Friday, February 29, 2008

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride - WAC style

It was yet another wild night in the WAC Thursday evening -- here you go.

This wasn't unexpected but was closer than many thought:

BSU men all alone in first place in WAC standings
The Broncos win at SJSU for the sixth straight time and turn their attention to Hawaii.

SAN JOSE, Calif. - Redshirt freshman Paul Noonan gave the Boise State men's basketball team the lift it needed, then senior Tyler Tiedeman strapped the Broncos on his back down the stretch to help them earn an important win Thursday night.

BSU scored a 74-68 victory over San Jose State in front of 2,247 at The Event Center. The win, coupled with New Mexico State's loss at Nevada, puts the Broncos (21-7 overall, 11-3 WAC) in sole possession of first place.

"It's definitely a big win," said Noonan, who scored 11 of his 13 points in the first half and helped BSU erase a seven-point deficit.

The victory could be a costly one, though. Senior Matt Nelson, who scored 12 points, seven rebounds and a team-high four assists, left with 1 minute, 35 seconds to play with an ankle injury. His status for Saturday night's game at Hawaii is uncertain.

"I don't think he's going to be able to play," said teammate Matt Bauscher, who returned from his own ankle injury and started Thursday. "He basically did what I did."

Tiedeman, who was plagued by foul trouble in the first half, led five Broncos in double figures with 16 points. He scored eight in a row after the Spartans (12-15, 4-9) had taken a 59-53 lead with 7:57 to play to give the Broncos the lead for good...

Go here for the remainder.


This could have consequences and makes Saturday's SJSU home game versus Idaho critical. SJSU remains a win ahead of Idaho and wants to avoid the task of being a participant in the play-in game to the WAC tourney:

Jason Kaneshiro
Honolulu Star Bulletin
February 29, 2008

Hawaii hadn't lost at home in more than a month. Idaho hadn't won on the road all season.

Both streaks came to a stunning end last night as the Vandals raided the Stan Sheriff Center for an 85-77 overtime win over the Rainbow Warriors before a crowd of 3,411.

A 3-pointer by Idaho's Michael Crowell with 22.1 seconds left in regulation knotted the game at 68-68, and the Vandals (7-19, 4-10 Western Athletic Conference) went 5-for-6 from the field and 6-for-7 from the free-throw line in the extra period to send the Rainbows (11-15, 7-6) to their third straight loss.

"It's disappointing to lose on your home court, or lose anywhere," UH coach Bob Nash said. "But it's doubly disappointing when you have the lead and all you have to do is come down and make a stop on defense.

"When the game is in the balance you gotta make a stop on defense and we didn't get it done tonight..."
Go here for the remainder.


Nevada seems to have NMSU's number:

Pack hoops: Nevada has 'Fields' day
Steve Sneddon
February 29, 2008

It's hard for anyone to get any elbow room in a crowded Western Athletic Conference regular-season title race.

But the Nevada men's basketball team found enough room to squeeze into second place in the race as Brandon Fields scored a career-high 29 points and Marcelus Kemp had 27 points and eight assists to lead the Wolf Pack to a wire-to-wire 98-85 victory in front of 8,750 at Lawlor Events Center on Thursday night. The Wolf Pack, 18-10 overall and 10-4 in the conference, stayed a game behind first-place Boise State, which took a 74-68 win at San Jose State on Thursday.

"It was a big win for our team. It puts us in a better position to win the whole thing," Kemp said.

Fields also grabbed nine rebounds to lead Nevada to a 40-35 advantage on the boards against the WAC's best rebounding team. Fields came back after being held scoreless in the Pack's 74-49 loss in a BracketBuster game at Southern Illinois last Saturday.

"I was more aggressive on the rebounding end and once I became a good rebounder points came to me," Fields said...
Go here for the remainder.


USU won as expected:

Ags too much for Tech
Shawn Harrison
Logan Herald Journal
February 29, 2008

A strong start and finish were more than enough for the Aggies on Thursday night.

An outmanned Louisiana Tech squad made it interesting for a while, but the Utah State men’s basketball team had no problem staying perfect at home this year. The Aggies snapped a three-game losing skid in Western Athletic Conference play with an 86-59 thumping of the Bulldogs in front of another sold-out (10,270) Dee Glen Smith Spectrum crowd.

This is the ninth straight season USU has recorded 20 wins.

“I’m really excited about that,” said Aggie guard Jaycee Carroll, who scored a game-best 30 points. “I’ve been staring at 18 and 19 on our win column for a long time. We had that losing streak, got off that and now have 20 wins. It feels really good. Now we have an opportunity to get a bunch more wins.”

Louisiana Tech (4-22, 1-12 WAC) did tie up the game at 23 with 6:47 left in the first half. But the Bulldogs would never lead in the contest.

“These games are always hard because you’re in a situation where you feel like you have to win, and you’re supposed to win,” USU head coach Stew Morrill said. “It’s a good win. We shot a high percentage, and we did what we needed to do.”

USU (20-9, 9-4) certainly did shoot the ball well. The Aggies shot a season-high 67.3 percent from the field, including making 35-of-45 from inside the 3-point arc. The 67.3 percent shooting tied for the seventh-best in school history...
Go here for the remainder.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Shawn Harrison weighs in on the WAC post-season hopes and dreams

Here's worthy Shawn Harrison with a column on WAC tourney and post-season thoughts, including some pungent quotes from Stew Morrill.

Three unwanted words for the WAC
Shawn Harrison
Logan Herald Journal
February 27, 2008

There are three words this time of year that give college basketball coaches a chill up their spines.

Many are aware of the fact, some are hoping it isn’t true and others are just in denial. But as the regular season winds down, all are wondering about the postseason.

Unless you are in one of the power conferences, the phrase, one-bid league, can be an upsetting thought.

You hope it isn’t true, but the reality is for most leagues only the conference tournament champion is going dancing. After last weekend, I think we can pretty much be assured the Western Athletic Conference is a one-bid league this year.

There, I said it. Coaches can curse me, but that is the reality.

The thought has been lurking for some time, but it has become more apparent as the season wore on. After a less than stellar non-conference performance by all of the WAC schools, coaches used to making the postseason and league commissioner Karl Benson had said early on when conference play began that several teams needed to separate themselves. Then if a top team was defeated in the WAC Tournament, possibly two teams would get in the NCAA Tournament.

That has not happened.

With two weeks left in the regular season, five schools are battling for first place. While that is exciting, it does not help the league out. Only Boise State has 20 wins right now...

Go here for the remainder.

It still looks like New Mexico State is the ... 550 pound gorilla

Steve Sneddon has made it to my Christmas card list what with another fine column today -- this one on how New Mexico State is the top team to fear in the WAC. But we'll say the Aggies aren't quite yet at the level of the 800 pound gorilla. NMSU certainly has the best components of all the teams in the WAC but such is not a guarantee of finishing at the top. Let's see what happens on Saturday in Reno. The following contains some good quotes from both Marvin Menzies and Mark Fox:

Pack basketball: Nevada faces sharper Aggies team in Round 2
Steve Sneddon
February 27, 2008

Like any complicated puzzle, it took awhile to put this one together.

Now that it's complete, it's something to behold. These New Mexico State Aggies have all the pieces any college basketball team would want.

They've won five games in a row and they're a half game out of first place in the Western Athletic Conference. On Thursday at Lawlor Events Center, the Aggies will try to avenge an 87-78 loss to the Wolf Pack at Las Cruces, N.M., on Jan. 24.

"I think our chemistry has improved a great deal, guys getting familiar with each other," Aggies first-year coach Marvin Menzies said. "We finally got all of our players in place. I think the biggest thing for us is having a full complement and having them together for a stretch of seven, eight games.

"Plus, they're sharing the ball. They're looking to make the extra pass. I think guys are understanding that team concepts are really critical when it comes to playing well. It can't be 'me' ball. I think that's one of the biggest concepts we've bought into that has enabled us to play much better offense. Defensively, I think younger guys are understanding defensive schemes..."

Go here for the remainder.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The WAC BracketBuster Dud

The ever-reliable Steve Sneddon of the Reno Gazette Journal has an article today on the gigantic egg laid by the WAC over the BracketBuster weekend:

WAC notes: Conference's BracketBuster future tied to ESPN TV deal
Steve Sneddon
February 26, 2008

Whether the Western Athletic Conference should continue to participate in the ESPN-affiliated BracketBuster was a hot subject Monday.

And for most WAC coaches the answer is tied to whether the WAC can get a better deal with ESPN that would provide more game coverage. Currently, the WAC contract calls for three televised games, not including the BracketBuster games. The coaches are in favor of a deal that would give the conference eight to 12 games.

Three of the nine WAC teams -- Nevada, Utah State and Boise State -- played in the official BracketBuster games that were televised. The other six teams were matched in non-conference games. All nine games will be returned in the 2008-09 season.

"My commitment to it (the BracketBuster) is dictated by our relationship with ESPN," Fresno State coach Steve Cleveland said on the WAC coaches' conference call. "I believe in ESPN. I believe in everything they do with college basketball.

"However, if that relationship is one that is not going to exist and we don't feel like we can go down the road with ESPN and there isn't a future then I'd rather do my own scheduling. Even the TV exposure we had (in the BracketBuster) was regional in nature."

The Nevada-Southern Illinois and Utah State-UC Santa Barbara games were shown on ESPNU, which isn't available on Charter Cable in Reno, and Boise State played Siena on (available on the Internet).

Cleveland said the WAC needs to have a package that assures it of nine to 10 games besides the BracketBuster.

"We have to do something or it's going to impact recruiting over the next 10 years," Cleveland said. "I think that's an important piece. We have to do something now."

The conference's contract with ESPN extends through 2009-10. Commissioner Karl Benson said the conference negotiated unsuccessfully with ESPN for an extension in both the summer of 2006 and last summer.

"As far as the future (with the BracketBuster), I heard several coaches make very, very valid comments," said Benson, who will meet with the conference's coaches at the Final Four. "I would support a couple of their comments, saying that if the WAC can get a deal done with ESPN that results in a full-season package of both conference and non-conference games, then it probably would be worth it to go ahead with the BracketBuster..."

Go here for the remainder.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Call it a black WAC Saturday

This was not a good Saturday night for the WAC.

