Saint Martin’s 86, Hawaii Hilo 85 (OT)
DID WE CALL IT, OR DID WE CALL IT?! Answer: We called it and we are SO STOKED FOR THE SAINTS!! Congrats guys. Big win. Knew you could do it (seriously: check our preview). The game was everything you could have wanted and more -all of the back and forth anxiety you could possibly dream of. It’s a huge win for the Saints because learning how to win those games is almost just as important as winning them. They pulled it out, it was huge, it’s gonna pay dividends down the road, we have hope for this SMU team, always have. We love what they brought back, we think the coaching hire was dynamite, Fred is still a big concern, but… Eh, slowly but surely that fear is abating a bit.
Highlights: Victor Ieronymides had six boards; Cole Preston had six assists; JORDAN KITCHEN had 13 boards and 18 points, two assists, four steals, four blocks, and four fouls, for one heck of a full house hot diggity darn; Tyler Copp wasn’t shooting so hot from the field but his free throws were on and he finished with 20 points; Fred Jorg finished with 12 points, six boards, and five fouls -beautiful. Off the bench: Isaac Bianchini had 10 points; Michael Painter had seven points and four boards.
Seriously: Saints. Whoa. Big. Turnovers… Eh. Couple of guys with four, but they were so productive in other ways that it’s not concerning. Rebounding is right where we like to see the number. Cole’s shooting is questionable -could have been a loss causer, but thankfully wasn’t. We understand that it’s a team game, but these guys that take a ridiculous number of shots without making them also need to understand that it’s a team game. Do we think UHH is all that? Absolutely not. But the Saints didn’t return much experience, are breaking in a new system, any D2 win for this team is good not only for them, but also for our conference.
Who do the conference basement dwellers play and how “should” they schedule?
This question came up in regard to SFU and it’s a good one. Do you play good teams and hope to get an upset? Do you play teams “at your level” and hope that you can really learn from them and make progress? We tend to veer on the side of the latter. SFU likely knew they were in for a rough year and D2 scheduling isn’t like D1 where contracts are often made years ahead of time. Generally D2 you can schedule comfortable games for the personnel you have coming in/back, so we’re kinda scratching our heads.
SFU gambled. They said “okay, we lost almost everything, but we like the pieces we have coming in, we’re going to schedule a pretty good team and hope that we can upset them.” And it almost paid off. The “safer” side is scheduling teams that finished similarly to what you did -in the last third of the conference- and hoping that you can beat them and grow from it. The danger to that side is if you lose, you’re making the conference’s SOS take a big hit and it could come back to bite you.
From a conference growth standpoint, we like the latter. We like to see say the 9th GNAC team take on the 10th Pac-West team and watch the progress and practice (see: SMU vs. Hawaii Hilo). From a personal standpoint, we’re torn. We like SFU’s gamble because we are from the Goliaths and losing to crappy teams doesn’t help us at all. Better to go down swinging than not try. The games are gonna be played regardless; confirming a cupcake doesn’t hurt much, but “cupcake” wars can get ugly. And yet, then you get a win like SMU vs. UHH and you start thinking “Whoa. Travel partner. Progress. This is so good.” We loved having MSUB as our travel partner, there’s a great respect, we definitely want to cultivate that with SMU, and we hope that you do the same with your travel partner.
Last year, we had a ton of fun from a conference perspective rooting for Cenazar because that pairing last year in particular was brutal (arguably the most brutal in the conference) and it was great. We love UAA and UAF because it’s so hard to play up there, so few teams have swept them in Alaska, and even if you’re at home it’s an exhausting back-to-back. We’re hoping that CU-PDX gets in gear and that the Wolvaliers combination gets brutal. We keep waiting for SFU -they have such great academics, hopefully the basketball will follow and WWU can learn how much fun it is when you live and die with your travel partner!
Checking in with Dixie State.
UAF and MSUB both play Dixie State this week, so we thought we’d check in with them and see how the perennial tournament team is doing. In short, we have good news and bad news. The bad news is that they’re a dumpster fire. The good news is that it means it could be a good-ish win for both MSUB and UAF to get this weekend. Dixie State is respected for going to Billings -hard place to play- but they’re doing it on the last two days of hunting season, so maybe not so admirable considering no one in their right mind will be at those games. Get yo’ meat all y’all.
We’ll periodically check in with Dixie State, BYU-H, Hawaii Hilo, and Hawaii Pacific throughout the season to see what the wins look like in context. BYU-H falling off doesn’t really surprise us, because they’re phasing out athletics and so how do you really recruit for that? Try to find a bunch of 5th year D1 seniors that want to spend a year in paradise but while following the BYU honor code? Hmmm.
The Coaches’ Poll
Is apparently not being discussed this week because it’s still not up as of 7:30am and we’re done hitting “refresh” waiting for it. We’re gonna go ahead and schedule this post to publish and we’ll deal with it at some other point. Could be later today, could be tomorrow, could be in next week’s discussions post, but regardless: It’s not now, and yeah -we’re a little miffed about it.
Are You Talking about the GNAC Men’s Basketblog?
Some of you apparently are because there were actual designated google searches for “GNAC Men’s Basketball Blog,” which is awesome -thank-you guys so much! Never expected the addiction to D2 basketball to set in quite as heavily as it did, but we have a blast working on the blog, and it’s so much fun to get to root for all eleven teams. The GNAC is an amazing place to be geographically -we can honestly say we’ve had fun at 10 out of 11 conference schools, and look forward to making it one more when we trek to Concordia-Portland later this season.
Rest of this week’ll be pretty normal for November; nothing tomorrow, but Friday previews’ll be up at 10am.