Now on to the games:
Texas State hosts Fordham tonight. An excerpt:
“...Last year was fun, being able to play with everybody,” said [point Vonn] Jones. “It was good to get some games under my belt and having the experience to play at the Division I level. We have prepared for this year better than last year, and we’re ready to play.”Fro the WACSports site:
Jones went on in 2011 to start 16 games.
“He’s so much further along,” [Coach Rudy] Davalos said. “He’s always had the mentality of a pure point-guard, a guy who makes his teammates better and looks for the pass first and for his own shot second. The difference now is he’s more comfortable and has figured out our system. His program experience has been evident in our preseason scrimmages.”
Along with Jones, Texas State returns Staff, who averaged a team best 13.3 ppg. The Bobcats’ next two leading scorers for 2011, Brooks Ybarra and Eddie Rios, are no longer with the team..."
Senior Matt Staff, an All-Southland Third Team selection will guide the Bobcats this season. Joining him is senior point guard Vonn Jones, who finished last season with the ninth-most steals in a single season at Texas State with 52 ... Doug Davalos enters his seventh season at the helm of the Texas State basketball program ... the Bobcats have ranked in the top 25 in the nation in scoring offense for the past five years ... the Bobcats have three returning starters, and eight returning letterman. Texas State has eight newcomers ... look for Joel Wright, Corey Stern, and Darius Richardson (all Division I transfers) to make an immediate impact for the Bobcats. Texas State is known for scoring a lot of points, and the 2012-13 season should bring the same outcome ... Davalos is the sixth-most winningest coach in Texas State history with 80 career wins ... Matt Staff is tied for fifth all-time in career blocked shots (56).+++++
San Jose State University is in New Orleans for a Friday night pairing with the Privateers. From Spartan athletics:
The Privateers finished the 2011-12 season with a 17-15 overall record, including a 13-2 home record. The team plays as an NCAA Division I Independent after playing the past two years as a transitional team to Division II. UNO currently competes in 10 sports under a sport-sponsorship waiver received from the NCAA in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.From WACSports:
Head coach Mark Slessinger is in his second year at the school. Prior to coming to New Orleans, Slessinger worked for 11 years as the top assistant coach at Northwestern State.
This is first of two meetings between the two schools this season. San Jose State will host the Privateers in a non-conference game on Tuesday, January 8, at The Event Center.
Senior James Kinney set the San Jose State single season records with 86 three-pointers made on 216 attempts. Nationally, he finished the year ranked 25th in three-point goals per game at 2.77, and 38th in three-point percentage at 39.8 ... San Jose State returns five letterwinners and three starters from last year’s 9-22 team ... head coach George Nessman returns for his eighth season at the helm of the program with a 77-141 record at San Jose State ... Kinney returns after leading the Spartans in scoring at 15.8 points per game in 2011-12. He scored in double-figures in 23 games including 31 points at Seattle and 30 points against UTSA+++++
Texas San Antonio is in Norfolk, Virginia to take on Morgan State first, then Holy Cross and finally host Old Dominion in the Liberty Tax Classic. From WACSports:
The Roadrunners have captured seven conference titles including four tournament crowns, and advanced to the NCAA Tournament four times (1988, 1999, 2004, 2011). In its last appearance in 2011, UTSA defeated Alabama State, 70-61, for the school’s first-ever NCAA postseason victory in any sport ... UTSA returns six letterwinners, including a pair of starters, from last year’s team that posted an 18-14 overall record and finished third in the Southland Conference West Division with a 10-6 mark ... the Roadrunners have won 76 games during the last four seasons, the program’s most successful such stretch in two decades ...last year, UTSA led the Southland Conference in free-throw percentage, 3-point field goal percentage and 3-pointers per game ... UTSA will be tested on the road this season with only one regular season home game prior to its first-ever WAC contest on Dec. 29.+++++
Louisiana Tech easily has the toughest opening opponent, Texas A&M, in College Station on Friday. From WACSports:
