Good Morning! We’re entering our third year and thought it was time to answer some questions:
Question 1: do you have any pets?
Yes. The first season it was Alex Birketoft, Julian Nichols, and Anye Turner. Last season it was Bryce Leavitt and Corey Hammell. This season we’re anticipating it being Suki Wiggs, Corey Hammell, and Tanner Omlid.
Question 2: do you drive? If so, have you gotten a speeding ticket?
Yes. We’ve been to every school in the GNAC at least once, and then have also been to Chico State, San Bernardino State, Dixie State, and Tarleton State. This season we’re going to try to add Concordia-Irvine, Azusa Pacific, UC San Diego, and hopefully at least one more SoCal school to that list. We’re proud to say we’ve somehow managed to never get a speeding ticket nor in an accident while on a basketball trip. *knock on wood*
Question 3: have you ever been to a different country?
Yes. We get up to Simon Fraser at least once per season.
Question 4: where do you buy food on basketball trips?
WinCo. Their prices are amazing and they have an extensive prepared foods section. We highly recommend it.
Question 5: how many siblings do you have?
We have Bit-o-Baca and are crossing our fingers that we ultimately get a Pac-West sib too.
Question 6: do you have a desktop computer or a laptop?
This blog is written on a 13″ Macbook Air.
Question 8: tell me something you are planning to do this pre-season?
We’re finally in our third year and so we’ve kind of settled in. We actually really liked what we did with the pre-season stuff last year so you’ll be seeing GIF anticipations, pre-season superlatives, too many prognostications, pre-season all conference teams, and that sort of thing once again.
Question 9: when was the last time you cried?
When we wrote about SPU in the round of 64. We just feel so bad for Bryce.
Question 10: what is your perfect beverage?
Sugar-free Apple Cider. Our throat still hasn’t recovered from undergrad. One game and we’re as hoarse as Doc Rivers.
Question 11: have you ever had an all-nighter?
YES. Double-all nighter. Legendary NNU trip of senior year. We absolutely lost our mind at someone at the CWU game two days before that and it was stressing us out. Because of the NCAA tourney we couldn’t skip our Friday classes nor miss work and so we left at 2am on no sleep. We got to NNU and ended up with the SMU baseball team consoling us during a rain delay. At the game that night we found out that the person was totally fine with us screaming at them and that it completely didn’t matter. Post game we didn’t trust the Pass conditions and so ended up driving all the way back to Seattle and getting home at like 5am. It did turn out that the Pass did in fact close for two days, before we would have gotten across, so… It all worked out.
Question 12: can you taste the difference between water in each of the five states and one province?
Yes and it’s all disgusting except Washington. We pay an arm and a leg for our water infrastructure but it is soooo worth it.
Seriously, we challenge you: drink some water from a drinking fountain at one of the four schools:
CWU: Go all the way down the entranceway and take a left.
SMU: There’s one between the (nice new) bathrooms on your right upon immediately exiting the gym.
SPU: There’s one (two) to the right of the pop machine on the normal concourse.
WWU at Whatcom: Below the stairs. It’s near the concessions.
We couldn’t tell you that for any other school because we never go to any other school without at least 50 ounces of plain water. We had drama at MSUB because they tried to make us dump our (re-usable) bottle:
“But it could be alcohol!”
“I’m sorry, you are sorely mistaken if you think I could be Falcon Girl while drunk.”
Drunk Falcon Girl would sit there and laugh at the rebounding ineptness of the other team and then end up in a huge giggle fit throughout pretty much the entire game regardless as to how SPU was playing. Falcon Girl is way too neurotic to be anything having to do with alcohol; that particular game went to 2OT and ended with her clutching someone’s hand while curled up in fetal position.
Once again, a “real” Welcome Back post’ll go up in early to mid November, but for the hardcore people that are here now: Welcome. We love you. We appreciate you. You guys are the best!
Here’s a list of the Player-of-the-Week nominees we’ve had so far this year:
UAF: Bangaly Kaba, Travante Williams
UAA: Suki Wiggs, Diante Mitchell, Corey Hammell
SFU: JJ Pankratz
WWU: Kyle Impero
SPU: Bryce Leavitt, Mitch Penner, Gilles Dierickx
MSUB: Jordan Perry
CWU: Gary Jacobs
NNU: Bouna N’Diaye
WOU: Devon Alexander, Andy Avgi, Alex Roth
Last year we questioned that guys that were having really good games week in and week out weren’t getting nominated because their teammates are having better games. This year, that’s not a problem and it’s making us ask a different question: Are our standards too ridiculous? Do they not work for the GNAC? We’re leaning on the side of “no,” but will look into it as we go into conference play.
