Sunday, February 28, 2010

Additional Sunday WAC inks and notes

We're coming down the back stretch with the final weekend of games approaching:

* Mon, Mar 01 Utah State - Fresno State (Logan 7:00 p.m. MT)

* Thu, Mar 04 Nevada - New Mexico State (Reno 7:00 p.m. PT)

* Thu, Mar 04 Idaho - San Jose State (Moscow 7:00 p.m. PT)

* Thu, Mar 04 Boise State - Hawai'i (Boise 7:00 p.m. MT )

* Thu, Mar 04 Fresno State - Louisiana Tech (Fresno 7:00 p.m. PT)

* Sat, Mar 06 Boise State - San Jose State (Boise 3:15 p.m. MT)

* Sat, Mar 06 Idaho - Hawai'i (Moscow 5:00 p.m. PT)

* Sat, Mar 06 Utah State - New Mexico State (Logan 7:00 p.m. MT)

* Sat, Mar 06 Nevada - Louisiana Tech (Reno 8:00 p.m. PT)

Here are the current standings:

Utah State 12-2 (23-6 overall)
New Mexico State 11-3 (19-9 overall)
Louisiana Tech 9-5 (22-7 overall)
Nevada 9-5 (17-11 overall)
San Jose State 6-8 (14-14 overall)
Fresno State 6-8 (14-16 overall)
Idaho 4-10 (13-15 overall)
Boise State 3-11 (13-16 overall)
Hawai'i 3-11 (10-18 overall)

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Daniel Lyght looks at some of the possibilities here.

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Tony Jones offers his keys to USU's Monday contest with Fresno here.

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Wendell McKines added a post to his blog here.

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Gabe Vasquez live-blogged the New Mexico State - Boise State matchup, providing analysis, the running score and how all the points were produced and by which player. Go here for that read. The Bulletin in the Zone can be found here -- do bookmark it

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Your Sunday report on Saturday night's games

Was it a full moon last night? Did the basketball gods and goddesses decide to have some fun? Wow. Wow. Wow.

Jason Groves has the game report here of New Mexico State's extremely close win over visiting Boise State. Troy Gillenwater summed the contest up best: "They just kept fighting."

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Fresno State brought its 'F' game to Silicon Valley and lost 72-45.

Daniel Lyght was there and has this story. Alex Pavlovic of the Mercury News offers his take.

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Maybe Nevada should have insisted the game remained postponed as the Pack somehow fell to host Hawaii.

Dayton Morinaga reports here and Brian McInnis here. Both feature great opening lines.

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Louisiana Tech -- minus Kyle Gibson -- rebounded and handled visiting Idaho.

Ethan Conley has the details.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

A Saturday rambling

The pickings are slim today what with no actual news -- exclusively a flurry of senior night stories. So we decided to grab this article and work from it. Credit goes to OldBronco who posted it on the basketball message board of the Boise State Scout site BroncoCountry.com:

Hewitt talks about tweets, the AJC and his team
Doug Roberson
Atlanta Journal Constitution
February 25, 2010

Georgia Tech men’s basketball coach Paul Hewitt approved a series of tweets from GTCoachHewitt on Wednesday to fans and those who have questioned his team:

* Clearly we are playing our best basketball of the season. Don’t believe what you read from the “experts.” Believe what you see.

* As we are coming to the latter part of the season, now is not the time to be judgemental. You all need to come out and support this team.

* Are you a critic or a supporter of this team? Supporters will continue to watch this team fight.

* To you critics: when athletes say some of the things you say, then you condemn them as quitters. Are you quitting?

* I believe in this team!
Go here to read the remainder of the article.

Here's our stream-of-consciousness on the various subjects contained in this piece:

Coaching is a public profession. But the men and woman in the ranks know this upon entering the field and the accolades/razzberries are, for better and for worse, part and parcel of the job...

...What is different from most other positions though is that damn near everyone in the capacity of fan-dom membership feels he or she could perform the job better than the individual actually doing it...

...Do keep in mind that most, if not all, coaches forsake message boards, for good reasons. It's not like they will pick up a nugget or two of knowledge from any of the postings and, foremost, all they need to do is keep the AD on their side...

...The denigration of certain coaches and more than a few players as a relative if not the actual Prince of Darkness is absolutely out of bounds. It serves no purpose other than making the typist or speaker inexplicably feel better...

...The phrase "it's all about the Jimmys and the Joes" says that talent is foremost, meaning recruiting is the key to success in college basketball. That's not an absolute without a few well-placed ifs, ands and buts -- however, a certain level of talent is required in order to win and/or win consistently. By the way, we heard what to us was a new variation of the phrase last week when a scout at a game commented that "there was one Jimmy and a bunch of Joes."...

...But besides talent there is also player development, offensive and defensive design, execution, remaining injury-free, the player acceptance of specified roles and probably a few more we can't think of right now. It's a given that some coaches are better than others vis-a-vis a few of these elements but our bottom line is that everyone in the collegiate coaching profession knows enough of what to do. Sure, some coaches are better than others in some of these categories but we believe all still goes back to recruiting -- the getting of the right talent for the various tasks in the systems that will be played.

We refer to Stew Morrill's 'situation' as Shawn Harrison wrote about in his February 23 Herald Journal article:
"...And what fits is numerous plays that need to be executed. Many times Morrill’s assistants have returned from a scouting trip to inform the head man, “this kid is good, but he can’t play for you.” It takes what Morrill called Tuesday, “a high basketball IQ” to be able to flourish in the current Aggie system..."
Certainly feel free to correct us but there aren't many other WAC team rosters that could be exchanged for the current Aggie one with the Utah State success then being maintained. And that's not based solely on talent.

The learning curve is simply greater for Aggie hoops.

Granted, having older and more mature players at his disposal aids Morrill's system but it's also landing the mix of talent/potential that typically early on buys into the success of the team concept over that of individual glory.

But for the other WAC teams, the answer isn't as simpleton-ish as 'let's run the system Morrill uses.' Other styles, all across the country, can and do work just as well. But more importantly, could the other WAC entities recruit what is needed to employ a Morrill-ish system? There's the rub. In this day of uber-instant gratification and the desire to sprint up the floor offensively, having a huge playbook with roles/tasks/routes etc. specified is not exactly a magnet-like draw for most. Morrill has a very unique situation, with some built-in advantages. But never underestimate or forsake the effort he, his staff and his players and the USU fans have offered throughout the years and what they have built...

...Finally, there are so many matters that take place within a program (as with any other type of organization) that will never reach the attention of 99.9% of fans. That is why absolute certitude statements are built on, at best, flimsy stilts. There are the stories and then the stories behind the stories and this will always be. Whether it be explaining a particular vote in government, certain actions by public and private figures or even some of our own decisions, what remains buried from public view is most often the linchpin.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Early Friday WAC links, news and notes

We lead with Ethan Conley's game report of Boise State's takedown of LA Tech.

Tech men suffer another difficult loss
Ethan Conley
The News Star
February 26, 2010

RUSTON -- Louisiana Tech's late-season slump continued on Thursday.

Boise State handed Tech one of its worst losses of the season, 72-59. The Broncos are fighting just to avoid a last-place finish in the Western Athletic Conference and secure the eighth and final spot in the conference tournament.