The contest that astounded us the most was Hawaii's 79-62 defeat to UC Riverside. The Highlanders -- at home -- won both 20 minute sessions, 34-20 and 45-42. Matt Gibson was absent for the Rainbow Warriors due to injury and his absence apparently fomented a decline offensively and defensively for Bob Nash's squad.

But Boise State's stinker versus Sienna -- at home -- plus the margin of defeat (93-70), was also an eye-opener. Looking at the split, Sienna outscored the Broncos 45-40 in the first half but put up 48 points to Boise's 30 in the second 20 minutes.

As expected, Fresno State took the measure of visiting Cal Poly 76-70. Also as expected, New Mexico State stomped Long Beach State in Las Cruces 80-48 (we understand the travel and location constraints involved in some of the BrackBuster matchups but there was no reason to even hold this game). In that one, Long Beach missed its first 14 shots and was out-rebounded 55-26.

At home, Irvine beat Idaho 69-55, with the margin somewhat surprising. Samford took overtime to beat Louisiana Tech 73-70 in Ruston.

Utah State topped UC Santa Barbara 72-59 Friday night in Logan.

The following game also really hurts, really making it truly a black Saturday for the WAC. Nevada shocked us with this one:

Pack drubbed by So. Illinois
Steve Sneddon
Reno Gazette-Journal
February 23, 2008

CARBONDALE, Ill. — After the first 14 minutes, the Nevada basketball team wasn’t in the game, nowhere to be seen.

The Wolf Pack was pushed and shoved out of the ESPNU picture by a merciless Southern Illinois defense. Randal Falker scored 17 points and the Saluki defense did the rest with 14 steals in Southern Illinois’ 74-49 BracketBuster win in front of 7,321 fans at SIU Arena on Saturday afternoon,

“We got outplayed. We got outcoached,” Nevada coach Mark Fox said. “We got out every-thinged.”

The 25-point loss was one of the worst for Nevada this season, second only to a 106-70 loss at then-No.1 ranked North Carolina on Dec. 27. It was a season scoring low for the Pack, which previously hadn’t been held to less than 55 points. Nevada also equaled its season high with 21 turnovers.

“We were pretty much careless with the ball and they capitalized on it,” Pack senior Marcelus Kemp said.

Kemp said Southern Illinois was the best defensive team that Nevada has played this season.

“They’re real physical, everybody,” Kemp said. “They get away with a lot of fouls. That’s how this (Missouri Valley) league is. It’s how they play. We weren’t ready for it. The coaches told us, but we weren’t ready for it...”

Go here for the remainder.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Nice feature on Jonathan Gibson

The Las Cruces Suns-News/Jason Groves has a nice feature on one of the surprises this season in the WAC, Jonathan Gibson:

Jonathan Gibson has developed into elite scorer for New Mexico State Aggies
Jason Groves
Las Cruces Sun-News

LAS CRUCES — The hard work has paid dividends for Jonathan Gibson.

The New Mexico State University sophomore guard is 15th in the Western Athletic Conference in scoring (12.9 points per game), sixth in 3-point shooting percentage (44) and fifth in 3-pointers made, knocking down 2.33 per game.

"He is getting more minutes than he did last year and he has earned those by having one heck of an offseason in terms of developing his game," Aggies head coach Marvin Menzies said. "He still has a long way to go before he is able to conceptualize all of the things that he needs to do to be a complete player but he can put the ball in the basket right now."

Menzies is not the only coach who knows what Gibson is capable of.

"I've noticed that (opposing teams) shade to my side now if they are playing zone or playing man," Gibson said. "They try to pressure up on me now. I expect teams to watch film and try to make changes to try to contain me or stop me but I have to keep adding to my game..."

Go here for the remainder.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Call me Preacher LaGrone

Well, we certainly didn't know this...

Pack's LaGrone balances life as a minister, basketball player
Steve Sneddon
February 20, 2008

His teammates call him preacher or bishop, and he smiles.

Long before Matt LaGrone decided to play college basketball, he knew where he was heading -- and that was into the ministry. He has been a minister in the Garden of Gethsamine Church, where his father is the bishop, since he was 13 years old.

The younger LaGrone combines playing basketball for Nevada with his duties at the church in a downtown office building on Second Street, giving a sermon the fourth Sunday of every month. The church is affiliated with the International Churches of Praise.

"It's not that hard because they're both my lifestyle," LaGrone said. "They just go together for me. When I play, I'm playing for an audience. God is in that audience."

The 6-foot-8, 230-pound sophomore has played in 25 of the Wolf Pack's 26 games, as it prepares to play at Southern Illinois in a BracketBuster game Saturday. LaGrone, who is averaging 2.1 points and 3.1 rebounds in 13.2 minutes per game, hadn't missed a game until a bruised back kept him out of the Idaho game last week. He's expected to play against the Salukis...
Go here for the remainder.

Hey, let's play Boise State men's basketball trivia

Thanks to the indefatigable Nick Jezierny, you'll soon learn probably more than you ever wanted to know about the Broncos -- actually there is some interesting information here:

Broncos have win No. 20 within their sights
Nick Jezierny
Idaho Statesman
February 20, 2008

As they close in on the mark, here are 20 things to know about the Boise State men's hoops team.

The Boise State men's basketball team will try for its 20th victory of the season Wednesday night against Cal State Bakersfield.
The Broncos (19-6 overall, 10-3 WAC) are trying to become the eighth team in school history to reach that milestone. In honor of the impending feat, here are 20 miscellaneous things to know about this season's team.

1. Shooting stars. The Broncos lead the nation in field-goal percentage, making 51.6 percent of their shots. It is one of seven NCAA statistics where BSU ranks in the top 50 nationally.

2. Road warriors. BSU has a 9-3 road record this season, one shy of matching the school record set in 2003-04. The Broncos have at least two chances - Feb. 28 at San Jose State and March 1 at Hawaii - to tie and beat the record.

3. Leaders of the pack. BSU is in first place in the WAC, and this is the deepest in the season that the Broncos have led the conference. Their best finish since joining the conference in 2001 was a third-place finish in 2003-04. BSU was picked to finish fifth in preseason coaches and media polls.

4. Two-sport stars. Tyler Tiedeman ranks third nationally in 3-point field-goal percentage (50.4 percent). Not bad for a guy who's primary sport was baseball a few years ago. Tiedeman was a pitcher at the University of Arizona when an arm injury derailed a promising baseball career. He left Tucson and enrolled at Santa Rosa Junior College, where he resurrected his basketball career. He's been with the Broncos for three seasons. He's not alone.

Guard Matt Bauscher was a high school state singles champion in tennis in 2003 at Vallivue High, while Anthony Thomas also competes in the long jump, triple jump and high jump for the Broncos' outdoor track team.

5. The third degree. Three of Boise State's senior starters - Bauscher, Tiedeman and Matt Nelson - all have earned their undergraduate degrees at BSU...
Go here for the remainder.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Spartans over the Aggies 70-67

Earlier today, we emailed out a post to our San Jose State fans titled "We have us a race in the WAC" -- well, we had us a game tonight at The Event Center with San Jose State triumphing over Utah State 70-67.

Here's how the last minute or so went down: Chris Oakes put in a layup at the 1:03 mark to make it 70-63 San Jose State. Two Kris Clark free throws then cut the lead to five, 70-65.

With 48.6 remaining, C.J. Webster missed a free throw and Aggie star Jaycee Carroll then hit a driving layup to make the score 70-67 with 38 ticks on the clock.

Jamon Hill was fouled but the Spartans again missed the foul shot and Utah State had the ball with half a minute left.

Clark, Carroll and Gary Wilkinson all fired up three-pointers but each attempt was off target and finally the ball went out of bounds off San Jose State with 3.1 seconds remaining.

After timeouts, Carroll lofted an inbounds pass from the right corner baseline but it was intercepted by Tim Pierce, who was immediately fouled.

Pierce also missed the free throw and a Carroll desperation shot from three quarters court didn't come close.

The Spartans played an efficient and productive first half and led 41-30 after the first 20 minutes. The SJSU frontcourt duo of C.J. Webster and Chris Oakes sliced and diced through, around and over the Aggies, commanding the paint.

Utah State's cause wasn't aided when forward Tai Wesley was ejected from the game at the 18:32 mark for a flagrant foul.

Carroll, who was bothered all night by Tim Pierce's height advantage and defensive play, scored just four points in the opening 11 minutes. He finished with 31 but the previous declaration remains accurate.

To provide a sense of how San Jose State dominated the first half, the Spartans led 16-9 at the 11:54 mark and Utah State had already been whistled for seven fouls up to then to just three for SJSU. A Pierce three-pointer elevated the lead to 30-17 with 7:20 remaining.

Carroll had 13 points at the half but that was matched by Pierce's 13. To his credit, Carroll ended with 31 points on 12-22 shooting. He also led USU with eight rebounds -- quite the telling sign when a 6-2 backcourter tops his team in boardplay.

Junior college transfer Gary Wilkinson played 32 minutes but missed all five of his shots from the floor, two from long range. However, he did grab six rebounds. Wilkinson scored 15 points in the February 9 game between these two teams.

As a team, the Aggies shot an uncharacteristic 24-57 from the floor -- credit the Spartan defensive play but add an assist to Utah State's having to travel from Hawaii. SJSU out-rebounded USU 34-32 but the most telling stat involved free throws. Despite the Spartan inability to make a foul shot towards the end and also somewhat throughout the game, San Jose State went 15-28 to Utah State's 12-14 -- a foul shot differential of 14. The Spartans had earned 21 foul shots by halftime. In the February 9 earlier game between USU and San Jose State, the Aggies were 28-32 from the foul line to SJSU's 10-15.

Chris Oakes led the way for San Jose with a double-double of 21 points and 12 boards. Tim Pierce added 16, including 4-8 from long distance and C.J. Webster contributed 15 points.

Carroll's 31 points was close to half the Aggie total of 67.

Here's Coach George Nessman on the game: "“We really wanted to prove ourselves to the rest of the conference and our fans this year...We knew we were young, we knew were inexperienced and we had a lot of lessons to be learned, but we wanted to have the kind of season that even our biggest doubters would at least have to say, ‘well, they’re better’, and that our supporters could draw real pleasure from our success, and see the promise in our program going forward.”


