Yup, it’s going to be a back-to-back post because as much as we love the GNAC -Husky and Seahawks football took priority. And sleep. Sleep took priority. What’s interesting is we were so busy throwing-up the preview (our fingers were barfing) that we didn’t look at ANY of Friday’s numbers yesterday. Nuts. And now not any of Saturday’s numbers. It’s all a surprise o.O
Simon Fraser 81, Lindenwood 73
We weren’t even aware Lindenwood was a D2 school; we assumed it was a school on the prairies of Canada. As it turns out it is D2, so good on the Clan for scheduling them. Yayyy D2 opponents.
Clan highlights: Graham Miller was 7-7 from the line and finished with 18 points and four fouls; Michael Provenzano had seven boards, five assists, and finished with 18 points and four fouls; JJ Pankratz was back in a big way, grabbing nine boards, four blocks, and dropping 24 points while staying out of foul trouble. Off the bench Kedar Wright went 7-9 from the line and finished with 11 points in the Clan’s victory.
Dear President Donald Trump,
Thank-you for making it okay for us to say ‘Go Clan!’ and talk positively about them without being concerned about ending up on a list. Heck, if we’re not careful with all this talk of “Go Clan!” we could ended up nominated for a cabinet position.
The GNAC Men’s Basketblog
Central Washington 99, Dixie State 95 in OT
Yeaaah Wildcats! We is so proud of you. Winning in OT. Yes, it’s for all intents and purposes a home game, but any win against the region is a win we will take. And there were TONS of good numbers, so let’s get started…
Wildcat highlights: NAIM LADD had SEVEN rebounds, two assists, ZERO turnovers, and 25 points; DOM HUNTER had a whopping 33 points while going 10/11 from the line and being good from the field; Jerome Bryant did the rare thing of confusing us with his lack of shooting; he went 1-3 and then made 9-11 from the line and grabbed five boards and had five fouls. Rarely do we think ‘wow, he could have kept shooting’ but this guy did and at the same time we’re excited for him because it shows the valuable trait of knowing his role and doing a darn good job at it. Fouling and drawing fouls? Um, yeah.
Full disclaimer: Power forward is our favorite position by and far, so that position does tend to get a good bit of bias around here.
Seattle Pacific 69, MN-Makato 78
While it’s a good win for MN-Mankato, we’re not convinced it’s a bad loss for SPU because we’d so much rather lose an out-of-region game than an in-region, and Mankato could turn out to be very good; it’s too early in the season to know at this point. We’ll consider it a good learning experience, hopefully.
Falcon highlights: COLEMAN WOOTEN had 16 boards and 24 points on solid shooting; Sam Simpson had eight boards and four assists; Will Parker had five fouls; and Joe Rasmussen had five boards and nine points. Off the bench Sharif Khan had 14 points; and Tony Miller had seven boards.
Alaska-Fairbanks 68, Cal State LA 74
Huge win for the CCAA as a whole. We talk about it all the time, but: Any win in Alaska is a good win because it’s so hard to play up there. We knew CSULA was going to be improved this year, it was just a matter of time.
Nanook highlights: Nahjee Matlock had five boards and five assists; Bangaly had 10 boards and nine points; LaDonavan Wilder had five boards; and Brandon Davis had 16 points and five assists. Off the bench Reece Robinson had six points and four boards; and Michael Kluting had 10 points.
CU-Portland 57, UC San Diego 66
Way closer than anticipated. Yes, it was essentially a home game, but it’s still what we should all consider a very quality loss for the Cavalier program because we love the Cavs and anticipated a blowout so what was everyone else thinking? Yeah. It’s good.
Cavalier highlights: Drew Martin had 15 points, Latrell Wilson had five boards; Christopher Edward had a huge game with 10 points and eight boards; and off the bench Davis Nuami had four boards and three assists.
The Tritons play mad D so the numbers are less than they usually would have been for how close it was.
Alaska-Anchorage 75, BYU-Hawaii 50
Confirmed: BYU-H good at home and bad on the road. At least so far. Admittedly it’s hard to play at UAA, but in that we also need to say that: UAA has a huge homecourt advantage. Good for them. Did what needed to be done and there are lots of good numbers.
