Saturday, January 31, 2009

Miscellaneous WAC minutiae

A Closer Look At LA TECH Hoops has a recap of the Rainbow Warrior-Bulldog game from Thursday.

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We usually don't bother with previews but tonight's Nevada at Idaho game is intriguing for three reasons:

1) the Vandals won the contest earlier in Reno
2) the Vandals are 8-1 at home this season
3) the Vandals are the surprise of the conference

Go here for Chris Murray's preview of the game. Here are Murray's keys to the game and a prediction.

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Where's Reggie?

Okay, the head coaching positions are available at Arizona, Alabama and Georgia with some other top level jobs bound to be available by season's end (Gary Williams' reign seems to be imploding and there's a terrible rift between him and the AD's office), so who pursues Reggie Theus and vice versa?

We have no insight but Reggie and Arizona sure seems like a match made in...well, you insert the location. As best we know, Reggie's family is still in Los Angeles, which is a short plane ride to and from Tucson. The Wildcat basketball program needs a major dose of favorable publicity considering the headlines of the last couple of seasons. Reggie is even more charismatic than Lute even in his prime. Arizona has to begin nabbing (and keeping) top level recruits again and Reggie can and will succeed in wooing talent. It's should also be a job that keeps Reggie there (as long as he harbors no delusions that the NBA is where he should be). The Arizona AD HAS to get this one right, after a series of decisions and non-decisions that have been less than acceptable and Reggie would get Arizona back among the big national players, if hired.

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Anthony Thomas says it's a done deal.

Here's the junior Boise State guard after Thursday's loss to Idaho:

"...It was horrible," Thomas said. "I didn't want to be a part of the first team to lose to them. I heard that they guaranteed victory today, and they did that. ... They stormed the court, and it hurt. I will never feel like that again. You can quote it or do what you want - Anthony Thomas will never lose to the Idaho Vandals again as long as he plays here..."

Wow. The two teams meet again on February 18 in Boise.

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6-6 Rainer Beach (WA) high schooler Corey Stern has verbaled to idaho. Go to the basketball message boatd at GoVandals.net for some information.

If we ran the NCAA

If we were in charge of the NCAA...

Yes, please quit shuddering because that obviously is not going to happen, not even in the most bizarre episode of "Lost" (and yes, we realize any such adjective preceding "lost" is redundant).

But in our wishes of wishes, specifically a vision for the upcoming BracketBuster matchups, we would love to see Utah State paired with St. Mary's. These are the #4 and #3 teams respectively at Kyle Whelliston's Mid-Majority site.

It would also be a classic matchup with the helter-skelter style of Randy Bennett's squad versus the structure of a Stew Morrill's coached team.

Unfortunately, the missing element (or presumed absence) would be Patrick Mills, the Gael guard who just broke his hand and is projected out for four weeks. He puts the 'go' into St. Mary's. Hopefully, the reports on the length of his unavailability are incorrect.

Damn.

When news is also non news

Sorry to go zen-like on you so early in the a.m. but the caffeine has yet to kick in and we're struggling.

Yes, Fresno State's Dwight O'Neill has been arrested. No, he didn't harm anyone as it seems more a case of that youthful invincibility combined with a dab or two of Hammer's "You Can't Touch This" -- (notice most of our cultural references are decades old?)

Bulldogs' O'Neil jailed on warrant
Fresno State player given a week for license violation.
Daniel Lyght
The Fresno Bee
January 30, 2009


Fresno State guard Dwight O'Neil is expected to spend the next week in Fresno County Jail after he was arrested on a warrant for driving with a suspended or revoked license.

Police spokesman Jeff Cardinale said O'Neil was pulled over Thursday at approximately 11 p.m. driving a red Dodge near the intersection of Maple and Kings Canyon in southeast Fresno. Cardinale did not have specifics on why O'Neil was pulled over.

O'Neil was arrested and booked into jail about 1:30 a.m. Friday on the misdemeanor charge, after it was learned during the stop that he had an outstanding warrant...

Go here for the remainder.

The larger issue is that O'Neill is a fifth-year player, a senior -- the only one on the roster -- and theoretically a team leader for the youthful Bulldogs. Sure he let himself down, but more importantly, he failed his team. He was also suspended for a game a short while back for inappropriate behavior and is also mourning the recent loss of an uncle -- not a good time for this young man.

We don't wish to pile on so we'll leave it at what we just wrote. Let's hope these past couple of weeks will truly be a learning experience for O'Neill and that he will emerge with a greater self awareness and a higher degree of responsibility to those around him.

Friday, January 30, 2009

All hail the Utah State Aggies

We don't wish to be so matter-of-fact about it and Stew Morrill definitely won't dance when he reads this (as if he reads PTW!) but Utah State is going to be the winner of the WAC in league play this season.

Now some will be inflamed by such a prediction (hey, it stands until any empirical evidence proves otherwise) and others will poking fun for our 'walk on the wild side' with such a prognostication.

For those who get their communications delivered to their very own bat cave, Utah State toppled Nevada last night so let's get right to it.

Utah State basketball: Aggies win in Logan with a 2nd-half flurry
Jared Eborn
Deseret News
January 30, 2009


LOGAN — Utah State's Stavon Williams was lost. He had no idea where he was or what was going on.

Stew Morrill, the Aggies' sometimes-grumpy coach, had no problem with it.

"I got dizzy, man," Williams said of the ear-splitting sounds cascading from the packed seats in the Spectrum as Utah State beat Nevada 72-61 Thursday night. "It got so loud I forgot where I was at..."

Go here for the remainder.

Jared Eborn has more here.

Here's Shawn Harrison with his report:

Second-half charge
Shawn Harrison
The Herald Journal
January 30, 2009


To win a fight, you usually need several different punches.

Utah State took some blows in the first half, but came out with more than enough different combinations to take care of five-time Western Athletic Conference champion Nevada in the second half. In a battle for supremacy in men’s basketball, the Aggies took the first round in convincing fashion Thursday night at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum in front of 10,023 boisterous fans.

The Wolf Pack went through several dryspells over the final 20 minutes, while USU pulled away for a 72-61 win.

“We just competed better in the second half,” USU head coach Stew Morrill said. “... The message at halftime was we needed to compete, which I think we did in the second half.”

Trailing 34-30 at halftime, the Aggies (20-1, 8-0 WAC) went to work inside with Tai Wesley. The sophomore forward scored 11 straight points for USU on different moves in the paint...
Go here for the remainder.

Here's Chris Murray with his take:

Pack basketball: Nevada stalls in Utah
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal
January 30, 2009


LOGAN, Utah -- The Nevada basketball team walked off the court with a swagger Thursday after the first half against Utah State. By the time the game came to a close, it was a stagger.

After taking a 34-30 lead into halftime in its Western Athletic Conference showdown with the Aggies, the Wolf Pack crumbled in the second half under the muscle of Tai Wesley and the silky shooting of Stavon Williams.

Wesley, who finished with a game-high 22 points, started the second half by scoring the Aggies' first 11 points. Williams then sparked a 17-0 run midway through the half with eight consecutive points -- a reverse layup, followed by a pair of 3-pointers -- to bury the Wolf Pack, 72-61, before 10,023 rowdy fans at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.

"They put together a run in the second half and we couldn't withstand it," Nevada's Armon Johnson said.

Teammate Brandon Fields agreed: "The first half we were more focused and we were more hungry. They scored a couple of times in the second half at the beginning and we kind of got down on ourselves..."
Go here for the remainder.

Murray has a big batch of post-game quotes here.

Plus, Idaho nabbed a big win over rival Boise State. Nick Jezierny has the

Idaho men's basketball snaps 14-game losing skid against Boise State
After the game, BSU's Anthony Thomas says he'll never lose to Vandals again.
Nick Jezierny
Idaho Statesman
1/30/09


MOSCOW - The streak may be over, but the rivalry between the Boise State and Idaho men's basketball programs certainly is alive and well.

The Vandals snapped a 14-game futility streak against the Broncos, grabbing a hard-earned 63-59 victory over the Broncos on Thursday in front of a revved-up crowd of 4,731 at the Cowan Spectrum.

Moments after Idaho fans stormed the floor to celebrate their first win against the Broncos since Feb. 17, 2001, Boise State junior point guard Anthony Thomas vowed it wouldn't happen again on his watch.

"It was horrible," Thomas said. "I didn't want to be a part of the first team to lose to them. I heard that they guaranteed victory today, and they did that. ... They stormed the court, and it hurt. I will never feel like that again. You can quote it or do what you want - Anthony Thomas will never lose to the Idaho Vandals again as long as he plays here..."
Go here for the remainder.