NOTES: Scout Row was filled tonight with Scotty Stirling of the Sacramento Kings, Chico Auerbach of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Dave Bollwinkel of the Boston Celtics among the evaluators present. Of course, they picked the brains of the SpartanHoops staff for our assortment of insight and knowledge -- the most prominent being 'go down to Fourth Street and make a left' when we were asked how to get back on the freeway.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Boise State moves into first place (no, this is not someone's imagination)

Let's lead with the Boise State victory since the Broncos now reside in first place at the moment. But first the standings:

WAC standings

Boise State 10-3 -- 19-6 overall
New Mexico State 9-3 -- 15-12 overall
Utah State 8-3 -- 18-8 overall
Nevada 9-4 -- 17-9 overall
Hawaii 7-4 -- 11-12 overall
Fresno State 4-8 -- 11-15 overall
San Jose State 3-8 -- 11-13 overall
Idaho 3-10 -- 6-18 overall
Louisiana Tech 1-11 -- 4-20 overall

Broncos leave no doubt against Bulldogs
Gary Estwick
The Fresno Bee

BOISE, ID -- This time, there was no errant pass or slip under the basket on defense.
Fresno State fell 84-72 Saturday night to Boise State because it never figured out how to stop Reggie Larry and Matt Nelson at Taco Bell Arena, their moves under and around the rim bewitching the Bulldogs for the second time in three weeks.

This time, the Broncos didn't need overtime or a late-game Fresno State turnover to beat the Bulldogs. All they needed in front of a home crowd of 5,268 fans was enough post scoring to lead by double digits early and in the second half, a contribution off the bench.

Larry led all scorers with 25 points, along with seven rebounds. Nelson had 16 points and eight rebounds. Reserve Mark Sanchez keyed a run in the second half, where he scored seven of his nine points...
Go here for the remainder.

Or if you prefer the Idaho perspective:

Broncos win, move into first
Nick Jezierny
Idaho Statesman
February 17, 2008

Boise State knew where its advantage was Saturday night against Fresno State.

That's why the Broncos repeatedly fed Reggie Larry and Matt Nelson and rode their senior forwards to an 84-72 win over the Bulldogs in front of 5,268 fans at Taco Bell Arena.

Larry scored 25 points and Nelson added 16 as the Broncos swept Fresno State for the first time since joining the WAC.

"I don't want to sound conceited," Nelson said. "But I think with Reggie and I down there that we pretty much have the advantage in all of the games we play. We work hard and play well, it's what we do."

Boise State (19-6 overall, 10-3 WAC) moved into first place in the WAC, ahead of Utah State (18-8, 8-3). The Aggies lost at Hawaii 71-66 late Saturday.

The Broncos' inside dominance was magnified against the Bulldogs (11-15, 4-8), whose post players lack either the size or quickness to stay with the BSU duo. And once Nelson and Larry got Fresno State's bigs in foul trouble, their job was much easier...
Go here for the remainder.


This is the big one of the evening, Hawaii winning with big man PJ Owsley not even playing:

Ags falter in 2nd half
Shawn Harrison
Logan Herald Journal
February 17, 2008

HONOLULU — It will go down as the one that got away.

Utah State had a 14-point lead with less than 10 minutes to play late Saturday night at the Stan Sheriff Center. But there was too much time left.

Hawaii got back into the game with a 15-2 run, then finished off the comeback with a 10-1 surge down the stretch. The Rainbow Warriors held on for a thrilling 71-66 Western Athletic Conference victory over the Aggies in front of 4,849 fans.

It was thrilling for host Hawaii, but certainly not for USU.

“That’s disappointing and sad,” Aggie head coach Stew Morrill said. “We worked too hard to put ourselves in a position to win and then just ... I’m sure they feel like they won it. I feel like we lost it.”

USU (18-8, 8-3 WAC) could muster just nine points over the last 10 minutes of the contest. During that time, Hawaii scored 28 points to grab its fifth straight win at home.

“We just gave it away, handed them the game,” Morrill said. “We panicked.”

Turnovers and missed shots down the stretch helped spell doom for the Aggies...
Go here for the remainder.

Or from the Hawaii perspective:

UH's second-half rally stuns Utah State, 71-66
Dayton Morinaga
Honolulu Advertiser
February 17, 2008

The roller-coaster season for the University of Hawai'i men's basketball team took another thrilling turn last night.

The Rainbow Warriors rallied from a 14-point deficit in the game's final 10 minutes to score an improbable 71-66 victory over Utah State.

An energized crowd of 4,849 at the Stan Sheriff Center watched the 'Bows knock the Aggies out of first place.

"It's just one of those teams that no matter what the situation, we're never going to give up," Hawai'i head coach Bob Nash said.

Hawai'i — which was coming off a 20-point loss at Nevada — improved to 11-12 overall and 7-4 in the WAC with its fifth consecutive home victory. The 'Bows are still in fifth place, but just two games behind new leader Boise State (which is 10-3).

"To be able to beat one of the top teams in the conference when nobody gives you a chance to be successful, I think it speaks volumes for how hard these guys work every day," Nash said.

Utah State dropped to 18-8 and fell from first place to third at 8-3...
Go here for the remainder.

and this:

Rainbow Warriors rally to beat Aggies
Jason Kaneshiro
Honolulu Star Bulletin
February 17, 2008

Generally, road wins in conference play are considered "steals."

Hawaii's home win over Utah State last night might fall under that category as well.

On a night when the school honored its past, the current Rainbow Warriors built on the celebratory atmosphere by storming back from a 14-point second half deficit to stun the Aggies 71-66 before a crowd of 4,849 at the Stan Sheriff Center.

"To be able to beat one of the top teams in the conference when nobody gives you a chance, I think it speaks volumes for how hard these guys work every day," UH coach Bob Nash said. "It's just one of those teams that no matter what the situation is we're never going to give up. ... I think you saw evidence of that tonight."

The Rainbows (11-12, 7-4 WAC) were to leave this morning for a road trip to Fresno State and are among five teams vying for the league lead.

"Like Coach Nash always says, we control our own destiny," said swingman Riley Luettgerodt, who scored 16 points and came up with six steals.

Trailing 57-43 with 9:45 left, the Rainbows outscored the Aggies (18-8, 8-3) 28-9 the rest of the way to earn their fifth straight home win...
Go here for the remainder.

and as for Nevada:

Pack basketball: Nevada's four-man show races past Idaho
Steve Sneddon
February 17, 2008

MOSCOW, ID -- Four were enough for the Nevada basketball team Saturday night.

Only four players scored for the Wolf Pack as Marcelus Kemp broke loose for 32 points and JaVale McGee tied a career high with 20 points and nine rebounds to lead Nevada to an 85-72 victory over Idaho in front of 1,817 fans at Cowan Spectrum. Brandon Fields' 21 points and Armon Johnson's 12 completed the scoring.

The game was the fifth in 10 days for the weary Pack, which gets a respite this week, but still has to hit the road again. After returning home today, Nevada will leave on Thursday and play Southern Illinois at Carbondale, Ill., in an ESPNU-televised BracketBuster on Saturday afternoon.

"We played a lot of guys so we'd have energy," said Nevada coach Mark Fox. "It's a tired team to be honest with you. These kids look like they're ready to go home.

"Early offensively, I thought we were sleep-walking. We talked a lot at the half about getting into a rhythm. We finally found a way to score on consecutive possessions."

Nevada raised its record to 17-9 overall and 9-4 in the Western Athletic Conference and Idaho fell to 6-18 overall and 3-10 in the WAC.

"It was a big win. Any win is big, but we needed to win coming off a loss (at Boise State)," Kemp said.

The Pack literally won the game at the foul line, where it hit 32-of-35 for a season-high 91.4 percent, on a night the Vandals had 27 field goals to Nevada's 24 and 10 baskets from 3-point range to Nevada's five. Kemp hit 15-of-16 from the line and Fields was 13-of-13.

"They were pounding us, hacking us," said Kemp, offering his explanation why the Vandals were called for 26 fouls to Nevada's 18.

In a game where there wasn't anything more than a four-point unanswered run for either team in the first 28 minutes, the Pack finally got a meaningful run going on a McGee 3-pointer that made it 54-52 with 11:56 left and started an 8-0 run. It was the 18th and final lead change of the game after there had been 11 ties...
Go here for the remainder.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Happenings in the WAC last night

This moves Idaho way ahead of Louisiana Tech and also beyond SJSU in avoiding the WAC tourney playoff game. Idaho's victory also makes Saturday's Louisiana Tech - San Jose State even more compelling.

Idaho gets OT win in men's hoops
Bulldogs' halftime lead vanishes in tough loss
Gary Estwick
The Fresno Bee

MOSCOW, Idaho -- Idaho used two special overtime moments Thursday to defeat the Fresno State men's basketball team 79-74.

First, double-teamed by Eddie Miller and Alex Blair, guard Mike Hall stood near the Idaho sideline. As the shot clock ticked down to 3 seconds, he used a hesitation dribble with his left hand, freezing Blair, then leaped and released.

His shot rattled around the rim before falling with 1:12 left, giving Idaho a two-point lead.

"It went in, the crowd went crazy," Hall said. "Everybody was just glad to see us on top for once."

Then, with 11.2 seconds left, Jordan Brooks, a point guard-power forward, scored in the post over Dwight O'Neil. Brooks was fouled, and added a free throw, ending Idaho's losing streak at four games while giving Fresno State coach Steve Cleveland one of his most humbling losses of the season.

"You can't let me get the ball that deep with anybody on me," Brooks warned afterward. "Five-nine, or 6-9, it's going to be a bucket or a foul."

It ended up being both.

Brooks led all scorers with 25 points. He also had 16 rebounds and five assists, and helped hold Kevin Bell to eight points on 3-of-13 shooting. Hall added 17 for Idaho, a program that has finished its first two seasons at the bottom of the Western Athletic Conference...
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Just when it looked liked the Wolf Pack had the proverbial head of steam and just might surpass Boise State in the standings, the Broncos take Nevada down 77-68.

Greg Graham's squad had a 12-point lead at halftime and that lasted. Reggie Larry led Boise with 20 points (6-18 shooting) and Matt Nelson provided 19 points (in just 20 minutes of play). Marcelus Kemp did the honors for Nevada with 22 points. Guard Matt Bauscher led the Broncos with 10 rebounds. In 17 minutes of action, JaVale McGee totaled three points and three rebounds, shooting 1-9 from the floor. Boise out-boarded Nevada 35-30 and outshot the visitors 47.5% to 36.1%.

