Tuesday, January 29, 2008

We hate beating a dead horse but...

We truly would like to give it a rest but the New Mexico State men's basketball program is becoming the gift that keeps on giving. Not only does Jahmar Young faces two court dates in February but he apparently got into it with a referee on Saturday while trying to demonstrate (on the referee) how Utah State was holding.

Do you think Marvin Menzies ever wonders when he will have his 'own' recruits in Las Cruces and not those of the previous coach?

Jahmar Young suspended for Hawaii game
Jason Groves
Las Cruces Sun-News

LAS CRUCES — New Mexico State University men's basketball coach Marvin Menzies announced Monday that freshman guard Jahmar Young has been suspended for a violation of team rules. Young will not be with the team for Thursday's Western Athletic Conference game at Hawaii, but he will rejoin the Aggies on Saturday at San Jose State.

Young walked off the court during play and left the arena late in the second half of the Aggies' 100-70 victory against Utah State on Saturday at the Pan American Center.

"I talked to him today and he is in violation of team rules because of that situation," Menzies said during Monday's weekly press conference. "It had nothing to do with academics. It's a one-game suspension and he is still in our good graces and everything is OK, but he will have to suffer the repercussions of his actions... Go here for the remainder.

This one should have been a 'Big Monday' game

It's too bad the WAC doesn't have an ESPN contract to provide a game every Monday night because -- despite what would have been it's very late appearance back east -- Boise State and Fresno State tangled in a very good one last night.

BSU men win OT thriller against Fresno State
Idaho Statesman

FRESNO, Calif. — Instead of a sickening feeling of deja vu, the Boise State men’s basketball team finally left the Save Mart Center feeling good.
The Broncos somehow willed their way to a 90-89 overtime win over Fresno State in a game they appeared to have won in regulation and looked destined to lose in overtime before staging a furious comeback to leave a crowd of 10,399 stunned.

Reggie Larry, who scored a career-high 27 points and pulled down 16 rebounds, scored off a designed inbounds play with 6 seconds left to help BSU overcome a pair of four-point deficits in the extra session. And then the Broncos had to wait for Fresno State point guard Kevin Bell, who hit a game-winning shot last year as time expired against the Broncos, to miss a shot in the lane.

Bell’s shot hung on the rim and finally rolled off. BSU forward Matt Nelson swatted the ball toward half court as time expired.

“I thought about last year,” said Bell, who scored 26 points and had eight assists. “It was karma coming back at me. I tried to get to the rim as quick as I could. It felt good...”
Go here for the remainder.

Or if you prefer the Fresno point of view:

Fresno State heartbreaker'Dogs surge to force extra time, only to see last shot miss at final horn
Gary Estwick
The Fresno Bee

Kevin Bell ended Monday night with a slow, frail walk to the locker room as he stared up into the Save Mart Center lights, his eyes not focused on any one object.
Bell had just sprinted nearly the length of the court, on his way to what seemed to be his second game-winning shot at home against Boise State in as many seasons.

This time, though, his layup bounced, and bounced on the right side of the rim. Then it dropped to the floor, ending a Western Athletic Conference thriller with a 90-89 overtime loss to Boise State.

"At first, I couldn't believe it. It took me a second just to get it together and just realize I missed," Bell said later, still visualizing the moment.

And with his miss, a floater in the lane -- a shot he has made many other times this season, including Monday -- Fresno State lost its chance to regain a grip on the WAC regular-season race, falling back under .500 at 10-11 overall and 3-4 in conference...
Go here for the remainder.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Cowabunga! NMSU demolishes Utah State

Yes, Utah States was shorthanded but still nobody expected such a rout. Let's get right into it:

NMSU scores big home win against Utah State
Jason Groves
Las Cruces Sun-News

LAS CRUCES — Perhaps New Mexico State University would take it easy on Utah State on Saturday.

Maybe not.

After all, Aggies head coach Marvin Menzies knows what it's like to play shorthanded.

Utah State head coach Stew Morrill suspended four players for a violation of team rules on Saturday and the Aggies ran Morrill's UtAgs out of Las Cruces, 100-70, in front of 7,014 fans at the Pan Am and countless more on ESPN2.

It was the UtAgs first WAC loss of the season.

"Our hope was with their roster being a little depleted, we could maybe wear them down a little bit and it worked," Menzies said. "I expressed a little statement of sympathy for Stew because I've been in his shoes before and it's not fun but it is basketball and it's a part of the business. You have to do what you have to do to teach these kids lessons."

Saturday's victory also helped NMSU keep Utah State within striking distance in the conference standings. NMSU improved to 11-11 and 5-2 in league play while the UtAgs are now 15-6 and 5-1 in the WAC...
Go here for the remainder.


From the Utah perspective:

Shawn Harrison
Logan Jerald Journal
January 27, 2008

LAS CRUCES, N.M. — A stiff challenge became even harder before the game even began for Utah State.

But the Aggies came out and hung with a talented New Mexico State team for the first 13 minutes. Then it got away and turned real ugly for the visitors.

In a battle of the Western Athletic Conference Aggies, it was those wearing Crimson and White that reigned. NMSU used a surge before halftime to get some breathing room, blew it open to start the second half and cruised to a 100-70 win Saturday at the Pan American Center in front of 7,014 fans.

“We just got our butts kicked, that’s what it boils down to,” USU head coach Stew Morrill said. “It was no fun. They (Southern Aggies) deserve all the credit...”
Go here for the remainder.


Nevada cncludes a very successful road trip.

Pack basketball: Nevada blows past Louisiana Tech Bulldogs

Nevada 83, Louisiana Tech 70
Key stat: 61.2 percent. That was Nevada's shooting percentage from the field as it hit 30 of 49 for the game after hitting 16-of-25 for 64 percent in the second half.
Key play: JaVale McGee's layup to begin the Pack's second half scoring came after Tech had scored the first four points to cut the deficit to seven points and it never got any closer.
Key to the game: It was Nevada's composure and confidence after the lead changed hands eight times in the first 13 minutes of the game and then rallied to lead by 23 points twice.

RUSTON, La. -- The Nevada basketball team is better here than it is at Lawlor Events Center.

The Wolf Pack loses every once in a while in Reno. It never loses at Thomas Assembly Center, or so it seems. The Pack extended its win streak at the arena to seven games as it stopped Louisiana Tech, 83-70, in front of 1,467 fans Saturday.

Nevada's reserves particularly liked the Assembly Center as they combined for 31 points after combining for a total of 12 points in the previous three games against Idaho, Boise State and New Mexico State. Senior David Ellis led the Pack off the bench with a career-high 14 points on 7-of-7 shooting from the field.

Among the starters, JaVale McGee and Armon Johnson had 12 points each and Marcelus Kemp had 11 as no Pack player played more than 28 minutes.

"I subbed a lot for everybody," Nevada coach Mark Fox said. "We didn't have a real sharpness to us early. We paraded them in and out of there before we were able to look a little sharper.

"We had difficulty defending early and we had to play some zone. Eventually, we got geared up. That zone played a big part for us. It allowed us to play two big players and not have to adjust to their smaller lineup."

Nevada was able to go back to its more familiar man-to-man defense after it began taking control in the final minutes of the first half...
Go here for the remainder.


What's the story with Matt Gipson (or 'Honolulu Inc' as we call him)? He was disciplined earlier this year and also in 2005-2006. The starting point and a fifth-year senior, it seems he should be exhibiting leadership, especially so for his younger teammates, but sadly is not doing so.

University of Hawaii burns Idaho, 58-53
Dayton Morinaga
Honolulu Advertiser
January 27, 2008

MOSCOW, Idaho—A disciplined defense — and a disciplined Matt Gibson — led the University of Hawai'i men's basketball team to a 58-53 victory over Idaho last night.

A Cowan Spectrum crowd of 1,518 — the largest home attendance of the season for Idaho — walked into the freezing night in silence as Hawai'i was able to avenge a disappointing loss here last season.

"I thought everybody contributed to this win, that's what makes it a good win," Hawai'i head coach Bob Nash said. "We talked about being at our best defensively for this game, and for the most part, I thought we were."

Gibson led the Rainbow Warriors with 16 points off the bench.

He did not start due to disciplinary reasons, but entered the game with 15:19 remaining in the first half and played extensively the rest of the way.

"This is my job, and regardless of the situation, I'm going to do my part to help this team win," Gibson said.

The 6-foot-5 senior point guard, who was held out of Friday's practice for "insubordination," shot 6 of 9 from the field and passed for four assists in 30 minutes last night.

"It was a big deal at the time, but we weren't going to let it divide us," Nash said. "We addressed the issue, Matt was held accountable for his actions, and he came out and helped us win the game."

Gibson's effort led a balanced Hawai'i attack. Bobby Nash and Jared Dillinger added 12 points each, and P.J. Owsley scored a season-high 10.

The score was tied at 48 with 2:58 remaining, but Gibson's driving layup put Hawai'i up for good at 50-48 with 2:23 remaining. The 'Bows went 8 for 8 on free throws in the final 1:47 to secure the victory...
Go here for the remainder.


Fresno State and Eddie Miller rout San Jose State.

Home cookin' gets it done for Bulldogs
Miller, 'Dogs get back into win column with rout of Spartans
Gary Estwick
The Fresno Bee

Eddie Miller pumped his chest with both hands, glanced into the Save Mart Center crowd and smiled, signaling the return of his jump shot.

Nedeljko Golubovic was more subtle with his celebrations during Fresno State's 75-58 win over San Jose State. The freshman, who earned his second start of the season, supplemented his post moves with several high fives from teammates on the bench.

For the first time in a week, the Bulldogs had something to be happy about. And Kevin Bell had help scoring.