Hawaii broke a losing streak with a road win in Ruston:

'Bows beat buzzer, Bulldogs
Balocka's putback as time expires propels UH past LaTech, 54-53
Advertiser Staff and News Services
January 29, 2009


The University of Hawai'i men's basketball team is hoping a putback will put it back in the right direction.

Petras Balocka scored on a putback as the final horn sounded, ending weeks of frustration with a 54-53 road victory over Louisiana Tech yesterday at Ruston, La.

A crowd of 1,671 at the Thomas Assembly Center left in silence when the referees ruled that the basket was good after reviewing video of the final play.

"What can I say? I got lucky," Balocka said. "The ball bounced my way and I knew time was running out. There wasn't time to think about it, really. Just tip it..."
Go here for the remainder.

Finally, New Mexico State played the stronger and more even game against San Jose State and swept the season series with a victory in Las Cruces. Jason Groves has the details.

Jahmar Young's 32 points help Aggie men's basketball team rally past San Jose State Spartans
Jason Groves
Las Cruces Sun-News
1/30/2009


LAS CRUCES - Nothing has come easy for the New Mexico State University men's basketball team this season.

On Thursday, the Aggies led by as many as 14 points twice before finally holding off San Jose State, 89-81 in front of 6,194 at the Pan American Center.

"I don't care if we win by one point or a half of a point," Aggies sophomore guard Jahmar Young said. "Those guys can light it up."

The Aggies snapped a two-game Western Athletic Conference skid to improve to 4-4 in the league with 2-6 Hawaii coming to town on Saturday. San Jose State fell to 3-5 in league play...
Go here for the remainder.

Here Jason Groves' blog entry.

Sam Wasson's Daily Aggie is here, including a bunch of game photos.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

At the risk of further inflaming the hoi polloi...

Any future trip to Las Cruces and its environs for us will probably require security the level that President Obama (how great it is to type that) has but...actually there appears to be some fans who agree with our earlier take on the whys of the New Mexico State men's basketball season to date.

Despite endangering our being, we repeat: being tired of hearing about how young a team the Aggies are does not logically allow such a factor to be discarded from the discussion.

Las Cruces Sun-News sports editor Teddy Feinberg has a blog post up that resulted in several comments and the subject matter of the comments weaved around the youthfulness/inexperience of the Aggies, a plea for the Reggie-mania to return and disappointment about the season.

Reggie's timing of his departure was impeccable (and this is no knock) -- go out with a load of fifth-year seniors leading the squad. It's nothing but unprovable speculation but the question is still begged: just how would Reggie have made the 2008-2009 Aggies a team challenging Utah State and Nevada for the top spot?

Last night and tonight in the WAC

This post will be a long one but guaranteed to be worth your time or your money back.

For starters, Fresno State won last night against Houston Baptist and, while we ordinarily wouldn't bother with even a mention of such a matchup, (this is not knocking the Bulldogs, just the inconsequence -- our 8th grade English teacher is doing a spin move in her grave -- of the contest), Daniel Lyght has a remarkable opening in his game report and it is worth repeating:

Nonconference game allows Fresno State freshmen their chance.
Daniel Lyght
The Fresno Bee
January 29, 2009


The kiss cam told it all Wednesday night. With 8 minutes left to play, the cameras scanned the crowd looking for smooching couples. They found an older pair.

The female was reading a book.

Fresno State (9-12) waltzed to an easy, unentertaining 81-63 win against Houston Baptist on Wednesday at Save Mart Center as several Bulldogs freshmen registered career numbers. The Bulldogs were led by freshman Mychal Ladd, who tallied three career-highs: 22 points, three steals, and 10 rebounds...

Go here if you need to read more.

As for the top contest tonight, here are two takes:

WAC contenders meet tonight
Shawn Harrison
The Herald Journal
January 29, 2009


Picked to battle for the Western Athletic Conference men’s basketball title back in October, the Aggies and Wolf Pack meet this evening atop the league standings.

Utah State brings a 14-game winning streak into the contest. The Aggies (19-1, 7-0 WAC) have also won 28 straight at home and 11 consecutive conference games. Nevada (12-7, 5-1) has won five straight.

“I’ve been looking forward to this game since the first of the year,” USU senior post Gary Wilkinson said. “The minute we won at Hawaii, I started getting ready for this game. It’s the top two teams in the WAC right now going toe-to-toe, getting to show what we are all about...”
Go here for the remainder.

and

Pack gets biggest league game yet in Utah
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal
January 29, 2009


After losing the best player in school history in Jaycee Carroll, not too many people thought the Utah State basketball would get off to the kind of start that it has.

In fact, there probably wasn't a single prognosticator who would have predicted the Aggies would begin the season 19-1 overall, and 7-0 in the Western Athletic Conference.

Utah State coach Stew Morrill certainly didn't think his team would be sitting in this position. Asked earlier this week whether he could conceive of starting 7-0 in league action, his answer was succinct.

"No," Morrill said. "I worry if we can win just one game. I don't ever think I have a team that will win 20. That's reality..."
Go here for the remainder.

Plus, Kyle Whelliston is alive and kicking at The Mid Majority despite his public breakup and has a heckuva opening line on the Aggie - Wolf Pack contest:

"After a half a season filled with posing and pretending, it's time to truly get our WAC on..."
Last but certainly not least, The Refraction edition for the USU - Nevada game is posted.

We also loved this -- especially the tail end -- from Nick Jezierny, a few paragraphs into his article about the Boise State - Idaho matchup:

Daily Debate: Broncos-Vandals rivalry matters again
Nick Jezierny
Idaho Statesman
1/29/09


...Excitement around both of these teams has been lacking. For Idaho, it's understandable as the program hasn't had a winning season since 1998-99 and has struggled with single-digit win totals six times since.

The lack of a buzz over the Broncos makes less sense. They won the WAC Tournament last season and are again competing for a title and a postseason berth. They have won 39 of their past 53 games and are on their way to a third consecutive winning season.

Somehow, that hasn't been good enough to attract fans and interest to Taco Bell Arena, where the average crowd turnout is only 3,032 this season. Bronco Nation gets more excited about a soft verbal commitment in football than a swished 3-pointer in basketball...
Go here for the full article.

From the Honolulu Advertiser staff report on Hawaii basketball, this stood out for us:

..Nash said this past week of practice could also produce a new rotation of players for today's game.

"There are certain guys who are not fully on board with running things the way we want to," he said. "Guys who are not buying in with what we're doing can't play until they are ready to buy in..."
Finally, A Closer Look At LA TECH Hoops is back with updates on the Bulldog program

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

With the 10th pick in the 2010 NBA draft, the XXX pick XXX

Whoa. Fresno State's Paul George as the 10th pick in the 2010 NBA draft? That's not quite along the lines of who's going to claim rights to the baby Candace Parker is now carrying (Shelden Williams is the father and her husband) but why the rush?

Our thoroughly non-professional scout take on George is that he certainly appears to have a fine chance of being an NBA-er with further development in his game and more physical maturity. But being labeled a #10 pick right now with so many variables unaccounted for is fun to read about but nothing to be taken seriously.

Maybe Paul George can go to the League
Daniel Lyght
Fresno Bee
January 27, 2009


I knew Fresno State guard/forward Paul George was good. I knew he had the potential to go to the League one day -- the league being the NBA. But I didn't think the draft hype would come this quickly.

George, who leads the Bulldogs in points (15.4), rebounds (6.7) and 3-pt percentage (47%), is listed as a lottery pick on a mock board for the 2010 NBA Draft...

Go here for the remainder.

In this corner...

Actually, let's change cultural references from what the headline implies. Hopson versus Thomas is not a recent Supreme Court case nor an 1863 battle of Civil War generals.

It is a bigtime matchup when Idaho and Boise State go at each other Thursday night in the latest edition of this state rivalry.

Boise State, Idaho floor generals ready to do battle Thursday
The two point guards each lead their teams in different ways.
Nick Jezierny
Idaho Statesman
1/28/09


There is more than one way to lead a basketball team, and if you need proof, look at Anthony Thomas and Mac Hopson.

The junior point guards are the undisputed leaders of their teams - Boise State and Idaho, respectively. Their styles will be on display Thursday night when the Broncos (14-5, 5-2 WAC) play at the Vandals (9-10, 3-3).

"They're different," said New Mexico State coach Marvin Menzies, who played at Boise State and Idaho last week. "They're similar in that they definitely are the floor generals for their teams.