The Bulldogs have lost five of their last nine contests. The game continued a "win one, lose one" trend that stretches back to Jan. 14...
Go here for the remainder.

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Chris Murray, despite not being stuck in an airport for double-digit hours, still has a number of articles/posts on Nevada's last-second win at San Jose State. Here's his game report:
Pack pulls out win over SJSU
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal
February 26, 2010

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The Nevada basketball team's hex over San Jose State continues -- although not without a scare.

The Wolf Pack rode a resurgent Brandon Fields and a couple of key defensive stops late in the game to notch an 83-79 victory over the Spartans in front of 2,385 fans at The Event Center.

It was the Wolf Pack's 16th victory in 17 games against SJSU and was nearly a mirror image of the team's previous game.

However, in that game -- a 62-60 loss to Missouri State -- Nevada couldn't make the big plays down the stretch. Thursday night, the Wolf Pack did make those plays...
Go here for the remainder.

Brandon Fields earned the "en fuego" award last night -- Chris has the details here.

Also per Chris, there was a gaggle (what should it be called?) of NBA scouts at the game and their trek to SJSU proved worthwhile. We sort of like nebula but that's not exactly a positive connotation.

Chris also has yet another piece on Luke Babbitt receiving some national love here. Maybe it's just us so let's throw this out here: wouldn't Babbitt receive more national mention if he had a Berman-like nickname? Like the obvious "Cool Hand" -- yes? no?

Alex Pavlovic of the Mercury News offers his take here.

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Dayton Morinaga has his report and Brian McInnis his on Hawaii's closer-than-expected loss to visiting Utah State.

There really aren't moral victories but n-o-b-o-d-y expected the matchup to be as close as it ended. The UH program deserves that acknowledgement.

Yes, an all points bulletin was issued last night for Jared Quayle. The imposter wearing his uniform had the audacity to commit a turnover.

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If we have any authority at all -- yes, we can get dogs to pay attention IF we lather ourselves with peanut butter and affix pig ears -- here is your command: bookmark The Bulletin in the Zone. GabeV and JimH are offering notes on each WAC game, game previews, and some great photos of New Mexico State hoops.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Boise State tops LA Tech

Hey, there's room on the Greg Graham bandwagon.

The Broncos ventured way south to Ruston, dragging a 2-10 conference record (1-5 on the road) as well as being losers of three in a row. Louisiana Tech, situated in third place at 8-4 in league action and a very solid 5-1 within the confines of the Thomas Assembly Center, certainly had notions of a victory, as did most if not all of us.

Try 72-59. In favor of BSU.

50% Boise State shooting, including 8-18 from long distance paved the way. Paul Noonan led with 14 and Ike Okoye added 12.

For the Bulldogs, Kyle Gibson scored just six points on 3-11 shooting, playing but 22 minutes. Magnum Rolle also was held to six markers. LT shot just 35% including 3-16 on trey attempts.

It was 37 apiece at the half but the Broncos owned the second 20 minutes 35-22.

Thursday's WAC links

Gabe Vasquez has his New Mexico State - Idaho game report here on the new Aggies sports site Bulletin in a Zone.

Sam Wasson is here and also offers game photos here.

Jason Groves goes full-length here about the Aggie rout. He alsohas notes about last night's numbers here and a look at post-season possibilities here.

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Nevada is on the road but is carrying a very strong record against San Jose State. Chris Murray is all over that here.

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We tend to give short shrift to this aspect (our bad) but it appears Hawaii's seniors are doing it in the classroom. Dayton Morinaga has the details here (at the end of his article).

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Aggie - Vandal stream of (un)consciousness

PTW turned off the New Mexico State - Idaho game at halftime, did the dishes and then decided to blog about the first 20 minutes and forsake the second half. The word 'slopball' kept ricocheting around our head.

It actually might not be much of a game as the Aggies led 41-23 after 20 minutes but we'll check before closing up here.

Our stream-of-semi consciousness: In the paint, the Vandals are playing the Tyler Hansbrough copyrighted 'may I have this flop?) defense ... Hamidu Rahman sure misses some gimmes -- maybe his hands are two big -- a la Shaq -- to have a good touch on shots ... however, Rahman has either blocked or intimidated on a number of shots so far ... Mac Hopson, despite many other talents, is not a good finisher inside ... he also looks a bit awkward with his form on three-point attempts ... Steffan Johnson: Vandal backcourter or name of a missing person on a milk carton? ... Kashif (Gumby) Watson should be go-to guy #2 -- at worst -- in the Vandal offensive system

Not much of a change: it's 65-46 with eight minutes remaining.

Adios.

A new WAC-related sports blog

Jim Hilley and Gabe Vasquez of the Las Cruces Bulletin have a brand spanking new New Mexico State Aggies sports blog titled Bulletin in the Zone. Do bookmark it.

Their initial entry is about tonight's Aggie - Vandal matchup which we will soon be heading off to witness on ESPN2.

A round of applause to Steven Shepp

We offer thanks to TarkFSU at the BarkBoard (the Fresno State SCOUT site) for his sharing an anecdote involving his son and Bulldog baller Steve Shepp.

It's detailed at The Save Mart Center forum (the basketball message board) under a post titled "Something Positive" and let's just say Shepp now has a fan for life, actually make that two and probably other members of the recipient family.

What a great gesture.

Praise for Jack Nixon

Ron Mexico420 begins the litany of praise for New Mexico State sports broadcaster Jack Nixon in a post at the Aggie Alert NMSU site on the SCOUT network.

Go to the site, hit the Sports Trough forum link and scroll down until you get to the to the post titled: NMSU vs UoP = Nixons 900th broadcast of MBB

Congrats to Jack.

Around the WAC, is 'your' announcer a goodie, meaning (1) not a homer AND someone who plies listeners with crisp mental snapshots as he calls the game?



Travis Mason-Bushman at The Mid Majority

The man of all things Vandal basketball goes "My Own Private Idaho" at The Mid Majority today with a great read.

My School: Idaho
Travis Mason-Bushman
February 24, 2010

The first time I came to the Idaho Palouse, a California kid on a college tour of the middle of nowhere, the Kibbie Dome was the first thing I saw of the University of Idaho. Driving east on Highway 8 and rounding the bend at the Washington state line, its grand, curving arch pops out of the monotonous landscape of rolling hills and snow-dusted wheat fields.

A 35-year-old, multi-million-dollar monument to American-Style Football, the Kibbie is a campus landmark. It's a point of pride for UI -- it's the second-largest university-owned dome in America, or so the tour maps proclaim. Erected during the dying days of the "multi-purpose stadium" movement, the Kibbie was indeed intended to house the football and basketball programs in a single building...
Go here for the remainder.

Your Wednesday WAC - ology

Tony Jones leads us off with a feature on unsung Tyler Newbold here.

Shawn Harrison has a lengthy Aggie notebook here that will fulfill the rabidity (did we just make up a word?) of even the most devout USU fans.

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The Argonaut's Nick Groff sings sweet praises for Coach Don Verlin here and chastises some of the Vandal fanbase. (a tip of the hat to Travis Mason-Bushman)

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New Mexico State hosts Idaho on ESPN2 tonight -- make a note -- and Jason Groves has that covered here.

