Friday, November 30, 2007

Crazy like a fox

We don't know how such a phrase as 'crazy like a fox' had its genesis nor have we enjoyed the acquaintance of such a mammal, let alone one of seemingly ill mental health. But if crazy is clever in this regard, then Mark Fox is doing just that.

Like any coach, he must be pulling out his hair over each turnover, incorrect player positioning, missed foul shots, etc. but, also like any coach, especially one with a young and inexperienced squad, patience is the password and gradual improvement the desired turn.

Here's the latest up Reno way.

Fox taking big-picture approach
Steve Sneddon
Reno Gazette-Journal
November 30, 2007

Mark Fox is looking at the big picture, so he's not alarmed.

For the rest of us, the small-picture people, Nevada's 74-68 loss to California wasn't a pretty snapshot Wednesday night.

It went deeper than the 13-game home winning streak, 12th longest in Division I, being snapped. And it also transcended the fact that it was only the Wolf Pack's seventh home loss in its last 68 home games, dating to the 2003-04 season.

It was a game the Pack never led, not even for a second. It was tied three times in the second half, but that was the best the Pack could do. The Pack couldn't slow down the Bears' 6-foot-11 Ryan Anderson, who finished with a career-high 36 points.

But worse yet might have been Nevada's 37 percent shooting from the field, including 30 percent in the second half.

The Pack dropped to 2-3 and Fox said after the game he is not worried about where his team is after five games. He said he's more concerned about his team improving each game and each week.

On Thursday, he looked at the game again through his big-picture lens.

"We took care of the ball better. We did a much better job of taking care of the basketball, so we improved," Fox said. "We have moments where we play well. We just need to be more consistent. We've got to string together good offense with good defense. You've got to be able to do those things back to back to back. That's what we're working to do."

Go here for the fill article.

As the NCAA turns...

When we last tuned in, the NCAA was in its typical Shakespearean mode -- "to be or not to be" -- regarding the eligibility fate of New Mexico State freshman recruits Herb Pope and Jarmar Young.

For the less cultured (not many WAC fans there, mind you) we'll try this playing around with an old Paul Masson commercial featuring the late, great Orson Welles: "The NCAA will make no decision before its time."

Hitting the trifecta, let's use this Nixon/Watergate era phrase: "Herb Pope and Jarmar Young are "being left slowly, slowly twisting in the wind."

So here's the latest on Pope and Young (think of Bill Murray in the film "Groundhog Day") -- we promise this will be our last cultural reference of this post.

Aggies open Lou Henson Classic
Jason Groves
Las Cruces Sun-News

...NCAA receives Young's file

NMSU submitted two final documents to the NCAA regarding freshman guard Jahmar Young's eligibility Thursday afternoon. The NCAA will receive the documentation today and should come back with a ruling within the next seven days.

This is the second time Young's file was submitted to the NCAA recently and the governing body responded by asking for additional information. Menzies said it was a good sign that rather than reject Young's latest information, the NCAA responded by asking for additional documentation.

"If they say no, we can appeal and he can practice," Menzies said.

Aggie freshman forward Herb Pope was initially denied eligibility. He was granted an initial waiver by the NCAA, allowing him to practice for four days before being pulled off the court as his case was moved from a waiver process back to the review process that Young is currently in.

Regarding Pope, Menzies said, "Recent discussions with the NCAA have still left questions marks with Herb's eligibility, but steps are getting closer to a conclusion in the near future."

The university hired Bond, Schoeneck and King, a Kansas City based consulting firm, to devote 40 hours per week to Pope's case.

NMSU compliance officer Braun Cartwright said the firm specializes in all types of legal matters, but has been used for the initial eligibility piece.

All parties involved are still trying to put together a complete file for Pope to re-submit to the NCAA..."

Go here for the complete article.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

New Mexico State University news and notes

Here's the latest from Jason Groves, Aggie beat writer for the Las Cruces Sun-News.

Wendell McKines continues to shine -- we called him The Beast during his prep days out here in California and he hasn't missed a beat in continuing his beastly ways in D-1.

But even more importantly, the Aggies got a good contribution from point Chris Cole. We still think Cole is one of the keys to a winning NMSU season, giving Fred Peete some time off from playing the point. That key and, of course, a re-appearance of Herb Pope on the court. Pretty soon, Pope will be getting the nickname "The Ghost".

Aggie notes: Hawkins shows off perimeter game
Jason Groves
Las Cruces Sun-News


Few teams are able to match up with NMSU on the glass. The Aggies lead the Western Athletic Conference in rebounds per game (41.3) and are second in rebounding margin, outrebounding their opponents by 8.6 per game.

The Aggies were well on their way to matching those numbers again on Tuesday, outrebounding UTEP 27-18 in the first half and grabbing nine offensive boards.

UTEP outrebounded the Aggies 22-11 in the second half, finishing with a 40-38 edge...

...One player who did his job in the paint was freshman forward Wendell McKines. The 6-foot-6 McKines never slowed on the glass, grabbing 14 rebounds and nine offensive boards.

Cole steps up

With starting point guard Fred Peete limited in minutes, sophomore guard Chris Cole played 19 solid minutes.

Cole scored six points, but he dished out five assists and only turned the ball over once...

...Cole was on the court during the Miners' run to open the second half, where the Aggies turned the ball over on three straight possessions as the Miners scored on their first six possessions of the second half. NMSU turned the ball over 15 times on Tuesday, nine in the second half.

Go here for the full article.

Coby Karl to developmental league

The Los Angeles Lakers have sent Coby Karl to its local NBA Developmental League squad:

Coby Karl sent down on eve of game vs. dad
Chris Tomasson,
Rocky Mountain News
November 28, 2007

LOS ANGELES -- Coby Karl will be playing today at the Staples Center.

It just won’t be against his father’s team.

Coby is scheduled to play in an afternoon game for the NBA Development League’s Los Angeles Defenders against the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. But at least he will sit on the bench for tonight’s main event between the Lakers and the Nuggets, coached by George Karl...

...Kupchak said what’s best now is for Coby to get playing time. He wasn’t getting that with the Lakers, having logged just four minutes in two games...

...The Lakers must make a call on Coby by Jan. 10. If he’s still on the roster then, his contract is guaranteed for the season.

“It’s tough to speculate on what’s going to happen two months down the road,’’ Kupchak said.

The Lakers, though, will have a much better idea once they see Coby log big minutes in the NBADL.

Go here for the full article.


Pack notes
Lauren Gustus
Reno Gazette-Journal


Former Pack point guard Ramon Sessions is the second-leading scorer in the NBA Development League and was named the league's performer of the week Monday.

He is averaging 30.5 points after helping the Tulsa 66ers to a 2-0 record with 27 points at Fort Wayne, Ind., and 34 points at Sioux Falls, S.D. The 66ers open at home against Colorado on Friday. Sessions, who was drafted in the second round by the Milwaukee Bucks as the 56th player overall, was assigned to the D-League by the Bucks. The Bucks, Dallas Mavericks and New York Knicks share Tulsa as an affiliate.

As for Nick Fazekas, Sessions former and present teammate:

Former Nevada star Nick Fazekas, who was assigned to the 66ers by the Mavericks, is averaging 10.5 points and 10 rebounds after two games. Fazekas also was drafted in the second round, the 34th player selected overall and the Mavericks' first pick.

The slippage continues

So when will one of the WAC teams win a game they weren't supposed to?

Sure, we're being harsh here but the trend is not promising. The evidence is mounting.

