Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Jason Groves feature on one of the new Aggies

Here's a Jason Groves feature on one of the new Aggies. There is also a Terrance Joyner mention here. Basketball season is fast approaching.

Guard to play prominent role on team
Jason Groves
Las Cruces Sun-News

LAS CRUCES — At 6-foot-1, Hernst Laroche knows his way around a basketball court.

But he has had to make some adjustments since signing a grant-in-aid letter to play for New Mexico State University in August.

Laroche joins NMSU from Montreal, Quebec, and he figures to play prominently in the Aggies search for a point guard this season...

Go here for the remainder.

Kerry Rupp drops two

Thanks to a tip, we discovered a Shreveport Times article about LT Coach Kerry Rupp dismissing two players from his squad, one of whom was expected to be a starter.

Tech dismisses Nebraska transfer
Shreveport Times
September 29, 2008

RUSTON -- Louisiana Tech basketball coach Kerry Rupp announced Monday afternoon that senior JC Clark and Nebraska transfer Jamel White have been dismissed from the team for a violation of team rules...

Go here for the remainder.

Here's what baffles us but the answer seems simply to be human nature.

JC Clark and his teammates endured a very rough season last year due to the Bulldogs being limited in players, experience and talent. The best of the Techers were sitting out the season after transferring in from other D-1 schools. This was Clark's junior season and 2008-2009 promised to be a much, much better one in Ruston. So Clark made it through a tough season, had great possibilities on the horizon and then blew it.

The same goes for Jamel White. Getting through a sit-out-due-to-transfer year is never easy but he made it. Now, with the strong possibility of being the starting point for LT, he messes up big time and is now looking for a new home.

Clark won't be missed all that much but White will -- at least on the court.

We wuz wrong

As they say, the coverup usually turns out worse than the crime so in the spirit of coming clean here's a mighty mea culpa about a portion of yesterday's Greg Allen to Idaho post.

We saw Allen play twice this summer but never in the point guard role. While this is accurate, it turns out Allen plays the point for his high school team in Eureka and also previously spent some time in the position for his Bay Area Hoosiers club team.

He will play the point for Idaho.

We should have an Allen article posted here sometime tomorrow as we talked to him last night.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Greg Allen verbals to Idaho

Northern California backcourter Greg Allen has given his nod to sign with Coach Don Verlin and the Idaho Vandals come November. This according to Scout's Greg Hicks.

As of June 30, NorCalPrep's had Allen as the 14th-ranked player in the upper half of the state.

Here is an ESPN evaluation of Allen:

"Allen is a true point guard prospect for the low-mid major level. He has a terrific frame (ideal size for the "one" spot) with long arms. He is a solid athlete with good quickness but doesn't possess that 2nd gear that all college coaches covet. He is a heady point guard with excellent savvy for the position - runs the high pick-n-roll very well. He's an excellent passer in transition and gets rid of the ball quickly. Allen is a pure point, but can score off the drive or pull-up jump shot. His jump shot is decent, but his release point is too low and as a result its trajectory is rather flat. Allen was a nice surprise this summer and as he fills out his frame, he should be one the top ten point guards on the West Coast in the class of 2009."

We've seen Allen play twice on his summer club team and, while summer games are a whole different breed from winter high school play, we didn't see Allen at or as a point. Our description would be more of an off-guard shooter with solid outside range. He plays intelligently and doesn't force the action. Bay Area Hoosier teammate Aalim Moor (a San Jose State commit) was the lead guard on the team. Our sense is Allen will need at least a season, possibly longer, to become a factor in college.

We hope to have an interview with Allen in the next few days.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

North Idaho's Shawn Henderson offered by Idaho?

There seems to be conflicting news regarding Idaho offering North Idaho's Shawn Henderson or not. The 6-3 Henderson sat out last year but was a second-team All-Scenic West Athletic Conference in his freshman season at NIC. He notched 5.2 rebounds a game then along with compiling 337 points in his initial go-around.

Northwesthoops.com ranked Henderson as the second best combo guard as a high school senior in Renton, WA.

Idaho loses three backcourters to graduation at the end of this academic year -- Terrance Simmons, Brandon Brown and Trevor Morris.

Mac Hopson and Kashif Watson will be returning a year from now as will redshirts Steffon Johnson and Marcus Lawrence but the former three will be seniors so immediate playing time for Henderson might be iffy.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Sam Hicks to visit Idaho

6-8 Sam Hicks is a diamond in the rough way up in northern California, a territory not known for producing D-1 prospects. He has an official visit to Idaho coming up and both Idaho and Boise State have offered. Hicks has also taken an unofficial visit to Nevada.

It requires a Rivals subscription but here's an article on Hicks.

Here's a link to an ESPN evaluation of Hicks.

Andy Katz features Nevada basketball

Thanks to Chris Murray of the Reno Gazette-Journal for pointing out this Andy Katz/ESPN article on Nevada's 2008-2009 basketball team:

Andy Katz
September 26, 2008

Nevada: If JaVale McGee had decided to return to Nevada and not entered the NBA draft the Wolf Pack could be a lock for the top 25. Nevada added one of the higher profile scoring wings in 6-9 forward Luke Babbitt and the eligibility of former Indiana wing 6-6 Joey Shaw. The guard play, according to coach Mark Fox, is expected to be the Wolf Pack's strength with the return of Brandon Fields (12.4 ppg) and Armon Johnson (11.5 ppg). But McGee left. So, there is a whole in the middle.

"The plan was to put great shooting around [McGee]," Fox said. "He didn't come back but we still got the shooting."

The Wolf Pack knew they were losing senior Marcelus Kemp, the leading scorer last season ahead of McGee. Fox said the 2-4 start last season was because of an inexperienced backcourt. Now the experience will be in the backcourt with a sophomore in Johnson and a junior in Fields...

Go here for the remainder.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Scheduling is getting harder and harder

Not that the NCAA 'plate' isn't already more than full with a myriad of issues and concerns but how about adding Division One basketball scheduling to it? The bottomline is that most of the major powers simply won't play road games -- a home-and-home series -- with those they deign beneath them. It's a 'sure, come into our home and we'll play but we're not going to visit you' mindset that's becoming more and more prevalent. Some mid-major basketball programs even offer to visit twice or thrice in exchange for one return visit and the answer is much more often than not 'no, nyet, nein.'

Here's a snippet from a recent Andy Katz/ESPN column that offers a multi-faceted take on scheduling:

"...When Memphis coach John Calipari was looking for a game, he had his staff call up Old Dominion. The Monarchs were willing to play, but not without a return. The Tigers said no thanks. This is nothing new for ODU coach Blaine Taylor. Each year he holds out one game at the end of the summer and sometimes into September to lure in desperate coaches looking to fill a game. In recent years, he has picked up DePaul, Virginia Tech, Clemson and Georgetown. The Georgetown series started with a shocking upset at Georgetown during the Hoyas' Final Four season two years ago. "John Thompson [III] said to me that was the significant game all year because we had to learn from it," Taylor said of the Georgetown coach. "We do this because everyone needs a game, and as the cast of characters dries up, the guaranteed amounts get so large and some of the schools get priced out of games."

Taylor said the Monarchs had a deal in principle to play a home-and-home with South Carolina, but that recently was pulled...

...Taylor said he won't play one-way games without a return. He said after the win over Georgetown, the Monarchs called 10 Big East schools but were told no. "They shy away from us and quite honestly are afraid of us," Taylor said. "Everyone wants home games and sometimes they run out of patience, and that's why we hold a game late."

With all this in mind, we compiled the home games (BracketBuster contests excepted since opponents aren't known at this time) of the Western Athletic Conference members for your perusal. Please do let us know of any additions or corrections that need to be made.

Boise State and Hawaii sure planned well -- a ton of home games for two teams that will be rebuilding. We have to go with Nevada as the best home slate for fans, by far.


