Sunday, November 30, 2008

More Saturday night reporting from a Sunday point of view

Here's Chris Murray trying to talk Wolf Pack fans down (our own hint to Nevada-ites: the season and team will only get better -- burning your signed and framed Mark Fox poster will not help):

Now's not the time to jump off Pack bandwagon
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal

So, after Nevada's 63-61 loss to Portland on Saturday, I am already seeing the phrase "rebuilding season" being throw around by Pack fans. I think it's a little too early for that. Yes, Nevada did fall to 2-3 with the loss to the Pilots, but slow starts aren't atypical for Wolf Pack teams. Last season, the Pack started the season 2-4. In Mark Fox's first season as head coach (in 2004-05), the Pack started 4-3. In Nevada's Sweet 16 season, the team started 2-3. What do those three seasons have in common? They all ended with the Wolf Pack winning the Western Athletic Conference regular-season title. I have no doubt this season could end the same way...

Go here for the remainder.


It's not a 'bigtime' win but Boise will certainly take it. What's surprising is our expectation was that BSU's frontline would dominate but apparently didn't. Maybe Southern Utah packed it in defensively.

Boise State men's basketball wins ugly against Southern Utah
Broncos hold off an upset bid with a late 3-pointer and a pair of key free throws.
Nick Jezierny
Idaho Statesman

Boise State's 62-59 win Saturday night over Southern Utah was anything but pretty.

But considering what's happened in the WAC thus far in nonconference play, the Broncos' home victory in front of 2,809 fans looks pretty good...
Go here for more.


Yikes, LA TECH lost again, this time to a team it no reason to lose to -- previously winless Alaska-Anchorage. Is it a lack of meshing for the Bulldogs? Maybe being minus an effective point guard? Any readers who can fill us in on the trevails in Ruston please do so with analysis.

ANCHORAGE – Senior guard Kenny Barker scored 17 of his game-high 23 points after halftime to lead host Alaska Anchorage to a 62-57 victory over Louisiana Tech in the 7th-place game of the Carrs/Safeway Great Alaska Shootout at Sullivan Arena on Saturday...
Go here for more.

Noteworthy WAC scores from Saturday night

Louisiana Tech lost again -- to Western Carolina this time -- and big man Kenneth Cooper did play in this one.

Tech loses consolation semifinal to Western Carolina
News-Star news services
November 29, 2008

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- It was a tale of two halves at the 2008 Great Alaska Shootout as Louisiana Tech (2-3) lost its third straight game Friday afternoon losing 76-62 to Western Carolina (2-2) and will play host school Alaska Anchorage in the 7th and 8th place Saturday afternoon...

...Tech junior Kenneth Cooper led Bulldog scorers at 13 points and five rebounds, while junior Magnum Rolle finished with 11 points. Both junior Kyle Gibson and freshman Brandon Gibson also finished the game with 10 points apiece...

Go here for the entire article.


18 turnovers and six assists is something not associated with Nevada basketball.

Pilots Hold Off Nevada for Third Straight Win

PORTLAND, Ore. --- Sophomore center Kramer Knutson scored a career-high 15 points as the Portland Pilots knocked off the Nevada Wolf Pack 63-61 Saturday night at the Chiles Center before an announced crowd of 1,358. Nevada overcame a 10-point second deficit and had a good look at the buzzer to tie the game, but Armon Johnson’s runner rimmed out as Portland improved to 3-0 at home this season.

Four Pilots (4-1) reached double figures for the fifth consecutive contest as Portland extends its winning streak to three games. Nevada, the Western Athletic Conference preseason favorite, falls to 2-3 on the young season...

...Freshman Luke Babbitt paced the Wolf Pack with 17 points and eight rebounds, while Malik Cooke was the only other Nevada player to score in double figures and finished with 11...
Go here for the complete article.


Utah State looks to be the most ready of all the WAC teams at the moment.

Aggies Lasso Mustangs With 97-57 Rout Saturday
USU Improves To 4-0 Behind Trio Of Double-Figures And 64.9 Percent Field Goal Shooting
Nov. 29, 2008

LOGAN, Utah - Three players in double-figures leading to a 64.9 percent field goal shooting effort plus and a 15-1 second-half run paced Utah State to a 97-57 rout of Cal Poly Saturday in men's basketball action at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum...

...Senior forward Gary Wilkinson netted a game-high 21 points, the third time in four games that he's led the Aggies in scoring. Junior guard Stavon Williams was 5-of-6 from three-point range to finish with 15 points and sophomore forward Tai Wesley added 14.

Wilkinson snared a game-high nine rebounds, leading USU to a dominating 37-20 rebounding advantage, while sophomore center Modou Niang and sophomore forward Matt Formisano pulled down six each...
Go here for the complete article.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

We almost forgot this

Man, how could we almost forget to post this? Luckily, a dark vision crept over us just as we were about to shut down and it was accompanied by a chant from someone who appeared to be a Seinfeld-ian Potato Nazi shouting "no more potatoes for you" or maybe it actually was an adulterated version of "...yes, we have no potatoes, we have no potatoes today..."

A potato ban, a lifetime one. Carb hell. No more fries...mashed or as a salad -- nada...hash browns just out of reach...

But fear not, we're coming through and you Verlin-ites can back off. Do check out this score and we offer a hearty congratulations to the State of Spuds.

Idaho 101, UC Irvine 47
Associated Press Sports
November 28, 2008

MOSCOW, Idaho (AP) -Terrence Simmons' game-high 18 points helped Idaho route UC Irvine 101-47 Friday night.

Four other Vandals also scored in double figures. Mac Hopson scored 16 points with a game-high four assists, Luciano de Souza and Marvin Jefferson had 12 each and Kashif Watson scored 10...

...Idaho (3-3) opened with a 15-0 run and the Vandals led 42-16 lead at the half. Simmons had 10 points by halftime. For the game, he hit 8-of-9 from the floor and 2-of-2 from the free throw line.

Idaho out-rebounded the Anteaters 50-26 with Jefferson snagging a game-high nine.

The 'gangstas' -- if you will -- of the WAC

Conventional wisdom says do not pay attention to the on-line rabble rousers or sports, the what-did-they-just-write!!! provocateurs who seek to inflict damage on the psyches of opposing coaches, players and fans. Most dabble in the lower than juvenile strata and cleverness is a 10-letter word unfamiliar to them.

But some are just so good at it that they cannot be ignored. Heck, some should have a national audience rather than a regional one.

With this in mind, we introduce you to The Refraction. Seek it out at your own risk. We at PTW will assume no responsibility for any ensuing high blood pressure, ulcers or other deleterious physical damages. However, we will accept kudos for those bellylaughs that result of any Refraction partaking.

The most recent Refraction contains some hoodoo about Tai Wesley and a grizzly bear encounter but don't miss "The Petri Dish' section where you can learn more than you wish to know about opposing players.

The individuals behind this 'publication' must have been hell to their elementary school teachers (or maybe still are as we don't know the ages or even the identities of those behind it) but they sure are entertaining.

PTW has no plans to seat ourselves in The Spectrum anytime soon and cheer for our favorite visiting team as there are things we adamantly wish to keep a secret and unlike some miscreant others who are soon to depart from Washington D.C., we cannot hide our shortcomings behind claims of national security.

Piggybacking on our 'defense wins' post earlier

A while back we posted an article with the premise that whichever team plays the best overall defense in the WAC this season will win the conference. The 800-pound gorilla in that post was the improvement the Boston Celtics -- the defending world champions -- made in defensive effort.

Piggybacking on that post, here's some additional material about defensive play.

David Wharton
Los Angerles Times
November 29, 2008

It is true that the UCLA basketball team spent much of this week trying to improve its flow on offense. It is true the Bruins worked on passing and cutting without the ball.

But this is still a Ben Howland squad, which means that defense takes center stage.

"I think we're struggling defensively right now," center Alfred Aboya said. "That won't get you anywhere."

The 13th-ranked Bruins, who face Florida International at home this afternoon, have allowed opponents to shoot 45% from the floor, a few percentage points higher than last season. Not good enough to satisfy their coach.

Howland was particularly concerned about the last minutes of his team's loss to Michigan in New York, when the Bruins found some rhythm on offense but failed to get enough defensive stops.

So this week, swingman Michael Roll said, the team worked on "step-sliding on defense, keeping your man in front of you, a lot of box-out drills, help rotation. Just a lot of basics..."

...Senior point guard Darren Collison also figures it might take a while for the freshmen on the team to appreciate the effort and intensity required to play good defense.

"I know I didn't when I was a freshman," he said...

Go here for the full article.

Here's another article, this one featuring the Los Angeles Lakers, and a new emphasis on defensive play. The return of Andrew Bynum has certainly aided the improvement but it's been a team effort.

Putting the Lakers on defensive overload
Mike Bresnahan
Los Angeles Times
November 28, 2008

It was a given that the Lakers would score gobs of points this season, but Coach Phil Jackson wanted to put a stop to all the points being dropped on them (the team's defensive rank last season: 18th).

So Jackson gathered his coaches before training camp and told them he was appointing a defensive coach, something he hadn't done in his previous 18 years of coaching in the NBA.