Pack basketball: Broncos' defense takes toll on Pack
Steve Sneddon
February 15, 2008

BOISE, Idaho -- It was the fourth game in eight days for the Nevada basketball team and it showed. Repeatedly.

Defensively, it showed at the beginning of the game. When the Wolf Pack was able to make a run in the second half, it sputtered.

Reggie Larry scored 14 of his 20 points in the second half and Matt Nelson had 19 points to lead Boise State past a weary Nevada, 77-68, in front of 5,244 fans at Taco Bell Arena on Thursday night. The victory gave the Broncos a regular-season series sweep over the Pack, which dropped to 16-9 overall and 8-4 in the Western Athletic Conference.

The Broncos, 18-6 overall and 9-3 in the WAC, opened the game with an 11-0 run and the Pack was never able to get closer than five points after the first minute and 12 seconds. The last time Nevada was able to close the gap to five was in the second half when it used an 8-0 run to slice the lead to 58-53 with 9:34 left.

"We just didn't have enough juice in the tank to sustain the second-half effort," Nevada coach Mark Fox said. "Tonight, we just didn't have energy defensively."

The Pack was outshot and outrebounded. The Broncos took a 39-33 advantage on the boards. It was the 12th time the Pack has been outrebounded this season, but it was the opening minutes that set the tone for the game...
Go here for the remainder.

Or if you prefer the Idaho perspective:

Bronco men sweep Nevada for first time since 1998-99
Nick Jezierny
Idaho Statesman
February 15, 2008

The WAC's highest-scoring team showed Thursday night that it also can play a little defense.
Boise State limited Nevada to a season-low 36.1 percent shooting and led from start to finish in recording a 77-68 win in front of 5,244 fans at Taco Bell Arena.

The win by the Broncos (18-6 overall, 9-3 WAC) gave them their first season sweep of the Wolf Pack (16-9, 8-4) since the 1998-99 season.

"I think it's huge and opens peoples' eyes," BSU senior Matt Bauscher said. "Every time people talk about Boise State, the first two words are 'blue field.' Then it's football, so that's three words. So maybe now someone will start talking about the basketball team."

The Broncos scored the first 11 points of the game, and Nevada never got closer than five points.

Reggie Larry (20 points) and Matt Nelson (19) were the only Broncos in double figures, but five others scored at least six points to give BSU the balance it craves.

"We jumped out and set the tone right away," BSU coach Greg Graham said. "They made a couple of runs, but we kept control of the game from the get-go."

The Broncos won 95-80 last month in Reno, a victory that was fueled by offense.

Thursday's win was a near opposite, though the Broncos made 16-of-26 shots in the first half to take a 42-30 lead...
Go here for the remainder.


NMSU won as expected in Ruston:

New Mexico State subdues shorthanded Tech men's team
News-Star news services

RUSTON New Mexico State shot 58.7 percent from the field and forced 18 Louisiana Tech turnovers as they pulled away late in the second half for an 85-63 win at the Thomas Assembly Center on Thursday night.

The Bulldogs (4-19, 1-10 WAC), who had only seven healthy players available for tonight's contest, fought hard throughout the evening, pulling within single-digits several times during the second half. But the size and speed of the Aggies (15-12, 9-3 WAC) proved to be too much in the end.

The teams traded baskets over the first 12 minutes of the game and stood knotted at 18 apiece with less than eight minutes to play. But a 20-6 New Mexico State run gave the Aggies a 14-point halftime lead at 38-24...
Go here for the remainder.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Matt Gibson wants to take a bite out of Utah State

People seem to either love or hate Hawaii guard Matt (Honolulu Ink) Gibson -- on the court that is. The Rainbow Warrior fans eat him up. The followers of opposing teams take one look at his collection of tattoos and aggressive style of play and spew venom towards the young man. Yes, even at The Event Center (San Jose) where the basketball equivalent of the church mouse is able to slumber uninterrupted far too often.

However, if Gibson swapped uniforms, the roles would be reversed right down the line. Right?

Yes, Gibson has tried the patience of former coach Riley Wallace and current mentor Bob Nash more than a time or two but the young man is truly a Warrior/warrior. We'd want him on our team. For those who question his intestinal fortitude, read on:

Resting Gibson would be like pulling teeth
Dayton Morinaga
Honolulu Advertiser
Februay 14, 2008

Matt Gibson would rather have root canal surgery than lose another game.

He knows how much both can hurt.

Gibson, the leading scorer for the University of Hawai'i men's basketball team, has undergone five dental procedures in the last two weeks, including a root canal surgery yesterday.

"I don't know what's going on," he said. "Every time they fix one, another one starts hurting. I hope this is the last one because I can't even sleep at night. It feels like my mouth is on fire."

Gibson said he underwent two surgeries in three days last week, but still played with pain on the left side of his mouth during Hawai'i's 88-68 loss at Nevada last Saturday.

"I even skipped the pre-game (meal)," he said. "But it didn't hurt as much as the loss did."

He said yesterday's surgery should not affect him for Saturday's showdown against first-place Utah State.

"You know me, I'm going to play no matter what," he said.

Hawai'i, which is 10-12 overall and 6-4 in the Western Athletic Conference, will host the Aggies at 7:05 p.m. Saturday in the Stan Sheriff Center.

Utah State, which beat Hawai'i 86-80 last month in Logan, Utah, is 18-7 and 8-2.

The 'Bows will need Gibson to be at his best if they want to climb higher than their current fifth-place spot in the WAC.

Since the WAC season started in January, Gibson is averaging 19.0 points and 5.9 assists per game. He had 25 points and eight assists in the loss at Utah State on Jan. 3.

"I thought we played well at their place, but we still came out with the loss," Gibson said. "Now they have to come to our place and I like to think that we should be the favorite against any team here..."

Reggie Larry as WAC MVP?

Here's a kid we overlooked at the beginning of the season (our bad) and it's true --- the WAC player of the year is going to be Jaycee Carroll, unless Nevada somehow, someway wins the WAC (or comes very close) and the tournament and then Marcelus Kemp has a shot at the most valuable player kudo. Another kid we vastly underrated is Bronco Tyler Tiedeman, who should be right up there as the most improved player in the WAC -- we missed on predicting him too:

Pack basketball: Larry leads Broncos' charge
Steve Sneddon
February 14, 2008

BOISE, Idaho -- Reggie Larry is the other guy in the race for Western Athletic Conference player of the year award.

Softly, the Boise State player says he should be "The Guy," though others mostly focus on Utah State's Jaycee Carroll and Nevada's Marcelus Kemp as the top candidates to succeed three-time player of the year Nick Fazekas of Nevada.

"I think about it," Larry said. "Do I think I'm going to get it? Probably not. Do I think I should? Yeah. But it's more about getting this conference championship done."

I think I would be a good candidate for it, but it's not what I came into the season trying to get. I was trying to win. We were picked fifth (in the preseason polls). We're ... second right now. We could end up the first seed (for the WAC tournament). I think with all those accomplishments, how the year has been and my individual things I should be a strong candidate, but if it doesn't come my way it doesn't matter."

Larry will lead the Broncos, 17-6 overall, 8-3 in the WAC, into tonight's game against Nevada at Taco Bell Arena. Utah State leads the conference at 8-2. Nevada, Boise State and New Mexico State are tied at 8-3.

Larry, a 6-foot-6, 224-pound senior, has player-of-the-year credentials. He is third in the conference scoring race at 18.9 points per game, trailing only Carroll (21.8) and Kemp (19.9). He leads the conference in rebounding at 9.3 per game, which is 1.6 rebounds ahead of Nevada's JaVale McGee, who is second. Larry is sixth in the WAC in field goal percentage at 56.2 percent and also is sixth in 3-point percentage, at 43.5 percent. And he's fifth in the WAC in steals at 1.52 per game...
Go here for the remainder.

Piggybacking on Jay Hinton's thoughts, this would be a great game for television

This would be a fun game to watch, if it was televised -- Boise State needs a win to stay in the race for the top but Nevada is the team (of the two) with the most momentum right now:

Nevada to face Boise State
Nevada Appeal Sports Writer
February 14, 2008

Playing Boise State when your team is fresh is tough enough, but playing the Broncos when it's your fourth game in eight days is downright brutal.

That's what faces Nevada tonight when it invades Taco Bell Arena Thursday in a big Western Athletic Conference game against Boise State.

The teams enter the game in a three-way tie for second place with New Mexico State at 8-3. All three teams are a half-game behind Utah State, which is 8-2. Overall, Boise State is 17-6 and Nevada is 16-8.

Nevada's legs are certainly weary from playing, and winning, three games in five days. One would think the Pack may have picked up some adrenaline and momentum from its win against Utah State Monday night which will enable it to get through the rest of the week.

"They (Boise State) are an excellent team," Nevada coach Mark Fox said. "They are a veteran team with four seniors starting."

And, those four seniors made life miserable for the Wolf Pack earlier this year when the Broncos shot 59 percent from beyond the arc and 54 percent overall and hung a 95-80 defeat on the Pack. It was the worst home loss in Fox's tenure...
Go here for the remainder.

Jay Hinton offers his take on getting the WAC on television

Here's Jay Hinton's take on the WAC, a television deal and the BracketBuster:

BracketBuster worth it for now
Jay Hinton
Deseret News
USU Aggies Blog
Feb. 14, 2008

When it comes to being seen on television on a national stage, the Utah State Aggies haven't received much face time.

Since Western Athletic Conference officials decided not to renew the conference's television contract with ESPN, very few teams in the league, for that matter, have played on the network.

The Aggies have played a total 10 games on television this year and only two -- New Mexico State (ESPN2) and Vanderbilt (CSTV) have been the only 'national?' games, while they have played eight others on FSN-Utah, ESPN Regional and KJZZ.

Officials in the WAC office may not admit it, but the extra money it was asking for and denied by ESPN, wasn't worth it seeing that the league lost Big Monday and any other contracted games.

I guess hindsight is 20/20.

Hopefully the WAC office has learned its lesson and will get a deal in place even if it is for less money. You can't bite the hand that feeds you even if it is offering crumbs...
Go here for the remainder.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Marvin Menzies has a plan

Coach Marvin Menzies has a plan and is utilizing it to what seems like an excellent benefit:

NMSU recruits getting head start
Jason Groves
Las Cruces Sun-News

LAS CRUCES —Spending time in high major programs has made an impact on New Mexico State University men's basketball coach Marvin Menzies.