Seawolf highlights: Suki had 21 points, seven boards, and three assists; Corey Hammell had a double-double with 12 boards and 10 points; and Connor Devine had 17 points and eight boards on good shooting. Off the bench Augustus Simmers had 10 points; Damien Fulp had 10 points while perfect from the line; nad Sjur Berg had five boards.
Western Oregon 93 vs. San Fran State 99 in 3OT
Oh dear. We’d say this game was a mess on both sides but it wasn’t. San Fran State played within themselves and used it to win the game in a hard place to play. They had surprisingly few bad numbers for the fact that the game went to 3OT. Not the case with the Wolves. Still, as bad as the numbers were they stayed in it.
Wolves highlights: Bryan Berg had 15 points and five boards; Tanner Omlid had eight boards, seven assists, four steals, two blocks, and assorted other stuff while securing a full house; Ali Faruq-Bey had eight boards; Buster Souza had a “break-out” game with seven boards and fourteen points with the only passable shooting on the Wolves. Off the bench Yanick Kulich had seven boards; and Malik Leaks had six boards and nine points -guess if you can survive that surname in elementary school, you can do anything.
Saint Martin’s 60 @ Sonoma State 77
Oh dear. Growing pains. It’s okay Saints, this is going to happen. Quality loss? Perhaps. At least Tyler Copp played moderately well, because outside of him there really are very few highlights.
Saints highlights: Tyler Copp had four boards, four assists, zero turnovers, and 20 points; Brandon Kenilvort had 17 points; and off the bench Rohjhae Colbert had five boards.
Overall an interesting day for the GNAC and West Region as a whole. Not bad nor good; this day was neutral all the way around, which is interesting of itself. We honestly haven’t looked at Saturday’s results except for CWU (they keep playing early so we keep seeing those results) and so… We’ll see in a little bit.
Congrats and good effort to all involved, GNAC or otherwise.
First and foremost: We are failures because we thought we set this post to go up on Monday and we did not and so now it’s Tuesday, but here we go!
After last year, we’re questioning what the point of this is… We were SO wrong. But one of the best things you can cultivate is understanding why you’re wrong and/or why you lost. Understand, not accept. And in that understanding with this: It’s that these guys are real people, not Droids, and they do what they want -even when it’s to their own detriment.
The fact is: Pre-season teams are fun. So while they matter as much as a pick-up game in the middle of August, we’re still doing them! Woo-hoo!
Bangaly Kaba -Alaska-Fairbanks, Sr.
Suki Wiggs -Alaska-Anchorage, Sr.
Corey Hammell -Alaska-Anchorage, Sr.
Tanner Omlid -Western Oregon, Jr.
Sjur Berg -Alaska-Anchorage, Soph.
Jeffrey Parker -Western Washington, Sr.
Terry Dawn -Central Washington, Sr.
We always like to leave room for transfers because it’s D2 and we get a lot of really good ones. This year our conference collectively doesn’t bring a whole lot back. That doesn’t mean it’s going to be a down year in the slightest -it just simply means we don’t bring a lot back and transfers are going to be key players on almost every team, for good or for bad.
Curious to hear what you guys think -there were a number of people noted last week that were considered for the pre-season teams but we just didn’t feel like we had enough evidence, especially when so many transfers are going to see major minutes.
Next Monday: Gif reactions depicting what we’re anticipating out of each team.
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!
Alright, we’re back. We know there’s plenty to discuss, but first and foremost:
Our GNAC Men’s Basketblog All-Conference teams. This year pretty much any guy that hit above our minimum for nomination got nominated because in there were tons of at-large spots available. The guys named below are truly a cut above:
Travante Williams -Alaska-Fairbanks; Sr.
Suki Wiggs -Alaska-Anchorage; Jr.
Bryce Leavitt -Seattle Pacific; Sr.
Andy Avgi -Western Oregon; Sr.
Yes. Only four guys are being named to our first team. We heavily debated whether or not to include Brian McGill, but ultimately came to the conclusion that these are collegiate athletics. He didn’t pay close enough attention to his schooling, missed half a season because of it, and it is what it is.
