Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Big Sky Conference Preview


The Big Sky Conference had a solid race for the league title, as Weber State eventually edged out Northern Colorado by one game. However, Northern Colorado’s loss to Weber State on Feb. 13 essentially clinched the league championship for Weber State, as it gave them a two-game lead with four games left. Weber State finished at 13-3, with Northern Colorado went 12-4. Montana and Montana State both finished 10-6 in Big Sky play, while Northern Arizona went 8-8. In the conference title game, Montana overcame a 22-point deficit behind Anthony Johnson’s 42 points (34 in the second half) to knock off Weber State by one. Montana almost pulled off another comeback in the NCAA Tournament, but fell to New Mexico by five. With Johnson gone, nothing should stop Weber State this time.

  • 1. Weber State: After last season’s heart-breaking loss in the finals, Player of the Year Damian Lillard and forward Kyle Bullinger are hungry for more.
  • 2. Northern Arizona: The Lumberjacks could have the league’s best inside-outside combo in guard Cameron Jones and forward Shane Johannsen.
  • 3. Montana: Despite the loss of Anthony Johnson, the Grizzlies should be in the mix again. Brian Qvale is a dominant center and Will Cherry is solid.
  • 4. Northern Colorado: The Bears won a surprising 25 games last season, but lost coach Tad Boyle to Colorado. Devon Beitzel is the star for this team.
  • 5. Eastern Washington: The Eagles could be a sleeper in the conference, as guard Glen Dean and newcomer Tramayne Johnson form a great duo.
  • 6. Montana State: The Bobcats will have all-conference forward Bobby Howard and scorer Erik Rush back, but they will have to mesh eight newcomers.
  • 7. Portland State: The Vikings are ineligible for the postseason this season due to poor academic performance, but Phil Nelson is a match-up problem.
  • 8. Idaho State: The Bengals were a supreme disappointment last season, winning just seven games in league play. Moreover, only Broderick Gilchrest returns.
  • 9. Sacramento State: The Hornets have nowhere to go but up after finishing in last a year ago. They bring in nine new players who will get immediate time.

Player of the Year: Damian Lillard, G, Weber State

All-Conference Team:

  • G- Cameron Jones, Northern Arizona
  • G- Devon Beitzel, Northern Colorado
  • G- Damian Lillard, Weber State
  • F- Bobby Howard, Montana State
  • C- Brian Qvale, Montana

Second Team:

  • G- Glen Dean, Eastern Washington
  • G- Will Cherry, Montana
  • G- Broderick Gilchrest, Idaho State
  • F- Phil Nelson, Portland State
  • F- Shane Johannsen, Northern Arizona

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