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Daniel Lyght offers some bad news to the rest of the WAC here -- Paul George is healthy.

Fresno State tops Bakersfield

Maybe this contest was played in an alternate universe but bulldogs beat roadrunners last night. Was it a steel cage match or an MMA setup? A possible slobber-fest? We know our dogs and it certainly couldn't have been a sprint.

Dogs men get hot hand, end 3-game skid
Daniel Lyght
The Fresno Bee
February 23, 2010

Greg Smith and Mike Ladd scored 17 points apiece as Fresno State defeated Cal State Bakersfield 79-68 on Tuesday night in a nonconference game.

Paul George added 16 points, seven assists and six rebounds for Fresno State (14-15), which snapped a three-game losing streak...
Go here for the remainder.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Kevan Lee on Greg Graham

The inimitable Kevan Lee looks at Boise basketball, specifically the tenure of Coach Greg Graham. There are no particular 'sides' taken here, just a thorough look full of quotes, contract information, what-ifs and more.

What does Greg Graham have to do to save his job at Boise State?
Kevan Lee
OBNUG
Feb 22, 2010

Boise State men's basketball coach Greg Graham is on the hot seat. What will it take to get him off?

After the jump, get the details on Graham's contract with the Broncos, see the WAC season through Graham's postgame comments, share your thoughts on how Graham might last long enough to see another season at Boise State. What does Greg Graham need to do? Let's discuss.
Go here for the remainder.

Your Tuesday WAC - O- Rama

San Jose State lost to Seattle 90-88 on a last second three-pointer. The Seattle athletics site has the report and a photo of the game-winning shot here. The San Jose State athletics article can be found here.

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Steve Cleveland goes back to the basics with his 'bigs' as Daniel Lyght reports here.

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Chris Murray analyzes the highs and lows of the BracketBuster event through a WAC lens here.

Chris' conference notebook is here with a detailing of the top defenders in the WAC and much more.

The NCAA needs more money? For what? PTW sees no need for the Big Dance to expand -- there is enough mediocre basketball on display throughout the season b-- ut the opportunity for additional revenues will drive this beast to fruition. Can the NIT and the other tourney which escapes our fading in and out memory at the moment then be put down? Please.

Chris has Karl Benson's take here.

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Shawn Harrison explores Tai Wesley's world here and plows through a bunch of telling USU stats here.

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Ferd Lewis look at Hawaii hoops here.

Jeff Portnoy notes Lewis' column and add more here.

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We'll end with this non-WAC-related item which produced an early morning smile in the PTW household:

Posted at Kraig Williams' Twitter page:

RT @jaredeborn: It's OK, Canada. You'll always have baby seal clubbing that you rule the world in. 7:11 PM Feb 21st via TweetDeck

Eh?

Monday, February 22, 2010

The BracketBuster games redux

With additional time for digestion and buttressed by a few comments from friends and fellow basketball fans, here's the PTW take on the BracketBuster game outcomes:

Utah State 68, Wichita State 58 - great for host USU and also great for the WAC RPI

Louisiana Tech 70, Northeastern 67 - yeah, that last-second bankshot wasn't by design but LT was on the road and also tired after a busy WAC week so it's an additional pair of 'greats' for the Ruston-ites and the WAC

New Mexico State 84, Pacific 78 - we expected the margin of victory to be a bit larger but the Tigers are a tough team and also were the hosts -- more 'ammunition' for the WAC and, who knows, the Aggies may just be playing themselves into an at-large NCAA bid if they don't capture the tourney in Reno

San Jose State 77, Montana State 66 - ANY win in Bozeman in February in a non-conference game in the midst of fighting for a favorable placement in the upcoming conference tournament is a solid achievement

The Line of Demarcation -- two home wins, two road wins

Missouri State 62, Nevada 60 - this is an over-simplification but a team with two future NBA-ers should win against an opponent featuring none, even if it's a road matchup and meaningless regarding league standings -- hard to figure

UC Santa Barbara 64, Fresno State 60 - A healthy Greg Smith (probably the same goes for Paul George) makes a real difference here but these numbers are mystifying:

* George attempts but 10 shots in the game???

* 14 steals for the Bulldogs is a fantastic stat but what did this the total produce on the scoreboard?

* Making 20 but missing 15 free throws is below even some high school teams -- does Bill Sproat have a brother or cousin who follows Santa Barbara?

The Dogs should have taken the visiting Gauchos.


UC Davis 82, Boise State 74 - Davis was missing Mark Payne its best player, Davis was on the road, Davis had previously won but two other road games this season -- well, you get the picture and it's not a pretty one. Call this a winnable but missed opportunity.

Long Beach State 77, Idaho 66 - The host Vandals lost this one in the first half to a tough but unpredictable 49ers squad who came in at 12-12 overall and 6-5 in Big West Conference action. Our pre-game thoughts were that the matchup was going to be much closer but Idaho was a no-show.

Cal Poly 102, Hawaii 89 - Was this like the combined scores of seven or eight games of H-O-R-S-E or an actual game? It probably was fun to watch if were a Mustang fan or a basketball fan in general -- hey, that's the best we can do.

That's four losses to Big West members. Ugh. We have no desire to knock the Big Westies but it's not a conference that is equal to or ahead of the WAC in so-called stature or in recruiting possibilities.

OVERALL

Some very good wins but too many missed opportunities for the 10th or so conference in the country.

Will he or won't he? Or is he even interested? Is DePaul?

Reggie Theus would be a great selection as DePaul's new basketball coach -- if a 'report' is true, if he truly wants the position, if he has changed his mind regarding his ultimate role in the world of basketball and if DePaul wants him.

From a Chicago Tribune unattributed article utilizing an unattributed source and employing the word 'may': "According to an NBA source, former Bulls guard Reggie Theus may be interested in becoming the head basketball coach at DePaul..."

Theus in Chicago and as part of the Big East (how's that for geographical dissonance?) would be a recruiting dynamo and surely get DePaul back into the ranks of a hoops program that matters.

But he said this back in June 2007 when taking over the Sacramento Kings: "I'm an NBA guy coaching in college."

Of course, this could all be what Billy Shakes once wrote: "Much ado about nothing."

Roderick Flemings WAC POW

Per Jason Erickson, the Director of WAC Media Relations:

Hawai'i's Roderick Flemings has been named the Verizon Wireless Western Athletic Conference Men's Basketball Player of the Week for the week of Feb. 15-21. The honor marks the second career WAC Player of the Week award for Flemings.

Flemings, a senior forward from Dallas, Texas (Weatherford College), led the Rainbow Warriors in a pair of games last week. Flemings tallied 25 points and 11 rebounds against New Mexico State for his sixth double-double of the season. He followed up that performance with a career-high 39 points versus Cal Poly. The effort marked the most points ever by a UH player in the Stan Sheriff Center and the fourth-highest point total in program history. Flemings hit 15-of-30 shots for his 39 points and recorded five rebounds, two assists and a steal.

On the week, Flemings averaged 32.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game. He also shot 45.1 percent (23-of-51) from the field and 82.4 percent (14-of-17) from the free throw line.