Corey Hammell -Alaska-Anchorage; Jr.
Mitch Penner -Seattle Pacific; Sr.
Julian Nichols -Western Oregon; Sr.
Devon Alexander -Western Oregon; Sr.
Again: We only went with four. Because those four are so far above the rest of the guys that occasionally got nominated for POW. We have all of the numbers right in front of us and we couldn’t justify it; there just wasn’t enough separation outside of the eight you see above. There are guys from each team we love and believe in, but no one more so than those eight. We’re happy to be keeping Suki and Corey -UAA is going to be scaaaary- and while sad, feel blessed having gotten to watch the noted six amazing seniors so closely this season.
Bangaly Kaba, Almir Hadzisehovic, Spencer Svejcar, Brian McGill, Diante Mitchell, Michael Harper, Kyle Impero, Trey Drechsel, Ricardo Maxwell, Fred Jorg, Joe Stroud, Gary Jacobs, Mike Wright, Bouna N’Diaye, Drew Martin, Riley Hawken, and Tanner Omlid.
Sjur Berg -Alaska-Anchorage Fr.
JJ Pankratz -Simon Fraser, RS Soph.
Trey Drechsel -Western Washington, RS Fr.
Riley Hawken -CU-Portland, Fr.
Tanner Omlid -Western Oregon, RS Soph.
There are honestly plenty of other underclassmen that we’re excited to keep watching, but those five had particularly good seasons this year and so we think you should keep an eye on them too.
Tomorrow at 10am we’ll look at Western Oregon’s incredible Final Four run.
Three games in three days for Alaska Anchorage and Western Washington. While we don’t know a whole lot, it is D2 competition and obviously we’ll find out more about these games as they year progresses. These were some really, really great match-ups in terms of level appropriate. Sad that WWU vs. CBU wasn’t on the schedule, but that’s about the only complaint.
Some stuff that got overlooked in our game reviews:
-Diante Mitchell had a 40 minute game, which is nuts -especially this early in the year. All hail the cardio master that is Diante.
-Suki Wiggs had a couple of 38 minute games.
-Jeff Parker hit 36, but for the most part Western didn’t need to use their guys for that many minutes. We’re totally not against 40 minute games, but ideally you can rotate a bit more.
-Along with the 35% free throw shooting game, WWU posted an 83% FT game, so… Tough team. Early season. Dig in Vikings.
Overall just a good time. Proud of these teams. Really can’t/shouldn’t say too much yet, but both look very promising. The production stats we’re getting are intriguing; it’s looking like it’ll be a better year in the GNAC and guys are going to need to be more productive on average in order to get a sniff at player of the week this year.
Suki Wiggs… We’re both in awe and horrified simultaneously. This is a kid that managed a great production rating while shooting 10-22. Had he simply taken fewer shots, he would have hit amazing with a snap of the fingers. We were told he was special -we knew that, we watched him play (and torch our team) while he was attending O’Dea, so… Pretty excited to be in a position where we just get to be happy about what he’s doing, rather than internally burning.
As it comes to player of the weekend noms, a few guys deserve mention:
Suki Wiggs -Averaged 34 minutes, 25 points, and four rebounds. He’s already to the point where we glance at a sheet and we’re like “wait, he only had 20 points?” We’re not thrilled with how he’s getting there in terms of shot selection, but again: the return of Brian McGill should help immensely so we can’t be too picky right now.
Corey Hammell/Christian Leckband/Sjur Berg/Spencer Svejcar -All played two out of three good games. We’ll be keeping a close eye on what the four of them do, whether starting or coming off the bench. Very promising. Very intriguing. We still think Coach Oz is crazy (because he is) but it’s already looking like he’s right in that he’s got something special brewing up there.
Ricardo Maxwell -Averaged 35 minutes, 18 points, and was positively balling on his free throw shooting. Beyond thrilled with this kid. He was a near-miss on the All Conference teams last year, so good to see him immediately come in and make strides.
Jeff Parker/Colby Mitchell -Both played super well in two out of three games. Looking forward to seeing more progress out of them. Pleasantly surprised by Colby. Guess we felt like on last year’s team it went Anye-Ricardo-Mac-Jeff-Harris-Kyle/Joey, which was in fact pretty much their line-up, and now Jeff doing really good things is exactly as projected.