Nov 01 Guelph
Nov 11 Concordia
Nov 14 Pacific University (Oregon)
Nov 22 Idaho State
Nov 24 Montana State
Dec 03 Wyoming
Dec 06 Colorado State
Dec 13 San Francisco
Dec 29 Eastern Washington


Nov 05 Fresno Pacific
Nov 09 Cal State Stanislaus
Nov 14 Sacramento State
Nov 17 Seattle University
Nov 30 Oregon State
Dec 03 UNLV
Dec 10 Cal State Bakersfield
Dec 14 Montana


Nov 02 Hawaii-Hilo
Nov 07 Chaminade
Nov 14 San Francisco
Nov 26 Fullerton
Nov 17 Idaho State
Nov 24 Iowa State
Dec 1 Prarie View A&M
Dec 13 Eastern Washington
Dec 15 Chicago State
Dec 23 UC Riverside
Dec 27-30 Outrigger Hotels Rainbow Classic


Nov 05 Walla Walla University
Nov 14 Evergreen State
Nov 22 North Dakota State
Nov 28 UC Irvine
Dec 17 South Carolina State
Dec 20 Texas Southern
Dec 21 Washington State


Nov 8 Oklahoma Panhandle State
Dec 6 Grambling State
Dec 10 UL-Monroe
Dec 22 Texas Christian University
Feb 19 Houston Baptist


Nov 08 San Francisco State
Nov 22 Oregon State
Nov 26 Pacific
Dec 06 UNLV .
Dec 09 Sonoma State
Dec 14 Southern Illinois
Dec 17 Arkansas-Pine Bluff
Dec 27 Idaho State
Dec 31 North Carolina


Oct 31 N.M. Highlands
Nov 06 Western New Mexico
Nov 15 UC Riverside
Nov 21 Pepperdine
Dec 11 Sacramento State
Dec 14 UTEP
Dec 17 Prairie View A&M
Dec 28 Loyola Marymount
Dec 30 New Mexico


Nov 06 Menlo College
Nov 19 Cal Maritime
Dec 03 Santa Clara
Dec 20 Northern Colorado
Dec 22 USF
Feb 17 Utah Valley


Oct 31 Northwest Nazarene
Nov 08 Concordia
Nov 14 Montana State - Northern
Nov 25 Weber State
Nov 29 Cal Poly
Dec 02 UC Irvine
Dec 22 Utah
Dec 29-31 Duel In The Desert -- Utah State vs. Howard -- Utah State vs. Houston Baptist -- Utah State vs. Wyoming

A couple of Fresno State recruiting targets?

There is mention of Fresno State interest in two Antelope Valley JC prospects at an AV site. Credit for the information goes to Brett Swanson of JucoJunction.com.

6-8, 210 sophomore Jerome Moton, who averaged 5.5 ppg and 4 rebounds last season for the Marauders and is still adapting to the power forward spot has a visit planned today with Detroit but Fresno State Coach Steve Cleveland is also looking at the kid.

Plus, 6-3, 185 freshman Lionell Holmes is also being followed by the Bulldogs. He's has offers from Northern Arizona and Cal State Northridge and looks to play shooting guard at the next level.

Idaho has offered an Antelope Valley JC (CA) player

Rivals' Brett Swanson, who covers junior college basketball like no other, has Idaho offering a California junior college player.

From an Antelope Valley web site, mention is made of Vandal interest in Raymond Cody, a 6-5 sophomore two guard who shoots better from three-point range than the rest of the court.

Pacific, Idaho and USF have offered Cody and upcoming visits are already in place for the latter two.

Idaho gets a prepster

Jed Tai -- who knows more about basketball than most of us have forgotten -- reports today that Don Verlin has landed a 'big' and the kid is a higher schooler at that. We have no clue how Joe Kammerer will work out but landing a center prospect and a prepster is quite the two-fer as Verlin transitions Idaho's prospecting from JC transfers to a more even mix of recruits.

Jed Tai
OregonPreps.com Editor
September 25, 2008

It's been some kind of week for top senior basketball prospects in the state of Oregon. Over the weekend, Lake Oswego forward Max Jacobsen saw enough at Portland State to decide to stay at home for school and we've learned about Sisters newcomer Ross Erickson, who's heading to Hartford next fall. Now, you can add Joe Kammerer to the list of committed recruits as the solid 6-foot-9, 240-pound post from North Eugene determined on Thursday that his college path has been determined as well...

Go here for the remainder if you have a Rivals subscription.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Are we piling on?

Somehow we missed this before but Gary Parrish's blog had this snippet about the now departed Johnny Higgins:


"...Now freshman guard Johnny Higgins, according to sources, has been kicked out of the program for his role in a pair of altercations..."


An ESPN scouting report describes Higgins thusly: "...an extremely powerful point guard who is able to out-muscle virtually any opposing lead guard..." and "...his best work comes at the defensive end of the floor where his size and quickness, along with his tough and aggressive nature..."
We obviously have no idea if the blowups happened on or off the court and understand that altercations do happen, especially nowadays and at that age. While we certainly don't wish to go after an 18-year-old there clearly are some anger management issues that he had better address before his basketball recruiting gets curtailed or even worse.

Jahmar Young's case finally concludes

With fervent hope, we truly wish this to be the very last entry -- at least for this season at the very minimum -- about a WAC basketball player's legal situation.

NMSU's Jahmar Young avoids jail in plea deal
Jose L. Medina
Las Cruces Sun-News

LAS CRUCES — New Mexico State University basketball player Jahmar Young accepted a plea deal Wednesday, avoiding a one-day trial that was also scheduled yesterday.

Young, 21, pleaded no contest to one count each of petty misdemeanor battery and assault. A misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest was dismissed last month.

The charges arose from an on-campus incident in which Young was accused of exposing himself to a woman at an on-campus housing unit in August 2007.

The deal allows the Aggie guard to avoid jail time if he adheres to several conditions set by state District Judge Doug Driggers, who accepted Young's plea and issued a one-year deferred sentence — and unsupervised probation — shortly after the plea...

Go here for the remainder.

Higgins not at NMSU but is in New Mexico

Now Gary Parrish has gotten into the act and is reporting that New Mexico State freshman point Johnny Higgins is at a junior college in The Land of Enchantment.

Gary Parrish
September 24, 2008

Johnny Higgins is leaving New Mexico State before he ever played a game.

"He's going to transfer," Higgins' former AAU coach, Anthony Lewis, told CBSSports.com by phone. "He's transferring to New Mexico Junior College."

Though Lewis said he had no knowledge of an incident, a source told CBSSports.com that Higgins was involved in a physical altercation that precipitated this development. Reached by phone late Wednesday, New Mexico State coach Marvin Menzies declined comment but said the school did plan to make a Thursday morning announcement about Higgins, a 6-2 point guard who played at Notre Dame Prep last season...

A quick question: This same thing took place last season with Troy Gillenwater, Hamidu Rahman and Robert Lumpkins each getting acclimated to post-high school life and school with enrollments into the New Mexico junior college ranks. For the record, they were not 'exiled' due to any behavioral issues. We have no idea how many units each was enrolled in but did wonder at the time about the affordability of out-of-state tuition for the trio. The same goes for Higgins who recently arrived in the state.

Let's hope Coach Menzies clears up the Higgins situation today with either a press conference or an official statement. To us, it appears Higgins has the possibility of earning his way back to the Aggies because there's no other reason for him to be at a junior college in New Mexico.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Oh my gawd

The apocalypse is upon us (sorry about that SI). ESPN is going to be supporting the nasty habits of college basketball junkies around the world with its latest plan for televising opening night games.

Shouldn't the United States Surgeon General step in here and at least issue a warning?

On the bright side, the WAC gets television time with Fresno State and Hawaii being presented, albeit at 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. respectively.

Hoops marathon includes Kentucky-North Carolina battle
September 24, 2008

A marathon of 14 college basketball games on Nov. 18 -- spread over 23 consecutive hours -- will help kick off the 2008-09 college basketball season on ESPN.

The games open at midnight ET with national championship game runner-up Memphis hosting Massachusetts, where Tigers head coach John Calipari once coached. It wraps up with the two winningest programs in college hoops history -- Kentucky and North Carolina -- meeting in Chapel Hill at 9 p.m. ET...

Go here for the complete article.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

College coaching, the business world and professorialship

Here's a few ruminations...

College coaching is a very unique position of employment, possibly a one-of-its-kind situation. It's remarkable how this profession has way many more similarities to the business world than it does to academia. This at an educational institution, a place dedicated to learning and scholarship.

By all that, we mean a coach's tenure is directly based upon winning. Translated to business, that means solid and growing sales, healthy profits, satisfied primary stockholders. The onus is to be victorious in far more games than ones lost because winning produces the required rock solid balance sheet.

Whereas in comparison, a professor in the university can gain tenure after a few years in the classroom independent of the outcome of his/her interactions with students Being in the classroom is a laissez faire situation, a show-up-if-you-want-to with the measure of learning totally up to the individual student. No positive end results are necessary or required.

Also, a college coach's staying power is solely based on the successful actions of 18-21 year olds, a demographic not generally known for stability (if any is). But to be fair, these student-athletes are hand-picked and not assigned to a coach by some other entity.

Additionally, in the WHAT ELSE IS NEW DEPARTMENT: some of the coaching brethren cheat, big time for some, around the edges for others. Some abstain from this practice altogether -- this despite doing so may add to the length of their contract if not caught.

Also, the wide disparity in basketball budgets (say SEC teams versus those in the Big West) already creates substantial degrees of difficulty for most mid and lower level most coaching staffs (smaller businesses) and going up against a big time coach (goliath corporations) who can spend profligately and who can also more generously view rules and regulations as a 'impediment' to be worked around.