"We didn't want to announce it and make a big deal about it like Boston did with their guy," Jackson said. "But Kurt [Rambis] is real good at this and he's willing..."

...The players have eaten it up, finding an appetite for steals (a league-best 10.4 a game) and blocked shots (6.2 a game, sixth-best in the league) that matches their zest for alley-oop dunks and three-on-one breaks.

"The thought process is that you want to win a championship. In order to beat a Boston, you've got to be a better defensive team than Boston," Kobe Bryant said. "If you want to hoist that trophy at the end of the year, we've got to be a great defensive team. That's the only way to get it done..."
The article concludes with this, "Perhaps Jackson summed it up best: "What I like to see is our defense consistently being the hallmark of what we do."

Greg Graham still working out his starting five

It's not literally spelled out in the article but Coach Greg Graham appears to be determining which group of Broncos is his most proficient opening five players while alsoo looking at game-by-game matchups with opposing teams in calling the shots for his starting quintet.

Graham still tinkering with BSU's starting five
The Broncos' coach says the lineup 'may continue to change and bounce back and forth until we settle in.'
Nick Jezierny
The Idaho Statesman

Last season, Boise State basketball coach Greg Graham used the same veteran starting lineup for 32 of the team's 34 games.

He altered the lineup twice because of injuries.

In four games this season, the seventh-year coach already has used two lineups entering Saturday night's home contest against Southern Utah. Tip-off is at 8:15 p.m. in Taco Bell Arena.

The Broncos (3-1) may keep tinkering with its starting five in hopes of finding the best combination.

"The lineup may continue to change and bounce back and forth until we settle in or it might be a good way to rotate things through," Graham said...

Go here for the remainder.

Friday, November 28, 2008

What the WAC has done so far

Okay, Boise State has done okay so for outside the league as the loss to Sienna wasn't unexpected and was on the road.

Fresno State has no unexpected loss but notching a road win against San Diego State would have really helped the WAC as well the the confidence of the Bulldogs. Oregon State, UNLV and Pacific are next and any of those contests would be beneficial RPI wins.

Hawaii fell at home to USF and by a larger than expected 16 points to Cal State Fullerton but do give credit to the Rainbow Warriors for toppling Iowa State.

Idaho is struggling as expected but a 10-point loss on the road to Eastern Washington is a WAC RPI hit.

LA TECH's stumble with Seattle hurts period.

Nevada's loss at San Diego wasn't a biggie and the win at home against PAC-10 Oregon State really wasn't an upset but losing in Reno to a Pacific squad minus its two best players came unexpectedly.

New Mexico State played USC tough in Los Angeles, losing by 13, but hasn't faced a true test yet. The 24-point romp over Pepperdine was a confidence builder but not an equal or near-equal match.

With San Jose State, the loss at Nebraska wasn't a surprise but losing a game at Presbyterian that was theirs to win hurts. Taking down rival Santa Clara next week -- if that happens -- will be a salve for the Presbyterian loss.

A nice road win against Santa Barbara was a confidence booster for Utah State but the next real test will be with BYU. Win that one and the Aggies break out of the WAC pack.

In summary keep in mind that there is a large cloud of inexperience and unfamiliarity hovering over most of the teams in the WAC this season and it's evident in many of the games so far. There are a number of teams in the league who will have the opportunity to perform better as the season rolls along but which ones will and which won't? Right now, it appears the league will be a true shootout with nobody running away from the other teams. That's greta news but let's see some more RPI-building non-conference wins posted.

Disturbing or not?

We don't wish to make too much of it, being that the season has barely begun, but just how did Louisiana Tech get shagged (6-8 Austen Powers led the way for Seattle) 61-46 by Seattle up in the Great Alaska Shootout? Seattle traveled to Fresno earlier this week and got whomped 79-58 by the Bulldogs. Go figure.

Tech shot just 34% for the game and committed six more turnovers (18) than the Pilots. Kyle Gibson had 14 points and four assists (five turnovers) but shot just 3-9 while fouling out with about a minute to go. Backcourter Jamel Guyton surprisingly led Tech in rebounds with seven.

Coach Kerry Rupp did start three guards as center Ken Cooper didn't play (we're guessing due to illness). Here a link to a Seattle newspaper with a game writeup.

Is this an anomaly or not? Tech's earlier loss to Arkansas Little Rock was much more understandable, considering UALR just beat Missouri Valley Conference fave Creighton.

Here's the box score:



Austen Powers 6-9 3-4 16
Chris Gweth 5-9 1-2 14
Michael Wright 3-6 0-0 8
Mike Boxley 3-9 2-3 8
Shaun Burl 2-3 3-4 7
Leigh Swanson 1-6 3-4 5
Aaron Broussard 1-2 1-3 3
Drew Harris 0-3 0-0 0

Totals 21-47 13-20 61

Louisiana Tech

Gibson, Kyle 3-9 6-6 14
Jackson, David 5-11 0-2 10
Guyton, Jamel 3-8 0-0 9
Rolle, Magnum 2-4 3-4 7
Ashaolu, Olu 1-3 0-0 2
Rogers, Adrian 0-2 2-2 2
Gibson, Brandon 1-3 0-0 2
Oliverson, Shawn 0-0 0-0 0
Loe, James 0-1 0-0 0
Berhe, Yonas 0-3 0-0 0

Totals 15-44 11-14 46

Seattle....................... 22 39 - 61
Louisiana Tech................ 22 24 - 46

3-point goals--Seattle 6-18 (Chris Gweth 3-6; Michael Wright 2-3; Austen
Powers 1-2; Leigh Swanson 0-2; Drew Harris 0-2; Shaun Burl 0-1; Mike Boxley
0-2), Louisiana Tech 5-19 (Guyton, Jamel 3-8; Gibson, Kyle 2-6; Ashaolu, Olu
0-1; Gibson, Brandon 0-1; Loe, James 0-1; Jackson, David 0-2). Fouled
out--Seattle-None, Louisiana Tech-Gibson, Kyle. Rebounds--Seattle 27 (Mike
Boxley 8), Louisiana Tech 32 (Guyton, Jamel 7). Assists--Seattle 14 (Chris
Gweth 4; Mike Boxley 4), Louisiana Tech 10 (Gibson, Kyle 4). Total
fouls--Seattle 14, Louisiana Tech 18.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Speaking of fan-dom...

Now this is truly over the top, both simultaneously humorous and pathetic. Just like with the rumblings about the need to replace football coach Pat Hill, just who could Fresno State land that would be better than Steve Cleveland?

Or is it a matter of letting Cleveland clean up a sordid basketball team and APR mess left by predecessors and THEN have the white knight appear in Fresno?

From the Fresno State SCOUT site and the Save Mart Center message board, comes these words of wisdom, courtesy of the shallow, or better yet, dry end of the gene pool:

Posted: 12/13/2007 3:04 PM
Steve Cleveland Should Resign At Year End

I am sorry but coach Steve Cleveland needs to resign at year end.

This year our program was banking on three potentially great players all of whom are not playing with the program to take us to the next level (see below).

1. Dominic Mc Guire (NBA Draft)
2. Kevin Galloway (Academics)
3. Rekalin Sims (Legal)

I understand that we need to clean up our program but the players that should of been "impact players" Galloway and Sims are not even here because of "issues" relating to eligibility. And Mc Guire only stayed around for one year because of the hand writing on the wall.

With Cleveland Fresno State is in another Gary Colson, Ron Adams era. And as far as "issues" with players not far off from Lopes.

I say we should take a good look at Vance Wahlberg, Jim Saia, George Tarkanian as the next head coach. Cleveland should step aside before this program unravels.

(OUR COMMENT: Walberg, who wasn't able to make it through a full season at Pepperdine and set that program waaay back, Saia who may be a fine coach but hasn't been able to convince a D-1 athletic director of his readiness despite a number of head coaching interviews and Tarkanian who makes his more famous relative look like Saint Jerry -- well, there appears to be a very tenuous tethering to reality going on here)


(OUR COMMENT: he's back with more insight)

Posted: 12/13/2007 3:07 PM
Steve Lavin Should Also Be A Candidate
Also, what about Steve Lavin at Fresno State. Just think what he would do to this program, recruits, attendance, money... And he may be able to bring Jim Saia over from Fresno Pacific as associate head coach like he did at UCLA...


Posted: 12/13/2007 3:30 PM
Re: Steve Cleveland Should Resign At Year End

HAHAHAHAHA...complete imbeciles! Soo typical of most people in today's society - you want EVERYTHING NOW, no matter what the consequences!

Keep eating your supersized value meals from McDonald's drive thru; as for me, I prefer to wait for the home-cooked meal just as I prefer to wait for Steve Cleveland to build this program into a powerhouse the RIGHT WAY.


(OUR COMMENT: Check out this from someone who has a malady other than being vertically challenged)

* t713h
Posted: 12/13/2007 3:36 PM
Re: Steve Cleveland Should Resign At Year End

steve cleveland has as much chance of building this into a powerhouse as i do beating lebron james in a one on one matchup, and i'm 58 and vertically challenged. have you seen this team play this year? they don't have one player that a big time college program would even waste a 41 cent stamp to recruit.