In front of 10,619 fans, Miller broke out of his two-game slump with 27 points, tying a career high.

"It's hard going into someone else's gym and play as well as you want to," Miller said. "You come back home, it's a lot different."

Golubovic added 14 points to go along with six rebounds, and with each basket in the post, continued to develop into another scoring threat the team desperately needs.

On defense, Golubovic did just enough to slow down C.J. Webster, denying him the ball in the first half and in the second half, he helped double-team C.J. Webster. Golubovic had four steals, thanks to intercepting entry passes.

Bell, Fresno State's leading scorer this season, finished with 15 points and eight assists...
Go here for the remainder.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Last night in the WAC

It may be a down year for the WAC but it's also one where almost any member can pull off a surprise -- as you'll read.

Ags sloppy, but extend streak to 10
Shawn Harrison
Logan Herald Journal
January 25, 2008

RUSTON, La. ­ Notching their 10th win in a row was never really too much in doubt for the Aggies Thursday night.

But stretches of sloppiness had Utah State head coach Stew Morrill less than happy following the game. The Aggies did what they had to in beating an undersized and undermanned Louisiana Tech bunch, 71-61, at the Thomas Assembly Center in front of 1,391 fans.

“It’s a win,” Morrill said. “It’s in the right column. We’ll take it.”

The veteran Aggie coach was not up for making any excuses about travel and being on the road for the first time since early December. It came down to taking care of the ball against this Western Athletic Conference foe. USU (15-5, 5-0 WAC) had a season-high 24 turnovers in the game.

“Twenty-four turnovers is unacceptable,” Morrill said. “... By tomorrow I will feel good about, because it’s a win...
Go here for the remainder.


Aggies slip up, lose to Nevada
Jason Groves
Las Cruces /Sun-News

LAS CRUCES ­ For the 6,689 listed in attendance, it was hard to tell which team was fighting for its life in fifth place and which was in second place in the Western Athletic Conference.

Nevada defeated New Mexico State University 87-78 on Thursday at the Pan American Center, beating the Aggies for the fifth time in the last six meetings.

"We didn't start out like we wanted to and they got on a run and that was the difference in the game," NMSU senior forward Justin Hawkins said. "From the opening tip, we didn't play the way we wanted to play as far as tempo."

Neither team could find the mark early, but the Wolf Pack woke up long enough for a 19-5 run in the first half and were never truly threatened, cruising past an Aggies team that lost a golden opportunity to score a big conference win at home. The Wolf Pack shot a blistering 64 percent in the second half to seal the win.

"We tried to change up defenses and mix it up, but they did a phenomenal job shooting the ball," Aggies head coach Marvin Menzies said. "We didn't match their intensity from the beginning of the game."

Wolf Pack freshman point guard Armon Johnson was too much for the Aggies on the perimeter. Johnson scored 20 points and added four assists. Sophomore guard Brandon Fields led the Wolf Pack with 21 points and senior Marcelus Kemp scored 17...
Go here for the remainder.


Here's another look from the same newspaper:

Nevada guards control tempo against NMS
Felix Chavez
Las Cruces Sun-News.

But that's where they stood entering Thursday night's critical Western Athletic Conference matchup with second-place New Mexico State at the Pan American Center.

The Wolf Pack played like the more desperate team, particularly in the first half as it built a 36-25 halftime lead en route to a 87-78 win to get themselves back in the league race.

"We're a young team, but we were resilient tonight," Nevada coach Mark Fox said. "We still had some young moments, but this was a good win for us. We hope to show some consistency."

Nevada, which shot 56.4 percent from the field and 53.3 percent from 3-point range, was simply better than NMSU Thursday night, getting open treys, penetrating to the basket and answering the Aggies whenever NMSU tried to get back into the game...
Go here for the remainder.


From the Nevada perspective:

Pack basketball: Nevada plays spoiler to NMSU
Steve Sneddon
January 25, 2008

LAS CRUCES, N.M. -- What a difference five days made for the Nevada basketball team, which got its chance to ruin a favored home team's evening and enjoyed it.

Brandon Fields scored 21 points, Armon Johnson had 20 and Marcelus Kemp finished with 17 to lead the Wolf Pack past New Mexico State, 87-78, in front of 6,689 fans at Pan American Center on Thursday night. In a game that the Pack, which was a four-point underdog, led by as many as 18 points, Aggie fans looked a lot like their Reno counterparts when Boise State shocked Nevada, 95-80, last Saturday.

"It definitely lifts the spirits of our teammates," Fields said. "We're playing for a WAC championship. After the loss against Boise everybody was kind of down. This got everybody's confidence level back up."

The Pack shored up its defense, which had been drilled by Boise State, and rolled offensively, hitting 31-of-55 from the field for 56.4 percent, which was second to only its 56.9 percent against UC Irvine in the second game of the season. Nevada also hit 8-of-15 shots from 3-point range for 53.3 percent, its highest percentage in any game...
Go here for the remainder.


BSU finally clicks at home, wallops Hawaii
Nick Jezierny
Idaho Statesman
January 25, 2008

With the exception of its win over then-No. 20 BYU, most of the Boise State men's basketball team's best moments have come away from Taco Bell Arena.

The Broncos finally gave their home fans - the 4,896 who came out despite blizzard conditions - a taste of what they've been missing.

BSU defeated Hawaii 95-80 on Thursday, but don't let that score fool you. The Broncos led by as many as 31 points before emptying their bench and settling for a 15-point win, their sixth in the past eight games.

BSU won at Nevada on Saturday by an identical score and showed no hangover from the victory.

"Coach emphasized no letdowns and making a statement at home," senior Matt Bauscher said. "We haven't really played two halves at home all year. I think, despite the last 5 minutes of the game, we owned them from start to finish."

Bauscher scored a team-high 21 points and had eight assists. He made all five of his 3-point shots as the Broncos (14-5, 5-2 WAC) went 14-of-22 from behind the arc to overwhelm Hawaii (7-11, 3-3).

BSU never trailed and the only time the score was tied was 0-0. The Broncos forced 10 first-half turnovers, limited Hawaii to 30.8 percent shooting and made 57.7 percent of their own shots to take a 47-22 halftime lead...
Go here for the remainder.


Three-point Shooting Sinks Men's Hoops at Idaho
Courtesy: San Jose State Athletics

Moscow, Idaho-----Even though C.J. Webster posted his fourth double-double of the season and Mac Peterson came off the bench with a season scoring high, the night belonged to Idaho guard Mike Hall who set a school record with nine 3-point baskets leading the Vandals to a 74-63 win over San Jose State University in a Western Athletic Conference men’s basketball game.

Hall finished with a career-high 29 points missing only one 3-point try in the first half. Guard Jordan Brooks added 19, 17 of them after halftime, for Idaho (5-13, 2-5 WAC).

“We made a lot of mental errors and to Idaho’s credit, they took advantage of them. What was really big for them, was we cut it to it to four (56-52, with 5:32 to go) and he (Hall) made two 3’s, one in transition and one in a breakdown by our defense,” said San Jose State George Nessman. “You have to give Idaho credit in that situation. They played a really composed game.”

The Spartans (9-9, 2-4 WAC) had four players in double-figure scoring with center Chris Oakes and Webster each scoring 14. Webster added a game-high 14 rebounds and was credited with a season-high 6 assists as he and Oakes effectively worked a high-low post game on offense together. The Spartans’ top two inside men combined to make 12-of-17 from the field.

DaShawn Wright added 11 and Peterson scored 10.

“I felt like I was a ‘zone.’ I was pretty wide open tonight,” said Hall, who came into the game making 41.1 percent from three-point range and scored Idaho’s first 12 points of the game, all on three-pointers...
Go here for the remainder.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Were two freshmen the missing components?

Newbold and Wesley. Wesley and Newbold. It sounds like a newly established law firm but in this case it's the duo being the pair that has teamed up with the other three members of Utah State's starting five to take the Aggies back to the top of the WAC.

USU: Is streak due to freshman duo?
Martin Renzhofer
The Salt Lake Tribune

Utah State has won nine consecutive games, including four in the Western Athletic Conference.

Nine games ago, Aggie coach Stew Morrill inserted freshmen Tai Wesley and Tyler Newbold into the USU starting lineup.

Coincidence? Maybe, but one thing is for sure: during this unbeaten stretch, USU's defense and rebounding have vastly improved. In addition, the Aggies (14-5, 4-0 WAC) have become a bit better balanced offensively.

However, eight of those nine games have been in the Smith Spectrum. Beginning today at Louisiana Tech (3-13, 0-4) and Saturday at New Mexico State (10-10, 4-1), Utah State begins a stretch of playing six of its next eight away from Logan...
Go here for the remainder.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Should Nevada fans be concerned?

We came across an item that had Washington state prep backcourter Mark McLaughlin, Nevada's second-best recruit, voluntarily leaving his high school basketball team to focus on academics.

It appears McLaughlin is doing his regular high school curriculum, outside work (which is more than likely a junior college course or two that can be applied to both his graduation and NCAA requirements) and is taking the SAT this weekend.

Light those candles you Wolf Pack fans as a reading into this indicates he's having a bit of a struggle. Now some may argue that the kid deserves kudos for taking on 'extra' academic work and that nothing is askew but that would then raise the question of why is he foregoing the remainder of his senior basketball season in order to do so?

McLaughlin is a good-sized (6-5) shooting guard and for what it's worth, ranked #16 nationally in that category by SCOUT. He originally gave a verbal committment to Washington State but reconsidered after thinking further about the matchup of his skills with WSU's style of play.

6-8 Luke Babbitt (Nevada's top recruit) is far and away already our choice for Freshman of the Year next season in the WAC but McLaughlin should be in the running for a spot on the All- WAC freshman team if he can play his way into the rotation.