Now some coaches simply work the angles, a commonplace tactic in the spheres of the business world. And make no mistake, college sports is a business, built around dollars and cents. But this isn't any sort of lawbreaking -- compare it to Microsoft 'leaning' on other companies for bundling Bill Gates' products in with theirs to the exclusion of Microsoft's competitors. It's the implied but unspoken admonition.

Within the profession, some coaches also will have no qualms about 'commitments' to his or her roster -- it's a produce or be gone implication much practiced in big business. We won't names names here -- the coaches are fairly well known to most fans. Many believe this is unsupportable behavior but keep this in mind: coaches get raises and extensions for winning, NOT for graduating players or necessarily doing the right thing. If you are inclined to challenge this supposition we ask you to provide the name of one coach who was let go based on the academics deficiencies of his players. Alternately, was there ever a college coach hired solely because his previous players graduated? We also inquire was there ever a history professor asked to depart because the history majors at a certain school were not graduating at an acceptable level?

Another peculiar aspect to the coaching profession is that some coaches will still recruit kids who have agreed to sign with another school/coach. Now some won't, they just congratulate a kid and move on to other recruiting targets but just recently we saw a note that so-and-so verbaled to school X although school Y and school Z were going to continue pursuing the kid. Again, it's a business world here-we-come similarity. Nabbing new and seasoned talent from competitors is nothing new to business.

Then there are the package deals in college athletics. These are situations where head coach A hires so-and-so as an assistant coach (however unqualified to be an assistant so-and-so may be or even if so-and-so lacks a college degree) because the newly minted assistant coach can 'deliver' a top player to the head coach. But what happens if that new assistant fails to deliver the top player or the top player leaves for the NBA after a season or two? Then, it's a case of the head coach asking the assistant what-have-you-done-for-me-lately? The assistant better have a new kid or kids to deliver. Label this business world redux. As DickieV might say, "It's all in the present and future, baby."

Plus, there is the scenario of a new school president or new athletic director taking over at a school. Professors typically have no worries when a new Dean comes aboard but coaches have to be concerned about leaving any opening (say a losing season) that could be parlayed into his or her departure. ADs typically and understandably desire to have their own selections in the highest level coaching positions (football and basketball). Consider that Washington's Ty Willingham is in the midst of another losing season and with a new AD (one who didn't hire him) in place, well, the ax is being sharpened. Call this one definitely much more similar to the world of business than academia.

And what about fate (for lack of a better term)? Sometimes, one play -- a fumble, an interception, a missed free throw or an untimely injury can 'ruin' a season -- did the coach drop the ball, throw the ball, miss an open shot or do anything to hurt his player? Of course not. But the responsibility is placed somewhere and that is usually with the head coach. In comparison, a billion dollar deal that inexplicably falls through because of unforseeable reasons -- that's going to take place in business and certainly not academia.

So should college coaches in the most prominent sports actually be titled CEOs instead? Isn't Coach K already dubbed that?

Do catch this Thursday night

Mark this one down.

"Second Chance Season", a documentary on current Washington Wizard Nick Young will be shown Thursday night at 9:30 p.m. on ESPN2. Young also attended USC and is from the southern California area.

It focuses on Young's life difficult life as a youngster and is being described as one of the better sports films to date by a number of sports reporters who have already seen it.

Johnny, we hardly knew ye

Again this is all based on message board posts as nothing 'official' has been released by the powers-that-be at New Mexico State but freshman Johnny Higgins appears to be back home and not in Las Cruces.

One poster at the NMSU Scout site basketball message board has him enrolled in a junior college in New York and another has a quote from Coach Marvin Menzies.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Our love/hate relationship with articles like this

*** Do note Perry Missner's comment regarding this article at the bottom --- his article's purpose was meant to be for fantasy league aficionados and not an actual listing of this coming season's top WAC players ***

There's the old adage that any publicity is better than no publicity and while that's not always correct there's a degree of truth in that. So we generally enjoy it when we come across any articles about Western Athletic Conference (WAC) basketball as such provides greater WAC public relations and the chance for us to learn more.

But with the 'net and easily available web and blog sites comes the opportunity for anyone to post anything, regardless of accuracy or quality. Now some of you are already thinking why is the Parsing The WAC guy describing himself here with that last aside but we'll ignore that and continue on. ;-)

Recently, we came across a listing of the Top 10 players in the 2008-2009 WAC and decide to bypass posting it after we read the article. We felt it was both incomplete and that the writer hadn't actually seen any of the players he detailing. Our sense is he was basing the names he selected solely on the previous season's stats (an assumption on our part which may or may not be accurate). Most importantly, there was no mention of any of last year's transfer redshirts anywhere to be found (as they had no stats for their inclusion to be based on).

But Chris Murray has an article about this Top 10 list today in the Gazette-Journal and that made us re-visit our decision and now think it worthwhile to have here.

Here's the beginning of the article that contains the list:

WAC Players to Watch
Perry Missner

I’ll let you in on a little inside project I have been working on. It has been my hope to reduce the number of comments made on teams referring to players that have moved on. Is there any other sport in which the offseason coverage seems to center on which the team no longer has more than college basketball? I realize that it is a nice way to connect Nevada to casual fans to mention past studs as Marcellus Kemp and Nick Fazekas, but those guys are gone. Why talk about them now? However, with this year’s WAC, things get a little dicey. Almost all of the rosters of the nine teams feature huge amounts of turnover. In fact, only one member of the team’s All-Conference first and second teams returns. And just in the past week another excellent prospect, New Mexico State F Herb Pope, also left. One might conclude that this will be a down year in the WAC. Not me. My guess is that some of these lesser known players will step up and help fantasy teams to championships...

Here's the players who were selected but go to this link to see the complete article.

10. G Brandon Fields, Nevada Wolf Pack

9. G Anthony Thomas, Boise State Broncos

8. G Jonathan Gibson, New Mexico State Aggies

7. F/C Chris Oakes, San Jose State Spartans

6. F Roderick Flemings, Hawaii Warriors

5. G Armon Johnson, Nevada Wolf Pack

4. F/C C.J. Webster, San Jose State Spartans

3. G Kyle Gibson, Louisiana Tech Bulldogs

2. F Luke Babbitt, Nevada Wolf Pack

1. F Gary Wilkinson, Utah State Aggies

So where is Louisiana Tech's Magnum Rolle (LSU)? Maybe Jamel White (Nebraska) or even Proposition 48-er Olu Ashaolu? How about Adrian Oliver (Washington) of San Jose State? NMSU fans sure are speaking highly of Prop. 48-er Troy Gillenwater? Fresno State's Sylvester Seay (Arizona State) will certainly have a ton of shot opportunities available with the current Bulldog roster and should be a leading scorer this season in the WAC.

Well, there you have it. Love the PR for the WAC but wish the piece was more complete.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Chris Murray rearranges the WAC

Circumstances sometimes makes things happen that wouldn't ordinarily take place or even be considered and high transportation costs just may force some sort of Western Athletic Conference (WAC) realignment.

Chris Murray offers some ideas on what the WAC could do.

Could the WAC use a 10th member?
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal

In Saturday's newspaper, we looked at the effect the rise in travel cost has had on universities in the Western Athletic Conference. The Nevada athletic department spent an estimated $2.1 million on travel last season. A story in the Sporting News found athletic programs across the country will face a 16 percent hike in travel costs this year. For Nevada, that translates to an extra $336,000 increase in costs in the spread-out WAC.

One of the possible solutions in making travel more efficient in the WAC would be to add a 10th member to the conference, which would create travel partners in basketball and decrease the number of costly one-game road trips. Nevada athletic director Cary Groth said the majority of the conference's ADs would support a 10th team, but that it would have to be the right team to make sense. Another big question is whether that school needs to have a football program. Here are five possible options for a 10th WAC school...

Go here for the remainder.

Here's another Murray-written article that contains this intriguing quote:

When the WAC athletic directors hold their fall meetings at the end of the month, one of the big issues on the agenda will be travel.

"My message as they come to that meeting is, 'Anything's on the table,'" WAC commissioner Karl Benson said during July's football media preview. "It may cause us to do some drastic measure that might have been unheard of or even unthought of two or three years ago."

A silly and unproductive USU dustup

Conflict is inevitable when we lead with our egos and that's exactly what is happening between the Utah State sports administration and an unofficial Aggie sports fan site.

There are multiple accounts of this battle all over the 'net but here's one.

USU Aggies blog
Come watch the Aggies, but leave your camera at home
Jared Eborn
DeseretNews.com blogger
September 19, 2008

Strange things are happening at Utah State.