Our winners have put up really standard numbers in terms of what we saw last year, so… totally possible, it’s not too hard to achieve, it’s that no one’s getting it consistently with the exception of Andy and Bryce. Our formula actually does take defense into account, so it’s not simply a matter of scoring.
Player-of-the-Week Winners, thus far:
UAA: Corey Hammell
SPU: Bryce Leavitt
NNU: Bouna N’Diaye
WOU: Andy Avgi
We’ve given the award out five times; Bryce has won twice, while Cory, Bouna, and Andy have won once each. We like the numbers they’ve put up; the fact that Bouna did in fact play two games during the week he won makes it even better because he hit numbers that put him right in the thick of the other POW winners, so it’s a true win by all accounts.
While we’re proud of those guys, we feel like that list is lacking.
Almir Hadzisehovic (UAF) is still playing a lot, just not playing particularly well. We get that Bangaly Kaba and Travante Williams are good, but that doesn’t inherently make Almir bad, so hopefully he’ll step up more now that conference play is starting.
Brian McGill (UAA) is no longer playing as far as we know. He remains on their roster, but isn’t in their team picture, can’t find anything about injury status, nothing saying “he’s coming back soon,” he’s just gone. We assume if he was participating in an extra curricular program it would be advertised as a GNAC athlete being more than a basketball player. Fact is -he’s a 5th year senior, so as much as we like him: Sometimes you’ve gotta just get a life and ideally that’s what he’s done. We’re hoping that he’s not MIA to deal with his own illness or the illness of a sick family member -if he is, in that case we hope he comes back really soon and everything works out.
Michael Harper (SFU) has a bad case of the turnovers, but is still around.
Mac Johnson (WWU) we have no idea what’s wrong with -he still plays a lot, he’s still 6’8 and 240lbs, but we have no idea where the Mac of the end of last year went and we keep thinking the old him is going to resurface and then it doesn’t.
Mitch Penner (SPU) isn’t taking the step up that we kind of anticipated and yet he’s kinda screwed because every team is just like “Let’s go after Mitch!” because it’s hard to go after Gilles, no one needs to go after Will Parker (he’s the new Lew Thomas), Bryce Leavitt is a point guard -he’s good whether he’s assisting, defending, or scoring; and people just bounce right off of 5th starter Garrett, so what are you going to do? Answer: Go after the ginger.
Trey Ingram (SMU) was our favorite frosh last year and he’s gone into a sophomore slump, so hopefully he’ll bounce back. Not too concerned with this one -it happens, he’ll get through it.
Momir Gataric (MSUB) is redshirting due to injury, which sort of sucks, and sort of is just as well. We’ll be glad to get him back next year and wish him the best in his rehabbing efforts.
Joe Stroud (CWU) is still playing but apparently it’s much harder when you actually have to shoot the ball and are being relied upon -he’s responded poorly so far, granted he’s played somewhere between four and six D2 games, so still plenty of season left.
Mike Wright (NNU) lost all of the people that made him look somewhat decent and so now he just looks like a mess. Yes, he could have stepped up, this theoretically was his team because Bouna was generally the 6th man last year, but… Mike needs to do more. Much more. Maybe during conference play.
Tyler Gutierrez (CU-P) is basically the only returning piece for CU-P and we know we named him as a POW nominee, but he’s not on the list above because he wouldn’t have been nominated if he were on any other team -it was us trying to include the Cavs, and now we’re kind of done. With that: Be adequate.
Julian Nichols (WOU) we really, really don’t know and it’s kind of making us mad to be perfectly honest. Dude is still playing, he’s just not playing well. He was one of our picks for potential player of the year because he had an amazing junior season and not much has really changed and yet he’s not playing well.
With some of that… We feel like writing it off until conference play is kind of weak, considering our conference looked so weak during non-conference. There are good teams, but we feel downright uncomfortable with UAA, WWU, and CWU because non-conference was such a wash and we feel like they’re good teams but they didn’t prove it during non-con and so we’re not sure what it’ll mean during conference play if/when they do win? It seems like it’ll be easy to give them hype and yet what’s the real substance behind that hype?
UAF there’s not as much expectation because they’ve been off for a few years, they’ve got what’s essentially a brand new team, low-pressure; SMU same thing; MSUB and NNU we’re just hoping they don’t drown. CU-Portland and SFU, we hope things remain somewhat humane.
WOU and SPU there’s some concern about upsets and we’ve said this repeatedly: Upsets aren’t a good thing for ANYONE including the teams upsetting them. The better SPU and WOU look the better for our conference as a whole, because they barely proved themselves in non-conference. Our non-con collectively looks much better because of how SPU schedules, never forget that.
