Yes, there’s not as much pre-season blogging this year, but we promise: We’re still just as committed as ever. As we’ve repeated a zillion times at this point -no one returns anything (except Anchorage), D2 is amazingly volatile in how much can change by adding ONE player to any given team ala NNU 2014-2015, so the speculation is pointless and not very fun. We left plenty of spaces on our pre-season all conference teams for new guys and we can’t wait for them take the conference by storm. Newbies in the GNAC -you have a place here. You belong. We cannot wait to see you play.
That being said: the NABC poll is out and here are teams we think are important to the GNAC basketball world in particular:
9. Cal Baptist
10. Tarleton State -plays both WWU and SFU in Vegas in about six weeks.
11. Chico State
12. Alaska Anchorage -in our opinion this is too low.
21. Colorado School of Mines -not a GNAC non-con opponent this year, but often are.
Other schools receiving votes: Western Oregon (27th), Azusa Pacific, Seattle Pacific, Western Washington, Dixie State, UC San Diego, and Point Loma.
It’s kind of funny -we’ll trust them on the CCAA and Pac-West schools receiving votes being legit, and from an out of conference perspective we’re sure that Seattle Pacific looks legit because it’s SPU, but… From knowing what we know about our own conference? SPU returns less than nothing.
Speaking of which: exhibition games are being played. Saint Martin’s played EWU and the score was close but the numbers were terrible. SPU played BYU and they got blown out but we saw a lot of really good numbers, so that’s interesting on both fronts.
More soon… Our “welcome back” post will probably go up next Thursday in anticipation of Friday’s games.
On the agenda today: SPU @ Saint Martin’s, SPU’s bubble, State of the West/Rankings, the GNAC race, and GNAC frosh of the year.
SPU 64 @ SMU 68
Well, that happened. Coming into this game we called it; we’ve liked SMU all year and now that Fred finally isn’t starting the Saints have been running and it’s good. And it was a good game. It was fun to watch Gilles and Fred face off. We tend to think Fred is a better defender but Gilles is less problematic with cohesion considering he can actually run. Really interesting to see two drastically different 7’0 European bodies. Gilles looks like a ballet dancer next to Fred’s brontosaurus.
Falcon highlights: Bryce Leavitt had a double-double including 11 rebounds; Brendan Carroll had five boards; Gilles Dierickx had a double double with 11 boards and 10 points; Mitch Penner had five boards. Off the bench Garrett Swanson had 11 points on 7/8 shooting from the line.
Saint highlights: Cole Preston had five boards; Rhett Baerlocher had nine boards and 16 points; Tyler Copp had 12 points. Great play off the bench with Trey Ingram having 21 points; and Brandon Kenilvort having four boards and seven points. We said this on twitter, but: Brandon Kenilvort needs a smaller pair of shorts; the ones he currently wears are limiting his range of motion and impacting his game negatively.
Again: Very good game played by the Saints, shots were on fire, very deserved and earned win. Two incredibly young teams facing off and the Saints got it done, so lots of hope for the future. With SPU, Gabe (their new point guard) is learning and he needs to be broken in and he’s fine. It happens. He’s a frosh and the learning curve is better right now than early next year.
Did SPU’s bubble just burst?
Shockingly no. They have a lot of non-conference and strength of schedule credit. They’re slumping and it’s frustrating, we know that more than anyone outside of their coaching staff, but we trust the process because we haven’t been given any reason to doubt it. In terms of strength of schedule, here’s what the Falcons have:
- OT loss to CU-Irvine (would be 100% in the tournament)
- Win at Dixie State
- Win against BYU-Hawaii
- Win at Chico State (is 100% in the tournament)
- Win against Azusa Pacific
- Win at Alaska-Anchorage
- Two close losses WOU
- All in-conference losses have been within a possession or so.
They need a bounce-back game against Billings on Saturday. It’s going to be rough because MSUB loves to win in the SPU gym (and we support them wholeheartedly in it) and they’re coming on strong at the right time. Hopefully SPU gets it together and takes the Yellowjackets seriously because if they don’t: It could be a very long night.
The State of the West
Is its usual mess, but here’s a compilation of regionally notable results from the last week:
Alaska-Anchorage lost to MSU-Billings
Seattle Pacific lost to Central Washington + Saint Martin’s
Western Washington lost to CU-Portland
Cal Poly Pomona lost to Monterey Bay
San Marcos lost to San Fran State + got killed by Sonoma
UC San Diego lost to Chico State
Dominican lost to Point Loma
CU-Irvine lost to Cal Baptist
1. Western Oregon
8. Chico State
10. MSU Moorhead
13. UC San Diego
20. Cal Poly Pomona
25. Seattle Pacific
Others receiving votes: Cal Baptist (11), Azusa Pacific (5), CO Mines (5), Alaska-Anchorage (1).
No clue what to say about any of that, except maybe we’re surprised that Anchorage getting killed by MSUB managed to still get them a vote? We don’t expect SPU to remain in the rankings after their loss to SMU. CWU it was somewhat justified because WOU’s loss comes from playing at CWU, but… We’re not sure MSUB is seen as good enough to keep SPU in the rankings, even if the Falcons kill them on Saturday -and that’s a big if in regard to winning, much less killing.
The GNAC Tourney Race
The state of the GNAC is getting interesting because of course it is. We thought we had our six teams for the conference locked up but of course we don’t because West Region 2015-2016. You cannot get off Mr. West Region’s Wild Ride. Actually, four spots are locked up; it’s the final two that are going to be brutal, particularly for CWU because they were — that close and then lost to SMU.