In what looks like an effort to chase off the few remaining fans of the football team, USU is telling people they can not take high-quality pictures of the football team. The fear, apparently, is those pictures will eventually be posted on personal blogs, websites or message boards.

Aggie administrators have decided cameras with detachable lenses are against the rules unless the person using them has a media credential. That means the parents and friends of Aggie athletes are forbidden from bringing much more than a point-and-shoot camera into USU athletic facilities.

The new policy is this:

Utah State University is dedicated to providing an exciting and memorable guest experience, while ensuring their safety and security. The following policy sets forth certain photography rules for attending any USU event and applies to all guests....

Go here for the remainder.

Here's another link with all the history behind the squabble. Scroll down the KVNU site for numerous articles all about this and bookmark this one is you're looking for thorough Aggie coverage.

Here's another link to a Logan Herald Journal article worth reading.

May saner minds prevail.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Nevada, Utah State battling over a big?

Always keep in mind that college sports recruiting is as fluid as a politician's public pronouncements. That is, it's change du jour. Here's a kid being eyed by Nevada and Utah State as well as others.

From The Kennel Report, a site with excellent information and analysis on all things Gonzaga:

August 28, 2008
Interview with 2009 Recruit Devonte Elliott and Coach Mark McGarry

The 2009 recruiting season has been very past faced with a number of twists and turns. A player who has appeared on the Gonzaga radar relatively recently is Devonte Elliott. The athletic forward from California had a very impressive summer of AAU basketball and has elevated himself to a high-major prospect.

Our correspondent was able to catch up with Devonte and his coach Mark McGarry earlier today. Hope you enjoy.

The Kennel Report:
Devonte, what schools have offered you thus far and how much interest have you been getting?

Devonte Elliott
: Nevada, George Washington, Gonzaga, UTEP, and Utah State Lots of interest from a lot of schools...

Go here for the complete interview.

The Nevada interest may fade since the recent Steven Bjornstad commitment but possibly not. That may be dependent on how oft-injured Richie Phillips holds up this coming season and also how freshman Ahyaro Phillips develops.

Utah State could certainly use Elliott but we sense there's not a solid connection there. In another post, Elliott offers that Gonzaga, Nevada, George Washington and Alabama will be on his visit list with Utah State in the unsure category.

Why the 'mainstream media' is indispensable

Sure, a decent percentage of what turns into actual articles on newspaper and other sports media sites first appears on message boards and the like.

But the problem is the trustworthiness of message board postings as anonymity rules in that domain and it so hard to determine the veracity of both a poster and the message(s).

So yes, newspapers may be struggling to some degree -- although earnings sure seem to be fairly healthy -- but where would we bloggers be without the material provided by beat reporters and the like? It's a symbiotic relationship -- they report and we link.

Something becomes official under the masthead of a newspaper which is not the process for an item on a message board.

Take the situation with NMSU freshman Johnny Higgins.

His 'situation' first came to light on a message board and it was up in the air as to the validity. But now, Jason Groves of the Las Cruces Sun-News has posted something and now we can rest assured that Higgins indeed gotten himself in some proverbial hot water in Las Cruces,

On Thursday, Groves posted this about walk-on tryouts for men's basketball at NMSU:

"This is interesting

I don't know if this is to promote some interest in the team on campus or perhaps it's a common occurance all over the country, or is evidence that the Johnny Higgins was dismissed rumor to be true. My understanding is that his fate at NMSU is yet to be determined. Stay tuned."

More Steven Bjornstad

More and more it looks like Mark Fox has landed a 'big' who will really help the Wolf Pack -- sooner or later. The terrific record Nevada has compiled the last few years is such a tremendous asset in recruiting as winning 20+ games and getting into post-season play opens a lot of doors that might otherwise have remained closed. Here's Chris Murray with even more on Nevada's latest recruit:

Breaking down Bjornstad's game
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal

Now that Steven Bjornstad has verbally committed to the Wolf Pack basketball team, lets break down his strengths and areas for improvement. Here is the feel I get after talking with Bjornstad, his high school coach and consulting a few recruiting Web sites...

Go here for the remainder.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Is Johnny Higgins gone in Las Cruces?

This one was a really tough call. The genesis for this post is an email message on the New Mexico State Scout message board but with the general reliability of message board posts...

But the poster about freshman Johnny Higgins being dismissed for fighting has a rep for reliability so...

Higgins originally signed with Duquesne but the coaching staff there recruited over him when more talented prospects expressed interest and he was released from his letter-of-intent after a couple of those kids decided on the Dukes.

That didn't take long

Nevada Coach Mark Fox has landed a 'big' but it's for next season, not this one coming up. Jed Tai, Mr. Basketball in Oregon, Washington and definitely other points elsewhere, has the scoop.

Jed Tai
September 17, 2008

The original plan was to take two more official visits. But in the world of recruiting, plans can change in a hurry and that's exactly what's happened with Steven Bjornstad. The lanky 6-foot-10, 195-pound post from Columbia River High School decided that one trip was enough for him to make an educated decision on his future, so instead of travelling he'll be staying at home in Vancouver the rest of the fall.

"I just called Santa Clara to cancel my visit because I've given Nevada a verbal," Bjornstad said. "I went on my visit there and I just got good vibes. I had a couple of in-home visits and they came back to see me after their home visit, and that told me that Nevada was the place..."

Go here for the remainder -- it requires a Rivals subscription..

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Chris Murray offers more on Steven Bjornstad

Chris Murray "fleshes out" Wolf Pack recruiting target Steven Bjornstad in today's newspaper. Utah State and Boise State are also pursuing the youngster but there's no mention about visits to Logan or Boise in this article:

Basketball latecomer has 'tremendous upside'
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal
September 17, 2008

When Steven Bjornstad first stepped on to the Columbia River High School campus in Vancouver, Wash., he was a golfer trapped in a basketball player's body.

Three years later, he is a three-star basketball recruit choosing from a dozen scholarship offers.

One of the programs in that mix is the University of Nevada, which Bjornstad visited earlier this month -- the first of at least three official campus visits the 6-foot-10, 220-pound power forward intends to take before committing..."

Go here for the remainder.

Boise State gets a junior college commit

We don't recall Greg Graham and his staff recruiting in New York before (although Reggie Larry was from New Jersey before two seasons at the College of Southern Idaho). A junior college backcourter has cast his verbal lot with the Broncos, saying Boise's getting to the Big Dance impressed him.

BSU men get first hoops commit of '08-09
Nick Jezierny
The Idaho Statesman
September 17, 2008

Guard from the Bronx said the Broncos' trip to Big Dance influenced his decision.

Last year's NCAA Tournament berth already is paying dividends for the Boise State men's basketball program.

The Broncos received their first oral commitment for the 2008-09 recruiting period, landing Westley Perryman from Monroe College in Bronx, N.Y.

The 6-foot-2 combo guard averaged 15.3 points and 4.4 rebounds as a freshman last season. He was the co-player of the year in the Mustangs' league and a third-team junior college All-American.

"The fact that they went to the tournament last year was a big deal to me," said Perryman, who is from Boston.

Perryman, who led Monroe in scoring, rebounding and steals, was recruited by George Mason, Houston, Northeastern, Central Florida, Manhattan, Central Connecticut and Stony Brook, he said..."

Go here for the remainder.

Nevada, Idaho target chooses Long Beach State

We actually prefer not to use the type of headline we just typed because it implies something that may not have much validity. It's true that Nevada is looking for 'bigs' but it's unsure how much the following kid was a current target for Coach Mark Fox and his staff. The same for Don Verlin up at Idaho. But the kid's coach says Nevada and Idaho were interested although there is no mention of actual offers.

From the Long Beach Press Telegram:

"...Long Beach State's program got a commitment Sunday night from 6-foot-9, 240-pound Mira Costa College sophomore Lin Chang, the player's coach, Patrick Conahan, said Monday afternoon.

Chang, who is originally from Beijing and attended high school in Vancouver, British Columbia as a senior, averaged 13.8 points and 8.0 rebounds per game and was a first-team, all-Pacific Coast Conference selection as a freshman.

According to Conahan, Chang was also heavily recruited by Idaho, Nevada, UC Riverside and Weber State "and we got numerous phone calls about him from other schools, as well" before he committed to coach Dan Monson's 49ers while wrapping up a visit to Long Beach Sunday..."

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Jay Drew with his USU recruiting updates

Maybe because he's out in the western part of the U.S. but Jay Drew of the Salt Lake Tribune doesn't get the props for his basketball recruiting coverage that some of the big names in the eastern section of this country enjoy. But he's right up there in our book and he's back again with the scoop on the latest for Stew Morrill and the Aggies:

First, West Jordan High's Rayes Gallegos, a 6-foot-2 senior guard, decided to sign on with Doc Sadler and Nebraska. Well, it's a verbal actually.

