Friday, October 31, 2008

You can call him Ray...

We're showing our age here but every time we hear the name Ray, well, let's just say a salute goes out to Bill Saluga for his very funny schtick from the 1970s: "...You can call me Ray, or you can call me Jay, or you can call me Johnny or you can call me Sonny, or you can call me RayJay, or you can call me RJ..."

Anyway, enough with our musings. The young man featured here already has a nickname and it's not Kraemer or, heaven forbid, Cosmo.

Spotlight on Ray Kraemer
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal

‘Pizza Man’ Kraemer looking to deliver defense, outside shooting

Before a practice last week, Nevada coach Mark Fox pulled Ray Kraemer aside to deliver a message.

“You’re a much better player today than you were one year ago,” Fox told Kraemer.

Last season, the 6-foot-4, 200-pound Kraemer made the sometimes rough transition from the junior-college ranks to the Division I level.

Like most JC transfers, it took some time for Kraemer to adjust to the speed of the game, but he eventually became comfortable...

Go here for the remainder.

WAC refs to focus on these areas

Here it is straight from the WAC league office on what areas the referees will be focusing on this season. We've already witnessed the no-palming emphasis:

Official Blog of the WAC
Thursday, October 30, 2008
New Basketball Rules for the 2008-2009 Season

As we head into the basketball season there have been a few rule changes that you may be interested in…..

The following changes were approved by the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Committee:

Three Point Line: A significant rules change for the upcoming season is the moving of the men’s three point line to 20 feet 19 inches. The women’s three point line will remain the same (19 feet 9 inches)...

Go here for the remainder.

This is just amazing

Maybe there should be some sort of intelligence meter that determines a person's right to vote next week. We're certainly coming around to such thinking the more and more we come across message board posts like the following. From the Utah State basketball Scout message board comes this gem:

* aggieblue9610
Posted: Yesterday 1:04 PM
Stew needs to go
This is not my opinion! But a friend brought this up to me.

We are good at being mediocre. We win most of our games but we do not go far in the NCAA tournament. Our teams play hard and we have very fun seasons, but we have reached a plateau, and as long as Stew is our coach we will stay here. Is it our goal every year to play for our conference championship, then lose in the first round of the NCAA?? Should we be satisfied with what we have now, or should we want a sweet 16 run once in a while?? Will it ever happen with stew as our coach? Could we find a better coach?

We are good, but do we want to be great??



The above generated some very funny responses (which is primarily the reason we're presenting this) but surprisingly no hot and heavy return ordnance. Maybe the responders thought it was a hopeless cause as yes, a mind is a terrible thing to lose, but some resurrections are beyond the pale. Here you go:

* leapandlean
Posted: Yesterday 5:05 PM
Re: Stew needs to go
Bring your friend to center court in the Spectrum and lets all point and chant "STUPID"..... STUPID......STUPID"

* bluegrouse
Posted: Yesterday 5:34 PM
Re: Stew needs to go

You know I have read a lot of stupid things on this board over the last ten years but this one is several notches above them all on the stupid-o-meter.

Truly clueless.

* RiverHeightsAggie
Posted: Yesterday 7:02 PM
Re: Stew needs to go

aggieblue9610 wrote: a friend brought this up to me.


I have a thought for you. Choose better friends!
Our PTW response, courtesy of Joni Mitchell: "Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got 'till it's gone..."

Chris Murray outdoes himself

A round of applause (or two) to Chris Murray for the time and effort he put in to produce the following article - a rundown on the experience or lack thereof for each WAC team.

Pack not the only young team in the WAC
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal

I am working on some stories for our Wolf Pack Special Section (scheduled to be published in Nov. 8's edition) and one of the stories is on the youth of this year's team. As has been well documented, the Pack's roster consists of four freshmen, three sophomore, four juniors and one senior. But Nevada is far from the only WAC program with a young team. Here is a breakdown of each of the teams:

Go here for the remainder.

An update on the Nevada Three...Two...One

Here's Chris Murray with an update on Mark Fox's thinking about the recent shoplifting imbroglio for a few of Nevada's players:

Pack basketball: Fox says suspended players must face consequences
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal
October 31, 2008

Nevada coach Mark Fox remains disappointed in the situation three suspended Wolf Pack players put his program in, and on Thursday reiterated each is still suspended indefinitely.

"Whether they did something wrong or did something right, our program is still in a situation that I don't like," Fox told reporters inside Legacy Hall. "Certainly, there's some consequences for the plight that our program has had to deal with.

"Every kid in our program understands that there's a standard of behavior that I expect them to meet. And certainly young people are not going to be perfect, and there's going to be times when they don't meet that standard. But when they don't, there's certainly going to be consequences..."

Go here for the remainder.

Jason Groves' latest on the NMSU team makeup

Here's Jason Groves, on top of NMSU basketball matters as usual, regarding the Aggie participants in tonight's Aggie contest.

Aggies open exhibition schedule vs. Highlands
Jason Groves
Las Cruces Sun-News

Menzies said every player except freshman point guard Terrance Joyner will suit up for the Aggies tonight. Menzies hopes to have Joyner sooner than the semester break if he is cleared by the NCAA, but at the very least, Joyner will join the team after the first semester ends.

Menzies expects 7-foot center Abdoulaye N'doye to come to campus next semester, but unlike Rahman, Lumpkins and Gillenwater, N'doye will have the luxury of practicing with the team while he sits out. Menzies said N'doye is scheduled to take his SAT in Senegal this week.

Guard Makhtar Diop is also listed on the roster, but he is not able to practice with the team during his redshirt year.

Herb Pope has struck out for 2008-2009

The NCAA has closed the case on Herb Pope's attempt to play this season and, in contradiction of our nation's past time, one only get two strikes with the NCAA.

Herb Pope’s Waiver Denied Again
Adam Zagoria
Zag's Blog
October 31, 2008

For the second time this month, sophomore forward Herb Pope was denied a waiver from the NCAA that would have enabled him to play at Seton Hall this year.

“The NCAA Subcommittee of Legislative Relief has upheld the staff decision to deny the transfer waiver request for Seton Hall men’s basketball student athlete Herb Pope,” read a statement from the NCAA and Seton Hall. “This denial of the transfer year-in-residence waiver was based on case precedent and the intent of the legislation. The 6-foot-8, 235-pound Pope will be eligible to practice with the Pirates this season, but won’t see game action until 2009-10.”

Pope’s initial request for a waiver that would have enabled him to play for the 2008-09 season was denied earlier this month. Seton Hall then appealed, leading to the second denied request.

“I came here with the intent of sitting out this season,” Pope, a native of Alquippa, Pa., said last week, before the latest decision was handed down. “I hope that they understand my problems and what’s going on, but everybody told me before coming here that it’s not very likely, that they don’t give out very many waivers, and I understood that...”

Go here for the remainder.

A hat tip to Stew Morrill

How does Stew Morrill do it? No, not his superb success in Logan but his talent for coming up with great pre-season lines year after year, especially ones about how poorly his players are performing. Are you convinced? Should be start shipping 'care' packages to the Aggie coaching staff to aid them in getting through this season? Regardless, you gotta love Morrill -- check out the second paragraph.

Aggies sloppy in scrimmage
Shawn Harrison
Logan Herald Journal
October 30, 2008

There was an odor Wednesday night at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.

And it wasn’t a pleasant one for Aggie head men’s basketball coach Stew Morrill, even though there were plenty of good treats being handed out by Blue-White scrimmage sponsor Macey’s. Utah State’s 2008-09 team was on display for the first time in front of fans, and it didn’t go real well.

“I wasn’t real sure if I wanted to do a Blue-White, where it’s so early,” Morrill said. “I’m glad we did. We needed to get that stench out of the gym...”

Go here for the remainder.

Chris Murray's take on Louisiana Tech

Here's Chris Murray with his set of previews on the WAC:

WAC Basketball: LaTech's Gibson is conference's leading returning scorer
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal
October 31, 2008

Editor's note: This is the fourth in a nine-part series previewing the WAC basketball teams (in order from worst to first, according to the preseason coaches' poll).

If you still have a roster from last season's Louisiana Tech basketball team, you might as well throw it away.

There aren't too many names on it that also will be on this year's roster.

In fact, the Bulldogs return only three players who appeared in a game last season. But that's not a bad thing considering the team finished 6-24 overall and 3-13 in the Western Athletic Conference (last place).

The hope in Ruston, La., is that last season's doormats could be this year's world-beaters...

Go here for the remainder.