We know officially that: Alaska-Fairbanks, Alaska-Anchorage, Seattle Pacific, and Western Oregon are all in the tournament. The Alaskas and WOU still play each other one more time, so we don’t know the order yet, just that they’re in.
The final two bids…
Central Washington is 10-6 and has games at SFU & WWU this weekend before playing host to the Alaska schools next weekend.
Western Washington is 8-8 and plays host to CWU & NNU this weekend before going to Seattle Pacific & Saint Martin’s next weekend.
Saint Martin’s is 7-10, just beat SPU, hosts MSUB on Thursday, and then hosts WWU/SFU next weekend.
MSU-Billings is 6-10, is at SMU on Thursday and SPU on Saturday, before playing host to CU-Portland and Western Oregon next weekend. Good luck with that.
There’s nothing we can even say about any of that. The teams playing WOU… Complete whatever voo-doo you’ve got because you’re gonna need all the help you can get?
Finally: GNAC frosh of the year. We’re going to put up a poll on twitter as well, but here’s what we’re thinking in a non-140 character mandate:
Riley Hawken of CU-Portland. Love his game, he gets boards, he makes his teammates better, love his motor. He’s had a number of really good games and player-of-the-week noms and we’re thrilled he’s starting because we were pushing for it long before he got the nod. Totally believe in the kid and are really excited to watch the rest of his GNAC career.
Trey Drechsel of WWU. Came off of injury in January but up until that point there wasn’t a ton of frosh play and so not too concerned that he missed non-conference; it’s not really going to affect the numbers because Riley didn’t really turn on until conference play either. He’s been starting, he’s great, another high motor guy, we definitely think WWU would be substantially worse without him, love his attitude. Great candidate.
Rhett Baerlocher of SMU. Maybe not as notable of numbers as the other two guys, but we were seriously impressed with his play last night and he’s been coming on strong the longer the season goes and he could very well be the key piece in SMU’s push to make the conference tourney. Very good stuff.
Alright. Good talk, blog. We’ll see you tomorrow at 10am for Game Day Previews.
We’ve already had two other discussions post,
so this one is going to be relatively brief just kidding: UAA @ MSUB. Did UAA just burst their own at-large bubble? Could MSUB mathematically make the conference tourney? Rankings. Brian McGill converts.
UAA 71 @ MSUB 90
Yes. That happened. As noted last night: We only ended up watching the final two minutes and we were wholly stunned. From UAA’s twitter we discovered that MSU-B led the entire time. At halftime they were up by roughly 25. They came out on fire, they stayed on fire, they played defense, and then put an exclamation point on it by not falling into a false sense of security. The last point is huge because it seems like an ongoing issue in our conference: One team goes up big, gets complacent, the other team comes back, and the team that originally led either loses or gets out by the skin of their teeth. Constant vigilance.
Seawolf highlights: Suki Wiggs had 27 points and seven rebounds; Corey Hammell had six boards and 13 points; Brian McGill had five assists and continues his FT streak, going 4/4. Off the bench Christian Leckband had seven points, five rebounds, and four fouls.
Yellowjacket highlights: Preston Beverly had 25 points, 13 rebounds, and four assists -absolutely nuts; Kendall Denham had a great game with 14 points, three rebounds, and three assists while shooting 90% including going 4/4 from the line; Marc Matthews had 12 points, six boards, and five assists; Emmanuel Johnson scored 19 points; and Emmanuel Olufemi had 12 points and five boards. Off the bench Jordan Perry scored eight points. Hella complete and balanced performance by the Jackets.
What’s maybe most interesting about the final score is the Seawolves shot 40%. MSUB was just playing such stifling defense that it appears they couldn’t get many shots off, and then the Yellowjackets took advantage of it at the other end of the court. Syncopated is what the score makes us think, although again: We didn’t watch so we’re not sure.
Did UAA just ruin their chance for an at-large bid?
We’re honestly not sure. Potentially, which sucks. But not entirely. What this is coming back to is strength of schedule. Because there’s been so much parity across all three conferences during conference play, we’ve got about 10 teams with really similar resumes, UAA being among them. The good news for the Seawolves is that no one has particularly good SOS and the early season wins/losses teams have against Cal Baptist are going to be negated by question marks because of the fact that the Lancers are collapsing down the stretch.
It’s hard to truly say where Anchorage falls because there are still six games left to play and you can look at the records of any given team and any given opponent, but this year is chaos and so it really doesn’t matter. We raised the argument super early in the season that we wanted to see the Seawolves win off the tundra, and now it seems like all of the wins off the tundra that they have include asterisks. They won at SPU over winter break. They won in double OT at WWU partly because their coach wasn’t given a technical that he 110% deserved; he made it to center court and three players were having to restrain him. That deserves an ejection + probably missing the next game. And if he misses that next game, do the Seawolves pull it out against SFU? Maybe, maybe not. They let SFU hang around a really, really long time. And now you have their most recent loss to MSUB. It wasn’t close. And you could go “Oh well they’ve been on the road for a week,” yes, welcome to the dog days of the season. This’ll come as a shock, but during the NCAA tournament you’re on the road for a week. Crazy stuff.
Win the conference tournament and the bubble doesn’t matter. If the bubble does matter? Not sure. There are approximately 13 teams that deserve consideration for at-large berths, and we think three of them are relatively safe: WOU (best record, benefit of the doubt fully earned), UCSD (great record, good non-conference), and SPU (good record, great non-con).
Can MSUB still make it into the conference tourney/what would have to happen?
