This really should have gone up the morning after, but there were complications because of the chaos that tends to reign after a team loses in the tournament -there are things to attend to and whatnot.
There’s a lot to say about this game, but there’s really not a lot to say. SPU people will love to cite the refs, which is unfortunate because they made some really good calls down the stretch and were for the most part uninvolved; it was impressive. GNAC refs definitely don’t do that. CCAA refs -you have our fullest respect, for largely letting teams play.
That being said, the announcers were saying SPU was trying to hang on when the Falcons were up by 13. Okay then. Conspiracy theorists, let yourselves go wild. When it came down to it, SPU missed free throws. Plain and simple. We harp on it all the time: do not miss your free throws. And that’s what did them in. It sucks for the GNAC, but it’s reality.
Seattle Pacific 77, Cal Baptist 78
SPU highlights: Riley Stockton had 15 points, eight assists (WHOA!), two rebounds, and two steals; Matt Borton had 15 points nine rebounds, and two assists; Mitch Penner had 14 points; Cory Hutsen had 10 points and five boards. Off the bench: Will Parker had six points; Shawn Reid had eight points and four boards; and Garrett Swanson had six points. The Falcons collectively shot 68% from the line, which isn’t awful, but doesn’t quite hit that 70% that we like to see and if it had… we’d be having a very different conversation.
Gonna skip the Cal Baptist analysis, because let’s face it: It’s the end of the season and this is largely a GNAC blog. The experiment of talking about all of the teams kind of ended and nobody really liked it outside of the scope of knowing how it fit with the GNAC, so… probably won’t bring that back.
People are curious about the blog next year: tentatively yes. We’ll deal with this more in the coming days, but know that I have had an absolute blast.
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.
Northwest Nazarene 54, Seattle Pacific 73
Seattle Pacific was in control the whole time. The big issue? Turnovers on behalf of the crusaders with a whopping 19. There weren’t a bunch of concerning shooting numbers and the Crusaders rebounded really well -it was simply the turnovers that did them in. Their fouls shooting was less than ideal at 64%, but bigger fish: if they had shot 100% they still would’ve lost by 13. It was the turnovers. But the Crusaders still had a phenomenal season and took advantage of a mediocre GNAC.
NNU highlights: Alex Birketoft had six boards and five points; Erik Kinney had six boards and 16 points on awful shooting; Kevin Rima had three boards and five points along with a nasty five turnovers. Off the bench: Bouna N’Diaye had nine points and three boards.
SPU highlights: Riley Stockton had four boards, five assists, and thirteen points; Matt Borton had six boards and seven points; Mitch Penner had a full house with four boards, four assists, one steal, one block, two fouls, and 12 points; Cory Hutsen went back to normal with three boards and seven points while going 1-4 from the line. Off the bench: Joe Rasmussen had six points; Shawn Reid had 14 points and four boards; and Garrett Swanson had five points.
Not a bad game for the Falcons. They’re going to have their hands full with the Vikings, as everyone does.
Western Washington 88, Western Oregon 79
We called this one. We’re still in the camp that the Vikings’ll win the tournament, although the game against SPU should be really good. It’s not that WOU is bad, it’s that WWU did some major clean-up mid-season, really came together as a team, they’ve been through this before, they know how to win, their underclassmen are stepping up, they’ve bought in, and quite honestly: it’s beautiful to watch.
Viking highlights: RICARDO PLAYED 40 MINUTES, and had five assists and 14 points; Harris Javier had eight points; JEFF PARKER bounced back massively going 8-1o and scoring 20 points; Mac Johnson had eight points, eight assists, and 12 points -c’mon Mac, get a triple double tomorrow, we believe in you! Off the bench: Kyle Impero had eight boards, four assists, and 12 points; Joey Schreiber had 15 points and four boards.
Wolf highlights: Devon Alexander had 13 points; Julian Nichols had five boards, five assists, and 15 points; Jordan Wiley had 13 points; Andy Avgi had a whopping 29 points along with six boards. No bench play.
Neither the Wolves nor the Crusaders drive us insane, so… not really worth it to pick on them now that they’ve lost. The Wolves may or may not still be playing. The Crusaders… eh, we’re not impressed by Mike Wright, but he’s not nearly as bad as some of the other selfish players in our conference, so… not worth it.