Chris Murray on 2008-2009 Hawaii basketball

You know how this feature on the 2008-2009 Hawaii men's basketball team could have been better? If the big poobahs at the Reno Gazette-Journal had ponied up for a roundtrip airline ticket and a nice three-day stay in a Waikiki hotel room for Chris Murray to fully investigate Bob Nash's team this coming season.

No, we are not trolling to become Murray's agent.

WAC basketball: Transfer Flemings is big pickup for Warriors
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal
October 30, 2008

Every time the Hawaii basketball team took the floor last season, there was a little bit of a David-versus-Goliath theme about the game.

The undersized Rainbow Warriors were crushed on the boards last season, being outrebounded by an average 7.9 rebounds. That issue was addressed in the offseason.

"Our team completely shifted," said 6-foot-9, 220-pound forward Bill Amis, Hawaii's lone returning starter. "We'll be a better rebounding team, that was one of our biggest struggles last year was interior rebounding, so we've bolstered the inside a little bit."

Last season, Hawaii was forced to play many of its games with a 6-5 or 6-6 power forward. That won't be a problem this season...

Go here for the remainder.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Do watch this you Aggie fans

Actually this is really for all fans, not just those who follow the Aggies but we thought the following video was quite appropriate since two Aggie teams populate the WAC.

Thank you to for a great sendup.

Roderick Flemings 'leaves' Hawaii

In the vein of the Weekly World News (the latter currently contains this headline -- "9-FT-TALL CYCLOPS JOINS NBA" -- the National Enquirer, even good ol' Fox News too often and definitely in far too many current political campaigns, we offer that Hawaii's top recruit has left the islands.

It's a 100% indisputable truth.

Flemings has an ailing grandfather in Texas and has gone to visit his relative. He'll be back in school on Monday.

Actually, our best wishes go out to Fleming' grandfather for a quick and complete recovery and that the young man will be able to return to his academics and basketball playing without such a heavy burden on his mind.

Yes, this was a pretty lame-brained attempt at displaying how even fact can be used to infer something that isn't accurate.

We see it in headlines, in the leads of articles, hear such on television and radio, even encounter it in pixelated postings on the 'net.

So let's vow to be much more careful and circumspect in what we say and how we write and display so-called thoughts and information (PTW definitely included) as well as in the depth of material we read, see and hear.

Add to this that we need to up our willingness to admit when we are wrong rather than bluster about this and that, attempting to avoid or obscure the central fact of being incorrect.

Okay, class is over and do send good thoughts to Roderick Flemings and his family.

Pepperdine nabs a kid over Utah State and others

This isn't necessarily new news but it does contain a Utah State mention. Lowery is 6-3, 195 shooting guard and ESPN offered this item: "Ineligible for senior year as used four years of eligiblity. Played 3 years in Washington state and last season at Desert Vista (Phoenix). Still needs courses to graduate."

DV’s Lowery looking ahead to Pepperdine
Ryan Casey
October 29, 2008

Josh Lowery's basketball career at Desert Vista is officially over, but the senior is looking ahead.

Lowery, who had his final appeal to an AIA ruling deeming him ineligible for the upcoming season denied last Thursday, committed to Pepperdine in August and is working out five days a week to prepare himself for that challenge...

...Lowery turned down offers from San Diego, Tulane, San Francisco, Weber State, Air Force and Utah State, among others, to commit to the Waves...

Go here for the full article.

Here's your new New Mexico State Aggies

Jason Groves rolls out your 2008-2009 New Mexico State Aggies.

Introducing the 2008-09 NMSU men's basketball team
Jason Groves
Las Cruces Sun-News

LAS CRUCES — The staple of the New Mexico State basketball program in recent years has been athletic players who were capable of playing multiple positions.

That trend will continue with the 2008-09 Aggies, who play host to New Mexico Highlands in an exhibition game on Friday at the Pan American Center at 7 p.m.

Even the center position, which includes just two players in true freshman Chris Gabriel and redshirt freshman Hamidu Rahman, will be asked to play the power forward spot in addition to the five spot.

Look for guards and forwards to play at least two positions, possibly three...

Go here for the remainder.

Louisiana Tech target decides on Southern

There is something that doesn't quite add up here but is reporting that junior college guard Junior Treasure (reserve a spot for him on the all-name team) has decided that texas Southern is his Division 1 choice.

What seems incongruent is that LSU, Louisiana Tech, Texas Tech, Florida, and Texas A&M are mentioned as the other schools pursuing Treasure.

Granted, the kid is a Houston native but turning one's back on some very high majors for a SWAC Houston-based school seems unusual.

According to Rivals, New Mexico and Baylor also offered. He apparently gave Houston a verbal coming out of high school but it appears academics forced him to the junior college ranks. So maybe his desire to get home topped everything else.

Any of you Tech fans know if Kerry Rupp was serious about Junior Treasure?

Darrell Moody on Luke Babbitt

Here's more on Nevada's ' Golden Child' -- Darrell Moody is very familiar with Luke Babbitt, having seen him play at Galena High in Reno. We still believe Babbitt will be the POY in the WAC this season. His biggest adjustment will be on defense where he'll need help from the other Wolf Pack frontcourters if he wishes to stay out of foul trouble.

Author Sinclair Lewis wrote a book titled "Babbitt' and it ironically featured 'boosterism' among other subjects. We are Babbitt boosters no doubt but grounded in reality -- at least we think so.

Babbitt and Nevada now a match
Darrell Moody
Nevada Appeal Sports Writer
October 29, 2008

RENO — It was the middle of June in 2007. While most of his Galena High buddies were enjoying the start of their summer vacations, Luke Babbitt was wrestling with what might prove to be a career-altering decision regarding his basketball future.

The 6-foot-9 Babbitt, who had watched Ohio State and Texas play football on his recruiting trip to Columbus, had given the Buckeyes a verbal commitment shortly after he led Galena to the state championship in Las Vegas several months earlier.

As time passed, however, he was starting to waver. He made a call to Nevada coach Mark Fox and asked to talk to him; asked if Nevada still had a place for him. Of course Fox said yes, and Nevada had stolen probably its most-famous recruit ever right out of the hands of a Big Ten school...

Go here for the remainder.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Luke! Luke! Luke!

We are among the fans of Luke Babbitt. Sure, he is a freshman but he is one special frosh. We are wondering just what the Utah State or New Mexico State student sections will come up with to razz him? Maybe 'Matthew, Mark, John and L-U-K-E!!!' Or will that be the chant for Nevada fans?

Cool hand Luke: Babbitt ignores sky-high expectations, focuses on doing what he can to help Pack win
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal

Kirk Snyder. Nick Fazekas. Ramon Sessions.

All three led the Nevada basketball team to Western Athletic Conference titles.

All three led the Wolf Pack to NCAA Tournament victories.

All three have played in the NBA.

But none of them stepped on the Nevada campus with as much hype and hoopla as Luke Babbitt, the Wolf Pack freshman and McDonald’s All-American who played his high school games 15 miles away from Lawlor Events Center.

One college basketball writer predicted that Babbitt will put up numbers comparable to those compiled by Kevin Durant and Michael Beasley, the last two national freshmen of the year. That’s elite company...

Go here for the remainder.

Chris Murray offers a Fresno State preview

Here's Chris Murray with another look at Steve Cleveland and Fresno State.

WAC basketball: Bulldogs will be short on essentials this season
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal
October 29, 2008

Editor's note: This is the second in a nine-part series previewing the WAC basketball teams (in order from worst to first, according to the preseason coaches' poll).

This season's Fresno State basketball team is short on experience. It's short on proven scoring. And it's short on preseason praise.

But Bulldogs coach Steve Cleveland is sure of one thing...

Go here for the remainder.

Brandon Fields is a free man

Okay, one has pleaded out (London Giles), one remains for adjudication (Ahyaro Phillips) and Brandon Fields is a free man.

Pack basketball: Case against Nevada's Fields dismissed
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal
October 29, 2008

The petty larceny charge against Nevada basketball player Brandon Fields, a preseason All-Western Athletic Conference second-team selection, was dismissed Tuesday afternoon.

“We’re extremely pleased with the result for Brandon,” his lawyer, Scott Freeman, said Wednesday. “It vindicates him from any allegation that he was involved in any illegal activity...”

Go here for the remainder.

The "Getting No Love' players in the WAC Part Deux

There are a few players in the WAC who aren't getting any love from the media. We're not sure why but it probably has to do with the fact that nobody has seen them play. It's much easier and convenient and certainly understandable to pick returnees to the various pre-season All-WAC teams because they are the familiar.

So the second 'overlooked' player we are featuring is 6-4 Adrian Oliver of San Jose State.