When we look at the individual play of guys on other teams… It may just be a more down year on the west coast. Admittedly we really loved last year’s GNAC (shout-outs in particular to non-returners Kevin Rima, Anye Turner, Riley Stockton, Matt Borton, and Alex & Kalidou [no one blames you two for leaving] for helping make our first year of blogging ridiculously fun) and we know that those guys are all super amazing, but… There are amazing guys this year too -Bouna was an irrational favorite last year that’s become legitimate this year; Kyle Impero turned it up at the end of last year and is dominating this year; Bryce Leavitt came out of nowhere and we’re beyond thrilled with his play; Bangaly and Travante are both super fun; Andy we should constantly be in awe of Andy, but still kind of hold a grudge against him because of the second game against SPU last year -we’ll just be honest- even though we know it was Brendan’s fault that the Falcons lost, so… Irrationalities, but we can admit it. We love you Andy, we really do, promise.
So there are plenty of good guys, but there may be far fewer great guys than normal, and that could be making some of the would-be great guys merely look good. We wondered that regularly about Riley Carel’s stats -if they were in fact lower because he’d pass the ball and then the guy he was passing to would turn it over, so he’d skip passing and try and force something and it didn’t work out very well because while they had promising underclassmen, there’s a big difference between promising underclassmen and seasoned upperclassmen. Then again, with Riley -that was his own fault; could have stayed at SPU and been the starting SG on a team with Riley S. and Matt and Mitch, and Cory’s hook shot (Cory and his hook shot we’ve determined to be separate entities) but he decided he wanted to be the star. And that decision proves even more juxtaposed this year with Alex and Kalidou both having transferred to CBU.
Riley got to score a lot of points and be the go-to guy, but never even made the conference tournament. Alex and Kalidou are now playing on a team favored to win the Pac-West and that’s 100% in control of their own destiny regarding an at-large berth in the regional tournament, much less conference tournament.
If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go as a group.
In an hour we’ll check in with some of our favorite GNAC alums/former players now playing on non-GNAC teams.
Tomorrow and Wednesday we’ll be taking a look at what we currently know vs. want to know about each team/group of guys in our conference currently.
Is it two whole months late? Yes, yes it is, but… It was always intended to go up; it’s just burnout. We all get burnt out and there’s no real way to do it until the season is over, and then by that point you’re battling both an extreme sense of relief and depression and so nothing really matters. At least that was this year, because the mistake was made of going to a third world country (ahem, the Bible Belt) to end the season and it ended with contracting an illness not typically found in the first world. Good times. Eight weeks of no productivity later…
We have the All-Conference 1st & 2nd teams:
1st Team All Conference:
F Anye Turner -Western Washington, senior
G Riley Stockton -Seattle Pacific, senior
W Alex Birketoft -Northwest Nazarene, freshman
P Kevin Rima -Northwest Nazarene, senior
G Julian Nichols -Western Oregon, junior
2nd Team All Conference
G Sango Niang -Simon Fraser, senior
F Matt Borton -Seattle Pacific, senior
F Mitch Penner -Seattle Pacific, junior
G Erik Kinney -Northwest Nazarene, junior
F Andy Avgi -Western Oregon, junior
Whatever arguments you’re about to make: Yes, the answers are different than what the conference hierarchy thinks, but the same formula that’s been used all season for player-of-the-week was used to get these numbers.
Still: Because you’re thinking it, here are some answers:
UAF: Ruben Silvas didn’t play enough games,
excited to get him back next year.
UAA: Travis Thompson was close. He was the one off. But his play really went on the decline this year and it didn’t help that he’d been hyped so much. Toward the end, his shooting percentages were horrifying and he wasn’t helping his team win. Same with Brian McGill -he’s another guy that is really good but these teams are about great. Look for him next year.
SPU: Cory Hutsen was a 5th year senior, taller and bigger than 95% of the competition he faced, his coaches really only gave him one job: be in the paint, score baskets from two feet away, and he only shot 58%. Let’s not talk about free throws.
CWU: Dom Williams is the equivalent to a fever when you have ebola; helpful at times, but for the most part simply killed the Wildcats.
WOU: Jordan Wiley -just didn’t do enough in enough games; he’s fantastic and only a junior, so definitely on our pre-season list of guys to watch.
Edit: Andy Avgi likely didn’t play enough minutes to make first team; had he averaged 28 minutes rather than 25 he probably would have been on the first team. Erik Kinney was on the second team likely due to turnovers.
Conference player-of-the-year’ll go up in an hour.
SPU 81, WWU 68
Seattle Pacific is headed to the West Region tournament with the auto-bid.
We’ll be honest: This game was really, really, really boring. SPU went up with about 15 minutes left in the 1st half and WWU never really closed the gap. The closest they got was within six, but SPU would be in possession and so it would quickly go back to eight or nine. Cory Hutsen was on fire.