Kyle Impero -Averaged 36 minutes and not gonna mince words: He had an incredibly outstanding weekend. If he could be at 80% of this level for the rest of the games this year, he’d be player of the year in a landslide. He’s just doing so much. His decision making is fantastic in regard to shooting, he makes his free throws, he rebounds, he assists, he fouls, and he still walks away with plenty of points. Absolutely phenomenal.
Player of the weekend is Kyle Impero, hands down. His production ratings were insane, he was involving and backing up his teammates, fantastic shot selection, great free throws, absolutely awesome. Guess our main concern with Kyle going forward is his stamina -at 6’4/165, dude is tiny so whether or not he can maintain playing so many minutes is yet to be seen. Our advice is that he eat his chicken and peanutbutter -not necessarily together, but then again: Slow cookers are your friend.
Exactly what was expected happened. Alaska Anchorage got blown out by CBU, WWU blew out Upper Iowa; all the tale of an All Hallows’ Afternoon.
Alaska Anchorage 68, Cal Baptist 79,
Entirely as projected. Suki needs to start taking better shots. We’ll tell you guys now: Be careful about poking the blogger. You tell us how amazing your team and transfers are, we’re gonna give you the needle even when you’re performing exactly as we projected (good but not great) simply because you told us you were all that. Better stick with the humility and let us gush like we got to with NNU last year.
Alright, player highlights: To be fair, Suki did improve with having 34 points, 7 rebounds, two assists, and four steals -still, that was on 10-22 shooting and with six turnovers, which is atrocious; Spencer Svejcar had six points and five fouls, which we consider productive; SJUR BERG had seven points and seven boards; Corey Hammell had some less than stellar shooting to get to 12 points, but made up for it by picking up 11 boards. Bench didn’t do much, but Christian Leckbend had four points and four boards, which is sort of solid.
Western Washington 90, Upper Iowa 75
Exactly, 100% what we were expecting and yet still super proud of the Vikings because especially early season -you need to get those expected victories in a strut-like manner, which is what happened.
Player highlights: Ricardo Maxwell had six rebounds, two assists, two steals, and 16 points; KYLE IMPERO had NINE rebounds, three assists, two steals, and 29 points on prototypical shooting; Colby Mitchell had five points, three rebounds, one steal, one block, and five fouls; Jeff Parker had seven boards, three assists, four fouls, and 17 points; Mac Johnson had five boards and 10 points but none of that matters because he had a whopping six turnovers -yeesh, get it together Mac, you’re better than that. Off the bench: Brett Kingma had eight points.
Pretty much it. Nothing too exciting except the excitement that comes from doing exactly what needs to be done. Today is day three of the D2 Tip-off with Alaska Anchorage facing Colorado Springs and Western Washington facing Minnesota State Moorhead.
We’ll go over the stuff per usual tomorrow morning and contemplating acknowledging a pseudo-player of the week because all of this was against D2. We’ll see.
Obviously we really don’t know a heck of a lot about what these results mean, but… Some of these players had seriously good games, looking at you Cory Hammell and Ricardo Maxwell.
Alaska Anchorage 84, Upper Iowa 81
Upper Iowa is in the Northern Sun conference and finished with a conference record of 12-10 last year and played one game in the conference tournament. Sounds like a good match-up for the Seawolves and it turns out that it was -the Seawolves won in a close one and as projected -had transfers step-up. The good news is -the transfers stepped up and they got the win; the bad news is, the overall production was relatively atrocious. Anchorage wants to be treated same as the contenders? With numbers like this with the Vikings or Falcons, we’d be pissed despite the win, particularly at Suki. Who does he think he is? Dom Williams? Jaamon Echols? Yikes.
Player highlights: Suki Wiggs had 20 points; Diante Mitchell had 12; Spencer Svejar had 14; SJUR BERG had 11 rebounds; Cory Hammell had a double-double with 10 boards and 18 points on not bad shooting. Off the bench, Christian Leckbend added in six boards; Tayler Thompson added 7 boards. Pretty much it. Ridiculously proud of Sjur and Corey!!!!!! Alright -Suki, Diante, and Spencer were horrible, but the rest of you guys were great. We is proud of you!
