Games that actually count on the W-L record are here!
This Friday night will be the tip of the 2007 World Vision Classic presented by Pape’ at the
Guard Jamie Jones would have been the leading returning starter for the Pilots, but he was ruled academically ineligible and left school. They will also feel the loss of All-Conference guard Darren Cooper who exhausted his eligibility during a superb senior season.
The Pilots areas of success will be rebounding and solid interior defense and overall defensive toughness. Robin Smeulders, who was ineligible last season, and Kramer Knutson will be the inside presence and rebounding force the Pilots need. Add freshman Luke Sikma, son of former NBA star Jack Sikma, into the mix on the inside.
Areas of weakness include outside scoring, a lack of a players that can create, and overall athleticism. If the inside game isn’t on or teams force
Taishi Ito will return to point guard duties after starting his freshman season. Ito averaged 7 points and 3 assists per game. At the other guard will be Walter Thompson (4.6 ppg .276 3 pt %). At the small forward will be Sherrard Watson (9 ppg, 3.8 rpg).
Off the bench look for Luke Sikma and guard Nik Raivio, brother of last seasons West Coast Conference MVP Derek Raivio of Gonzaga. Nik isn’t quite the shooter his brother was but he is a smart player who may be starting early into this season for
The backcourt will be led by TJ Bannister, a
On the inside will be Forwards Armon Jones and Rell Porter, and Center Alex McClean (14.9 ppg, 8.9 rpg). Jones and Porter will be very inexperienced and the lack of depth behind them is a real concern for the flames. McKay had to scramble to fill the roster because of the late hiring and lack of opportunity to recruit regionally.
The Flames have a challenging non-conference schedule and the depth concerns will be very difficult to overcome. This team is in flatout rebuilding mode with 3 talented players coupled with question marks at the forward spots and a bench that may not provide much help at all.
Steve Fisher is entering his ninth season at
Another issue is the dismissal of Jerome Habel, the loss of his 10.9 points and 6.2 rebounds will be felt, Habel was to be a main cog in the Aztec attack. Couple that with the fact that point guard Richie Williams may be suspended for the tournament and you have quite a few early season issues. Habel, Abukar, and Heath accounted for 61% of San Diego States scoring last season.
Junior Forward Lorrenzo Wade (10.5 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 39 blks) is a very talented player. Fisher will count on Wade to shoulder a much larger load this season and take his game to a new level with all of the departures. The Aztecs will also need guards Richie Williams (7 ppg) and Kyle Spain (6.6 ppg) to step up. They will need to elevate their perimeter accuracy and show the ability to score from the outside to compliment the Aztecs inside game.
They will also look for contributions from newcomers F Ryan Amoroso (Marquette), G Kelvin Davis (UTEP), F Tim Shelton (Local product from Clovis West), and PG DJ Gay right away. They must establish themselves early and gain experience in the non-conference. Gay was a prolific scorer in high school (29.4 ppg).
The Aztecs will struggle in the early going as Fisher tries to solidify a rotation and players fight to establish themselves and for minutes. There is talent on this team but it is unproven and lacks experience so the speed of that development will be key for the Aztecs.
Steve Cleveland enters his 3rd season with the Bulldogs on the heels of a momentum building season in which the Bulldogs finished 22-10 overall (10-6 WAC) and lost in the first round of the NIT on the road against
The Bulldogs main challenge will be replacing the contributions of Forwards Quinton Hosley (13.9 ppg, 8.9 rpg) and Dominic McGuire (13.5 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 3 apg, school record 114 blocks), who entered the NBA after his junior season. Although the Bulldogs have yet to find a true inside presence under Cleveland, Hosley and McGuire provided defensive intensity, rebounding, and a tenacity on both ends of the floor that will be difficult to replace.
First mention will be the fact that FSU will be without transfer Forward Rekalin Sims for the tournament because of academic reasons. Sims should be back Monday, but his absence will provide an opportunity for players to get extended minutes and minutes they may otherwise not have accrued. This may be valuable early in the season.
This team begins and ends with Senior point guard Kevin Bell (9.6 ppg, 5.6 apg).
At guard with
At the third G/SF spot will be Dwight O’Neil. He is coming off of a redshirt season and will provide instant toughness for the Bulldogs. He will be asked to penetrate and slash to the rim, backup
The Forwards will be Alex Blair and senior Hector Hernadez (11.2 ppg, 5.2 rpg). Blair will fill in for Sims while he is suspended and until he earns his spot back. Blair is an energy player that has defined and narrow roles-rebound the basketball on both ends, play solid defense, and finish when afforded the opportunity to score. Hernandez got valuable experience playing with the Mexican National team in the FIBA Americas tournament. He is in the best shape of his career and will be called on more than ever to provide some semblance of a post presence. He will continue to be a solid three point shooter, but he will be asked to rebound and defend the post also as the Bulldogs are thin in the frontcourt.
Off the bench on the perimeter will be Bryan Harvey, the
Frontcourt reserves include senior Sean Taylor, freshman Brandon Webster, and fellow freshman Ned Golubovic.
Lastly, we will focus on who may be the biggest key to the season in Rekalin Sims. Kalin is a transfer from
Fans attending the tournament games are asked to bring new or gently used basketball. There will be storage bins provided by Papé and World Vision at each of the entrance and there will be one big storage bin collected all the basketball at the end of the day.
The Bulldog Football team will be on the Islands to play undefeated Hawaii, lets keep this thing respectable and get home without any more injuries, this team has suffered more than enough in this season. Ball control, forcing turnovers, winning the special teams battle, and an off night by Colt Brennan and Hawaii will be the necessary recipe for an upset.