"They have different tendencies - Hopson can be more of an offensive threat and I'd say Anthony is more of a defensive presence and kind of a spark plug for his guys. They have different assets that they bring to their teams."

Hopson has been Mr. Everything for the surprising Vandals, who have won more games this season than they did all of last year...

Go here for the remainder.

George Nessman, Marvin Menzies and Bob Nash on Thursday's USU - Nevada matchup

Three of the WAC head coaches chime in on the upcoming game in Logan featuring the visiting Nevada Wolf Pack and the hosting Aggies.

WAC coaches break down Nevada-Utah State game
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal
1/27/2009


Thursday's Nevada-Utah State game was a popular topic during the WAC's weekly teleconference on Monday. Here is what some of the coaches in the WAC had to say about the big tilt...

Go here for the remainder.

More on The Spectrum reception committee

It sounds like it's quite the experience for opposing coaches, players and team when facing Utah State in Logan -- not exactly feeling the love of Welcome Wagon host and hostesses. Maybe it's not quite "The Jimi Hendrix Experience" but remains mindblowing in its own way.

It's always tough with comparisons but our sense is the reference as "Cameron Indoors West" is inherently unfair -- the lack of national publicity for the USU fan-dom antics and for what takes place in The Spectrum is an awareness Utah State cannot control. Heck, it might even top what the Cameron Crazies offer.

It does seem fair to say that The Spectrum-ites are the best at what they do west of the Mississippi. Clue us in if you disagree. Plus, does anyone have a photo or two of the off-the-court 'action" taking place in The Spectrum?

Aggie faithful will put Pack on hot seat
Utah State's 11-0 home record traced partly to fans
Chris Murray
January 28, 2009


When the Nevada basketball team walks into The Spectrum to play Utah State on Thursday night, the Wolf Pack will have more to worry about than simply beating a team that has been nearly perfect this season.

That task is difficult enough, but Wolf Pack players will also be the target of thousands of rabid fans ready to goad, taunt and pester them

until they crack.

Every game, 4,000-plus students pack The Spectrum ready to explode, and Thursday night's Western Athletic Conference showdown will be no different.

"It's just what you do," said Jeff Browning, a sophomore at USU who has been going to games since he was 6. "It's what you're expected to do. It's part of the culture. To us, it's culture and it's religion. At other places, maybe that's not the case."

Matt Sonnenberg, a USU student who publishes a comical online newsletter for every Aggie home game, said the crowd can be "ruthless..."

Go here for the remainder.

Gordo Castillo gets highlighted

Jason Groves features one of New Mexico State's more unknown players today:

Gordo Castillo continues to play well in role
Jason Groves
Las Cruces Sun-News reporter
1/28/2009


LAS CRUCES — Things weren't going well for the New Mexico State University men's basketball team at Idaho last week.

The Aggies shot just 37.7 percent from the floor en route to a season-low point total in a 67-57 Western Athletic Conference loss to the Vandals on Jan. 24.

Their 57 points was their lowest point total since a 61-56 loss at Hawaii in 2006, but the Aggies were still in a position to win in the last five minutes at Idaho.

If not for a career-high 11 points from sophomore guard Gordo Castillo, that wouldn't have been possible...

Go here for the remainder.

Stew Morrill to be on "Dancing With The Stars"

No, the headline isn't actually true but maybe it will start a groundswell of support for Coach Morrill. After all, if Warren Sapp can make the cut...

From Shawn Harrison comes very informative column today -- we are highlighting a certain segment but do read the entire article.

USU still learning, Lee latest example
Shawn Harrison
Logan Herald Journal
January 28, 2009


Dance coach dance

The Big Dance is still seven weeks away, but Morrill has already been doing some dancing.

I haven’t been able to actually witness it, but when his Aggies sweep a two-game road trip, he does something special in the locker room. Morrill performed in Las Cruces, N.M., two weeks ago and again last Saturday in Honolulu.

“I can’t go much into detail about it, but there is a sweep dance he does that is very entertaining,” USU forward Tai Wesley said. “It’s the highlight of the trip.”

It’s hard to imagine the sight, but I do agree with Tai. It would certainly be entertaining...

Go here for the complete article.

Fresno State offers a prep point guard

Came across this earlier today:

Anthony Ray
ArizonaPreps.com Recruiting Analyst


With so very few prospects from Arizona's 2009 class signing national letters of intent during the early signing period, numerous players will be available during the late signing period.

One player that has really helped himself this high school season is Mesa High School's 6-foot-3, 175-pound senior guard Donte Medder. While leading the Jackrabbits in numerous statistical categories, Medder has been receiving loads of interest from numerous division-I college coaches...

...With San Francisco Head Coach Rex Walters in attendance and Fresno State assistant coach Senque Carey also looking on, Medder's performance earned him two scholarship offers from both college programs...

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

Mea culpa


When wrong, pull out the puppy photo.

No grandpappy didn't give us that advice nor did Governor Blagojevich (thankfully) -- maybe it was the late Richard Nixon and his dog Checkers (sorry it that reference goes too far back for most of you).

In our earlier post griping about the fans who gripe about the 'youthfulness excuse card' being played by their team's coach, we offer a correction.

Upon further review, we should have indicated that it was not necessarily fans on the Silver and Blue Nevada Wolf Pack message board but actually much more commenters to a number of Chris Murray's articles in the Reno Gazette-Journal who had pilloried the use of 'inexperience' as any acceptable excuse for the Wolf Pack's early season stumbles.

Sorry for our error.

Now isn't that the cutest canine...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Here's Chris Murray with his latest WAC team rankings

Chris Murray offers his weekly rankings:

Some juggling in the middle of the WAC rankings
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal
1/26/2009


1. Utah State
Record: 19-1, 7-0
Last week’s rank: 1
Last game: Beat Hawaii, 67-51, in Honolulu
Next: Thursday vs. Nevada

Comment: Close games, blowouts, home games, road games: It doesn’t really matter for Utah State right now, as the Aggies are winning all types of games in all kinds of ways. The win streak now sits at 14...

Go here for the remainder.

Dario Hunt is emerging

Throwing freshmen into the proverbial breach was a necessity for Nevada this season and two frontcourters there are doing well, especially the one whose signing received much less attention.

Pack basketball: Hunt is new kid on the block
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal
January 27, 2009


Hawaii's Petras Balocka snatched a loose ball out of a scrum and pivoted to his left, tossing in what appeared to be an open layup.

With nothing but open space between him and the hoop, Balocka rose up -- presumably for an easy two points.

That was until Nevada's Dario Hunt flew in from Balocka's right to swat the ball in the other direction, sparking a Wolf Pack fastbreak.

Balocka wasn't the first to have a sure basket snatched away by Hunt's tenacious defense this season. He won't be the last, either...

Go here for the remainder.

Chris Murray on the WAC with a mention of The Refractioners

Food for thought: are The Refractioners entering the mainstream? A hat tip to Chris Murray for his inclusion here of the "outcasts" who, heaven forbid, seem to be on the road to respectability. ;-) The Nevada - USU issue of "The Refraction" isn't yet posted but keep checking here.

WAC notebook: Utah State is grinding out wins
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal
January 27, 2009


Utah State basketball coach Stew Morrill's goal sheet is pretty simple.

It is written on a single piece of paper in big black letters.

It reads: "Win our next game."

"No matter how many you've lost, how many you've won, what the next game is, you just focus on the next game because that's all you can do," Morrill said.

He figures if you do that and win enough games, the big picture will take care of itself. And so far this season, that single-minded goal -- "win our next game" -- has resulted in a 19-1 record and 7-0 Western Athletic Conference mark.

What it hasn't resulted in yet is a Top 25 ranking, not that it bothers Morrill. He doesn't talk about rankings with his team and doesn't plan on doing so in the future...

Go here for the remainder.

Jason Groves has an article about the second half of the season

Jason Groves covers the WAC as league play enters the backstretch.

WAC notes: Conference play enters second half
Jason Groves
Las Cruces Sun-News
1/27/2009


LAS CRUCES — The game of the week in Western Athletic Conference men's basketball is Thursday night in Logan, Utah.

First place Utah State (7-0 WAC) plays host to 5-1 Nevada in a game between the two teams that have created slight separation as the conference heads into its second half this week.

League coaches picked the Wolf Pack to win the league and the UtAgs were picked second by league coaches.

While there are still games to be played, the teams in third through nine will continue to jockey for WAC Tournament position.