Plus, if he can get his high school academics squared away.

Oh them Aggie fans

Hey, gotta give credit where it is due and the Aggies fans who offered "Nice shot Karl Benson" after Louisiana Tech free throws the other night are way ahead towards winning the Fan Cleverness Award in the WAC this season.

Is anyone aware of a WAC team's fandom topping what the NMSU supporters pulled off? If so, please pass such along.

A word of warning

Now some may simply laugh this off but keep in mind that Fresno State gets backcourter Dwight O'Neill back in about two weeks and that addition puts a whole new spin on the Bulldogs.

O'Neill will strengthen the Fresno State starting five thusly:

*** he's the best defender in the backcourt, with the size and strength necessary to battle similarly sized opponents.

*** he will team with Kevin Bell in being the sole Bulldogs who can dribble-drive with effectiveness

*** He will add the dimension of another outside shooter

No, Fresno State is not going to win the league but will certainly be more dangerous come tourney time.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Saturday night WAC-ing

Let's begin with the expected but give credit to Idaho for a fighting spirit. The Vandals are definitely better than last season but not 'there' yet. Coach George Pfeifer is still in need of a couple of frontcourt producers.

Make it nine straight
Shawn Harrison
Logan New Herald
January 20, 2008

It was Jaycee Carroll’s night and he didn’t disappoint.

Before the teams even took the court, the rowdy Utah State students were chanting his name. That would go on throughout Saturday night’s contest and especially at the end.

Carroll become the school’s all-time leading scorer six-and-a-half minutes into the contest, but more importantly to him and the rest of the Aggie men’s basketball team, USU came away with a Western Athletic Conference victory. The Aggies weathered a good start by Idaho, then took control for a 79-64 win at a soldout Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. It was the hosts ninth straight win.

“Obviously we had a little extra motivation with Jaycee’s thing, and the last thing any of us wanted was for him to break the record at home with a loss,” USU head coach Stew Morrill said. “So those two things are done, his deal and my deal. Now we can move on with the season. They’re both really nice. We’re very appreciative of them.”

Morrill became the school’s winningest coach on Thursday.

The 10,270 fans were standing before and after the game. Carroll, who scored 21 points on 8-of-14 shooting Saturday night, was honored at the conclusion of the game. The former scoring leader, Greg Grant, was on hand to shake Carroll’s hand and present him the game ball, along with USU President Stan Albrecht and Aggie Athletics Director Randy Spetman.

“I was really glad to see him here,” Carroll said of Grant. “I thought it was really cool of him to come back.”

Carroll needed just two points to pass Grant (2,127 points). He did it with a 3-pointer that bounced around the rim before falling through the net to the relief of the fans. Carroll now has 2,147 career points.

“It seemed like it hung on the rim forever,” Carroll said. “It looked like it was going to go out, then just kind of dropped. It was almost like the crowd and everyone there willed it in. It went in, we were able to get that done and go and try and beat Idaho...”
Go here for the remainder.


Here is how touted freshman Herb Pope did in his first NCAA game -- which is the primary story. As expected the Aggies beat LA TECH but it was a closer final score than anyone predicted:

Pope makes debut for Aggies in 63-54 win
Felix Chavez
Las Cruces /Sun-News

LAS CRUCES — When freshman Herb Pope signed with New Mexico State in November of 2006, much was expected of him. But life has thrown him a few curve balls from being shot, to battling the NCAA over his eligibility and an arrest near his hometown of Aliquippa, Pa.

However, the 6-foot-8, 230-pound freshman, who has always been confident in his abilities, finally settled with the NCAA and got to practice with the Aggies earlier in the week. Saturday night against Louisiana Tech, he finally got to play in a game, a 63-54 NMSU win against Louisiana Tech, which settled the Aggies record at 10-10.

Pope seemed loose all week and seemed ready to play in warmups on Saturday night. Then when he got into the game with 14:53 left in the first half, to a fairly loud applause, Pope was officially a Division I basketball player and he didn't disappoint...
Go here for the remainder.


We don't know whether or not to call this one an upset at this point but the point difference certainly was a surprise.

Pack basketball: Defense crumbles in loss to Boise State

Nevada coach Mark Fox went into Saturday's game against Boise State with concerns about his basketball team's defense.

The hot-shooting Boise State Broncos left that defense in shambles on the way to a 95-80 victory in front of 8,609 fans at Lawlor Events Center on Saturday night. The Broncos hit 31-of-57 from the field for 54.4 percent, including 13-of-22 from 3-point range for 59.1 percent.

"I have to give the kids from Boise credit," Fox said. "Let's not take anything away from Boise. Now, I wasn't particularly pleased with our defense, but they certainly shot a great percentage in both halves. We didn't guard them in the first half, either.

"I'd like to think that field-goal percentage in the second half and first half were almost identical. So it wasn't like we just didn't defend in the second half. We didn't get a lot of stops in the first half, either. Boise's got a very good offensive team."

The Broncos put away the Pack with an amazing 32-8 run in the second half to go ahead by 19 points at 79-60 on Reggie Larry's reverse layup with five minutes, 15 seconds remaining...
Go here for the remainder.


OF IF YOU PREFER (from the Boise State point of view):

BSU gets first regular-season WAC win in Reno
Idaho Statesman

RENO - Boise State has had its share of road wins this season, but none of them were as impressive as Saturday night's masterpiece at Nevada.
The Broncos put on a clinic in team basketball, handing the Wolf Pack their worst home loss in a six years, a 95-80 romp that stunned a crowd of 8,609 at the Lawlor Events Center.

"Our guys played their tails off," BSU coach Greg Graham said. "I can't say enough about them."

All five Bronco starters scored in double figures and several reserves contributed in BSU's first regular-season win at Nevada since joining the WAC in 2001. The Broncos (13-5 overall, 4-2 WAC) did beat the Wolf Pack (10-7, 2-2) on their home court in the 2005 WAC Tournament in Reno.

It was Nevada's first double-digit loss at home since falling to Tulsa 76-66 on Jan. 3, 2002...
Go here for the remainder.


Fresno State tumbles as Eddie Miller's shooting slump continues:

Bulldogs get run over by the Warriors
Gary Estwick
The Fresno Bee

HONOLULU -- Hawaii had no answer for Kevin Bell on Saturday night, but Fresno State had the same problem with Bobby Nash.

Nash made three consecutive 3-pointers early in the second half, and the Warriors rode the momentum to a 75-62 win at Stan Sheriff Center, keeping Steve Cleveland winless on the island during his Fresno State tenure.

Despite Bell's game-high 21 points, the Bulldogs lost in Honolulu for the fourth consecutive season with Nash being the thorn in their side with 13 points.

Jared Dillinger scored 15 for the Warriors, winners of back-to-back games for the first time this season and suddenly a Western Athletic Conference contender. Fresno State (9-10, 2-3) dropped under .500 for the first time this season.

An announced crowd of 7,420 fans watched Matt Gibson, Hawaii's leading scorer, follow Nash's example by making two 3-pointers during the early second-half run. Gibson, held scoreless in the first half, finished with 12 points...
Go here for the remainder.

OR IF YOU PREFER (from the Hawaii point of view)

UH routs Fresno, 75-62
Dayton Morinaga
Honolulu Advertiser
January 20, 2008

On a night marketed as "Champions on Display," the University of Hawai'i men's basketball team displayed its version of championship form last night.

The Rainbow Warriors combined a careful offense with a perimeter-wary defense in a 75-62 victory over Western Athletic Conference rival Fresno State.

A crowd of 5,447 — the largest home crowd of the season — at the Stan Sheriff Center watched the 'Bows improve to 7-10 overall and 3-2 in the WAC. It also marked the first time this season that Hawai'i won back-to-back games.

"Tonight was just one of those good nights where things were really clicking," Hawai'i head coach Bob Nash said. "We took care of the ball, we made the right reads. We were unselfish ... that's the way you play basketball."

On a night when the UH football, women's volleyball and soccer teams were honored, several 'Bows broke out of shooting slumps.

Jared Dillinger, who had two points in each of his previous two games, led the way with 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting.

"That's what you gotta do — just shoot when you're in a slump like that," he said. "Tonight it worked out well. Everyone was feeling it and we were feeding off each other."

Bobby Nash added 13 points and a career-high eight assists. Riley Luettgerodt had 12 points on 6-of-10 shooting, and grabbed a team-high six rebounds. Matt Gibson contributed 12 points and eight assists...
Go here for the remainder.

Friday, January 18, 2008

The WAC last night

Okay, Utah State tops Boise State by four in Logan -- does this tell us anything? Probably not, and this is not an attempt to devalue the victory. The Aggies should have won and did. Good for them for turning back its upstart competition.

Right now, as indefensible as it may be, we see New Mexico State as the top team in the WAC, primarily because of the return of Hatila Passos and the newly established eligibility of Herb Pope. That's quite the mid conference play talent infusion.

We also see Utah State as #2. The Logan-based Aggies will be getting better and better as conference games continue, seeing as Gary Wilkinson, Tai Wesley and a couple of the other newcomers develop further and mesh even more with vets Jaycee Carroll, Kris Clark and Stephen DuCharme. An all-Aggie conference tourney final looks like what the outcome will be.

Boise holds the third spot and needed an on-the-road win over Utah State after having lost earlier at home to NMSU, a non-Passos and Pope Aggie team. Boise State must take the game in Las Cruces against New Mexico State and the home game against Utah State in order to change our mind. Here's the writeup on last night's Aggie-Bronco contest:

Aggies in a nailbiter
Shawn Harrison
Logan Herald Journal
January 18, 2008

Could it have been any more dramatic?

Not hardly.