This one actually wasn't unexpected but still was a road game for Cal:

Pack basketball drops heartbreaker to Cal
Steve Sneddon
November 29, 2007

It was only a temporary reprieve for the Nevada basketball team.

The Wolf Pack wiped out a 14-point first half deficit, but never figured out a way to slow down 6-foot-10, 240-pound Ryan Anderson and paid dearly for it. Anderson scored a career-high 36 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to lead California past the Pack, 74-68, in front of 9,126 fans at Lawlor Events Center on Wednesday night.

Nevada dropped to 2-3 for the first time since 2003-04, when it reached the Sweet 16. Cal, the first Pac-10 team to play in Reno since Washington State in 1999, ran its record to 4-0 for the first time since 2001-02.

"We lost a tough game," said the Pack's Marcelus Kemp. "We made a lot of mistakes and their post player (Anderson) had a pretty good game and we couldn't stop him."

Kemp kept the Pack afloat single-handedly in the opening 20 minutes, scoring 21 of his 26 points in the first half. JaVale McGee finished with 19 points, nine rebounds and a career-high equaling six blocked shots in 35 minutes. Brandon Fields had 15 points for Nevada.

Go here for the full article.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Hawaii's season begins now

With Matt Gibson's return, Hawaii can now get on with its 'real' starting five and see how competitive the team will fare this season. Unlike some of the other squads in the WAC with injuries and players out as a result, Hawaii had no true replacement for the injured Gibson.

Let's see how they do.

Hawaii's Gibson will return to action
Dayton Morinaga
Honolulu Advertiser
November 27, 2007

On what is being marketed as "Military Night," the University of Hawai'i men's basketball team will unveil a secret weapon tonight when it hosts Coppin State at the Stan Sheriff Center.

Matt Gibson will make his much-anticipated season debut tonight after sitting out the first four games with an injured left knee.

"There's going to be no hesitation on my part," Gibson said. "I tested my body and it's ready. I'm ready, no doubt. Are they ready for me? That's the question."

The Rainbow Warriors got off to a 1-3 start without Gibson. He was slated to start the season opener, but injured his knee during a practice two days before.

Gibson, a 6-foot-5 senior point guard, averaged 10.2 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game last season...

Update #527689 on Herb Pope and Jahmar Young

As usual, Jason Groves has the latest on NMSU recruits Herb Pope and Jahmar Young. It's more of the same. Is it me or does Coach Menzies seemingly contradict himself in the last paragraph? It's also apparent that neither the kids involved nor the school have a clue what the NCAA will do next or when. San Jose State endured the same situation with two of its players last year and both ended up redshirting.

Aggies eager for a win
Jason Groves
Las Cruces Sun-News

...Pope and Young update

Menzies reported on Monday that the NCAA responded to NMSU's materials regarding freshman guard Jahmar Young.

"The fact that they didn't say no is good," Menzies said.

The NCAA did request additional materials, and Menzies said those would be submitted today.

"They won't keep coming back asking for additional information after this, I don't think," Menzies said.

Freshman forward Herb Pope's situation also has not changed much, Menzies said.

"He went through a waiver process, and we are now in an additional stage of submitting additional documentation based on the answer of what we submitted," he said. "So they came back to us and said no because of this, that and the other. We are saying that that is not accurate so here is additional information that you need to evaluate."

Redshirting Young and Pope could potentially become an option, although Menzies said he would wait until the end of December to make that decision.

"It's their season," he said. "It would be a joint decision, but at one point I'm going to advise them against playing this year. At the end of the day, it's their decision to make. I will take them at any point, but I'm not going to waste a year of eligibility."

Monday, November 26, 2007

David is more like Goliath

He's not the biggest guy around, at least in terms of size, say like 5-10 and 165 or so.

But his back is broad.

It must be because he is carrying his basketball team so far this season.

We are speaking of Kevin Bell, the senior point for Coach Steve Cleveland's Fresno State Bulldogs.

With Rekalin Sims in legal limbo, Dwight O'Neil out with a bum wrist, a host of new players and minus a dominate player in the paint, Bell has hoisted the Fresno hopes onto himself and is doing his best to keep the team above the waterline until one or more teammates can step forward to assist.

But first a little history:

As a freshman, Bell averaged 2.9 ppg. and 2.6 assists each time out, with a 69-35 assist to turnover ratio. Nothing spectacular but a promising display.

Bell followed up with starting every game as a sophomore, passing for 5.9 apg., leading the WAC in assists and enjoying another set of marvelous a-to-t numbers.

In his junior season, he started all 32 games and put up averages of 9.6 ppg and 5.6 apg, again handling the team quarterbacking by his lonesome.

This while shooting ,394 from the floor, .330 from three point range and .635 from foul line. He has been a .595 career free thrower.

All along, Fresno fans -- at least some of them -- wanted someone better at the point. A replacement. Someone who could also be a shooting threat -- as if the Bulldogs have lacked for shooters down the years.

Well, the wish came true. No, it's still some guy named Kevin Bell but look at his output so far this season: It's a Goliath-like 18.5 ppg. on .463 from the floor, .673 from the line, along with 40 assists versus 22 turnovers in six games. His scoring has doubled and his shooting has markedly improved in this, his senior season. Granted, Bell's turnovers are up a bit but that's because he has been forced to be THE creator on offense.

Now coaching staffs probably keep such detailed reports but they are not for public consumption -- those being who is responsible for what percentage of the team's offensive output. In Fresno's case, Bell would have to be at 75% or so.

Call them Kevin Bell's Fresno State Bulldogs. All 5-10 165 of him.

Speaking of adjustments

Junior varsity to varsity. Prep to college of any sort. Junior college to D-1. D-1 to pro. It's always a big leap and three of Boise State's junior college transfers are in the midst of such a transition.

Here's a good column about this by Nick Jezierny/The Idaho Statesman.

Junior college transfers adjusting to life in Division I
Three Broncos find out the game is a little different at the next level. 'It moves a lot quicker.'

Nick Jezierny
The Idaho Statesman

Greg Graham expects Aaron Garner, Jamar Greene and Mark Sanchez to be weapons for his Boise State basketball team this season, but the coach also knows that the three junior college transfers will struggle with a jump to Division I."Guys have to learn to adjust and understand the game,'' Graham said.

Greene, who is from Richmond, Va., has had the most success. The guard, who originally committed to Seton Hall, is playing 30.3 minutes a game and has made 8-of-21 shots from the field. But he's been inconsistent and still is catching on to BSU's offensive and defensive systems.

Garner hasn't made a field goal in his 8.3 minutes per game, while Sanchez is playing seven minutes a game behind Matt Nelson and Reggie Larry.

"It's not like junior college - it moves a lot quicker and everyone is more fundamentally sound. ... In JUCO, you just go out and play,'' said Sanchez, who is from Tucson, Ariz.

Senior Matt Bauscher, who played a year at Spokane Community College, said Division I ball is an eye-opener.

"It's way more time demanding and you have to allocate more time at this level," he said. "There's a lot more on the line, but there are a lot more rewards at the Division I level."

The BSU trio isn't alone. JC transfers experience the same rollercoaster ride early just about everywhere.

Go here for the remainder.

Fazekas and Sessions are teammates again

Dallas has farmed out Nick Fazekas to Tulsa of the Developmental League, where he will be re-joining his former Wolf Pack teammate Ramon Sessions.

Sessions was sent to Tulsa earlier by Milwaukee.

Again, this demonstrates the large leap it really is in going from high level college basketball to The Show. Fazekas was the Western Athletic Conference for three straight seasons yet...

