NBE Basketball Report
Raphielle Johnson, Teams

SATURDAY (11/10/2012) WEST COAST PREVIEW

November 10, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

By Raphielle Johnson

 

After a busy Friday night things slow down substantially on Saturday, as most programs do their best avoid getting lost in the college football shuffle. The result is a schedule that doesn’t have many games that jump out at even the biggest of college hoops fans, but one to keep an eye on out west is Eastern Washington‘s trip to Pullman to take on Washington State (7:30 PM EST, Pac-12 Washington). Senior Collin Chiverton, who was the Big Sky’s Newcomer of the Year, will be asked to lead the way for a program that hasn’t beaten the Cougars in Pullman since 1952.

 

The fact that Washington State will have to go with a piecemeal operation at point guard could help the Eagles in their quest for the upset. DaVonté Lacy and Royce Woolridge are two of the players expected to get a shot at running the show for Ken Bone’s team, and their most important job will be to get senior forward Brock Motum the ball. Motum was the Pac-12′s leading scorer last season, and after a scorching run through his native Australia during the Cougars’ summer trip he could be poised to repeat as scoring champion.

 

Washington State won last year’s meeting 75-49 despite turning the ball over 21 times, but even with EWU moving on without Cliff Ederaine and Cliff Colimon the Cougars can’t afford to be as loose with the basketball. EWU has the experience edge on the perimeter, but with Ederaine and Laron Griffin no longer in the front court they’ll need Oregon transfer Martin Seiferth to have an impact on the action. If Washington State can get Motum comfortable looks they should be able to take care of business, but the point guard situation could make this a struggle.

Pick: Washington State

 

Big Sky

3:05 PM University of the Southwest at Northern Colorado

7:30 PM Northern Arizona at Oregon (Pac-12 Networks)

The first game of the Jack Murphy era at NAU, and while Lumberjack fans should be optimistic for the future of the program this could be a tough season in Flagstaff. NAU opens the season with six straight road games, beginning with this trip to Eugene. The Jacks needed a second half rally to beat Adams State in their exhibition game, something that doesn’t bode well for this contest even with the Ducks still awaiting news on the waiver request of Rice transfer Arsalan Kazemi (Kazemi’s former teammate Omar Oraby had his request granted and he scored 14 points in USC’s win on Friday).

 

Gabe Rogers scored 26 points in the 86-78 win over Adams State, and he, Michael Dunn and Stallon Saldivar will be asked to lead the way. But Oregon has size inside, most notably senior center Tony Woods and junior center Waverly Austin. On the perimeter the Ducks will call on freshman Dominic Artis to run the point, and in senior E.J. Singler they’ve got one of the Pac-12′s more versatile players. Down the road Murphy could have this program in position to scare Pac-12 teams, but right now they simply don’t have the horses to do so.

 

7:30 PM Eastern Washington at Washington State (Pac-12 Washington)

9:05 PM Idaho State at Utah State

 

Big West

6 PM North Alabama at Long Beach State

10 PM Holy Names at Pacific

10 PM Nevada at UC Irvine

This is a tough opener for any team, much less a UC Irvine squad that is looking to take the next step with five returning starters. Michael Wilder is one of the Big Sky’s best wings, but the question for the Anteaters will be how they deal with Nevada guards Deonte Burton and Malik Story. Those two combined to average 28.9 points per game last season, and 6-8 junior Jerry Evans Jr. is one of the Mountain West’s best perimeter defenders. He’ll likely draw the assignment of defending Wilder, and his length could be an issue for the senior.

 

Where UC Irvine will need to attack the Wolf Pack is in the paint, where they have to replace both Dario Hunt and Olek Czyz. Neither Devonte Elliott nor Kevin Panzer started a game last season, and reserves Cole Huff, Ali Fall and Richard Bell haven’t played a Division I game in a Nevada uniform. Adam Folker and Mike Best will start inside for UC Irvine, and head coach Russell Turner will also be able to call on key reserve Will Davis II off the bench. If UC Irvine can exploit the Wolf Pack’s lack of experience inside they’re more than capable of winning. But that’s easier said than done, and Nevada’s guards may be good enough to pull out the victory regardless of what happens in the paint.

