Good morning GNAC!
IT FINALLY HAPPENED! We all actually got together and played some conference games last night. Did we learn a lot? Arguably yes. Because we can finally stop making excuses.
Going into the first two games of conference play, the standings were:
Seattle Pacific 5-2
Western Oregon 5-2
Western Washington 5-2
Simon Fraser 4-3
Central Washington 3-2
Saint Martin’s 2-5
Northwest Nazarene 1-7
Teams in italics won their games last night. The records are essentially what we expected with the exception of Anchorage doing poorly and SFU doing well.
The good news about conference play starting is that the guys in our conference are SO great. The bad news about conference play starting is the guys in our conference can be SO grimace inducing. It’s only fair -we have admitted GNAC bias, but it’s not that bad.
This is the final warning to SPU, WWU, Anchorage, and WOU: Being picked as the top of the conference was not something in your favor -you will be nit piqued like a second grade girl and her five best friends. That being said: CWU, NNU, UAF, SFU, NNU, and MSUB; no one is safe. Put up or shut-up, whether you’re first or last.
Alaska Anchorage 75 @ Saint Martin’s 68 in OT
It would be nice to excuse Anchorage, but at this point there is no excuse. They got a necessary win tonight, but it took OT. Road warriors, but… really? For all the hype the Seawolves received, they get the Goliath treatment and thus tonight was not impressive what-so-ever.
Luckily, they really only had a couple of collective areas of concern: their number of assists -as a team, they had nine, which isn’t going to cut it; they also shot a mere 15% from three. Nope.
The good news is Christian Lackband had eight points and five rebounds; Brian McGill had another great game with four rebounds, four assists, two steals, and 22 points while picking up just two fouls; Kalidou Diouf had eight rebounds and 16 points; Derrick Fain, Travis Parrish, and Kevin Bowman all had five rebounds a piece off the bench.
The bad news is Travis Thompson had another fairly silent game, picking up just nine points in 36 minutes; Derrick Fain went 1-9 and 0-5 on threes -there’s a fine line between continuing to shoot and knowing when to stop. Assists as a team were terrible; that would be an ideal time to start converting them.
Saint Martin’s apparently has actually done relatively well at home against UAA and they had a chance to make a huge statement and didn’t take it; incredibly frustrating.
While the team on the whole wasn’t impressive, guys had their moments:
Trey Ingram had 21 points while shooting 4-5 from three; Tyler Copp had 10; Ryan Rogers had 12 points and six rebounds; Tyler Idowu had seven points and six rebounds; Riley Carel had a fantastic seven assists in 16 minutes off the bench -that’s almost as many as the entire UAA team had in 45 minutes.
Concerning areas for the Saints: the fact that they couldn’t close the deal at home against a team that lacked cohesion; Ryan Rogers went 5-17, was 0-7 on threes, and shot a mere 2-7 from the charity stripe; the team shot a whopping 54% from the line; SMU itself had a mere 14 assists, as well as 16 turnovers.
Overall the game was a battle and while it was good for us on a conference level, it wasn’t good for our conference on a national level.
Alaska-Fairbanks 62 @ Western Oregon 67
The good news in terms of UAF is that there isn’t a lot of bad news; the bad news is, there isn’t a lot of particularly good news either. As a team, they shot 50% from the free throw line, but the sample size is too small to really matter -they also picked up few fouls; they had a mere 16 assists, but they also only had 12 turnovers; their shooting percentages aren’t great nor terrible. It was a productive outing in a difficult place to play. The Nooks should be proud, even with the loss.
And they should be proud of these guys in particular: Ruben Silvas had nine points and five rebounds; Ashton Edwards had 19 points; Kyle Tomlinson knew when to stop shooting and instead picked up five rebounds, three assists, two steals, and two blocks; Almir Hadzisehovic had 14 points; Alex Duncan had 11 points off the bench.
As for Western Oregon, there was also nothing drastically concerning nor notable about their collective performance. They got it done against a team they were expected to get it done against, with the possibility for a challenge, and came back from a deficit. Always good.
Devon Alexander picked up nine rebounds; Lew Thomas had nine points, nine rebounds, and nine assists -nice PSYCH of a triple double; Jordan Wiley scored 17 points on 6-7 and 5-6 shooting from three, respectively; Andy Avgi scored 26 points and picked up six boards.
Concerns for particularly players… hooo boy. Lew Thomas STOP SHOOTING IF YOU’RE COLD -there is no universe in which 4-17 and 1-7 is acceptable and you likely would’ve had the triple double if you’d stopped looking so hard in the wrong area (remember: we love you Lew!); also of note: Julian Nichols contributed almost nothing, but this is kind of a victim of his own success -it’s notable when he’s quiet. Bench play is probably the one area of concern for the Wolves, because they got almost nothing from it.
Overall once again: this game was good for our conference, and actually wasn’t horrible on a national level either.