Actually, unlike Sessions, Fazekas' arrival in Tulsa town is not due to the need for further skill development. What Fazekas needs to improve on is how to lessen the disadvantage of his average athletic ability when matched up nightly against superior athleticism.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The bayou blues will be coming to an end

It's a curious but farsighted and solid move taking place down in Ruston by Kerry Rupp.

He's hasn't come out and said so but the handwriting on the wall reads that this current Louisiana Tech men's basketball season will be a washout, a prep period for 2008-2009. Rupp is currently fielding 10 players at most, including at least one walk-on. He has no real size upfront and lacks scoring firepower.

But here's why he isn't concerned.

With LSU transfer Magnum Rolle and Oklahoma State transfer Ken Cooper, plus Jamel White coming down from Nebraska, next season was already considered to be the one where the Bulldogs finally make some noise in the WAC.

But now, D.J. Wright and Olu Ashaolu, the two top prep recruits from this past recruitng season, are also going to be redshirted. Both are from Canada and, while one report had Wright still not having passed his SAT, Ashalou is eligible but Rupp and Company have decided to use this season as one for him to work on developing his game and skills set -- for next year.

It's actually a bold move on Rupp's part seeing as how he just began at Louisiana Tech and expectations are that new coaches will put an upgraded team on the floor and compile a better won-loss record. But in Rupp's favor is the undeniable fact that he can simply point to the kids dressed in streetclothes on the bench and not even have to say 'wait 'til next year.'

We may be in the minority here but our opinion is that the Bulldogs could even finish behind Idaho in the 2007-2008 cpnference race and that would be something.

But reinforcements have already arrived. The future can be seen, not dreamed. Rupp isn't in the position of pleading 'believe in me and my way.' In his favor, he can actually point to the tangible reasons for Tech fans to hang in there and be patient. Those being, to repeat ourselves:

Magnum Rolle junior 6-10 220
Kenneth Cooper junior 6-10 250
Jamel White* 6-3 190
D.J. Wright 6-7 200
Olu Ashaolu 6-8 220

*White did have academic and other issues while at Nebraska, earning at least one suspension.

We do need to note that this isn't a Fab Five super group of talent. Both Rolle and Cooper are in need of developing their game and honing skills, especially offensively. White is already a talent and should be the starting point next season if he can maintain the straight and narrow. Both Wright and Ashaolu have the best promise but it needs to be fulfilled.

That said, the potential level at LA TECH hasn never been this high, something the coaching change has already brought to Ruston.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

This is happening too often

Yes, it's early but the WAC RPI is going to need some serious rehabilitating if the losing to lesser teams in lesser conferences keeps happening. Otherwise, it may very well be that the tournament winner goes to The Big Dance and that's it.

Boise State fell to Montana State of the Big Sky Conferenceon Saturday The Bobcats are 30-28 in the Big Sky over the last four seasons, 11-19 overall and 8-8 last year. It was close but should not have been. The Broncos won in Boise last season 94-69.

Last-second shot finishes Boise State on the road
Ryan Amys - special to The Idaho Statesman

BOZEMAN, Mont. - Montana State's Casey Durham hit a fadeaway from the baseline with a little more than three seconds left in the game to hand the Boise State men's basketball team a gut-wrenching 86-84 loss Friday.

Boise State, which trailed by 13 at halftime, tied the score with 16 seconds remaining on Taylor Tiedeman's three-point play.

But Durham went coast-to-coast and made a fadeaway, giving the Broncos (1-2) their second loss.

"I got the shot off and got very, very lucky," Durham said.

The Broncos had their chances after fighting back from a 49-36 halftime deficit. Boise State shot a scorching 66.7 percent - 18-of-27 - from the field in the second half to get back into the game.

But it was the Broncos' inability to convert from the foul line that doomed them. Boise State made 14-of-25 free throws, including just 3-of-10 in the second half. Matt Nelson converted on seven of his 14 attempts

Go here for the remainder of the article.

More WAC signings

Here's a few more WAC signings that have fallen into our collection barrel:

Highly touted guard signs with the Boise State men's basketball team
Web site has Robert Arnold ranked as the 15th best JC player in the country
Nick Jezierny
Idaho Statesman
November 16, 2007

Before the Boise State men's basketball team departed for Bozeman, Mont., on Thursday afternoon, the Broncos received some good news.

Robert Arnold, a 6-foot-6, 170-pound guard from Antelope Valley Community College in California, signed a national letter of intent to join the program. - an Internet site focusing on junior college recruiting - ranks Arnold as the 15th-best JC player in the country.

Go here for more.


BSU men's basketball team signs JUCO point guard
Idaho Statesman
November 19, 2007

La'Shard Anderson, a 6-foot, 160-pound guard from Irvine Valley Community College has signed a National Letter of Intent with Boise State.

"La'Shard is a great addition to the Boise State basketball program," BSU coach Greg Graham said. "He is a point guard who has the ability to score and defend. He also is only a freshman this season so we will have him for three seasons."

Go here for more.

Here's confirmation of Fresno State's signing to date from Gary Estwick's article in today's Fresno Bee. No word on why Reggie Moore, Mychal Ladd's teammate, has yet to be announced:

"The Bulldogs have received national letters of intent from four of their five commitments: high school seniors Mychal Ladd (Rainier Beach-Seattle), guard Chris Jones (Newark Memorial), forward Bracken Funk (Lone Peak High, Utah) and sophomore forward Joey Cameron of Chipola College in Florida."

Fresno State loses O'Neill for two or more months

When it rains, it pours. After having senior forward Rekalin Sims go out on indefinite suspension aftewr being charged with felonies (we will be very surprised if he ever dons a Bulldog uniform), now a literal bad break hits Coach Steve Cleveland and Fresno State.

Backcourter Dwight O'Neill, one of the few guards on the team who is equally proficient from outside and on dribble-drives, has broken his right (shooting) wrist and looks to be out for eight or so weeks.

Go to Gary Estwick's article in today's Fresno Bee.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

A closer look at Aggie-dom to date

The two expected-to-be WAC behemoths, Utah State and New Mexico State, are stumbling a bit in the early going -- or picking an alternative description -- not running roughshod over the competition.

This wasn't supposed to be happening as Utah State Coach Stew Morrill has amply demonstrated the knack of plugging in new players without missing a beat and Coach Marvin Menzies inherited a talented squad in Las Cruces.

So let's analyze why this is happening in Aggie-dom.

First Utah State.

Any team with a returning backcourt of star scorer Jaycee Carroll and efficient point Kris Clark would have the expectation of moving in some frontcourt talent and continuing on successfully. But such hasn't been true for Morrill and his players.

So far.

A 19-point loss on the road to Big West member UC Irvine -- which lost by five against visiting Nevada -- actually was a shocker. Irvine shot 47% for the game, out-rebounded the Aggies by one and committed 12 turnovers to 16 for Utah State. This from a squad picked to finish fourth in the Big West pre-season media poll and fifth by the league's coaches.

Carroll was the only Aggies in double figures with 21 points.But don't blame Carroll as he is back with his usual sterling play, averaging over 21 points a game, shooting .493 from the floor and .500 from three-point range. He is also nabbing 6.8 caroms a contest.

Stephen DuCharme, who was expected to play a lesser role this season after having to man the middle last year, is second in scoring with 11.8 ppg. and leads the team in rebounding at 7.2.

Newcomer Gary Wilkinson is third in scoring at 10.4 ppg. and third in rebounding with 4.8 boards a contest but he also leads the team with 18 turnovers.