Cal Baptist 78, Azusa Pacific 67
Somewhat surprising result, but CBU is a good team and had a lot of motivation. Have a hard time thinking that it’s going to displace APU as the host, but it could. Not entirely sure how much it matters -both schools are in the LA-area, if you won’t cross the metro to see your team play, why would you cross campus? Crossing campus actually includes walking. Yuck. At least if it’s across the city you get to drive /sarcasm.
BYU Hawaii 98, Dixie State 75
That’s a good old fashioned shellacking. Hoping that the committee doesn’t take pity on BYU-H and decide to split the tournament -there’s this uneasy feeling in our gut that it could happen even though we really, really, really don’t want it to. It’s kind of good for the GNAC -BYU-Hawaii beat SPU and CWU by more than SPU and WOU beat Dixie State, so strength of schedule wise it could be good.
Cal Baptist vs. BYU-Hawaii in the championship game: Not sure who to pick; we’re not Pac-West experts by any stretch and this tournament was a bit topsy turvy.
Stanislaus 60, Chico State 72
Not unexpected, not a bad result. Chico is a good team. The game was back and forth for a while before Chico State ultimately got it under control. They’re good but not great. They could win a game in the tournament.
Humboldt State 68, Cal Poly Pomona 78
This game went back and forth until finally Cal Poly Pomona put it away. If you’re Western Oregon, you’re breathing a sigh of relief. Cal Poly Pomona… part of the mediocrity that’s reigning on the west this year. They’re a good team, they’ve been here before, blah blah blah, but there’s no telling what they’ll do against Chico. Those are the top two teams, it wouldn’t be unfortunate for both Chico and Cal Poly Pomona to get a bid, there are arguments for both, but… we’ll see.
Seems a bit silly to discuss this, but… just because people are having thoughts anyway, this is in no way seeded, just the teams that we think are in, on the bubble, or whose bubbles have popped:
Dixie State -really want to put them on the bubble, but don’t think we can do that.
Chico State (if not CCAA winner)
Cal Poly Pomona (if not CCAA winner)
Seattle Pacific* (if not the GNAC winner)
Western Washington* (if not the GNAC winner)
From a GNAC perspective, I really, really, really like WWU. Yes, we’ve been in their corner all year, but they’ve just done so many things coming down the stretch in terms of unselfish play, bench play, rebounding, assisting -all of the things that make up a good team. Their arguably best player had a bad game today, but they still won convincingly over a WOU team firing on all cylinders. At this point, I’d give WWU an at-large ahead of WOU because their non-conference resumes are pretty similar and yet WWU’s been convincing at the end and WOU hasn’t so much.
SPU is a hard thing to say. They’re a good team. They have a better non-conference record than WOU, especially knowing what we know now (BYU-H vs PLNU). They do well even when not firing on all cylinders. However, D1 speak: I’d rather play SPU than Cal Poly Pomona; I’d take SPU over Chico State. I don’t know what I’d tell you in regard to SPU or WOU. I think I’d take SPU over WOU which tends to say that WOU should get the nod, but… that’s all on the basis of Andy Avgi. And as was demonstrated tonight: SPU doesn’t need everyone playing well: just okay. WOU needs all five of their starters firing in order to win.
It’s a big toss-up here in GNAC land. We’ll see what we’re thinking tomorrow. This could change by the time the preview of tomorrow’s games goes up because learning to embrace disagreeing with yourself is a quality part of every college education.
How awesome is this madness? We love it. Game day previews up tomorrow at 10am PST.
WE MADE IT!! The final regular season day of conference games. We actually got here! And now things start to get really exciting. Whoa. Here we go with the final post, of the year, about regular season games!
Saint Martin’s 67 @ Alaska Anchorage 101
The Saints stayed with the Seawolves for a good while and it looked like it was going to be a challenge, but UAA then proceeded to put them away. UAA is peaking at the right time and they should be a danger in the conference tournament, which will make things interesting.
SMU highlights: Trey Ingram had 12 points and four assists; Riley Carel almost had a full house with 16 points, four boards, three assists, three steals, and one block; Tyler Idowu had eight points. Off the bench: Isaac Bianchini had nine points and three assists; Will Bond had a whopping 16 points.
