Doing the ‘Discussions’ post a day early for reasons we’ll discuss further down.
The comments lately… If you’re looking to be coddled, you’re looking in the wrong place. This isn’t a safe space, this a space where we talk about MEN’S basketball in the GNAC. Sometimes we get hyperbolic about good stuff; sometimes we think the world is ending; sometimes we’re even-keel to a point of being aggravating because we do believe that a lot of basketball is “wait and see.”
With that, strength of schedule is now an official category come Selection Sunday. In every game we watch, every post we write, we’re thinking “The committee is watching. What is the committee thinking?” And we try to convey a lot of it to you guys. Does it mean things are rough? Yeah, because every non-conference game is that much more meaningful in regard to the fact that as members of the GNAC -we’re all in this together.
Quite frankly: The last three years have sucked. We’re ready to get back to 2012 in which four teams made the tournament and the GNAC was the class of the west coast. It’s gonna be rough, it’s going to be pretty much impossible, but here are five reasons we have hope for this year:
UAA. Suki Wiggs is looking really, really, really good. He’s passing muster in every test, we’re thrilled to see it. Can’t wait see what they do against Dominguez Hills this weekend -DH usually doesn’t project particularly well, so it should be a great bonding experience for UAA so-to-speak.
UAF. Definitely made a statement this weekend, although as always: A grain of salt we’ll take until we see them play quality opponents off the tundra. They have a notoriously good home court advantage, which is awesome, but their games against Dixie State and Dominican at MSUB loom large. Not playing a true non-conference road game… Meh. Still, they go super deep, they’ve got fun guys, Joe hasn’t been playing as well as expected so it’ll be great to see him get in the groove.
WWU. Super deep, they’ve had some losses early, their rebounding sucks, but if they can get that in order they should be fine.
SPU. Huge loss to Concordia-Irvine, huge win against Dixie State. Devastating to watch them blow the lead, but they pulled it out. This team returns almost nothing outside of Mitch Penner and their coaching staff and yet we shall see.
WOU. They return so much, the only piece they lost was addition by subtraction, we haven’t seen them play with Andy yet but they continue to pull the games out and win, thus they can only go up from what was a very good team last year. We know -transfers, yay, they’ve had good moments, but again: We’re so few games into the season that while we truly believe in the transfer effect -don’t tell us: Show us.
WWU and WOU are both ranked, why aren’t we talking about it?
Rankings this early are irrelevant. We flat out adore what both teams bring back, but we’re not seeing it right now. WWU didn’t make the NCAA tournament, they lost one game in California, didn’t play the team that would have made a real statement, and their rebounding is a mess. They just played an NAIA team and no one had a double-double, when we’re very aware that they have perfectly capable rebounders on their team that simply aren’t doing it. That’s not acceptable. WOU got bounced in the first round by a team that’s not currently ranked, although should be. The rankings are a mess. We’re keeping an eye on it, but ultimately sticking with reality and that is that pre-season polls don’t matter. Show us, don’t tell us.
Why didn’t we talk about the SFU/CWU game?
Because it didn’t do our conference any favors; it was basketball inbreeding. This maybe should have been a behind closed doors scrimmage, but in reality probably shouldn’t have happened at all, and instead it ended up as an “official” part of non-conference. There’s just no context and little good to come from it. Essentially you have the GNAC’s last place team taking on the sixth place team, with both just having lost lost the entire focal point of their respective offenses, all from the weakest conference on the west coast. We’re in wait and see mode and we’re confident in that. Remember: 10/10 GNAC coaches picked SFU to finish last -could they all be wrong? Sure. But again: don’t tell us, show us.
Harsh non-conference reviews?
It’s show-me time. How the GNAC is going to measure up and be viewed going into conference play and tournament selection time depends on what schools do now. We’ve said everyone needs to buy in, but particularly the schools that aren’t expected to get a sniff of post-season. We were thrilled last year when NNU surprised everybody, we have high hopes for a lot of teams, but everyone needs to win. You think what SFU does doesn’t affect Western Oregon? Wrong. It could come back to haunt them because strength of schedule is an official thing this year.
Play good schools, wallop bad schools, keep grinding. UAF did that. UAA did that. SPU did that (to a degree). SMU did that. MSUB… *sighs* they scheduled themselves valiantly -we love the heck out of that coaching staff and know that recruiting to Billings is a nightmare. WOU has sky-high expectations and we’re holding them right where they should be held. Injuries are a part of the game of basketball, as is overcoming adversity. Julian Nichols and Jim Shaw would be the first people to tell you that they’re not living up to their own expectations and they are underperforming in regard to what they’re capable of.
Tomorrow’s a big day for the GNAC with the first of the BYU-Hawaii games being played by the consensus number one conference team. The collective preview of BYU-H against all three GNAC schools will be up at 10am.