"With nine games left for us, it's anyone's baby," New Mexico State coach Marvin Menzies said. "I thought that Utah State and Nevada would be near the top and they are. We are happy to still be in the hunt with six of our last 10 games at home."

WAC coaches picked the Aggies to finish third in the league, but they are currently tied with San Jose State for fifth at 3-4...

Go here for the remainder.

Upon further reflection...

Re-reading our previous post, well, maybe "stuff it" is a little harsh. Taking a more succinct route, becoming weary of a reason for a team's or a player's ups-and-downs is not a valid rationale for simply discarding it. But typing this wasn't nearly as much fun as the post yesterday.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The "I want to vent regardless of reason" crowd


You've read it before and you'll read it again. That being a sports message board poster or a commenter typing "Enough with the youth (or inexperienced) excuse from the coach. This team just needs to win, period."

Encouraged by such an enchanting flight of fantasy, the dogpile begins and the string become the longest one on the board. It's as if all have become Nike catchphrase acolytes and the mantra is "just do it" with no room at the inn for facts and reason.

Well, we're sorry to say we don't offer any guaranteed-to-work-or-your-money-back de-programming product for the low price of just $19.95 but we do adamantly believe that the members of this particular cult have either been self-brainwashed or gulped down some hallucinatory kool-aid.

That's because there is no one timetable that fits all for experience.

Was there one for each of your kids as they surely must have developed in lockstep? Did every one of your newer co-workers evolve at the same pace? Did you immediate take to your new jobs and the multitude of tasks sans any errors? And this without a 'defender' whose purpose is to make your achieving success as difficult as possible?

So why the simplistic and false expectation with sports?

We've read just such at times this season, primarily on on New Mexico State and Nevada message boards.

Let's try this. Think back when your were 17 or 18 (yes, for some of us that takes a heavy duty withdrawal from the memory bank). Possibly your confidence level wasn't then what it is now. Your worldly experience surely wasn't. All of a sudden, you're on your own. It's living with you having the sole responsibility for getting to class, taking care of homework assignments, laundry, you name it. Did I mention the hallelujah-like but extreme proximity of the opposite sex in your dorm? Or the same sex, whichever direction you roll.

So along with the above, add mastering heretofore unknown basketball intricacies. Then there's role shifts (sometimes within the same season), a being asked to perform in different capacities. There's also better than ever before competition, those bigger and stronger with having been through the wars a season or two already on their resume.

Talk about being in Adjustment Central.

So in what fantasyland is it accurate that the expectation be that underclassmen should play as well as or sometimes even better upperclassmen and with equal or better consistency than elders?

Or better yet, offer the exact location of the fool's paradise where the nauseatingly offered admonition that "(he or they) have played half the schedule already so they are no longer neophytes" is appropriate?

Planet Earth to the fanciers of such beliefs: stuff it unless you are living, breathing examples of the dogma you express. If you claim that you indeed are, then come to the head of the class and explain how you did it, lay out just how to take such a path and offer why others doing so will be as successful as you claim for yourself.

The line forms on the left.

We're waiting...

And waiting.

Fresno State gets a mention with this kid

Here's a kid who mentions Fresno State as one of his top three choices. He appears to be leaning towards Pacific (which way are they leaning?) but FSU and CSU Monterey Bay are also listed in his top three at the moment:

River City's Yevy Yev
Mike Yarbrough


Have you heard of Yevgeniy Dyachenko? Maybe you know him as simply "Yev". Or his more hip name, "Yevy Yev". Or perhaps you may know that, in Russian, "Jeka" is short for Yevgeniy. Whatever name you want to call him, Yevgeniy Dyachenko is ready to make a name for himself in the basketball world. And the people who follow the Capital Valley League, or more specifically West Sacramento's River City High School, certainly know about him.

Averaging over 22 points per game certainly makes him an appealing prospect. He has already had eight games where he scored 27 or more points for the 15-5 River City Raiders. Add to that 3.4 assists, 5.6 rebounds, and 2.1 steals and you can see why colleges might take interest. And playing four years of varsity ball doesn't hurt, either...

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

First article about a WAC coach's tenure

To the best of our recollection -- see we already have the necessary vocabulary to work in D.C. -- this is the very first article this season about the viability of any WAC men's basketball coach.

Bob Nash has really had only one full recruiting season. In that one, he brought in a to-be All-WAC performer in Roderick Flemings. Without a contract extension, he'll be facing the proverbial employment guillotine already set about halfway down-- as the article lays out.

Without a contract continuation, it also means he will more than likely focus on junior college recruits -- theoretically instant contributors -- rather than building an actual program via prep signees.

This is the classic rock and a hard place conundrum -- for all the parties involved.

Nash could help cause with wins
Ferd Lewis
Honolulu Advertiser Columnist


Two rows behind the University of Hawai'i men's basketball team's bench athletic director Jim Donovan sits arms tightly crossed, face cemetery somber these days.

You have to wonder what is going through his mind during games like last night's dispiriting 67-51 loss to Utah State as the Rainbow Warriors' struggles deepen and the time for a decision on head coach Bob Nash's contract rapidly approaches.

Nash is in the waning stages of the second year of a three-year contract, a clause in which specifies that a "satisfactory performance evaluation" triggers an extension.

It is an extension you'd like to see him get; one the building of the program practically requires at this point...

Go here for the remainder.

A feature on SJSU's Tim Pierce

Dave Newhouse is a San Jose State grad and a longtime sportswriter in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Life's now a slam dunk for Oaklander
Dave Newhouse:
Bay Area News Group
1/25/2009


The shortest work cycle is that of an athlete. You can be a letter carrier, teacher, chef, accountant, lawyer, doctor or entertainer forever, but an athlete doesn't have that luxury.

He or she could be a high school hero, then a college athlete if fortunate, and a professional if that person has attained elite status. But even the most gifted athlete is through by one's late 30s, early 40s, if he or she hasn't been cycled out much earlier.

That work cycle spins them in, then spits them out, with a new cycle of athletes waiting to take their place. So they had better have gained something constructive along the way, besides lofty statistics and All-America recognition, if the dream of becoming a pro athlete isn't realized.

Tim Pierce is a San Jose State senior, a 23-year-old from Oakland who's one of the best basketball players on campus. His exploits at Hercules High School, after transferring there from Fremont High, were herculean, thereby earning him a scholarship to Arizona State...

Go here for the remainder.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Greg Allen has a big game

Eureka High's (CA) Greg Allen had a big game on Friday. Allen was going to sign a national-letter-of-intent with Idaho in November but decided to hold off until April of this year before making a final decision.

Allen's explosion leads Loggers
Neil Tarpey
The Times-Standard
1/23/2009


It was as if the wind suddenly changed direction.

After three minutes of play in the third period, McKinleyville tossed in eight straight points and took a 45-44 lead.

But then Eureka's Greg Allen noticed something, and made a decision.

”They were paying more attention to our shooters, so the middle opened up, and I decided to take it,” said Allen.

Allen who hit a 3-pointer earlier in the period, shifted into warp speed.

First he hit another trey at the top of the key, and then he drove the lane for an elevated power lay-up.

Next the Logger guard stole the ball and took it coast-to-coast past two defenders for a reverse bank-shot...

Go here for the remainder. There is a photo of Allen that runs with the article.

Where does Chris Murray gets this stuff?

When the rest of us are sleeping, eating, zoned out in front of the television, waiting for the pizza to be delivered, praying and lighting candles that Ana Ivanovic won't think we're creepy and actually will be charmed by the gifts and letters we keep sending her, Chris Murray is out-working us.

Chris, we're raising the white flag, we surrender. You win. It isn't even close.

Just how young is the Wolf Pack?
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal
1/24/2009


The Wolf Pack's youth has been an often talked about subject this season, but just how young is Nevada? According to Ken Pomeroy's statistics, they are the 288th least-experienced team in the country (out of 344 teams). Here are the WAC teams ranked by experience (with national rank in parenthesis)...

Go here for the remainder.

Chris Murray stays busy

Chris Murray profiles Malik Cooke who doesn't draw the publicity buzz like a couple of his teammates but is performing superbly in a role that no other Wolf Pack player could emulate. It's all about the win and the team for him, with personal numbers off in the distance.

Most valuable Malik
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal
January 25, 2009


Malik Cooke was furious.

Although normally mild-mannered and soft-spoken, he had seen enough and was ready to do something about it.

It was his sophomore season at Christ School in Arden, N.C., and he was playing pickup ball with a handful of his teammates. Shirts and skins. Winner stays on the court.

His team had just lost its seventh straight game to a squad led by a pair of Christ School seniors -- twins Travis and Chavis Holmes, two of the best players in the state.