You won't find his name among any of the first or second All-WAC selections from either the media or the league coaches. Yet he went to a top (at least then) PAC-10 program coming out of high school after turning down an offer from Kentucky and declining Kansas and other PAC-10 schools.

So why the omission?

Oliver was the 64th best recruit in the country as a Modesto Christian senior per Bob Gibbons in 2006.

He was the 13th best prospect in Long Beach Press Telegram's "Best In The West" selections as a senior.

Rivals placed him 11th in California during his senior season.

As with Magnum Rolle, nobody in the bevy of WAC beat reporters has seen Oliver play -- that accounts for the media exclusion.

But it seemingly should be a different case for at least a few of the coaches throughout the league. Granted, Oliver was being recruited as a high major as a senior and none of the WAC coaches bothered to pitch any overtures and rightfully so but his talent was still known and there had to be club team games and tournaments where Oliver was seen.

Again, why the omission?

This was Lorenzo Romar on Oliver soon after landing him: “He is an extremely complete guard who can shoot the three and play any position on the perimeter. He brings a high level of toughness and a winning attitude to our program.”

Granted, coaches offer these types of platitudes to every recruit but this actually was the consensus about Oliver as a high school senior.

As a freshman, Oliver played all 32 games for the Huskies, starting 13 while averaging 21 minutes. He scored 4.7 points and grabbed 3.1 rebounds a contest while finishing third on the team in steals. He also posted a 71-47 assist-to-turnover ratio.

But knee, nose and back injuries decimated Oliver's sophomore season early on and that, plus family needs and the sense that Romar wanted him to play more at the point than any other position, lured him back to California.

While Oliver can certainly handle the ball and can create for himself and others, he's more of a scorer and -- very importantly -- one who wants to be scrapping inside for offensive rebounds as often as possible. He jumps very well and physical play is no deterrent to him. Such isn't the mindset of most points so positioning him as such isn't the most proficient use of his talents. Do note his 3.1 rebounding average as a frosh.

Located in the area, we just had the opportunity to see Oliver play in a San Jose State scrimmage -- our first chance to view him on the court since his senior year in high school.

Our observation: He remains a tough, ultra-competitive and strong-willed player.

Call it a high basketball IQ or the ability to discern a play unfold before it takes place -- whatever description fits best -- Oliver possesses it. He best displayed this when situated on the right side of the floor about 15 feet out defending his matchup. Just as an another opposing guard began a dribble-drive from on top, went into the key and neared the basket for a layup attempt, Oliver sprinted towards the basket and, as if out of nowhere, jumped and blocked the shot. The fans certainly didn't see it coming and neither did the player who thought he was in the mist of racking up a basket.

Oliver also managed a number of tips on offensive rebounds, with a couple being attempted slams off the missed shot of others. He's a quick leaper, needing little time to get in the air.

It was clear to us that as a coach you want him in the mix and not outside as a typical point attempting to prevent or slow down fastbreaks and the like. It's not that Oliver couldn't play such a role, more simply a misuse of one of his major abilities.

Granted, his outside shot wasn't particularly on during this particular scrimmage but worry hasn't set in.

Oliver will be teamed up with fellow sophomore Justin Graham in the Spartan backcourt this season, after sitting out the initial six games due to his transfer. This gives San Jose State two talented playmakers, a description in this use meaning players who can creates for themselves and their teammates. Expect the San Jose State players to post both higher shooting percentages because of the Oliver/Graham duo's ability to create and resulting greater assist totals.

Graham played the point last year and will again be charged with bring the ball up the floor, thus allowing Oliver to play the game he's been polishing all his life.

Reggie Moore, meet Abdul Gaddy

Let's take the time to introduce Reggie Moore to the latest University of Washington recruit Abul Gaddy. For those in the dark about Gaddy, please exit your cave and try this link and then this link.

As for a little Reggie Moore background, he was a promising prep guard in the Seattle area who signed early with Fresno State last year but then enjoyed a breakout senior season and decided the San Joaquin Valley was not to his liking.

He's now at a prep school in the East as a fifth-year player with the best scenario hopes of aligning himself with Lorenzo Romar either this November or in the second signing period in 2009.

Now it could still happen but it's seeming far less likely.

Gaddy just may be a one-and-done recruit -- a two-and-done at the longest. So there could still be room and use for Moore.

Freshman Isaiah Thomas will man the point as the starter for the Huskies this season with senior Justin Dentmon backing him up. Thomas is 5-8, has the high rep of a shooter and should be in Seattle for four years. Coincidentally, he is also a Washington native who spent time back east at a prep school.

Gaddy will be an immediate starter, probably alongside Thomas. Utahan C.J. Wilcox, a shooting guard is also arriving in Seattle with a sterling rep as a shooter-scorer.

What makes all this even more interesting is this October 1 note at Jim Basnight's Husky Digest indicating Moore and Washington are a match never to be.

So Reggie Moore could have been leading the Fresno State Bulldogs this season as the starting point instead of prep school. It would have been a rough season given the lack of experienced talent in Raisintown this go-around but Steve Cleveland's team is heading up after 2008-2009.

It will be fascinating where Moore does finally end up and how his college career plays out but no, don't bother getting your hopes up (again) you Red Wavers. That isn't going to happen.

Chris Murray goes inside with Malik Cooke

Chris Murray continues with his features on each member of the 2008-2009 Wolf Pack -- today it's Malik Cooke.

Pack basketball: Cooke a versatile weapon in Pack's arsenal
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal
October 29, 2008

Watch Malik Cooke on the basketball court for a few minutes and you quickly discover he isn't your normal player.

For starters, the Nevada sophomore can play almost every position on the court, from shooting guard to center.

Second, he stands an athletic 6-foot-6, but has the wing span of a 7-footer...

Go here for the remainder.

Cory Remekun to Majerus

Texas high schooler Cory Remekun has just verbaled to Rick Majerus and St. Louis University. The 6-8 Remekun also visited Utah State (as well as Missouri State, Western Kentucky and Tulane).

Credit Stew Morrill for landing a visit but our gut instinct says the kid was never going to announce his future destination as Logan. But then again, look how gut instinct has worked out for George Bush.

But there always the chance to get Remekun on the rebound because it seems about half of Majerus' recruits end up transferring out.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Teddy Feinberg on Big Wen

He isn't 6-8 but nobody tops Wendell McKines in fire and heart. Here's Teddy Feinberg giving some much needed time away from the keyboard and the pixels to Jason Groves. Actually, we imagine Jason is working on another NMSU article.

Wendell McKines returns to Las Cruces with refined game
Teddy Feinberg
Las Cruces Sun-News Sports Editor

LAS CRUCES — Wendell McKines didn't understand what Las Cruces meant to him until he actually left town.

"It's funny how it works," McKines said. "During last season, I was homesick, missing family and friends. But then when I went home, I missed Las Cruces more than I missed home when I was at school last year. It was then that I realized it was time to come back."

The New Mexico State basketball team couldn't have been happier with his decision. McKines was a solid find for the program, as one of coach Marvin Menzies' first recruits to see substantial minutes last year as a freshman.

He averaged 6.4 points per game and 5.9 rebounds per contest, doing much of the dirty work as a young player on a senior-heavy squad. McKines became a fan favorite for his style of play and was a reliable contributor that could be counted on down low.

Over the summer, however, McKines asked for his release from the program, citing the need to return to his home of Oakland, Calif., to be closer to his roots...

Go here for the remainder.

Andy Katz with a short take on Nevada

It's not especially chock full of news but it's still a WAC team mention on ESPN via Andy Katz. Here's the link.

Chris Murray offers more in the way of WAC team previews

Chris Murray begins his formal WAC previews.

WAC basketball: New coach has momentous rebuilding job at Idaho
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal
October 28, 2008

Editor's note: This is the first in a nine-part series previewing the WAC basketball teams (in order from worst to first, according to the preseason coaches' poll).

There are rebuilding jobs and then there is taking over the Idaho basketball program.

The Vandals haven't had a winning season since 1999 and have burned through three coaches in the last four seasons.

That's not exactly the most stable situation to step into. Enter first-year coach Don Verlin, who spent the past 15 years as an assistant under Utah State coach Stew Morrill...

Hit the link below for the remainder.

Monday, October 27, 2008

A couple of features on Hawaii hoops

Here's more on Hawaii's pre-season:

Nash slowing it down in practice
Brian McInnis
Honolulu Star Bulletin
October 26, 2008

With a week to go before the Hawaii men's basketball team's first exhibition game, the Rainbow Warriors' flex-motion offense remains a work in progress.

Coach Bob Nash brought the Rainbow Warriors' second batch of practices to a close yesterday after seeing the team run fullcourt, five-on-five sessions on both Thursday and Friday. Yesterday, he went back to breaking things down in halfcourt settings.