Menzies was hired as a first-time Division I coach in large part due to a successful career recruiting, which he has proven in his short time in Las Cruces.

Menzies, like those that he has worked under, likes to get the most out of his talent.

"I like the idea of bringing in recruits and them not playing for a year so they can understand what college life is like," Menzies said. "Utilizing the Doña Ana Community College, we have been able to bring in some kids who weren't initial qualifiers out of high school."

With current redshirts Troy Gillenwater, Hamidu Rahman and Robert Lumpkins already at the branch campus, Menzies added two more guards in the last month. Terrance Joyner (Genesis One in Missisippi) and Faisal Aden (God's Academy in Dallas) are the latest two additions.

Joyner and Aden came to Las Cruces for the spring semester, where they have had an opportunity to improve academically after leaving prep schools, which have come under more scrutiny from the NCAA...
Go here for the remainder.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The story behind the story

The story behind the story is the one we rarely access but Steve Sneddon gives it a good shot in the following article. It is interesting that Coach Mark Fox came to the decision that Hanson could no longer be part of the team despite no criminal violations. Maybe the simple truth truly is that Hanson needed to get out of Reno -- although he doesn't or didn't feel that way.

Tyrone Hanson begins long road back
Steve Sneddon
February 10, 2008

WARNER, Okla. -- Junior college basketball is filled with players hoping for a second chance.

Hundreds of them, still holding out hope they can get back to major college basketball, or get there for the first time.

Tyrone Hanson, who is enrolled at Arkansas-Fort Smith Community College, is trying to make a return, after being dismissed from the Nevada men's basketball team on Oct. 30.

"I feel like I'm back in high school again, really," said Hanson, who is redshirting this season and will play for Arkansas-Fort Smith as a sophomore in 2008-09 season.

For now, Hanson practices and watches his team play games at home and on the road. On the road, the Lions travel, by van, to places like Connors State College in Warner, Okla., which has a population of about 2,000.

"After playing in front of thousands, now, it's like small gyms, like I'm back in high school," said the former Pack player, who sat for an interview in Warren two weeks ago. "The level of the competition is real good. There's a lot of Division I guys on my team. I'd say about five of them. The team is real good. Guys work hard."

Hanson is starting over.

He was dismissed from Nevada following a tumultuous series of events in Reno that started with the homicides of three college-aged men at a Halloween party in the early morning hours of Oct. 28. Hanson, who turns 21 today, was robbed and beaten at the party.

Nevada coach Mark Fox said Hanson was not removed from the team for being involved in a fight, but for disregarding instructions not to go to the party after an earlier team policy violation.

Fox helped Hanson, who said the earlier violation was a positive test for marijuana, transfer to Arkansas Fort-Smith. The Lions' coach is former Nevada assistant Josh Newman...
Go here for the remainder.

The story gets deeper with this article "I can hear the screaming, I can hear the guns" Do click on the link and read further.

Watch out for Nevada come tourney time

Nevada sure seems to be peaking at the right time, with sixth-year senior Marcelus Kemp leading the charge. It's telling that Utah State, even with an all-senior starting backcourt and soon-to-be WAC Player of the Year Jaycee Carroll, isn't the all-efficiency unit of the past.

We've highlighted a quote by Gary Wilkinson in the first article -- words that need to be kept in mind. Here is a very solid player, albeit a newcomer to D-1 from the junior college ranks, and he is talking about the critical mental approach that is needed to win games and how he is just getting the hang of it.

Besides Wilkinson, the Aggies are also starting two freshman -- obviously talented ones and 21 years olds -- but just like the Supremes of way back with "You Can't Hurry Love," full-fledged 'getting it' takes time, effort, experience and lots and lots of patience.

Nevada 85, USU 80
USU: Aggies at least show heart in making it close
Martin Renzhofer
The Salt Lake Tribune

RENO, NV - A funny thing happened on the way to a Nevada blowout Monday night - Utah State showed up in the second half.

For the first time this season, USU played hard-nosed basketball away from Logan. The Aggies lost the game, 85-80, but may have found their heart. Jaycee Carroll's 24-point second-half performance provided the pulse.

Nevada had to sweat for its victory in the Lawlor Events Center, a win that pulled it within a half-game of the Aggies in the Western Athletic Conference race. However, USU rallied from 18 down to come within four points with 46 seconds to play.

Marcelus Kemp, who scored 35, sealed the game by converting 5 of 6 free throws.

"We kept our composure," Kemp said. "Jaycee and others made some tough shots, but we kept our composure and got the win."

USU coach Stew Morrill wasn't about to crow about a moral victory. However, "Our team hung in there and battled," he said. "I have no complaints about our effort. We had the tempo of the game where we wanted it. We let it get away from us."

Tempo means everything for Utah State (18-7, 8-2 WAC), which prefers a moderate, run-the-offense style of game. The Aggies had the tempo they wanted and, despite struggling a bit offensively, had a one-point lead with four minutes to play in the first half.

Nevada (16-8, 8-3) then put the hammer down defensively outscoring USU 37-18 during the next 14 minutes to take a 64-46 lead.


"I'm learning how to win in the WAC on the road," said Wilkinson, who finished with 12 points. "In the second half, I started to get a feel for the game..."
Go here for the remainder.


From the Nevada perspective:

Kemp blows up in Nevada win over Utah St.
Nevada Appeal Sports
February 12, 2008

RENO -- Star players tend to come up big in important games.

Monday night was one of Nevada's biggest, most important games of the season, and Marcelus Kemp turned it into a personal highlight show.

Not only did Kemp score a career-high 35 points, but he also passed Alex Boyd for third place on the all-time scoring list and then helped the Wolf Pack withstand a late Utah State rally to lead Nevada to an 85-80 win before a crowd of 8,454 at Lawlor Events Center.

Nevada, which has won three straight and six of its last seven, improved to 8-3 in Western Athletic Conference play and 16-8 overall. Utah State dropped to 8-2 and 18-7, respectively.

Kemp is all about wins first and personal achievement second, so it was extra special that he was able to win the game and achieve another milestone in his tremendous career. He passed Boyd when he converted a three-point play with 7 minutes, 50 seconds to go in the first half. Kemp now has 1,757 career points.

"It's a great accolade," Kemp said. "I heard [Boyd] was a great player, but I never got a chance to see him play. I'm just happy we got the win."

As he has done all season, Nevada coach Mark Fox was full of praise for his star player and the way his team played, especially the 24 assists compared to just four turnovers...
Go here for the remainder.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

LA TECH wins one and a WAC shakeout at the top

Giving credit where it is due, let's lead with LA TECH's home win over Idaho, the first league victory for the Bulldogs this season.

Tech men topple Idaho for long-awaited first WAC win
T. Scott Boatright
The News Star
February 10, 2008

RUSTON -- When Louisiana Tech men's basketball team breaks a huddle, they always yell "Stay Together" while heading to the floor or bench.

Stay together the Bulldogs did on Saturday as Louisiana Tech picked up their first Western Athletic Conference win over the season with a 72-64 home decision over Idaho.

Tech (4-18, 1-9 WAC), used a scrappy pressure to force 27 Idaho turnovers, converting those Vandal miscues into 21 points, to pull off the win.

"That's the type of basketball we have to play," Tech coach Kerry Rupp said. "Especially because we're smaller. We have to press and try to create more defensively."

Tech wasn't only smaller than the Vandals, the thin Bulldogs bench was even thinner against Idaho (5-17, 2-9) after Adrian Rogers was injured in a freak mishap on Saturday morning, injuring a hamstring helping a friend move...
Go here for the remainder.


New Mexico State fully demonstrated that it's themselves and Utah State vying for the top spot. In fact, Boise State needs to worry about hard-charging Nevada:

Aggie romp Boise, take sole possession of second

Jason Groves
Las Cruces Sun-News

LAS CRUCES — With so many options, sometimes it's possible to be too unselfish.

It's a problem New Mexico State University men's basketball coach Marvin Menzies is fortunate to have.

The Aggies had 24 assists and extended their winning streak against Boise State to six with a 99-80 Western Athletic Conference victory over the Broncos on Saturday at the Pan American Center, taking sole possession of second
place and keeping first-place Utah State (8-1) within reach.

Saturday was also the Aggies' third straight win, helping NMSU improve to 14-12 overall and 8-3 in the WAC.

"It's a big victory," Aggies sophomore guard Jonathan Gibson said. "We just needed to make sure to keep running and keep playing how we were playing. We needed to try to stop their 3-point shooters and keep running our offense..."
Go here for the remainder.


From the Idaho perspective:

Rebounding woes prove costly as BSU men's 5-game win streak snapped
Idaho Statesman

LAS CRUCES, N.M. - Boise State coach Greg Graham preached three things to his team prior to tip-off Saturday at New Mexico State:

Get off to a good start.
Take care of the basketball.

Good ideas, none of which the Broncos were able to execute in a 99-80 loss in front of a crowd of 6,443 at The Pan American Center.

The loss snapped BSU's five-game winning streak and knocked the Broncos (17-6 overall, 8-3 WAC) down to third place in
the conference standings.

The Broncos fell behind by as many as 16 points in the first half and never were closer than seven the rest of the way.

NMSU outrebounded BSU 50-28 and scored 23 second-chance points. The Broncos also turned over the ball 22 times...

Go here for the remainder.


Wolf Pack leaps over Hawaii


Nevada Appeal

February 10, 2008

RENO - It was Silver Saturday at Lawlor Events Center, so Nevada coach Mark Fox broke out brand-new silver uniforms for the occasion.

The uniforms looked good, and so did the Wolf Pack.

Nevada shot 65 percent from beyond the arc and 61 percent overall to roll over Hawaii, 88-68, in a nationally televised
Western Athletic Conference game.

Nevada improved to 15-8 overall and 7-3 in conference heading into Monday's showdown against conference-leading Utah State, 8-1. Nevada is in fourth place, a half- game behind Boise State and New Mexico State, which are tied at 8-3. Hawaii dropped to 10-12 overall and 6-4 in conference.

Fox said that the uniforms were ordered over the summer from
Nike. "We had planned to wear them for the league opener (against Utah State)," Fox said. "When I heard it was going to be Silver Saturday, I decided to wait for today. The kids have been wanting to wear them."

After Saturday's performance, one would expect the players would want to wear them more. Besides sinking shots from every angle on the floor, the Pack played solid defense and won the rebounding battle, 33-28.

