LEFT COAST LAYUPS (2/13/2013): MONTANA – WEBER STATE MATCHUP ONE TO WATCH THURSDAY
By Raphielle Johnson
The Montana Grizzlies had some issues during the non-conference portion of their schedule, due in large part to the broken foot that sidelined senior guard Will Cherry for much of the slate. But once the reigning Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year shook off the rust the Grizzlies have taken off, winning 14 straight games heading into their showdown at second-place Weber State on Thursday night. Overall Montana has won 25 straight Big Sky games, a breaking a record established by Weber State (24 straight wins) some four decades ago.
And with a win in Ogden on Thursday the Grizzlies will move three games ahead of the Wildcats with five league games remaining, thus going a long way towards making sure they grab home court advantage for the Big Sky tournament. That proved to be the difference last season, as Montana went on to the NCAA tournament after beating the Damian Lillard-led squad in the tournament final. But as a two-point win over Weber State back on January 26 showed, the two teams are closer than the two-game gap separating them would indicate.
Looking at the rotations most would take the tandem of Cherry and junior wing Kareem Jamar first if there were to be a draft. But after that, beginning with the matchup between Montana’s Mathias Ward and Weber State’s Kyle Tresnak? There would be a great deal of debate, with the edge possibly going to the Wildcats. Randy Rahe’s team leads the Big Sky in both scoring offense and scoring defense, and the same can be said for field goal and three-point percentages on both ends of the floor.
But unlike Montana the Wildcats stubbed their toe in league play (losing at Montana State two days before the first meeting), something that happened last season as well. Could that ultimately lead to Weber State missing out on the NCAA tournament for a second straight season? Sure. But it wouldn’t come as a surprise if Tresnak, Scott Bamforth and the rest of the Wildcats were able to avoid a similar fate in 2013.
Player of the Week: Montana guard/forward Kareem Jamar
The Grizzlies are still undefeated in conference play and Jamar has been a big reason why. In wins over Northern Colorado and North Dakota, Jamar averaged 16.0 points, 8.5 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 2.5 steals per game.
Schedule (Thursday – Saturday; all games on Big Sky TV)
9:05 p.m. Montana at Weber State
9:05 p.m. Sacramento State at North Dakota
9:05 p.m. Northern Arizona at Northern Colorado
9:05 p.m. Montana State at Idaho State
10:35 p.m. Southern Utah at Portland State
4:05 p.m. Northern Arizona at North Dakota
5:05 p.m. Southern Utan at Eastern Washington
9:05 p.m. Montana State at Weber State
9:05 p.m. Sacramento State at Northern Colorado
9:05 p.m. Montana at Idaho State
Player of the Week: Hawai’i forward Christian Standhardinger
Standhardinger repeats as Player of the Week due to his performance in wins over Long Beach State and UC Irvine, wins that have the Rainbow Warriors right back in the Big West race. Standhardinger averaged 20.0 points, 11.0 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game in wins over the 49ers and Anteaters.
Hawai’i pushes win streak to five: Just three weeks ago Gib Arnold’s team looked to be in serious trouble with regards to the Big West race, having lost to both UC Davis and Cal Poly with the latter being an 88-59 pasting at Cal Poly. But a switch was flipped following that embarrassing defeat, with the result being a five-game win streak that includes a 94-73 win over Long Beach State on Thursday night. As a result Hawai’i is now just two games behind the 49ers in the loss column, and with the Big West being what it’s been this season that isn’t that great of a gap. One area that’s improved has been their defense, with the Warriors allowing an opponent to shoot 50% or better just once (UC Riverside) in those five games after getting lit up by both UC Davis (52.7%) and Cal Poly (56.4%). If Hawai’i can continue to improve defensively in the games leading up to the conference tournament, who knows what can happen in Anaheim.
Schedule (Wednesday – Saturday; all games on BigWest.TV unless noted otherwise)
10:00 p.m. UC Riverside at UC Irvine
11:00 p.m. Cal State Fullerton at Long Beach State (ESPNU)
10:00 p.m. Cal State Northridge at Pacific
10:00 p.m. Hawai’i at UC Davis
7:00 p.m. UC Riverside at Long Beach State
10:00 p.m. Cal State Northridge at UC Davis
10:00 p.m. UC Santa Barbara at Cal Poly
10:00 p.m. Hawai’i at Pacific
11:00 p.m. Cal State Fullerton at UC Irvine (Prime Ticket)
Player of the Week: Boise State guard Derrick Marks
In a 1-1 week for the Broncos, Marks averaged 16.5 points, 4.0 assists and 3.0 rebounds per game, shooting 50% from the field. Marks scored 17 points and grabbed five assists in Boise State’s 68-61 win over Wyoming.
Moser turning into a “spot player?”: One of the more interesting aspects of UNLV’s 64-55 win over No. 15 New Mexico on Saturday night was the fact that junior forward Mike Moser played just two minutes. The question in the aftermath, which also included guard Justin Hawkins playing six minutes, is whether or not head coach Dave Rice is looking to trim the rotation. My answer: this was more about match ups than anything, with the Lobos having the physical Alex Kirk and Cameron Bairstow inside. Moser hasn’t looked 100% since returning from the dislocated elbow injury suffered in their win at Cal back in December, and that will have to change as UNLV approaches March. But he’s too valuable of a talent to be phased out of the rotation, so I’d expect more minutes for him on Wednesday at Air Force.