Then Brandon Davies gets some space:

Jay Drew
Prep Sports
The recruiting trail
September 15, 2008

Basketball: Provo's Davies enjoys Utah State visit

Here's a little bit of good news for Utah State fans: their team's horrible showing on the football field Saturday night didn't turn off their coveted basketball recruit.

Provo High's Brandon Davies, the 6-foot-8, 215-pound power forward who is a four-star recruit according to Scout.com, said Monday night that he visited Utah State over the weekend, and liked what he saw, "except for their football team, which is not good at all..."

Go here for the remainder (it's the link to Drew's recruiting column which unfortunately doesn't allow linking to each particular article.

Our guess (and take it for what it's worth) is that Davies goes with BYU.

Marcelus Kemp gets a nice gig

There aren't many better places to play outside of the U.S. than Italy. Gelato, museums, history galore, scrumptious food, ambiance that can't be beat, did we mention gelato? Now Marcelus Kemp is going to be immersed in La Dolce Vita.

Marcelus Kemp will play basketball in Italy
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal
September 16, 2008

Marcelus Kemp's potential road to the NBA will begin in Italy.

The former Wolf Pack shooting guard has signed a contract with Basket Livorno and just completed training camp at the team's headquarters in Livorno, Italy (on the Western edge of the Tuscany)...

Go here for the remainder.

Jason Groves features the new Aggies

Jason Groves -- as usual -- is on top of NMSU men's basketball and has a feature today on three 'newcomers' to the team. It is football season but basketball is soon to be happening.

Three newcomers look to make impact
Jason Groves
Las Cruces Sun-News

LAS CRUCES — Troy Gillenwater doesn't want to give anything away.

Not yet.

Gillenwater, a 6-foot-9, 230-pound forward from Boston, Mass., is one of three newcomers who will join the New Mexico State University men's basketball this season.

Gillenwater, along with center Hamidu Rahman and small forward Robert Lumpkins, will be on the court when the Aggies open practice Oct. 17.

"I think that sitting out last year was the best thing for me," said Gillenwater, who signed with NMSU last summer. "I didn't want to sit out at first, but sitting out and watching the team last year, I got to see what I needed to do academically and on the basketball court. It went by quick and it's time to play..."

Go here for the remainder.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

McKinley Boston interviewed

We have certainly had our disagreements with and, yes, taken a few shots at New Mexico State University AD McKinley Boston over the months this blog has been active so in striving to be fair, here are two recent interviews the Las Cruces Sun-News conducted with him.

Follow the links to read both halves of the interview:

First half

Second half

Saturday, September 13, 2008

A 'big' checking out Moscow

Recruiting talent is always Job One for any basketball coach but bringing in size is also a critical component because a quintet of five 6-3 players just isn't going to cut it despite the collective level of ability.

Getting 'bigs' to check out Moscow has always been a problem for Idaho's basketball coaches but especially ones who can shoot, rebound and defend.

With that in mind, Joe Kammerer, 6-9 and 240, out of the Oregon prep ranks, is visiting Idaho. Montana has also offered and he will be in the Big Sky State on September 26. Santa Clara is also interested but there are no current visitation plans. UC Irvine, Weber State and Northern Colorado also have offered.

In an August article, Kammerer spoke highly of Irvine and Portland State, with no mention of Idaho.

Here's ESPN's take:

Joe Kammerer
Hometown: Eugene, OR
North Eugene H.S. (OR)
Position rank: Power Forward # 72
Ht: 6'8" Wt: 250

May, 2008: One of the more promising sleepers on the west coast is Kammerer. He has a Division I frame already and quite the unique skill set. He needs to continue to improve his post skills and fundamentals, but he has a soft touch out to 17 feet.

Friday, September 12, 2008

A Utah State recruiting target has visited Nevada

The list of schools isn't lengthy here and possibly not complete but there's no mention of Utah State in this post about Washington big 6-10 195 Steven Bjornstad. Stew Morrill has offered (so has Idaho) but Mark Fox/Nevada already got an official last week:

Jed Tai
September 11, 2008

An injury hampered Steven Bjornstad the second half of the summer, but the state's top post player for the Class of 2009 still has some top college options. The rising senior from Columbia River High School in Vancouver is in the midst of his official visits, the first of which he just recently took...

He hit Nevada last weekend and these schools are next:

..."I'm going to Santa Clara on the 20th and St. Mary's on the 27th," Bjornstad said...
Go here for the complete article -- a Rivals subscription is required.

A young'un enters the basketball blogging world

Jakob Kagel has been on this earth just 15 years but he has a plan and his College Basketball 24/7 blog is just the beginning.

Jakob recently featured his 'sleepers' for 2008-2009 and LA TECH was included. Here's what he wrote (although the D.J. Wright portion is incorrect):

"Louisiana Tech-The Bulldogs are on the path back to the "glory days" of Karl Malone, P.J. Brown and even maybe the days of Paul Milsap (even though they were not the best) and what better way to do it than hiring the great himself, the mail man as part of your staff. The Bulldogs won only 6 games last year but the outlook is very positive for the team that finished last is the WAC behind even lowly San Jose St. and scored only 31 points in a early season contest win Texas Tech. The reason that the"Techsters" can do in this year, is the addition of 5 impact newcomers and the return of lead guard Kyle Gibson (16.5 ppg). The new players that could all see significant playing time are Kenneth Cooper(transfer Oklahoma St.), Magnum Rolle (LSU), Jamel White (Nebraska), Olu Ashalu (RS Freshman Rivals 150), and D.J. Wright (RS Freshman Rivals 150). There is no telling how well all of these transfers, and newcomers will be able to play together, but just consider that New Mexico St., under Reggie Theus had a similar turn around when in 05-06 they won only 15 games, and the following year the won the WAC tournament and got a berth in the NCAA tournament. All in all on a team that has 11 new comers overall Kerry Rupp had better make them gel fast because the Bulldogs have a Dec. 28 meeting with UCLA.
Prediction: NIT"

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Adam Zagoria with a Herb Pope summary

Adam Zagoria, along with Dick Weiss, covers east coast hoops extremely well. Here he has a article on Herb Pope. It doesn't necessarily contain anything that will be new to NMSU fans -- it's more a summary and probably meant for Seton Hall-ites.

Patient Gonzalez waits for transfers
Seton Hall's coach hopes newcomers create turnaround
Adam Zagoria

...A long journey from Alquippa: Herb Pope is only 19, yet he has already experienced more in his short lifetime than many people ever will.

Raised in Alquippa, a tough urban area outside of Pittsburgh, Pope was abandoned early on by his parents, both of whom have coped with drug problems, and he and his siblings moved from one foster home to another.

"He comes from a dysfunctional family," his father, Herbert Pope Sr., told The New York Times in 2007. "He basically raised himself. It's amazing. He's got a hell of a story to tell."

Herbert Pope has been in and out of prison for drugs and stealing and Herb's mother, Juanita Raines, also has a history of arrests related to trespassing, theft and writing bad checks. Seton Hall would not make Pope available for comment, but his story has been well chronicled.

"They just abandoned me," Pope told The Times, referring to his parents. "I don't got no grudge against them. Hopefully, they come around to doing right for themselves..."

Go here for the remainder.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Reggie Moore heading to New Hampshire

We we're told some time ago that there was no way Steve Cleveland was going to release top point guard recruit Reggie Moore from his letter-of-intent. The request came very late and without any accompanying justification such as an altered family situation or the like.

There's been a method of confirmation concerning this as Moore, out of Seattle, is now headed for a year at a prep school

Jim Basright's Husky Digest has the latest: "Husky Digest sources have confirmed with Rainier Beach guard Reggie Moore that he will be attending Brewster Prep in Wolfeboro, NH..." Go here for the remainder.

*** By the way, the part about Washington's hands-off approach, per Moore, is just blather. Make sure you don't seat the Fresno and Washington basketball coaching staffs anywhere near each other at any future banquets or seminars.

More on Utah State recruiting

The Aggies coaching staff sure seems to be spending a lot of time and attention in the Lone Star State.

6-8 195 Mesquite (TX) forward Cory Remekun is the latest Texan target. Utah State has offered but there's been no official visit. There's a long list of suitors and Remekun offers gracious words about Colorado State.

Here's the link if you have a Rivals subscription.


6-9 190 Aaron Thompson, also out of Texas, has been offered by Army and Utah State but has taken no official visits as yet. He doesn't sound too keen on joining the military and not yet sold on the Aggies. Again, here's the link if you have a Rivals subscription.