In short, yes they can. And that should worry the Vikings. The Yellowjackets are 2.5 games back of WWU, with their remaining schedule looking as follows:
The good news is they have three home games. The bad news is two of them are against really good teams. The good news is they just beat a really good team. The bad news the remaining teams either match them well or come in as a huge favorite. CU-Portland and SMU should be competitive. WOU, UAF, and SPU are going to be hard, although it should be noted that MSUB doesn’t usually have any type of issue with the SPU gym, so a win there is definitely a possibility.
WWU’s schedule looks like this:
Very similar schedules, but MSUB plays mostly at home whereas WWU has a lot of road games. The Vikings are likely going to have a rough ride. Partly because of all the parity, partly because four away games, and partly because it’s hard to win six straight, and MSUB only needs to win one game they “shouldn’t,” to make it really dicey. The only games we see as a guarantee for the Vikings are @CU-Portland & vs. NNU. That’s it. And we could be wrong about those. WOU is going to be incredibly difficult. CWU is going to be unpleasant. SPU is likely to be challenging. SMU could go either way.
Alright, rankings, holy guacamole, they are a doozy. They’re fine; we see the arguments people are making, but they’re still whoa.
1. Western Oregon -we agree with the ranking, even if it makes us nervous. Stay humble Wolves.
6. UCSD -love it. It’s mostly because other teams lost, but we still love it.
9. Chico State -love Chico, still think Cal Poly Pomona is better; Friday night against UCSD will be interesting.
11. MSU Moorhead
14. Cal Poly Pomona -we get it, they have four losses, but we swear that Dominguez Hills is quality this year and while they slept on CSULA, they beat Chico by 13; that ain’t no foulin’ score.
22. Seattle Pacific -fell three spots after losing to the now-#1 WOU in OT. We have no opinion on this one.
Others receiving votes: Azusa Pacific (2), Alaska-Anchorage (1).
Azusa… We don’t know. We really don’t know. We’ve been watching Joey Schreiber play since high school; now he plays for Azusa, therefore Azusa is now ours and therefore we have no opinion because rankings are what they are.
we think deserves more than one vote. Do we think they’d beat Chico State? Maybe. We honestly really don’t know much at all about Chico State other than that their play-by-play guy is amazing and their biggest statements have been losses to Cal Poly Pomona and Seattle Pacific, but part of that is because the two other good teams they’ve played (Sonoma and Humboldt) are rivals, which… Maybe means we should give them more credit because anything can and will happen in a rivalry game? We still think their non-conference schedule was pathetic, which sadly is still relevant because of the chaos that’s gone on in the regular season. As noted a few days ago: The Chico Wildcat schedule enters its in-conference gauntlet now, so we’ll see how they respond. The Pac-West looks like such a mess that it doesn’t seem like a stretch that both the GNAC and the CCAA would get three bids, but whether or not UAA is one of them will really depend on who wins the GNAC tournament; if it’s SPU or WOU the odds of UAA getting an at-large seem high, whereas we’re starting to lean that Chico will be in no matter what simply because no one else played anyone either.
Not listed there, but Augustana received one #1 vote, while Wheeling received four, and WOU received 11. The Augustana thing is interesting because we contemplated making an argument about leaving Augustana as number one even with two losses because there’s so much parity, the number one spot is basically switching between “who lost most recently” but the top are all only really losing to good teams and the outsider there isn’t playing good teams, so… It’s an interesting idea. Glad to see we weren’t the only ones that thought Wheeling looked really good.
The Consensus is: Brian McGill is awesome.
We know he just won player of the week, but probably one of the best parts of a great weekend was how much we got asked about Brian and how excited people were to talk about him. Western Washington fans know basketball, particularly the ones we sit with, and going into the game we were like ‘Brian McGill is super super good and he makes the people around him better,’ and maybe being a little fan-girly, but by the end of the game everyone around us was like “OH MY GOD, HE’S AMAZING.” He’s not flashy, he gets the job done, he does the little things, and is a very humble player even though he’s arguably the #2 guy in the conference. It was fun to listen to our friends go “Okay, I’m not thrilled with what he’s doing to us, but he’s a really good basketball player -if we have to lose and get torched by someone, he’s fine.”
Game respects game. It also helps that when opponents would go down, Brian was always reaching a out a hand to help them up. Sportsmanship rocks; between his game and his attitude, it wasn’t surprising but it was still awesome how much praise we heard. Even after a 2OT loss, we got tons of questions and gushing about him in the middle of the UAF blowout two days later.
So once again, congrats Brian -more people than you know think you’re fantastic.
We were going to talk about Cal Baptist, but this is long enough. We’ll deal with the Lancers either later this week or next Wednesday.
Publishing this an hour earlier than normal because we’re hearing rumblings that WOU may debut as the number one ranked team and so we thought we’d throw in our two cents because why not?
Well, here’s why not: We really do not pay attention to what’s going on with teams outside of the Region, for the most part. We keep a loose thread of what’s going on with:
Midwestern State -because they adopted us last year when we crashed the South Central Regional.
MSU-Moorhead -because GNAC teams played them early in the year.
Tarleton State -because GNAC teams frequently play the Riders in non-con.
Still; we never like to miss a good chance to talk out of our rear-end, so down the rabbit hole we go. It should be noted that records listed are in-conference, not overall.
Here are the two teams ranked ahead of WOU and what they did this past week:
#1 Augustana (SD) (17-1): Lost at Northern State (10-8), then won at #8 MN-Moorhead because of course.
#2 Fairmont State (WV) (13-3): Lost to #6 West Liberty and #4 Wheeling Jesuit, it appears as though by free throws, so take the point differentials with a grain of salt.