Heralded redshirt frontcourter Brayden Bell has played but 24 minutes in five games with a negligible contribution. He was on the court for nine minutes at Irvine with all zeroes in the stat sheet.

So far early in the season, the Aggies are close with opponents in shooting .440 to opponent's .443. Free-throwe shooting is also strikingly similar, with Morrill's players attempting 98 foul shots and opponents 99. For the season so far, Utah States is scoring 65.6 ppg. while allowing 67.6.

Poor shooting by some of the newcomers to the team has been a hindrance for the Aggies. Freshman Pooh Williams is shooting just .308 on the year, Desmond Stephens is at .235 and DeUndrae Spraggins a lowly .100 to date. The latter two are junior college transfers.

The most telling comparison is with turnovers. Utah State has been 'credited' with 93 turnovers to 80 for opponents, an extremely atypical ratio for a Morrill-coached team.

Plus, Morrill became so upset with the play of his bigs in a game with NAIA member Montana-Western that he had freshman Modou Niang -- an expected redshirt -- change into a uniform at half time and take to the court ,thereby ending Niang's possibility of sitting out the season.

The Aggies also fell 83-69 to Cal Poly this season, yet another Big West Conference member. Any appearance of defensive intensity was lacking then, just as it was missing in the Irvine contest.

The Aggies are potentially more talented than last season and also possess better athletic ability on the roster this year but that as yet hasn't translated into consistency. So Morrill is going to have to be more patient than was expected with his mixing and matching of the new with the old.

He needs steady scoring and rebounding contributions from Wilkinson in the middle, plus getting Stephens and Spraggins to ratchet up their shooting and scoring.

Plus, the entire team must dedicate itself to defending better.

It appears that losing Chaz Spicer and Durrall Peterson, he of 111 assists in 2006-2007, has set the Aggies back more than expected. Both played within themselves, picked their moments of assertion wisely and thrived under Morrill's concepts.

The biggest mystery is Bell, who already has a year in the system as a redshirt transferr back to his homestate after a year at Ohio State. Big men tend to be the slowest at realizing potential so it could be simply a matter of Bell needing more time than initially projected.

Now New Mexico State.

This was supposed to be a situation where Reggie Theus simply handed over the reins of a talented group to Marvin Menzies. It still may well be but it's a similar situation to what Utah State is currently enduring -- that being the slow development of a consistent and cohesive unit.

The two-headed tandem at center, Hatila Passos and Martin Iti, have seemingly underperformed but a closer inspection abolishes this conjecture. Passos has been solid on the boards at 8.3 a game while averaging 5.7 ppg. He's shooting well at 8-16 but lacks any signature moves, scoring more on putbacks and the like. Iti is receiving just above 15 minutes of action a game. Neither player has extablished his presence while on the court, especially offensively, but also surprisingly at the defensive end. What you get with this duo is 10 fouls between them, some beef inside -- Passos in particular -- decent boardplay and that's it.

What has hurt the Aggies immensely is the unavailability of freshman phenom Herb Pope. Still sidelined by an NCAA eligibility logjam. Pope will immediately be the best frontcouter for Coach Marvin Menzies -- if he becomes available. He'll supply both scoring and boardplay, thereby easing the burden on Passos and Iti.

But the sidelining of Pope has produced an opportunity for another freshman, Wendell McKines. An under-sized 6-5 power forward at, McKines has a non-stop motor and is amazingly quick off the floor as a leaper. Making the most of his opportunity, he is averaging 9.0 ppg. and 4.7 rpg. with his increased playing time.

Justin Hawkins has been the one Aggie performing as expected, a count-on-him player. Expect him to be in the running for conference player of the year.

Despite a recent article about his steady play in the Las Cruces Sun-News, returnee Fred Peete, who has been forced to play the point much more than expected, hasn't hit his stride. He is averaging 10 ppg. but on shooting percentages of .357 from the floor and .313 from three-point range. Despite a paucity of turnovers, Peete is still more effective as a defender and opportunity shooter. It appears carrying the biggest burden of ballhandling duties has hindered the other aspects of his game.

Redshirt point Chris Cole's rep was an a ballhandler -- from his freshman output while at at Hartford -- but he has yet to demonstrate command and control over the offense. Improvement on his part will be an immense aid to the Aggies.

Sophomore Jonathan Gibson has shot well overall but poorly from long range. He is averaging 11.7 ppg. for the young season and his goal should be to establish himself as a steady producer.

Newcomer Paris Carter has been inconsistent with his shooting so far -- a paltry .286 from the floor, including .143 from long distance.

As a team, New Mexico State is shooting but .243 from long range and being out-assisted 48-38 by opponents. The Aggies are in the minus with turnovers, committing 66 to just 47 for opposing teams. Mernzies squad is ringing up 22 turnovers a game so far -- a number that needs to be reduced to the low-to-middle teens.

Another indicative stat is opponents having grabbed 27 steals while NMSU has barely broken double figures with 11.

Besides Pope, three other missing players also factor into New Mexico State's slow start. Tyrone Nelson's guilty plea to charges against him led to his dismissal over the summer. He was a highly productive frontcourter with scoring, boarding and passing talent and someone who would be steadying the Aggie frontline as a senior if still available.

Plus, backcourters Elijah Ingram and Shaun Davis are being missed more than expected. Ingram could shoot or ballhandle his team in or out of a game but he always wanted the ball and welcomed any challenge thrown his way.

Davis had a 66 assists to 38 turnovers ratio overall last season, one of the very few Aggies who could boast of such.

The season is young and and the new talent in Logan and Las Cruces will be gaining experience. It's far too early to make any profound pronouncements or pass critical judgments since the sample of games is just too few as yet.

But we'll return to these two teams later.

Herb Pope injured

According to the Las Cruces Bulletin, Aggie freshman Herb Pope has suffered a broken finger in a pick up game. Go to the Bulletin site for more information.

Pope has yet to be cleared to practice by the NCAA and was the pre-season selection to be the top newcomber to the WAC.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

latest on Rekalin Sims

At the risk of Parsing The WAC being mistaken for an affiliate of Court TV, here's the latest on Fresno State's Rekalin Sims and it isn't looking good:

Felony charges filed against 'Dogs basketball player
Daniel Lyght
The Fresno Bee

Fresno State basketball player Rekalin Sims will be arraigned on two felony charges in Fresno County Superior Court on Nov. 28, according to court documents.

Sims was charged with conspiracy to commit robbery and second-degree robbery Tuesday after being arrested early Sunday morning in connection with the robbery of a 29-year-old disabled man.

Bob Ellis, Fresno County chief assistant district attorney, said the other two men arrested with Sims -- Vicente Ramon Loera, 18, a continuation-school student, and Christopher Eiland, 27, a laborer -- are being charged with conspiracy and robbery as well...

Go here for the complete article.

If there was any possibility of mistaken identity or a sense of Sims somehow present but not being aware of what offenses took place, then it seems such would have been 'played' and been a consideration factor by now -- prior to the felony charges filed against all three of the arrestees.

What has yet to appear in print is who is actually accused of administering the beating. Plus, how did Sims have access or ownership to such an expensive vehicle, an SUV?

Each WAC school has different student conduct policies in place but, fairly or unfairly, the history of past incidents of misconduct of Fresno State student-athletes will not be a favorable factor for Sims. For what it's worth, the 'court of public opinion' is already veering strongly against Sims remaining a member of the Bulldog basketball team.