UAA highlights: Brian McGill had 19 points and nine assists; Travis Thompson had 22 points and five assists; Derrick Fain, as noted, almost had a triple double with 16 points, nine boards, and eight assists; Brad Mears had seven points and five boards. Off the bench: Sjur Berg had five boards; Dom Hunter had 15 points and five boards; and KALIDOU had six boards and eight points.
Central Washington 104 @ MSU-Billings 99
Very interesting game, pretty horrifying in many senses. There’s this thing called defense. No, this game wasn’t that awful -people were just on and whether it was a matter of poor defense or Alterowitz being hot on the whole matters little. Still, Central… interesting team.
CWU highlights: Terry Dawn had 10 boards and four steals; Joe Stroud had 24 points; Dom Williams had 33 points. Off the bench, Devin Matthews had six boards, nine assists, and 16 points.
MSUB highlights: Antoine Hosley had 50 points (yes, fifty), seven boards, and two assists; Emmanuel Johnson had 12 points and eight boards; Jordan Perry had seven points and seven boards; and Tyler Nelson had 10 points and nine boards.
Northwest Nazarene 49 @ Seattle Pacific 60
This was kind of a weird game -beforehand it was hard to predict because the potential of directions it could go in, and even in the middle of it the game itself struggled to decide. SPU was up by eight pretty consistently, but every time it seemed like the Falcons would break it up, the Crusaders reeled them back in a bit.
NNU highlights: Alex Birketoft had 14 points and six boards; Erik Kinney had a full house with 14 points, four boards, two assists, one steal, two blocks, and four fouls; Kevin Rima had fourteen points and five boards.
SPU highlights: Bryce Leavitt had five boards; Riley Stockton had 14 points and six rebounds; Matt Borton had 13 points and 13 boards; Mitch Penner had 18 points and seven boards; Cory Hutsen had nine points.
The Falcons’ll be an interesting team to watch during the conference tournament, because while we’ve pretty much figured out what CWU, WWU, and WOU are doing… the Falcons are still a conundrum.
Western Oregon 75 @ Alaska Fairbanks 60
Another game in which it was looking like the worse of the two was gonna stick around and take a stand and then didn’t. Congrats to the Nooks for trying?
WOU highlights: Devon Alexander 19 points; Julian Nichols 10 points and five assists; LEW THOMAS 12 points, fifteen boards, three assists, two steals, five blocks, and one foul for a full house; Andy Avgi had 17 points and seven boards. Off the bench: Adam Hastings had seven points.
UAF highlights: Alex Duncan had seven points and five boards; Ashton Edwards went on another spree with 27 points and five boards; Almir had 10 points and six boards.
Player-of-the-week’ll be up later today, promise.
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.
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.
Good morning! What an intense night of basketball. WWU is finally starting to look like the old WWU (awesome), CWU still looked strong even in their loss, MSUB held on for a ridiculously long time before letting it go, SFU got the upset! Way to go Clan!! And finally: SPU managed to squeak past Fairbanks, but the Nooks held on strong and admirably.
WOU 66 @ SMU 56
Let’s all take a minute to appreciate how much their key guys really didn’t play, except for Julian Nichols. Julian is probably one of those guys that if you don’t put him in, he’ll pace around the end of the bench itching to get in, because it seems likely the coaching staff would’ve rather played him less.
WOU highlights: Julian had 11 points, four assists, four rebounds, three steals, and one block, just missing the foul for a full house; Lew Thomas had seven boards; Andy Avgi had 22 points on an amazing 10-11 shooting. Off the bench, Marwan Sarhan scored eight points.
SMU highlights: Riley Carel had 14 points, eight rebounds, four assists, a steal, and a block for a full house; Ryan Rogers had eight points and four rebounds. Off the bench, Victor Ieronymides had 15 points and eight boards.
Not much to write home about, but still feel like it shows an improvement in the Saints because before it would be likely that they got blown out entirely?
CWU 77 @ WWU 83
Good to see the Vikings get this home victory against their rivalest of rivals. Around here, we always say free throws win the day and while the percentage was minute -71 vs 73, WWU got the free throw win and won the game. It could be unsurprising, but in this conference: at this point, I don’t know that there’s any surprise/non surprise. Ready for anything on any given night.