Other nominees:

* Boise State junior forward Robert Arnold
* Fresno State sophomore forward/guard Paul George
* Idaho senior center Marvin Jefferson
* Louisiana Tech junior guard DeAndre Brown
* New Mexico State junior guard Jahmar Young
* San Jose State senior center Chris Oakes
* Utah State junior forward Tai Wesley

The Monday WAC report

Forget all the other cute descriptions of Troy Gillenwater -- we think 'G-Man' tops them all. Then again, we also remain a loyal supporter of George McGovern so take our proclamations for what they are worth.

Jason Groves has a feature on Gillenwater here.

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Will Jared Quayle be an All-WAC first team selection? If so, maybe it's at least somewhat due to what he doesn't do. Huh? Shawn Harrison has the details here.

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Dayton Morinaga goes inside with Petras Balocka in an insightful article here. We love this type of feature because it goes beyond the numbers and allows a peek inside at the actual person.

UH remains focused on Reno -- the destination, not the Wolf Pack, as Brian McInnis tells us here.

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Jay Drew and Lya Wodraska report that Utah State (among many others) is sniffing around a senior in the Beehive State. Here you go.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Additional Sunday notes and links

Jack Nixon -- think about this -- did his 900th radio broadcast of New Mexico State sports action last night. That's a lot of memories and certainly some great, great stories and anecdotes. Hopefully, those will be put in book form at some point. We bet the Pekingese had a special cake ablaze with 90 x 10 candles waiting for him when he returned home.

Jason Groves talks to the voice of the Aggies here and congratulations to Jack for his accomplishment. We're not quite sure if we should wish him 900 more but we will -- if that's his desire.

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Chris Murray blogs about how to get more cheeks in the seats for Nevada.

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Daniel Lyght blogs about the contributions of Jerry Brown last night.

He also has an entry on Bulldog backcourt recruit Tyler Johnson.

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Jeff Portnoy has an article about a basketball poll regarding UH hoops here.

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Basketball Prospectus' Joe Sheehan says here Utah State can afford a stumble (however unlikely) and still get a bid to the Big Dance but he hedges on Louisiana Tech.

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Bill Sproat-mania continues unabated. A Speedo? Uh, we think not for the Aggie point man in the stands. Does anyone know if William will be in Reno for the tourney?

About last night

New Mexico State took care of host Pacific. Jason Groves has a game report here. Jagdip Dhillon of the Stockton Record likewise here.

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We liked the headline atop Jared Eborn's story on Utah State's defeat of Wichita State here.

The Herald Journal headline writers were thinking along the shame lines with Shawn Harrison's report here.

Let's complete the headline trifecta with Tony Jnes' story here.

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The Boston Globe's Michael Vega-penned game report of LA Tech's last-second triumph over Northeastern is here.

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Travis Mason Bushman check in with the details here on Idaho falling flat versus Long Beach State. A post-game presser with Coach Don Verlin is included.

Josh Wright provides his look at the game here.

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Chris Murray made the trip and has his take on Nevada's fall to Missouri State. No woird if he brought his snowshoes and is going to run all the way home but that might be the quicker option.

Missouri State Coach Cuonzo Martin liked the job the refs did -- it was a WAC crew. Lyndal Scranton has the scoop here, along with his game report here.

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Will Holden of the Bozeman Daily Chronicle recaps San Jose State's win over host Montana State here.

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Fresno State fell to UC Santa Barbara due to a mix of foul trouble, poor shooting and a 7-foot-3 defender. Daniel Lyght was there and has the details here, plus video of Coach Steve Cleveland's post-game press conference here.

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Nick Jezierny covers Boise State's fall at home against UC Davis here.

Something had to be in the air or water in Moscow and Boise last night, affecting only resident basketballers.

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Cal Poly goes to the islands and puts up 100+ points -- wow! The water is going to be warmer, the food tastier and the bikinis seemingly even skimpier for the Mustangs' day after.

Dayton Morinaga has the scoop here and Brian McInnis here.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

San Jose State wins 77-66 over Montana State

With the temperature hovering around 19 degrees outside Montana State's arena, San Jose State shrugged off the frostbite-inducing conditions and caged the Bobcats 77-66 in Bozeman.

Back-to-back three-pointers by Robert Owens put the Spartans up 46-33 in the second half. Later, a Mac Peterson trey put San Jose State ahead by 14 close to the 14-minute mark.

Shortly after that, Montana State cut the difference to eight but SJSU was ahead 64-51 with 7:48 remaining in the game.

Command of the boards was one key as the Spartans were a plus 13 -- 46 to 33 -- tonight in rebounding. The scoring load was also divvied up well with Adrian Oliver leading the way with 18 points. Chris Oakes compiled a double-double of 16 points and 12 rebounds, Owens scored 15 and Peterson totaled 14 points, along with nine boards.

San Jose State's shooting numbers: 43% overall, 41% on three-pointers and 73% at the free throw line. In contrast, the Bobcats finished at 37% overall, 29% (on 28 three-point attempts) and 62% from the foul line.

At the half, it was 40-31 in favor of the Spartans.

San Jose State began the game like a continuation of the pre-game layup line, leading 14-9 at the 15:57 mark. The Bobcats preferred doing damage from long distance, as if behind the line was a safe haven and over it considered a no-man's-land.

But Montana State fought back, taking the lead at 23-22 until the Spartans ran off a streak of points bookended by a pair of Chris Oakes dunks.

Davis wins over Boise

UC Davis' trip north and a bit east turned out worthwhile as the visitors topped Boise State 82-74.

The Broncos had four players in double figures with Daquon Montreal's 15 points, Paul Noonan at 14 and Kurt Cunningham paired with Robert Arnold at 13.

BSU shot 47% on the night, 29% from long distance and 56% at the foul line. In comparison, Davis 51%, 57% and 76% respectively besides also winning the battle of the boards 37-27.

Idaho plays genial host and falls to Long Beach State

Idaho played uninspired hoops, not really making a game of it in losing to Long Beach State 77-66. The biggest lead for the 49ers was 17.

In fact, Travis Mason-Bushman tweeted this at the end: "Season in a nutshell: [Stephan] Gilling triggers a three, no good, Vandals stand around in awe and watch it bounce off the rim. 49ers get the O-board."

The Vandals shots 41% overall, 18% on 17 three-point attempts.

Mac Hopson topped his squad with 15 points and seven assists but also shot just 2-11 overall with five turnovers. Marvin Jefferson earned a double-double with 13 points and 14 boards.

It was 35-21 in favor of the 49ers at the half.

LT tops Northeastern

There was no indication that he called it but DeAndre Brown banked a trey attempt from another zip code and Louisiana Tech won by that particular basket over Northeastern 70-67.

Brown totaled 18 as did Jamel Guyton, while Magnum Rolle contributed 17.

Remarkably, the Boston-ers shot just 2 free throws in the game -- this despite being the host.

Here's the game report from the Northeastern athletics site. Here's a nine-plus minute post-game press conference video featuring Northeastern Coach Bill Coen. Here's the game report from the LT athletics site.