* OldFigBBJ2
Posted: 12/13/2007 3:48 PM
Re: Steve Cleveland Should Resign At Year End

t713h wrote: they don't have one player that a big time college program would even waste a 41 cent stamp to recruit.

That doesn't hold true for next year's squad. There are two incoming from "big time college programs".


* OldFigBBJ2
Posted: 12/13/2007 3:51 PM
Re: Steve Cleveland Should Resign At Year End

BUFFFSU wrote: And as far as "issues" with players [Cleveland is] not far off from Lopes.

Sure. There must be a murder or two we don't know about yet.

(OUR COMMENT: Gotta love that last line in the last comment)

Piggybacking on the Wolf Pack loss...

Ah the vagaries of fan-dom. Because Nevada lost at home to Pacific, there are some folks up Reno way who see the sky as falling. Granted, there are also those who stress patience. Fan-dom encompasses the spectrum but any judgments or pronouncements either way at this point are simply premature because nobody really knows. With Mark Fox in particular, his teams tend to finish strong but we'll simply leave it with time will tell.

There ought to be a mandatory mantra along the likes of "it's one game" or possibly "it's early in the season" for the fans prone to hyperventilating. Granted, such fans would counter with "quit the little Mary Sunshine act" or "put away the rose-colored glasses."

Maybe the bottomline is that having people care is what's important because, in our most potent form of Zen-like butchery, if a Wolf Pack basketball team loses at home and nobody makes a sound...

Anyway, here's some of the fan responses to Chris Murray's articles on the Nevada loss:

beantown1 wrote

Where has Armon Johnson gone? He doesn't in any way resemble a WAC player of the year. The best player on this team is Babbitt by far. He is the only one who stepped up and hit any shots down the stretch. Malik is progressing nicely, but there really lacks leadership on this team. Burleson is a horrible offensive player. He hits his 1 maybe 2 shots a game then proceeds to throw lazy pass after lazy pass, most of which are being taken the other way for fast breaks. One in particular I saw him just stand there and spectate instead of hustling back on defense. Sit him on the end of the bench and leave him there. Lets get London Giles his minutes. In contrast, Malik turned the ball over and hustled back and blocked a shot on their fast break. I can live with mistakes, they're human, but when your lazy and won't try to make up for them, it's time to ride the pine. There are some good kids on this team, but if they don't improve soon, we will barely be a .500 team.


hammer3995 wrote

Just like football, some Pack fans have all the answers when the teams do not meet their expectations. Maybe you fail to live up to your own expectations and that makes it easier to judge others. I think they call that Bandwagon Jumpers! The Pack basketball team will be just fine.


Teddyballgame wrote:

Replying to hammer3995:

I agree with the "Hammer" let these boys grow, learn, develop as a team. "Fans" for god sakes, let Coach Fox coach and you try to be positive. It's really not that hard!

Just like football, some Pack fans have all the answers when the teams do not meet their expectations. Maybe you fail to live up to your own expectations and that makes it easier to judge others. I think they call that Bandwagon Jumpers! The Pack basketball team will be just fine.


15RMGR wrote:

This team has a long way to go...especially on offense. Personally, I saw some good things from our guys last night. I think we should not lose heart just yet. We certainly wouldn't want our players and coaches to lose heart, would we? I don't think fans should, either.

No one should be surprised that our team is struggling. But we've had rough starts before in seasons that turned out fantastic. We knew this team was young and that it had 6 newcomers. But...we also knew our recruiting class was ranked 26th in the nation, our coach is one of the hottest in the country, that we have 5 straight 20-win seasons and 5 straight conference championships, 6 straight post-season appearances...etc.

My point is that we shouldn't lose heart just yet. We have a lot of talent (albeit, unrefined talent) and we have a lot of momentum in the past few years to build on. We're going to take some bad losses. We all know that...but we don't have to lose heart, just yet...

Happy Thanksgiving!


wolfie19 wrote:

Replying to hammer3995:

Just like football, some Pack fans have all the answers when the teams do not meet their expectations. Maybe you fail to live up to your own expectations and that makes it easier to judge others. I think they call that Bandwagon Jumpers! The Pack basketball team will be just fine.


SuperBad wrote:

Are we going to hear for the next two years "how young the team is", we heard this same excuse last year from the coach. Fox needs to learn some new offense schemes, he does not have Fazekas or Kemp to lean on anymore. This year will prove how good of a coach Nevada has - we know he is an excellent recruiter, but the jury is still out on him game performance.


wolfie19 wrote:

It's very frustrating but be patient....these guys will come around. We'll have to endure some ugly games like Pacific and no doubt UNC but this team will gel. When they do you'll all forget these early season losses and jump back on the band wagon.

Nevada falls to Pacific in Reno

This came as a surprise to us as it must also have to many of the Wolf Pack Fans. Pacific is down two major players in 2008-2009 as center Michael Nunnally is out this season for disciplinary reasons and guard Steffan Johnson, the team's best player, transferred to Idaho as a result of his involvement in the same situation. Both would have been seniors for the Tigers this go-around.

Chris Murray has the game writeup followed by a blog entry on the game.

Pack basketball: LeDuc's 3s lead Pacific past Nevada
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal
November 27, 2008

After launching a 3-pointer and watching it swoosh through the net, Pacific's Bryan LeDuc looked to the Lawlor Events Center ceiling, let out a primal scream and pounded his chest with both his fists.

The shot gave the Tigers a 60-50 lead with 2 minutes, 30 seconds left in the game and was the final dagger throw by LeDuc, who tormented the Wolf Pack in Pacific's 67-59 victory Wednesday night in front of 6,636 fans.

Burning the Wolf Pack inside and outside, LeDuc scored a career-high 23 points and grabbed five rebounds off the Pacific bench. The 6-foot-8 power forward, whose previous career high was 16, hit 4-of-6 3-pointers...

Go here for the remainder.


Wolf Pack sports
Young Wolf Pack team still finding its way
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal

Editor's note: Just finished the day-after story from the Wolf Pack's 67-59 loss to Pacific on Wednesday. I figured I would post it here.

After his team’s eight-point loss to Pacific on Wednesday night, Nevada basketball coach Mark Fox was asked if he could find any positives in the game.

“Zero,” Fox said. “We got our butt beat. There isn’t anything positive about that right now. We didn’t defend, we didn’t rebound and we didn’t execute offensively. I don’t think there is anything positive.”

Then the Wolf Pack’s fifth-year coach found the silver lining.

“I have good kids and they are young. That’s positive,” Fox said. “They are young and they will get older.”

Indeed, coaches in all sports will tell you that the best thing about youth is that it eventually ages.

History will show you that young teams often find early-season struggles before finding last-season success. And no team in recent Wolf Pack history is as young as this one...
Go here for the remainder.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Malik Cooke gets ticketed for membership on PTW's "Gettin' No Love' train

Okay, okay, okay, we have been remiss so in rectification of that we're bringing Nevada's Malik Cooke aboard the PTW "Gettin' No Love' train.

There's probably a significant number of WAC fans who are saying 'Malik who?' right about now so let's cut to a mini bio: Cooke is a 6-6, 205 Mr. Versatile for the Pack, having the ability to play just about every position on the floor. He turned 19 last month, possesses a 7-0 wingspan and played his prep ball in North Carolina.

Cooke is also a tangible example of the possibilities of individual improvement from one season to the next.

Last go-around, he saw playing time in all 33 games and averaged 2.4 ppg. and 2.9 rpg in about 11 and a half minutes a contest. Even as a frosh, he shot 48% from the floor.

After spending most of the summer in Reno and obviously working on honing his basketball skills, Cooke is firmly in place as a starter for Mark Fox this season and here's why:

*** 32.7 minutes a game
*** 11.0 points per game (shooting 526% overall, .733% from the foul line and 2-2 on threes)
*** 6.7 rebounds a game (10 offensive and 10 defensive)
*** tied for the team lead in steals with six

Cooke didn't make much of a national recruiting splash although he certainly was the pride of the Asheville area. The athletic abilities were already in place and it was a matter of continuing with his skill development.

It would be over the top to go so far as to say Cooke is the most important cog to the Pack program's success because the contributions of Luke Babbitt and Armon Johnson (and the attention they draw from defenses and in the game plans of opposing coaches) cannot be downplayed.

It is fair to note that Cooke is performing a role that no other Nevada player could fill at this time -- rebounding, defense and providing a solid contribution of points without really looking for his shot.

Come aboard Malik.

A strong second half (and Tai Wesley) lead Utah State

Utah State slumbered through the first 20 minutes but woke up and took down in-state rival Weber State. Here are two reports:

Utah State basketball: Aggies storm back with big 2nd half to rout Weber
Jared Eborn
Deseret News
November 26, 2008

LOGAN — Stew Morrill didn't hold back on his assessment of Utah State's first half performance.

"We looked inept in the first half," the veteran Aggie coach said.

That was far from the case in the second half, however, as USU stormed back from a seven-point hole to crush a road-weary Weber State team 75-46...

Go here for the remainder.


Ags roll in 2nd half
Shawn Harrison
The Herald Journal
November 26, 2008

Pardon the cliche, but it was certainly a tale of two halves Tuesday night at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.