"We were real focused," said Marcelus Kemp, who finished with a game-high 25 points. "It was a big game for us. We needed to win. We played real hard and got the win."

The first half belonged to Kemp, Brandon Fields and JaVale McGee. The trio combined for 39 of Nevada's 44 points, sparking the Pack to a 44-33 lead at the half.

Kemp had 20 in the first half, going 7-for-9 from the floor, including 4-for-5 from beyond the arc. Fields added 11 of his 17 in the first 20 minutes and McGee scored eight of his 20 in the opening half...

Go here for the remainder.


USU: Aggies wake up in time to top upset-minded

USU allows 17 offensive rebounds and struggles with shooting
early, but still gets past the aggressive Spartans

Martin Renzhofer
The Salt Lake Tribune

LOGAN - Utah State escaped a natural trap Saturday night against visiting San Jose State. Yet the Aggies, even performing at less than their optimal mental level, always appeared the better team.

The struggling Spartans were game, but the Aggies managed to play well enough during a five-minute stretch midway through the second half to open a double digit lead. USU milked that advantage down the stretch for a 78-73 Western Athletic Conference victory in front of 10,270 in the Smith Spectrum.

Following victories against Nevada and Fresno State, and a rematch with Nevada looming on Monday, no one playing for USU (18-6, 8-1 WAC) can't say weren't warned about a possible letdown against lowly SJSU (10-13, 2-8).

"Maybe we don't believe coach," said Jaycee Carroll, who shook off his own shooting slump to score 26 points - 16 in the second half. Carroll's 11 rebounds also gave the Aggie guard his second double-double this season.

"San Jose played well," USU coach Stew Morrill said. "They kind of manhandled us. They beat us on the offensive rebound. They beat us on the dribble so much that we couldn't block off."

Morrill could see this performance, including allowing 17 offensive rebounds, coming.

"You try, you try, you try. But it's up to them," he said. "Our posts ought to be embarrassed..."
Go here for the remainder.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

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Would, could Stew Morrill follow his former AD?

Disclaimer: this is pure speculation, we repeat, pure speculation. Do not mistake the following as having any basis or foundation or written because of any sort of a tip or inside knowledge.

Okay, we have that squared away so read on if you wish:

Since the Utah State Athletic Director Randy Spetman recently accepted the same post at Florida State will he attempt to entice Stew Morrill to Tallahassee? Hat tip to our buddies at for planting the question in our brain.

Spetman is a retired Air Force colonel who also was the AD at Air Force. We think his hire will get the A-T-T-E-N-T-I-O-N of the Seminole coaches and players, even including Bobby Bowden.

But first let's focus on FSU men's basketball.Leonard Hamilton's squad is currently 14-10 overall, 3-6 in the ACC and Hamilton has been reduced to a cipher visibly nationally, regionally and statewide by the gigantic shadow of Billy Donovan.

Not that it's Hamilton's fault or he deserves such status -- it's just reality.

The state of Florida and the surrounding states have numerous talented prospects annually but FSU is not even close to be a 'prime player' regionally, let alone nationally. Hamilton is 87-71 in six seasons at FSU and his previous tenure at Miami also wasn't tremendously successful either. Plus, Florida State loses most of its leading scorers after this season so the future doesn't bode well.

Maybe the focus on the troubles (on the field and off, plus in the classroom) primarily with the FSU football program will spare Hamilton. Who knows? Bobby Bowden's annointed successor is already assisting him -- Jimbo Fisher is the FSU offensive coordinator and next in line -- so there's not much for a new AD to do personnel-wise in order to put his respective stamp there.

A brand new AD usually wishes to have his own head football coach in place but Spetman won't be getting that chance. However, getting Bowden to retire will take quite the time and effort.

So where does that leave Spetman? His work is cut out for him in raising the public stature of FSU athletics out of the mud, keeping the police blotters clear of any name of FSU student-athletes and upgrading the levels of donations but how about the tangible that even the most casual of fan follows -- won-loss records?

Stew Morrill could make much more money in the FSU position if so inclined but is he at an age (55) where the financial doesn't concern him anymore?

He's also been a western kind of guy geographically his entire coaching career -- Big Sky, Big West, WAC, Gonzaga, Montana, Colorado State, Utah State -- this after being born in Provo.

There is also a question of how Morrill would 'play' as a recruiter for an ACC school. He's sort of a 'old school' kind of coach -- not sparing the feelings of his crew -- a trait that typically works well with less than stellar players. Such an approach doesn't always jibe with high-level talent and big potential guys -- the kind Morrill would need to land to get FSU more competitive in the ACC.

A Coach K, a Roy Williams, a Tom Izzo can 'get away' with that type of manner because of the stature they enjoy. A relative unknown to any sort of a national audience or awareness, Morrill would be at the very least a questionmark in that regard.

Could he also be 'sold' to the basketball boosters, the big donor crowd? It's easy to believe that most would be asking 'Stew who?' This despite Morrill's immense credibility in the college coaching ranks.

The guess here is that Morrill is also a member of the LDS faith and, who knows, but that could be an initial negative factor in ACC country.

Of course, winning cures most things and a sector of any group of boosters will dance with the devil or someone they perceive as such as long as he or she produces victories.

Now there's no doubt Morrill gets the most from his players and his kids develop. They also graduate. There's also no doubt he demands positive behavior and hands out disciplinary actions when lines are crossed. There's no muddying the water in this aspect -- Morrill keeps his expectations clear cut.

We think Morrill to FSU would be a grand experiment if indeed Leonard Hamilton is pink-slipped -- something not factual at this moment and an event that simply may not occur.

But ultimately, we see Morrill being a square peg for a round hole in Tallahassee -- FSU isn't a good fit for him.

Someone who seems a natural would be VCU's Anthony Grant. Grabbing the young coach who was going to take over for Billy Donovan -- well, that would be the ultimate touche to FSU's bitter rival.

There is no complete team in the WAC

There is no 'complete' team in the WAC -- that is for certain at this point.

Complete meaning a squad full of both talent and experience that shows up every game, ready to perform its best and then doing so each night. Call it a nightly fulfillment of potential, executing a demonstration of such.

In our take, NMSU possesses the best experience, talent and potential -- but such doesn't always make an appearance. When the Aggies are on, there is but one team in the WAC that can match Marvin Menzies squad.

That is USU. The Logan-based Aggies own a home victory against their southern brethren and the Las Cruces bunch just pasted Stew Morrill's team in the return match -- one in which Utah State was shorthanded. Jaycee Carroll and his teammates are the steadiest bunch in the WAC but have a lesser ceiling than NMSU.

Boise State is the spoiler. If Greg Graham's starters are bringing their 'A' games -- something happening most of the time this season -- then the Broncos can compete with both sets of Aggies. But this can be an iffy proposition, especially come tournament time where consecutive games can dismantle the resiliency of players, especially the legs of jumpshooters. The experience of Boise's group of seniors is a hedge though against such ups-and-downs.

Nevada is a darkhorse. Any time a club can put a Marcelus Kemp, a JaVale McGee and an Armon Johnson on the court, surrounded by solid complementary teammates, then it cannot be discounted. The Wolf Pack is one of those squads that will keep progressing throughout the season and more than likely be at its zenith come tourney time.

One of the things this all means is that a Hawaii and a Fresno State, if on a roll at the right time, could improbably win the WAC tournament. The Rainbow Warriors have recently demonstrated a propensity to beat any WAC opponent anytime. Similar to Boise State but minus inside players Matt Nelson and Reggie Larry, Bob Nash's group is competitive when the jumpshots are dropping -- not so if otherwise. P.J. Owsley's recent injury is worrisome -- Hawaii needs him healthy and available for 25 minutes a game.

The Bulldogs of the Central Valley recently welcomed back Dwight O'Neil thereby immediately upgrading their defensive play and rebounding, with scoring to come as O'Neil's wrist gets healthier. The shooting of Eddie Miller will be the biggest factor in Fresno's attempt to do some tourney damage.

SJSU is more an unknown. Justin Graham has returned from his wrist and elbow injuries so the Spartans are intact again -- something important for a team lacking depth in the backcourt.

To be blunt, it isn't going to happen this season for Idaho or Louisiana Tech.

Call it a wide open WAC.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Ramon Sessions must feel jinxed

You come early out of college when so many are saying stay for your final season and then you shine in the Developmental League, enough so that the NBA team that drafted you calls you up.

Unfortunately, Ramon Sessions has injured his hand, during practice no less. Yes, timing is everything, well, at least in this case:

Sessions breaks hand in return to Bucks

Former Nevada basketball player Ramon Sessions was one day removed from being recalled from the NBA's Development League when he sustained a left hand fracture on Friday.

Sessions, who played three seasons with the Wolf Pack before declaring for the NBA draft, was practicing with the Milwaukee Bucks when he broke his hand. Sessions had been assigned to the Tulsa 66ers on Nov. 8. He was recalled by the Bucks on Thursday.

The rookie guard is expected to miss at least six weeks, according to Bucks general manager Larry Harris.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Hawaii on a roll despite injuries

Honolulu Advertiser columnist Ferd Lewis has a column today on the recent impressive play by Hawaii -- this despite an assortment of injuries and missing frontcourters. One element Lewis doesn't touch upon is the experience of the Rainbow Warrior starting five -- four seniors, two of them fifth-year types -- make up the quintet coming out to begin games. That's an enormous factor.

UH hoops hitting its stride
Ferd Lewis
Honolulu Advertiser
January 3, 2008

A month ago as this Western Athletic Conference men's basketball season began, any use of University of Hawai'i and "win the conference" in the same sentence by head coach Bob Nash would have prompted laughter, if not outright derision.

It is still a longshot, but when, in response to a question about the Rainbow Warriors' goals, Nash last night linked the two once disparate elements, saying, "Whether we can win the conference, we're going to give it our best effort," there wasn't so much as a snicker in the post-game press conference.

In the wake of a 71-57 thumping of Louisiana Tech last night that left the 'Bows 6-3 in the conference — and in a tie for third place, a game out of first place — UH is sitting pretty.

Pretty amazing, really.

For here is a team that got skunked — 0-3 — in its own Rainbow Classic and then proceeded to lose two of its first three WAC games. Hardly your precursor of success.