MSU-Billings 79 @ Central Washington 88
This was a really hard fought game that was chippy and intense, which is always awesome and as noted: seems to always happen at CWU, regardless as to the team CWU’s playing or what the Central team itself looks like. In terms of the Yellowjackets, the main area of collective concern is the fact that they had a mere 13 assists. The good news is they got some seriously strong bench play.
In terms of the starters: Marc Matthews continues to impress -he had 17 points and nine rebounds; Momir Gataric chipped in 10 points; Tyler Nelson added eight rebounds; Austin Hudson fouled out while contributing 15 points -he’s the only true banger the Yellowjackets have, which puts them all in a really difficult position. As noted, the bench was helpful: Antoine Hosley scored 16 points along with picking up four rebounds, three assists, and two steals; Emmanuel Johnson picked up six boards.
Biggest player concern area is that Gary Gordon was largely silent and Hosley shot 5-16 and 1-6 from three; had those numbers been different, the Jackets likely would’ve won.
In regard to Central, still not sure what to make of this team. They’re going to be helped out by the fact that UAF isn’t eligible for post-season play. It’s hard to say that this game was a disappointment when it was noted as a toss-up; there is some thought that MSUB was in the habit of losing to NAIA schools and so if CWU was for real, they would’ve been able to blow the Yellowjackets out.
Player highlights include Marc Rodgers and his eight points, six assists, four rebounds, two steals, and mere one turnover; Terry Dawn had eight points and five rebounds; Gary Jacobs had fourteen points, five assists, and five rebounds; Dom Williams had a fantastic 31 points and five assists; Joseph Stroud added five rebounds, two blocks, and four fouls off the bench.
The main concerns include Jordan Russell going 1-7, Joseph Stroud having a quiet game, and the bench overall not doing as much as they could’ve done.
On the whole: the game was the toss-up anticipated and it makes sense that CWU won it considering they were at home. However, if the Wildcats really want to be talked about in the same breath as WWU/SPU/UAA/WOU, they needed to make a statement and they failed to do so tonight to the degree that was necessary.
Seattle Pacific 77 @ Northwest Nazarene 51
Where to begin with this game… SPU did exactly what they were expected to do. Considering conference wide no one’s been doing that, there exists some relief.
The great part about the SPU collective game is that they’re really balanced to the point that in terms of player-of-the-week considerations there’s not one option. That is the epitome of what basketball is about, which is super cool. If no one from the Falcons gets it by mid-January, we’ll probably go ahead and split the award because their teamwork is so notable.
Tonight Bryce Leavitt had 10 points; Riley Stockton had 11 points and a whopping seven assists; Matt Borton had 14 points and five rebounds; Cory Hutsen had 16 points and five rebounds; Mitch Penner had 13 points and eight rebounds off the bench; Brendan Carroll picked up six boards off the bench.
Speaking of Brendan Carroll: He was 1-9 and 0-4, yikes; Cory Hutsen was 6-14 which would be fine if they weren’t all from two feet away from the basket; the lack of bench play from the Falcons with the exception of Mitch Penner isn’t sustainable in conference. Collectively they had just 12 assists -seems odd for a team notable for their teamwork, and one that was inevitably playing a game of “everyone needs to touch the basketball” for the last seven or so minutes of clock.
And you were led to believe the Falcons’ play was the end of the world. NNU? Hooo boy. It’s almost more that can be said about the SPU defense than the Crusaders’ offense.
Aubrey Ball scored 13 points; Mike Wright scored 13; Kevin Rima had nine points and seven rebounds.
That was it. Those were the highlights. Areas of concern: Aubrey Ball was 4-12 and 0-5; Erik Kinney was pretty much silent, as was Bouna N’Diaye; the team collectively had a mere five assists and sixteen rebounds; they shot 22.7% from three; they epitomized why they were picked last, even while playing at home. SPU is good, but they’ve shown plenty of ways that they’re weak and NNU failed to exploit them at all.
While this game was predictably boring, it was actually great for our conference so at least it has that going for it.
To anyone that actually read the entirety of that: You are being saluted.
But seriously: How much fun was that? Seems like the only way it could be more fun is if WWU and SFU got involved, which they will on Saturday!
Usually it can be said that it’s great to beat rivals but more useful to beat teammates… It’s great to beat teams from other conferences, but it’s better when the blood is shed from within! So much love when the family gets together -even if we’re all guaranteed to be sick of each other by February 1st.
Concordia-Portland, you shouldn’t be left out so here’s your obligated mention: we look forward to when you come and live with our insane family full time. Speaking of which -are you sure you want to? Like really sure? Like there’s been massive amounts of cannibalism as of late, far more than when you applied to join, so at least be aware of that.
The Cavaliers are sitting here going “Heck yeah, we’re going to feast from the top of the pile of that mother loving cannibalistic mess that the GNAC’s become.” You go Concordia, you go.
Never underestimate our propensity for shenanigans. Ever.
Player of last week nominations will be posted at some point today, promise.