A jam-packed Dee Glen Smith Spectrum of 10,116, who were mostly all on their feet for the final seconds, witnessed history at Utah State on Thursday night. Aggie head coach Stew Morrill became the winningest coach ever at the school with his 226th victory, passing E. Lowell Romney (1920-41).

There was no leaving early from this sold -out Western Athletic Conference contest as it went right down to the wire. But in the end, USU was able to turn back a feisty Boise State bunch, 82-78.

“I am very impressed with Boise State,” Morrill said. “We were fortunate to win that game.”

But what about the record?

“I tried to figure out why I avoided talking to you guys about that,” Morrill said. “For 33 years I have coached a team sport and you always talk about we, you don’t talk about me. You talk about your program, you talk about everybody together.

“It’s hard for me to reflect on something individually that has happened, because that is always the way it has been approached.”

The fans almost saw two long-standing school records fall Thursday night. Senior shooting guard Jaycee Carroll came within a field goal of breaking the career scoring record at USU. He finished with a game-best 29 points, to pull within a point of Greg Grant (2,127 points).

“They could have cut off my ceremony by about 90 percent and given him (Carroll) a lot more accolades, but I guess we will have to wait,” Morrill said. “He had an unbelievable game.”

Morrill had wished out loud several times over the past week that both records could fall on the same night, so the attention would be on Carroll. But no such luck for the veteran coach, who was honored right after the game and presented the game ball by university president Stan Albrecht and Aggie athletics director Randy Spetman.

“That was my plan,” quipped Carroll, who was 9-of-14 from the field for the game. “To get real close, then let him (Morrill) have his night. I’m just kidding. It was a good night and a lot of guys stepped up and played well.”

Like Gary Wilkinson, who matched his career-best with 21 points on 9-of-14 shooting and grabbed a team-best seven rebounds. Or Kris Clark, who had a game- and career-high 10 assists and made three free throws in the final 20 seconds.

“Guys wanted to come out and win not only for Stew, but because Boise State is one of the top teams in the conference,” Clark said.

And don’t forget Stephen DuCharme coming off the bench to score seven points and pull down six rebounds...
Go here for the remainder.


Here is another view, this time from the Idaho Statesman.


Nevada had more trouble than expected against Idaho but still won.

Pack basketball: Nevada grits out win against Idaho

There was nothing the Nevada basketball team could do to pretty up the game.

But the Wolf Pack still managed to take a gritty 69-61 win over the Idaho Vandals in front of 7,071 fans at Lawlor Events Center on Thursday night. The Pack went into the game an 18-point favorite, but was never able to open a double-figure lead.

"That was an ugly basketball game, but it is a win," Nevada coach Mark Fox said. "It was a game in which we had 18 turnovers. We let people drive it to the basket so it was just mistakes on both ends that really contributed to the ugly game.

"Give Idaho credit. Their zone got us out of rhythm, but we still shot a solid percentage."

Armon Johnson led the Pack with a career-high 23 points and Marcelus Kemp helped get Nevada off to a good start with 16 of his 18 points in the first half. Brandon Fields and JaVale McGee scored 13 points each.

Demarshay Johnson got his first start since the sixth game of the season and finished with 11 rebounds to help lead Nevada to a 41-28 advantage on the boards. Johnson also had two points on a night the Pack didn't get any scoring from its bench. Fox was more concerned about his team's defense than the fact that no reserves scored.

"We have to commit to be a better defensive team," Fox said. "Every night, we have to defend to have a chance to win. Our defense isn't good enough right now."

Jordan Brooks had 20 points and Michael Crowell scored 16 for the Vandals...
Go here for the remainder.


Even without its best player -- Justin Graham -- San Jose State felled Fresno State in San Jose. To be fair, Bryan Harvey was missing from the Bulldog roster, due to academics but Graham is a more important player to the Spartans than Harvey is to Fresno State.

Sub super against 'Dogs
Fill-in Hill plays a key role as Spartans hold off late Fresno State charge
Gary Estwick
The Fresno Bee

SAN JOSE -- Tyson Parker filled in for Bryan Harvey, who missed his first game of many to come after being ruled academically ineligible this spring at Fresno State.

Jamon Hill, a former starter, took over for injured point guard Justin Graham, San Jose State's leading scorer.

On this Thursday night, experience won. Hill's perimeter scoring, along with a late offensive surge by DaShawn Wright, ended Fresno State's latest bout of adversity with a 69-65 loss at The Event Center.

Hill and Wright scored 14 points with seven rebounds apiece, spoiling Kevin Bell's 19-point effort for Fresno State. Most of their shots came from the perimeter -- open shots.

"I felt I had to take it," Hill said.

Wright did the same, handing Fresno State its first set of back-to-back road losses against its upstate rival since 1991. The Bulldogs, also playing without reserve center Shawn Taylor -- he injured his ankle Wednesday in Fresno and did not travel to San Jose -- fell back to .500 this season and in the Western Athletic Conference (9-9, 2-2).

San Jose State, which has already won more games this season than it did in all of 2006-07, improved to 9-8 overall and 2-3 in the WAC...
Go here for the remainder.

Here is another view from the San Jose Mercury News.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Player academics

The academic status of various players in the WAC has been in the news of late but the focus of this post is Fresno State.

Coach Steve Cleveland just announced that Bryan Harvey, a transfer from Louisville, is academically ineligible for the spring semester -- a situation that certainly impairs the Bulldogs chances of making a move up in the WAC and being one of the teams challenging for the top spot.

Earlier this season, Kentucky transfer Rekalin Sims was also suspended due to a less-than-attentive approach to his schoolwork. Sims eventually was dropped from the team over a legal matter.

Freshman center Brandon Webster missed time earlier when he wasn't hitting the books as much as he needed.

In June 2007, it was announced that Kevin Galloway was leaving the Fresno State program due to academics. He was a transfer from USC and is now at the College of Southern Idaho.

We are always on the lookout for patterns and such and, while unsure if the classroom woes at FSU qualify, three of the players who have fallen short with their academics are transfers from other four year Division One programs.

What is really curious is that these young men apparently performed adequately in the classroom while sitting out the mandated season as a transfer but tailed off soon thereafter. One would think finally getting back on the court would be an even greater incentive and one to hold on to than the promise of eventually being able to play.

Fresno State loses another player

Coach Steve Cleveland has just lost another player with the academic ineligibility of Bryan Harvey. The Fresno bench contains no replacement close to being equal to Harvey so the continuing absence of Dwight O'Neil due to a broken wrist hurts even more now.

Men's player benched for season
Academic ineligibility sidelines Fresno State hoopster Harvey
Gary Estwick
The Fresno Bee

Fresno State sophomore Bryan Harvey is academically ineligible for the spring semester and will miss the rest of the 2007-08 season, men's basketball coach Steve Cleveland said Wednesday night.

Harvey, a Louisville transfer, did not travel to San Jose for tonight's Western Athletic Conference game against the Spartans.

Cleveland said he will not decide who will replace Harvey in the starting lineup until today's 10 a.m. walk-through.

"In the end, a student-athlete has to be accountable for his performance in the classroom, as well as on the floor," Cleveland said. "He did not demonstrate the [academic] performance that was needed. As a result, the consequences are pretty significant to him and this program, but there has to be accountability here."

Harvey averaged 10.6 points and five rebounds in 17 games. He becomes the third Fresno State starter to be rendered inactive this season, all for different reasons...
Go here for the remainder.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Get Karl Benson to a nunnery

Heck, the Utah State fans weren't even anywhere close to that of the fans of their fellow Aggies down Las Cruces way and their "nice shot a--hole" but Commisar Karl Benson has still interceded.

I believe it was the late Dorothy Parker who coined the phrase "if you don't have anything nice to say, come sit by me" -- she would have been persona non-grata at WAC games but, then again, what would she have had to say about basketball itself?

Parker also offered this: "Those who have mastered etiquette, who are entirely, impeccably right, would seem to arrive at a point of exquisite dullness."

Touche Karl Benson.

Chant outlawed in Spectrum
Shawn Harrison
Logan Herald Journal
January 15, 2008

When the Utah State men’s basketball team took on New Mexico State last Saturday, there was something different about the students.

They turned out in force with most wearing blue and were as loud as ever, but one of their chants had been shelved. “You Suck” can no longer be used at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.

The students had used it when a visiting player was called for a foul or after an Aggie opponent made a free throw, adding “still” between the previously mentioned two words.

The Western Athletic Conference has ruled that particular chant is offensive. When the doors opened an hour before tip-off, students rushed to get the best seats in the general admission student sections. They were greeted by a blue note on each chair.

It informed them: “That chants or cheers that contain obscene, vulgar, offensive or threatening language will result in a technical foul on the home team. Please be aware that the ‘You Suck’ cheer is considered offensive according to the WAC and USU will be in jeopardy of a technical foul.” USU’s Scott Randall, who works for the Aggie athletics department in game management, was also on hand to talk with the students as they arrived.

The Aggie students complied with the blue note, but some were not happy about it. Several signs indicated that their First Amendment rights were being violated by the WAC.

“They say it is freedom of speech, but it isn’t in the arena,” USU athletics director Randy Spetman said. “They have a right to come in to the game, but you have to abide by the sportsmanship rules in there.”

Following the Hawaii game at the Spectrum, a WAC referee told Randall the “You Suck” chant could be translated as offensive. Spetman decided to call the league office and inquire. The head of WAC officials called it “borderline,” Spetman said. Spetman then went to WAC commissioner Karl Benson.

“His (Benson) staff called back and determined the chant was outside the guidelines of sportsmanship,” Spetman said. “That we needed to take action to have the students change.” Go here for the remainder.