Cory Hutsen is actually a really good person to pick on -because he took 23 shots tonight, which is insane, but can be normal for a starting center. Thing is: he made 15 of them, putting him at 65%. Yeah, he shot 50% from the free throw line, but beggars can’t be choosers -he’s it in terms of SPU’s center play, so try to make sure he’s not the one getting fouled and that’s about it. SPU did shoot a nasty 56% from the line, but oh well. Much like NNU had bigger fish to fry than free throws in their game against SPU, lucky for the Falcons, free throw shooting wasn’t what it came down to.
Defense wins championships.
What it came down to was keeping the Vikings out of sorts. We’ve been absolutely in the Vikings corner as of late, because they became a really, really good team that played together, got assists, rebounded, they were amazing. And they were off tonight. They couldn’t find a rhythm, looked straight up discombobulated, and no one seemed to have any idea what was going on. The fouling they were choosing… a lot of it was bordering on nasty, and we weren’t really opposed to a fist fight breaking out -we like hockey as much as anyone- but it didn’t happen, oh well. Came close though, a couple of times.
Now the normal stuff:
Viking highlights: Ricardo Maxwell had 13 points; Anye Turner had a disappointing full house with three rebounds, one assist, one steal, two blocks, two fouls, and seven points; Harris Javier had eight points; Jeff Parker had 12 points and four boards; Mac Johnson had six boards, two blocks, and six points. Off the bench: Kyle Impero had nine points; Joey Schreiber had 11 points. The Vikings went a nasty 4-18 from three. This was just a weird game -they were taking poor shots, not rebounding, doing all kinds of stuff that they don’t usually do. SPU is known for being a rebounding and defensive team (love it!) but really Vikings? Really? This game has to be a bitter pill to swallow, especially for the seniors.
Falcon highlights: Bryce Leavitt had five rebounds, six assists, and five points; Riley Stockton had nine points; Matt Borton had seven points and six boards; Mitch Penner had a double-double with 11 rebounds and 12 points; Cory Hutsen as noted had a great game, grabbing six boards and scoring a whopping 34 points (bonus points for scoring jersey number). Off the bench: Shawn Reid had seven points, but it doesn’t really count because the dude went 2-8 –luckily, he also picked up four boards.
The Falcons are weird… this was a decent game for them, but it’s hard to call it good when Riley Stockton and Matt Borton barely did anything. It’ll be interesting to see what they do in the tourney. They’re likely looking at an 8th seed which will have them up against Azusa Pacific, which sounds impossible, but… it’s hard to say. If the Falcons can actually put it together… anything’s possible. You can’t deny that this team has talent and discipline… again, weird team. They have a road map for beating APU thanks to CBU, but… the Falcons have no recent history of beating a tournament host on their home court, and last year they responded terribly to the heat of southern California, so… we’ll see. More speculation to come.
GNAC people: seriously, last week’s stats are right here. Player-of-the-week for last week is going to be up tomorrow. For the conference tournament, we may throw together a five person team, but… eh. We like stats that could potentially say something, and all tournament teams rarely do more than tell you the guys everyone already knows are good.
West Region: A final bracket of ours’ll be up around noon.
WHOA. There were so many blowouts and then a couple of really, really amazing games in Alaska. There was also a lot of great play -this is yet another day when we’ll probably do a “nightlights” from last night tonight, because last night was too nuts for us to be able to get one up.
Northwest Nazarene 91 @ MSU-Billings 67
NNU did precisely what they needed to and looked night and day from the last time these two teams played -last time the Crusaders just snuck out a win at home, but then again: they have Alex now. MSUB has likely thrown in the towel, so CWU should dodge that bullet, but… MSUB has been decimated; then again: so have a few other teams.
Crusader highlights: Alex Birketoft had 12 points; Erik Kinney had 19 points; Mike Wright had four assists; Kevin Rima had 16 points and six boards. Off the bench: Bouna had 12 points and seven boards; Matyas Herring had five points and five assists; David Shedrick had seven points. Good to see the bench play from the Crusaders.
Yellowjacket highlights: Antoine Hosley had 14 points; Emmanuel Johnson had 20 points and five boards; Jordan Perry had 13 points and five boards. Off the bench: Kendall Denham had eight points; Marc Matthews had five points, four boards, and three assists. The Jackets definitely had some turnover issues, but really just straight up got beat.
The Crusaders are going to have their hands full at SPU on Saturday, but getting that win and sending the conference into a royal standings mess seems completely possible.
Central Washington 47 @ Seattle Pacific 69
Yes, it’s a rivalry game and anything can happen, so CWU has that going for them, but… in the last one, they had won by six -this time, SPU won by… a lot. 22 to be exact. CWU will carry the chip for the conference tournament, so at least they have that going for them; they also get to play MSUB next whereas the Falcons face off with NNU.