Utah State struggled mightily over the first 20 minutes, while visiting in-state rival Weber State looked primed to pull off an upset. But oh how the tables were turned in the second half.

The Aggies came out firing after halftime and never seemed to cool off. The Wildcats, on the other hand, didn’t score a field goal over the final 16:20. The end result was a USU blowout victory, 75-49, in front of 7,693 fans. The margin of victory tied the largest in the history of the series, as the Aggies also won by 26 back on Jan. 22, 1975.

“Our coach told us to go out and have fun, and that is what we did the entire second half,” said Aggie forward Tai Wesley, who was just an assist short of a triple-double.

The sophomore certainly did enjoy himself, finishing with 14 points and game-bests in rebounds (10), assists (nine), blocks (four) and steals (two). Teammate Jared Quayle also had two steals, while scoring 10 points and grabbing six rebounds in his first start of the season...
Go here for the remainder.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Chris Murray as futurist

Chris Murray of the Reno Gazette-Journal does a damn good job with the present and now he's expanded his world:

Wolf Pack sports
Looking at 10 key games on the WAC hoops docket
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal

It's still too early to draw conclusions from the RPI rankings, but the Western Athletic Conference currently resides in 26th place out of 32 conferences. The reason for the low ranking, to date, is the soft schedule, as the WAC is last among the conferences in strength-of-schedule. So far, the conference's biggest win is either Hawaii's victory at Iowa State or Nevada's win at Montana State (Boise State also beat the Bobcats, but did so at home).

Of course, we aren't even a quarter of the way through the non-conference schedule and many big games are left on the schedule. Teams tend to schedule soft early to get a nice start to the season, while leaving the big games for later in the non-conference schedule. So, here are 10 games that can boost the WAC's RPI (one for each team in the conference, plus a bonus Nevada game)...

Go here for the remainder.

Overview of Fresno State basketball

Here's a Fresno Bee overview of Bulldog basketball to date this season.

'Dogs learning on the job
Three games in, the Bulldogs have shown flashes of potential -- and their depth limitations.
Jeff Davis
The Fresno Bee

There are some things coach Steve Cleveland can control with his Fresno State men's basketball team. Others he can't because the Bulldogs lack depth, size and experience.

Last week's losses to Saint Mary's and San Diego State exposed those weaknesses, but they also created a template for improvement.

"I thought we played well against Saint Mary's and not so good against San Diego State," Cleveland said. "That second game, I saw slippage I didn't expect. San Diego State overwhelmed us with pressure and bigger and stronger people."

So what can the Bulldogs (1-2) do to rebound heading into today's game against Seattle (3-0) at the Save Mart Center?

Go here for the remainder.

Idaho falls to Eastern Washington

Idaho had a good opportunity to nab a win even though it was on the road last night but fell short. Mac Hopson totaled 25 points and Kashif Watson 11.

Eagles build big lead, then hold on
Idaho's comeback attempt comes up short
Steve Bergum
Spokane Spokesman-Review
November 25, 2008

Eastern Washington University hasn't had the luxury of playing with a big lead very often in recent years – a fact that became apparent during Monday night's non-conference men's basketball game against the University of Idaho.

But after giving back most of the 21-point lead they carved out early in the second half, the Eagles found a way to hang on and turn back the persistent Vandals 69-59 in front of a Reese Court crowd of 1,831.

Eastern (3-1) used a 14-point, 10-rebound double-double from junior center Brandon Moore and a dominating performance on the offensive boards to offset the 25-point scoring outburst of Idaho's Mac Hopson and eventually ride out an inspired late-game comeback by the Vandals (2-3), who closed to within 60-53 with 6 ½ minutes left to make things much more interesting than the Eagles wanted...

Here's the link to the Idaho athletics site.

Boise State notches a solid win

Boise State grabbed a nice win last night against Montana State in an all-around team effort as you'll read.

Patient approach key to Boise State's basketball victory
Nick Jezierny
Idaho Statesman

One of Boise State men's basketball coach Greg Graham's favorite sayings is "give up a good shot for a great shot."

After watching his team live by those words Monday night in a 74-61 win against Montana State, Graham might want to file for a trademark on the phrase, just like fellow coaches John Calipari ("Refuse To Lose") and Pat Riley ("Three-peat") did with their mottos.

Imagine the T-shirt royalties. It would be easy money, almost as easy as the shots the Broncos got against the Bobcats by making the extra pass.

BSU made 16-of-22 shots in the second half, and 13 of those makes were layups...

Go here for the remainder.

Armon Johnson's growing pains

Being a 'good' player is sometimes the ceiling for some and there's nothing wrong with that. The next step can be a mighty one. We shouldn't forget that Armon Johnson is just a sophomore despite the pre-season prominence he received. Chris Murray focuses on Johnson and his transition in today's article.

Pack basketball: Johnson trying to make transition from good to great
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal
November 25, 2008

Before the season began, Nevada basketball coach Mark Fox said Armon Johnson would try to make the transition from being a good player to being a great one.

The coach warned there would be some discomfort along the way. He said there would be growing pains and that the transition would be anything but easy.

And it showed in the Wolf Pack's first two games this season, as the sophomore point guard searched for his role within the offense, averaging 13 points but shooting only 24.2 percent.

"I think that Armon was maybe trying to do too much because we lost some scoring off last year's team," Fox said...

Go here for the remainder.

Hawaii wins but shooting still subpar

Iowa State isn't the powerhouse of old but a basketball win against a Big 12 team gets a shiny star rather than an ordinary mention for Hawaii.

We see the Rainbow Warriors shot just 18-46 overall and a paltry 4-17 from three-point range but 20-21 at the foul line did the trick in the 60-59 victory.

Bob Nash sent out a new starting five last night: Petras Balocka was in the middle, surrounded by Bill Amis and Adhar Mayen. Roderick Flemings played the 2 spot and Lasha Parghalava the starting point.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Following Jaycee Carroll

Here are two opportunities for those of you wishing to follow Jaycee Carroll's basketball playing in Italy.

The first: KVNU's Full Court Press

The second is a site operated by Carroll's wife Baylee.

A feature on Hawaii's Bill Amis

We liked Amis' game last season and fully expect him to do more in 2008-2009. Count him among the members of the WAC "Gettin' No Love" club.

Amis gets big for Rainbows
Brian McInnis
Honolulu Star Bulletin
November 24, 2008

Young Bill Amis learned the hard way.

The forward's journey from Oklahoma City to Hawaii began when he was 4 or 5. He had little choice but to play with two neighborhood kids three years older than he.

That would be Gene Wyckoff and Marquis Miller. Because there were no nearby children Bill's age, he routinely got punished on the court by the older duo.

"They drug me out there and made me the player that I am today, beat me up, consistently," Amis said with his customary slight grin.

While Amis knows who inspired him to get better (or else) the other Rainbow Warriors give Amis a nod of respect for building himself into a team leader all on his own...

Go here for the remainder.

Jason Groves on NMSU attendance, passing and shotblocking

Here's Jason Groves with a three-part article on the Aggies. It's just a hunch but our expectations are that Coach Marvin Menzies will be going 'small' more often than 'big' come WAC play.

Aggie Notes: Menzies, players urge fans to continue attendance trend
Jason Groves
Las Cruces Sun-News

LAS CRUCES — New Mexico State had the fifth largest home attendance per game increase in all of college basketball last year.

It's a trend Aggies head coach Marvin Menzies hopes will continue.

"Everyone loves a winner, but I'm from the old school of thought where this is your team win or lose," Menzies said. "It can't be based on winning and losing. There is a lot of pride and tradition here, which is one of the reasons I took the job, but you can still have a good time socially. It's just another form of entertainment."

In 20 homes games last year, which included three Western Athletic Conference Tournament games, the Aggies averaged 9,413 fans at the Pan American Center. It was an increase of 2,888 over the 2006 team that went to the NCAA Tournament.

The attendance figures for the Aggies' two home games this year are 2,481 against UC Riverside and 5,327 on Friday against Pepperdine. Both games ended in lopsided Aggie wins where NMSU was able to show off the athleticism that Menzies hopes continues to garner the support of the community...

Go here for the remainder.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Arkansas Little Rock handles LA TECH

LA TECH went out on the road last night and faced Arkansas Little Rock. The Techsters played a solid first half but UALR won the second 20 minutes and the game 78-69.

Four items caught our eye in the boxscore:

* Magnum Rolle committed five fouls in 18 minutes of play

* Kyle Gibson had seven turnovers in 39 minutes

* Reserve point James Loe played 21 minutes, no other reserve reached 10

* Jamel Guyton led in the Bulldogs in rebounds with nine

Our commentary: It appears Rolle is rusty from sitting out last season and still seeking consistency. Gibson miscues were probably an anomaly but possibly indicative of him having to handle the ball more often due to the lack of a D-1 ready point. We love the fight and attitude James Loe displays but he's not a 21 minutes a game player if LT is to be successful. Good for Guyton for his number of boards but it's too high for a team with Louisiana Tech's bigs -- possibly Rolle's miniscule minutes contributed to Guyton's total.