Nevada goes cold towards the end, loses

Nevada seemingly had it in control -- at least the momentum when we were watching a few minutes of the second half -- but then we found out Missouri State won 62-60.

Here's Chris Murray with his on-site report:

Sloppy Wolf Pack stunned by Missouri State
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal
2/20/2010

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Nevada’s Armon Johnson stood in the bowels of JQH Arena after the Wolf Pack’s BracketBuster game loss to Missouri State on Saturday afternoon staring straight at the ground.

He was trying to figure out how the Nevada basketball team had just let a late double-digit lead turn into a last-second loss. He couldn’t find the answer.

“Man, I don’t even know what happened,” Johnson said. “They made some big plays...”
Go here for the remainder.

Chris Murray also provides a full-length background and analysis article here.

Luke Babbitt shot 5-18 and Brandon Fields 2-11.

It's BrackBuster Saturday

Rumor has it that there are some games scheduled today, a few of the matchups at odd times.

February 20 (Saturday)

Louisiana Tech at Northeastern, 1:00 p.m. ET Television: ESPN2

Nevada at Missouri State, 2:00 p.m. CT Television: ESPN2

Long Beach State at Idaho, 5:30 p.m. PT

San Jose State at Montana State, 7:00 p.m. MT

UC Davis at Boise State, 7:00 p.m. MT

New Mexico State at Pacific, 7:00 p.m. PT Television: ESPNU

UC Santa Barbara at Fresno State, 7:30 p.m. PT

Wichita State at Utah State, 10:00 p.m. MT Television: ESPN2

Cal Poly at Hawai‘i, 8:30 p.m. HT

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Chris Murray dons the headdress of Karnak the Magnificent and offers predictions of each BB game here. We would have a great picture to offer you if we only knew how to use Photoshop.

By the way, the WAC goes 7-2.

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Nicj Jezierny provides a feature on senior Anthony Thomas here. How has five years flown by so fast?

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Pooh Williams and defense never were formally introduced during high school. Jared Eborn has the details on PW 2.0 here.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Idaho runs the table against Seattle

Travis Mason-Bushman has the game report, including a post-game video interview with Kashif Watson.

Vandals hold Garcia in check, complete Seattle sweep
Travis Mason'Bushman
Vandal Nation
February 18, 2010

Seattle RedHawks center Charles Garcia has been called one of the best players on the West Coast, with a dominating inside game based on unstoppable post moves. But tonight it was the homestanding Idaho Vandals who owned the paint — Garcia notwithstanding...
Go here for the remainder.

Josh Wright also covered the game here.

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Per Dayton Morinaga, Coach Bob Nash has called up the reserves here.

Brian McInnis features the concept that free doesn't always mean 'good' here.

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Jared Eborn blogs about how USU's final RPI number will be critical here.

Shawn Harrison offers a feature on the unsung-est -- that noise you just heard was our 7th grade English teacher erupting like Mount St. Helens -- of the Aggies here.

Tony Jones plays drum major for Pooh Williams here. Anyone else have a candidate for WAC Defensive Player of the Year? No?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Idaho handles Seattle

Host Idaho beat Seattle 82-72 tonight led by Kashif Watson's 20 points, Marvin Jefferson's 16 and 15 from Mac Hopson. Jefferson also added eight rebounds and four blocked shots.

The Vandals shot 57% from the floor and out-boarded Seattle by eight.

In 24 minutes, NBA prospect Charles Garcia scored 14 points, grabbed six rebounds but was charged with five turnovers.

More Thursday links

The Cache Valley Daily has a ton of photos from last night's game here.

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Bill Sproat seemingly has some competition for King of the Aggie fan-dom here.

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Is it Armon and Ramon or Ramon and Armon? Chris Murray provides the evidence here.

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Diamond Leung offers an interview with SJSU's Adrian Oliver here.

Thursday's reports on Wednesday's game

Well, the northern Aggies did it, with mental toughness kicking in and making the difference at the end -- that, and a well-planted, undetectable left forearm.

Tony Jones leads us off with his game report here. Here are Jones' post-game remarks.

Shawn Harrison was also there and his game article is here.

Jared Eborn also made it to press row and here is his take.

Jason Groves offered this blog entry.

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Chris Murray covered Nevada's toppling of visiting Fresno State here. He also offers some video from the matchup.

Daniel Lyght's game report came be found here.

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Nick Jezierny has the scoop on Boise State's win over visiting Cal State Bakersfield here.

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Our education continues as we now know what a human victory cigar is thanks to Brian McInnis and his feature here.

Dayton Morinaga has a report here full of UH basketball news and notes .

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The scores from tonight (Wednesday)

Utah State proved tougher at the end and took the measure of Louisiana Tech 67-61 in Logan.

Our stream of consciousness thoughts: After the first five or six minutes -- when will LA TECH get an open look with a shot? ... Then the game became weird as the Aggies began missing the shots they were making earlier ... The Bulldogs got a little warmer but not much and continued with Olympic-like degree-of-difficulty attempts ... Is Bill Sproat related to Jack Spratt or do they just have the same costumer? ... Uh-oh, it looks like part of the Spectrum is going to have to be named Pooh Corner as the junior from Washington is going Gumby on Tech ... towards the end, it was LA Tech making the mental errors that sealed the game for the Aggies ... Nate Bendall sure has a nifty and difficult-to-detect left forearm push ... finally, please, please, please, let's retire the shots of students "going wild" for the camera ...

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Nevada was just better than visiting Fresno State at 74-70. FSU led 43-37 at the half.

Luke Babbitt's 24 points (plus 12 boards) and Armon Johnson's 19 led Nevada. The Bulldogs' Paul George led the Dogs with 26 and teammates Sylvester Seay contributed 22. George and Seay also nabbed nine boards apiece.

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Host Boise State took care of Cal State Bakersfield 81-62 behind 57% overall shooting and a dozen treys.

Here's the liveblogging link

Here you go for Kraig Williams' liveblogging of the Utah State - Louisiana Tech battle.

To get you into the mood, here's the Refraction issue covering the matchup.

Kraig Williams to be liveblogging the USU - LT game

We have a suggestion for the devotees of the WAC: Kraig Williams will be live-blogging the Utah State - Louisiana Tech matchup tonight and we'll pass along that link as soon as it is available.

Ditto with the Bulldog version of The Refraction.

So, even if you are going to watch the game, turn down the audio and use your laptop to follow the contest. You'll learn more and have a more enjoyable time doing so.

Kraig has announced that he will be wearing his "least cheeto-stained shirt" -- we were hoping he would be out-Sproating the resident Spectrum fan favorite but maybe Logan isn't big enough for Sproat-alikes. Either that or you don't mess with perfection.

A couple more items

The tag team of Sam Wasson and Travis Mason-Bushman have a WAC update at Rush The Court:

"After starting out conference play 0-2 the Utah State Aggies have stormed their way to the top of the conference. The Aggies are winners of ten straight and at 10-2, have a game and a half lead over second place New Mexico State and Louisiana Tech. The bottom of the league is starting to clear itself up as well as Idaho has gotten warm at the right time to move into seventh place. Boise State and Hawai’i are battling for the final conference tournament spot.