Fairmont is going to fall, but by how much? And does it mean that WOU moves into the top spot? We have a stigma against teams we like holding the top spot ever since senior year when SPU became the number one team and then fell on our feathers against Dixie State. On the one hand, we have no problem with WOU being ranked number one: they’ve earned it, they’re a great team, we’re excited to have them hopefully host the Regional; on the other hand, because of superstition, part of us hopes the nod goes to Wheeling Jesuit.
#4 Wheeling Jesuit (15-1) -upset #2 Fairmont State (13-3), and beat Shepherd (6-10) by 8.
#5 Lincoln Memorial (16-0) -blew out two teams by 30 a piece.
#6 West Liberty (14-2) -beat #2 Fairmont State, beat Shepherd by 12.
Wheeling also gets credit in upsetting the former number one that is now #6 West Liberty earlier this year. They are a really good team with really good SOS, partly because their conference in particular (the Mountain East) seems incredibly brutal.
The obvious question to look at with Wheeling as the 4th is who the #3 team played and what their SOS is like. Oh wait.
#3 Western Oregon -beat #19 Seattle Pacific (10-4), and beat Saint Martin’s (4-10) by 12.
………………………. We really don’t know. Again: We love the Wolves, we believe in the Wolves, and in that we don’t want them to pick up the #1 ranking. That being said, from a rational standpoint, we’re incredibly torn.
We like the argument for Wheeling Jesuit, we like the argument for Lincoln Memorial because we’re not passionately vested in their SOS, and we like the argument for West Liberty to be back in the #1 spot. The thing about WOU and Wheeling is that each only played one difficult game. While we know the Wolves struggled a bit early in the SMU game… We don’t count that as a reason to hold them back. The big question is: How big was the SPU win? How good is SPU?
The Wolves got a road win, which is always huge, but… SPU. An area that’s out of our expertise in regard to difficulty playing there. The Falcons are a good team and that doesn’t change just because of the setting. WOU is a good team and their play doesn’t change with their setting either. Whether or not WOU is hard to play at is also unknown by us because SPU can always be counted on to struggle at WOU, regardless as to the record of either team. Much like WWU @ UAF, the Falcons could win a national title and yet would still almost be guaranteed to have a loss in Monmouth on their schedule.
WOU beat the #19 team and a team with a record of 4-10 in conference.
Wheeling Jesuit beat the #2 team in the country and a team that’s 6-10.
The thing is though: We’re starting to believe in the GNAC. We’re so beyond thrilled with UAA’s play, even with the losses to SPU and SMU, that we don’t think those two losses matter. Suki, Brian, and Corey are the real deal. Spencer Svejcar was fairly quiet this weekend but is also a baller. Christian Leckband is a heck of a 6th man. The NCAA Tournament is about winning when it counts. UAA went toe-to-toe with WWU and down the stretch they got it done. Is WWU a super crazy amazing team this year? No. But the Seawolves took on a (perennial power) team looking to upset them, went to 2OT, and got out of it, all on the road.
WOU was down by as much as 14 against SPU and came back and won. We’ve seen the Wolves go down and come back a lot, but doing it on the road against a somewhat legitimate team like SPU is impressive. Somewhat legitimate because they have no functional big men, their best point guard is in a massive shooting slump, their small forward shoots and misses until the kangaroos come home, and that leaves you with their one amazing wing in Mitch Penner and thus he becomes the guy every team focuses on. And yet he still miraculously had a really good game against WOU -and this is with him underachieving in regard to rebounding.
After all of that… We love WOU. We believe in them. We watched SPU almost make it to the Sweet 16 last year, with only four functioning players. We love Andy, Julian, Jordan, Alex, Devon, and Tanner; we truly consider their lineup to have six starters. And we don’t think that they should get the nod over Wheeling Jesuit. Not this week. But if/when they get the sweep in Alaska, we’ll be the first to say “Give ’em the #1.”
Oh and we expect SPU to stay in the rankings, despite the loss. There also is the potential they move up. While as of last week they had one of the higher loss totals of the ranked teams, SOS will save you. Their losses come via CU-Irvine, UAA, UAF, and WOU x2; all teams with winning records that are/would be guaranteed bids in the respective conference tournaments.
Our usual Wednesday discussions about the reality of the rankings will be up tomorrow at 10am.
MSUB 61 @ UAA 81
Pretty par for the course. We’re disappointed in Jamie Stevens for not trying something to contain Suki, but oh well. Guess that’s him doubting his own player personnel, which is sad because we actually kinda sorta believe in these guys; they definitely have their moments. UAA is a good team though, so… Wouldn’t be surprised to see them ranked in the future here if they continue doing what they’ve been doing.
Yellowjacket highlights: Kendall Denham had 12 points, Jordan Perry had 13 points, six boards, and five assists; Emmanuel Olufemi had six boards; and Emmanuel Johnson had five boards and three assists off the bench.
Seawolf highlights: Suki had 21 points, eight boards, six assists, and two steals (whoaaa, hello well-rounded); Diante Mitchell had nine points; Spencer Svejcar had five boards and 19 points; and Corey Hammell had 10 boards. Off the bench Christian Leckband had 16 points; and Brian McGill had seven points.
Anchorage got it done. 95% expected and we’re proud of them as such. Keep grinding.
Why do we always designate the city for Concordia-Portland? Because we sort of, kind of, deal with schools across the country and there are 15 Concordia schools. Our graduate team just played the NAIA Concordia from Nebraska and so between them, CU-Irvine, the D3 Concordia that seems to get referenced fairly frequently, and our own Concordia, it has the potential to get really confusing. Better just keep it blog official by doing the Concordia-Portland/CU-Portland/CU-PDX designation.