Trojans Turn It Up In Second Half To Down Bulldogs, 78-69
Courtesy: UALR Sports Information

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The UALR men’s basketball team moved to 3-0 on the year with a 78-69 win over Louisiana Tech (2-1) at the Jack Stephens Center on Saturday night. Senior Shane Edwards was one of four Trojans in double figures, finishing with a team-high 17 points off 8-of-10 shooting.

UALR struggled offensively in the first half, shooting just 28.1 percent as a team, but went 15-of-23 from the field in the second half (65.2 percent) to overpower the Bulldogs. Trailing 31-30 near the start of the second half, the Trojans ripped off a 20-5 run and never trailed again...

Go here for the remainder.

San Diego State bulldozes Fresno State

There was a glimmer of a high for Fresno State basketball, what with the play of freshmen Mychal Ladd and Paul George (he of the dunk video that will never get old) against St. Mary's earlier this week but San Diego State took FSU apart last night 80-56.

Bulldogs roughed up by Aztecs
San Diego State proves too physical in victory.
The Fresno Bee

Fresno State got an introduction to physical play Saturday afternoon in a men's basketball season that surely will teach more lessons to the young Bulldogs.

Harassed by San Diego State's constant pressure and rough, physical defense in the paint, visiting Fresno State played out of sync from the start in a 80-56 nonconference loss at the Cox Center.

Fresno State (1-2) committed eight turnovers and never got to the free-throw line in the first half, contributing to a 40-23 deficit. The Bulldogs trailed by as many as 27 points in the game.

The Bulldogs' freshman starting tandem of Paul George and Mychal Ladd combined to shoot 4 of 19, and team 36.7% overall.

"We were overmatched physically," Bulldogs coach Steve Cleveland said. "They overwhelmed us the first 20 minutes and that put us behind early...

Go here for the remainder.


Here's the San Diego Union-Tribune with another game perspective.

Boise State gets by Idaho State

It's not quite the same as a win against league rival Idaho but the Broncos triumphed 92-84 over in-state rival Idaho State last night.

BSU men work double OT, tame Idaho State
Nick Jezierny
Idaho Statesman

Junior center Kurt Cunningham scores 20 points and carries the load in overtime for the Broncos.

Give the Boise State men's basketball team credit for plugging away and finding a way to finally win a game it appeared to twice have wrapped up.

After squandering leads in regulation and in the first overtime period, the Broncos finally did enough things right Saturday night to pull out a 92-84 win over Idaho State in a nonconference game in front of 2,124 fans at Taco Bell Arena.

"That's what happens when you have an inexperienced team," BSU coach Greg Graham said. "We had chances to win it in regulation and in overtime. We were fortunate enough to get it in the next one. Hopefully we grew a little bit and learned a little bit..."

Go here for the remainder.

Nevada tops Oregon State

Oregon State is in rebuild-mode but it's still a victory for a young Wolf Pack team versus a member of the PAC-10 as Nevada wins at home, 79-71, against the Beavers.

Here are three links to the game.

Darrell Moody newspaper article

Chris Murray newspaper article

Chris Murray blog entry

Bryan Harvey resurfaces

First Louisville, then Fresno State and now California State University East Bay in Hayward, CA (San Francisco Bay Area) for Bryan Harvey. CSUEB is a NAIA member.

Per Coach Will Biggs, Harvey is described as "a transfer from Fresno State, will contribute in the backcourt...Bryan is a good scorer and outstanding passer...He could play point guard."

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Aggies surf the Waves

New Mexico State had no trouble taking down Pepperdine last night at home. The Waves are in rebuild mode -- 10 of the 13 Pepperdiners playing last night were either freshmen or sophomores, with eight being newcomers -- after a disastrous albeit brief time with Vance Walberg as head coach but wins are wins.

Aggie men blow out Pepperdine, now 2-1
Jason Groves
Las cruces Sun-News

LAS CRUCES — New Mexico State goes into a nine-day gap in the schedule after a 90-66 victory over Pepperdine on Friday at the Pan American Center.

"I think it's important for them to rest their bodies and as long as the rust is easy to knock off, I think the break comes at a good time," Aggies head coach Marvin Menzies said.

Aggies guard Jonathan Gibson was one of four Aggies in double figures, finishing with 20 points and a team-high seven assists. Jahmar Young led the Aggies with 21 to go with six rebounds and six assists. Troy Gillenwater scored 19 points to go with seven rebounds and six blocks and Wendell McKines had 18 points and six rebounds in 26 minutes off the bench...

Go here for the remainder.

Why no Greg Allen/Idaho announcement yet?

Eureka (CA) backcourter Greg Allen announced his commitment to Idaho a while back but there's been no official announcement yet out of Idaho. Maybe the Vandal athletics administration is parceling out the announcements in order to foster multiple media articles.

Our sources indicate there's no problem or hangup with Allen being in Idaho next season. Plus, here's an article from Allen's hometown newspaper:

Eureka's Allen slated to sign letter today
The Times-Standard

It looks like all the hard work in the summer at AAU tournaments is about to pay off.

Today, Eureka High's Greg Allen is expected to sign his letter of intent to play basketball at the University of Idaho next year.

A time and place for his signing was not determined Wednesday night.

Allen, the Humboldt-Del Norte Big 5 co-MVP last year, committed to play hoops for the Vandals last month after the school offered him a full athletic scholarship...

Go here for the remainder.

Joe Kammerer makes it official

The signing of Joe Kammerer is now official as announced by the Idaho athletic department:

Men's basketball adds Joe Kammerer
Courtesy: Idaho Athletic Media Relations

MOSCOW, Idaho - Joe Kammerer has signed a letter of intent to attend the University of Idaho and play basketball for the Vandals next fall.

Kammerer is a 6-9, 250-pound post from North Eugene (Oregon) High School. He was heralded by one scouting service as one of the most promising sleepers on the west coast. He helped his team to an Oregon 5A State Championship and a 27-0 record in 2007 and a sixth-place finish at the state tournament in 2008 with a 25-4 record...

Friday, November 21, 2008

LA TECH beat reporter Ethan Conley on the 2008-2009 Bulldogs

Here's Ethan Conley of The News Star with a take on Louisiana Tech basketball in the framework of the Bulldog game versus Grambling:

Tech Sports
Grambling-Tech hoops wrap-up
Posted by ethan conley
The News Star

Here are some thoughts and impressions from Louisiana Tech's 80-74 victory at Grambling on Tuesday..

. Go here for the remainder.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Is rain forecast on some recruiting parades?

This post is actually not about the two young men featured in it -- it's focus is the element of recruiting we as fans conveniently like to ignore. That being, recruits are simply possibilities -- the possibilities of future payoffs. Nothing more, nothing less.

Academic issues, behavioral problems, adjusting to college itself, accepting not being the featured player, playing time concerns are among the hurdles to jump or sometimes climb over. Some kids make it, some don't.

Does anyone remember David Burgess? He was Rivals' 14th-ranked prep center in the nation in 2004 as prep in southern California and signed a letter-of-intent with BYU. Ankle injuries limited his court time and he transferred to Gonzaga after one semester in Provo. He also played but a short time in Spokane and left there.

Burgess' next destination was Azuza Pacific (near Los Angeles). He has been moderately successful at that level, playing against the likes of Warner Pacific, Westmont, San Diego Christian and California Baptist.

Hopefully, he's is happy and satisfied at his present address and station in life.

How about Brayden Bell? A heralded Utah high schooler, he signed with Ohio State but played little in his freshman season. He departed from Columbus and decided upon Utah State as his best option. After sitting out the requisite season per NCAA transfer rules, he played 44 minutes in seven games before deciding to also leave USU. Azuza Pacific was also his next stop.

He appears to have found his niche. Here's an article about a recent Azuza Pacific game where Bell led his team in scoring. AP is currently 2-2 on the season.

Again, this post is not meant to throw anyone under the proverbial bus, least of all the young men featured here.

It is meant to offer some caution about the recently compiled recruiting classes, regardless of awards and rankings of the players. You see, nobody really knows how any recruit is going to turn out. We are all speculating, which is fun to do but the basis for such is about as solid as a termite-ridden foundation. Many a great recruiting class has resulted in the eventual firing of the college basketball coach garnering the signatures.

Boise inks a point guard

Following through on his commitment as reported earlier, Utah prep backcourter Mason Sawyer has officially signed with Boise State.

BOISE, Idaho - Greg Graham, head men’s basketball coach at Boise State University, announced today the signing of Mason Sawyer, a 5-foot-10, 175 pound point guard from West Jordan High School in West Jordan, Utah, to a National Letter of Intent.

Sawyer is currently a senior at West Jordan. During his junior season, he helped guide the Jaguars to a 16-6 overall record, while posting a record of 7-3 in league play. As a junior, he averaged 7.0 points and led the team averaging 5.3 assists per game. In addition, he shot 67 percent from 3-point range while making 63 percent of his shots from the line...

Go here for the remainder.

Coaches gild the lilly...oh the shock, the horror

We actually love reading the articles about how this coach or that program is pulling a fast one via creative interpretation, even if no infractions are involved (or have yet to bubble up to the cess pool surface).

