Friday, October 30, 2009

Big West Conference Preview


The Big West Conference typically is one of the more fun conferences in the country to keep an eye on; it always has a great race for the regular-season title and mostly produces explosive offensive teams capable of putting a scare into their first-round opponents. Well, this season, the first part was right but the second didn't pan out. Cal State Northridge won the league at 11-5, despite losing on the last day of the season to Pacific, which tied with Long Beach State for second place at 10-6. They were the only three to finish above .500 in conference play. Northridge also won the automatic bid but would fall in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Look for another excellent race at the top this season.

1. Long Beach State: The 49ers have plenty of options throughout their lineup, led by all-conference performers Larry Anderson and T.J. Robinson.
2. UC Santa Barbara: The key for the Gauchos this season will be Loyola-Marymount transfer Orlando Johnson, who could be one of the best players in the league.
3. UC Riverside: Kyle Austin is one of the best players at the mid-major level, and he has the ability to carry this team to the top of the league.
4. Cal State Northridge: The defending champions lose two starters from last season, but return enough firepower to make another run.
5. UC Davis: The Aggies are slowly improving in the conference, and the inside-outside duo of Mark Payne and Joe Harden will make them a tough out.
6. Cal State Fullerton: The Titans return four starters from last season, including Jacques Streeter, one of the best point guards in the league.
7. UC Irvine: The three-point-happy Anteaters return a solid tandem in guard Michael Hunter and all-conference forward Eric Wise.
8. Pacific: The Tigers are always a factor in the Big West race, but they lose three starters from last season could struggle on the perimeter.
9. Cal Poly: The only team to have fewer than seven league wins last season, the Mustangs will be led by guard Lorenzo Keeler and forward Shawn Lewis.

Player of the Year:
 Kyle Austin, F, UC Riverside

All-Conference Team:
G- Larry Anderson, Long Beach State
G- Mark Payne, UC Davis
F- T.J. Robinson, Long Beach State
F- Kyle Austin, UC Riverside
F- Eric Wise, UC Irvine

Second Team:
G- Lorenzo Keeler, Cal Poly
G- Jacques Streeter, Cal State Fullerton
F- Willie Galick, Cal State Northridge
F- Orlando Johnson, UC Santa Barbara
F- Joe Harden, UC Davis

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