A little more on the NMSU - Herb Pope divorce

According to ESPN's Andy Katz, Coach Marvin Menzies and AD McKinley Boston apparently believe that Seton Hall did some wooing of Herb Pope prior to any official release.

We say, 'welcome to the real world of college basketball Misters Menzies and Boston, as if you actually needed that introduction.' Your crocodile tears just don't cut it.


Over at the Sporting News, Mike DeCourcey, chimes in that the so-called 'transfer rule' allowing a player to move to a new school and play right away due to personal hardship is too open to abuse. Here's the link.

But there's no word on whether DeCourcey also feels coaches should have to sit out a year when leaving one job for another, "stability to their sport' (you'll have to read the article) notwithstanding.

Coaches always want greater and greater control over everything yet very, very few -- praise to those who walk their talk -- will turn down a more lucrative or prestigious opportunity, promises to their players be damned.

There is a great deal of reform needed in college basketball, plenty to go around, but it ultimately is a business and all decisions should be viewed through such a prism.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

In-home recruiting visits now happening

As of September 9, coaching staffs are now allowed to conduct home visits. According to the NCAA calendar, the 9th opens a full contact recruiting period with the curtain closing on October 5.

As Charlie Zegers at his college basketball site notes so well, "...It can be difficult to decipher the NCAA guidelines for recruiting without degrees in law, astrophysics and phrenology..."

The next signing period is November 8 through the 15th.

So cross your fingers, light those candles...

Another Utah State recruiting target

Utah State needs to land a 'big' who can hopefully help right away in 2009-2010 what with Gary Wilkinson, a 30+ minutes a game center departing after this season.

Soph Modou Niang, while impressively athletic, is still raw and it's unknown how much he can contribute even with another season under his belt.

2007-2008 recruit Jordan Stone, at 6-10 and 240, is in the midst of the first year of his two year LDS mission so help needs to be landed in this recruiting go-around.

However, Texan Matt Smith, at 6-7 and 205, doesn't fit the 'big' bill as he's more than likely a wing who might spend some time at power forward in college. Utah State has offered but a little research indicates that he seems to be leaning elsehwere:

Blue Zertuche
TexasHoops.com Recruiting Analyst
September 9, 2008

6-foot-7 Smith was very excited after his trip to the campus of Arkansas-Little Rock. This was Smith's first official visit to a university and has a few more options in line.

"I have Utah State on September 19, and I'm still considering SFA..."

..."I will make my decision in the next few weeks," said Smith...

Go here for the full article if you have a Rivals subscription.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Olu Ashaolu gettin' some love

Olu Ashaolu gets a nice mention and description in SLAM.

Tech will certainly have much more talent and many more 'weapons' this season. Getting the kids to play together, sharing the basketball, will be job one for Kerry Rupp and his staff but such is a much more enviable task than what was endured last season.

adidas Nations Wrap-Up
More from Dallas, where the college kids balled out, too.
Aggrey Sam

"...Olu Ashaolu, 6-6 freshman wing, Louisiana Tech: Olu, one of the nicest kids you’ll ever meet, redshirted at Karl Malone’s alma mater last season (Malone is actually on staff there), but the Canadian product put his off year to good use, developing a nice mid-range and slashing game to go with his power, hops and rugged low-post game..."

The above cut'n-paste was the result of this email sent to us by AJ, who deserves a hat tip for sharing the following:

"Got this nugget from La Tech's website


The adidas Nations camp features the world’s top 18 and under players competing. The camp runs from August 8th-11th with skills development and games between teams assembled from Africa, Asia Pacific, Canada, China, Europe, Latin America and the United States. In addition 20 college basketball players are invited to play and go through drills in front of NBA scouts. Here is a list and team of players invited:

adidas College Players

Player School
Cole Aldrich Kansas
Antonio Anderson Memphis
Olu Ashaolu La Tech.
Tyrell Biggs Pitt
John Bryant Santa Clara
Wayne Chism Tenn
Darren Collison UCLA
Henry Dugat Baylor
Shaun Dumas Xavier ( La)
James Harden ASU
Jrue Holiday UCLA
Scotty Hopson Tennessee
Curtis Jerrells Baylor
Dominique Jones South Florida
Mac Koshwal Depaul
Gani Lawal Georgia Tech
Luke Nevill Utah
Arinze Onauku Syracuse
Quincy Pondexter Washington
Diamon Simpson St. Mary's
Dar Tucker DePaul
Jarvis Varnado Mississippi State
Terrance Williams Louisville

Team 1: Darren Collison / Jrue Holiday / Diamon Simpson / Jarvis Varnado / Arinze Onauku

Team 2: Curtis Jerrells / James Harden / Quincy Pondexter / Mac Koshwal / Cole Aldrich

Team 3: Henry Dugat / Dar Tucker / Terrance Williams / Gani Lawal / John Bryant

Team 4: Shaun Dumas / Olu Ashaolu / Antonio Anderson / Wayne Chism / Luke Nevill

Sunday, September 7, 2008

How low can you limbo?

It's the unwritten 'law' of the land: regulations are to be worked around...that is, when they aren't simply ignored. The bulk of the business world runs on this premise because who gets rewarded for hewing to guidelines, aka playing by the rules? Sneering, or worse, is much more often the response to those following written and unwritten constraints and parameters.

College basketball, being one of high finance and winning or else, is first and foremost a business enterprise and thereby operates as such despite the platitudes offered by NCAA higherups.

It's all working the angles, many of which are 'above board' maneuvers but it's a fact of life that some are not and some are obviously and blatantly related to an earlier event.

We don't get worked up over the following. It's actually funny. We offer a tip of the hat to those who can pull of such stunts with a straight and a how-dare-you-ask-such-a-question face.

Here's our weekly or so non-WAC-related post:

Bulls hire recruit's trainer as assistant
Greg Auman
August 26, 2008

One of Stan Heath's most heralded recruits now has a close friend on USF's basketball staff.

Heath announced Tuesday night that he has hired Terrelle Woody, 38, the personal trainer for freshman forward Gus Gilchrist, as the team's video and conditioning assistant. Woody has strong personal ties to Gilchrist, a 6-foot-10 power forward who opted to transfer to USF from Maryland this summer after spending one semester with the Terrapins.

Asked if hiring a close associate of a coveted recruit was something that is standard in college basketball, Heath said: "I don't think that's a reason to hire somebody, but I don't think it's a reason to not hire somebody. The important thing is his ability to help this program."

Woody, who does not hold a college degree, will earn $30,000 a year in his new job, according to USF; he replaces Jamie Angeli, who was video coordinator last season and is now coaching in Kuwait. The position was announced Tuesday, but clearly has been in the works for some time; Woody left his job as a trainer at Hoop Magic Basketball Academy in Chantilly, Va., the first week in July, telling his employer he was taking a job in Florida. He has been working in conjunction with Heath's basketball camps and open gyms in the Sun Dome since Gilchrist started summer classes at the end of June... Go here for the remainder.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

George Hostetter on this season's basketball Bulldogs

Kudos to George Hostetter of the Fresno Bee for squeezing in a basketball article despite almost all attention (and rightly so after defeating Rutgers on the road) being on the football Bulldogs.

We sense it will be a tough season for Steve Cleveland, a transitional one, as the squad is just too inexperienced and an integral piece or two is still missing.

It's going to be brutal at point guard after enjoying the play of graduated Kevin Bell the last few years. Sylvester Seay will certainly help but a move forward by sophomore center Brandon Webster would be a dynamic plus this season.

Bulldogs are back for some hoops
Young basketball team begins building chemistry with preseason practices.
George Hostetter
The Fresno Bee

Fresno State is still a week from its second football game, yet the men's basketball team already is in action.

It's not full practice. That won't begin until mid-October. Coach Steve Cleveland's Bulldogs are in the midst of a two-month-long period called "conditioning and skill development."

But it's still basketball, and Cleveland is cautiously optimistic.

"We don't have the experience and probably the depth and overall talent that we need right now," Cleveland says. "That's what we feel we're going to be in another six, seven, eight months. But I love this team. They're coachable, they ask questions, they want to get better...."

Go here for the remainder.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Kelvin Potts to College of Idaho

This post will not interest many of you. In fact, beyond a couple of Idaho fans and, of course, the Potts family, the viewers for this will be scarce.

Anyway, George Pfeiffer signed a California junior college guard -- Kelvin Potts -- prior to Pfeiffer's departure in Moscow. Don Verlin then took over running the program and declined to keep the commitment. The kid has now signed elsewhere:

"Kelvin Potts, the Chabot College Gladiator starting point guard, has signed a scholarship to play his last two years at College of Idaho (NAIA). Potts is originally from Oakland, CA and is the second Oakland native to sign from Chabot this year. He graduated from Fremont HS (Oakland) in 2005... He averaged 9.5 points, 5 assists, 2 rebounds and 1 steal while shooting 80 percent from the free throw line and 40 percent from 3's."

