First and foremost: We do not count transfers before they hatch. See the ‘Jake Ehlers’ Rule under our Table of Contents.
That being said: Are you ready? Hold onto your shorts ’cause it’s about to look ridiculous, but we promise with what we currently have to go on -it’s not. We like our justifications, which says something because often times we don’t.
1. Alaska-Anchorage. It’s not close. They’ve proven so much more with the guys they return than any other team in the conference that we’re already anticipating booking our tickets to Anchorage for the NCAA tournament. They are deep. And well-tested. Other teams return a lot, but most of them were really bad. The Seawolves basically return everyone they need. It’s fantastic. Go UAA.
Key Returners: Suki Wiggs, Corey Hammell, Sjur Berg, Spencer Svejcar, Diante Mitchell, + more.
2. Western Oregon. Again it’s not close. They return a lot. They lose a lot, but they return a lot. It’s reminiscent of SPU two years ago; yeah, they lost a few major guys but they have guys that have been in waiting that we think aren’t going to miss a beat. With their success, we anticipate them getting the right transfers. They should also procure a trip back to the Regional without much issue.
Key Returners: Tanner Omlid, Alex Roth, Janvier Alaby.
3. Saint Martin’s. This is where it gets to be a complete mess. We ultimately picked SMU because they have a for sure proven center -you gotta have someone that can bang down low. They return plenty of other stuff too and then also proved that this team, keyword team, can dig in and win when it matters down the stretch.
Key Returners: Fred Jorg, Tyler Copp, Trey Ingram, Rhett Baerlocher, and Jordan Kitchen, + more.
4. Western Washington. They return just about everybody needed on a team that was a major disappointment. We think this team is addition by subtraction. They return a core of guys that all try really freaking hard every single second they’re in the game. Do they lose height? Yes. Does it matter? Not necessarily. You can play short as long as every single guy is committed to playing hard 110% of the time.
Key Returners: Trey Drechsel, Jeffrey Parker, Brad Wallace, Isom Brown, Evan Scholten, Brett Kingma.
5. MSU-Billings. Another team that returns a ton but did very little last year. We think that’s going to change because all of the guys have a year in the system and with MSUB it seems to be feast or famine; either they’re playing cohesively and are a good team, or they are a flaming pile of …. fill in the blank. We think this year is going to be an up year.
Key Returners: Kendall Denham, Marc Matthews, Jace Anderson, Emmanuel Olufemi, Preston Beverly.
6. Alaska-Fairbanks. The Nanooks owe this spot purely to Bangaly. Never underestimate a good power forward. The Nooks also have a good home [tundra] advantage. They don’t return much, but Bangaly was able to create like Elsa (from ‘Frozen’) last year and brought tons of energy. They were surprisingly good and we think he’s going to give them a lot to work with once again.
Key Returners: Bangaly Kaba, Zach Pederson, Brandon Davis.
7. Central Washington. They don’t return much, but they do have a good home court advantage. We also really do believe in Terry Dawn.
Key Returners: Terry Dawn, Naim Ladd, Drake Rademacher.
8. Northwest Nazarene. Prime example of a bad team that returns a lot, so they have to be a little better, right?
Key Returners: Nikola Prvulj, Bouna N’Diaye, Pol Olivier, Marko Lepovic.
9. CU-Portland. This is mostly our faith in their coaching staff. They won a lot on the NAIA level so at some point it will start transferring to the D2 level, we hope. They don’t return much, but maybe?
Key Returners: Drew Martin, Tyler Gutierrez, Davis Nuaimi.
10. Simon Fraser. We were going to put them last per usual and then we realized if you made us pick between facing Hidde Vos and JJ Pankratz or Joe Rasmussen and Will Parker, we’d pick the latter two; thus, SFU gets the nod. Their culture desperately needs a re-haul, and honestly we’re starting to kind of feel bad for them. We know they wouldn’t eliminate men’s football and basketball, but seriously: they have so many other sports that are actually good, that we feel like those two sports are just a big money sink.
Key Returners: JJ Pankratz, Hidde Vos.
11. Seattle Pacific. Someone asked us about our projected starters and we intentionally left out Will Parker because we refuse to accept that he has any business still playing for SPU, much less starting for the Falcons. Joe Rasmussen is in that same boat, but 6’8 guys are far less expendable than 5’10 ones. This is going to be a mess and only partly because of the coaching change.
Key Returners: [former assistant, now Head Coach] Grant Leep.
If anyone wants to talk us off the ledge, commiserate, or jump for joy with us (we are genuinely excited for the Seawolves and very curious about the land Wolves), leave a comment!
Yes it’s late; it’s Sunday. Oh well. On with the goings on of yesterday.
Concordia-Portland 69 @ Alaska-Fairbanks 92
The Cavs stayed in it for a while and then UAF opened it up and the rest was history.
Cavalier highlights: Drew Martin had 9 rebounds; Latrell Wilson had five boards, 26 points, and went 5/5 from the line; James Phillips had 10 points; and off the bench John Erickson had four assists.
Nanook highlights: Bangaly had a double-double with 12 points and 10 boards; Joe Slocum had six assists and 10 points; Almir had a good game with 7 boards and 16 points. Off the bench Alex Duncan and Neal Chavez chipped in 10 points a piece.