Does OT affect the POW nominees? It can. Usually it doesn’t. Sometimes it can be bad; if you miss a bunch of shots or turn the ball over a ton, it definitely doesn’t help you. While it adds how many minutes guys play and can up the free throw number, because we do it by school and not by best numbers, it generally doesn’t bump anyone out of nomination that otherwise would have been. In regard to the winner, we’ve never seen it push someone into winning that otherwise wouldn’t have because generally speaking guys aren’t playing two OT games in a row and even if they are, if they’re playing two 45+ minute games in a row and still have the stamina shoot well and play good D and all of that… It’s wholly earned.
Burnt out already? Getting there and getting there fast. You’d think adding one more team into the mix wouldn’t really be that intense and yet… It’s seeming to be the straw. We love the project, we love all of you guys for reading it, but on a scale of one to burnt out, we’re getting there, even though we know that in two short months we’ll be wishing we had blogging to do. So if it’s seeming to get a little cryptic and/or more snarky than usual: We’re doing our best. It’s January in the pacific northwest; we need to up our Vitamin D intake.
Why didn’t we do a preview for yesterday’s game? Because we didn’t. Because we figured Anchorage would blow MSUB out and it’s better to ask forgiveness. There was just nothing really to say about it. When we started the blog we were committed to not making predictions or anything like that, then we fell into a rut of doing it, and now we’re not as into it any more, so… That’s where we’re at. Inevitably a part of it is that it used to be easier to predict GNAC games and now it’s not, so why do it when a lot of them are truly pick ’ems.
5. Cal Poly Pomona -Good win at Stanislaus and very convincing win against Chico State.
8. Cal Baptist -did what they needed to do against FPU and Chaminade.
10. MSU Moorhead
11. Western Oregon -win your games and go down; that’s what happens when your key strength of schedule drops games like they’re hot. Looking at you SPU; this is your fault.
14. UC San Diego -Sounds good to us. Their website was down at the time this post was being written, so we’ll talk about them next week.
25. Chico State -Yes, they beat Humboldt, that’s a rivalry game; they lost by a lot to Cal Poly Pomona, so… The Wildcats should. not. be. ranked.
Seattle Pacific (5) -??????????????? We’ve been saying for a few weeks that we don’t want them ranked, but how bad they actually are we’re still yet to figure out. The Western Oregon game was odd, to put it lightly.
Humboldt (4) -lost in a rivalry game to Chico, votes are fine but whether or not they should actually be ranked is still up for debate, so we’re good with this.
Alaska Anchorage (3) -We’re veering on the side that we’d like to see them in the spot at 25th over Chico, if a West Region team has to be there.
Azusa Pacific (1) -close wins against Dixie State and Chaminade
Central Washington (1) -Guessing this is coming from
Pretty much where we’re at. Game previews’ll be up tomorrow at 10am.
Should there have been a post yesterday? Maybe. Probably. But a minor concussion got in the way of it, so… That was exciting and terrifying; if our posts this week seem a little off, that’s why.
On the agenda for today: The first Cenazar game, the MSUB/Carroll game, neutralizing Suki, rankings, and power rankings.
Central Washington 98 @ Northwest Nazarene 72
We’d say this was expected, but at this point no result is expected. While we knew the Wildcats were more than capable of doing it, at the same time we knew that NNU is totally capable of keeping it close, if not winning, so what on the surface feels like an obvious result actually isn’t.
Wildcat highlights: Joey Roppo had nine points; Gary Jacobs had 18 points and five boards; Joe Stroud had 16 points, six boards, and a full house; Devin Matthews had 13 points and five assists. Off the bench Naim Ladd had 15 points in fourteen minutes; Drake Rademacher had eight points; Jerome Bryant had seven points and five boards; and Desmond Ross had five points.
Crusader highlights: Joel Devastey had 17 points and eight boards; Bouna had 14 points and nine boards. Off the bench Nikola Prvulj had 12 points; Leoor Konenkov had six points; and Marko Lepovic had five points.
Overall a pretty typical story; it went back and forth for a while and then CWU put it away and won convincingly.
We’ll be brief: Billings lost to Carroll by 13 playing their usual guys their usual minutes. Carroll is a really good NAIA team that only has one loss to a fellow NAIA school and is currently undefeated in three conference games.
That being said: WHAT THE HECK, BILLINGS. DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU JUST DID TO ANY CREDIBILITY WE WERE HOPING TO HAVE?! Granted Carroll is contemplating a move to D2 and so we kind of assume that’s how they’re recruiting -we haven’t heard the latest in that regard- but we’d love to have them in our conference. The deadline to submit an NCAA application for the year is February 1st, so… If they are, we’ll hear something soon.
We got to see Suki game planned for, for the first time in-conference. We’ll get more chances in the coming weeks -we’re really excited to see what Jamie Stevens, Jim Shaw does, and what Tony Dominguez does. There are a lot of great coaches in our conference, but those guys have the player personnel to actually accomplish what they want, theoretically, so we look it as a mark on them as for what their teams do against him. It sounds kind of ridiculous to discuss game planning for a player -ideally you play your game and they play theirs- but Suki is so much the focus of that offense that it would be stupid not to contemplate the dos and don’ts in regard to Anchorage.
This past week we got to see what Ryan Looney did and his strategy of letting Suki do what he wanted and then have his guys avoid fouling him at all costs was brilliant. Suki goes to the line WAY too much and he takes so many shots but usually only shoots like 35%. The Falcons are known for being a team that’s incredibly good defensively. If the Falcons hadn’t choked in regard to rebounding (among other things) it would have been fine. We liked the strategy, but because it’s what we probably would have done, we’re really interested to see what the other coaches come up with.