A very early ALL - WAC first and second team

Okay, the WAC traditionally has five players on the first team and also five on the second. Sorting out who goes on which team is even dicier than selecting the actual 10 players but what makes this exercise even more audacious is that we haven't even seen some of the kids play! How's that for speaking with authority?

So with such a proviso, take the following for what it's worth. We'll save our list and proclaim our genius if we come anywhere close to being correct or issue a mea culpa if we stumble. We fully expect you to start saving up your rotten fruits and vegetables, razzberries included, if we fall short with our selections.

So here they are:

ALL WAC FIRST TEAM (in no particular order)

*** Roderick Flemings 6-7 210 junior Hawaii

We've never seen this kid but he was a national-level junior college recruit last season and looks to be Hawaii's top scorer. The Rainbow Warriors are going to have a tough 2008-2009 as experience and firepower are lacking after the departure of five seniors so there will be a lot of shots available for the taking.

*** Magnum Rolle 6-10 220 junior Louisiana Tech

Ditto in that this kid hasn't been seen by many, including us -- he spent two seasons primarily as a backup at LSU before transferring but court time was hard to come by due to the level of talent in front of him. The LA TECH fans are talking Rolle up big-time and major minutes are certainly available on the Bulldog frontline. There is even mention that he may play some wing -- yes, at 6-10.

*** Luke Babbitt 6-9 225 freshman Nevada

Babbitt will be the go-to shooter and scorer on the Wolf Pack frontline as the remainder of the forwards and centers on the roster are more rebound-and-putback guys. But he also has remarkable shooting range. The key for Babbitt: staying out of foul trouble. If he isn't on the floor then the Nevada backcourt has to carry the offense -- which isn't necessarily a bad thing but not what Coach Mark Fox desires.

*** Gary Wilkinson 6-9 240 senior Utah State

Stew Morrill is going to want more of a consistent physical presence from Wilkinson in the coming season and we expect to see him averaging 17 and 10.

*** Adrian Oliver 6-4 185 sophomore San Jose State

A Washington transfer, he gets to step on the court after six games so he'll have plenty of minutes to shed any rust prior to conference play. He'll be the top scorer for SJSU and his presence should virtually eliminate any Spartan scoring droughts.

ALL WAC SECOND TEAM (in no particular order)

*** Kyle Gibson 6-4 185 junior Louisiana Tech

The Aggies have some other top talents but Gibson has already shown his scoring ability when he was practically the sole real shooter on the squad last season. He will get less shot attempts in 2008-2009 and the adjustment to that bears watching.

*** Jonathan Gibson 6-2 180 junior New Mexico State

His points per game average should rise this coming season and he needs to be the 'rock' on the court for Coach Marvin Menzies in keeping the young Aggies focused. Gibson is no pure point but he's the best returning assist guy for the Aggies.

*** Brandon Fields 6-4 195 junior Nevada He went from 2.1 ppg. as a freshman to 12.4 last season and also became a formidable defender. His numbers will again expand this season as Mark Fox expects and should receive greater consistency from Fields.

*** Tai Wesley 6-7 240 sophomore Utah State

Wesley could well average a double-double for Stew Morrill in the coming season and he's also the best Aggie shotblocker. Wesley is the Aggie who plays the muscle man role upfront.

*** C.J. Webster 6-8 250 junior San Jose State

The best passing big man in the WAC, Webster is a solid inside scorer and is looking to better his rebounding totals in 2008-2009.

We don't see any of the Boise State players making the cut here although transfer forward Ike Okoye will come close. The same with Fresno State but Sylvester Seay and Dwight O'Neill will carry the Bulldogs. Hawaii is going to have to settle for Flemings but Bill Amis will score in double figures this coming season and get his rebounding average up to 8 or so a contest. Guard Mac Hopson is Idaho's lone hope for post-season honors but another tough season for the Vandals will curtail his chances. Jamel White will be a critical player for Kerry Rupp in the Bulldog backcourt but Tech will have scoring and rebounding numbers fairly spread out this season due to influx of new talent. Olu Ashaolu, a Canadian who redshirted last season, is another LTer worth watching. We chose Brandon Fields as Nevada's second honoree over soph Armon Johnson primarily because of Fields' defensive prowess but Johnson enjoyed a marvelous frosh season and will be even better this go-around. Troy Gillenwater is a New Mexico State newcomer getting good press but we expect him to have the usual freshman ups-and-downs. Jahmar Young will enjoy many more shooting opportunities with a load of NMSU seniors having graduated and Herb Pope now in New Jersey but we see Jonathan Gibson as the more well-rounded Aggie guard. San Jose State's Justin Graham may just play his way into post-season accolades with his well-rounded backcourt game. Chris Oakes, with more physical play, could also make some noise. Utah State's 6-4 Tyler Newbold will score much more than last season.s 5.4 ppg. now that Jaycee Carroll is in Italy but needs to demonstrate greater proficiency at taking the ball to the hoop as he managed but 31 free throw attempts last season.

So there you have it.

Have at it.

A basketball/football recruit?

Chris Murray has an interesting article today on a prepster the Nevada basketball coaching staff is wooing. But the kicker is that the recruit also plays football and is a D-1 prospect in that sport.

Coaches, basketball ones in particular, are loath to have two-sport kids on the roster if football is the other element of the menage a trois, if you will, because a player on a football squad that is playing in a bowl game (yes, doesn't that seem like 99% of them nowadays) generally isn't available for hoops until sometime in January.

In this type of an instance, the player usually comes to a school under a football scholarship because that is the sport which will most benefit from the situation.

Our guess: the kid decides on one sport come time to enter college.

Pack Basketball: Pack recruiting two-sport star
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal
September 5, 2008

The Nevada basketball team's chief competition for recruit Ed Hazelett might not be other college basketball programs, but could instead be football teams.

The 6-foot-8, 260-pound two-sport star out of Warren Central High in Indianapolis is being recruited by the Wolf Pack, his basketball coach Greg Graham said Wednesday.

However, many recruiting Web sites say Hazelett has more potential as a football player, with Scout.com listing him as a three-star recruit and the 26th-best tight end in his class. ESPN.com lists him as the 94th-best tight end, while Rivals.com pegs him as the 44th-best offensive lineman.

Hazelett has cut his football options to Kentucky, Cincinnati and Louisville and is waiting for potential offers from Ohio State and Oklahoma. Still, Graham believes Hazelett's collegiate future lies on the hardwood....

Go here for the remainder.

This is interesting

With the NCAA zero tolerance policy for gambling and gambling associations, this partnership raises an eyebrow. But in doing some checking, the casino in question doesn't involve itself in any sports betting.

Fresno State, tribe ink pact
Foundation to receive $1.5 million in 6-year deal with Tachi Palace.
George Hostetter
The Fresno Bee

In another sign that donors see a bright future for the Bulldogs, the Lemoore-based Tachi Palace and Fresno State athletics have signed a multiyear agreement that includes a $1.5 million commitment to the Bulldog Foundation.

The partnership announced Thursday night includes a $250,000 annual gift for six years to the foundation. The Bulldog Foundation is the athletic department's main fundraising organization, and its responsibilities include funding athletic scholarships.

In a brief telephone interview Thursday, Fresno State athletic director Thomas Boeh thanked the Tachi Yokut Indians of the Santa Rosa Rancheria -- who own the Palace -- for their faith in Bulldogs athletics. He said the university's athletes are excelling in competition and in the classroom, and "it's gratifying that such success is being recognized."

Associate athletic director Danny White, who heads development for the athletic department, said the agreement is a philanthropic gift, not a sponsorship deal. He said the agreement includes use of a suite at Bulldog Stadium and the access to tickets that goes with being a Bulldog Foundation member....

Go here for the remainder.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Steve Cleveland focused on recruiting backcourters

Fresno State Coach Steve Cleveland continues to aim high in his quest to bring a top backcourt talent, whether it be at the point or the two guard. Here's a Chicago prepster with a rep as a very good shooter that the Bulldogs have offered -- the competition looks fierce.

Jed Tai
RedWaveReport.com Basketball Analyst
September 3, 2008

There's always room on your roster for outside shooting, and when it's a need there's even more room. Tony Nixon proved that he was lights out on the AAU circuit all summer long and the lanky 6-foot-4, 180-pound wing from the Seton Academy in the Chicago area won't be affected by the new college three-point line. That's why a host of schools have stepped forth with scholarship offers - including one from Fresno State - and now Nixon is thinking about where he'll take his visits...

...As a result, he's picked up scholarship offers from Fresno State, George mason, UTEP, Illinois, and Drake, and schools like Tennessee, Gonzaga, and Michigan are showing heavy interest as well...