After his team's last loss, one of the twins told Cooke, "Go sit your tail down!"

"He came off the floor and he was just furious," Christ School coach David Gaines said. "He was running off at the mouth. I couldn't understand what he was saying. So, I'm like, 'Malik what's wrong?' He says, 'I thought we were supposed to be teammates.' He was as upset as I have ever seen him, and he asked me what he should do. I said, 'I think they're right.' You have to figure out how to help your team win or go sit down."

Cooke was only 14 years old at the time -- a skinny kid, more elbows and ankles than power and grace -- but he learned a lesson that day that is still embedded in his basketball DNA...

Go here for the remainder.

Last night in the WAC

Let's begin with the most important game of the night, Idaho proving yet again this is not father's Vandals (now that doesn't make any sense but we still remember that commercial and like the line):

Idaho hands New Mexico State another tough loss
Las Cruces Sun-News
1/25/2009


The Idaho Vandals beat New Mexico State University on the basketball court for the first time since 1999 and just the third time in school history.

The final score was 67-57 in Moscow, Idaho on Saturday night.

"We have nine games left in conference," Aggies head coach Marvin Menzies said. "I still love my life and I love my guys..."

Go here for the remainder.

From the GoVandals.net site, comes this game article.

and

San Jose State swept the season series with rival Frenso:

'Dogs fail to police boards
Lack of rebounding on defensive end leads to loss vs. San Jose State.
Daniel Lyght
The Fresno Bee
January 24, 2009


Two scenes displayed the difference between the teams in Fresno State's 85-79 loss to San Jose State on Saturday:

* The Spartans' Adrian Oliver sinking jumpers and talking trash to Bulldogs defenders on the way back downcourt.

* The Spartans missing a shot, grabbing an offensive rebound and scoring a putback.

Oliver tallied a game-high 29 points, and Fresno State was outrebounded 41-25 as it was swept by the Spartans in this season's Western Athletic Conference series...
Go here for the remainder.

Or try this from the Mercury News.

Utah State remained undefeated over in Honolulu and another well-deserved acknowledgment goes out to the management of The Herald Journal for sending Shawn Harrison out on the road.

Shawn Harrison
The Herald Journal
January 25, 2009


HONOLULU — Mission accomplished.

Utah State left Logan last Wednesday with redemption in mind. The Aggies completed the task by notching the second of a two-game road sweep, and in the process did something no other Aggie team has been able to do — beat Hawaii on its home court.

In a battle of the first-place team in the Western Athletic Conference against the team in last place, it was all Aggies. Honolulu had been the only place USU had not won at since joining the WAC.

That changed Saturday night at the Stan Sheriff Center. The Aggies built a big lead in the first half and maintained a double-digit advantage through most of the game on their way to a 67-51 victory...
Go here for the remainder.

From the Hawaii point of view comes Jason McInnis/Honolulu Star Bulletin and Dayton Morinaga/Honolulu Advertiser.

Boise State topped Louisiana Tech in Boise:

Boise State men 'earns' their win against La. Tech
The Broncos overcame dismal shooting to win their second WAC game in a row.
Nick Jezierny
Idaho Statesman
1/25/09


Boise State men's basketball coach Greg Graham perfectly summed up his team's 58-53 victory over Louisiana Tech.

"That's a game I think we earned," Graham said. "I don't know if we deserved to win or not, but we earned it."

The Broncos (14-5 overall, 5-2 WAC) overcame a lot to win their second game in a row Saturday afternoon in front of a season-high crowd of 4,630 at Taco Bell Arena. Consider:

The Broncos shot only 33 percent from the field in the first half, which allowed the Bulldogs (8-12, 2-5) to play at a slower tempo.

Louisiana Tech forward Magnum Rolle scored a career-high 23 points on 11-of-11 shooting and the Bulldogs shot 55.6 percent...
Go here for the remainder.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Afternoon or night games?

It seems like it's one of those six of one/half dozen of the other type of situations:

Which are better: afternoon or evening basketball games?
Boise State, which plays Louisiana Tech in a matinee Saturday, has supporters in both corners.
Nick Jezierny
Idaho Statesman
1/24/09


One of the first things Boise State men's basketball coach Greg Graham did when he took over the program in 2002 was move Saturday home conference games from 7:30 p.m. to 2 p.m.

The result? The Broncos won 13 of 16 games in front of an average of 4,628 fans.

The administration ordered a move back to Saturday evening games in the 2006-07 season, citing attendance.

In Saturday night conference home games in the Graham era, BSU is 7-3 in front of an average of 6,103 fans.

"We felt that (evenings) were a better time for the majority of our fans," athletic director Gene Bleymaier said...

Go here for the remainder.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Nick Jezierny highlights Travis Blackstock

A hat tip to Nick Jezierny for showing some love to a walk-on kid:

Kuna High grad impressed new Idaho coach during tryout
Nick Jezierny
Idaho Statesman
1/21/09


Idaho basketball coach Don Verlin was looking for another practice body - that's why he held an open tryout this past fall for students on campus.

It was an opportunity that 2006 Kuna High graduate Travis Blackstock made the most of.

Blackstock, who was a 4A All-SIC second-team player in high school, impressed coaches enough to earn a walk-on opportunity.

Last week at New Mexico State, the 6-foot-5 junior played 11 minutes and scored four points and pulled down three rebounds in a 74-71 loss to the Aggies...

Go here for the remainder.

In the WAC last night

Okay, let's begin the tour around the WAC with New Mexico State's visit to Boise.

Sam Wasson at BleedCrimson.net offers his analysis of the 87-84 Aggie defeat. Go here for that.

Here's Las Cruces Sun-News sports editor Teddy Feinberg blogging about the game.

Nick Jezierny provides his take on the matchup:

Boise State men's basketball: No slam dunk
La'Shard Anderson's free throws in the final seconds help Broncos stop a two-game skid
Nick Jezierny
The idaho Statesman
1/23/09


La'Shard Anderson looked extremely comfortable with the fate of the game in his hands Thursday night.

That's because he was.

Anderson hit four free throws in the final seconds and his Boise State men's basketball team snapped a two-game losing streak by holding on to beat New Mexico State 87-84 in front of 3,079 fans at Taco Bell Arena.

The victory puts the Broncos (13-5 overall, 4-2 WAC) alone in third place of the conference standings.

And it was Anderson, the sophomore backup point guard, who made sure of it. He finished with a career-high 15 points, none bigger than the four free throws down the stretch...

Go here for the remainder.

+++++

Here's Shawn Harrison with his USU - SJSU game report (and a hat tip to the management of The Herald Journal for sending him to San Jose to cover the game, this despite major cutbacks in the media):

Ags barely hang on
Shawn Harrison
The Herald Journal
January 23, 2009


SAN JOSE, Calif. — Nothing like starting the redemption tour off on the right foot.

Well, perhaps that is overstating it a bit, as the Aggies had to hold on for dear life. It certainly got more interesting than Utah State would have liked Thursday night at The Event Center.

In the end, however, the Aggies came out on top of San Jose State 62-58 to keep their winning streaks alive.

“We had to hang on by our fingernails to get a win,” USU head coach Stew Morrill said. “Sometimes it’s amazing what it comes down to.”

The Aggies made just 5-of-10 free throws in the final 74 seconds and didn’t make a field goal after Gary Wilkinson did at the 4:08 minute mark. Still, USU found a way to win in a Western Athletic Conference game against the Spartans in front of 1,948 fans.

“We keep playing Russian roulette in a sense,” said Wilkinson, who had a game-high 25 points. “If we keep playing this, we are going to lose. We need to find a way to finish it off...”
Go here for the remainder.

Martin Renzhofer of The Salt Lake City Tribune was also in San Jose last night (so kudos to the management of that newspaper):

Men's hoops: Aggies win 13th straight
Martin Renzhofer
The Salt Lake Tribune
1/23/2009


San Jose, Calif. » With eight seconds remaining and Utah State's once double-digit lead all but evaporated, Stavon Williams stood at the foul line brimming with confidence.

"I knew before I took the shots they were going in," said Williams, who buried both chances as the Aggies escaped San Jose State with a 62-58 Western Athletic Conference victory Thursday night in The Event Center.

"I thanked him," said USU coach Stew Morrill, wiping sweat from his forehead. He could hardly be blamed as his usually dependable Aggies missed five foul shot attempts in the final minute. "Thank goodness we had a cushion going down the stretch."