This weekend the WAC steps out of conference as they take on their BracketBusters foes highlighted by 20-6 Utah State hosting 20-6 Wichita State, 15-9 New Mexico State traveling to 16-8 Pacific, 20-5 Louisiana Tech traveling to 17-9 Northeastern and 15-9 Nevada traveling to 17-8 Missouri State. Additionally, Fresno State will face Big West leading UC-Santa Barbara. The rest of the WAC will face members from the middle of the standings in the Big West..."
Go here for the remainder.

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Jeff Goodman has a feature on Duke's recruitment of Carrick Felix, a freshman wing out of the College of Southern Idaho.

So why do we mention this?

Because New Mexico State and Idaho (as well as others) also appear in the article as suitors. We're sure Marvin Menzies and Don Verlin are holding their respective breath or building their recruiting classes around landing Felix (yeah, right) but it's good to take a shot every so often at a high level talent -- you never know and there's always the possibility of a bounceback.

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Your Wednesday game previews

Tony Jones has the Aggie keys to the WAC kingdom -- and maybe more importantly beyond -- versus Louisiana Tech here.

Here's Ethan Conley with a preview.

Shawn Harrison checks in here. Jaren Eborn here.

It's on ESPN2 so grab a brewski and some vittles and settle in -- whoever emerges with the lesser number of bruises and welts wins.

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Nevada hosts Frenso State and will be minus one player with a second a bit beat up. Chris Murray has it here.

Will Paul George and Greg Smith be able to fight through their ailments and contribute as they are usually able to? Chris Murray is on that here.

Here are his keys to the game.

The Fresno Bee's Marek Warszawski offers his game preview here.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Chris Murray on recruiting prospect Illiwa Baldwin

Chris Murray fleshes out a Nevada (and others) recruiting target:

Q&A on Wolf Pack recruit Illiwa Baldwin
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette Journal
2/16/2010

The Nevada basketball team has targeted 6-foot-11, 260-pound center Illiwa Baldwin of Pratt (Kan.) Community College with one of its two remaining scholarships and the interest has been reciprocated. Baldwin, who is originally from Brisbane, Australia, is averaging 14.2 points, 11.3 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game. He's made 50 percent of his shots, including 7-of-21 3-pointers, and is connecting at a 61 percent clip from the free-throw line. I caught up with Jesse Shaw, Pratt CC's assistant coach, to talk about Baldwin's recruitment and his overall game. Here is a piece of the interview...
Go here for the remainder.

Another Jeff Portnoy post

Jeff Portnoy is back with his usual insight on Hawaii hoops and, most importantly, the specifics of Coach Bob Nash's contract:

a really stupid game
Jeff Portnoy
Honolulu Advertiser
February 16, 2010

No, not last night's blow-out, although that was nothing to write home about. 28 New Mexico State points off of 18 turnovers ( where have we heard that before?); 39 percent filed goal percentage ( where have we heard that before?); Thompson completely wearing down ( 1 assist, 6 turnovers- a reversal of the t/o to assist ratio we saw all season until a few games ago), Campbell and Balocka continuing their meltdowns once the WAC started; but on the positive side, maybe Xiang"s best game as a Rainbow and Flemings doing all one man can do to keep Hawaii competitive...
Go here for the remainder.

Not WAC-related but we liked this

We thought this was a good read:

The Nature of Being a True Fan
Sam
Tourney Trip
February 15, 2010

There is a certain code to live by that makes being a sports fan a meaningful experience. It can be a difficult code to follow in hard times because it involves making an emotional attachment to a program, and linking your fortunes with theirs. It is because of that attachment and because there is the potential to suffer with your team that makes the enjoyment of winning so much more intense when you are lucky enough to experience it. You have to suffer with something to truly be a fan of it. You have to be tested, and you have to remain loyal when the temptation of being one of the throngs who regardless of geography or alma mater flock to the most successful blue blood program or worse to Kobe or Lebron. If you are ever to earn the right to celebrate a teams accomplishments with pride then you must experience more than just a championship run. You have to be there on cold February days when conference road games take their toll. You might have to sit through an NIT or even CBI game, you have to watch players leave the court in March in tears knowing that they gave you 4 great seasons and you will never get to watch them again. You have to experience all of the highs and the lows to earn a meaningful affiliation...
Go here for the remainder.

A Utah State area to exploit

Yes, maybe this is a grasping of straws but you better believe that other WAC coaches and players are away of this and attempts to exploit this opening will continue.

Shawn Harrison's news and notes article today contained this fascinating item:

Musings from Wesley

We in the media always enjoy interviewing Aggie forward Tai Wesley.

While he likes to have a little fun with us, he also tells it like it is. There is no sugar coating anything.

After the SJSU game — which he fouled out of with 4:10 to play — I asked him why he seems to have foul issues in San Jose? Two years ago he was tossed because of a flagrant foul.

“I don’t know. I don’t like foul trouble, but I seem to get into it quite a bit here,” Wesley answered. “I thought I was doing good the last few games, because I’ve had like one or two the whole game. I think I let my emotions get the best of me a little bit.”

It got physical, and the few Spartan students who were there got on the Aggie big man several times. Then he started jawing a little with some of the Spartan players.

“(Chris) Oakes started to talk to me a little bit, so did Mac (Peterson), so I started talking back and it got a little personal,” Wesley said. “Then I wanted to block their stuff. Maybe I was out of control on offense a couple of times. I let my emotions get the best of me.”

Two of his five fouls came on the offensive end, including No. 5.
Wesley has a great basketball IQ. He's unselfish. His presence is a critical key to the success of the Aggie offense -- make that the entire game plan.

But he must take the next step and be able to trade talk without the resulting emotional energy that produces foul trouble.

Draft Express on Armon Johnson

The Draft Express site offers an evaluation update on Nevada's Armon Johnson:

Armon Johnson, 6’3, Point Guard, Junior, Nevada
15.9 points, 5.5 assists, 3.3 rebounds, 3.3 turnovers, 50% FG, 21% 3PT, 65% FT

Joseph Treutlein
Assistant Director of Scouting
Draft Express
February 16, 2010

Coming off a very strong sophomore season, Armon Johnson has made some strides with his game as a junior, but also has taken a step back in some areas. While his assist numbers have steadily climbed his three years in college, he’s shooting the worst numbers for his career from the three-point and free-throw lines this season, certainly not something you want to see from a player whose biggest question mark coming into the season was his shooting ability.

Looking at his offensive game, it’s quite clear that Johnson has an abundance of talent and skills, but his problem continues to be consistently putting them to good use. As a shooter, the interesting thing about Johnson is he actually appears to have pretty good natural shooting ability, as he is very effective when he’s shooting in rhythm, with his shoulders aligned to the basket, and not moving from side to side, but too often he settles for incredibly ill-advised shots with his body contorted, his momentum going away from the basket, a hand in his face, etc.

According to Synergy Sports Technology, of the plays they’ve logged for Johnson this season, he’s attempted just 13 catch and shoot jumpers as opposed to 54 jumpers off the dribble, an incredible ratio even for a point guard. What Johnson needs to do more than anything is get into a gym with a shooting coach and get all the bad tendencies out of his system, putting a focus on keeping his mechanics consistent and understanding the difference between good and bad shots. Johnson’s decision-making in general is a cause for concern, as he will frequently not only take the aforementioned ill-advised jumpers, but he’ll do it 5 or 10 seconds into the shot clock, settling for a very low percentage shot for no reason...
Go here for the remiander.