7. Cal Poly Pomona -lost to UCSD. Dropped two spots. Seems fair.
10. Cal Baptist -Didn’t play, but moved up due to the losses of other teams.
14. Western Oregon -Lost to CWU. Dropped 11 spots. Sadly they likely fell this far because of the conference chaos that happened; it would be one thing to drop a game and have SPU beat the Alaska schools convincingly; it’s entirely different to have them get swept. SOS matters and WOU didn’t have too much of it as it was, and now their opponent that does have some form of it got beat twice.
17. UC San Diego -Beat CPP, lost to Humboldt State; dropped four spots. The four spots feels right, but at the same time… CPP is still ranked so highly. It’s likely on some level reverberating because WOU lost to CWU and SPU lost to the Alaska schools. It’s all SOS. It’s all connected, particularly in regard to the west region.
20. Chico State -WHY IS CHICO STATE STILL RANKED?!?!?! Their schedule doesn’t have ANYTHING on it, except a loss to Seattle Pacific. Put Humboldt in this spot, if nothing else.
24. Seattle Pacific -Lost to UAA & UAF. We’re honestly really shocked they’re still ranked.
Others receiving votes: Azusa Pacific (8), Humboldt State (5), Alaska-Fairbanks (3), Alaska-Anchorage (2). Humboldt should be ranked; Chico State should merely be receiving votes; Azusa Pacific 50/50; We’re not sure why CU-Irvine isn’t getting any votes at all; and then the Alaska schools are benefitting from the Falcon Effect.
This week we feel the need to do a power ranking.
1. Alaska Anchorage. Beat Seattle Pacific, somewhat convincing win at SMU.
2. Alaska Fairbanks. Again, beat Seattle Pacific, survived SMU.
3. Central Washington. Beat Western Oregon, avoided the upset against Concordia-Portland. Their near loss is why they’re so low.
4. MSU-Billings. Good wins over SFU & WWU; succeeded in playing their own game. This doesn’t take the Carroll game into account.
5. CU-Portland. Got their first conference win against NNU, almost got a win at CWU, good place to be. Lots of hope.
6. Western Oregon. Picked up a loss at CWU, but killed NNU. Upsets were going to happen, we knew that, it’s not the biggest deal. They don’t have something to be really excited about from this last weekend, but spiraling isn’t a concern because it was just one game. Totally fine.
7. Simon Fraser. Mainly because it’s hard for this fanbase to spiral downward because there really are no expectations what-so-ever. Kinda neutral.
8. Saint Martin’s. The way they lost these games is wholly unacceptable for any program. The lack of fundamentals and effort was disturbing. Why are these guys playing college basketball at all? The fact that they don’t want to was clearly on display particularly against Anchorage. They had every chance to win that game and they didn’t.
9. Northwest Nazarene. How many expectations can you really have and yet… They’ve shown flashes of brilliance and they stay with teams for a full half before getting blown out, so if they know they can do that, how do they let themselves get blown out?
10. Western Washington. This is Tony Dominguez’s third year with his own guys and he’s still not contending for an at-large berth in the NCAA tournament. The play of the guys was uninspired and we just don’t know what to do with this team.
11. Seattle Pacific. They know what we think. They know what we know. It is what it is. This is where they belong.
Game previews’ll be up tomorrow morning at the usual time.
Nothing really to discuss because we’ve been discussing things for two straight weeks, so we’ll go over the positions and that’ll be it. Teams in italics are non-west teams that west region teams have played.
3. Western Oregon
5. Cal Poly Pomona
8. Seattle Pacific
13. UC San Diego
14. Cal Baptist
21. Chico State
Receiving votes: Azusa Pacific (8), Colorado Mines (2)
We discussed this last week: We didn’t think WOU would move up because the teams ahead of them did what needed to be done. Same with Cal Poly Pomona. UCSD moved down, but that was after playing San Marcos in what was a very ugly game. It’s great that the Tritons got it done with only four players in the final minute and it’s great for San Marcos being able to do that, but… San Marcos has a losing record and the Tritons escaped by the skin of their teeth, so we understand them being dropped. Had they only played Western Oregon between now and then, that would be a different story.
Seattle Pacific moved up a spot, which likely just means that the sixth or seventh team lost because the Falcons haven’t played since the last poll. Cal Baptist seems fair -they did what they needed to do in killing PLNU. Chico State continues to receive too much credit for their loss to SPU, and… It continues to bug us in regard to Azusa Pacific. Chico State hasn’t played anybody BUT Seattle Pacific. Azusa has played Seattle Pacific, Cal Poly, and Cal Baptist. Yes, they only won one out of the three, but they still BEAT CAL BAPTIST. Chico doesn’t have a win like that. We like Chico, we want the Wildcats to do well, but right now their resume just doesn’t have it and the Cougars does, so… APU should be in and Chico should be in the merely receiving votes category.
CU-Irvine is no longer receiving votes, which… Ooookay. Do they have a truly great win? No. But do they have good wins? Yes. Do they have more than Chico? Yes. The Eagles have merely a loss to San Marcos and have wins against Seattle Pacific and Point Loma. Is a great resume? No. Would we vote them in? No. But they still have more than Chico. It may be a strength of conference thing -UCSD and CPP are really good, so mix that with the loss to SPU and you have a Chico team that looks good, but… Not buying it. The CCAA is probably slightly stronger, but the Pac-West is seeming a bit deeper.
Ridiculously excited to get into conference play starting tomorrow. There are a few huge match-ups this weekend from a regional perspective:
Seattle Pacific takes on the Alaska schools.
UCSD takes on Humboldt State and Cal Poly Pomona
We’ll see how those games play out. Obviously UCSD vs. CPP in particular has big implications in regard to rankings, so… Fun stuff on the horizon.