Wildcat highlights: Joe Stroud had a full house with 15 points, three boards, one assist, two steals, two blocks, and four fouls; Dom Williams had seven points, three boards, and four assists. Off the bench: Gary Jacobs had eight points.
Falcon highlights: Bryce Leavitt had seven boards, three assists, and four steals; Riley Stockton had a full house with 12 points, seven boards, four assists, one steal, one block, and two fouls; Matt Borton was amazing with 17 boards and 15 points; Mitch Penner came back strong with 10 boards and seven points; Cory Hutsen had 17 points. Off the bench: Shawn Reid had eight boards and 11 points.
The Wildcats are going to be out for blood if these two teams meet up in the conference tourney, so… at least we have that to look forward to. Before that, SPU’s going to have their hands full with NNU.
Simon Fraser 77 @ Western Washington 110
WE’RE NOT MODIFYING THESE STATS!!!!!!!!!! Why? Because WWU didn’t suffer an insane number of turnovers. That’s the key tipping point and huge focal of the SFU offense; while plenty of guys had 3 and the turnover numbers are high, generally it’ll be at least one guy picking up five that triggers us to modify the stats. Plus… they had 33 assists. That is a good A/TO ratio.
Clan highlights: Sango had 20 points; Justin Cole had five boards; Patrick Simon II had 10 points. Off the bench: Daniel Deflorimonte had 11 points; Hidde Vos had 12. Decent team rebounding effort.
Viking highlights: Ricardo Maxwell had 14 points, six assists, and three steals; Anye Turner with the full house on 14 points, 14 rebounds, five assists, two steals, three blocks, and just one foul -all in 21 minutes of play: WHOA!; Javier Harris had eight assists; Jeff Parker was a monster with a full house of 31 points, nine boards, two assists, one steal, two blocks, and one foul; Mac Johnson had a more quiet game but still picked up seven boards. Off the bench: Kyle Impero had 13 points, five boards, and four assists; Joey Schreiber had 22 points, eight boards, and three assists in just 18 minutes; finally: Mark Hopkins had nine points.
Crazy amazing game for the Vikings, exactly what we need them to look like, our pick for winning the conference tournament, congrats on a fantastic senior night!
Saint Martin’s 78 @ Alaska Fairbanks 82 in OT
Meaningless game but a good one all the same. Some pretty good play from both teams; stats say Saint Martin’s should have won but they just couldn’t get it done. Congrats to UAF on doing so, despite poor free throw shooting and too many turnovers.
Saints highlights: Trey Ingram had 27 points and six steals; Victor Ieronymides had nine boards and six points; Tyler Idowu had 11 points and five boards. Off the bench, Isaac Bianchini had 15 points.
Nanook highlights: Anthony Reese had 10 points and 13 boards; Alex Duncan had 14 points, five boards, and five assists; Ashton Edwards had 11 points; Kyle Tomlinson had 16 points; Almir had 20 points, nine boards; two assists, one steal, one block, and two fouls for the full house. Off the bench: Eric Fongue had eight points.
Again, this game doesn’t matter, but WOU should be happy; the Nooks are gonna be exhausted.
Western Oregon 78 @ Alaska Anchorage 80
Incredibly shocked this game didn’t go to OT. Much thanks to the Seawolves social media for keeping us updated -we were unable to watch the game due to outside circumstances, but it was incredible following along with. Speaking of Seawolves: They finally have a “signature” win and it could be just in time -always good to go into the conference tourney strong.
Wolf highlights: Devon Alexander had a full house with 20 points, two rebounds, two assists, three steals, one block, and one foul; Julian Nichols had a full house with 14 points, two boards, four assists, three steals, one block, and three fouls; Jordan Wiley had eight points; Andy Avgi had 19 points and eight boards. Off the bench Nick Nestell had nine points; Marwan Sarhan had three boards.
Seawolf highlights: Brian McGill had six points and eight assists; Travis T. had 11 points. Off the bench: Christian Leckbend had 16 points, five boards, and three assists; Sjur Berg had six boards; Dom Hunter had 14 points, three boards, and three assists. The team made 100% of their rebounds and that was the difference.
There’s a lot to discuss in regard to the conference standings and there’s just not time right now, but there should be a post later tonight about them because the situation is incredibly intriguing.
Tomorrow morning in the Game Day Previews we’ll be sure to clarify who else you should be rooting for, depending on your team situation.
So WWU blows out WOU at Western Oregon when WOU doesn’t have Andy Avgi. Does that tell us anything at all? On the one hand, we appear to have our Vikings back -missed you WWU of old, really, really missed you- but on the other hand Andy is amazing and where did he go?
We noted in our preview of the game that generally speaking WOU expects to play their starters most of the minutes -Andy Avgi largely only plays 20 or so minutes in blowouts; he played something of 45 in 2OT against SPU. Had they had him tonight, we’re of the opinion that the score would’ve looked different, but the result might not have been.