It's like viewing a car wreck as you go by on the highway -- the siren-like call to look over is close to irresistible.

This subject actually brings mixed feelings. After all, college basketball IS a business. Win or at least be victorious enough, and the AD/college president will return your calls. Be 'successful' and the platitudes of the television announcers will flow towards a coach as if he discovered a cure for cancer.

Lose too much and start packing. Be deemed a failure if your players graduate and none get into trouble with the law but there just aren't enough notches in the victory column to keep up the prerequisite level of attendance and the donor dollars flowing.

And all this at an institution of higher learning.

Oh well, there's no new ground that hasn't already been tilled here. College basketball is no different from everyday life. The coaches and the players are no different than those persons populating other business enterprises. Why should we ever be surprised by anything that takes place? Or concerned?

Gray scale: Recruiters struggle with perfectly legal yet ethically questionable
Dana O'Neil
November 19, 2008

Nearly 20 years ago, Eddie Sutton resigned as Kentucky coach after a package sent from assistant Dwane Casey to the father of recruit Chris Mills opened in transit, spilling $1,000 for all to see.

Pardon some coaches if they wax nostalgic for the days gone by, when rule breaking was clear-cut and obvious..

Like the evolution from Chuck Taylors to Air Jordans, the art of cheating has been refined and streamlined.

Sure, rules still are being flat-out broken the old-fashioned way, but the new wave sweeping the game is rule circumvention, not rule breaking. Clever coaches are employing a strong grip on semantics to expose loopholes and reinterpret rules to their benefit.

It's not so much cheating as it's, well...

Go here for the remainder.

Think of Nevada basketball, think of good shooting

Nevada basketball and good shooting have always been like the pairing of the high school football quarterback and the homecoming queen -- a shared destiny.

Now it's very, very early, but the Wolf Packers are struggling offensively this season. Is this going to be a season-long concern or just a brief anomaly?

Pack basketball: Offense a sticking point for Nevada early
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal
November 20, 2008

Last season, the Nevada basketball team shot worse than 40 percent from the field only five times in 33 games.

This season, the Wolf Pack has gone sub-40 percent from the field in both of its first two games.

In fact, the Wolf Pack's 34.3 percent shooting in its season opener and 32.7 percent shooting Tuesday night both would have been season lows last year...

Go here for the remainder.

The Rainbow Warriors must show they can dial up from long distance

The basketball-ized version of the Napoleonic code reigns supreme here at Parsing The WAC and yes, we absolutely understand if such a statement leaves you wondering if PTW has completely lost it.

In more basic terms, our philosophy is that there is a de facto presumption of guilt regarding a basketball team's presumed weaknesses(es), unless or until proven otherwise.

But it's certainly not just us.

Coaches have actually employed this axiom since the Naismith era. It simply means -- at least in this specific example -- that 'we don't think you can shoot from outside and we will defend you accordingly. The outcome of our defensive strategy will determine its continuance.'

So Hawaii is going to face packed-in defenses until a couple of its players demonstrate three-point shooting proficiency.

'Bows work on long-range game
An outside-shooting presence would break opponents' zones
Brian McInnis
Honolulu Star Bulletin
November 20, 2008

The Hawaii men's basketball team is trying to bust whatever notions its opponents have of the Rainbow Warriors' ability to crack a zone defense.

In their overtime win against Idaho State Tuesday morning, the Rainbows (1-2) faced 45 minutes of a match-up zone from the Bengals, who dared their hosts to shoot from outside. ISU coach Joe O'Brien said afterward his team wasn't used to playing that format, but felt it gave an advantage against Hawaii's personnel.

Hawaii emerged victorious, but didn't appear comfortable until late in the game; UH shot 33.3 percent with 21 turnovers.

Guard Lasha Parghalava didn't start for the first time in three games, but ended up playing 37 minutes and hit a crucial 3-pointer in the final minute of regulation.

He realizes it's up to him to hit open shots to shake teams out of the zone...

Go here for the remainder.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Defending will be THE key to a WAC championship

When is the last time (first time?) a defensive play -- other than a shotblock accompanied by the announcer's pet phrase -- has appeared on ESPN's Sports Center? Yet the Boston Celtics are the 'defending' world champions because of the commitment the team made towards making it as difficult as possible for opponents to score. Here's a snippet about that team metamorphosis:

Commitment to defense delivers title No. 17 for Celtics
John Hollinger

...With the arrival of Kevin Garnett and the addition of ace defensive assistant Tom Thibodeau, the Celtics had the third-best defensive efficiency mark since the league began tracking turnovers in 1973-74, helping them to a league-best 66 wins despite fairly modest offensive numbers...

...Of course, the reason the Celtics' defense was such a huge factor was because their three stars bought into it. While Garnett has been a beast defensively his whole career, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen weren't exactly renowned for their defensive skills. When a pair of offseason trades united the trio in Beantown, the expectation was that they'd be a quality offensive team but wouldn't get enough stops to beat the Detroits and San Antonios of the world in May and June.

Yet defense is as much about effort as talent, and something clicked when the new big three got to Boston this fall. Garnett was the league's Defensive Player of the Year, while Allen and Pierce were the main defenders on [Kobe] Bryant, and kept the league MVP in check throughout the finals.

"We held each other accountable to get on the floor every time there was a loose ball, to help in rotation when somebody was beat," said Allen. "We didn't expect any less from Paul, they didn't expect less out of me. If Kevin was out of position we let him know, and everybody followed suit. It was that accountability all year long, that everybody knew when you came in here, we don't care about the offensive end."

So we are going out on the proverbial limb to say whichever team defends the best in the WAC this season is going to win the conference.

Our basis for such a prediction: there are a number of WAC teams this season that have the requisite firepower -- the scoring and shooting talent and skills -- to put up serious points on the scoreboard. They appear fairly equal in this strength. So the one squad pledged to focus the most attention on setting up roadblocks to opponents scoring will separate itself from the others and be the league leader.

However, there are a number of aspects to explore.

Before anyone replies that defending requires superb quickness and pogostick jumping ability so let's look at the rosters to see who wins there, well, just refer to this list of last season's All-WAC Defensive Team:

Matt Bauscher, Boise State
Matt Gibson, Hawai‘i
Lyndale Burelson, Nevada
JaVale McGee, Nevada
Fred Peete, New Mexico State

Granted, McGee was blessed with long arms and excellent athletic ability although he wasn't a solid man-to-man defender but Matt Bauscher, Matt Gibson, Lyndale Burleson and Fred Peete earned their spots through commitment and grit. They made up their respective minds to defend, did so and were awarded for there efforts.

But one of the problems in determining what constitutes good defense is how to document this points preventing passion. Is it simply the team scoring defense stat? Or the team field goal percentage defense number? Maybe a combination of the two? Plus other characteristics? Can it truly be reflected in measurements?

That's because what also has to be factored into the above is who is employing what ways to limit scoreboard fuse-blowing -- a slowdown a la holding the ball til the last 10 seconds of each possession, playing the variations of a zone, never fastbreaking. Heck, some squads probably also utilize prayer or the issuance of an opponent hex or spell.

So there's a lot to muddy the water.

Employing last season's numbers (not extrapolating them for 2008-2009 determinations but for illustration purposes) Nevada, Utah State and New Mexico State were in the top four in scoring defense, along with Fresno State. The remaining five squads had but 1.1 points a game separating them in their differentials but were a ways behind the four best.

But very curiously, Boise State finished last in scoring defense and yet won both the league championship and the conference tournament! So what gives? Is all of the above that's been written just so much manure?

Our take: let's count the BSU WAC tourney victory as at least partially an anomaly since almost anything can happen in a short series. But then how can Boise State winning the league be explained?

We call it a harmonic convergence.

The 2007-2008 Broncos were comprised mostly of very experienced seniors: a physical guy inside (Matt Nelson), someone who could defend in the paint and also further out (Reggie Larry), a veteran who was experienced at playing position and team 'D' well (Tyler Tiedeman), a stocky and strong player who led the team in steals (Anthony Thomas) and an underrated glue guy who was rarely out of position (Matt Bauscher). In this group, only Larry possessed great athletic ability.

Yes, experience definitely played a factor in Boise's success but it needs the accompaniment of maturity. The knowing what to do, the accepting of it and the doing it.

Here's another somewhat contradiction of figures -- last season's team scoring defense numbers in the WAC -- note the caboose here:

Team Avg/G

1. Nevada 69.8
2. Utah State 70.7
3. Fresno State 70.8
4. New Mexico State 72.4
5. San Jose State 74.6
6. Louisiana Tech 74.8
7. Hawai`i 75.4
8. Idaho 16 1208 75.5
9. Boise State 16 1211 75.7

But look at shooting percentage defense -- where Boise jumps from last to fourth, a statistic that tells the most compelling portion of the Broncos 2007-2008 tale:

# Team Pct

1. Nevada .430
2. Fresno State .441
3. New Mexico State .442
4. Boise State .442
5. Utah State .442
6. San Jose State .466
7. Idaho .482
8. Hawai`i .482
9. Louisiana Tech .529

Greg Graham's team did have so many things fall into place but credit is also to be given for the taking advantage of such.

