Thursday, October 29, 2009

Big Sky Conference Preview


The Big Sky Conference did not feature much of a conference race a year ago. During the regular season, Weber State set the tone early by knocking off favorite Portland State on the road en route to a 15-1 campaign. PSU finished tied for second with Montana, with both teams going 11-5. Idaho State also finished above .500, with Northern Colorado going 8-8. Portland State, which had arguably the most talent in the conference, proved that in the six-team conference tournament by winning the automatic bid for the second consecutive season. The Vikings fell to Xavier in the first round of the Big Dance. This season should be completely wide-open.

1. Weber State: The Wildcats only lost one conference game last season, and have the necessary pieces to take the next step to the NCAA Tournament.
2. Portland State: The Vikings lose three starters, but guard Dominic Waters and forward Phil Nelson form a dynamite inside-outside duo.
3. Montana State: The Bobcats look to be a candidate to make a big move in the standings behind the return of four starters and plenty of options.
4. Montana: Player of the Year favorite Anthony Johnson leads the way for the Grizzlies, who also bring back shooter Ryan Staudacher. 
5. Eastern Washington: A sleeper team -- Benny Valentine and Brandon Moore form the best inside-outside combo in the entire conference.
6. Idaho State: The Bengals could struggle a bit this season with the loss of several key parts, but guard Amorrow Morgan does return.
7. Northern Arizona: The Lumberjacks were a major disappointment last season, but Cameron Jones will try to change that this year.
8. Northern Colorado: One of the top backcourts in the league, Will Figures and Devon Beitzel, lead the way for the rebulding Bears.
9. Sacramento State: After winning just one conference game and going 2-27 overall, the Hornets have a long way to go in order to improve.

Player of the Year: Anthony Johnson, G, Montana

All-Conference Team:
G- Anthony Johnson, Montana
G- Damian Lillard, Weber State
G- Amorrow Morgan, Idaho State
G- Benny Valentine, Eastern Washington 
C- Brandon Moore, Eastern Washington

Second Team:
G- Dominic Waters, Portland State
G- Will Bynum, Montana State
G- Cameron Jones, Northern Arizona
F- Phil Nelson, Portland State
F- Bobby Howard, Montana State

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