CWU highlights: Marc Rodgers with 11 points, four rebounds, three assists, one steal, one block, and two fouls for the full house; Joe Stroud, not as good of a game as hoped, but grabbed five boards and scored 12 points; Dom Williams had 23 points. Off the bench: Gary Jacobs with a phenomenal 15 points and seven assists… that assist number is positively glorious; good on the rest of the guys for making the shots that came their way.
WWU highlights: Ricardo Maxwell with 20 points; Anye had 17 points and 12 boards for the double-double; Jeff Parker had 18 points and nine rebounds, just missing the double-double; Mac Johnson had 10 points and seven boards -bit of a let down game, but we still believe in Mac. Off the bench: Kyle Impero had seven points; Joey Schreiber had nine.
Overall a less-than-idea performance for the Vikings, but they got it done.
NNU 88 @ SFU 92
Oh NNU… showing so much promise and then doing this. Oh well. Bounce back. Oh wait, they have to play WWU. Good luck with that. Congrats on the win SFU!! Super proud of you. Per usual: these stats are modified; in terms of when they get modified, the kicker isn’t number of points: it’s number of turnovers. If a single player has more than five turnovers, that’s how we can really judge the tempo.
Crusader highlights: Alex Birketoft with 11 points and seven rebounds; Erik Kinney with 11 points and four boards; Matyas Herring with seven points; Kevin Rima with 15 points and 11 boards (dat double-double, even with modification!). Off the bench: pretty much nothing. That explains the loss -usually they get more from their bench play.
Clan highlights: Sango had a good night with 14 points; Justin Cole had a good night with 12; Rod Evans-Taylor had an amazing night, picking up a full house with three rebounds, three assists, four steals, a block, and four fouls, as well as 23 points; Patrick Simon II had a decent night with eight points. Off the bench, JJ Pankratz had seven.
The Clan was functioning on all cylinders and it looked moderately okay. Hopefully they keep it up.
MSUB 68 @ UAA 82
The Yellowjackets were in it for a long time, but you can’t overcome the power that is Travis Thompson when he’s having a good night. Still, props to the Yellowjackets for the solid effort.
MSUB highlights: Antoine Hosley had 10 points; Marc Matthews had a whopping 25 points along with three boards and four assists; Emmanuel Johnson had 17 points and five boards; Tyler Nelson picked up a massive 12 rebounds; and that was pretty much it. Poor MSUB team. They’re the epitome of a poor man’s WWU right now with their short rotation and WWU winning and them not. No one wants to go to Billings, which is sad because that coaching staff is great and deserve more.
UAA highlights: Brian McGill had 14 points, five rebounds, and five assists; Travis Thompson had 23 points with some awesome shooting, in particular going 7-8 on free throws; Derrick Fain with that development -he had 18 points, five rebounds, and four assists. Off the bench, Dom Hunter had 10 points.
Not the prettiest game all around but the Seawolves got it done. Good on them.
SPU 74 @ UAF 64
UAF was leading at the half and was showing so much promise and then… nope. Falcons took care of it. Not too much to write home about on this one, but here we go:
SPU highlights: Riley Stockton had nine boards; Mitch Penner had 18 points and 10 rebounds for the double-double; Cory Hutsen had 2o points. Off the bench: Shawn Reid had 14 points and six boards.
Nook highlights: Anthony Reese had 10 points; Alex Duncan had 10 points; Ashton had 14 points; Almir had 14 points, five boards, and five blocks.
Overall not a great night of basketball, but not bad either. There are already discussion points popping up from this, so… could make for a late night post, which might be fun. Once again: Congrats to the Clan!
Okay, we’re back to this. Oh well. Spit happens. It’s better to have our discussions on Wednesday because the rankings come out on Tuesday and generally speaking posts are written in the dark of the night prior, so… that’s that. Wednesday discussions are just better. Come up with a cool alliteration for posting random semi-basketball related stuff on Tuesday and we’ll do it.
This week’s discussions: WWU lost Jaamon Echols -what happens? Were we too hard on Cory Hutsen? Does SPU dropping two games at home mean anything? What are the implications of SMU keeping it close against CWU?
Western Oregon is back up to being ranked #18 nationally, so good for them. Congrats Wolves. Julian had a really scary fall, but recovered nicely. Always good to see.