"(Friday) they weren't getting that part of it down as crisp as I would like," Nash said. "I think our halfcourt stuff is starting to come around, and I think we'll spend a little more time in the halfcourt to make sure we're solid in it. We know that we can get out and run and get some transition baskets off of turnovers and rebounds. But after made baskets guys gotta be in certain places to make that happen, and (Friday) that wasn't happening."

Starting jobs, for the most part, remain up for grabs, though Nash hinted he'd be leaning toward those with solid knowledge of the offensive system going into next Sunday's friendly contest against Hawaii-Hilo at the Stan Sheriff Center...

Go here for the remainder.


Fitzgerald takes aim at regaining UH scholarship
Dayton Morinaga
Honolulu Advertiser
October 26, 2008

Conrad Fitzgerald could become one of the greatest walk-on players in the history of the University of Hawai'i men's basketball program.

It's not a goal he was expecting to chase, but one he has accepted.

Fitzgerald, a 6-foot-5 redshirt freshman with the Rainbow Warriors, has emerged as a contender for serious playing time this season. He can play both the shooting guard and small forward positions, and has emerged as one of the strongest players on the team after a summer of weightlifting.

Still, he is without a scholarship...
Go here for the remainder.

A feature on Louisiana Tech's Kenneth Cooper

Here's an article on one of the LA TECH transfers who doesn't get as much 'pub' as some of his teammates who also came to Ruston from elsewhere:

Transfer Cooper seeks to bump up Tech hoops
Ethan Conley
The News Star
October 27, 2008

The decision to transfer from Oklahoma State to Louisiana Tech hinged on a simple desire for Kenneth Cooper and his family.

Both parties wanted him to come home.

The Richwood product played two years at Oklahoma State before sitting out last season as a transfer for the Bulldogs. He's eligible to suit up for Tech this season, and figures to be a key player on a much-improved team.

"My family couldn't come to my games," Cooper said. "They wanted me closer. I love having them be able to come and watch, so it's great to be close to home..."

Go here for the remainder.

You folks up Reno way

You fans up in Reno and the entire Wolf Pack basketball diaspora are a lucky bunch. Yes, there are a lot of reasons for this but a foremost one is having A.W. Prince as the person behind the Silver and Blue site that is easily the best WAC fan site period.

Prince also contributes to the Bear Territory site (he started it) and what sets him apart from others is his contacts throughout the sports world, the breaking recruiting information he posts, plus the time and energy he puts into the task.

He knows the kids, he knows the coaching staffs, he writes well and also provides excellent photography. Unlike most of us, Prince will travel to do in-person interviews and doesn't rely upon links to other articles and authors.

Do subscribe to his Nevada sports site and you will not be disappointed -- no, you will be thankful.

(We are not related to AW, nor does he have any incriminating photos of us but we did work for him in the past. He's a great guy, a tremendous resource and his site and the information he provides is what all others should emulate)

Getting way ahead in recruiitng

You have to love that Coach Mark Fox and Nevada often shoot big in the recruiting targets the Wolf Pack program selects. Of course it helps to have the record Nevada has put of the last five or so years so as to gain the attention of kids.

Price High's (southern California) Allen Crabbe, a 2010 shooting guard, is getting major attention from the PAC-10 but the folks in Reno are still in pursuit. He's 6-5 and 180 and appears ready to break into the national recruiting ranks. Here's an ESPN evaluation:


September, 2008: Crabbe continued to demonstrate why he is going to be one of the top recruits in the Class of 2010. His frame is filling out nicely and he has very good length as well. His jump shot wasn't falling, but he is already considered one of the elite shooters in the West. In the past when his shot wasn't falling, his impact would come to a standstill. However, he has now developed a much improved mid-range game and he's hitting the glass with more urgency as well. He still needs to get better with the ball when breaking down defenders, but overall he has definitely taken his game to the next level since the spring evaluation period.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

ESPN on former Wolf Packer Tyrone Hanson

Ty Hanson was excused from the Nevada basketball team early last season after a couple of problems and there was even some question about his safety if he remained in Reno after the last incident. ESPN has an article on Hanson and Chris Murray of the Reno Gazette-Journal came across it. It's a very interesting article but why or even why now are legitimate questions. It's certain that the Hanson followup has nothing to do with the recent shoplifting citations of three Nevada players.

ESPN The Magazine features ex-Pack player Hanson
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal

I was flipping through the latest ESPN The Magazine when I came across a story titled, "Could've Been Worse." The subhead was, "What do you call a former prep star who is brutally beaten and threatened at gunpoint, only to be kicked off his big-time college team and exiled to a sleepy juco in Arkansas? Lucky." Sounded like a good read, so I flipped the page and what did I see? A picture of former Wolf Pack basketball player Tyrone Hanson. I should have guessed that from the headlines, but didn't. I would like to provide a link to Jerry Bembry's feature of Hanson here, but it isn't posted anywhere online, not even on the magazine's Web site. So, instead of a link, I will post a skeleton of the story.

Could've Been Worse

The story starts with an anecdote about Hanson flying from Reno to his home in New York immediately after being kicked off the Pack. It was the same flight he took two months earlier -- when he flew into Reno before his sophomore season -- but in the opposite direction. He was flying home to his father, who raised him as a single parent and had saw him off to Reno just a few months before.

Hanson on returning to New York: "When my dad dropped me off (when I was going to Reno), he was so proud -- his son was doing something with his life, playing games on ESPN. Then there I was at the same place, with the same two bags, looking at my dad and thinking I'd let him down..."

Go here for the remainder.

Can Richie Phillips remain healthy?

Richie Phillips has luck all right. Unfortunately, it has been nothing but the bad sort since he enrolled at Nevada and began as a member of the Wolf Pack basketball team. Chris Murray has the latest on Phillips who just might play a major role this season if he remains in one piece.

Phillips could do "dirty work" for Nevada if he stays healthy
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal
October 26, 2008

Nevada Wolf Pack basketball player Richie Phillips has had plenty of reasons to quit.

There was the stress fracture in his right leg before his redshirt freshman season.

There was the torn finger tendon in the little finger of his left hand during his redshirt freshman season.

There was the stress fracture in his left leg that ended his sophomore season.

And that doesn't even count the wrist surgery he had his senior season at Franklin High School in Seattle.

But through it all, the 6-foot-7, 220-pound power forward has never thought about giving into the temptation to hang up his jersey...

Go here for the remainder.

Jason Groves looks at NMSU's center prospects

One of the keys to New Mexico State's season is the production Marvin Menzies will receive from his untested center candidates. Jason Groves fills us in on the latest.

Center of attention: Aggie big men an intriguing combination
Jason Groves
Las Cruces Sun-News

LAS CRUCES — New Mexico State has proven the Aggies can win with two centers.

As recently as last year, the Aggies enjoyed two productive men in the middle with Hatila Passos and Martin Iti.

The ultimate goal for the Aggies in 2008 is that redshirt freshman Hamidu Rahman and true freshman Chris Gabriel will develop into a similar duo in the paint.

"Both of them are very team oriented guys and they will do what it takes to win," Aggies head coach Marvin Menzies said. "They saw Martin and Hatila last year so they know what we expect from the position."

Menzies is not expecting two freshmen to duplicate the production of two fifth-year senior players, but he believes Rahman and Gabriel can develop into Division I centers...

Go here for the remainder.

That big 'big' decides to go with Cal

Idaho was probably never seriously in the running due to the eventual competition but it's actually worth looking at Don Verlin's pursuit of Markhuri Sanders-Frison in a somewhat positive vein.

Every so often coaches need to shoot for prospects generally considered longshots because it works once in a while. Sanders-Frison is from Oregon, hence Idaho's interest and sense that the kid might be reachable.

Our sense is the Idaho coaching staff didn't put in an overload of time or focus nor invest a lot of recruiting funds in this pursuit so this is not a big loss. Sanders-Frison probably would have laughed off any Idaho approach if this was last season, so, as strange as it sounds, consider this a sliver of news that things are changing in Moscow despite not landing the young man.

Jed Tai

Since graduating from Jefferson High School in 2006, Markhuri Sanders-Frison has seen the world. Ok, maybe not the world but the strong 6-foot-8, 270-pound post has gotten a good glimpse of the United States, having spent a year in prep school on the East Coast, a year in junior college in Arizona, and is now down at South Plains College in Texas. His heart never left the West Coast however, and after taking an official visit this weekend to a Pac-10 school Sanders-Frison decided it was time to come back closer to home.