But since then, these 'Bows have won five of six games, including three in a row. Remarkable, really, when you consider that three of their biggest players, 6-foot-11 Stephen Verwers, 6-10 Ji Xiang and 6-8 P. J. Owsley were sitting side-by-side on the bench last night in street clothes. Only Owsley, who has a knee injury, might make it back.

"I'm sure they (the other WAC schools) are scratching their heads and trying to figure out how we're getting it done with all these injuries and problems," Nash said. "I'd probably scratch my head, too, about where we are at this point..."
Go here for the remainder.

Boise columnist wonder if Bronco bench will be Achilles heal?

Idaho Statesman columnist Brian Murphy has a column today where he raises the issue about the in-and-out contributions from the Boise State bench players. Is it inconsistency from the bunch or inconsistent court time?

Boise State is sitting pretty - except for its suspect bench
Idaho Statesman

Perhaps if Sen. Barack Obama had hung around Taco Bell Arena for Saturday night's Boise State basketball game, the Broncos might have reached their stated goal of filling 10,000 seats.
And perhaps the 6-foot-2 presidential candidate, a noted basketball junkie, might have boosted the Broncos' bench scoring along with the attendance.

He couldn't have done much worse.

Boise State's bench combined for two points - on free throws by Mark Sanchez andJamar Greene - in 43 minutes Saturday night against rival Idaho before a dull 8,492 fans.

That the Broncos notched their 14th consecutive victory against the Vandals 78-64 - and it wasn't really that close - matters little. At this point in its breakout season, Boise State should be beating overmatched opponents by double digits.

What is of some import, however, is the Broncos' inability to entrust the end of such games to its bench and, consequently, driving up the minutes logged by their formidable starters.

Last week against Hawaii, Boise State led by 31 points with 6 minutes, 19 seconds remaining. The Broncos ended up as 15-point victors. Saturday night Boise State pushed its lead to 25 points at 65-40 with 10:11 on the clock.

Time to empty the bench or at least rotate the reserves through, right? Boise State coach Greg Graham tried.

But less than four minutes later, the Vandals had cut their deficit to 14 points and seized momentum.

Back came the starters, who remained in the game until the end. "We have a tendency to relax," Graham said...
Go here for the remainder.

Dwight O'Neill is practicing again

Dwight O'Neill's return adds some missing elements to the Fresno State men's basketball program. For a team suddenly improved defensively, he will only add to that effort. Plus, once his wrist is healthy, his dribble-drive efforts will double -- only Kevin Bell has the talent to do so now -- the number of Bulldog players proficient at such a maneuver.

O'Neil returns to 'Dogs practice
Gary Estwick
The Fresno Bee

Junior Dwight O'Neil, sidelined for nearly three months with a fractured right wrist, returned to Fresno State men's basketball practice Saturday morning.

Pending medical clearance early next week, O'Neil will return to game action Thursday as the Bulldogs host Utah State at the Save Mart Center.

"I think there's a possibility that he'll play," coach Steve Cleveland said.

O'Neil gives Fresno State (10-12, 3-5) depth on the perimeter, something it lost after sophomore Bryan Harvey was ruled academically ineligible for the spring. He also offers the Bulldogs -- losers of their last two games and four of their past five -- a shutdown defender who can rebound.

"His intensity is what we need the most," senior Kevin Bell said.

O'Neil said his wrist, still without its full flexibility, is about 60%. Still, if the decision was his alone, O'Neil said he would play Monday night against Louisiana Tech (3-15, 0-6) at the Save Mart Center.

"But that's just me," he said, half-joking.

While he continues to strengthen his shooting wrist, Cleveland is satisfied with O'Neil's defense and rebounding.

"If he makes a basket, it's great," Cleveland said. "That's a bonus right now..."
Go here for the remainder.

Happenings in the WAC last night

From the various beat reporters in most of the WAC cities:

Here's Jason Groves from the NMSU point of view:

Gibson's floater caps Aggie victory
Jason Groves
Las Cruces Sun-News

SAN JOSE, Calif. - For the third time in the last six games, the Aggies responded after losing the previous game.

Following Thursday's disappointing 94-71 loss at Hawaii, New Mexico State held off a lesser team on the road, defeating San Jose State 83-81 in Saturday's Western Athletic Conference game at The Event Center.

Aggies sophomore guard Jonathan Gibson hit a 9-foot floater on the baseline with 1.9 seconds to give the Aggies the road win.

"I knew we needed a quick shot so I just drove and threw a floater up," Gibson said.

The Aggies are 3-0 following a loss in their last six games. NMSU is 3-3 in their last six games, mirroring their 12-12 overall record on the season. Despite their mediocre overall record, the Aggies remained in the top half of the league, improving to 6-3 on a night Utah State defeated Nevada, dropping the Wolf Pack to 5-3...
Go here for the remainder.


More home cookin’
Shawn Harrison
Logan Herald Journal
January 3, 2008

That bad taste in the Aggies’ collective mouths was washed away Saturday night at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.

The Utah State men’s basketball team rebounded from its biggest loss of the season — suffered a week ago — in fine fashion. The Aggies never trailed and enjoyed a double-digit lead most of the night against Western Athletic Conference foe Nevada.

USU head coach Stew Morrill was concerned until the final minute, but his players made sure the Wolf Pack would return to Reno with a loss. The Aggies jumped on their visitors early and went on to record a 77-63 victory in front of a sell-out crowd of 10,270.

“Coming off the New Mexico State game, defense is something that we really looked at hard and questioned our personal integrity with what are you going to do to help the team get better,” said USU forward Gary Wilkinson, who finished with a career-high 23 points on 9-of-11 shooting and pulled down 10 rebounds. “That is where we need to focus. I think we really executed tonight.”

Boy, did they.

That was certainly evident in the early going. The Aggies (16-6, 6-1 WAC) jumped out to a 13-2 lead just three-and-a-half minutes into the contest. Only a timeout by Nevada (13-8, 5-3) stopped the momentum.

But that wasn’t for long. USU quickly made it 20-6 when Wilkinson scored and Jaycee Carroll drilled his second 3-pointer of the game. The Aggies scored points on their first nine possessions of the game...
Go here for the remainder.


Or if you prefer:

USU: Aggies earn redemption
Martin Renzhofer
The Salt Lake Tribune

LOGAN - Utah State, determined not to repeat the debacle that was last week's 30-point blowout at New Mexico State, played arguably its most consistent 40 minutes of 2008 on Saturday night in the Smith Spectrum.

From the opening possession, it was clear that Utah State was more than ready for the dangerous Nevada Wolf Pack. Combine home cooking, a hot start by USU guard Jaycee Carroll and Gary Wilkinson's best game in an Aggie jersey to equal a 77-63 Western Athletic Conference victory.

"We watched the [NMSU] film on Monday," Wilkinson said. "It was tough to watch. It's not what this team is about."

Utah State (16-6, 6-1 WAC), 13-0 at home this season, jumped out to a quick 20-6 lead. Carroll, disappointed with his play in Las Cruces, N.M., looked for his shot early and often. He scored 12 points before the Spectrum seats were warm and finished the half with 17 - 24 overall.

"They came out breathing fire," Nevada coach Mark Fox said. "We didn't do a good job defending them.

"After the first 10 minutes of the game, we played even. It was the first few minutes that we dug ourselves a huge hole..."
Go here for the remainder.


From the Nevada point of view:

Pack basketball: Slow start dooms Pack as Utah State wins
Steve Sneddon
February 3, 2008

LOGAN, Utah -- It was the basketball equivalent of a first-round knockout.

It was a game the Nevada basketball team had trouble getting traction from the opening minutes and Utah State used sizzling shooting to make sure there wouldn't be a Wolf Pack comeback to remember. The message was abundantly clear, don't mess with the Aggies on their home court after they were embarrassed on the road. Jaycee Carroll scored 24 points and Gary Wilkinson had 23 points as the Aggies ran past the Pack, 77-63, in front of an announced soldout house of 10,270 at Dee Glen Smith Spectrum on Saturday night.

"We knew they would come out coming off what they came off (in a 100-70 loss at New Mexico State) breathing fire," said Nevada coach Mark Fox. "They played very well to start the game and we just couldn't get back into it deep enough. We got it to eight in the second half. We couldn't get one more possession where we could make a game of it."

The fire-breathing Aggies, who ran their 16-6 overall and lead the Western Athletic Conference at 6-1, scorched Nevada with a 13-2 run in the first three minutes and 32 seconds of the game. In the run, Carroll hit a 3-pointer and then sank a 15-foot jumper that gave Utah State its first double-digit lead of the game.

"They just got off to a great start. They just hit their shots," said Marcelus Kemp, who led Nevada with 16 points. "We couldn't stop their run. Get down like that it's tough to come back. Give Utah State credit. They played hard...
Go here for the remainder.


Broncos take their 14th in a row vs. Vandals
Nick Jezierny
Idaho Statesman
February 03, 2008

Greg Graham asked his Boise State men's basketball team to focus on defense during the practices leading up to Saturday night's game against Idaho.
Maybe practice does make perfect. Or, at least, close to it.

BSU forced 12 first-half turnovers, held Idaho to 32 percent shooting and just 22 points in the first half and racked up a 78-64 win in front of 8,492 fans at Taco Bell Arena.

"Whether it won the game or not I don't know, but I thought our defense in the first half set the tone," Graham said. "We got far enough ahead where they couldn't catch up."

The Broncos (16-5 overall, 7-2 WAC) won their fourth game in a row and extended their winning streak against Idaho (5-15, 2-7) to 14 games. BSU led by as many as 25 points and never let the Vandals get closer than 11 in the second half.

"Fourteen straight - I love it," said BSU senior Matt Bauscher, who is from Caldwell. "Being a local guy, I love 14 straight."

All Idaho coach George Pfeifer had to do was look at two statistics to know his team was in trouble - the 32 points BSU scored off turnovers and the Broncos' 42-26 edge on the boards...
Go here for the remainder.


'Bows beat Bulldogs for third win in row
Dayton Morinaga
Honolulu Advertiser
January 3, 2008

The University of Hawai'i men's basketball team is feeling super right now.

The Rainbow Warriors continued their surprising climb up the standings of the Western Athletic Conference with a 71-57 victory over Louisiana Tech last night.

A crowd of 4,376 at the Stan Sheriff Center watched the 'Bows improve to 10-11 overall and 6-3 in the WAC. Hawai'i is now in a tie for third place in the conference, just one game behind co-leaders Utah State and Boise State.