Beware the superstar

We always read about this phenom going here and that future Hall-of-Famer going there. Well, sometimes these kids turn out well and some aren't all they're blown up to be. Plus, there's also the element of just what a certain kid adds to a team, besides his stat sheet.

The proprietor of the NCAA Hoops Today site offered this nugget the other day -- an important point we often overlook or flat out fail to see.

NCAA Hoops Today
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Arizona at Houston

Every year this game promises to be an exciting up and down affair and every year it starts not so. This game was the crowning of Jerryd Bayless as an impact player, let alone an impact freshman.

Without Bayless Arizona looked like an NITish team, with Bayless in the line-up they looked like a good NCAA team. Bayless was a gift for Kevin O'Neill, because he has a player with similar mentality and toughness, which helps propagate and distribute the toughness throughout the team. And I'm not saying that just because he had a career high of 33 and "owned" the Houston defense for a good chunk of the game.

Unlike Bayless, Mayo does not have this type of an impact on his team, and that is perhaps the #1 lesson that OJ "Ooops, I'm not the next Michael Jordan" Mayo needs to learn.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

One coming and one going

With the return of Hatila Passos from suspension and the injury to Justin Graham, one WAC team has bolstered its forces even more while another just lost its most effective player.

First Herb Pope was finally declared eligible and now Passos re-joins the Aggie frontline so Coach Marvin Menzies is close to being fully loaded with his roster. NMSU just lost to Utah State 74-62 in Logan but has a homecourt rematch coming up on January 26 (scheduled to be shown on ESPN2). That contest may very well be the game of the conference this season in the WAC.

San Jose State just received about the worst news possible as redshirt freshman Justin Graham suffered a broken elbow last night in Hawaii and is out indefinitely. He is the one player the Spartans could least afford to lose being the initiator on offense. There is no one close to Graham's ability as a fill-in on the SJSU roster.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Saturday night in the WAC

Utah State remains the team to beat although the Aggie-Aggie matchup in Logan took place without the newly eligible Herb Pope. So New Mexico State will get a rematch later this season with an infusion of major talent. Let's hope Pope adjusts quickly and experiences little or no rustiness.

Aggies get defensive
Shawn Harrison
Logan Herald-Journal
Sunday, January 13, 2008

After wondering out loud nine days ago if this Aggie team could win a game with defense, Utah State head men’s basketball coach Stew Morrill got an answer Saturday night.

In a battle for sole possession of first place in the Western Athletic Conference at a packed Dee Glen Smith Spectrum, USU held off several New Mexico State rallies and finished strong for a 74-62 win in front of 9,986 fans. With the victory over the other Aggies in the league, the host Aggies are the only school with an unblemished conference record.

“We finally won a game with our defense, and that is what we’ve been harping about,” Morrill said. “We went out and played some defense and held somebody to under 40 percent (on field goals) and under 30 percent from 3-point range.”

NMSU (9-10, 3-1 WAC) shot just 35.3 percent from the field for the game and made just 8-of-30 (26.7 percent) shots from 3-point range.

“We have really been working on our defense and rebounding,” said USU forward Gary Wilkinson, who had a team-best 18 points and eight rebounds. “We wanted to make sure that we could win a game not only with our offense, but by buckling down, playing defense and by getting some boards.”

USU (12-5, 2-0) ended up shooting 45 percent from the field for the game after making 51.7 percent of its shots in the first half. The northern Aggies were 6-of-18 from beyond the arc...
Go here for the remainder of the article


Boise State kept pace as expected facing Louisiana Tech.

Lapses aside, BSU men too much for La. Tech
Idaho Statesman

Winning is never bad, which is why you won't hear anyone associated with the Boise State men's basketball program say anything too negative about the Broncos' 81-66 victory over Louisiana Tech on Saturday night at Taco Bell Arena.
And while the 15-point Western Athletic Conference win had some high spots - the senior trio of Reggie Larry, Matt Nelson and Tyler Tiedeman scoring the team's first 34 points, for instance - there also was a troubling stretch that prevented BSU (12-4, 3-1 WAC) from being all smiles after the win.

"We should have put them away earlier than we did," Tiedeman said.

Tiedeman did his part, making his first four 3-point shots and knocking down three free throws after being fouled on his fifth attempt, to help BSU build a 21-point lead in the first half. Tiedeman had all 15 of his points in the first half when the Broncos led 45-31.

And then there was Larry and Nelson, who had their way with the Bulldogs' undersized posts. Larry showed no ill effects from the knee injury he sustained Thursday night as he matched his career-high total of 25 points. He also had season-highs in rebounds (15) and blocked shots (three).

"Everything was fine," said Larry, who made 10-of-14 shots and had six offensive rebounds.

"I thought he looked good," BSU coach Greg Graham said. "I think he wanted to prove to everyone that he wasn't hurt and he was OK. He more than did that."

Nelson made 8-of-11 shots and finished with 22 points and five rebounds. He also had five of BSU's 21 assists...
Go here for the remainder.


Nevada, fresh off a spanking at San Jose State, had its way after a slow start with host Hawaii.

Nevada hammers cold-shooting UH
Dayton Morinaga
Honolulu Advertiser
January 13, 2008

Playing as if it were a house of straw against the big, bad Wolf Pack, the University of Hawai'i men's basketball team got blown away last night.

The Rainbow Warriors had one of their worst shooting games of the season in a 77-59 loss to Nevada.

A crowd of 4,257 at the Stan Sheriff Center watched the 'Bows fall to 5-10 overall and 1-2 in the WAC.

"It was a nightmarish night," Hawai'i head coach Bob Nash said. "I guess it was just like a road game for us tonight. We just didn't get the bounces that we needed."

The Wolf Pack improved to 8-6 and 1-1. Nevada has won the last four games against the 'Bows.

Matt Gibson had team-highs of 22 points and seven rebounds, but it was not enough to overcome dismal shooting performances from the other four starters.

"It just came down to our shooters missing a couple of jump shots, and that's something that doesn't happen too often," Gibson said.

Bobby Nash scored a season-low eight points on 4-of-18 shooting, including 0 for 6 from 3-point range. Riley Luettgerodt scored a season-low four points on 2-of-7 shooting. Jared Dillinger scored a season-low two points on 1-of-7 shooting, including 0 for 5 from 3-point range.

It was that kind of night.

"Twenty-one 3-pointers and we make three," Bobby Nash said. "That's not a very good percentage ... it was just a bad game."

The 59 points also tied a season-low for Hawai'i, and the 'Bows finished with a .375 field-goal percentage, including .143 from 3-point range...
Go here for the remainder.


As expected, Hawaii took the measure of visiting Idaho despite a tremendous performance by Vandal Jordan Brooks.

Bulldogs push past IdahoMiller, Bell spark Fresno State to home win
Gary Estwick
The Fresno Bee

Fresno State might need to rethink its ambitions for the rest of the season, if its 69-53 win Saturday night against Idaho is what should be expected.

Or maybe Idaho, which finished last during both of its seasons in the Western Athletic Conference, has finally improved.

A Save Mart Center crowd of 9,550 fans watched Fresno State struggle to control the conference's ultimate cellar dweller, an Idaho squad with four wins but an energetic point guard with a power forward's mentality.

Newcomer Jordan Brooks pestered Fresno State for most of the game, but the Bulldogs received 27 points from Eddie Miller to improve to 9-8 overall and 2-1 in WAC play.

Miller and Kevin Bell (17 points) combined for nearly two-thirds of Fresno State's offense. Miller's tied his career highs in scoring and 3-pointers.

The rest of the Bulldogs struggled to score against Idaho's multiple defenses, this season's Achilles' heel. It allowed Idaho to keep the game within reach until the final 3 minutes.

"There's two or three teams that have established themselves as having the most talent, depth and experience," Fresno State coach Steve Cleveland said. "And we're not one of those teams."

Idaho (4-11, 1-3) is still several players away from finishing the season among the conference's top five teams. Fresno State is in that bunch, yet teetering on the edge, as evident by its closest home victory against Idaho since the Vandals joined the WAC...
Go here for the remainder.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Herb Pope can now play

The bells you hear ringing throughout Las Cruces are due to the NCAA finally determining that freshman Herb Pope is eligible to play D-1 basketball this season.

This is from the NMSU web site:

NCAA Clears Herb Pope to Join Aggies
Courtesy: New Mexico State University

Las Cruces, N.M. - New Mexico State Athletics Director Dr. McKinley Boston and head men’s basketball coach Marvin Menzies announced Friday, Jan. 11, that freshman forward Herb Pope has been cleared for competition by the NCAA after an approval of an initial eligibility waiver was granted. Pope can begin competition immediately.

Menzies also announced that he will hand down a one-game suspension to Pope after violating team rules. The NMSU Student-Athlete Code of Conduct states that punishment for all non-felony crimes is left to the discretion of the head coach.

“We are pleased that Herb has been cleared by the NCAA,” Boston said. “We are disappointed that the process has taken this long but felt all along that he would be cleared to play. At the same time I am also supportive of coach Menzies’ decision on a one-game suspension for Herb after a violation of team rules.”

“I’m excited and happy to finally move on and start my college career,” Pope said. “I want to thank the University and everyone that has helped me for all their hard work. I want to apologize to the University, coaches, fans and all the supporters of New Mexico State athletics for my off-the-court actions. I look forward to putting everything behind me and playing basketball.”

We now also know how NMSU has decided to handle Pope's recent arrest. We are not surprised.

Teddy Feinberg/Las Cruces Sun-News receving incoming ordnance

Teddy Feinberg of the Las Cruces Sun-News has been receiving some hot and heavy heat from some Aggie fans primarily because of his article where he revealed the legal imbroglios of New Mexico State basketball players Chris Cole and Jahmar Young.