On his official visit to Cal, Sanders-Frison made a big decision. "(I) just committed!!!" Sanders-Frison text messaged early Saturday evening...

Go here for the remainder and a Rivals subscription is required.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Can you handle another Herb Pope mention?

Here's a take on hardship waivers for transferring players in college basketball and Herb Pope gets a mention.

Hardship waivers causing headaches for college coaches
Dana O'Neil
October 23, 2008

NEW YORK -- Will Harris, a forward from the University of Virginia, just found out he won't have to sit out the mandatory transfer year and is eligible to play at the University at Albany immediately.

Harris was granted a hardship waiver after Albany appealed on his behalf, arguing that Harris needed to move closer to his Queens home to help his mother, a single parent, and his three considerably younger siblings...

...But Gonzalez, who has two players waiting in the wings, sees things a touch differently. Herb Pope, who came to Seton Hall from New Mexico State, is awaiting an appeal from the NCAA after his initial attempt at immediate eligibility was rejected...

...Gonzalez said that Pope's appeal is based on additional information about his grandfather's health, as well as documents that explain how Pope, who was cited for DUI last season, struggled with his own health and academic issues because he had to commute back and forth for the DUI hearings and appearances...

Go here for the full article.

A Utah State update

This doesn't tell us all that much but it's very early.

Progress being made
Shawn Harrison
The Herald Journal
October 25, 2008

With one week of practice under its belt, the Aggie men’s basketball team will get together this morning at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum for a closed scrimmage.

After four 10-minute sessions, Utah State head coach Stew Morrill will then start to evaluate where his 2008-09 team is. The clock is ticking, as he said Friday after a practice, with the first game quickly approaching. The Aggies host Northwest Nazarene in an exhibition contest Oct. 31.

“It’s fun to be back out here; I always enjoy this time of year, because this is when you are developing your roles, your chemistry and what type of character you’re going to have,” Morrill said. “At the same time, the clock is ticking, games are around the corner.”

USU will actually play in front of a crowd on Wednesday in the annual Blue-White Scrimmage...

Go here for the remainder

Friday, October 24, 2008

The "Getting No Love' players in the WAC

There are a few players in the WAC who aren't getting any love from the media. We're not sure why but it probably has to do with the fact that nobody as yet has seen them play. It's much easier and convenient and certainly understandable to pick returnees to the various pre-season All-WAC teams because they are the familiar.

But curiously, this lack of exposure hasn't limited the flow of accolades towards Nevada's Luke Babbitt, who 95% or so of the WAC beat reporters have yet to witness on a court. Do not take this as any knock towards Babbitt as he will be everything most are saying about him but it's interesting that his high school rep has thoroughly determined the thinking of many, including us.

Here's the recent player predictions from the media:

Preseason All-WAC Team

Jonathan Gibson, Jr., G, New Mexico State
Kyle Gibson, Jr., G, Louisiana Tech
Armon Johnson, So., G, Nevada
C.J. Webster, Jr., C, San Jose State
Gary Wilkinson, Sr., F, Utah State

Preseason Player of the Year: Gary Wilkinson, Sr., F, Utah State

Newcomer of the Year: Luke Babbitt, Fr., F, Nevada

But even the league coaches are in on this to a degree while selecting first and second team all-league squads.

Preseason All-WAC Teams

First Team

Jonathan Gibson, Jr., G, New Mexico St.
Kyle Gibson, Jr., G, Louisiana Tech
Armon Johnson, So., G, Nevada
C.J. Webster, Jr., C, San Jose State
Gary Wilkinson, Sr., F, Utah State

Player of the Year: Armon Johnson, Nevada

Second Team

Luke Babbitt, Fr., F, Nevada
Brandon Fields, Jr., G, Nevada
Anthony Thomas, Jr., Boise State
Tai Wesley, So., F, Utah State
Jahmar Young, So., G, New Mexico St.

So the first 'overlooked' player we are featuring is 6-10, 220-pound Magnum Rolle of Louisiana Tech.

In 16.7 minutes a game while a soph at Louisiana State in the very tough SEC, Rolle averaged 4.0 ppg., 4.1 rpg. and 1.1 blocked shots a contest. He shot.431% in obviously limited playing time and made nine starts.

Those aren't 'dump-upon' numbers for a player in the midst of his second season especially in such a conference. But what wasn't noted was that then LSU Coach John Brady wanted less mistakes and errors from Rolle and probably also wanted him to physically mix it up more. The latter aspect just may not be part of his game.

Now there may be some degree of rust to his game due to his sit-out last season but we feel the appropriate expectations of Rolle should be that his numbers projection will be a very healthy one in 2008-2009.

This is because:

*** he'll be playing 30 or so minutes a game
*** he'll be a featured player, meaning he or Kyle Gibson will lead the Bulldogs in shooting attempts
*** he'll be going up against lesser opponents than he faced in the SEC and enjoy many more height and quickness mismatches
*** 6-10, 260-pound starting center Kenneth Cooper will be primarily focused on defense and rebounding, allowing greater freedom for Rolle on the court

BACKGROUND: Rolle is a native of the Bahamas who verbally committed to Florida State before attending prep school for a year. Then he signed on with LSU and spent two years in Baton Rouge. Rolle is marvelously athletic and gets up and down the floor well -- he's one of those types assistant coaches out scouting fall in love with immediately. But he also is a latecomer to basketball and it will be curious to see what rawness remains evident.

Rolle aimed too high after his prep days, that is if he wanted or expected to be an immediate prime time player because he wasn't mentally ready nor was his skills set polished enough for major playing time. This is why he played so little at LSU...well that plus having Glenn Davis (Boston Celtics) and Tyrus Thomas (Chicago Bulls) in front of him.

Now Rolle is 22 and the Draft Express site has him ranked at #68 on its list of juniors vis a vis the NBA draft. But take it to the bank that such a rating is currently meaningless because nobody really knows what Rolle will display this season -- except for the LA TECH coaching staff -- because nobody else has seen him.

What is concerning is Rolle's free throw shooting proficiency. 'Reports' indicate that Rolle has nice range and a good faceup game but he shot 46% from the foul line as a freshman and 56% in his sophomore season while at LSU. These 'Shaq-like' numbers obviously must improve as well as his overall shooting consistency from the floor.

There's also the need for greater aggressiveness/more physical play out of Rolle. Scouts will be projecting him into the next level from the opening LT game and displaying too much reliance on finesse will not be beneficial to his professional rankings.

OUR TAKE FOR 2008-2009: Rolle earns second-team All-WAC honors this season at the minimum -- inclusion into the first team isn't out of reach. He's in perfect surroundings for his game and the emergence of a point guard for LA TECH will only enhance Rolle's production. Rumor has it that Rolle may be a one-and-done in Ruston -- his athleticness is already at an NBA level although greater strength would only be beneficial -- let's see just how far his skill development has progressed.

Utah State looking at a Wisconsin 'big'

Stew Morrill knows he needs a 'big' to help fill the hole that will be present when Gary Wilkinson graduates after this season -- Nate Bendall notwithstanding. Here's another kid the Aggies have offered but note that he's a 2010 recruit:

Ben Mills
6-10 205
Hartland, Wisconsin

He's unofficially tripped to Logan (besides many others) and supposedly has 11 offers to date. Most seem to be at the mid-major level but Minnesota is starting to pay attention.

Here's a link to a message board that has some summer posts and a couple of recent updates and a photo of Mills.

Here a link to an early October article.

In other news about power players, 6-10 215 Washingtonian Nate Budinich was being looked at by USU but his offers were from Eastern Washington and Montana State. He just committed to the latter.

Here's an update on Hawaii basketball

Hawaii basketball remains a work-in-progress as this article indicates:

Starting lineup still a work in progress
Practices developing depth, but search for first group continues
Dayton Morinaga
Honolulu Advertiser
October 24, 2008

The search for a starting unit for the University of Hawai'i men's basketball team is apparently going to be a little tougher than expected.

After one week of practices, Hawai'i head coach Bob Nash said the five starting spots are still open.

"Nothing's solid yet," junior forward Bill Amis said. "There's been different guys in there every day. We all just have to go out there and keep battling."

Amis is the only returning starter from last season's 11-19 team, and he has been working with the "first group" in recent practices.

But yesterday's practice did nothing to solidify a starting lineup...

Go here for the remainder.

Here's Chris Murray with a Nevada player legal update

Here's an update on the legal maneuverings of the three Wolf Pack players cited recently:

Two Pack players cited for petty larceny enter pleas
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal
October 23, 2008

Two of three University of Nevada basketball players accused of shoplifting last week have entered pleas, while a third is scheduled for arraignment Monday.