Jaamon Echols, our thoughts? We haven’t liked Jaamon the whole year, to be perfectly honest. He took too many poorly advised shots and overall played too selfishly. It’s fine if you miss shots and are still productive in other ways -Riley Stockton is a great example, Julian Nichols another great example -those guys will miss shots and then they start dishing assists or picking up boards or both, and it’s great. Riley Carel could be in that convo because he tries to do the same thing and then guys miss the shots that would be assists, but Jaamon Echols didn’t have that problem. He had, not a bunch of options (considering WWU’s rotation is like six and a half this year) but plenty and he never used them. This should be a good thing for WWU.
Were we too harsh on Cory Hutsen? The percentage was right, but the original number posted was wrong: he went 4-15, not 4-19. It’s a little bit less concerning put in that light, but 26% is still 26%. The beat the monkey thing: it’s scientist shorthand for “you don’t need be perfect, simply answer more questions on a test correctly than if it had been filled out completely randomly.” Cory by all accounts had a great night elsewhere, going 12-15, so he did beat that monkey to infinity and beyond. Still, we’re not here to coddle players as it comes to fundamentals. There are few things this blog harps more on than MAKING YOUR DARN FREE THROWS, in any situation, so while the phrasing might’ve been unpalatable; it was well within the precedent that’s been set.
In a somewhat related discussion: SPU dropped two home games. There’s probably a cool statistic about how long ago the last time it happened was, but that’s largely a product of our conference; rarely do you play two difficult teams back-to-back at home without four or five days in between. It was projected pre-season that there wouldn’t really be a difficult road trip because one out of each pair is weak; with Cenazar around now, that’s not the case. Anyway -does the dropping of games matter? No. Had they beaten WOU, maybe. As it is -WOU will likely get a bid, regardless as to whether or not they win the conference tourney, and SPU’s bubble had already burst regarding an at-large. They need to get the auto-bid, period, like everyone else that’s going to be vying for it. What their odds are of that happening, I don’t know. It’ll be interesting to see what they do in Alaska.
There is a way for the GNAC to procure two bids, even if WOU gets the autobid, but that’s a different post for a different day, and it’ll give most fans in this conference far too much hope. Basically six to eight other teams between the Pac-West and CCAA would have to full on biff it to New York Knick levels of pathetic. Yes; we just went there.
The SMU/CWU game was interesting because both teams were shooting well. On the one hand it shows you what SMU can do when they’re actually functioning properly -something that’s been said all season. The Dixie State near loss wasn’t a fluke in terms of talent. Similarly, on the Wildcat schedule the Hawaii Pacific loss also wasn’t a fluke. The Wildcats are getting better, it speaks to the parity in the conference, but it shows how easily the season could’ve gone differently for both programs; CWU could be in the throes of agonizing play, SMU could be in the midst of a potentially promising conference tournament run. CWU’s convinced us that they’re a major threat in the conference tournament to procure the auto-bid, and while we’re 99% sure SMU isn’t even going to make it… Anything is possible.
WOU @ SMU Preview
So about that break that WOU isn’t getting until tomorrow… SMU is still gonna get smoked like a platter of smelt.
The rest of the game day previews’ll be up tomorrow morning.
Yup, it’s a late day. It’s February. Midterms. Woo-hoo!
UAF: Ashton Edwards -great game against UAA with 18 points and five assists.
UAA: Travis Thompson -starting to kick it into high gear, had 23 points and 7 assists vs. rival UAF.
SFU: Sango -because he is their entire offense, night in and night out, although Rod Evans-Taylor is also notable.
WWU: Anye Turner -two monster games.
SPU: Riley Stockton -knows how to be effective off the ball, not a great week of play for the Falcons overall.
MSUB: Kendall Denham -two good games, he’s a distributor, he’s a freshman -love it! Gonna be good for years to come.
CWU: Joe Stroud -yet another great conference power forward doing the dirty work.
NNU: Erik Kinney -Major minutes, major rebounding, major assisting, and a bunch of points scored; Junior. Love it.
SMU: Riley Carel -Riley was okay against NNU and had monster game at CWU with 19 points, six boards, and eight assists -WOW!
WOU: Andy Avgi -dude’s gotta be exhausted; had his way with Central and did well against NNU.
UAA and UAF are ineligible to win because it’s player-of-the-week, not player-of-the-night. The announcement’ll be up next.