Aggie Coach Marvin Menzies was also upset that Feinberg didn't contact him to get the NMSU viewpoint prior to the article being printed and posted. Read all about it in the various comments posted in response to Feinberg's two latest blog posts.

Go here

Then go here

We think Coach Menzies is off base on this one. He could have contacted the media about the legal concerns involving Cole and Young prior to Feinberg's learning about them and publishing an article that went online a bit past midnight.

But Menzies chose not to do so, thus failing to get out in front on the situations.

The argument could be made that Menzies would be violating student-athlete confidentiality by doing so but such is a weak one at best. The news was going to get out, period. Menzies decided to remain reactive rather than proactive. Such is a silly and outdated mode in today's 24/7 news world.

Will NMSU whiff on the latest?

It's difficult to sum up the various legal transgressions surrounding the New Mexico State men's basketball squad with some all-encompassing framework but were going to try anyway.

It begins last season with Tyrone Nelson being charged in August 2006 with robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery (he also struck a pizza deliverer) and later on also being indicted for bribery (trying to get someone else to admit to the charges). Nelson eventually pleaded guilty in July 2007.

Neither the New Mexico State school administration, the NMSU Athletic Director, nor the coach at the time chose to impose any sort of penalty on Nelson -- stating he was innocent until proven guilty -- until a final outcome took place with the legal system. Let's just say that this is not the usual policy for an NCAA institution for such serious charges.

Some say other team members were aware of Nelson's guilt from the get-go. Others say he was somehow covering for his brother. The truth is known only to a few people and they aren't talking.

However, McKinley Boston, the NMSU Athletic Director, testified in court as a character witness for Nelson and offered this proposal: a provisional discharge for Nelson which would have allowed him to continue playing basketball at NMSU under a behavior contract.

Boston offered that being able to continue playing basketball would have provided motivation for Nelson to continue in school and graduate.

While never being the eye-for-eye type and quite open to second chances in the appropriate circumstances, Nelson admitted he chose to strike someone and then steal from that person. Hey, we didn't just fall off the turnip truck. If banishment from being an Aggie basketball player reduced or eliminated his motivation to continue in school, well, we're not hauling out the tissue to dab our eyes or his.

Plus, it's scarlet-colored embarrassing for a school administrator to offer such a weak proposition. It might be different if Nelson had immediately copped to his actions but, again, he chose not to do so, wishing to play out the string so he could stay on the basketball court for his junior season.

We wish him no harm nor ill will but his actions eliminated his opportunities to represent a state educational institution. Additionally, nowhere in all of the various media reports is any apology to the person he harmed.

On to Herb Pope. He was arrested in late December and charged with DUI, underage drinking, and reckless endangerment. This after the NCAA still taking its own sweet time in determining if Hope is eligible to play or not this rapidly concluding season. One of the issues here is that Pope's scrape with the law took place with the Tyrone Nelson matter still fairly fresh in people's minds -- rather than an empty vacuum.

The charges aren't ultra-serious although Pope should consider himself blessed for not having killed or injured someone while behind the wheel. Pope was found unconscious in a car sitting in a driving lane -- Business Route 60.

If found guilty (it sure seems like the outcome), he is deserving of a second chance as would anyone in his situation as a first offender. But a second chance based on counseling and some sort of a monetary fine plus a suspension of his driving privilege for a period of time.

Pope has been suspended indefinitely for violation of university and team rules.

Then NMSU starting center Hatila Passos and reserve guard Paris Carter were suspended around December 21, 2007 for violations of undisclosed team rules. Supposedly both these suspensions have to do with academics and not civil/criminal legal infractions so are certainly not in the same league as Nelson's and Pope's circumstances. But they get a similar mention -- right or wrong -- when player woes in Las Cruces are discussed.

Most recently, Aggie players Chris Cole and Jahmar Young were arrested on separate issues.

Cole failed to be at a December 7 court appearance scheduled to determine why he had failed to pay off fines incurred for driving without a license and without headlights -- hence a bench warrant was issued for his arrest. Obviously this is not any sort of a major offense, more thoughtlessness and possibly stuidity on his part. But again, the recent history regarding the negativity that actions of members of the New Mexico State University men's basketball team have cast over the program catches him rightly or wrongly in its clutches.

It is different for Young.

He is accused of exposing himself to a woman in July 2007 and offering a sum of money to her if she would perform a sex act on him. The woman apparently filed the complaint in September but more is not yet known regarding the delay between July and September. Young was give a November 28 court date but failed to appear and then became the subject of a bench warrant.

This is a far, far serious charge than Cole's situation and one that, if convicted, could possibly result with Young having to register as a sex offender. This is also a situation that won't sit well with a number of the members -- faculty and students -- in a college environment as the event is described as having taken place on the NMSU campus.

Here's Coach Marvin Menzies on Young's charge: "...At that point, if it goes further or if it disappears, we will take the next step. If it disappears, I don't have anything to judge J.Y. on. If it becomes a court issue and a social misconduct issue, then there will be some discipline put forth. From talking to J.Y., I'm interested to see where this thing goes."

These players were recruited to the university by former Coach Reggie Theus -- not that this absolves Menzies from his responsibilities in playing a role in determining whatever punishments, if any, are ultimately determined by the school in each player's situation. But there is a question of how much authority Menzies has in these matters.

The one constant in all of these legal cases is McKinley Boston. His behavior in the Tyrone Nelson situation goes beyond the worst in enabling. There is no excuse for his actions there -- they were flat out wrong.

Let's see how he handles the Herb Pope situation, albeit one far less serious than Nelson's.

With Passos and Carter, it is entirely an internal matter and should be included along with the others -- at least with what is currently known.

Cole's situation in and of itself is again not anything serious. That is, unless one looks at a particular pattern forming.

As for Young, obviously the truth needs to be determined. It may be an extremely serious matter , be a 'he said-she said' or be bogus. But an arraignment indicates the district attorney in Las Cruces isn't taking the matter lightly.

What the powers-that-be at New Mexico State University do, or not, if the case is pursued by authorities will be quite telling. If indeed that is the scenario, will it be Tyrone Nelson part deux or an adherence to a greater integrity?

An update on Nick Fazekas

Nick Fazekas hasn't quite had his professional dreams work out as yet but he's polishing his act in the hopes of landing both a roster spot and playing time in the NBA.

It's interesting because Fazekas could land a substantial contract if he chose to head to Europe. His game would be a nice fit overseas so if the NBA doesn't say 'yes' in a couple of season look for Fazekas to get a passport.

Fazekas has positive outlook while in NBA Development League
Paul Willis , Special to the Rocky Mountain News
January 10, 2008

Nick Fazekas' first trip to his home state as a pro basketball player has been moved up by more than two months.

Depending on the perspective, that could be a good thing or a bad thing.

Fazekas, who grew up in Arvada and played at Ralston Valley High School before four stellar seasons at the University of Nevada, was chosen by the Dallas Mavericks in the second round of the 2007 NBA draft.

The Mavericks aren't scheduled to come to Denver until March 27, so local Fazekas fans presumably were going to have to wait until the NBA season was nearly five months old before witnessing the 6-foot-11, 235-pound forward in a pro uniform.

Instead, he'll be here today, playing for the Tulsa 66ers when the NBA Development League team plays the Colorado 14ers at 7 p.m. at the Broomfield Event Center.

"It's not too big of a deal," Fazekas said. "I look forward to seeing my family and my family seeing me play in a pro game. That'll be fun for me..."
Go here for the remainder.

Coby Karl sticks with the Lakers

So the undrafted one gets to remain in the Big Show for the remainder of the season. A major hat tip goes to Coby Karl for his achievement, especially so for maintaining a spot on one of the better teams in the NBA.

Coby Karl's contract with Lakers guaranteed
By sticking with L.A. until Thursday, he is assured of making $427,163 this season.
Idaho Statesman

Coby Karl had one of the best games of his short NBA career Wednesday night, then he received some great news Thursday.

By sticking with the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday, Karl's contract becomes guaranteed, meaning the former Boise State standout will receive his full salary no matter what happens the rest of the season.

Karl, an undrafted free agent, will make $427,163, which is the league minimum for rookies.

"I'm pretty happy because not many guys make a team for the whole year," Karl said. "And it's not just any team, it's a team that's been pretty successful. It's fun to be around a winning group..."
Go here for the remainder.

Idaho gets a win

We've had some fun at the expense of the Vandals at times so here's some payback: Coach George Pfeiffer's team nabs a league win over visiting Louisiana Tech.

Vandals down Bulldogs, 85-78
Courtesy: Idaho Athletic Media Relations

MOSCOW, Idaho – Jordan Brooks and Mike Hall combined for 42 points and the University of Idaho men’s basketball team shot 51-percent from the floor in an 85-78 victory over Louisiana Tech Thursday.

The win was Idaho’s (4-10, 1-2) first of the early Western Athletic Conference schedule and its first ever over Louisiana Tech (3-11, 0-2).

“This was an offensive game,” Idaho coach George Pfeifer said. “It was definitely somebody trying to outscore somebody. What was impressive to me tonight was every time they made a run at us, we answered the run. We showed some patience of offensive.”

Clyde Johnson, who started his first game of the season, added a career-high 19 points on 8-of-10 shooting, which included a 3-of-3 performance from beyond the 3-point arc. Brooks added 10 rebounds to earn Idaho’s first double-double of the season and scored 11 of his 21 points from the free throw line. He also tallied five steals and four assists. Hall hit 50-percent of his shots from the floor and from beyond the arc and his four 3-pointers give him 21 in the last five games. Brandon Brown added 12 points off the bench.

