kentucky transfer. Having played in 29 games for the Wildcats as a sophomore, Stewart could have a big impact in a league not known for fielding a plethora of big men. Stewart led Arlington Country Day (Fla.) High School to three straight state championships.

A.J. Stewart, formerly a bench player with Kentucky, hopes to celebrate an expanded role with Texas State. (ukwildcatcountry.com)

What You Need to Know

  • The Southland is a two-division league and made a change during the offseason. Stephen F. Austin moved from the East Division to the West and Lamar jumped from the West to the East.
  • The Merrell Center in Katy is the site of the 2011 Southland Conference Basketball Tournament. This is the third straight year the tournament has been played at a neutral site.
  • The five-year transition process for Central Arkansas‘ athletic department is over. The school has now gained Division I active membership and will be eligible for postseason play in the Southland Conference and at the national level.
  • There was a shake-up on the coaching front of a couple of teams in the offseason. Central Arkansas hired former Razorback great Corliss Williamson as its head coach, while Sam Houston State promoted assistant Jason Hooten after longtime coach Bob Marlin took over the helm at Louisiana-Lafayette.

Predicted Champion

Stephen F. Austin (NCAA seed: #15). The Lumberjacks were beaten in the tournament championship game by rival Sam Houston State last year. Head Coach Danny Kaspar always has his team in contention and this year his team-oriented style of play could reap benefits as the conference is void of any big-time NBA caliber talent. It could be a toss-up with Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston, but both teams should come out of the West bloodied, but not beaten.

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