So that's last year's statistics. We don't have this year's -- at least not yet. There have been tremendous personnel changes for Nevada, Utah State, New Mexico State and Fresno State. San Jose State has added talent and realistically lost nobody of critical importance. Louisiana Tech is basically fielding an entire new team so simply toss out last year's numbers as invalid.

So does anyone have predictions as to which squad will set the pace defensively in this year's WAC?

Just who has the necessary combination of skill, effort, commitment, understanding and experience?

Boise signs an East Coast junior college guard

Westly Perryman hails originally from Boston. He's shooting 36% from the floor for the season (27-75) and 28% on his threes (7-25) but appears to have some offensive explosiveness that is missing from the current Bronco backcourt. Senior backcourters Aaron Garner and Jamar Greene depart after this season so 'right away' help will be needed and opportunity will be beckoning.

New York guard signs with Boise State
Statesman staff - Idaho Statesman

Westly Perryman, a 6-foot-2, 180-pound guard from Monroe College in Bronx, N.Y., has signed his letter of intent to play basketball at Boise State, the university announced Tuesday...

Go here for the remainder.

Two Jason Groves articles

Here's a pair of Jason Groves articles on NMSU basketball.

Jason Groves
Las Cruces Sun-News
November 18, 2008

Team chemistry
Early on, it seems that this team has a better chemistry than last year...

Go here for the remainder.


Jason Groves
Las Cruces Sun-News
November 18, 2008

Menzies conversation
I listened to the Aggies/USC game on the radio and the same things stood out to me that you probably noticed. I spoke to Coach Menzies after the game about what he thought.

I asked him about the bench, which had a good outing. Robert Lumpkins hit a couple 3s, Wendell McKines had seven boards in limited action due to foul trouble and Gordo Castillo had a couple steals and hit a three...
Go here for the remainder.

Eric Musselman on Nevada versus San Diego

We're not sure why former NBA coach Eric Musselman uses Reno instead of Nevada in his take on the Wolf Pack - Torero game but here's his insight on various players he witnessed. By the way, Musselman's blog is worth a daily visit.

Scouting San Diego, Reno, ASU, and SDSU
Eric Musselman's Basketball Notebook
November 19, 2008

Was in San Diego earlier this week for USD's first annual "Tee-Off and Tip-Off" charity event benefiting the Fanconi Anemia Research Fund and Father Joe's Villages.

While there, I had the chance to watch a couple of games: Reno vs USD and San Diego State vs Arizona State.

In the first game, USD controlled the tempo as Reno had trouble scoring. I thought San Diego did a good job executing at both ends of the floor. They're well-coached. Reno also did a nice job mixing up their defenses and the guys played hard the entire game.

For Reno, sophomore guard Armon Johnson, last year's WAC Freshman of the Year, is an inconsistent shooter, but he can get his shot off. A lefty, he changes speed with the dribble, which is high at times. He could be a possible NBDL prospect in two years. For a young guy, he really communicates with his teammates well and shows signs of leadership...

Go here for the remainder.

San Diego has its way with Nevada

Gonzaga certainly receives the major ink/pixels when darn near anything is written about the West Coast Conference (WCC). St. Mary's is breathing down the neck of the Zags and garnering its own attention. San Diego? Well, the consistency isn't there yet -- being at the top for three, four or five seasons -- but the Toreros will again be a very tough team this season and more than likely part of the WCC contingent that goes Big Dancing again in 2009.

Nevada just found out how tough San Diego is in a loss on the road.

Wolf Pack Basketball: Toreros torch Wolf Pack
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal
November 19, 2008

SAN DIEGO -- Nevada basketball coach Mark Fox warned before the season began that his young team would incur some public growing pains.

You can consider the Wolf Pack's 65-51 loss to San Diego in front of 3,355 fans at the Jenny Craig Pavilion on Tuesday night just that.

The Nevada offense, which struggled in the team's season opener three days prior, never did get on track Tuesday. And this time the Wolf Pack defense couldn't come to the rescue.

For the second straight game, Nevada (1-1) shot worse than 35 percent from the field (hitting 32.7 percent on Tuesday). For the second game, the team had just five assists...

Go here for the remainder.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Saying goodby to Pete Newell

The basketball world is a little less today as one of its classiest individuals has died. Pete Newell Sr. passed on yesterday, someone who gave and gave and gave to the sport he loved. He was a person who apparently never engendered harsh feelings or words from anyone and also was one of the few beings on this earth that Bobby Knight listened to and respected.

We have our very own personal Pete Newell anecdote. Many years ago and being a teen-age Laker fan (who could resist the tandem of Jerry West and Elgin Baylor?), we sent a note to Newell who was then the general manager of the Lakers. Despite not knowing what we didn't know, we offered some suggestions to Newell on how to better his team. Rather than line his pet bird cage or litter box at home with our recommendations (well, maybe he actually did so), Newell wrote a note back and offered thanks. Try that nowadays and you'll be participating in a 2008 version of Waiting For Godot.

And to set the record straight, Newell the college coach was the original towel chewer.

Kudos to someone who left the world better by his presence.

Above is a Ray Barbour photo of Pete Newell Senior and Pete Newell Junior. The latter coached boys basketball at Santa Cruz High for a number of years before his retirement.

St. Mary's tops Fresno State 99-85

The outcome wasn't a surprise nor was the fact that St. Mary's always had the game under control. This was to be expected as St. Mary's had the experience and talent edges. Fresno State had its moments with some spectacular plays (Paul George is probably still seeing stars over his amazing dunk in the first half) but the Gaels displayed the consistency necessary to win. The Bulldogs currently lack the necessary depth as the majority of Coach Steve Cleveland's team is still adjusting to Division One basketball and also to playing together as a unit. Freshman Mychal Ladd also had his moments when given space to operate.

Confession time: we watched just the first half as we turn into something extremely unpleasant after the witching hour.

MORAGA, Calif. (AP) -Patrick Mills scored 27 points and added six steals and five assists, and Saint Mary's made a statement for breaking into the Top 25 with a 99-85 victory over Fresno State in a game that ended early Tuesday morning...

...Omar Samhan added 18 points, including six during a 12-2 spurt to start the second half, and added 13 rebounds. Diamon Simpson had 10 points, 10 boards and three blocks for the Gaels, picked to place second in the WCC behind eight-time defending regular-season champion Gonzaga. They received 108 votes in this week's poll, released Monday...

...Paul George had 25 points and 10 rebounds and Mychal Ladd added 13 for scrappy Fresno State, a young team featuring eight newcomers and just one senior in Dwight O'Neil. O'Neil had 12 points and nine assists and was whistled for a flagrant foul for taking Mills down hard on a breakaway with 8:04 to play. Sylvester Seay added 12 points and eight rebounds for the Bulldogs...

Go here for the full article.

Boise State gets Sienna-ized

Toss out the name Sienna amidst college basketball aficionados (ourselves included) and most will shrug. But the Albany, New York-based school is coming off a MAAC championship and Sports Illustrated has the Saints ranked 29th in its pre-season predictions.

So Sienna's 82-52 home win over Boise State isn't truly surprising although some expected the point differential to be in the teens somewhere. The Broncos shot just under 35% from the floor, a paltry 2-17 from long range and committed 22 turnovers.

But Boise will get better as the season goes along. The million dollar questions is how much progress will be made in 2008-2009?

Turnovers prove costly as Broncos fall hard at Siena
BSU turns the ball over on its first five possessions and 22 times overall in a 30-point loss.
Idaho Statesman

The Boise State men's basketball team's road opener at Siena went from an early season test to a wakeup call.

BSU committed 22 turnovers, made only 2-of-17 shots from 3-point range and never led in a humbling 82-52 loss Monday to the Saints in front of 6,626 fans at the Times Union Center in Albany, N.Y.

"We knew what they were going to give us - we talked about it," BSU coach Greg Graham said. "We weren't sure how we were going to respond, and we didn't respond very well."

The Broncos (1-1) turned the ball over on their first five possessions and seven of their first nine.

"We broke down, panicked, lost our composure and did a lot of dumb things," Graham said... Go here for the remainder.

Utah State notches a road win

Here's your mantra for today: A road win is a road win is a road win...

Utah State won 61-59 over UC Santa Barbara last night in Santa Barbara and, while yes, the Gauchos are a Big West team, they are a good one and tough to beat at home. Plus, USU is still in transition mode in its backcourt. The previous opinions are for those Aggie fans wringing their hands and wailing that their team didn't dominate.

22 turnovers for Stew Morrill's squad -- five apiece by Jaxon Myaer (28 minutes) and Jared Quayle (19 minutes) -- will certainly lead to one tough practice today and the promise of more in the future. Plus, Utah State generated just 13 free throw attempts and Tai Wesley collected five fouls.

But hey it's early and a road win is a road win...

USU holds off UCSB
Shawn Harrison
Logan Herlad JOurnal
November 18, 2008

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — Nothing like being in the right place at the right time.

Aggie sophomore forward Matt Formisano was quick to admit that fact. But he was there and did what needed to be done to help give the Utah State men’s basketball team a road win Monday night at the Thunderdome.