It’s that time of the year when the Coaches’ Poll will come out and… here is our official ranking, taking into account some outgoing/incoming transfers as well as what teams have returning, history of regeneration (or not), so on and so forth.
1. Western Washington. This decision was almost impossible, but… Kyle Impero, Ricardo Maxwell, Harris Javier, Jeff Parker, Mac Johnson. All played huge numbers of minutes. Inevitably WWU gets good transfers. That is why they’re number one. They return the most, they have a history of regeneration, and their program has very high standards. They’re not in Carver this year due to a remodel, but we think that may be to their advantage -they’re losing 2900 seats, which may mean that every game is a sellout and their already elite home court advantage is that much more intense.
2. Western Oregon. Julian Nichols, Andy Avgi, Jordan Wiley, Devon Alexander. All great players. We truly believe that losing Lew Thomas is addition by subtraction. They’ve got a new coaching staff, we love Jim Shaw, they just went to the tournament and didn’t lose much off that team. We were really, really, really tempted to put them at #1, because SPU demonstrated that it is totally possible to win with only four guys contributing, but… They need Devon and Jordan to prove that they can function consistently during the regular season, not just non-conference.
3. Central Washington. They return a ton of guys that played great minutes, their teamwork and chemistry survived even with the cancer that they had last year. All they need to do is figure out the scoring situation and how that’s gonna distribute (which, on a team of unselfish players like these guys demonstrated last year shouldn’t be a problem) and they’re gonna be golden.
4. Alaska Fairbanks. Joe Slocum was out last year, Almir Hadzisehovic is quality, Ashton Edwards had good moments, Alex Duncan was functional. They need to make peace with the forward position, but if they figure that out -it’s hard to play in Fairbanks, and that could make this team dynamite.
5. Seattle Pacific. Yes. We went this low and yet it in one sense it still feels too high. SPU is odd because they return almost nothing but have such a history of regeneration, a great coaching staff, a great non-conference schedule, and they brought in the pieces that they need, theoretically. Do we expect them to make the NCAA tournament? No. Will we be happy if they do? Yes.
6. MSU-Billings. They bring back Momir Gataric, Kendall Denham, Emmanuel Johnson, Jace Anderson, and Marc Matthews, all of whom saw plenty of playing time. While it’s sort of an SFU scenario where they bring back a bunch of guys that couldn’t win, they do boast a much better non-conference schedule, and hopefully they’ll gel and find the pieces they need and make a run.
7. Alaska Anchorage. They simply lost too much, essentially only bringing back Brian McGill. We’re excited for Suki Wiggs to be up there and play for them, but the Seawolves return so little of off a team that was a major disappointment. We expect it to be more of a rebuilding year, but… with transfers anything is possible.
8. Saint Martin’s. For as much as they lost, they return quite a bit and bring in a great coaching staff. Have very little idea about what their incomings are like, but as is very well known around here: We love Trey, we love Tyler, we love Isaac, and Victor definitely had his moments so all hope isn’t lost.
9. CU-Portland. They return pretty much nothing but do have a great culture of winning, are in a fantastic location for recruiting, we like the coaching staff, we like the program culture, we think they’re in a position to do well in the GNAC in the future, they could surprise people, but this year should be a building year.
10. Simon Fraser. They’re getting this spot purely because their school is much more appealing to attend and the degree is worth far more than one from NNU. They need their transfers to come in and kick booty because they don’t return a ton and of what they do return is nothing to cross the border for. Sorry Michael Harper.
11. Northwest Nazarene. Yikes. Last year was so much fun with NNU taking the conference by storm, but… it doesn’t change the fact that NNU isn’t an appealing school to attend and thus it is very hard to recruit well and maintain a quality coaching staff there.
Are we predicting who procures bids to the conference tournament? Absolutely not. Do we think this is the order teams will likely finish? No. Does it make sense using tangible evidence and logic? For the most part. Do we think ours will look anything like the actual Coaches poll? Not necessarily. This is pre-season. We’ll do another re-rank after non-conference play has concluded.
Leave your pre-season prognostication in the comments; if five people do, we’ll put up an official post with the combined results.
We’re like the Joe Lunardi of GNAC prognostication, and to an extent West Region bracketology. So many guesses, so much BS, but all in good fun. Our “official” pre-season poll will go up in October.
We finally looked at what CU-Portland brings back: zilch. We also lost even more guys than the already insane number we knew we were losing in June. The June prognostication looks ridiculous from where we stand now. Similarly -these are gonna change again next month. And the month after that. And we’ll do a final “SPIT IS GETTING REAL NOW, LET’S GO!!!!!!!!” ranking just before conference play gets cereal in January, because these things are stupid and stupid fun is good fun.
1. Western Washington. They bring back Harris Javier, Mac Johnson, Kyle Impero, Ricardo Maxwell, Jeff Parker, and more. And those are all actual recognizable names that saw some good minutes! They also bring back carpetbagger Brett Kingma, who is the Riley Carel of Mill Creek. He’s a Falcon by blood, the fact that he didn’t end up at SPU speaks volumes.
2. Western Oregon. We won’t know Andy’s status for a while, but… Devon Alexander had some good early season games, Julian Nichols is great and amazing and almost won player of the year, Jordan Wiley picked up some POW noms, new coaching staff, we love Jim Shaw. If we ever list their coach as ‘Brad Shaw’ sorry in advance -Jim’s son, Brad, was in the same class year of WesCo Basketball that we were and so… we go back.