Utah State (18-1, 6-0 WAC), winners of 13 straight, led by 11 with a little more than four minutes to play. The Aggies proceeded, aided by some Spartan (8-9, 2-4) pressure, to miss several layups as well as the free throws.

They finished 13 of 20 from the foul line.

"It was three starters, three guys who are normally very clutch," Morrill said of the misses. "That sort of thing feeds off itself..."
Go here for the remainder.

+++++

Nevada won at home by 11 against Hawaii

Pack rolls 'Bows
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal
January 23, 2009


There's no number 10 on Nevada's roster, but there he was on the free-throw line time and time again in the second half of the Wolf Pack's game Thursday night.

The guy in the jersey, Brandon Fields, usually dons the number zero, but had to make a quick wardrobe change early in the second half thanks to some spillled blood on his No. 0.

Judging by his play, the new number fit him just fine.

Fields scored a game-high 19 points -- 15 in the second half -- to lead the Wolf Pack to a 74-63 victory over Hawaii in front of 7,247 fans at Lawlor Events Center. The junior shooting guard was 9-of-10 from the free-throw line after intermission, helping Nevada stave off a spirited Hawaii rally.

"I though we played well as a team," said Fields, who also tied a season high with four assists. "We didn't defend in the second half like we should have. They're a good team. It's a good win."

Nevada, which led 37-20 at intermission, built a 20-point lead early in the second half. After leading 48-29 with 12 minutes, 36 seconds remaining, Nevada allowed Hawaii to go on a 17-4 run to cut the deficit to 52-46 at the 8:02 mark before the Wolf Pack stabilized the lead and the game...
Go here for the remainder.

Here's Chris Murray with the keys to the game.

+++++

Fresno State picks up a league win:

Dogs drop guard, win
One-game suspension of O'Neil doesn't cost a victory.
Daniel Lyght
The Fresno Bee
January 22, 2009


Louisiana Tech had Dwight O'Neil where it wanted him during Thursday night's game at the Save Mart Center -- in jeans and a letterman-style jacket on the bench.

Fresno State's starting point guard was suspended for the game for inappropriate behavior during and after Fresno State's previous game at Nevada.

The Bulldogs did just fine without him, however. Freshman Bryce Cartwright filled in at point guard and the Bulldogs thumped Louisiana Tech 63-46 at the Save Mart Center, snapping their four-game losing streak.

"I know we've been waiting for a while for a win in league," coach Steve Cleveland said. "We had some opportunities [in past games] but it feels good to get a win."

Cleveland said O'Neil was remorseful and will play against San Jose State on Saturday. He explained in part why O'Neil, the team's lone senior and third-leading scorer, was suspended. O'Neil was not made available to the media...
Go here for the remainder.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Utah State tops SJSU 62-58

Hey, an almost live game report (and we shook Shawn Harrison's hand tonight -- Aggie beat reporter for the Herald Journal in Logan -- and thanked him for his reporting. Actually the words were 'we like to steal your writing' or something to that effect. We are sure he won't wash that hand for at least a week or so):

A summary of tonight's game is somewhat difficult to compose because there were just a couple of elements that stood out. After a misfiring beginning, Aggie Gary Wilkinson came on and resonated with consistent scoring all night, finishing with 25 points. It did take him 19 shots to reach that total but it appeared he primarily got the shots he and Coach Stew Morrill wanted.

And we counted but one run in the game, it taking place soon after the second half. Utah State took advantage of a quick bevy of San Jose State turnovers and extended a small lead into a double digit one and remained ahead the rest of the game. During this time, Utah State's Tyler Newbold seemingly set up shop in the right corner and nailed two wide open three-pointers combined with another Aggie deuce. But Newbold wasn't quite done as he also then totaled another trey along with a followup two-pointer -- this after being relatively quiet earlier in the contest.

A Wilkinson dunk at the 15:12 mark gave Utah State a 42-30 lead. With 4:40 showing, USU was ahead 55-46.

With less than a minute to go, Aggie point Jared Quayle (who had a tough time at the foul line going 4-7) missed a free throw and Justin Graham scored on a layup to cut the deficit to six, 58-52, with 48.7 seconds on the clock.

Tai Wesley was fouled but he also missed a shot at the charity stripe and Graham nailed another layup plus an and/one free throw at the other end to make it 58-55 with 35.5 seconds left.

But Quayle came through at the 31.1 mark when fouled again as he nailed both foul shot attempts to provide breathing room for the Aggies.

SJSU's Robert Owens then put down a trey to cut the lead back to two, 60-58.

After a Utah State time out, Tyler Newbold was fouled with 22.1 seconds remaining and missed both attempts (he's a 73% shooter for the season).

Trailing by two, Graham brought the ball down for San Jose State, penetrated on a dribble-drive but his shot rolled around the rim and out. Utah State rebounded and eventually Stavon Williams was fouled and nailed both his foul shots to put the game away.

SJSU's Chris Oakes worked hard all evening and collected yet another double-double, this one consisting of 11 points and 13 rebounds. He also blocked a pair of shots and passed for two assists.

The Spartans shot 47% for the night to 38% for the Aggies. USU entered the game shooting 51% for the season, 48% in WAC play. San Jose State's seasonal shooting numbers: 44% and 42% respectively to date.

SJSU also won the rebounding battle 36-28 but the breakdown was a bit wacky as the Spartans grabbed nine offensive and 27 defensive boards. Utah State's rebounding numbers were 14 apiece.

San Jose State also scored better in the paint, 34 to 22.

However, the Aggies had but four turnovers to 12 for SJSU and Utah State generated 18 points from these miscues.

Do note Quayle's bountiful line: 13 points, six boards, four steals, four assists and zero turnovers. We were joking somewhat with the line about him being the most valuable Aggie but...

San Jose State began the game with crisp offensive ballhandling and passing, leading to solid shooting. The Spartans led 6-2, 7-4 and 12-8, the latter at the 11:03 mark of the opening 20 minutes.

A Wilkinson three-pointer put Utah State up 21-18, giving the Aggies their first lead.

At the half, USU led 27-24, with Wilkinson totaling 14 points. The biggest lead for Morrill's team was five while SJSU's largest advantage was four points.

Any effect from the change in the three-point line?

We came across this and thought it interesting enough to present it. One thing we have certainly observed is that the lengthening of the three-point distance has not opened up the paint.

David Fox
Rivals.com College Basketball Staff Writer
January 21, 2009


If the NCAA powers that be want to keep challenging shooters, bring it on, Notre Dame guard Kyle McAlarney says.

Moving the men's 3-point line back one foot hasn't affected him one bit.

"It's really not that far back," McAlarney said. "With all the talk, it seems like they moved it back a few feet. But it's only a foot farther back. I haven't seen our guys make an adjustment."

McAlarney has little reason to be intimidated by the new 3-point line, which measures 20 feet, 9 inches. He's one of the nation's leaders from beyond the arc, making 74-of-154 3-pointers (48 percent) through 17 games.

But more than halfway through the first season with the new 3-point line, statistics show that the new distance has had an impact, albeit a small one. The average team made 6.7-of-19.1 3-pointers per game in 2007-08. This season, through Sunday, the numbers are 6.3-of-18.5...

Go here for the remainder.

Here's Chris Murray with a Mark Fox chat transcript

A big thanks goes out to Chris Murray for the following -- not only for setting up the chat but for the major typing task involved in presenting Q-and-As in print and not just as a podcast. Wolf Pack fans should not be taking this for granted.

Coach Fox's chat transcript: Why does he stomp his foot?
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal
1/21/2009 4:11


Nevada basketball coach Mark Fox chatted with Wolf Pack fans on Wednesday (below is the transcript). He seemed legitimately surprised with how many questions he received. "I could only get to 10 percent of the questions," Fox said after the chat. "One, I can't type that fast. Two, I can't read that fast. It's great to have that much interest, though." If you asked a question, thanks for participating. We are hoping to do some more of these with chats with coaches across many of the Wolf Pack programs. Here is the transcript.

2:56: [Comment From Xtreme Geek]: Mark, I’ve learned most great CEO’s and leaders are extremely calm in their approach to people. I haven’t seen you coach in practice but I have viewed your demeanor during the games. I believe in a firm voice now and then... do you feel you’re over the top occasionally? 2 good examples are Lovie Smith and Tony Dungy. I believe these young men will follow your lead if you stayed in control more. What do you think?
2:59: Mark Fox: Hey this is Coach Fox - I’m not sure comparing NFL FB coaches or CEO’s are great comparisons but every player, every team, and every situation requires a different approach. And most fires are intentionally set . . .