The Tuesday a.m. WAC news and link -orama

Jason Groves leads us off here with his game report on New Mexico State's triumph over Hawaii.

Sam Wasson has a dozen photos here from last night's contest.

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Chris Murray has two posts here and here about height in the WAC or, actually, the lack of such.

Okay, all together now with a tip o' the hat to Pete Seeger and a dash of creative license:

Where have all the big men gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the big men gone?
Long time ago...
Here is Chris' latest WAC rankings.

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Whi is that masked man?

Well, none other than Brady Jardine as Shawn Harrison reports here.

Shawn has some news and notes here, including some numbers that will astound you.

Back with more later.

Monday, February 15, 2010

New Mexico State beats Hawaii

The bad news for Hawaii? UH lost in Las Cruces to the Aggies 88-64.

The good news? Nobody was injured.

Yes, that's what passes for something celebratory at this point.

Call it a hex, a jinx or whatever but season-ending ailments and a suspension have left Coach Bob Nash with no bench and some starters who wouldn't be in such a capacity elsewhere in the WAC.

The trio of Jahmar Young, Jonathan Gibson and Troy Gillenwater each totaled 18 points, the latter in just 18 minutes of play. Wendell McKines contributed a double-double of 11 points and 10 boards.

Roderick Flemings put up his own double-double of 25 and 11 to lead Hawaii.

New Mexico State led at the half 42-27 and then early in the second half extended the lead to 'game over' status.

Stephen Rogers -- JUCO of interest to many WAC teams

We noticed a young man in the Arizona junior college ranks who is putting up strong numbers and had a hunch that some WAC teams must be involved with him. This turned out to be true.

Stephen Rogers is a 6-foot-8, 195-pound freshman playing at Mesa Community College for Coach Sam Ballard. He played high school ball in Mesa, completed his two year LDS mission and also previously redshirted a season at Arizona State.

As for his numbers: 20.9 points per game (second in the league), 49% overall shooting, 38% shooting on his three attempts (60-158) while grabbing 5.8 rebounds a contest.

According to Coach Ballard, Rogers "shoots with tremendous range stretching defenses, can put the ball on the floor with either hand and also post up inside."

Ballard calls him "a great kid."

Regarding any Western Athletic Conference connections, Utah State, Fresno State, Idaho and Boise State have all expressed interest.

Rogers has three years of eligibility remaining and can depart after this season if he decides the opportunity is right.

Boise State recruit Bryn Prinsloo

Mesa Coach Sam Ballard has another player -- Bryn Prinsloo -- who signed a national letter-of-intent with Boise State back in November. At 6-foot-10 and 230 pounds, the freshman tore a labrum last season and sat out recuperating.

Of his post man, Ballard said "the extra year has actually helped Brynn because he was inexperienced and really raw and now is much stronger and has developed some post moves."

Ballard described Prinsloo as "very athletic and someone who gets up high when jumping." The big man is averaging 5.6 points per game on 53% shooting plus 3.6 boards a contest (almost equally divided between offensive and defensive rebounds).

Besides those on-court attributes, Prinsloo sports a 4.0 grade point average.

Armon Johnson WAC POW

Per Jason Erickson, the WAC Director of Media Relations:

Nevada's Armon Johnson has been named the Verizon Wireless Western Athletic Conference Men's Basketball Player of the Week for the week of Feb. 8-14. The honor marks the second career WAC Player of the Week award for Johnson.

Johnson, a junior guard from Reno, Nevada (Hug HS), led Nevada to a pair of wins over Idaho and Boise State last week. At Idaho, Johnson scored a game-high 23 points, including Nevada's last six points with a game-tying three-pointer and game-winning layup and free throw with 2.9 seconds remaining. Johnson also tied a career high with two blocks against the Vandals, along with four assists and one steal. Johnson recorded 24 points on 8-of-14 shooting in the win over Boise State. He also dished out seven assists and collected a steal in the home victory.

On the week, Johnson averaged 23.5 points, 5.5 assists, and 1.5 rebounds per game. He also shot 50 percent from the field on 16-of-32 shooting.

Other nominees:

* Boise State senior forward Ike Okoye
* Fresno State sophomore guard/forward Paul George
* Idaho senior guard Mac Hopson
* Louisiana Tech senior forward Magnum Rolle
* Utah State senior guard Jared Quayle

Monday and the WAC

Matters are pretty light today.

Brady Jardine is injured but will play:

USU sophomore Brady Jardine fractures cheek
Jared Eborn
Deseret News
February 14, 2010

Utah State's basketball team got a dose of bad and good news Sunday after the Aggies returned from San Jose State when they won their 10th game in a row.

Sophomore forward Brady Jardine, who dove into a scrum for a loose ball in the second half of Saturday night's game and spent the remainder of the game on the sidelines with an ice pack held to his face, had X-rays taken when the team returned to Logan Sunday and, according to a source close to the team, suffered a fractured cheek bone...
Go here for the remainder.

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Shawn Harrison has a feature today and this line stood out for PTW:
“...We’ve tried to pride ourselves this whole season on D,” [Nate] Bendall said. “I think down the stretch, we made some critical stops..."
We don't see that elsewhere in the WAC -- at least not on a team-wide basis.

Go here for the full article.

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Hawaii has just seven scholarship players available at this point in the season -- amazing! If there could be do-overs in basketball then Bob Nash would be first in line.

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Wednesday's Utah State hosting of Louisiana Tech will be on ESPN2 so let's hope for a quadruple overtime contest won by a last-second shot. We're sure Kerry Rupp and Stew Morrill are not with us on that wish.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The best team in the WAC

We're not bandwagon-ers by any stretch nor do we bleed true blue (actually periwinkle is our favorite color although don't expect any college team to go there) but this must be typed:

Utah State is the best team in the WAC this season.

Not best talent or best athletes -- best squad.

While we don our fire-retardant suits and install our anti-incoming ordnance shield, here's why:

1. Stew Morrill's charges are currently operating like a precise machine, absolutely unselfish, each part accepting and carrying out his role, thereby enabling the sum to be greater than its parts.

2. The physical offensive style Morrill employs wears down opponents who begin thinking about that next screen and how to lessen the impact rather than completely focusing on defending.

3. Each Aggie takes defending seemingly like a blood oath and, again, body-to-body serious.

4. The Utah State players are multi-dimensional -- not just shooters or rebounders or defenders or ballhandlers -- more so than other WAC rosters.

5. USU typically makes the fewest mental errors of all the WAC squads.

There is probably more but this will suffice.

Although it may appear we are attempting to cover our rather prominent behinds, being the best doesn't always translate into winning regular season honors or even the conference tournament.

New Mexico State has the talent to nab one or both.

Louisiana Tech has the tools to get on a roll.

Nevada is a darkhorse that can't be completely counted out.

But all lack the 40-minute consistency USU has demonstrated, which is why we haven't selected any of the trio as the best unit in the 2009-2010 WAC.