Freshman London Giles pleaded guilty Wednesday to petty larceny. His lawyer, Thomas Viloria, said the 6-foot-3 point guard from Dallas decided not to wait for arraignment and preferred to end the matter quickly...

Go here for the remainder.

Jahmar Young gets featured

The other backcourter (Jonathan Gibson was featured earlier) who appears primed to enjoy a good season for the New Mexico State Aggies is sophomore Jahmar Young. Jason Groves has a feature today.

Jahmar Young looks to take game to next level in sophomore campaign
Jason Groves
Las CrucesSun-News

LAS CRUCES — Growing up is a process, but for college athletes, that process often takes place in the public eye.

For Jahmar Young, that public eye is the Pan American Center floor.

As a New Mexico State freshman guard last year, Young walked off the court and left the facility during his team's 100-70 victory over Utah State, earning a one-game suspension.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, he poured in 33 points at Boise State in an important Western Athletic Conference road win.

Then in September, Young pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges and received a deferred sentence where if he stays out of trouble for a year, his record will be cleared...

Go here for the remainder.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

USU student newspaper on the new Aggies

We think the title of the following article is needlessly provocative -- although we may need to issue our own mea culpas at times regarding headlines we type and we are probably showing our age with this wussy reaction. Anyway, here's some information on the newbies at Utah State:

Basketball Preview: Meet the new meat
Matt Sonnenberg
October 22, 2008

This year's Utah State men's basketball roster has four players getting their first taste of basketball on the collegiate level in Deremy Geiger, Skyler Halford, Dominique Cooks and Brady Jardine. While all four players enter the program with impressive resumes from their high-school playing days, each of them are now facing their fair share of challenges in adjusting to the rigors of college basketball, not to mention the pressure of high expectations from coach carrying the type of accolades that head coach Stew Morrill can boast.

"It's a lot different than any other high school practice I've ever been, that's for sure," Halford said. "It's a lot more mentally draining than I've ever noticed in my life in any type of basketball situation. Your mental part is almost more than the physical part focusing on it."

Jardine said, "It's a whole new atmosphere. It's something I'm not used to, but I love it."

As is the case with most freshman early-on, their roles are not yet defined on the team. Halford said that for the time-being he's trying to do whatever he can to improve and make sure he's helping the team in any way he can.

"It's just a whole new level of toughness and you've got to step up to it and learn that you're going to take some shots, you're going to get beat up a little bit, you're going to get tired, but you've got to keep going," he said.

This year's freshman are ready to face the similar challenges those that every player has faced in trying to make their impact at USU...

Go here for the remainder.

Nevada transfer Joey Shaw gets some ink

Here's an article on a kid who will be one of Nevada's key players even if the legal issues facing three Wolf Packers gets resolved quickly and painlessly.

Pack basketball: Sharp-shooting Shaw gives Pack scoring, experience
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal
October 23, 2008

When Boise State coach Greg Graham heard Joey Shaw decided to play for the Nevada basketball team, he wasn't too pleased with the news.

"I was very disappointed he went there," Graham said.

It wasn't because Graham thought Nevada was a bad fit for Shaw, or vice versa. There was a more simple reason.

"I didn't want to have to play against him," Graham said.

Unfortunately for the rest of the teams in the Western Athletic Conference, Shaw did choose the Wolf Pack. If Nevada coach Mark Fox had his way, Shaw would have been in silver and blue two years ago...

Go here for the remainder.

A little more Fresno State background

Here's a column, not an article, on the state of basketball down Fresno way:

Penance over, Cleveland starts anew
Matt James
The Fresno Bee

It's a good question, and Steve Cleveland has thought about it often.

Being the men's basketball coach at Fresno State will make a man go through extensive periods of self-evaluation.

We will not relive every shovel-full of dirt that got the program into this predicament, just start with the premise that there is a hole and the program is not observing it casually from above.

You could say it's climbing out. You could say it's at the bottom. Whatever. There's a hole.

So when Cleveland took the job three seasons ago, he had a choice. He could go get the best freshmen who were willing to be Bulldogs, playing along with the idea that incoming freshmen are innocent and naive and hard-working. Hot spinning clay, ready to be molded. Also, they study.

Or, he could go get the best basketball players available, which is to say Division I transfers and junior college transfers. And we will go along with the notion that these players are more risky, because that is the notion...

Go here for the remainder.

Look at how young Fresno State will be this season

It is going to be a year to gain experience in Fresno this season what with all the frosh newcomers and another batch of the same ready to sign on in November. Sure, Steve Cleveland could have followed the usual FSU route and grabbed a load of junior college transfers but instead is smartly (in many ways) building a solid base from which to springboard.

Building blocks in place for Fresno State
Ken Robinson
The Fresno Bee

For a coach coming off a 13-19 season and dealing with limits on practice time and scholarships because of the compliance sins of previous regimes, Steve Cleveland is pretty upbeat at practice these days.

That's because the Fresno State basketball coach finally can look beyond the current season.

For his fourth go-round, Cleveland finally has the luxury of a freshman class. Six in all, along with three returning sophomores -- the wave of the future at the Save Mart Center.

"This group of freshmen and sophomores are the foundation for the turnaround of this program," Cleveland said. "The big picture is about to unfold in the next 12 to 18 months..."

Go here for the remainder.

Remember that the three-point distance has changed

We expect the three-point shooting percentages overall to decrease a tad this coming season due to the further distance but we're still not sure why 20 feet, nine inches was chosen. Hopefully, it wasn't one of those 'how can we get the most agreement' decisions where compromise rules the day and actual purpose gets lost.

NMSU players, coach don't expect 3-point line to be a factor
Jason Groves
Las Cruces Sun-News

LAS CRUCES — The consensus on the New Mexico State men's basketball team is that the further distance from 3-point land won't affect the Aggies this season. The reason stems from players such as Jahmar Young, Jonathan Gibson and Gordo Castillo.

"All of us can shoot the ball well," said Castillo, who was 12 for 27 (44 percent) from beyond the old arc as a freshman last year. "It's good to have so many guys that can shoot because when you drive and guys come off you, you can kick it out for an open shot. We just have to stay consistent."

The Aggies shot 35 percent from the old 3-point distance of 19 feet, 9-inches last year. Utah State led the Western Athletic Conference, shooting 40 percent, followed by Boise State (39 percent), Idaho (36) and Nevada (36)...

Go here for the remainder.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Idaho has offered a big 'big'

Idaho is in with some pretty tough company in pursuing Markhuri Sanders-Frison (California, Texas Christian and San Francisco) but the kid is from the Northwest and as a coach you need to shoot high every so often. Here's Jed Tai with the tale:

Jed Tai Editor

Since he left his hometown of Portland in 2006, Markhuri Sanders-Frison has seen quite a bit of the United States. The strong 6-foot-8, 270-pound Jefferson High School alumnus first attended prep school in Maine and then spent last year helping Eastern Arizona College reach JUCO nationals. Now he's settling in at South Plains College in Levelland, Texas, and four-year college programs have quickly found him to offer him a scholarship - including one school which could lure him back to the West Coast...

Go here for the remainder. A Rivals subscription is required but anyone wanting the scoop on Northwest basketball recruiting and sometimes elsewhere would do well to sign up.

Here's a real treat

Chris Murray of the Reno Gazette-Journal held a chat session with Nevada hoops fans yesterday and, luckily for us, he's provided a transcript. Wouldn't it be great if every WAC newspaper beat reporter did the same?

Here's the link to some informative reading.

Accused Nevada trio in court next Monday

Using the term "The Nevada Three" would seem much too grave and like something out of the turbulent 60s or 70s -- as if today is all smooth economic and political sailing -- so we're going with The Nevada Trio, which could also be a jazz combo playing at Harrah's.

Yeah we agree, that a fairly wordy intro to Chris Murray's update on the Wolf Pack basketballers who were cited last week.

Wolf Pack Basketball: Players' hearings set for Monday
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal
October 22, 2008

The arraignment hearings for three Nevada basketball players cited for petty larceny last week have been scheduled for 8 a.m. Monday at Sparks Municipal Court...

Go here for the remainder.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Gibson looking to lead

Every team needs a leader or leaders and none more so than the 2008-2009 New Mexico State Aggies. Marvin Menzies lost five seniors from last season's squad so there is a definite void to be filled. There has already been a bit of 'testing' of the team concept by a few of the players -- the ones currently not being allowed to practice due to missed classes -- so it's important that these guys have someone to emulate. Jonathan Gibson says he is ready to step forward into that role.

Gibson looks to take over leadership role on Aggie basketball team
Jason Groves
Las Cruces Sun-News

LAS CRUCES — Jonathan Gibson has never lacked for confidence on the basketball court.