2:59: [Comment From Guest]: Did you feel a bit betrayed when Javale left early?
3:01: Mark Fox: I don’t think betrayed is the right word. We are certainly in the business to help young people and JaVale has a guaranteed $2+ million and several more in options. It has become a hard part of high major college hoops - but JaVale and his mother have offered sincere thank yous so we feel good about his experience here. It would be nice to have him though...

Go here for the remainder.

Sanchez rises

We always like stories such as the following, ones where opportunity is seized albeit unexpectedly to most. This is a great example of why making predictions (and we are the first to offer a mea culpa) are about as accurate an exercise as guessing where the Dow will be at the end of each and every day.

BSU's Mark Sanchez is making up for lost time
Forward Mark Sanchez leads the Broncos in scoring and rebounding
Nick Jezierny
Idaho Statesman
1/22/09


Mark Sanchez didn't play much last season for the Boise State men's basketball team because he played the same forward position as Reggie Larry, who was the team's best player.

Sanchez, a senior, is making up for lost time this season. He leads the Broncos (12-5 overall, 3-2 WAC) in scoring (13.8 points per game) and rebounding (7.3 rpg) and hopes to help his team snap a two-game losing streak Thursday night against New Mexico State (9-9, 3-2) at Taco Bell Arena.

The 6-foot-7 forward from Tucson, Ariz., hopes to play after spraining his ankle in a loss last Saturday at Utah State. He's practiced lightly the past two days.

"I think it's going to say a lot about our team," Sanchez said. "Are we going to bounce back or fold? I think we're ready to bounce back. This is going to be a big statement game to get us back on track."

Sanchez made his biggest statement by staying in Boise over the summer to work on his game and improving his strength and conditioning. He spent a lot of time playing against his former teammates and some Idaho Stampede players...

Go here for the remainder.

We are Wendell McKines fans

Wendell McKines comes from our neck of the...bay and he has always been a fan favorite because of his penchant for performing the spectacular.

That is no more.

Yes, he remains a fan favorite and yes, the spectacular is still provided by him, but McKines has already expanded his repertoire into the realm of a well-rounded player in just his second season.

In his initial year as a New Mexico State Aggie, McKines shot 42% from the foul line and went 1-1 beyond the three-point line while compiling 27 assists to 44 turnovers.

So far this season, he's at 62% from the foul line, 10-23 on his trey attempts and with 35 assists to 31 TOs.

Kudos to McKines. Here's Jason Groves with a feature:

Man at work: McKines becomes fan favorite for Aggie men's basketball team
Jason Groves
Las Cruces Sun-News reporter
1/21/2009


LAS CRUCES — Wendell McKines is living proof that hard work leads to recognition.

While men's basketball home attendance has dwindled at New Mexico State the past couple of years, a group of Pan American Center regulars has latched onto the play of the Aggies' 6-foot-6 sophomore power forward.

Against Utah State on Jan. 10, there were, "McKines Fan Club' signs and then after Idaho guard Mac Hopson's halfcourt desperation heave on Jan. 15 fell short to preserve a 74-71 Western Athletic Conference home win, a larger banner was unveiled opposite the scorer's table.

McKines noticed, raising his arms in appreciation as the Aggies snapped a three-game home losing streak...

Go here for the remainder.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

All are healthy in Idaho

No, the new Surgeon General has not declared the populace of Famous Potatoes Land to be in fine fettle. Now they very well could be but we are referencing the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed-ness of the Vandal basketball roster.

Nick Jezierny offer news today that Luis Agosto, Brandon Brown and Marvin Jefferson are no longer physically impaired and that Coach Don Verlin is back to a full roster of available players as New Mexico State comes to Moscow on Saturday.

It's Brady Jardine mania

We know he is already famous throughout France, already having a number of public places named for him (for example: Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris) and here is the Idaho Statesman furthering the acclaim of one Mr. Brady Jardine:

Hidden Gems: Twin Falls High grad playing earlier than expected for Utah State
Nick Jezierny
Idaho Statesman
1/21/09


Brady Jardine has been on a rollercoaster since returning from his two-year church mission in San Antonio.

The former Twin Falls High standout and 5A All-Idaho Player of the Year in 2006 enrolled at Utah State and expected to redshirt his first year in Logan.

But injuries forced Aggie coach Stew Morrill to play Jardine this season.

"Honestly, there have been like three or four different times where I thought my redshirt was going to be pulled," Jardine said. "It was like a rollercoaster, back and forth. I had mixed emotions because I missed the first 13 games."

A broken hand suffered by teammate Modou Niang was the final straw. Since then, Jardine has played in five games and is averaging 1.2 points and 0.8 rebounds in 4.6 minutes per game...

Go here for the remainder.

An informative Chris Murray compilation

Chris Murray has dug up some valuable information on which leagues the WAC members have been involved with the most this season. The Big Sky and the WAC hanve tangled the most often.

Which leagues do WAC teams play most often?
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal
1/20/2009


Monday's WAC notes led with the idea of the conference potentially trying to create a yearly challenge with another league to help boost its RPI numbers. If I had to guess, I don't think this is something that will happen anytime soon despite most of the coaches in the league being in favor of the idea. Utah State coach Stew Morrill pointed out that the WAC was also looking into making Las Vegas a neutral site for the annual WAC Tournament before the West Coast Conference swooped in and took the idea. Sounds like the same thing kind of happened with the Mountain West and Missouri Valley conference creating their challenge...

Go here for the remainder.

"Zone' is a four letter word for 'Bows

At the risk of repetition, here's another article on Hawaii's shooting woes. Will the Wolf Pack play a zone or will Coach Mark Fox stick with his man-to-man preference?

Offense a sore point with Nash
Dayton Morinaga
Honolulu Advertiser
January 21, 2009


Defending home court didn't work out last week for the University of Hawai'i men's basketball team.

Now the Rainbow Warriors want to get offensive on the road.

"We have to generate more offense, that's the bottom line," Hawai'i head coach Bob Nash said. "Our defense still needs to improve, but for the most part, we've been OK defensively. It's on the other end, on offense, where we need to pick it up if we're to turn this thing around."

The 'Bows arrived in Reno, Nev., late last night after nearly 12 hours of traveling.

Hawai'i will play a Western Athletic Conference game at Nevada tomorrow at the Lawlor Events Center...

Go here for the remainder.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Here's Chris Murray's latest WAC team rankings

Wolf Pack surges up to second in WAC rankings
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal
1/19/1009


1. Utah State

Record: 17-1, 5-0
Last week’s rank: 1
Last game: Beat Boise State, 79-65, in Logan
Next: Thursday at San Jose State

Comment: Utah State is still unblemished in league play, but watch out for that San Jose State game. The Spartans typically play the Aggies tough in California and beat Utah State, 70-67, at home last season...

Go here for the remainder.

Chris Murray offers more on a WCC - WAC pairing and possibly more

Note: Our headlines might be more appropriate to the articles they lead into if we paid closer attention to the content of the articles. Thus, we have corrected the headline. Continue on.

This is such a fine idea it's a wonder it wasn't thought of or implemented before now. The WCC has some struggling teams but ones that will be getting better and soon plus any WAC team matching up with Gonzaga and St. Mary's just might garner televison time.

WAC notes: Challenge could pit quality teams against WAC
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette Journal
January 20, 2009


Western Athletic Conference teams long have had difficulties getting quality opponents to play in their gyms, a problem for many mid-majors.

Recently, the Mountain West and the Missouri Valley conferences took a step in solving that issue by creating a four-year challenge in which teams from one conference play those in the other. The challenge is similar to those set up between the ACC and Big Ten and the Pac-10 and Big 12.

During their weekly teleconference, most of the WAC coaches said they would be in favor of creating a challenge with another mid-major conference. One potential rival is the West Coast Conference, which is regionally located and sent three teams to the NCAA Tournament last season. The WCC boasts perennial Top 25 program Gonzaga...

Go here for the remainder.

Hawaii looking for answers

It seems Hawaii just doesn't have all the pieces this season. It's boiling down to the Rainbow Warriors wanting to get into 'the zone' while taking opponents out of such a defense.

'Bows keep their chins up during losing streak
Brian McInnis
Honolulu Star Bulletin
January 20, 2009


Down, but not out.

At least, that's what the Hawaii men's basketball team strived to be over the two days before it left for Reno, Nev., today.

A neutral observer would've had difficulty matching the Rainbow Warriors' spirits in practice with their Western Athletic Conference record. The Rainbows (9-8, 1-4 WAC) displayed high energy in preparing for their contests at Nevada's Lawlor Events Center on Thursday and at home against Utah State on Saturday.