Also, in the Be-Careful-What-You-Write category, something all bloggers and other writers/reporters face in expressing opinions, here is Fresno Bee columnist Matt James from a November 3, 2007 column:

"...Rekalin Sims and Bryan Harvey are the players you'd take home to Mom; hustlers, rebounders, believers in the bounce pass and the hard practice and that the word "fundamentalist" is not just for the Republican Party..."


New names and bodies heading to the WAC

Here is what has fallen into our collection barrel so far regarding new men's basketball signings for the WAC teams.

Nevada easily runs away with the top dog trophy, landing three eventual starters, one of them a deluxe blue chipper:

Pack men's basketball team signs three
Steve Sneddon
Reno Gazette-Journal
November 15, 2007

The recruitment of Galena High star Luke Babbitt was a long, drawn out process that finally ended when the 6-foot-8, 220-pound Babbitt signed a letter of intent Wednesday to play basketball at Nevada, beginning in 2008-09.

He heads a star-studded class of Wolf Pack recruits, which includes 6-5, 175-pound shooting guard Mark McLaughlin from Inglemoor High of Kenmore, Wash., and 6-3, 180-pound point guard London "Cotton" Giles from Dallas' Kimball High. Both McLaughlin and Giles signed their letters Wednesday. Babbitt, who will play both forward spots for Nevada, and McLaughlin are four-star recruits. Giles is a two-star recruit.

The Nevada class has been ranked No. 22 in the nation by and No. 23 by

"Luke's established himself as one of the premier players in the country and he's a better person than he is a player," said Pack coach Mark Fox. "It's not often that you can say that. It's certainly a day we're extremely excited about because I think he's a winner in so many ways. He's just been a terrific kid to recruit and we're glad he's coming."

Nevada recruited him since he was a sophomore at Galena, but it was a rollercoaster process. Babbitt originally committed to Ohio State. But he withdrew that commitment and committed to Nevada on June 11.

"I remember when we had a staff meeting and of the topics was are we going to try to recruit Luke Babbitt because we knew he was going to be recruited by everybody," Fox said. "Today is a special day for our staff because we put a lot of energy in the process and I think Luke is one of those cases because he's local we've gotten to know him and his family very well. That's unique because any more with the phone call limits and contact you can't get to know everybody. With a kid in town, we were able to do that."

Babbitt, who shared the 2007 Northern 4A co-player of the year honors with Nevada freshman Armon Johnson last season, averaged 27.8 rebounds, 9.5 rebounds and 2.3 steals and led Galena to a state title.

"He'll play both forward spots, some three and four," Fox said. "He shoots it very well from three and he's a terrific block player so his versatility allows him to play all over the place.

Go here for the complete article.


Needing size to replace two departing seniors upfront, Coach Marvin Menzies has landed a bulky big man:

Aggies men's basketball team signs center Gabriel
Jason Groves
Las Cruces/Sun-News

LAS CRUCES - JSerra Catholic School basketball coach Tom Lewis confirmed on Wednesday that 6-foot-11 260 senior center Chris Gabriel signed a National Letter of Intent and financial Aide Agreement to play at New Mexico State University.

Gabriel joins current redshirts Hamidu Rahman, Troy Gillenwater and Robert Lumpkins in the 2008 recruiting class of first-year NMSU coach Marvin Menzies.

Gabriel signed on the first day of the early signing period, which runs through Nov. 21. The regular signing period is April 16-21, 2008.

"We took some pictures and made a nice situation for him," said Lewis, who coached the South Africa native for two seasons. "We had a ceremony on campus for him and took some photos of him signing."

Gabriel came to the U.S. two years ago and played his first year of organized basketball at the Patterson School in North Carolina. He moved to JSerra, located in San Juan Capistrano, Calif.

Gabriel visited the NMSU campus in September and verbally committed in October after taking an unofficial visit to California-State Fullerton and official visits to the University of San Diego and Santa Barbara.

Go here for the complete article.


LA TECH signs a down-the-road point guard with good basketball genes:

SIGNING DAY: Tech men secure future of point guard position
T. Scott Boatright
Alexandria News Star

RUSTON — It might be a tough season for Coach Kerry Rupp's Bulldogs in 2007-08 as he works to rebuild the team, but the future is looking bright.

And it got even brighter on Wednesday as the Bulldogs looked to lock down their point guard position for multiple upcoming seasons Rupp announced Wednesday that Holton Hunsaker of North Salt Lake, Utah, has signed a national letter of intent to play basketball at Louisiana Tech.
Transfer Jamel White, who came to the Bulldogs after playing for the Nebraska Cornhuskers last season, has impressed in practices but will have to sit out the current season but is expected to take over as Tech's starting point guard next season.

But there's plenty of time before Hunsacker is asked to take over the position for the Bulldogs as the top high school product in the state of Utah will go on his Latter Day Saint church mission for two years before heading to Tech as a 21-year-old true freshman in 2010.

Hunsaker was named first team all-state as a junior and second team all-state as a sophomore after being named first team all-region as a freshman. Hunsaker has averaged around 17 points and five assists per game during his high school career and is a McDonald's All-American nominee in Utah.

Basketball comes naturally for Hunsacker, whose father Dick is head coach at Utah Valley State and has been named NCAA Men's Basketball Independent Coach of the Year for the past four seasons and the 2001 Los Angeles Times national coach of the year as the interim head coach at the University of Utah.

Go here for the complete article.

We know that Nor Cal two guard Chris Jones will be signing with Fresno State, as Florida junior college frontcourter Joey Camerson is also expected to do but there is nothing in print on either as yet. Steve Cleveland also has two high school kids from Washington state committed, both guards, in Reggie Moore and Mychal Ladd.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

An action that may be significant

Utah State Coach Stew Morrill must be very unsatisfied with the play of his centers and power forwards thus far in the early season. Newcomer Gary Wilkinson has shown flashes of promise but Ohio State transfer Brayden Bell has yet to make any impact. So...

We have never witnessed let alone heard of this happening before: suiting up -- at halftime no less -- and playing someone who had been destined as a redshirt in the second half of a game.

According to Jay Hinton of the Deseret News: "...Utah State coach Stew Morrill used his second different starting lineup and Modou Niang, who wasn't in uniform when the game started, dressed at halftime and entered the game, burning his redshirt year to serve as evidence to that fact..."


"...Not happy with the events in the paint in the first half, Morrill added Niang, a 6-foot-9, 240-pound freshman, to the lineup mid-game and the Aggies were assessed a technical foul at the start of the second half because of it.

It was something the Aggies were willing to do, Morrill said.

"We just needed Modou. He was really not sure if he wanted to redshirt," Morrill said of his decision to add a player to the lineup mid-game for the first time in his coaching career.

"He brings some athleticism and some size to the game," Morrill added. "He is raw because he is a freshman, but he is long and he is going to change some shots. We just need him..."

Go here for the full article.

For the record, Bell played eight minutes in the Aggie opener, shooting 1-5 from the floor and grabbing five rebounds. In game two, he saw four minutes of action, shooting 1-3. The game in the article above saw Bell play three minutes, shoot 0-2 and grab two boards.

Gary Wilkinson has put up these numbers: game one - 26 minutes, 10 points, six rebounds --- game two - 31 minutes, 21 points and eight boards --- game three - 17 minutes, 12 points, three rebounds.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Fresno State basketballer in legal trouble

Maybe this is all some sort of error or mistaken identity but, if not, Fresno State's reputation will be sullied once more. I believe it is the first player for Steve Cleveland with legal issues.

Sims had been suspended for not keeping up with his class attendance and coursework but was scheduled to return to practice on Tuesday. This was posted here previously but Sims, being a transfer with but one year of eligibility remaining, was given a chance by Cleveland that most other coaches would not have bothered extending.