But after the summer that he had, New Mexico State basketball fans should expect the 6-foot-2 junior guard to take another significant step in his young career.

Gibson spent the majority of the summer back home in California, working out with current Division I players, as well as matching up against NBA players during pick-up games on the UCLA campus.

"There were some big time players coming to college with a lot of hype so that helped with my confidence just playing and working out with them and playing with the pros," Gibson said. "I still played my game out there. It made my game easier and I realized what I need to do and work on..."

Go here for the remainder.

Kareem Nitoto is more than ready for the decathlon

Kareem Nitoto could probably become an Olympian If he ever decides to give the decathlon a shot. The second-year guard from the Bay Area just made mincemeat out of some existing Hawaii track and field/basketball records because he defines the phrase being in shape.

UH guard soars to record heights
Dayton Morinaga
Honolulu Advertiser
October 21, 2008

Think of all the above-the-rim players to come through the University of Hawai'i men's basketball program.

Anthony Carter, Erin Galloway, Jason Carter and Geremy Robinson are some that come to mind.

Now put Kareem Nitoto above them all.

Nitoto, a 6-foot-3 sophomore point guard, recently set a UH basketball record with a vertical jump of 45 inches. Galloway set the previous mark of 44 inches in 1998.

"It's definitely something I take pride in," Nitoto said. "I saw that (record) number and thought I could get it last year. This year, I worked hard for it and I knew I had it."

Nitoto's record leap was the highlight of the strength and conditioning tests that the Rainbow Warriors had to complete before the start of practices last Friday...

Go here for the remainder.

Here's more on Devonte Elliott

Nevada looks to be rounding up the top recruiting class in the WAC for 2008 - 2009 period and just added another one with excellent potential. What would be interesting to know is why he didn't take his recruiting trip to Gonzaga (which was scheduled earlier than the Reno one but was cancaled). We'll try and find out.

Pack Basketball: Nevada adds height with 6-9 recruit Elliott
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal
October 21, 2008

The Nevada basketball team has added another big man to its stable of post players.

Devonte Elliott, a 6-foot-9, 195-pound combo forward, has verbally committed to play for the Wolf Pack next season.

Elliott, from Paramount High in Southern California, was scheduled to visit George Washington on Friday, but canceled that trip after his visit to Reno two weeks ago...

Go here for the remainder.

Calling Burleson for the defense

Players sometimes get tagged with a rep for being good at this aspect of the game or proficient at that, with their other contributions sometimes overlooked. Nevada's Lyndale Burleson is one such baller.

Pack Basketball: Burleson is Nevada's best line of defense
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal
October 21, 2008

Most young basketball players go to sleep dreaming about hitting a game-winning shot or slamming home a thunderous dunk.

Chances are a young Lyndale Burleson put his head to the pillow dreaming about chasing shooters around screens and pick-pocketing point guards.

"Since I was a little kid I've liked to play defense," said Burleson, a senior point guard on the Nevada basketball team. "I just liked playing it for some reason, and it grew on me."

Burleson, an All-Western Athletic Conference defender last season, said he learned the importance of defense while growing up in Seattle the youngest of four boys in a family of athletes. Brothers Nate, Kevin and Al ingrained in him the belief that defense -- while not always flashy -- wins games...

Go here for the remainder.

A basketballin' Georgian

They play basketball in Georgia. In this case, it's the country and not the state, now a separate entity since the Soviet Union dissolved but one that recently clashed militarily with Russia. One such Georgian, Lasha Parghalava, has made it to the shores of Hawaii and looks to be a baller who will be helping Hawaii in the backcourt this season.

Georgia On his mind
Hawaii guard Lasha Parghalava's homeland was invaded two months ago
Brian McInnis
Honolulu Star Bulletin
Octpber 21, 2008

Lasha Parghalava found it hard to concentrate. Here was an opponent he couldn't read, touch, intimidate or defeat.

Parghalava knew he needed to complete his final exams at Pensacola (Fla.) Junior College to qualify for his commitment as a guard for the University of Hawaii men's basketball team. But his mind kept straying to thoughts of family and friends halfway around the world, where conflict escalated in his native country, the Republic of Georgia.

While the rest of the world's eyes were trained on the 2008 Olympics in Beijing in August, Russian and Georgian forces clashed over the breakaway Georgian province of South Ossetia, and soon fought in the heartland of Georgia itself.

"I was in a restaurant, just finished eating," Parghalava said. "You know how the restaurants have the little TVs? I was watching and they were talking about Georgia, blah blah blah, and I was like 'Wow, it's my country.' And then, I call my parents and that's how I find out, then it gets harder and harder to communicate with my parents. The lights were out. They was bombing Georgia, and it was a real tough situation for me..."

Go here for the remainder.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The conundrum of opinion

There are multiple factors at play behind the offering of opinion. Among them is personal bias -- both known and unknown -- as well as what we know that has been established as fact but also what we don't know we don't know about a person, an institution or a situation.

No this is not the opening tract of Philosophy 1A but more an introduction to the latest blog entry from Teddy Feinberg, sports editor of the Los Cruces Sun-News. Feinberg writes that some of the New Mexico State players were not allowed to participate in the opening practice due to academic laxities -- apparently missing a class or classes.

Here's our take on this situation, any bias or ignorance notwithstanding:

Now if we were NMSU fans (some in The Land of Enchantment reading this will fall over laughing or possibly gag at the previous seven words), we would welcome Coach Marvin Menzies' determination to tighten up the requirements to sail with the Good Ship Aggie, so to speak.

Consider that Menzies lost a load of seniors and the accompanying leadership due to graduation and now has a very young roster that is all his to mold. It appears to us that he is trying to do it the right way -- no short cuts allowed -- with any rebelliousness or shirking of obligations being met with steadfastness. Those players now on the sidelines have the opportunity to learn a lesson -- it's up to them -- one that could very well pay off in the long run for both themselves and the Aggies basketball team if taken to heart.

Menzies certainly wants all hands on deck but only if everyone is doing his job.

Pieces of a Man blog
Basketball scrimmage
Teddy Feinberg
Las Cruces Sun-News

I know this isn't at the forefront of everyone's mind but I wanted to discuss the absence of some key players from Friday night's basketball scrimmage at the Pan Am.

Jahmar Young, Terrance Joyner, Troy Gillenwater and Chris Gabriel all didn't suit up. Assistant coach John McMullen said that the players are out "until they show better progress in the classroom." What is this? It was a very sparse crowd at the Pan Am Friday and I'm sure the limited people that did show up came to see those four players in action. These guys need to get their academics in order. They're all central pieces to this team. I know, it's early, they have plenty of time to get things together, but why can't this team get out in front of these situations instead of always playing catchup. It was like this last year with a number of issues...

Go here for the remainder.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

More from Chris Murray on the Nevada 'situation'

Chris Murray adds more in his blog entry today about the Nevada player suspensions:

You shouldn't demonize suspended Pack players
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal

I noticed that the update on the suspended Wolf Pack basketball players I wrote for Saturday's paper wasn't posted on our Web site (techinical difficulties, I would guess), so I thought I would post it here.

Fox gathering information on suspended players

The Nevada basketball team took the floor for its first official practice of the season Friday night without three players who were suspended Thursday afternoon.

Nevada coach Mark Fox said there is no timetable for the potential punishment for junior Brandon Fields and freshmen Ahyaro Phillips and London Giles — all cited for petty larceny Wednesday.

"I've been dealing with the situation, I don't have all the information yet," Fox said Friday. "I've been working to get all the information. We'll not do anything until I know all of the facts and the entire story.

"I will say that even good kids and good people do bad things or dumb things. I don't have the whole story, so I'm not going to take a stance until I do. But I think our fans, I think our university family trusts that I'll act appropriately when I do get the information I need..."

Go here for the remainder (and it gets even more interesting).

Great article on former Fresno Stater Ja'Vance Coleman

Here is journalism at its finest. Kudos to Matt James for putting together this lengthy and comprehensive article and to Ja'Vance Coleman for his willingness to open up and display some of the history of his personal life.

Ex-Bulldog Coleman still trying to bridge gap
Matt James
The Fresno Bee

Ja'Vance Coleman's basketball career started here, in a walk-in closet of a gymnasium, with scarred dark brown floors and "Hoover Patriots" painted in green above the bleachers.

On the first day of practice in 1998, coach Ron Moore told the junior varsity to go to one end of the gym and the varsity to the other. Coleman was a 13-year-old freshman, 5 feet, 9 inches and maybe 125 pounds, and he went the wrong way.