A couple more Chris Murray - Nevada basketball links

Chris Murray has a column chock full of notes, including a recruiting prospect at the game last night, here. Plus, a feature here on Ramon Sessions return 'home -- so to speak.

Bill Sproat reaches feature status on ESPN

Cassidy Creech, Bill Sproat's defacto agent (not really), has pointed out to us an ESPN feature on none other than Mr. Bill himself.

It begins:

When It Comes To The Art of Free Throw Distraction, Utah State's Shirtless Bill Sproat Is Without Peers
ESPN
February 13, 2010

As we learned in this past week's Not Top Ten, teams that come into Stew Morrill's House at Utah State have a whole lot more to bargain for than your typical "hostile" home crowd environment. That's because the Aggies (19-6, 9-2) have a not-so-secret (or discrete) weapon in Shirtless Bill Sproat, the undisputed King of Free Throw Distraction. Over the past two seasons, Shirtless Bill has taken the art of Free Throw Distraction to unprecedented heights. In fact, Shirtless Bill's constantly-evolving methods of diversion have proven so successful that the man has become a legitimate threat to opponents during the second-half of games (the time when Bill changes (or should we say “unchanges”) into the Shirtless Wonder...
Go here for the remainder (great photo of Bill in all his glory included).

So what will be next for Sproat?

American Idol?

He already is one in Logan.

It's Sunday: here's your game reports

Daniel Lyght leads us off with Fresno State's fall at home to Idaho. Mac Hopson, plus Luciano de Souza's re-found three-point touch, led the way for the Vandals.

'Dogs men fall flat, lose to Idaho
Daniel Lyght
The Fresno Bee
February. 14, 2010

Two nights after defeating a team that shared first in the Western Athletic Conference men's basketball race, Fresno State fell to seventh-place Idaho in the Save Mart Center on Saturday night 68-59.

Mac Hopson led the way for Idaho, recording 20 points, eight rebounds and six assists as the Vandals beat the Bulldogs for the fifth straight time. The last time the Bulldogs topped Idaho was January 2008...
Go here for the remainder.

Travis Mason-Bushman also reports on the Vandals brooming the Bulldogs here.

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Chris Murray offers his game report of Nevada squaker past Boise State.
Babbitt, Johnson power Pack in OT win
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal
February 14, 2010

The second halves of Nevada basketball games are officially becoming Luke Babbitt & Armon Johnson Time. And now you can give overtime periods that moniker as well.

One game after scoring all 25 of the team's second-half points, Babbitt and Johnson combined to score 24 of the team's final 29 points in an 88-80 overtime victory over Boise State on Saturday night...
Go here for the remainder.

Nick Jezierny writes here that it was a night to remember for the BSU frontcourt -- Ike Okoye in particular -- but just the opposite for the backcourt of the Broncos. A major tip o' the hat to the Idaho Statesman management for sending their beat reporter to Reno to cover the game.

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Free is usually a successful promotion but not so at the charity stripe last night for either Louisiana Tech or Hawaii. Here's the Honolulu Advertiser staff report of UH's valiant but losing battle with LT.

Ethan Conley was there and provides his report:
Tech men stop Hawaii's rally
Ethan Conley
The News Star
February 14, 2010

Louisiana Tech led for the entire second half and held off a late Hawaii rally to win 66-60 on Saturday.

Hawaii forward Adhar Mayen buried a turnaround jump shot from the free throw line with 2:38 remaining , cutting Tech’s lead to 55-53. The Bulldogs came up empty on their next possession — forward David Jackson missed a jump shot from the baseline — setting the stage for Hawaii to either tie the score or take the lead on its next trip up the floor...
Go here for the remainder.

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Utah State had no trouble:
Make it 20 wins
Shawn Harrison
Herald Journal
February 14, 2010

SAN JOSE, Calif. — For just the second time this season, Aggie head men’s basketball coach Stew Morrill has had to dance.

But he doesn’t mind, even though he might have abbreviated it somewhat Saturday night. Utah State kept its winning streak alive, reached 20 wins for the 11th straight season and has firmly placed itself atop the Western Athletic Conference standings.

The Aggies used big runs in each half and turned what many thought would be a down-to-the-wire affair into a double-digit victory. USU picked up its 10th win in a row with a 81-65 victory over San Jose State in front of 2,128 fans at The Event Center...
Go here for the remainder.

and
Ags pound Spartans
USU goes inside against shorter San Jose State.
Tony Jones
Salt Lake Tribune
2/13/2010

San Jose, Calif. » Instead of the expected close game, Utah State made it look almost easy.

Instead of a potential loss to a San Jose State team that's been almost unbeatable on its home floor, the Aggies went into THE Event Center and put on a clinic on how to shoot the ball and how to play defense.

Utah State's 81-65 win over Adrian Oliver and Co. was impressive because the Spartans were almost never in the game. Yes, before 2,128, SJSU drew within six points once in the second half, but on Saturday night, the Aggies were too good in almost every facet of the game...
Go here for the remainder.

Here is Tony Jones' post-game analysis.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The scores tonight (Saturday)

Hats off to Hawaii for a very gutty performance in a 66-60 loss to host Louisiana Tech. Hiram Thompson played 40 minutes (14 points), Roderick Flemings 39 (13 and nine) and Adhar Mayen 37. Jonathan Gibson led LT with 15 points.

Both teams shot poorly, especially at the foul line

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Idaho bounced back from the heartbreaker against Nevada and won in Fresno 68-59.

Mac Hopson went for 20 points, eight boards and six assists while Sylvester Seay led the Bulldogs with a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds.

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Host Nevada took the measure of Boise State in overtime 88-80, behind the tag team tandem of Luke Babbitt's 27 points and 24 from from Armon Johnson.

The most remarkable feat was a double-double from Joey Shaw of 15 markers and 11 boards.

The Broncos were led by 32 points from Ike Okoye. BSU held a six-point lead at halftime, 34-28.

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Utah State had little trouble on the road with SJSU, beating the hosts 81-65 behind red-hot shooting. The Aggies shot 62% overall, 64% from long distance.

Adrian Oliver finished with 28 points to lead the Spartans.

The latest on Vonchae Richardson

Franklin High backcourter Vonchae Richardson -- known as a strong defender -- was connected to Idaho recruiting some time ago. But then he seemingly disappeared off the basketball map.

We weren't aware of this until contacted recently by a Vandal fan.

So we sent out a couple of queries -- one to Mason Kelley of the Seattle Times and the other to Kevin Cacabelos, the editor of SeaTownSports -- and here are the responses:

Mason Kelley offered this: "...He hasn't been on the roster all year. I asked coach Jason Kerr about Vonchae right before the early signing period and he wouldn't say anything. So, all I know is that he's not on the team and hasn't been on the team..."

and

Kevin Cacabelos offered this: "Vonchae did not get his fifth year of eligibility. Indications point to him next year playing for a D-1 team in the WAC or going to a local community college."

Richardson had applied for a fifth high school season and it appeared he was going to be granted his wish but the answer ultimately was no.

We don't what he is currently doing.

Photo courtesy of photographer Juliann Talino, maxpreps.com