Andy averages 18 points per game; WWU won by 23. Obviously Andy does more than that -he’s a big body, really makes you work around him, gets guys in foul trouble, all kinds of stuff, and yet… WOU had 30 boards; Andy averages close to six; WWU had 43. It is our view that WWU would’ve won even if the Wolves had Andy -WWU is a good team. Not as good as they’ve been in past years, but they’re by no means bad, especially now that they seem to be actually functioning cohesively.
Both Anye and Mac had double-doubles!! So proud of them. The Vikings cleared their bench, which if the Wolves had Andy and they managed this would be a good move, but honestly in light of it just kind of seems a bit tacky; good to see that Blake Bowen still exists. Pretty balanced minutes. It’s kind of a weird feeling, not going to lie. On the one hand you’re not surprised because it’s WWU, on the other hand WOU it’s not a real blow out.
Not sure what this implies for the rest of the conference unless Andy is out for the rest of the season; this late in the year, maybe nothing. Although… if WOU isn’t going to have Andy for the NCAA tournament and the Wolves don’t win the auto bid from the GNAC, if I’m a member of the selection committee I’m thinking long and hard about whether or not they deserve an at large birth.
Remember: Who would you rather play? Chico State or WOU without Andy? Yeah. So that’ll be interesting to see. You know they wouldn’t rest Andy just for fun this game -this was looming huge; they likely could’ve done it on Saturday without too much issue. Guess we’ll see.
With WWU: the Vikings are coming on strong, hopefully they’re not peaking too soon. Theoretically this is just them finding their groove. Tonight’s been just plain exhausting, so excuse the lack of enthusiasm over Anye and Mac.
CWU/UAA… Impressive how out of sorts the Wildcats got the Seawolves. Not particularly surprisingly, although still a bit surprising just how uncomfortable UAA looked. There was a question about why this blog isn’t convinced by the Seawolves -while it’s admittedly hard to win in Nicholson, it’s not THAT hard. That’s why the blog isn’t convinced by UAA; their best win is a sweep of WWU, while they’ve been swept by CWU, SPU, and if they’re not careful WOU this coming week. They’ve won when they’ve had to and been able to, nothing more, nothing less.
NNU/UAF was pretty par for the course. Biggest thing to note was some pretty bad shooting, with the exception of Bouna N’Diaye who served as a rockin’ 6th man. Awesome Bouna! Way to go. 12 points, 5 boards, 2 assists, all off the bench.
Other deets on tonight’ll be posted sometime tomorrow morning.
That’s two weeks in a row. We’d like to pretend it’s because we gave him a road map of what he needed to do during the second half of the season, and he’s been following it to a T, which is true, but… reality: losing Jaamon Echols helped him a lot. Still who really cares why it’s occurring? We’re just happy and super proud of his dynamite play.
What did he do this week that was so awesome? The usual, really.
Against Central Washington: Decent shooting, good free throw shooting, rebounding like a boss (he had 12), had a couple of blocks, picked up four fouls in 28 minutes… work in progress. That’s good. It’s still an improvement from the days of playing 23 minutes (he played 28).
Against Northwest Nazarene: Good shooting, great rebounding, shot blocking all up in yo’ bidness, fouling with care this time. Anye is becoming a dingo -he’s lethal, he’s lithe, he’s steals your shots, and he’s learning how to not be detected.
Obviously Anye is awesome and we love him, but promise: this is done through an algorithm; he can count it as legit, and y’all can’t complain. Shout out to Travis Thompson for coming in second.
Tomorrow there’ll be a discussions post -we’re probably going to have two of them this week because as things start heading toward the end/beginning, there’s just more and more to talk about that’s interesting to contemplate.
Absolutely want your questions, thoughts, debates, all of that. Leave a comment -we have a great history of turning comments of readers into awesome prompts for posts and everybody enjoys it because the more the merrier.
Remember: SMU/WOU are ineligible; it’s player of the week, not player of the game.
UAF: Alex Duncan.
UAA: Travis Thompson -even on his “bad nights” dude is better than most.
SFU: Rod Evans-Taylor! Had a dynamite performance against NNU and then an okay one against CWU.
SPU: Riley Stockton -like Travis; even on his “bad nights” dude is consistently good.
MSUB: Marc Matthews -had a couple of good games.
CWU: Gary Jacobs -growing into himself quite well, starting to get everyone excited for next year.
NNU: Alex Birketoft -had a couple of good games.
SMU: Victor Ieronymides -dude is becoming a machine, grabbed boards, got points, all off the bench, nicely done.
WOU: Andy Avgi -the baskets have some type of magnetic relationship with Andy’s hands.