Great game for the Nanooks, very proud of them; a great victory lap after the upset of WOU. To Concordia -welcome to playing the Alaska schools in conference. You survived. Be proud of yourselves because it is a beastly feat. Worst conference road trip, by far, we’ve been there done that.
Western Oregon 64 @ Alaska-Anchorage 59
Close game the entire time. Really fun to watch. Really smart play by both the Wolves and Seawolves. Wolves succeeded in getting Suki Wiggs in foul trouble while only sending him to the line a few times; the Seawolves contained Andy Avgi fantastically, coercing him into 4/14 shooting. Great job by both teams. Awesome game and good representation for the GNAC as a whole.
Wolf highlights: Devon Alexander had 14 points and six boards rounded out by a full house; Julian Nichols had 17 points, seven assists, seven boards, and played the ENTIRE FORTY MINUTES, whoa; Tanner Omlid had 12 points, eight boards, and six assists; Andy Avgi had six boards. No real bench play, although Janvier Alaby had four fouls.
Seawolf highlights: Christian Leckband started in place of Diante and had six boards; Suki went 5/5 from the line but was otherwise contained; Corey Hammell had eight boards and 11 points; Brian McGill had 15 points and six assists. No real bench play.
Again: Congrats to both teams, lots of good defense.
Central Washington 84 @ Simon Fraser 64
The Clan stayed in this for a while and then CWU started to pull away right as halftime arrived and then was able to keep the ball rolling after that. Good effort by the Clan though, definitely.
Wildcat highlights: Joey Roppo had 19 points; Gary Jacobs had 16 points while going 7/7 from the line; Joe Stroud had six boards, 12 points, and a full house. Some really good play off the bench: Naim Ladd had nine points; Drake Rademacher had six points; and Jerome Bryant had five points. Great free throw shooting team wide, always good.
Clan highlights: JJ Pankratz had 13 points; and off the bench Bowen Bakken had eight points.
Wildcat defense: Awesome. You bought in. Have fun with the Alaska schools next week.
Northwest Nazarene 66 @ Western Washington 83
Blowout although WWU kept their bench short. Maybe a little iffy with the last home game, but we agree with the decision whole heartedly (and very vocally) because WWU is still trying to solidify a rotation (yes on the second to last regular season weekend of the year) and playing seniors during the final home game is a luxury afforded to really really bad teams and really good teams -not middle-of-the-pack teams trying to make the conference tournament. The chemistry looked a lot better on the Viking side, so that was good. Still: the Crusaders stayed dedicated the entire time and kept their focus and continued to make shots, so… Good to see.
Crusader highlights: Bouna had a great game with 23 points and six boards; Detwon Rogers had 11 points and seven boards; Mike Wright had three steals. Off the bench Joel Devastey had eight points and seven boards.
Viking highlights: Ricardo Maxwell had 18 points; Kyle Impero had a double-double with 15 points and 13 boards; Trey Drechsel had 11 boards, five assists, and 20 points -whoaaaa; Brad Wallace had 11 points; and Jeffrey Parker had 22 points and six boards. Every single person that saw minutes grabbed at least one board, something the Vikings had really been struggling with, so great preparation before facing SPU on Thursday.
We’re finally feeling like the Vikings are clicking. We don’t know if it’s going to be enough, but we’re ridiculously pleased with all five of their starters and Isom Brown did good things off the bench; it didn’t really show up in the stats, but it’s what needed to be occurring, so that was awesome. He should feel very proud of his performance.
MSU-Billings 67 @ Seattle Pacific 93
What to say about this game. It’s not the game the Yellowjackets needed but it’s the game we needed to see from the Falcons -sort of. We felt like the Falcons were pretty sloppy, although blowout. It was a blowout from the get-go, which was a nice change because SPU just hadn’t been taking anyone seriously and it was really starting to get on our nerves. They could have won like this against SMU and CWU, but they chose another method instead, so… Boo Falcons.
Yellowjacket highlights: Emmanuel Johnson had 14 points; Emmanuel Olufemi had seven boards; and off the bench Jordan Perry had seven points. The Jackets collectively shot 90% from the line, so that’s promising.
Falcon highlights: Bryce Leavitt had five assists and a flawless full house (no turnovers, perfect shooting) so that was good; Will Parker had five boards and 12 points; Joe Rasmussen had 15 points; Mitch Penner had 23 points and five boards; Garrett Swanson had five boards. Off the bench Brendan Carroll had 10 points and four boards; and Gilles Dierickx had 10 points and eight boards. EJ Poulsen was perfect in garbage time, making a shot and grabbing a rebound. The black guys the Falcons have saw a whopping eight minutes and the rims are still standing so that’s good.
Really not sure what the Falcons are doing with their line-up, but that’s a potential discussion on Wednesday. We saw Mitch Penner complaining in the Seattle Times about “waiting for his time,” and we’d like to remind him that it’s been his time. He was the sixth man his sophomore year and then started throughout 70% of last year and made our second team all conference, and so he should quit whining.
Interesting-ish day of basketball. POW noms’ll be up at 10 and winner announced at 11am tomorrow.