 

Mountain West

2 PM Air Force vs. Army (in Charleston, SC)

The Falcons begin their season at the All-Military Classic, where they’ll play either The Citadel or VMI on Sunday afternoon, against an Army squad that’s expected to be much improved in 2012-13. Forward Ella Ellis leads the way for the Black Knights, and he’s coming off of a season in which he was a first-team All-Patriot League selection and averaged 17.5 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. Air Force will need to neutralize Ellis and guards Josh Herbeck and Julian Simmons, both of whom averaged at least ten points per game.

 

The Falcons will counter with four starters who averaged 8.1 points per game or more, led by senior guard Michael Lyons. Air Force was a solid defensive team but a lot of that had to do with their preferred tempo. Can they pester an Army squad that averaged nearly 16 turnovers per game? It’s certainly possible, especially when considering their 87-71 victory in last season’s meeting in Colorado Springs. Ellis and Simmons combined to score 33 points, but Lyons led four Falcons in double figures with 24 points. Army has improved some since last season, and the fact that this isn’t a road game could give the Black Knights the boost they need.

 

10 PM Nevada at UC Irvine

10 PM Western State at Wyoming

 

Pac-12

7:30 PM Central Arkansas at Arizona State (Pac-12 Arizona)

The player many fans have hailed as the “savior” of the Arizona State program will finally play his first Division I game. Point guard Jahii Carson is one of the nation’s most talented newcomers, and his presence makes Arizona State a candidate to surprise some folks in the Pac-12. But there’s always the concern that a player (or players when considering that this is also Liberty transfer Evan Gordon’s first game as a Sun Devil) could get a little too excited when on the floor.

 

Central Arkansas, led by head coach Corliss Williamson, will press on occasion but don’t look for it to be a “40 Minutes of Hell” kind of deal. Herb Sendek can also call on forward Carrick Felix, and guard Chris Colvin will figure prominently in the Sun Devils’ plans as well. More will be learned about Arizona State as the non-conference schedule rolls on, but this should be a comfortable home victory for Sendek’s squad. The only question that remains: how many highlights will Carson give the home folks?

 

7:30 PM Eastern Washington at Washington State (Pac-12 Washington)

7:30 PM Northern Arizona at Oregon (Pac-12 Networks)

 

WCC

2 PM Portland at Ohio

This is the lone WCC game on Saturday that’s a match-up of Division I teams and it’s a tough one, as the Pilots visit an Ohio squad that reached the Sweet 16 last year. Point guard D.J. Cooper leads the way for the Bobcats, who have a new head coach in Jim Christian. But when considering the fact that all five starters from last season are back in Athens, it will likely take a Herculean effort to gum up the works. Forward Ryan Nicholas will be the primary scoring option for Portland, and the hope is that a team that took its fair share of lumps last season has matured enough to challenge Ohio for 40 minutes. If this game were played later in the non-conference schedule maybe that happens, but right now asking the Pilots to win a road game like this could be too much to ask.

 

10 PM Simpson at Santa Clara

10 PM Sonoma State at Saint Mary’s

 

WAC

5 PM Holy Cross vs. UTSA (in Norfolk, VA)

After losing 71-59 to Morgan State in the first game of the Liberty Tax Classic the Roadrunners look to avoid an 0-2 start to the season against the Crusaders. That may be easier said than done however, as Holy Cross won a 46-45 rock fight over hosts Old Dominion on Friday night. Cullen Hamilton, whose free throw with 8.9 seconds remaining won the game, and Justin Burrell scored 15 points apiece for Holy Cross and will likely be the players the Roadrunners focus their defensive efforts on.

 

Kannon Burrage leads the way for UTSA offensively but he made just six of his 19 shots from the field, and as a team UTSA shot just 32.9% from the field. The biggest issue against Morgan State was their showing at the foul line, where they made just 12 of their 26 attempts. You can’t win many games shooting that poorly from the charity stripe, and with Holy Cross being a tough defensive outfit the Roadrunners have to take advantage of their trips to the line.

 

9:05 PM Idaho State at Utah State

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