The winner’ll be posted in an hour.
Because there were a lot of awesome performances last night and sometimes formal is not the answer.
First and foremost: ALEX BIRKETOFT HAD 22 POINTS AND EIGHT REBOUNDS!!!!!!! He’s a freshman *clap, clap, clap clap clap* The loss is disappointing but NNU’s made major progress this year and while losing Kevin is going to be hard, they’re still going to have so much coming back. Part of their success is inevitably our weak conference, but it’s still cool.
Second: BOUNA STARTED!!!!!!!!!! Blog favorite. No rhyme or reason; he had some big games early in the season, but his name is just fun, regardless.
AnYES went 6-7 (ha! he is 6’7) and only picked up three fouls in 27 minutes. Again: we really, really like fouling, but the Vikings need Anye to be able to go deep; he wasn’t needed to go deep, but he does up his productivity accordingly and we’re so, so, so proud of him!! It’s a good day.
MAC HAD 20. There are so many people that are fun to be excited about. Mac is awesome and we totally believe in his improvement.
CORY HUTSEN HAD 23 POINTS. And was still terrible from the free throw line, but that’s okay. Obviously it almost wasn’t, but we’re not in a mood to complain. That’s back-to-back-to-back? 20 point games. We were very excited about him in our pre-season preview and he’d been letting us down but he’s starting to step up.
Also with the Falcons: Who’s Sam Simpson? Why hasn’t he played more? Kid scored 12 points off the bench and played 19 minutes… in one of the last regular season games? Ooookay. Baller status.
Gary Jacobs going 12-13. Yes it’s SFU and so it doesn’t quite count, but that’s still a shooting percentage in the 90s, which ALWAYS counts.
Overall a pretty sick night of basketball, lots of good center play. The SPU/UAA game was surprisingly good because quite deservedly we’d lost faith in the Falcons. Sam Simpson is apparently a 6’8 freshman, but weighs 190, which leads one to think of fellow frosh Alex Birketoft and wonder about the battles they could hold in the coming years.
Always good times. Tomorrow: POW nominees and the nod itself.
For a Sunday Funday post, it seems appropriate to talk about some of the favorites in our conference and basically just have some good old fashioned praise. The season is getting more and more intense and difficult and you kind of just need those moments to sit back and go “Hey, these guys are awesome. It’s such a blessing to watch them, even when they’re making poor on-court decisions.”
It’s been well documented that “pets” definitely exist, so… We’ll just go with the usual order.
UAF: Almir. This isn’t really basketball related; he’s a decent player heading toward good, but the fact that he’s from the Balkans is amazing and as much as they’re not happy with each other, the FYR on the whole are awesome and have such a great culture and it’s great that we get to have a piece of it in our conference. Also love the fact that we have Ruben -he is Native American, which is so cool and yet another blessing. He’s out right now due to academics, but we look forward to getting him back next year; temporarily gone but definitely not forgotten and if he finds this: We still believe in you!
UAA: Brian McGill does so much for his team. Love his game, love his facial expressions as he’s running down the court, his mindset seems fantastic. He does everything in his power to procure a win and that means playing unselfishly. He’s awesome on the whole. Travis Thompson isn’t having the year that he wanted to have, but he’s still so valuable and after going through the mid-season all conference teams and looking at and comparing his stats this year and last and beginning to understand all of that… So proud of the kid. Derrick Fain should be mentioned because we give him crap all the time, but he’s starting to deserve less and less of it and we couldn’t be happier.
SFU: Sango -impossible not to love Sango. Does so much for his team, plays so unselfishly even though he’s got relatively little to work with. He’s in it. He’s another guy that we went back and compared his stuff from last year to this year to see where he’s at and they have made him even more useful and again: Just a good guy that’s easy to root for. Rod Evans-Taylor is becoming a pet with his awesome play and effort, but that’s as of late. Still love Michael Harper although he hasn’t been doing as much lately; same with Patrick Simon II -that kid has so much room for growth and can’t wait to see it over the coming few years.
WWU: ANYE. Anye is probably the biggest pet in the conference at this point, although Alex of NNU is starting to make a run for it. Anye graduates this year and it’s happy but sad. He’ll be moving onto better things and it’ll be good to keep an eye on him in Europe. His mindset is great, he smiles all the time, he works for his teammates, he gets the boards, he picks up fouls, and when knocks a guy down he picks them right back up. Such a blessing to watch. Love Mac, really excited for another year of him. He’s improving by the game and it’s great. He’s a massively different player than he was earlier this year and that’s awesome. Kyle Impero and Joey Schreiber are young and promising and are another couple of great guys to watch their development in. Been watching Joey for years now, even when he was at EC, and it’s exciting. It’s cool to see the development and he landed with such a great program in terms of top-notch D2.