Again, if guilty as charged, he has let himself, his coach and his teammates down.

I don't see a possibility of him returning to the team what with his initial academic suspension and now this.

The Fresno Bee will be all over this come the morning edition.

Legal Problems For A Fresno State Basketball Player
Sontaya Rose

Fresno State's long list of legal problems within the athletic department just got a little bit longer. A member of the basketball team is being accused of robbery and assault.

Rekalin Sims was taken into custody on Sunday morning along with two others who Fresno police say beat up and robbed a disabled man.Fresno police say Sims was driving on a suspended license when he and 3 others pulled up in a Cadillac Escalade to a man walking home. Within seconds the encounter turned violent...

...Police caught up with the suspects minutes later in the Wendy's drive thru. The stolen property was also recovered at that time.

Under arrest; the driver 23 year old Rekalin Sims, also facing charges of robbery and conspiracy, 27 year old Christopher Eiland and 18 year old Vicente Loera...

Go here for the full article.

The WAC is getting whacked and other notes

First to some notes before the cleaning lady mistakes them for scribbles to be disposed of properly -- in the trash:

As expected, former Nevada point Ramon Sessions has been sent to the Tulsa 66ers of the Developmental league. He needs to play and hadn't seen any court time in the young NBA season to date. There will be those who will disagree but Sessions going up against opponents in Tulsa will be much better for his progression than if he had returned for his senior season in Reno. Let's hope he keeps his head up and uses the playing time to better his skills set...

...Fresno signs a big who actually plays in the paint!!! Sure, we're being facetious but 6-8 240 Joey Cameron out of Chipola JC (Florida). Raisintown will be Cameron's fourth or fifth stop since high school so hopefully he will finally be in a place and situation that works for him...

...6-11 Shawn Taylor looks to be out of the rotation at Fresno. He's a 6-11 senior (also out of Chipola, like Cameron, and Alabama before that) who originally signed with LA TECH but ultimately landed with Steve Cleveland. Taylor hasn't been able to develop the basketball skills that match his athletic prowess. He has played four minutes this season so far and this is with Rekalin Sims still out for disciplinary reasons...

...Who is going to step forward and become THE point guard at New Meixco State? The position is for the taking. JayDee Luster is a freshman and there should be no expectations that he be able to step right in to the job. Chris Cole has a redshirt season with the system behind him and a fairly successful year at Hartford prior to that -- he would be our pick at this point to win the point guard derby but had five TOs against Duke. Let's call that an anomaly. Fred Peete is putting in major minutes at the point but would be better off as the two guard. Will anyone step up as this is a postion not generally filled by committee?...

...What is up with the WAC this season? Have any of the teams won a game they weren't supposed to so far?

Fresno State loses 89-72 to San Diego State. Hawaii falls at home to San Diego 73-72. Central Florida beats Nevada 63-60. New Mexico State loses 80-72 on the road to Ohio and then gets smacked at Duke 86-61. Mississippi State plays rude host to Louisiana Tech 75-45 and Utah State gets beat by in-state rival Weber State 78-71 in Ogden.

The WAC RPI number is taking an early beating and getting anyone other than the tourney winner into The Big Dance just may require some of the league members to both start coming out on top in some games where such is unexpected but to also be winners in the games that should go into the win column. But it's early and a turnaround is certainly possible. But otherwise, it's going to be a down year for the WAC in men's basketball.

Monday, November 12, 2007

It wasn't pretty

The Duke-New Mexico State game was over pretty quickly although we missed the first half due to thinking and reading the game was going to start at five o'clock. As we tuned in, the halftime score was 47-26 (the final score was 86-61).

The Dookies seem re-energized, both much faster and a better outside-shooting team than last year. Being undersized proved to be no problem for Coach K's squad.

But we're still a bit surprised that the Aggie center tandem of Martin Iti and Hattila Passos were negligible factors in the game.

The foremost factor in the Aggie downfall was a lack of offensive consistency. The NMSU offense play was in sputter mode, looking solid one moment but followed by a number of possessions out of sync. This often led to Blue Devil steals and breakaways.

Stalwart Justin Hawkins scored 16 and added 11 rebounds to earn a double-double for NMSU. He just may give Utah State backcourter Jaycee Carroll some competition for WAC most valuable player. Fred Peete was more off than on.

New Mexico State @ Duke tonight on ESPN2

Give credit to the departed Reggie Theus for the willingness to tackle Coach K and the Dookies in their home lair.

Do catch the game tonight at 5 p.m. on ESPN2 for some early WAC exposure.

Duke is young and not the typical powerhouse we have come to expect each and every season. The NMSU big men may just enjoy an advantage as Duke has but two 6-8 frontcourters and one 7-1 center on its roster.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

WAC teams dropping early games - more news & notes

Anyone know for sure what is up with LA TECH's heralded recruit Olu Ashaolu? After scoring 12 points in the opener, his name didn't appear in the box score of the game against Mississippi State (a 75-45 loss). Coach Kerry Rupp is thin upfront and could really use Ashaolu's 6-7 height and especially his 235 pounds in the paint. Keith Smith is manning the frontcourt, along with Adrian Rogers (bothered by a hamstring injury), but both are 6-7 but lighter than Ashaolu...

...The continuing dominance of Boise State football has put men's basketball Coach Greg Graham into a delicate position. Heck, even the success of the Bronco women's basketball team is adding to the pressure.
Idaho Statesman columnist Brian Murphy has a column about just this subject:

A pivotal season begins for Graham, Bronco men
Brian Murphy
Idaho Statesman

The goal for the Boise State men's basketball program is simple: A spot in the postseason.

No numbers. No slogans. No fancy mottos. The Broncos simply want to be one of 97 teams playing in the NCAA or NIT tournaments in March.

"That's the fans', the media's, everyone's benchmark: ‘Are you in the postseason?' " said coach Greg Graham, who is beginning his sixth season with BSU. "That's the key for us right now."

It might also be the key to extending Graham's tenure. The long-time Oregon assistant is in the fourth year of a five-year contract extension signed after the Broncos' 2004 trip to the NIT's third round.

Since then, Boise State is 47-47.

Absolutely average on the court. And losing the competition for attention in this decidedly pro-winner town.

Attendance last season was 4,393 ­ the first time in three seasons it cracked 4,000 ­ and down about 1,000 since 2003-04. Season ticket sales are up this year to 5,348, thanks largely to an NCAA Tournament tie-in.

Coaches rarely enter the final season of a contract. It's a recruiting liability, so they're either extended or let loose.

Go here for the remainder...

...Graham's team did beat Utah Valley at home with a couple of new names leading the way in overtime. JC transfer guard Jamar Greene and redshirt freshman wing Paul Noonan combined for 11 of the Broncos 14 overtime points as Boise eked out a 73-72 victory...

...New Mexico State's 80-72 road loss to Ohio certainly won't help in any national ranking but it's much more critical if the Aggies don't win the WAC tourney and have to depend on getting selected for an at-large bid to the Big Dance. Ohio University zoned NMSU due to being outsized and lost the rebounding battle 45-38 -- getting just 17 minutes from center Leon Williams who got into early foul trouble. Coach Marvin Menzies' squad shot just 41% from the floor, 6-28 on threes. Steady Justin Hawkins put up 19 points and nabbed seven rebounds but committed seven turnovers. Sophomore guard Jonathan Gibson shot well overall and scored 15 points but was cold from long range going 1-6 on his three-point attempts. Still no further word on the eligibility of freshmen Herb Pope and Jahmar Young...