Schedule (Wednesday – Tuesday)
9:00 p.m. UNLV at Air Force (TWCSN)
9:00 p.m. Nevada at Wyoming
10:00 p.m. No. 19/18 New Mexico at Fresno State
10:15 p.m. No. 22 San Diego State at No. 24/24 Colorado State (CBSSN)
4:00 p.m. No. 24/24 Colorado State at Air Force (Altitude)
4:00 p.m. Fresno State at Wyoming
9:00 p.m. No. 22 San Diego State at UNLV (NBCSN)
9:00 p.m. Boise State at No. 19/18 New Mexico (ROOT)
10:00 p.m. Fresno State at Nevada
10:00 p.m. Wyoming at No. 22 San Diego State (TWCSN)
Player of the Week: California guard Allen Crabbe
Crabbe put together his best performance of the season on Sunday, leading the Golden Bears to a 76-69 win at then-No. 7 Arizona. Crabbe hit 12 of his 15 shots from the field, scoring 31 points while also grabbing seven rebounds and dishing out five assists. For the weekend Crabbe averaged 23.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game.
The rematch is finally here: The game that Colorado fans have been anxiously awaiting since the first meeting in January happens on Thursday as No. 9 Arizona visits Boulder. The Wildcats’ 92-83 overtime win in Tucson was a controversial one, as officials waved off a Sabatino Chen three-pointer that looked good to many (and at the very least did not offer up enough evidence to be waved off). Fresh off of a road sweep of the Oregon schools, Tad Boyle’s team has the chance to both improve their NCAA tournament prospects and leap back into the Pac-12 title race. If Spencer Dinwiddie can stay out of foul trouble and Askia Booker snaps out of his current shooting slump that could very well happen.
Schedule (Wednesday – Sunday)
8:00 p.m. Arizona State at Utah (P12N)
10:00 p.m. Oregon State at Washington State (P12N)
11:00 p.m. No. 23 Oregon at Washington (ESPN2)
9:00 p.m. UCLA at California (ESPN2)
10:00 p.m. No. 9/9 Arizona at Colorado (P12N)
11:00 p.m. USC at Stanford (ESPNU)
4:00 p.m. UCLA at Stanford (ESPN2)
7:00 p.m. No. 23 Oregon at Washington State (P12N)
9:00 p.m. Arizona State at Colorado (ESPNU)
11:00 p.m. Oregon State at Washington (FSN)
3:00 p.m. No. 9/9 Arizona at Utah (P12N)
10:00 p.m. USC at California (FSN)
Player of the Week: San Francisco guard De’End Parker
The Dons played just once last week but they made quite the impact on the NCAA tournament selection process, coming back to beat BYU 99-87 in Provo. Parker led the way with 23 points on 8-of-11 shooting, and he also dished out four assists as USF came back from 15 down in the second half.
Cougars suffer two damaging losses: The games against the teams not considered to be among the two three in the WCC are critical for both BYU and Saint Mary’s due in large part to their non-conference resumes. But unlike the Gaels, who have dropped just once league game (at Gonzaga), BYU hasn’t been able to avoid such defeats. Last week the Cougars dropped two: at San Diego and at home to San Francisco, with the latter being a 99-87 loss after leading by 15 in the second half. USF hit nine of their ten three-point attempts in the second half but the Dons getting hot won’t mean a whole lot when the selection committee takes a look at BYU’s resume should they not grab the WCC’s automatic bid. Their games against Saint Mary’s (2/21 in Moraga) and Gonzaga (2/28 in Provo) become even bigger for Dave Rose’s team as a result of their 0-2 week.
Schedule (Thursday – Tuesday; games available on WCC Digital unless noted otherwise)
10:00 p.m. Loyola Marymount at Pepperdine
10:00 p.m. Portland at San Francisco
10:00 p.m. San Diego at Santa Clara
11:00 p.m. No. 5/3 Gonzaga at Saint Mary’s (ESPN2)
4:30 p.m. No. 5/3 Gonzaga at San Francisco (ROOT)
7:00 p.m. Saint Mary’s at Loyola Marymount (TWCSN)
9:00 p.m. Portland at BYU (BYUtv)
10:00 p.m. Pepperdine at Santa Clara
9:00 p.m. Utah State at BYU (BYUtv)
Player of the Week: Utah State forward Spencer Butterfield
Butterfield has posted five straight double-doubles for the Aggies, most recent scoring 22 points and grabbing ten rebounds in USU’s 63-36 win at San Jose State. Butterfield shot 9-of-11 from the field in the victory.
Spartans suspended leading scorer: San Jose State head coach George Nessman finally addressed the “elephant in the room” late last week, making the move to suspend leading scorer James Kinney for the remainder of the season. Kinney missed the seven games prior to SJSU’s 63-36 loss to Utah State on Friday due to a suspension, and the questions regarding it hung over the program throughout. Now with it being official, will the reeling Spartans play looser? This is a group that has struggled mightily on the offensive end, but now that they know Kinney won’t be back maybe the Spartans will be more comfortable with their rotation.
Schedule (Thursday – Tuesday)
9:05 p.m. Denver at Utah State (ESPN3)
10:00 p.m. New Mexico State at San Jose State
10:00 p.m. Louisiana Tech at Seattle
10:05 p.m. UT-Arlington at Idaho
5:00 p.m. UTSA at Texas State
10:00 p.m. Denver at San Jose State
10:00 p.m. UT-Arlington at Seattle
10:05 p.m. Louisiana Tech at Idaho
11:00 p.m. New Mexico State at Utah State (ESPNU)
9:00 p.m. Utah State at BYU (BYUtv)
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