SPU: Riley Stockton. It’s been amazing to watch him make the switch to point guard this year and watch him near the triple doubles and his fundamental understanding of the game is great. Matt Borton -another great forward, has aggression issues (meant in the best way possible), he does what it takes for his team, and between him and Anye… that is how basketball is supposed to be played. Mitch Penner. Psycho P. It’s been a growing process this year, but we have full faith that he’ll break out next year. Cory Hutsen, he’s right up with Austin Hudson and Mac Johnson in terms of favorite centers, and his play has finally been getting better lately, can’t wait for it to go further.
MSUB: Austin. Austin will not be forgotten. He was SO great and still a valuable part of our conference. MSUB is starting to be another program that has a zillion blog pets so-to-speak. Jace Anderson is improving, Antoine Hosley has his moments, MOMIR GATARIC; his game is getting better and better and he’s another FYR player! Those guys are bad to the bone.
CWU: Caleb is great. Will be interested to see what he does with his body; it needs major, major work on his part and not so much in the gym as in the kitchen, but the gym could be of some help too. Full faith that he’ll be one of our conference’s top centers by the time he’s done. Joe Stroud is great and getting better by the game and love his rebounding and his blocked shots are awesome and again -this is another guy that smiles while he does it, very approachable, just fun. Gary Jacobs is another guy that’s gonna be interesting to watch develop -he already does so much and will undoubtedly get better and better. Dom Williams is finally starting to be liked around here -it’s taken a lot, but very proud of Dom and his improving shot selection.
NNU: The entire team? It’s not even a matter of if they do anything during post season, just love their camaraderie. Alex is so great, even in his widdle frosh status, and it’s such a blessing that we’ll get to watch him for another few years, hopefully. Kevin -great attitude, team first mentality, gets the boards, smiles while he does it. He epitomizes the idea that you can be both aggressive and happy simultaneously; accidentally knocks you down, immediately reaches to pick you back up too. He plays a hard game of basketball, but jolly giant. Erik Kinney -needs some help and improvement, but another guy that’s awesome and we’re excited to see for another year. Bouna is one of those “there’s not necessarily any reason for this in terms of his game, he’s just great” and he’s a favorite. He’s smiley. NNU has lots of smiley people.
SMU: Trey Adams. He’s going through some growing pains, but can’t wait to see what he does next year. Tyler Idowu -sucker for smiley people and Tyler is that and does some good board work. Riley Carel, of course, bad decision maker in chief, but much as we give him crap all the time he’s a good baller. Tyler Copp -no clue where he’s disappeared to, but he’s been another favorite all year. Rising stars. Honestly, SMU is like NNU; that whole team is just fantastic. If only they could put it together. Ryan Rogers, Cameron Chatwin, Victor Ieronymides, Brent Counts, all are great.
WOU: JULIAN NICHOLS!! Favorite point guard, love his game, love his attitude, he’s come into our conference by storm, made WOU even better than expected and really elevated them -it’s been phenomenal. Lew Thomas -this is a weird one; he just is a favorite. He’s not that good, takes a lot of poor shots, turns the ball over more than any forward should, but he’s still a favorite, no clue why. Andy Avgi, he’s oddly enough not really a favorite, but maybe just because he’s so good that he’s hard to appreciate because you feel like you don’t have to; he’s just Andy, he does what he does, and he always does it. And that’s why even though he’s not a favorite we really should realize he is a favorite because just because someone’s consistent and does what they want, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be appreciated for it. Andy is awesome. Not sure what his speed and strength metrics are, but before heading for Europe, he might consider working out for a few NFL teams -at 6’6/260 you can’t teach size and he’s so good at shoving his way through -TE or DE may hold promise.
At times this blog is tough on guys and teams, but there’s no vindictiveness behind any of what gets written. All of these guys are such a blessing to get to watch so closely and that’s why it was important to cover the whole conference. It’s just not something that really happens on a D2 level; we mostly see school publications giving the highlights, and so when critiques get thrown out it can feel like a major affront when it’s not; it just happens rarely because writing a blog is a big commitment and we don’t really see that fan/community commitment on a D2 level.
Just because we don’t see it, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be there. These guys are great; they absolutely get down night in and night out; they deserve attention; they deserve praise; and they deserve that fan and community commitment on a level to match D1. Engage the culture, change the world; a blog isn’t much, but it definitely is a way to engage the culture, and hopefully on some minute level change the world of at least someone. There’s the whole thing that “I Chose Division II” and yet for many it’s not that easy. There’s a feeling of failure that you ended up D2 and [potentially] unable to succeed on a D1 level; maybe if more people cared, some of that burden could be relieved.
Have a fantastic week, a NightLights post that should’ve gone up last night will go up tonight at about 11pm, usual POW stuff tomorrow.