...Hawaii lost at home on a last second free throw to San Diego thereby spoiling Bob Nash's coaching debut. Bobby Nash was his usual solid self with 22 points and nine boards. Jared Dillinger, a non factor up to this season, scored 14 points and looks to be one of the inspirational stories of the basketball season to date. Here's one article on his emergence. Starting point Matt Gibson missed the game due to a left knee injury but isn't expected to be out for long...

...Fresno State beat Portland in Raisintown 75-68 with the Bulldogs going hot and cold with their jumpshooting. It's obviously early but Steve Cleveland's team must show some power inside and not a close to complete reliance on mid and long range jumpers. Kevin Bell scored 21 points in the next game to lead the team to a win over Liberty. Dwight O'Neil, coming off a redshirt year, has played very well in the opening two games...

...Utah State fell to rival Weber State in another contest that won't help the WAC power rating.

Turnover mania dooms Aggies
Jay Hinton
Deseret Morning News
November 11, 2007

OGDEN — In the first two games of the 2007-08 season, the Utah State Aggies are averaging an abnormal 21 turnovers per game.

The Aggies got away with 19 turnovers and beat Southern Utah on Friday night, but Saturday they turned the ball over 23 times and it cost them in the 78-71 loss to Weber State, which snapped a string of six straight losses by the Wildcats to USU.

"We turned it over time and time again," USU coach Stew Morrill said.
Utah State trailed by four points with 33 seconds left, and DeUndrae Spraggins, who coughed up the ball five times, threw the ball away. Jaycee Carroll was then called for an intentional foul, and Brody Van Brocklin hit one of two foul shots to stretch the lead to five.

Though it didn't matter, the Aggies' final possession of the game ended in a turnover...

Friday, November 9, 2007

News & notes around the WAC

Coach Steve Cleveland is quoted in the Fresno Bee today that suspended forward Rekalin Sims will be back on the team next week. That certainly helps the Bulldogs as Fresno cannot afford any projected starter on its so-so frontline to be unavailable.

Two New Mexico State University players still awaiting the NCAA go-ahead to practice with the team. Both Herb Pope and Jahmar Young remain sidelined and did not accompany the team on a two-game weekend road trip. A ruling is apparently expected on Young fairly soon but Pope's status remains up in the air. The 6-9 Pope is the gem of the Aggie recruiting class, a nationally ranked prepster. It will be interesting to see if Pope starts looking towards the pros if/after he is forced to sit out this season. He's a talent but isn't ready for the NBA -- something that hasn't previously stopped a number of other kids. We don't know his birthdate but if he turns 19...

D.J. Wright, the most heralded recruit of the Kerry Rupp era to date, remains sidelined. He isn't listed on the current Louisiana Tech roster and one report has him taking the SAT test this month. A 6-7 perimeter player from Sault St. Marie, Ontario, Canada, Wright averaged 22.5 points and 12.5 rebounds in high school at Toronto Academy Prep. His absence, if it continues, will delay the Tech basketball rebound in the WAC. But Rupp has a bountiful group already sitting out this season and two or three new starters will be in the opening night lineup next season.

Fresno fans are highlighting a "soft verbal commitment" -- anyone care to define that oxymoronic description? -- from 6-8 240 Joey Camerson out of junior college power Chipola JC in Florida. In 2005, he was rated a four-star prospect and the #21-rated prep power forward in the country. But his history of committing and then de-committing is the kicker -- first he pledged to Clemson, then Auburn, only to announce for Seton Hall before he landed in the junior college ranks. Bulldog fans are really wanting a power recruit upfront -- as is Coach Cleveland -- but history obviously indicates this young man may or may not be matriculating in Fresno next season.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

New Mexico State already has secured a top talent for the 2008-2009 season

What if the WAC college team you lived and died for landed a Top 75 prepster?

For most fans and their teams in the WAC, the response would probably be 'do you think I have stupid written on my forehead?'

What if your WAC team also didn't have to even expend a basketball scholarship to do so?

Again, the typical reply would more than likely be similar to that uttered upon receiving those alluring emails from foreign potentates who are willing to desposit millions in your bank account just because they trust you - 'Get lost shyster' or even something more indelicate.

Well, there is a team in the WAC that has done just this. No, not hooked up with a purported gazillionaire abroad -- but landed a select high school recruit without the expense of a basketball scholarship, at least this season.

Now we want to emphasize we know of no smoke nor any fire nor do we wish to even hint at such. That is not the purpose of this post. However, this is a curious situation and worthy of the bandwidth used in offering what is known.

New Mexico State University has Troy Gillenwater on its roster as a redshirt walk-on freshman. For those of you unfamilair with him, here's a quick Rivals mini-bio:

"A Boston native, Gillenwater has spent time on both coasts during his high school career. He established himself as a national high-major prospect with his stellar play during the spring of 2006. In the winter of 2007 Gillenwater committed to Oklahoma State, only to open his recruitment back up this summer. After playing strong basketball during the July evaluation period, Gillenwater registered a No. 69 ranking in the post-summer Rivals150. Then in mid-August, Gillenwater made a surprise commitment to New Mexico State and enrolled as a redshirt freshman after achieving a qualifying test score."

We can't speak to the New Mexico State tuition policy for out of state students but, in most states, the cost is quite expensive. Maybe Troy Gillenwater is taking minimal units at a therefore low cost. He and another redshirt walk-0n, 7-0 Hamidu Rahman out of New Jersey, are apparently attending a branch campus of NMSU -- not the big one situated in Las Cruces -- so the fees may possibly be lower.

Gillenwater apparently comes from a socio economic background that would probably qualify him for financial aid so maybe that is the source for his tuition costs and living expenses this academic year.

But it is unusual for such a heralded player to not only be redshirting but also not be on athletic scholarship -- although he will certainly be on scholarship next season.

Now there could be another source for Gillenwater's finances -- Rick Isaacs.

Again, we wish to stress we certainly have no knowledge of anything untowards. We don't know any more than what we have posted nor do we know if there is any more than what we have posted.

Here's an article we stumbled across while googling for something else, a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at a portion of the landscape in club team basketball.

With no sneaker support, LA entrepreneur foots the bill
Bob Hohler
Boston Globe
July 24, 2006

LOS ANGELES -- The cellphone rang as Rick Isaacs, an entrepreneur who says he gave up cocaine to help kids chase their basketball dreams, steered his sleek black Mercedes toward the headquarters of his multimillion-dollar business.

The caller wanted one of Isaacs's best prospects, Boston native Troy Gillenwater, to attend a college camp for elite high school players. But Isaacs, who coaches the Los Angeles-based H Squad, one of the nation's top youth travel teams, wanted none of it.

``Troy doesn't have the money," Isaacs told the caller as he weaved his six-figure roadster through traffic. ``And it's not in my budget."

Yet Isaacs's basketball budget is rich enough -- he said he spends as much as $100,000 a year out of his pocket -- that teenagers such as Gillenwater entrust their futures to him. Gillenwater, 17, who played most of the 2004-05 season for Charlestown High School, left his family in Mattapan to travel the country with Isaacs after he rejected a similar opportunity with the Nike-backed Boston Amateur Basketball Club.

In an era when a sneaker company sponsors nearly every major youth travel team, Isaacs is a different breed, a coach who underwrites some of the country's top college prospects without corporate support. He said he does it because he enjoys helping potential stars like Gillenwater -- underprivileged youths with academic challenges -- secure college scholarships and a shot at the NBA.

"This is my cocaine," he said. ``It's my high."