3. Seattle Pacific. HOOOOOMER pick. Sort of. Thing is, they’ve got Mitch, they’ve got Gilles (good for twice as much homerism), they’ve got Brendan Carroll, Bryce Leavitt, and Garrett Swanson, all of whom started multiple games last year, plus they have plenty of guys that have been in the program for multiple years and have never seen more than an ounce of playing time. Good distribution of height, proven coaching staff, and the rest of the GNAC -what are we gonna do? That’s the real thing here.
4. Central Washington. Never underestimate a good power forward and elite teamwork. They probably should actually get the nod over SPU because Joey Roppo is good, Gary Jacobs wasn’t bad, and Prairie, er, Terry Dawn is legit. Guess we’re sticking them at fourth because we usually give the SPU guys too little credit, and so this kind of balances things out. We know the numbers for the CWU guys, but have no clue what the SPU ones are because we never cared. Whoops.
5. Alaska-Fairbanks. They lost a lot: Ruben, Kyle, Adam, BUT they return Joe Slocum, Almir, and Isaac Ladines. Now, do we think it’ll be successful? No. Do we think it’ll be embarrassingly bad? No. They’re lucky in the fact that the GNAC suffered massive skills drain almost everywhere.
6. Alaska-Anchorage. It’s completely unknown, they return Brian McGill and Sjur Berg as for recognizable names, and hmmm… But it’s still always difficult to play in Anchorage and we feel like their recruiting pitch is pretty quality. Still, they go on too many dates… but they can’t make ’em stay… That’s just what we say-ay-ay mmm, and so they’re just gonna shake it off, shake it off.
7. Saint Martin’s. Admittedly, we’re really sad that Brent is gone and Cameron [happily] is on his Mission. Still: Tyler Copp, Trey Ingram, Isaac Bianchini, Victor Ieronymides, new and very promising coaching staff, good things are on the horizon.
8. Concordia-Portland. This is honestly just a shot in the dark, because they’ve got a bunch of transfers coming in and they’re not going to be expected to do much, so expect the unexpected if they can gel and acclimate quickly.
9. MSU-Billings. Yikes. Momir Gataric and Kendall Denham make-up the most quality pair returned from the bottom three teams + proven coaching staff = potential.
10. Simon Fraser. They no longer have Sango, they no longer have Patrick Simon II, they do have Michael Harper,
Adam Westfall, Hidde Vos, and JJ Pankratz which are all recognizable names, but… only Michael Harper received a POW nom, and it’s still Simon Fraser. Another team we’d love to see improve, but we’re a little heartbroken after the major psych-out of last year.
11. Northwest Nazarene. The thing is, this team would be like if SPU’s best returning player was Brendan Carroll; the projected reality would be more turnovers than a bake sale. That’s Mike Wright, without nearly the talent that Brendan would still likely be surrounded with if put into that scenario.
One thing that is going to happen this year that we’re REALLLY excited for (okay, at this point everything’s exciting ’cause we just want basketball) is conference power rankings. Not sure how often we’re gonna post them, but we’ll take the teams we’re projecting to make the conference tourney and throw them up with the reasoning. Depending, we’ll also give you the bottom five and the reasons they’re not, ’cause otherwise there’ll be people going “But UAF beat WWU by five!” Um, yeah: “Mac Johnson was out with the flu THAT DOESN’T COUNT.”
Speaking of which: Get your flu shot early and wash your hands often. The GNAC Basketball Plague makes the rounds every year, so do what you can to prevent it and help keep GNAC basketball great.
We said we’d do this and sitting down now we hate it because we have no idea about incoming transfers (you might know who they are, you don’t know what they’ll do and how they’ll mesh). So… included is a list of our justifications too.
1. Western Washington, by a nose.
Joey Schreiber, Mac Johnson, Harris Javier, Kyle Impero, and Jeff Parker all have really good skills, plus they’re getting some interesting guys off of redshirts.
2. Western Oregon -just got edged out. Andy, Julian, and Jordan Wiley are great, think the coaching hire was good, they don’t really lose much but at the same time they haven’t proven to have much outside those three.
3. Northwest Nazarene -bring back
Erik, Alex, Bouna, but the league is going to be stronger -which very well could shatter their dreams.
4. Concordia -got blown out in the second round of the NAIA tournament, but that game could be termed a waking nightmare due to the fact that no one got any sleep the night before. The Cavs played in a really difficult league (four bids to a 32 team, half auto bid tournament) and did well. Expect them to come in and make a splash.
5. Seattle Pacific -last year they returned little scoring but three starters and most of their rebounding; this year they return Mitch Penner and only Mitch Penner. Their tourney streak is as precarious as we’ve ever seen it.
6. Alaska-Anchorage -bring back Brian McGill and
Kalidou, which is solid to build a team around. Could be higher, but shouldn’t be too much lower.
7. Central Washington -they lose only Dom Williams on what wasn’t a particularly talented team, but they have Joe Stroud and Joe is awesome, so they shouldn’t be horrible.
8. Alaska-Fairbanks –
Ruben is really good, Joe Slocum (redshirted) and is pretty good, they had other assorted decent underclassmen (Ashton, Almir, Alex, Adam), their gym is hard to play in, like their odds.
9. Saint Martin’s -it bites to have to put them so low, they have
good decent young guys but think they need a year in their new coach’s system to really make a splash.
10. MSU-Billings -regularly suffers from massive amounts of attrition that they basically have Kendall as the guarantee (Montana kids don’t tend to leave) and we’ll see who else.
11. Simon Fraser -they theoretically designed their entire offense around Sango and still came in last this past year.
Patrick Simon and Michael Harper are good, but trusting a sophomore to carry the load is always dicey.
Subject to change in October.