The Vandals shot 29-of-57 from the field and 9-of-19 (.474) from beyond the arc. They also hit 18-of-24 free throws and outrebounded the Bulldogs by seven. Idaho also tallied just nine turnovers, which included just three at halftime.

Louisiana Tech scored first in the contest and the scored was tied three times in the first three minutes before Idaho pulled ahead for good at 8-6 with 16:28 remaining. The Vandals moved ahead by seven at the 11:32 mark but the Bulldogs fought back to tie the score on two occasions. With the score tied at 22, Idaho put together a 10-0 run and eventually moved ahead by 12 at 40-28 with 2:05 remaining. Louisiana Tech scored the final eight points of the half, including a 3-pointer at the buzzer, to pull within 40-36 at halftime.

The Bulldogs continued their streak and eventually scored 11 unanswered points to pull within 40-39 at the start of the second half. Idaho responded with six points and eventually moved ahead by 11 after hitting 3-pointers on three consecutive possessions. Idaho’s lead was 71-61 with 8:12 remaining when Louisiana Tech put together a 10-2 run to pull within 73-71 with 4:35 remaining. Idaho responded with the next four points and later hit 7-of-8 free throws in the final 1:04 to hold on for the 85-78 victory.

The NMSU Aggies pull it off

Coach Marvin Menzies' squad did a number on Boise State Thursday night and in Boise. 33 in particular from freshman Jahmar Young.

The Aggies also out-rebounded the Broncos 41-29 and committed just eight turnovers to 16 for BSU. Plus, this all took place with ever-reliable Justin Hawkins shooting an inconceivable 3-18 from the floor. New Mexico State win with its best player having the poorest shooting night of his career!

NMSU just may be tougher this season than given credit for to date -- ahem, as long as bail can be met (sorry, couldn't resist):

BSU men bounced from WAC's top spot
Idaho Statesman

The Boise State Broncos contained Justin Hawkins, New Mexico State's All-WAC forward.

They didn't have to deal with starting center Hatila Passos, backup guard Paris Carter or highly touted freshman recruit Herb Pope, all of whom are dealing with academic issues.

Still, Boise State dropped a 76-73 decision Thursday night in Taco Bell Arena because a freshman playing his fifth college game dropped 33 points on a stunned Bronco defense.

On a sprained ankle, no less.

Jahmar Young - who bonded out of jail Monday after being arrested for missing a hearing on an indecent exposure charge from last summer - put the Aggies (9-9, 3-0 WAC) alone atop of the WAC.

Young didn't play in Saturday's win over Fresno State after he sustained a high-ankle sprain a week ago at Idaho. He had scored 37 points all season.

"He did a number on us," BSU coach Greg Graham said. "We weren't sure if he was going to play, and he had a big, big night."

That's what was frustrating to the Broncos and 7,054 fans. BSU held Hawkins - a 19-point scorer - to 3-of-18 shooting and 14 points. The Broncos also shot 49 percent from the field but still came up short. The loss snapped a five-game winning streak by BSU (11-4, 2-1) and knocked the Broncos out of first place in the WAC...
Go here for the remainder.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Biggest game of the night: NMSU at Boise

The most important game of the night in the WAC -- that is in terms of how the WAC league games eventually play out this season and obviously keeping mind that it's early -- is New Mexico State against Boise State up in Idaho.

The Broncos own a home victory against San Jose State and a road win up in Moscow against Idaho to date so NMSU will actually be the first full-fledged test for Coach Greg Graham's squad. Yes, the Aggies are down in players but retain enough talent and firepower to give Boise State a solid challenge.

Big Matt Nelson will actually be facing off against someone bigger than him in Martin Iti, whose best talent is shotblocking. That will be a key duel. Also watch for how Reggie Larry performs. Boise wins if these two win their respective matchups.

New Mexico State has a road win against Idaho and a home victory over Fresno State so tonight's contest is its biggest challeneg this early in league play. Justin Hawkins will fill the stat sheet as usual so the key for the Aggies is how Jonathan Gibson performs. If he can get into the high teens or the twenties in scoring without having to take a same number of shots to do so then NMSU will be in good position to come away with a win. Also, Iti must remain out of foul trobule.

The WAC next season

Sometimes we get way ahead of ourselves but every college basketball coaching staff projects its rosters at least two or three, if not more, years out. It's necessary in order to determine what player losses will be taking place, what positions will need upgrading or reinforcing, how to keep the proportionate amount of freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors on the roster, etc.

We took a moment and drew up the following -- a projection of mainstay players departing the league at the conclusion of the 2007-2007 season. As is typical, a large number of talented players will have completed their athletic eligibility, including:

Boise State - no Matt Nelson, no Reggie Larry, no Tyler Tiedeman, no Matt Bauscher in 2008-2009 (this foursome make up four fifths of the Bronco starting five)

Fresno State - no Eddie Miller, no Kevin Bell, no Hector Hernandez, no Alex Blair in 2008-2009 (here are three, and sometimes four starters)

Hawaii - no Matt Gibson, no Jared Dillinger, no Riley Luettgerodt, no P.J. Owsley, no Bobby Nash in 2008-2009 (this is Hawaii's current starting five)

Idaho - no Michael Crowell, no Clyde Johnson, no Darin Nagle in 2008-2009 (two starters and a 20 mpg. player)

Louisiana Tech - no Keith Smith in 2008-2009 (he is a starter)

Nevada - no Marcelus Kemp, no David Ellis, no DeMarshay Johnson in 2008-2009 (plus JaVale McGee will be getting NBA overtures but should play another season)

New Mexico State - no Justin Hawkins, no Martin Iti, no Hatila Passos, no Fred Peete in 2008-2009 (there are three, sometimes four starters in this bunch)

San Jose State - no Jamon Hill, no Kevin Fleming, no Lance Holloway in 2008-2009 (no starters)

Utah State - no Jaycee Carroll, no Stephen DuCharme, no Kris Clark in 2008-2009 (three starters, including the probable league MVP)

Obviously, talent will be incoming. Nevada has a nationally-ranked recruiting class coming into Reno. LA TECH has a number of talented redshirt transfers itching to get on the court next season.

Anyway, this gives you a sense of who is on their last go around the league. But as coaches always insist, keep in mind the games are played on the court -- not in anyone's imagination.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

We were hoping this game would provide an RPI boost...

It was fairly close at times due to a couple of homecourt rallies but the outcome of last night's St. Mary-s - Fresno State game did not give a boost to the Bulldog or WAC RPIs.

Fresno Sate's lack of an inside offensive game and defense continues to haunt Coach Steve Cleveland.

Past no blast for men's basketball
Fresno State catch that got away returns, helps Saint Mary's to victory
Gary Estwick
The Fresno Bee

Diamon Simpson returned to the Save Mart Center on Tuesday night, his first time back since committing to Fresno State as a high school senior.

Simpson never made it here during the fall of 2005, choosing to back out after recruiting violations ended Ray Lopes' coaching tenure. So his 17-point, six-rebound performance in Saint Mary's 77-68 win over Fresno State allowed the crowd of 9,610 fans to wonder what kind of contribution he could have made in the Valley.

He accomplished enough in the nonconference game to impress Fresno State coach Steve Cleveland, who took over for Lopes after Simpson, a former Bay Area prep standout, turned his interest to Saint Mary's.

"He's just so bouncy," Cleveland said. "He's around the rim. He can take it from 12, 14 feet and put it on the floor."

Simpson's effort spoiled a late Fresno State rally and Bryan Harvey's 20-point performance, temporarily ending what has been a trying season offensively for the Louisville transfer. Harvey's totals were both game and season highs...
Go here for the remainder.

Reno Gazette-Journal features San Jose State's Justin Graham

It is still a work-in-progress but the transformation, makeover, blow it up and start from scratch revolution in the San Jose State men's basketball program is finally displaying signs of progress, both on and off the court.

The epitome of such is redshirt freshman Justin Graham as you will read below.

Yes, there will be starts and stops, potholes and bumps -- especially this season -- but the academic horrors and the knowing it's going to be a last place finish or close to it, along with zero hope of any betterment, has been put to rest, exorcised if you will.

WAC basketball: Graham's shots, study habits, are tops in WAC

Maybe Justin Graham isn't the perfect freshman basketball player, but he's pretty darn close.

As a redshirt freshman point guard, he has made a major impact for the San Jose State Spartans, who host Nevada on Thursday. He's leading the team in scoring, at 13.2 points a game, and has helped them to a 7-7 overall record, after they won all of five games last season.

And he could receive his bachelor's degree by December in his sophomore season. And he is expected to graduate no later than spring 2009. Still, performances like his 29 points in the Spartans' 85-79 home loss to Hawaii last Saturday are catching most of the attention.

"He's going to be one of the bright stars in this league for a while the way he's playing," said Hawaii coach Bob Nash this week. "He's an unbelievable freshman to come in and get 29 points against us."

The 6-foot-4 Graham's statistics for the season are staggering, considering he's averaging only eight shots from the field per game. The kid with the flowing brown hair has hit 56-of-112 shots from the field for 50 percent, including 10-of-22 from 3-point range for 45.5 percent. He's at 3.5 assists and 2.0 steals. Plus, he's managed to keep his humility...
Go here for the remainder.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

It's getting darker down Las Cruces way

NMSU Coach Marvin Menzies is inadvertently a supreme example of why new coaches often want 'their' players, ones that they personally recruited, on the roster -- and we are talking about just off-the-court situations here. What a rough year he has endured so far after inheriting Reggie Theus' roster.

BREAKING: Two Aggie basketball players arrested on bench warrants
Teddy Feinberg
Las Cruces /Sun-News

LAS CRUCES — Two New Mexico State Aggie basketball players have been arrested on bench warrants for failure to appear in court on charges that include separate incidents of driving without a license and indecent exposure, according to court records.

