We’re like the Joe Lunardi of GNAC prognostication, and to an extent West Region bracketology. So many guesses, so much BS, but all in good fun. Our “official” pre-season poll will go up in October.
We finally looked at what CU-Portland brings back: zilch. We also lost even more guys than the already insane number we knew we were losing in June. The June prognostication looks ridiculous from where we stand now. Similarly -these are gonna change again next month. And the month after that. And we’ll do a final “SPIT IS GETTING REAL NOW, LET’S GO!!!!!!!!” ranking just before conference play gets cereal in January, because these things are stupid and stupid fun is good fun.
1. Western Washington. They bring back Harris Javier, Mac Johnson, Kyle Impero, Ricardo Maxwell, Jeff Parker, and more. And those are all actual recognizable names that saw some good minutes! They also bring back carpetbagger Brett Kingma, who is the Riley Carel of Mill Creek. He’s a Falcon by blood, the fact that he didn’t end up at SPU speaks volumes.
2. Western Oregon. We won’t know Andy’s status for a while, but… Devon Alexander had some good early season games, Julian Nichols is great and amazing and almost won player of the year, Jordan Wiley picked up some POW noms, new coaching staff, we love Jim Shaw. If we ever list their coach as ‘Brad Shaw’ sorry in advance -Jim’s son, Brad, was in the same class year of WesCo Basketball that we were and so… we go back.
3. Seattle Pacific. HOOOOOMER pick. Sort of. Thing is, they’ve got Mitch, they’ve got Gilles (good for twice as much homerism), they’ve got Brendan Carroll, Bryce Leavitt, and Garrett Swanson, all of whom started multiple games last year, plus they have plenty of guys that have been in the program for multiple years and have never seen more than an ounce of playing time. Good distribution of height, proven coaching staff, and the rest of the GNAC -what are we gonna do? That’s the real thing here.
4. Central Washington. Never underestimate a good power forward and elite teamwork. They probably should actually get the nod over SPU because Joey Roppo is good, Gary Jacobs wasn’t bad, and Prairie, er, Terry Dawn is legit. Guess we’re sticking them at fourth because we usually give the SPU guys too little credit, and so this kind of balances things out. We know the numbers for the CWU guys, but have no clue what the SPU ones are because we never cared. Whoops.
5. Alaska-Fairbanks. They lost a lot: Ruben, Kyle, Adam, BUT they return Joe Slocum, Almir, and Isaac Ladines. Now, do we think it’ll be successful? No. Do we think it’ll be embarrassingly bad? No. They’re lucky in the fact that the GNAC suffered massive skills drain almost everywhere.
6. Alaska-Anchorage. It’s completely unknown, they return Brian McGill and Sjur Berg as for recognizable names, and hmmm… But it’s still always difficult to play in Anchorage and we feel like their recruiting pitch is pretty quality. Still, they go on too many dates… but they can’t make ’em stay… That’s just what we say-ay-ay mmm, and so they’re just gonna shake it off, shake it off.
7. Saint Martin’s. Admittedly, we’re really sad that Brent is gone and Cameron [happily] is on his Mission. Still: Tyler Copp, Trey Ingram, Isaac Bianchini, Victor Ieronymides, new and very promising coaching staff, good things are on the horizon.
8. Concordia-Portland. This is honestly just a shot in the dark, because they’ve got a bunch of transfers coming in and they’re not going to be expected to do much, so expect the unexpected if they can gel and acclimate quickly.
9. MSU-Billings. Yikes. Momir Gataric and Kendall Denham make-up the most quality pair returned from the bottom three teams + proven coaching staff = potential.
10. Simon Fraser. They no longer have Sango, they no longer have Patrick Simon II, they do have Michael Harper,
Adam Westfall, Hidde Vos, and JJ Pankratz which are all recognizable names, but… only Michael Harper received a POW nom, and it’s still Simon Fraser. Another team we’d love to see improve, but we’re a little heartbroken after the major psych-out of last year.
11. Northwest Nazarene. The thing is, this team would be like if SPU’s best returning player was Brendan Carroll; the projected reality would be more turnovers than a bake sale. That’s Mike Wright, without nearly the talent that Brendan would still likely be surrounded with if put into that scenario.
One thing that is going to happen this year that we’re REALLLY excited for (okay, at this point everything’s exciting ’cause we just want basketball) is conference power rankings. Not sure how often we’re gonna post them, but we’ll take the teams we’re projecting to make the conference tourney and throw them up with the reasoning. Depending, we’ll also give you the bottom five and the reasons they’re not, ’cause otherwise there’ll be people going “But UAF beat WWU by five!” Um, yeah: “Mac Johnson was out with the flu THAT DOESN’T COUNT.”