"He stopped me and said, 'No, you're over there,' " Coleman says. "I was scared to death. I didn't want to play varsity. Coach Moore had to talk me into it..."

Go here for the remainder.

An overall look at this season's WAC

We're posting a Jason Groves article here because it has some quotes from a number of the league coaches and a good one from Aggie Jonathan Gibson:

A new era of WAC basketball set to tip off
Jason Groves
Las Cruces Sun-News

LAS CRUCES — It is a new era in the Western Athletic Conference.

All five of the All-WAC postseason first teamers from a year ago were seniors. Eight of the top 10 scorers from a year ago are gone. Only Louisiana Tech junior guard Kyle Gibson remains. Gibson was seventh in the league in scoring last year. Nevada's JaVale McGee was 10th, but he is now in the NBA. McGee was also the only underclassman among the top five rebounds and Boise State point guard Anthony Thomas is the only returning top assist men from last year since Jordan Brooks is no longer on Idaho's roster.

The youth movement is upon us.

"I think it's good for us," said New Mexico State head coach Marvin Menzies, who lost five seniors following his first season in Las Cruces. "We are one of the teams that had such a huge turnover. I'm happy that there are a lot of teams facing the same situation. I don't know how good it is for the league though. I think it's better to have a more consistent product year in and year out, but if the young teams do well in out of conference, we could still be a multi-bid league..."

Go here for the remainder.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

New assistant coach at Boise St.

The Idaho Statesman reported on Friday that Greg Graham has filled the assistant coach opening on his staff:

Boise State adds men's basketball assistant coach

James Bailey, a high school head coach from Houston, will join Boise State men's basketball coach Greg Graham's staff this season.

Bailey replaces Julious Coleman, who left for a position at Northern Arizona...

Go here for the remainder of the article.

Boise State has one Texan on the roster -- Anthony Thomas -- let's see if this coaching addition results in more kids from The Lone Star State heading to Idaho.

NMSU looking at a 'big'

There's a kid out of Canada, 6-9 200 Mike Allison, who is being looked at by Marvin Menzies. He attends St. Mary's High in Ontario and this is his second year as part of the National Elite Development Academy.

Allison was also a member of this summer's Canadian Junior Men's National squad that played in Argentina and elsewhere. One article we came across indicated that Allison's academics are fine -- good enough to be eligible as a freshman in Division One.

He is the son of Wayne Allison, a former Canadian national team member who played at Wooster College (Ohio) in the 70s.

Devonte Elliott to Nevada

Only basketball recruiting guru AW Prince has the info at this point but SoCal prep forward Devonte Elliott has decided to join the Wolf Pack. The info should seep out more broadly over the weekend.

This is a great 'get' for Mark Fox and he now has two preps coming in next season on the frontline, the 6-9 210 Elliott and 6-10 215 Steve Bjornstad who also needs to add strength and pack on some more pounds.

For a point of reference, these two kids are taller than anyone Nevada currently has on its roster.

Here's the promised Sam Hicks article

Here's the Sam-Hicks-To-Boise article we promised a few days ago from the NorCalPreps site. We're posting it in its entirety because sometime has passed since it appeared and because we wrote it:

(Sam Hicks photo courtesy of Shannon Hicks)

Hicks to the WAC

Liberty High’s Sam Hicks resides in the Redding area way up in northern California. Now he’s set to head even further north and a little east as he has given a verbal commitment to the college of his choice.

The 6-foot-9 Hicks had the options to venture to the West Coast Conference and the Big West Conference but a visit over the weekend made his mind up and he’s going to be a student-athlete in the Western Athletic Conference.

With a mostly upperclass frontcourt, Hicks will have an opportunity for early playing time

"I’ve decided to attend Boise State," Hicks said. "I really liked the coaches and players and the area is nice too."

Hicks initially thought he would be making a November decision "if it feels right" but all obviously came together for him earlier than expected.

What’s interesting is that it began to snow in the Boise area as Hicks was concluding his visit. Moisture and cold can be a deal breaker for some but it was a clincher for Hicks who sees snow as opportunity.

Hicks wanted to thank his Liberty High coach Todd Franklin. As he explained earlier, "Coach Franklin knows the Pumps [the Los Angeles-based Pump Brothers} and that helped me land a spot on one of their teams" which aided in his exposure to college coaches.

Eligibility should be of no concern with Hicks holding a 3.5 grade point average.

The BSU coaching staff indicated to Hicks that he will be positioned at the four spot.

Boise State currently sports four ’bigs’ on the roster. An opportunity for early playing time will be present as Bronco forward Mark Sanchez is departing after the upcoming season, 6-foot-9-ers Kurt Cunningham and Ike Okoye will be seniors during Hicks’ freshman year while 6-foot-10 Zack Moritz will be entering his junior year.

Nevada and San Jose State are also members of the Western Athletic Conference and within driving distance of Redding, giving Hicks’ family the opportunity to see him play without having to fly somewhere.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Here's the new LA TECH assistant

Coach Kerry Rupp has lined up Rennie Bailey's replacement:

Louisiana Tech basketball adds interim assistant to replace departed Rennie Bailey
News-Star news service
October 17, 2008

RUSTON -- Louisiana Tech head coach Kerry Rupp announced Friday that Aubrey McCreary has agreed to join the Bulldogs coaching staff on an interim basis for the upcoming season.

“Coach McCreary will be a tremendous asset to our program this season,” Rupp said. “He has an outstanding knowledge of the game. This will allow us as a staff to focus on getting ready for the upcoming season...”

Go here for the remainder.

Nick Jezierny shares his picks

A hat tip goes out to Nick Jezierny of the Idaho Statesman as Nick has shared his selections with us for both the predicted order of finish in the WAC in 2008-2009 and his All-WAC choices.

Here goes:

"... My poll ... sent in before Tech dismissed two players or I'd have lowered them to sixth and moved up NMSU & BSU

Utah State
San Jose State
La. Tech
New Mexico State
Boise State
Fresno State


Gary Wilkinson


Luke Babbitt


Gary Wilkinson
CJ Webster
Kyle Gibson
Anthony Thomas
Armon Johnson"

Thank you Nick, we appreciate you sending this along.

Jason Groves with a NMSU update

Jason Grioves has an entry in his blog today with mentions and updates worth reading:

Jason Groves
Las Cruces Sun-News
October 16, 2008

What to look fo

There are obvious things to look for in Friday's point guard play, center play, wendell mckines...

Go here for the remainder.

A feature on Hawaii's Roderick Fleimings

Roderick Flemings needs to have a monster season to carry Hawaii out of the WAC's second division in 2008-2009 and he's quite capable of such.

Flemings has high hopes
The junior college transfer wants to lead UH to the Sweet 16 and beyond
Brian McInnis
Honolulu Star Bulletin
October 17, 2008

Roderick Flemings wants you to know several things.

First, that the bar is going to be set high for the Hawaii men's basketball team. High enough that if his expectations are reached, the team will have gone farther in the NCAA Tournament than ever before.

Second, he's highly motivated by the collective snub by coaches and media of the Rainbow Warriors in the Western Athletic Conference preseason polls this week, where Hawaii was placed seventh and eighth out of nine teams.

Lastly, Flemings -- who suffered a high ankle sprain in the team's first open gym this fall when he landed on guard Kareem Nitoto's foot -- wants you to know that whatever is seen out of him today is no indication of what he can really do on the basketball court...

Bob Nash on Roderick Flemings

"He doesn't have a real position, he's just a player," Nash said. "That's the thing I like about him, and the fact that he's a great young man speaks volumes for where we hope he can take us."

» Position: Forward
» Class: Junior
» Height: 6-foot-7
» Weight: 210 pounds
» School: Weatherford College (Texas), 1 season, Oklahoma State 1 season
» Stats last year: 20.7 ppg, 11.7 rpg, 3.4 apg, 1.5 blocks per game, 2.7 steals per game, 56.2 FG percentage
» Hometown: Dallas

Go here for the remainder.

Boise State has offered junior Stephen Holt

Stephen Holt is an Oregon junior backcourter who is now generating some major level recruiting interest after only mid-major pursuit earlier. Greg Graham has already offered. Recruiting major domo Jed Tai has the scoop:

Offers are in for Holt
Jed Tai Editor
October 16, 2008

Sometimes it's that offer that gets it started. For Stephen Holt, the time has arrived. Going into the September evaluation period, the all-around 6-foot-3, 185-pound guard from Jesuit High School was sitting without a single scholarship offer. Well now that college coaches have seen him in action at open gyms over the past few weeks, Holt is no longer offerless as three schools have stepped up with their overtures for his future services in college...

Go here for the remainder and a Rivals subscription is required.