After faltering against another zone defense -- this time at home to San Jose State last week -- the Rainbows spent their time Sunday and yesterday redoubling their efforts to penetrate their opponents' favored scheme against them.

Hawaii coach Bob Nash ramped up his activity in practice again by actually participating in 5-on-5 drills alongside his players against the zone...

Go here for the remainder.

and

'Bows are facing big odds with rough trip
Dayton Morinaga
Honolulu Advertiser
January 20, 2009


The University of Hawai'i men's basketball team can't afford to gamble this week.

Not against these kinds of odds.

The Rainbow Warriors are scheduled to take on the top two teams in the Western Athletic Conference this week — Nevada on Thursday, and Utah State on Saturday.

Utah State is 17-1 overall and in first place in the WAC at 5-0. Nevada is 11-7 overall and in second place at 4-1.

Hawai'i, which is coming off a disappointing 73-61 home loss to San Jose State on Saturday, is 9-8 overall and in eighth place in the WAC at 1-4.

As if that weren't enough, the WAC is sending the 'Bows on a whirlwind trip.

The team is scheduled to depart Honolulu today, and arrive in Reno, Nev., late tonight. The 'Bows are 0-11 against the Wolf Pack in games played in Reno...
Go here for the remainder.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Doing some more followups

We're always curious about the whereabouts of those players who, whether or not of their own volition, head for greener pastures.

With that in mind, just where are the four former LA TECH players -- Dwyane Lathan, Orren Tims, Brandon Mims and Drew Washington who were dismissed back in May 2008.

Here's what we found:

*** 6-3 sophomore Dwayne Lathan is sitting out the season at Indiana State per NCAA transfer regs.

*** 6-5 sophomore Orren Tims is at McLennan Community College in Texas. His numbers: 10.5 points a contest, shooting .476%, from the floor and 80% at the line with 3.3 rebounds a contest and 1.4 steals each time out.

*** 6-8 Brandon Mims is a sophomore at NAIA school LSU-Shreveport and currently averaging 5 points a game and grabbing seven boards a contest.

*** 6-2 Drew Washington is/was at Talladega College, an NAIA institution. One record we found indicated he played in games on November 22 and 25 but apparently not since then. Considering the track record...

Anyone have a clue where Jamel White has re-surfaced if indeed he has? Or J.C. Clark? Or have their 'nine lives' run out?

Also, many thanks to this post for getting us started and for the info it provided. Do take a look.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The WAC beat reporters check in

Here we go with the various reports on last night's games:

Aggies still kings of WAC
Jared Eborn
Deseret News
January 18, 2009


LOGAN — Utah State had no interest in sharing first place atop the Western Athletic Conference standings.

And in increasing their home-court win streak to 28 games and their overall win streak to 12 with a 79-65 win over Boise State, the Aggies don't have to worry much about feeling crowded at the top of the WAC.

The win left even typically critical Aggie coach Stew Morrill satisfied.

"Once in a while they need to hear from me that they're doing OK," Morrill said after making his post-game team session the shortest in a long time. "And they're doing OK."

That might be a bit of an understatement. The Aggies now have the third-longest win streak in the country and are flirting with a Top 25 ranking...

Go here for the remainder.

Here's more from Jared Eborn.

Shawn Harrison has his take:

Aggies bust Broncos
Shawn Harrison
The Herald Journal
January 18, 2009


There was no lack of energy Saturday night at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.

Having had a shaky outing on Thursday against Fresno State, Utah State rebounded in fine fashion in front of a sold-out crowd of 10,270. It also helped that defending Western Athletic Conference Tournament champion Boise State was in town.

The Broncos had the home team’s full attention, as well as the 4,500 USU students who were out in full force.

In the end, the Aggies just kept on rolling, notching their 12th straight win and 28th consecutive victory at home, 79-65 over Boise State...
Go here for the remainder.

Here's Nick Jezierny:

Leading scorer goes down and so does the Boise State men's basketball team
Forward Mark Sanchez was limited after stepping on a TV cameraman and spraining his ankle. The Broncos fall into a tie for third place in the WAC
Nick Jezierny
Idaho Statesman
1/18/09


LOGAN, Utah — The Dee Glen Smith Spectrum remains a house of horrors for the Boise State men’s basketball team. The Broncos never have won on Utah State’s home court, and with first place in the WAC on the line Saturday night, they lost 79-65 to the Aggies in front of a rabid sellout crowd of 10,270.

The victory kept Utah State (17-1, 5-0 WAC) in sole possession of first place in the conference and dropped Boise State (12-5, 3-2) into a third-place tie with New Mexico State, which plays in Boise on Thursday.

“We had our chances,” Boise State coach Greg Graham said. “We played harder than we did the other night (a 77-63 loss at Nevada), but we didn’t play as smart. The two things you have to do are play hard and play smart. If you do one without the other, you’re probably going to get beat...”
Go here for the remainder.

+++++

Nevada and Fresno battled all game, with the Pack coming away with a home win.

Pack basketball: Nevada lands final punch against Fresno St.
Chris Murray
Reno Gazette-Journal
January 18, 2009


In a slugfest of a game, the Nevada basketball team was never really able to land the knockout blow against Fresno State.
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The Wolf Pack had the Bulldogs woozy a few times Thursday night, building a lead as large as 15 points in the second half. But every time Nevada pushed Fresno State against the ropes, the Bulldogs bullied back into the game.

When the final bell rang -- or buzzer, in this case -- it was Nevada that walked out of Lawlor Events Center with the hard-fought 65-60 victory.

It wasn't especially pretty -- the teams combined to shoot 35.2 percent from the field and committed 29 turnovers -- but the Wolf Pack and its 7,449 fans in attendance will take the win...
Go here for the remainder.

Joe Santoro of The Nevada Appeal provides his report.

Daniel Lyght had this in The Fresno Bee:

Youth hurts 'Dogs in latest men's hoops defeat
Daniel Lyght
The Fresno Bee
January 17, 2009


The paucity of veterans on the Fresno State men's basketball team becomes glaringly clear at the end of games. Four contests into the Western Athletic Conference season, it's apparent the Bulldogs have matured, but late in games they still act their age.

Saturday night at Nevada, the Bulldogs (7-11, 0-4 WAC) froze in the game's waning moments for the third straight contest, losing 65-60 to the Wolf Pack (11-7, 4-1).

"We are doing [positive] things but we have our moments where we're very consistent and then we have our moments where we're inconsistent," Cleveland said. "That's our experience. We're new..."
Go here for the remainder.

Finally, here are two game reports from the Honolulu newspapers on San Jose State's win over Hawaii:

San Jose State rallies past Hawaii, 73-61
Dayton Morinaga
Honolulu Advertiser


You can't defend home court without proper defense.

The University of Hawai'i men's basketball team found out the frustrating way in a 73-61 loss to San Jose State.

A crowd of 4,319 at the Stan Sheriff Center watched the Rainbow Warriors drop to 9-8 overall and 1-4 in the Western Athletic Conference. The Spartans improved to 8-8 and 2-3.

After two lackluster losses on the road, the 'Bows had a full week to prepare for the Spartans. But those plans were thwarted when San Jose State out-scored Hawai'i 48-32 in the second half...
Go here for the remainder.

and

Rainbows start fast, then fade
Brian McInnis
Honolulu Star-Bulletin
January 18, 2009


Six years of frustration against Hawaii ended for San Jose State last night. A disappointing start to the Western Athletic Conference season lives on for the Rainbow Warriors.

The Rainbows now stand eighth in the nine-team WAC after a demoralizing 73-61 loss to the Spartans before a crowd of 4,319 at the Stan Sheriff Center.

Behind the slashing drives of point guard Justin Graham and timely 3-point shooting by the rest of the Spartans (8-8, 2-3 WAC), the visitors broke an 11-game losing streak against UH (9-8, 1-4) going back to 2003...
Go here for the remainder.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Some early Saturday night WAC scores

We'll get the beat reporters writeups tomorrow but for now:

Utah State demonstrated it is the WAC Daddy at this point in the season with a 79-65 win over Boise State in Logan. Here's the USU athletic writeup.

Louisiana Tech took care of Idaho 74-63 in Ruston. Kyle Gibson and Magnum Rolle led the way with 21 and 19 points respectively. Here's the Tech athletics writeup.

Nevada won by five over Fresno State 65-60. Here's the game writeup from Fresno (it's from the AP) and here's the game box score from Nevada athletics.