Raheem Appleby was tabbed as the WAC Freshman of the Year, and was also named to the second team all-WAC and all-Newcomer team ... Michael White enters his second year as the Bulldogs head coach after registering a 18-16 record in his first year ... the Bulldogs return three starters and six other letterwinners from a year ago, with only two seniors in J.L. Lewis and Brandon Gibson ... the Bulldogs advanced to their first-ever WAC Tournament final last year after a semifinal win over Nevada 78-73 ... the Bulldogs attempted 777 three-point field goals last season, a new program record. The previous record was 598 set in the 2009-10 season. They made 258 of those three-pointers which was also a school record+++++
UT Arlington is on the road Friday against Cal State Bakersfield. From WACSports:
The Mavericks opened up its new College Park Center last season which is home to men’s and women’s basketball as well as volleyball. The facility can sit 7,000 for basketball events ... UTA lost just one conference game last season, falling on the road to UTSA in its final regular season Southland Conference game ... UTA played in the NIT for the second time in school history in 2012 (also 1981) ... the appearance was the programs third in post-season play ... UTA reached the NCAA tournament in 2008 before falling to Memphis 87-63 in the first round ... the Mavs finished the regular season ranked No. 21 in the final collegeinsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 and No. 102 in the USA Today Sagarin rankings ... three returning starters return this season featuring Kevin Butler who scored 10.9 PPG last year.From UT athletics:
UT Arlington returns a veteran team with eight returners and seven newcomers.+++++
A pair of seniors in forward Kevin Butler and center Jordan Reves anchor the frontline, with junior point guard Shaquille White-Miller back to run the offense.
"It all starts with Shaq," Cross said. "Point guard is basically an extension of the coaching staff. He does a great job with that. He's tough and plays hard and gets the ball where it needs to go. Jordan and Kevin also bring another element of leadership."
Denver is back in New Rochelle to match up with Iona tonight. From Pioneer athletics:
The Pioneers return seven players, including four of the top five scorers, from last year's squad that won a team-record 22 Division I games and finished second in the Sun Belt Conference West Division. Denver returns Preseason All-SBC First Team member Chris Udofia, who was voted 2011-12 SBC Defensive Player of the Year and All-SBC First Team last season. Udofia was tied for fourth in the Sun Belt in scoring (14.5 ppg) last year, and led the team in field goal percentage (.534), assists (2.6 per game) and blocked shots (2.3 per game). Additionally, Royce O'Neale is back after leading the team in rebounding (5.8 per game), Brett Olson, who was second in the SBC in three-point percentage (.456), and 2010-11 All-SBC Second Team selection Chase Hallam. DU welcomes five newcomers to the roster. In their first year in the WAC, the Pioneers were picked to finish third in the WAC Preseason Polls by both the coaches and the media.From WACSports:
DU led the Sun Belt in scoring defense, free-throw percentage, three-point percentage, assists, assist-turnover ratio and rebounding defense last year ... the Pioneers return four starters from the 2011-12 season - senior Chase Hallam (7.5 ppg.), junior Chris Udofia (14.5 ppg.) and sophomores Royce O’Neill (9.9 ppg.) and Brett Olsen (7.6 ppg.) ... junior Chris Udofia led DU in scoring 10 times and finished second in the SBC with a team-best 15.6 points in league-play ... he earned Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Year.+++++
Finally, Idaho welcomes Wright State to Moscow for a Friday faceoff. From WACSports:
In Idaho’s first three seasons of WAC play, the Vandals posted a combined 7-41 record against the conference. In Don Verlin’s four years as head coach since 2008-09, Idaho has won 33 WAC games and finished at least third in the conference three times ... Idaho’s back-to-back postseason bids to the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament in 2011 and 2012 mark just the fourth time in school history that the team has qualified for postseason play in back-to-back seasons ... this year, the Vandals will try to become the second Idaho group to make it to the postseason three years in a row (1981-83) ... senior center Kyle Barone is the WAC’s top returning rebounder ... he was fifth last season with 8.0 boards per game ... Kyle Barone enters his final season at Idaho on pace to become one of the best all-around big men in UI history ... he can become the first Vandal man to reach 1000pts/750reb/100ast/100bks.