Western Washington 95, UC Colorado Springs 84
UC Colorado Springs was actually witnessed in person by us last year in the second round of the NCAA Tournament where they got blown out by Tarleton State – a team that we’d watched WWU play earlier in the year- so overall not a surprising result but a very good one for the Vikings. This is a good win, nice way to start the season, even if Colorado Springs didn’t really return anything (we’re not sure and too lazy to find out).
Player highlights: RICARDO MAXWELL HAD 27 POINTS!!!!! Little off on his field goals, but easily forgivable because is was seriously only a tiny bit off and he went 12-13 on free throws along with picking up SEVEN assists; Kyle Impero had an awesome 9 rebounds, five assists, three steals, FIVE FOULS, and fourteen points; Jeff Parker had 7 boards and 23 points while making ALL of his free throws; Mac Johnson had a FULL HOUSE with six boards, three assists, two steals, a block, three fouls, and nine points, although his free throws need help. Off the bench: Brett Kingma had 15 points.
Overall, a great first day of basketball for the GNAC. Can’t want to see the stats from today. Congrats to both the Vikings and Seawolves on their respective victories.
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.
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.
Updated from pre-season:
Most Likely to Succeed: CWU.
Biggest Drama King: SMU or WWU.
Life of the Party: WOU -defense or offense, pick your poison and they’ll do it better.
Night Owl: UAA/UAF.
Early Bird: MSUB/NNU.
Underachiever: SFU -non-conference got peoples’ hopes up.
Teacher’s Pet: SFU -everyone wanted to believe, now no one wants to doubt for fear of being called a jerk.
Best Dressed: SPU, which is a miracle because when Adidas posted this year’s D1 uniforms they were ugly; really ugly.
Biggest Gossip: CWU -someone’s always talking.
Best Smile: NNU -they’re happy to be here.
Biggest Prankster: WWU -everyone’s still on their toes at all times and no one has figured out what they’re doing yet.
Best Couple: Cenazar, shockingly -they have the best record out of any pair, winning 76% of their games.
Player-of-the-half way mark: Julian Nichols, as noted.
Team of the half way mark: Northwest Nazarene. Dropped a game at UAA but has come on super strong with nice wins at CWU, UAF, and SMU.
Most unexpected team: WWU for being bad, NNU for being good.
Most unexpected player: Travis Thompson (UAA) for being relatively bad, Alex Birketoft (NNU) for being a rockstar frosh.
Best 6th man: Sjur Berg, Shawn Reid, Gary Jacobs, Brent Counts.
Best team performance: WOU vs. SFU. Straight domination. SPU is second with their win against NNU.
Best player performance: Matt Borton against CWU -full house and a double-double with great shot selection.
Best team road trip (thus far): CWU @ UAA & UAF. Got the wins in a Alaska -that’s huge.
Best player back-to-back: Riley Stockton -had a double-double against the Alaska schools, on the prowl for a triple-double.
Teams on the rise: NNU, CWU, MSUB.
Teams at par: SPU, WOU, UAF
Teams that will get their spit together NOW: WWU, UAA, SMU, SFU.
Best coaching staff so far: MSUB & NNU -Central is impressive, but people want to go to Central which is not an advantage the other two schools have.
Coaching staff that needs to start believing in themselves again: WWU & UAA.
Coaching staff that needs to stop slacking in their mediocrity: SPU. Cory Hutsen looks lost on the court -the projected best center in the conference looks like he has no idea what he’s doing and has gotten worse as the season’s gone on.
MVPs thus far: Sango Niang, Momir Gataric, Ruben Silvas, Brian McGill –if SFU/MSUB/UAF/UAA loses that guy, their chances of recovery are about zero.
Could-be MVPs: Travis Thompson, Cory Hutsen, Riley Carel. Travis will be featured in our general discussion post tomorrow; Cory may end up getting tag-teamed with it.
Up next: Second half of the season predicted finishes and other musings on conference play and/or bracketology.