Louisiana Tech dropped to 3-16 and 0-7 with its seventh consecutive loss.

Hawai'i entered WAC play having lost four of five games in December. Now, the 'Bows are going the other way, as their three-game winning streak is the longest of this season.

"Just a great team effort all the way around," Hawai'i head coach Bob Nash said. "That's the thing we're trying to build here at the University of Hawai'i, is that we play as an 'ohana."

In what is becoming their family tradition, the 'Bows relied on a balanced and efficient offense last night.

Bobby Nash led four Hawai'i players in double-figure points with 16 on 6-of-10 shooting.

Matt Gibson added 14 points and seven assists. Riley Luettgerodt contributed 11 points and a game-high eight rebounds. Jared Dillinger scored 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting...
Go here for the remainder.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Ramon Sessions to The Big Show

Congrats to Ramon Sessions for his recent elevation to the Bucks:

D-league: Bucks call Sessions to return to big club
Reno Gazette Journal

On Friday, former Pack player Ramon Sessions was called back by the Milwaukee Bucks, general manager Larry Harris said.

Sessions was the 57th pick in the 2007 NBA Draft. He was assigned to the Tulsa 66ers of the NBA Development League on Nov. 8, two weeks into the 2007-08 NBA season, though he did not see playing time with the Bucks.

He officially re-joins the Bucks today, at home, when they host the Houston Rockets.

"Coming back here, I was feeling it in practice, I was so excited to be here," Sessions said in a podcast on the team's web site. "Once I get here, out on the court, I'll be a little nervous, but I'm pretty sure I'll enjoy every minute of it."

Sessions appeared in 24 games with Tulsa, averaging a team-high 21.1 points (sixth in the D-League), a team-high 7.6 assists (third) and 6.5 rebounds in 36.2 minutes per game. Nevada teammate Nick Fazekas, the 34th overall pick in the NBA Draft by the Dallas Mavericks, is the 66ers second-leading scorer and leading rebounder, with 18.3 points and 9.7 rebounds in 30.5 minutes per game.

"It was a great experience, by far, getting a lot of game minutes and a lot of experience..." Sessions said.

The 6-foot-3 guard left Nevada last year, a season early, while Fazekas played four years for the Pack.

Sessions played in five preseason games with the Bucks, averaging 1.4 points, 1.0 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 7.0 minutes of action.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Better late than never -- good article about LA TECH

We've been a bit negligent on checking our email so apologies for that. Here's an article that was brought to our attention by Chris d'A and we thank him for that. Look for the Bulldogs to certainly be in the first division in the WAC next year and likely to make a run for the top spot considering all the graduating seniors elsewhere:

In the doghouse: Thin Tech Bulldogs basketball team growing toward next season
Teddy Allen
January 24, 2008

RUSTON — Some people might look at Louisiana Tech's 3-13 record in men's basketball, then look at the coaching staff and find it easy to understand why three of the four don't have any hair.

Bald as basketballs.

But they didn't pull their hair out. Truth is, the coaches just like their hair short. Once a week assistant Rennie Bailey, a mainstay on the Tech NCAA Tournament teams of the early 1980s, tells basketball secretary Rebecca Pesnell he's going to get a haircut as he walks out the door, rubbing nothing but fuzz on the top of his head.

"He's back in less than an hour," she said, "and you can't tell any difference."

Short can be good when it comes to hair.

But it's not so good when it comes to basketball teams. And Tech is short — short on height, on experience, on depth, and on wins. Tech's nine-player team is looking to go up, the only direction available at 0-4 in the WAC...
Go here for the remainder.

Last night in the WAC -- check out the Hawaii - NMSU game

Here's a collection of articles about last night's games written by the beat reporters at the various newspapers covering the WAC:

Bulldogs men get shut down by Nevada
Kemp and defense hand Fresno State another defeat
Gary Estwick
The Fresno Bee

RENO, Nev. -- Fresno State met a defense as stingy as its own Thursday night, and the result was stifling.
For the first time in weeks, Kevin Bell was unable to dominate the opposing point guard, especially in transition. Whenever Bell got a step against Armon Johnson, he had to contend with JaVale McGee and helping defenders.

Fresno State's offense never looked comfortable during this 79-67 loss at Lawlor Events Center, reaching a new level of futility: The Bulldogs, revered nationally a season ago for their long-distance shooting, endured a first half without converting a 3-pointer.

By the time Bell made the first shot behind the arc early in the second half, they trailed by 19, and Marcelus Kemp answered every Bulldogs' comeback attempt.

The Nevada guard picked apart the Western Athletic Conference's top defense, scoring a game-high 28 points, most of his shots coming around the rim. When matched against bigger defenders, like Nedeljko Golubovic, he penetrated. When he faced shorter players, such as Tyson Parker, he just elevated.

"I took what they gave me, and the shots were falling," Kemp said...
Go here for the remainder.

From the Nevada point of view:

Pack basketball: Kemp leads Nevada past Fresno State
Steve Sneddon
February 1, 2008

Although the Nevada basketball might have hit bottom the last time it played at Lawlor Events Center, the Wolf Pack accelerated its rise when it returned home Thursday night.

Marcelus Kemp scored 28 points to become the fourth-leading career scorer in school history to lead Nevada past Fresno State, 79-67, in front of 7,317 fans. Brandon Fields had 17 points and JaVale McGee finished with 15 points.

The win was Nevada’s third in a row and 11th in the last 14 games as it ran its record to 13-7 and 5-2 in the Western Athletic Conference going into its game at WAC-leading Utah State on Saturday night. Fresno State, which has lost eight of 10 games on opponents’ home courts, dropped to 10-12 overall and 3-5 in the WAC.

“We’re getting better and we can still get better,” Nevada coach Mark Fox said. “I think this team has continued to get better throughout the year. That’s the thing we’ve been focused on doing and I’ve been pleased with the progress.

“In certain areas, we may take a step backward, but we take more steps forward than we do back. We need to learn from our wins like we did our losses early in the year.”

The Pack has won by nine points or more against New Mexico State, Louisiana Tech and Fresno State since losing at home to Boise State, 95-80, Jan. 19.

“This is the best team we’ve played,” Fresno State coach Steve Cleveland said. “This is the best defensive team we’ve played, and Marcelus Kemp is by far the best player in the league. He’s pretty special...
Go here for the remainder.

But the biggest game was in Honolulu where Hawaii was 'on' all 40 minutes and took apart New Mexico State:

'White-Out' wipeout as Hawai'i rolls, 94-71
Dayton Morinaga
Honolulu Advertiser
February 1, 2008

White-Out Win.


That's probably the reaction of the rest of the Western Athletic Conference after the University of Hawai'i men's basketball team's statement-making 94-71 victory over New Mexico State last night.

A "White-Out" crowd of 3,485 at the Stan Sheriff Center watched the Rainbow Warriors improve to 9-11 overall and move into fourth place in the WAC at 5-3. The 'Bows are just one game behind first-place Utah State, which is 5-1.

Last night's victory was surprising for the margin more than anything else. The only team to beat New Mexico State by a larger margin this season was Duke.

New Mexico State, which came to Honolulu off a 30-point victory over Utah State, dropped to 11-12 and 5-3.

"I give my team credit for giving a great effort," Hawai'i head coach Bob Nash said. "The hustle was there for every single play."

The 'Bows out-hustled, out-shot and out-ran the Aggies practically from start to finish.

Matt Gibson led the effort with 20 points and a career-high 11 assists. He shot 8 of 15 from the field, and guided the Hawai'i offense to its best performance of the season.

"That's what we're capable of," Gibson said. "That's not me, that's guys knocking down shots."

Jared Dillinger led the shooters with a career-high 19 points, including five 3-pointers...
Go here for the remainder.

Here's an article about Boise State and the fight to make the cutoff for The Big Dance:

College basketball's complicated ratings index could hurt BSU's NCAA hopes
Nick Jezierny
Idaho Statesman
February 01, 2008

College basketball's complicated ratings index could hurt BSU's NCAA hopes
They each have college degrees, but don't bother asking Boise State seniors Matt Bauscher, Matt Nelson and Tyler Tiedeman to explain the three magic letters of college basketball: RPI.
About all they can tell you is that the statistical ratings, which are used by the NCAA Tournament selection committee to help determine its field, probably will keep the Broncos out of the Big Dance if they fail to win the WAC Tournament in March.

As of Monday, which was the last time the NCAA updated the RPI rankings, the 15-5 Broncos were ranked 124th out of 341 teams (a smaller number is better). Only 65 teams are selected for the tournament.

"It's frustrating, but there is nothing the players can do about it," Tiedeman said. "We're just trying to go out and take care of our end of the deal, which is to win games, and that's what we've been doing."

The RPI, which stands for Ratings Percentage Index, is a formula with three basic components:

Overall win-loss record against Division I teams counts as 25 percent.

A team's opponents' win-loss record counts as 50 percent.

The team's opponents' opponents' win-loss record counts as 25 percent...
Go here for the remainder.

Finally, the Utah State player previously suspended are back:

Suspensions lifted
Shawn Harrison
Logan Herald Journal
February 1, 2008

They’re back.

Four Aggie men’s basketball players that were suspended last Saturday for one game each are back in the fold. Three of them will be available for action this Saturday when Utah State hosts Nevada in a Western Athletic Conference game at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. The fourth is redshirting.

“As far as our guys that were suspended, they will be available for play on Saturday,” USU head coach Stew Morrill said Thursday during a press conference. “This one-game week gave me a chance to meet with them and all of that.”

Hours before facing New Mexico State last Saturday in Las Cruces, N.M., Morrill announced the suspensions of senior forward Stephen DuCharme, junior guard Desmond Stephens and freshmen guards Jaxon Myaer and Pooh Williams. The four Aggies were sent back to Logan on Friday night for violating an undisclosed infraction of team rules. Myaer is redshirting this season.

The violation, which has not been disclosed by Morrill, took place Jan. 24, in Ruston, La., after USU had defeated Louisiana Tech earlier that night.

“As I told you before, this was a case of some good kids making a bad choice,” Morrill said Thursday. “We’re done with it and moving on. They have apologized to their teammates and coaches. We’re on to the next thing. They will play on Saturday.”

As far as Morrill is concerned, the matter is now closed and the team is moving forward...
Go here for the remainder.