Speaking of which: Get your flu shot early and wash your hands often. The GNAC Basketball Plague makes the rounds every year, so do what you can to prevent it and help keep GNAC basketball great.
For those that weren’t with us in October: We don’t judge incoming transfers until we’ve seen them play in the GNAC. Period. We wait for non-conference to entirely finish up and then start making our predictions because we want to see how the teams mesh. This means that not only do we get to see non-conference, we get to see two conference games.
Still, we’ll go over the incoming coaches briefly just to give you some idea:
Incoming coaches: Jim Shaw (WOU via Saint Mary’s), Alex Pribble (SMU via Eastern Washington).
Alex Pribble: Likely hired at Saint Martin’s because he’s got a good mix of Washington AND California on his resume. As we’re starting to see -guys want to go the California schools; which makes sense. They’re in great locations, are starting to do really well, and the schools are credible academically. There are a lot of guys that we really liked on the SMU team last year and it’ll be interesting to see how he develops them. Still, can he get guys to stay? If he can, he’s well stocked because as we’ve noted: We strongly believe in the underclassmen at SMU.
Note to Coach Pribble if he sees this: I’M TRUSTING YOU WITH THOSE YOUNG GUYS. I BELIEVE IN THEM. I LOVE THEM. DO NOT SCREW THIS UP.
Jim Shaw: Love this hire. Loved Jim when he was coaching at UW, definitely some bias there with him being a part of the Sweet 16 teams. He also has California recruiting on his resume, working with Randy Bennett -a favorite west coast coach. He knows the northwest, he knows how to recruit, he himself attended WOU although in a very different era. His skills are there, but we’ll see what he does. It’s not this year that we should really be concerned about -it’ll be a year or two from now, so he’s at least got substantial job security because any real scrutiny of him probably won’t hit until year four or five.
The modified transfer acknowledging prognostication with should-be-obvious explanations:
1. WWU -one guy does not define a WWU team.
2. WOU -they could very well overtake WWU; Andy, Julian, Jordan. Who are the other two and can they make it happen?
3. CUP -Good until proven bad.
4. SPU -they have a 1-4 and a 5; it’s only two guys, but this coaching staff is undeniable.
5. NNU -this still may be too high.
6. CWU -Never underestimate a good power forward.
7. UAA -Brian McGill may be rather impotent without anyone to distribute to.
8. SMU -Their young guys are capable and if the coaching hire is right 8th could be too low.
9. UAF -Ruben was The Great Eskihope. And now he’s gone.
10. MSUB -Sorry Momir Gataric, Kendall Denham + Coaching staff.
11. SFU -Patrick Simon II transferred.
Outgoing Transfers of Note: Northwest Basketball Drain Edition.
Kalidou is transferring from UAA to Cal Baptist; Joey Schreiber from WWU to Azusa Pacific. The UAA one is a bit understandable and kind of funny: they got that really nice brand new arena for their D1 tournament, but it doesn’t change the fact that you still have to live in Alaska for most of the year and it’s really hard to get home. Joey Schreiber, the suspicion is that APU has a lot of outgoing guys and he didn’t like his prospects at WWU. We’re assuming it’s a playing time/starting issue, but it could be very well that he thinks they’re screwed without Anye; we don’t. We think WWU is going to be just fine.
The 30 Second Shot Clock
Love it. The point guards may have some issues with it, but keep your eye on Julian Nichols. When the season gets started he’s the one in our conference that you should be looking at in terms of what to expect. Honestly, it’ll be an adjustment but should be fine. Hopefully it doesn’t make the “chuck and hope” more predominant -ideally it leads to better center play because teams will want to go down low more for the high percentage shots, getting people involved, getting people banging. Bang, collapse, kick-out, sure-fire three, this speeds the whole thing up. Excited to take a look at it.
Questions you may have that won’t be addressed until September at the earliest:
- Thoughts on incoming transfers.
- 2015 GNAC grads getting signed to overseas contracts.
- Does a GNAC team deserve to be ranked to start the year?
If other info circulates or we feel the need to argue with ourselves publicly, we’ll post a re-rank of the teams; there are definite arguments that WOU should be number one.
Be safe, have fun, play basketball, don’t get injured, enjoy the Summer!