Formisano grabbed a missed shot by teammate Gary Wilkinson and scored with three ticks left on the clock. A desperation 3-pointer by UC Santa Barbara was off the mark, and the Aggies escaped with a 61-59 win in front of 4,028 fans.

“The two big men were on Gary, which allowed me to be wide open,” Formisano said. “I caught it and put it in. I guess I was at the right place at the right time...”

Go here for the remainder.

Monday, November 17, 2008

A deluxe new LA TECH basketball site

We were tipped off to this a short while ago but a scrambled brain didn't allow it to register deeply enough. We were remiss so trying to make up for our oversight, here's is a great Louisiana Tech fan site -- A Closer Look at LA TECH hoops.

Check out the site even if the Bulldogs are the chief rival of your blessed team. It's informative and the proprietor knows his stuff.

A few Monday morning notes and opinions

Here we go:

It's national exposure and being seen on the television screen is better than no appearance but 11 p.m.? Yes, Fresno State travels to St. Mary's tonight for an ESPN-televised game scheduled to begin oh let's say a little before midnight. We will catch some of it for sure but let's hope the WAC enjoys an 'up' year and carries more clout in future negotiations. As for the primary questions of the game: can the Bulldogs hang with the Gaels? Dwight O'Neill will have his hands full with Patty Mills but who will step up for Fresno State and balance out Diamon Simpson and Omar Samhan?

From Brian McInnis' article today in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin comes thiese two paragraphs:

"...Hawaii couldn't get an inside-outside game going to break the zone and went just 3-for-17 on 3-pointers (17.6 percent), while Fullerton was 11-for-27 (40.7 percent).

"We gotta find somebody on the perimeter who can knock down shots, spread the floor, so we can get the ball in to those (post) guys," Hawaii coach Bob Nash said. "We gotta be able to pass and catch and not be impatient and shoot bad shots..."

This may be a season-long search for Coach Nash. Junior college transfer Lasha Parghalava was successful shooting the trey the last two seasons but in his initial two D-1 games he went 2-6 from long range against USF and 0-5 against Fullerton.

Two very interesting games will be road-tripping Boise State versus a very tough Sienna squad on Monday night and Nevada's Tuesday matchup against San Diego. The Toreros are coming off a 65-60 shorthanded road loss to UNLV but will have big man Gyno Pomare back from suspension even if two teammates remain on ths sidelines. On the other hand, it appears the Wolf Pack will still be understaffed with three players, including starter Brandon Fields, still playing the penalty for behavior inconsistent with Coach Mark Fox's wishes.

Finally, did Idaho Coach Don Verlin have anything to do with his 2008-2009 schedule or was it mostly inherited? The Vandals began with Walla Walla University and then Evergreen but just tackled Michigan State on the road and now face Gonzaga in Spokane on Tuesday.

As expected, Mac Hopson is leading the way for Idaho but two items don't bode well:

1) Luis Augusto and Trevor Morris started for the Vandals against MSU. Now we do not wish to toss any kid under the proverbial bus but neither should be starters.

2) Plus, newcomer big man Marvin Jefferson played 16 minutes off the bench against the Spartans, compiling no rebounds but garnering four fouls.

Granted, Tom Izzo's squad is a national championship contender so it's worthwhile to monitor Jefferson in the next few games to see if some progress is being made. Verlin needs him as a 30 minute a night, contributing player and quickly.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Update on former Spartan Menelik Barbary

Came across this update on former San Jose Stater Menelik Barbary:

VOO Verviers-Pepinster has announced that they have added American center Menelik Barbary to their roster to replace the departed Duane Irwin. {Barbary] moved to Europe to play in Romania for CSU Altassib Sibiu where in 20 games he had averages of 13.4 ppg and 8.0 rpg. He started this season in Austria playing for the Furstenfeld Panthers but requested his release from the team after 4 games in which he scored 5.3 ppg and grabbed 4.3 rpg in 21 minutes a game.

A Louisiana Tech surprise

Before we get into it, where was Kyle Gibson for LA TECH last night? Did we miss some news? It seems he will play in the Bulldogs next game but we're unaware why he didn't participate in this one. Junior college transfer Jamel Guyton certainly stepped up big playing all 40 minutes and also garnering five assists in addition to his team-leading 27 points. LA TECH did commit 22 turnovers but it's early and possibly can be attributed to a group of guys still learning to play together and not having a true point.

Guyton's 27 Leads Bulldogs to Last Minute Victory
Bulldogs Win Season Opener
Nov. 15, 2008

LAFAYETTE, La. -- Junior Jamel Guyton scored 27 of the Bulldogs' 61 in his Bulldog debut to lead Louisiana Tech (1-0) to a season opening victory against UL-Lafayette (0-1) Saturday night by a final score of 61-59 in the Cajundome.

"We knew it would be tough game and we needed to come in here and fight and tough it out," Tech head coach Kerry Rupp said. "The best thing was we hung in there and were resilient and even when we got down we kept fighting. We still have a lot of work ahead of us but at the end of the day, the biggest thing is we come out of here with a win. "

Guyton shot 6-14 from the floor and 11-14 from the free throw line and was the only Bulldog to score in double-digits...

Go here for the remainder.

Chris Murray on Nevada's win + player analysis

Are you getting the same feeling? That Chris Murray is not long for the Reno Gazette-Journal? No, not that anything adverse is going to happen to him -- on the contrary, that ESPN or one of its competitive brethren should be snapping him up fairly soon. The guy is prolific and putting some of the national personnel to shame.

Murray has two items today -- a game writeup and then his analysis on each Wolf Pack player. What he has to say about Luke Babbitt is intriguing. Here goes:

Pack basketball: Babbitt shines as Nevada grabs victory
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal
November 16, 2008

BOZEMAN, Mont. -- It wasn't pretty -- in fact, at some points it was downright ugly -- but wins and losses don't come with style points, and the Nevada basketball team isn't going to apologize for a victory, no matter what it looks like.

In fact, the young Wolf Pack probably learned more about itself in its season-opening 72-63 victory at Montana State on Saturday night than it would have learned from a blowout victory.

The Wolf Pack learned it could weather the storm of a late 19-6 run while staring down a rowdy and foul-mouthed crowd.

The Wolf Pack learned it could count on its defense when it needed it the most...

Go here for the remainder.


Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal
November 15, 2008

I just got back to my hotel (by the way, if you ever need to stay in Bozeman, the Ramada Limited isn't too bad) and wanted to pass along quick thoughts on each player in the Wolf Pack's season-opening win over Montana State. Here we go, in order of most minutes played to least minutes played.

Luke Babbitt: I would say 20 points and 12 rebounds is a good debut. Babbitt went 8-of-19 from the field (and probably forced a couple of shots), but was clearly the Pack's go-to guy in the second half. As impressive as his offense was, Babbitt's defense was probably better. As the game story says, Babbitt held Divaldo Mbunga in check in the first half (the center was 1-of-6 in the first half). Babbitt was probably the most effective defender on Mbunga and he also managed to stay out of foul trouble, unlike most of the big men in the game. Montana State coach Brad Huse said Babbitt should go pro after this season (and the funny part is he wasn't joking). Huse is probably getting a little ahead of himself, but Babbitt didn't look like a freshman in his college debut.

Armon Johnson: Johnson had a rough shooting night (5-of-17), but still managed to score 16 points and grab seven rebounds. The difference from last season to this season, is an off shooting night would mean a bad night overall for Johnson. However, this season Johnson's presence will also be felt on defense. The sohomore's 'D' on MSU point guard Marquis Navarre was excellent and a real key down the stretch. Both he and Lyndale Burleson short-circuited MSU's late run with their defense at the point of attack...
Go here for the remainder.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Early season games

Notice that we aren't writing much about the games and exhibitions very early in the season.


Because even we can't find much significance.

But when we do, we'll offer something.

Like Hawaii's home loss to San Francisco. Granted, Roderick Flemings remains bothered by a bad ankle, Hiram Thompson can't get healthy and the Rainbow Warriors still may not know the first names of each other but falling at home and to the Dons? This bears monitoring. Hawaii should get better as the season goes along but watch to see how rough the beginning is for Bob Nash and Company.

We're not sure if this truly has significance at this time but here's another situation worthy of attention.

5-9 redshirt freshman Jaxon Myaer put five points, five assists and apparently stron defensive play into the record book in the Aggies easy win over Montana State-Northern. What might be important is that he was the starter at the point for Utah State. He and Tyler Newbold each played 30 minutes, the most for USU. Jared Quayle, Myaer's apparent competition at the point received 20 minutes of playing time.

From reported Jared Eborn's take in the Deseret News: "Jaxon played OK," Morrill said. "I thought a couple of his passes were Hail Mary's that got through ... but those guys will do nothing but get better."

Myaer, a freshman from Judge Memorial, got the start and contributed five points and five assists. He also harassed MSUN's leading scorer, Chris Johnson, into a miserable night on the floor with just eight points on 3-of-11 shooting. Quayle, a JC transfer from Western Wyoming and a Brigham City native, came off the bench to knock down four free throws and make two steals.

"It's defense for me," Myaer said. "I'm 5-9. It's all defense for me so I can stay on the court."

What did we overlook that caught your attention?