Guard/forward Jahmar Young and guard Chris Cole posted bond on Monday and were no longer being held at the Dona Ana County Detention Center, according to records. It was not clear when the two were arrested.

Young was charged with one misdemeanor count of indecent exposure after an on-campus July 31 incident, while Cole was charged with driving without a license and without headlights in a separate incident.

According to court documents, a complaint was filed against Young in September regarding the July incident. He allegedly exposed himself to a woman and offered her money is she would perform a sex act on him.

Young was scheduled to be arraigned on Nov. 28 and a bench warrant was later issued for his arrest after he failed to appear.

Court documents state that Cole was scheduled to appear at a hearing on Dec. 7 to show cause for failure to pay fines for the moving violations. A bench warrant was later issued...
Go here for the remainder.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

So where are we at?

No, I'm not asking for you to check your GPS device, I'm talking about the state of the WAC after the first week of conference play. Let's check-in on this past weekend, keeping in mind that Utah State and Nevada -- the most interesting matchup -- was postponed when Mother Nature developed a case of WAC conference interruptus.

Go ahead and toss them daggers dipped in bias at my armor-plated bias but redshirt freshman Justin Graham went for 29 points against Hawaii on Saturday night--- hands down the best performance this weekend. A senior laden Hawaii squad just could not handle him as he went over, under, around and through the Rainbow Warriors, earning an amazing 17 fouls shots. Graham wasn't necessarily en fuego, he was simply unstoppable.

But yes, the Spartans lost.

Utah State's Tai Wesley, yet another freshman, did Hawaii in earlier in the week with an outstanding performance of 27 points.

On to this weekend:

Justin Hawkins has been an Aggie mainstay since he stepped foot on the court in Las Cruces but Jonathan Gibson has been the biggest more-than-pleasant surprise so far this season for Marvin Menzies. The Aggies have enough role players to be formidable if Hawkins and Gibson can keep up the scoring.

New Mexico State 77, Fresno State 67

N.M.–New Mexico State men’s basketball senior guard/forward Justin Hawkins had a game-high 26 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Aggies a 77-67 win over Fresno State, Saturday, Jan. 5 in Las Cruces.

In NMSU’s WAC home opener, sophomore guard Jonathan Gibson added 17 points while senior guard Fred Peete recorded 10 points en route to the Aggies snapping a three-game losing streak to Fresno State.

For the Bulldogs, senior guards Kevin Bell scored 19 points and Eddie Miller provided 11 points.


Credit Bob Nash's team for playing Utah State very tough in Logan and for beating SJSU in San Jose. Maybe the Rainbow Warriors are jelling and can remain effective with its quartet of fine jump shooters and one big man for the remainder of conference play.

Hawai‘i 85, San Jose State 79

SAN JOSE, Calif. - The University of Hawai`i men's basketball team handed first-year head coach Bob Nash his first Western Athletic Conference victory and picked up its first road win of the year by holding off San Jose State, 85-79, Saturday night at The Event Center.

Hawai`i led by double-digits for much of the game and held off a late Spartan rally to improve to 5-9 overall and 1-1 in the WAC. San Jose State dropped to 6-7 overall and 0-2 in the WAC.
UH continued it dominance over San Jose State with its 10th straight win over the Spartans and fifth straight in San Jose. Hawai`i has not lost to the Spartans since 2003.

Matt Gibson led UH with 18 points, eight assists and five rebounds before fouling out in the waning minutes. Bobby Nash and Riley Luettgerodt each poured in 14 points, while Jared Dillinger added 13.

UH's win offset a stellar performance by San Jose State's freshman guard Justin Graham who finished with a game-high 29 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the field and 14-of-17 shooting from the line


The best part about the season Greg Graham and the Broncos have enjoyed so far is that any rumbling about the need for a men's basketball equivalent of Chris Petersen @ BSU has been muzzled. Let's hope it never resurfaces as Graham, one of the good guys in college coaching, is as fine a coach as can be had up Idaho way. Whether it's Nelson Larry or Larry Nelson, the Boise Staters have a formidable duo in the frontcourt, one that has carried the team to date with no sign of abatement.

Boise State 95, Idaho 84

MOSCOW, Idaho (AP) -Matt Nelson and Reggie Larry scored 25 points each Saturday as they led Boise State to a 95-84 win over Idaho.

The victory extends the Broncos' winning streak over the Vandals to 13 straight games.

Paul Noonan added 12 points for BSU (11-3, 2-0 Western Athletic Conference).

The Vandals (3-10, 0-2) were led by Jordan Brooks, who scored 22 points. Mike Hall added 20 for UI.

Idaho tied the game at 56-56 with 18:25 left in the second half following a pair of Mike Hall free throws that came as a result of a technical foul by Larry. The Vandals then took the lead on a Brooks basket, 58-56, with 17:58 left.

But that was it for UI. The Broncos went on a 15-2 run that featured three Larry 3-pointers that built the BSU lead to 73-60.

Go here for complete game writeups.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Nevada - Utah State game to be re-scheduled

Looking at this from another angle, it appears that Nevada benefits more from having this game re-scheduled. Utah State is playing very well right now as is the Wolf Pack but Nevada's 'kids' -- so to speak -- should be even more experienced after having played a number of conference games. Plus, senior point Lyndale Burleson will have additional games under his belt after returning from academic suspension and forward Richie Phillips will have more time to get back into playing shape after his injury. Yes, the 'kids' on the Aggie squad will also be more experienced but it seems such is not currently a hindrance for them anyway.

Severe Weather Postpones Nevada-Utah State Basketball Game
Courtesy: WAC

Due to severe snow storms in Reno and the surrounding areas, the Jan. 5 men's basketball game between Utah State and Nevada has been postponed. The conference opener for the Wolf Pack will be rescheduled for a later date to be determined. The Utah State men’s basketball team was unable to travel to Reno on Friday due to the weather conditions.

The Reno area is expected to get periods of moderate to heavy snow which will continue from this evening into Saturday morning with snowfall rates up to three inches per hour possible. Forecasters warned that the winter storm could bring hurricane force winds and several feet of snow across the Sierra and western Nevada.

“The safety of the student-athletes, coaches and staff on both teams as well as the safety of our Wolf Pack fans is our highest priority, and we will work to reschedule this great WAC matchup...

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Is it an advantage or not?

We came across this item on the Utah State men's basketball site:


"Utah State is 5-0 since head coach Stew Morrill inserted Tai Wesley and Tyler Newbold into the starting lineup before the Cal State Bakersfield game. Prior to the that game, Morrill had started a total of three freshmen in his first nine-plus years in Logan in Tony Brown, Nate Harris and Jaycee Carroll."

Wesley is averaging 11.6 points and 7.2 rebounds in his last five games, while shooting 76.5 percent from the field. He is a 21-year-old freshman.

Newbold -is averaging 5.2 points and 3.2 rebounds as a starter. He is also a 21-year-old freshman.

Name any other team with two freshman in their twenties?

Plus, believe it or not, junior Gary Wilkinson is 25 while senior Jaycee Carroll is 24. Even sports trivia masters would have difficulty coming up with a college team sporting a newcomer junior college transfer who is a quarter of a century old.

Obviously, thse young men are these ages primarily due to serving a mission as part of their LDS faith.

An 'older' player (it's really difficult to twine old with someone in his 20s) is typically more settled and mature, with a body grown into itself -- both a height/ weight and an athletic package of strength/speed that more than likely has reached its best.

So is this an unfair advantage in favor for athletic programs that recruit a high percentage of LDS members?

There is also an argument to be made that two years away from practicing basketball fundamentals is a major hindrance in skill development, along with no participation in any sort of an organized weightlifting program.

It's an aspect that seems to cut both ways. Plus, many of the LDS players either enter their two-year mission after signing with a college basketball program or play an initial college season and then go on the mission, forcing their coaches to plan out their recruiting at least a couple of season off into the future. Many college coaches prefer not to have their recruiting cycles disrupted so.

Speaking of Wilkinson, here's a thorough background story -- an intriiguing one at that -- on him:

Making large strides
Shawn Harrison
Logan Herald Journal
January 2, 2008

Gary Wilkinson has come a long way — on and off the basketball court.

The Aggie forward is already becoming a fan favorite. Chants of “Ga-ry, Ga-ry” have been heard several times this season. The junior is one of just three Utah State athletes to start all 15 games so far and is second on the team in scoring with 11.9 points per game.

It all can be a bit hard to believe if you go back 10 years. You see, Wilkinson didn’t play high school basketball. He didn’t even graduate from Bingham High School, where he had attended.

“To be frank about it, why I didn’t play high school ball is I had a bad attitude,” Wilkinson said. “I didn’t have an attitude that was conducive to being a coachable player, to being a player that a coach would want to put on the floor. I really didn’t have a strong desire to play.”

That sure has changed.

Aggie head coach Stew Morrill has praised Wilkinson for being “very coachable.” USU assistant coach Tim Duryea, who is in charge of the big men, shared similar feelings.

“Gary is an eager learner, very attentive,” Duryea said. “... He’s a guy that really listens to you. Some guys act like they are listening, but he listens to you, takes it in and tries to put it into habit.”

Sounds like a totally different person than the guy who sat on the bench in junior high, didn’t try out as a freshman, then was cut his sophomore year because “I wasn’t willing to do what the coach asked,” Wilkinson said. And don’t even ask about his junior and senior years of high school.

Not that the South Jordan native won’t tell you about dropping out of school because the “scene wasn’t fitting for me.” It’s just that he was hanging out with friends, playing his guitar in a band and doing some DJ work. Basketball was not on his mind. In fact, he wasn’t sure where he was going in life...

Go here for the remainder.