Team Previews: MSUB, NNU, UAF, UAA, SMU.

Team previews, here we go. One post today, one post tomorrow. Every team will eventually be seen in person at least once, thus why it’s noted -watching on the computer is nice and beneficial, but there’s something incredibly dynamic that comes from viewing a game up close.

MSU-Billings

Yellowjackets… what the heck happened to you? Beaten to a bloody pulp by a plethora of NAIA teams is what.

Guys to watch: Austin Hudson, Momir Gataric, and Antoine Hosley, although Antoine has for the most part come off the bench.

Current Predicted finish: 10th, but with at least one win in conference.

Watched in person: Yes.

Yellowjackets -What are we going to do with you? What are you going to do with yourselves? Here’s a suggestion: Commit to actually caring about every possession whether on the bench or on the court and it’ll go a long way.

The good:

  • Austin Hudson.
  • A coaching staff that knows what they’re doing.
  • Momir Gataric’s improvement.
  • Antoine Hosley if he improves his shot selection.
  • The rest of the team will improve throughout the season, guaranteed.
  • You no longer will lose to NAIA teams -all of your losses will come from D2 teams.
  • Your single D2 victory comes against one of your biggest rivals.
  • Our conference thus far looks like a mess -good news for the bottom half.
  • Alterowitz gymnasium is a difficult place to play for opposing teams.
  • If by some miracle you do in fact make the conference tournament: you’re hosting it!

The bad:

  • You only play D2 teams from here on out, so if NAIA wasn’t your cup of tea… the sledding is about to get tougher.
  • You walked out of non-conference play with a record of 2-8, with one of the wins being against an NAIA program.
  • Even if you make the conference tournament, non-basketball reality will still plague you since you’ll be at home.

The ugly:

In non-conference, they lost to the following NAIA schools: Carroll College, Rocky Mountain (twice), the University of Great Falls, and Montana-Western.


Northwest Nazarene

Crusaders, at the beginning of the season there was so much hope and yet here you are… with admittedly less hope than you started, but actually not a bad place to be.

Guys to watch: Kevin Rima, Erik Kinney, Bouna N’Diaye, and potentially Todd Helgeson.

Current predicted finish: 9th.

Watched in person: No.

Crusaders -You can do this. You really can do this. You could walk up out of of this position, there’s nothing stopping you. SFU went from terrible to decent pretty much over night. Flip the switch Jihadists, flip the switch.

The good:

  • All three of your wins come against D2 opponents and somewhat respectable ones at that.
  • Notre Dame de Namur may be at the bottom of the Pac-West, but the Pac-West is the conference to beat thus year.
  • You beat Dominican very recently: that shows you’re gelling and actually learning things. Learning is everything. Dominican will have the potential to do some really good things and if they can do it, you can too!
  • You beat MSU-Billings, which at least partially answers that question.
  • Your losses come from largely some quality D2 teams, with only a few lower divisions slipped in.
  • Kevin Rima is fantastic.
  • Erik Kinney is getting better and better.
  • There are a smattering of guys that have shown good skills -put it all together, and mild success can undoubtedly be had.

The bad:

  • Eight non-conference losses.
  • If Kevin goes down, you’re screwed at least at this point.
  • Guys have shown good skills, but it’s rare we’ve seen a complete team performance.

The ugly:

The NNU situation itself; they’re just in a lousy predicament in terms of how hard recruiting to that school is, and there’s nothing they can really do about it.


Alaska-Fairbanks

Guys to watch: Ruben Silvas, Ashton Edwards, Kyle Tomlinson.

Current Predicted Finish: 8th.

Watched in person: No.

Nanooks -You’re on restriction anyway, bear down (ha!), do what you can to cause mayhem, don’t screw the rest of us over too badly if you would, and enjoy a year of experience.

The good:

  • Whether you do fantastic or poorly, really doesn’t matter -either have fun being the upset team, or don’t.
  • Good head coach.
  • Good transfers… things’ll be better next year.
  • Ruben Silvas can score.
  • It’s likely a matter of putting the pieces together, rather than a complete lack of talent.
  • Fairbanks is a notoriously difficult place to play, so at least they have that going for them.

The bad:

  • They returned almost no one, so things are pretty bleak in the sense of experience.
  • They don’t have the strength of the conference going for them, but that’s just as well seeing as there’s no post season.
  • They only have won win against a D2 level school or better.

The ugly:

The constant sense of transition is likely to continue until they can click up there or until Anchorage blows up big time. Some people adore Fairbanks; most simply don’t. And it largely seems like unless you play a true winter sport, you have better options elsewhere.


Alaska-Anchorage

Guys to watch: Brian McGill, Travis Thompson, Kalidou Diouf

Current Predicted Finish: 6th.

Watched in person: No.

Seawolves -Uh-oh, uh-oh, uh-oh, that is the alarm bell that should be sounding in your collective head (12 guys, one brain) that you need to get your poop together and do it now.

The Good:

  • Travis Thompson
  • A positively volatile coach (yes, this is a good thing).
  • Kalidou is consistent.
  • Brian McGill is doing work.
  • Nice new arena.
  • Talent is there.
  • Can’t climb up the conference or won’t; the answer to that decision determines the season.

The Bad:

  • Derrick Fain’s shot selection. The kid is going to create a “worst of” award all on his own if he’s not careful.
  • They’re anything but cohesive.
  • The loss to Humboldt State was straight up embarrassing.

The Ugly:  

They were predicted to finish second originally, now they’re projected to finish sixth and that could even be a spot too high depending on SMU -massive waste of Travis Thompson.


Saint Martin’s

Guys to watch: Riley Carel, Tyler Copp, Trey Ingram

Current Predicted Finish: 7th.

Watched in person: Yes.

Saints, what are we going to do with you? You’re not a bad team. You’re not a 7th place team. You’re just really, really, REALLY disconnected and no one seems to trust each other. TRUST EACH OTHER, DARN IT!

The good:

  • Riley Carel.
  • Trey, Brent, Tyler, and Isaac -all underclassmen, all interesting guys to watch, learning together. If they all stick around for the next three years, a couple of years from now: watch out.
  • They have good seniors and good underclassmen.
  • The talent is there, they just need to put it together.

The bad:

  • Riley Carel.
  • The talent is there, the drive to seal the deal is not.
  • This is the year -if they don’t do anything with what they have now, next year is likely to stagnate.

The ugly:

Riley Carel. Just kidding. This blog seems to be really stuck on him, largely because in terms of his own talent, he does less with more. And that’s that team -if he could get himself to trust the guys around him, the entire team would look different and could likely finish as high as fourth.


Up next: Previewing SFU, WWU, CWU, SPU, and WOU.

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