Along the way, Isaacs said, he has helped pay tuition for several needy players to attend Notre Dame Prep in Fitchburg, which specializes in helping borderline students meet NCAA academic eligibility standards. The NCAA permits individuals outside a player's family to pay tuition at private secondary schools as long as the individuals are not agents or connected to college or professional teams.

Isaacs, 48, said he also has provided financial support to the mother of Danny Williams, an Oklahoma State recruit from Los Angeles who suffered a serious head injury last year in a car crash. He said he has helped Davon Jefferson, a hotly recruited star of his current team, travel from Los Angeles to the Patterson School in North Carolina. And he said he has helped provide housing and clothing for Gillenwater.

Go here for the remainder of Hohler's article.

Monday, November 5, 2007

The value of exhibition games

From a coaching standpoint, the value of exhibition games is typically that of seeing your players compete against others under actual game conditions.

However, the final stats compiled from such contests usually don't contain a great deal of value, having come against physically inferior and less-skilled opponents.

Some of things coaches are really looking for are:

*** the implementation of what is taught in practices being put into effect

*** the implementation of individual drills such as proper footwork, positioning and the like being put into effect

*** determining who plays to his limits each and every moment and who's competitiveness level depends on the quality of the opponent

*** who both understands and is willing to play an assigned role and stay within those parameters

There certainly are many more but these are some of the more common ones.

Continually going up against teammates can definitely have a stale effect and other 'tests' such as exhibitions can allow demonstration of who is advancing, whose is in neutral and who is going backwards in real time.

Having written all this, two things jumped out at us from the first series of games involving WAC teams this past weekend or so.

First, Nevada's Armon Johnson seems to have a lock on the starting point position for the Wolf Pack, Sure, such is a brash and very early declaration but such a move would allow star Marcelus Kemp to remain either at the two spot or the wing -- his more natural positions. Forgetting his 22 point total against Seattle Pacific, Johnson played a team-leading 36 minutes with an eight assist to two turnover ratio in his first collegiate start. Those are numbers Mark Fox will enjoy but, of course, the key will be can Johnson keep such stats up as the level of opponents gets better. Keep an eye on this.

#2 involves center 7-0 JaVale McGee. Again, forget his point total as he faced nobody even remotely close to what he will encounter in the WAC but do notice that McGee went two-for-two from three-point range.

Now it certainly could be an aberration -- although he did go 2-3 on his three point attempts last season -- because he shot a miserable .471 from the foul line in 2006-2007, 16-34. But if McGee manages to keep this up, pairing deep shooting range with his close-to-the-basket proficiency would make him an offensive monster.

To utilize a silly -- but heck why not? -- comparison, McGee could be the ebony of Nick Fazekas' ivory contributions to the success of the Nevada the past four seasons.

I can't believe I just typed that. I think we better close it out about right now before this web site sinks even lower and the collective groans from its readers reaches an even louder crescendo.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Four WAC players make NBA rosters

Four former stars in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) have landed on the rosters of various NBA teams. None look to play that much this season and will probably 'enjoy' some court time in the Developmental League but 15-man NBA rosters allow for this.

Nevada's Nick Fazekas made it with Dallas but could see himself in lights in Tulsa while trying to develop his game and resist rustiness. Making it with such a top team is quite the achievement plus his status also indicates how big a jump it is from Division One college basketball to the NBA. A second-rounder who was the 34th pick in the draft, Fazekas has a two-year contract with the first season guaranteed at the NBA minimum $427,163. Dallas holds the option for the the 2008-09 season, at a salary of $711,517. F azekas played in each of the Mavs' preseason gamesm gaining with one start and averaging 7.3 points and 4.5 rebounds in 17-plus minutes a game.

Point guard Ramon Sessions, a former teammate of Fazekas, is currently on the inactive list with Milwaukee and, irony of ironies, he may also be headed to Tulsa to keep his sharpness. 'Sessions passes to Fazekas' may not just be an old Wolf Pack play-by-play phrase yet.

Dominic McGuire is getting a few minutes a game with Washington. He jumped out of Fresno State after playing one season there and is already being lauded as the best defender on the Wizards bench.

The other WAC player who landed on an NBA roster is Boise State's Coby Karl, who is a Los Angeles Laker. Karl was a walk-on in Boise and a NBA free agent so there is a pattern here. Here's an article on his pro debut. He is also making the NBA minimum of $427,163.

Quinton Hosley didn't make the Big Show and is now playing in Turkey. The 6-6 former Fresno Stater plays for Karsiyaka and recently scored 20 points along with 14 rebounds in leading his team to its fourth win.

This is quite an achievement for the underrated WAC. Let's see how many make the jump after the soon-to-be season.

Kemp, Fields benched today for Nevada's first contest

Coach Mark Fox won't need them but Nevada's best player, Marcelus Kemp and Brandon Fields, a sophomore who is bidding for playing time this season, have been benched for today's game against Seattle Pacific.

Darrell Moody, of the Nevada Appeal, has this information is an article today but he provides no details as to why Kemp and Fields will be held off the court.

Obviously, the question of were Kemp and Fields also at the party where three people were killed and that also resulted in Tyrone Hanson being dropped from the Wolf Pack squad due to his attendance, isn't answered but Steve Sneddon of the Reno Gazette-Journal apparently knows the reason for the benchings and provided it in his article today:

"...On Tuesday, however, during the news conference announcing the dismissal of sophomore guard Tyrone Hanson, Fox said two unnamed players would not play in the exhibition after missing class..."

Kemp is a sixth year player -- yes, you read that correctly -- and a senior who should be demonstrating leadership both on and off the court. Fields has major minutes staring him in the face, even more so with the departure of Hanson, but incuring Fox's wrath is not a path towards greater playing time.

Junior Lyndale Burleson is out for the first semester due to academics. Senior Demarshay Johnson is back this season after missing last year because of grades.

The post-Fazekas era is getting wobbly in Reno.

Steve Cleveland suspends Rekalin Sims

Fresno State Coach Steve Cleveland has suspended forward Rekalin Sims for academic reasons. Sims will miss the first few games of the new season and have his status re-evaluated after that.

Per Gary Estwick's article in the Fresno Bee:

"Senior forward Rekalin Sims, a projected starter on the Fresno State men’s basketball team, is suspended indefinitely after failing to meet the program’s academic standards, coach Steve Cleveland said Saturday afternoon.

Sims will miss Sunday's exhibition against Western Washington, as well as Tuesday’s exhibition against Fresno Pacific and the first three games of the season, Nov. 9-11 in the World Vision Classic at the Save Mart Center. His academic situation will then be re-evaluated, with his return to the Bulldogs contingent upon a renewed obligation to course work, Cleveland said..."

This is absurd selfishness on Sims' part. After high school at De La Salle in northern California, he goes prep school for two years in Maine, then spends two more seasons at Salt Lake City College and finally a wasted year at Kentucky before Cleveland took a chance on him as a one-year transfer -- something most coaches will not do.

Sims is supposed to be one of the team leaders. In fact, Estwick did a Fresno Bee article on October 14 about upperclass leadership on this season's Bulldog squad that contained this ironic quote:

"...Sims and Blair are two of Fresno State's six seniors, all capable of making an impact on this season's team. And for Cleveland, their impact starts with leadership..."

Now this may all be quickly forgotten if Sims gets back on track academically but it's not want the Fresno State coaching staff wants to deal with while trying to get the team ready. The Bulldogs' primary weakness this season is going to be rebounding and Sims' absence exacerbates that concern.

Ah, the life of a college basketball coach...