Go here for the complete article -- a Rivals subscription is required.

Fresno State loses one guard, signs another

Backcourt recruit Chris Jones of Newark Memorial High will not be at Fresno State this year, further weakening the Bulldog guard play. Coach Steve Cleveland has signed another point guard but FSU looks mighty thin and inexperienced at the position.

Men's basketball signs guard from Dominguez-Compton
Bryce Cartwright led team to state Division I finals.
George Hostetter
The Fresno Bee

The Fresno State men's basketball team has added freshman point guard Bryce Cartwright, completing the Bulldogs' roster for 2008-09.

The 5-foot-11 Cartwright averaged about 12 points and six assists per game as a senior at Dominguez High-Compton. He led the Dons to the state Division I championship game...

Go here for the remainder.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

ALL-WAC selections in 2008-2009?

Well, it's getting to be County Fair time and one booth we never pass by without checking in is that of the seer, he or she who predicts the future.

So we put a call in to the prophet who will be stationed at our local fair and asked what she saw coming down the pike for the upcoming WAC basketball season.

Now we didn't inquire about her college basketball bonafides and she stumbled a bit when we tested her about the three-point shooting distance this season but we pinned her down on what players she saw as most in contention for first and second team ALL - WAC honors in 2008-2009.

For reference, the 2007-08 WAC All Conference members were:

First Team - Reggie Larry, Kevin Bell, Marcelus Kemp, Justin Hawkins, Jaycee Carroll (every selection was a senior)

Second Team - Matt Nelson, Matt Gibson, Jordan Brooks, JaVale McGee, Gary Wilkinson (Nelson and Gibson were seniors, Brooks was dropped by the new coach in Moscow, McGee is in the NBA and Wilkinson is returning to Logan for his final season)

The Player of the Year was Aggie Jaycee Carroll.

Armon Johnson of Nevada was named the Freshman of the Year.

So here are the names we heard from the psychic:

Ike Okoye 6-9 230 junior Boise State
Anthony Thomas 6-0 205 junior Boise State

Sylvester Seay 6-9 220 junior Fresno State
Dwight O'Neil 6-3 190 senior Fresno State

Roderick Flemings 6-7 210 junior Hawaii
Bill Amis 6-9 220 junior Hawaii

Mac Hopson 6-2 195 junior Idaho
Marvin Jefferson 6-9 240 junior Idaho

Kyle Gibson 6-4 185 junior Louisiana Tech
Jamel White 6-3 180 junior Louisiana Tech
Magnum Rolle 6-10 220 junior Louisiana Tech

Armon Johnson 6-3 195 sophomore Nevada
Luke Babbitt 6-9 225 freshman Nevada
Brandon Fields 6-4 195 junior Nevada

Troy Gillenwater 6-8 230 freshman New Mexico State
Jonathan Gibson 6-2 180 junior New Mexico State

Justin Graham 6-4 195 sophomore San Jose State
Adrian Oliver 6-3 185 sophomore San Jose State
C.J. Webster 6-9 255 junior San Jose State

Gary Wilkinson 6-9 240 senior Utah State
Tai Wesley 6-7 240 sophomore Utah State
Tyler Newbold 6-4 180 sophomore Utah State

Keep in mind the Player of the Year always comes from a winning team but not necessarily the overall champion.

Luke Babbitt's name has already been inscribed on on the Freshman of the Year trophy -- we didn't bother consulting on that one. The freshman Babbitt will also be in the running for WAC Player of the Year.

In our next post, we will stick out our necks and 'predict' who will actually be the members of the ALL - WAC first and second teams in 2008-2009, something our clairvoyant refused to do. But we don't know if that was because there are limitations on her powers or because we declined to purchase a "Readings For The Rest Of Your Life" package deal for only $999. Maybe we'll consult another medium for that answer.

Let the squawking begin. But save enough for when you see the boiled down actual selections.

WAC & ESPN holding hands again

Here's the men's basketball portion of the announcement that the WAC - ESPN love affair is back on:

ESPN Extension Caps Off Terrific Last 20 Months for WAC
Courtesy: WAC

Back-to-back BCS appearances and a National Championship in baseball over the past 20 months have culminated in a contract extension with ESPN that will provide unprecedented exposure for the Western Athletic Conference as announced today by WAC Commissioner Karl Benson and ESPN Senior Vice President Burke Magnus.

Men’s Basketball: Quadruple the number of games per year with a minimum of six regular season games each year on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2 (three must be conference games). The conference championship game and one semifinal will also be shown on one of the three networks. A minimum of six regular season games each year on ESPNU plus one quarterfinal game from the tournament. Every school will appear at least once on ABC, ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU.....

Go here for the complete announcement on all the WAC sports.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Herb Pope talks

Herb Pope reached out to Jason Groves yesterday. Our commentary will follow:

Pope commits to Seton Hall
Former Aggie player thanks NMSU fans, coaches, teammates
Jason Groves
Las Cruces Sun-News

LAS CRUCES — Herb Pope confirmed late Monday that he is taking his services to Seton Hall.

"I am going to Seton Hall," said Pope, the day after New Mexico State University had announced that they had parted ways with the 6-foot-9 sophomore forward from Aliquippa, Pa.

Pope was on the Seton Hall campus last week. Since NMSU granted him the opportunity to seek another school, Pope said he also received interest from Duquesne, Pittsburgh, Boston College, Robert Morris and West Virginia. But it was Seton Hall that had an available scholarship and Pope said the other pieces fit as well.

"I have family matters back home and I wanted to get closer to the east coast," Pope said. "I am a father and I want to get closer to my daughter because I don't want her to go through the same things that I went through..."

Go here for the remainder.

It's all water under the bridge at this point and we extend best wishes to both Pope and to the players on the New Mexico State basketball team -- may they all have the best of college experiences from here on out.

The truth will never be known about what was decided when and by who and how so -- and maybe shouldn't be.

But that doesn't stop us from offering these comments:

But Pope came to NMSU because of Reggie Theus -- no Theus would have meant no Pope in Las Cruces. But it was that AND reduced interest from a number of other teams in the East. So why the pulling back? Certainly some of Pope's personal troubles were a factor plus also that while Pope was a talent, he wasn't going to be an immediate program changer. All this combined to provide the Aggies a toehold that was capitalized on quite well.

But we still think it's doubtful Pope would be at New Mexico State even if Theus was still there. Pope's limited post-high school options probably even surprised himself so playing for a former NBA star was enticing, as it would for most young men. It was the best situation available at the time but one that was going to be shaky despite the best of intentions and any coaching staff makeup.

It's curious that a number of those same coaches/teams who ended up shying away from Pope were now reaching out once it became known that Pope wasn't returning to Las Cruces. But that's the sometimes bizarre nature of recruiting.

We also believe that the sports administration at NMSU was less than forthcoming throughout this matter the last few weeks. Now maybe it was to protect Pope but some of the comments that were made seemed quite self-serving.

We also wonder (granted, this may be getting way too speculative) if Coach Marvin Menzies' greater media assertion of late changed the power equation at least to some degree in NMSU athletics? We offer this because generally, it is the head coach who handles media matters involving players but AD McKinley Boston was the primary 'source' of information early on until Menzies became quoted in the last few articles from the L:as Cruces Sun-News.

Our sense -- albeit an unprovable one -- is that Menzies himself made the determination that Pope was no longer to have the opportunity of remaining an Aggie, shutting down the seemingly daily 'shuttle' of Pope between staying and going. A coach has to have the ability to control his roster in order to retain overall respect and it appears Menzies finally decided enough was enough, asserted himself and made the call. Why this decision didn't happen earlier is curious.

Maybe we are way off base with all this but that's our sense. Again, we offer our hopes that Herb Pope succeeds handsomely in his future endeavors on and off the court and that the Aggie basketballers enjoy a wonderful college tenure.

Utah State to get a visit from Brandon Davies

IN an AW Prince/Rivals article on-line today, it's mentioned that Utah prepster Brandon Davies just completed a weekend recruiting visit to Cal. Plus, straight from the 6-9 Davies is that he will be tripping to Gonzaga next weekend, followed by visits to Utah State and hometown BYU.

We obviously have no insight into what Davies and his family are thinking so, with that proviso, it's going to be hard to top the hometown school (he is of the LDS faith), a PAC-10 program with a major need for bigs (and his game is very similar to a number of the post players Mike Montgomery had at Stanford) and the 'owner' of the West Coast Conference.

Supposedly, Utah and Santa Clara have also offered but there was no mention of them in today's article. Davis does need to up his ACT score but not by much.

Davies has previously set the end of October as the time to make his choice and he wants to sign in November. The talk has been that he would play two seasons before fulfilling his LDS mission duty.