With the Preseason Big Sky Conference media and coaches polls about ready to come out I have been asked a few dozen times to give my predictions on how the conference will shake out. I have always shied away from doing these predictions because one I am obviously a little bias, and tend to give my Montana State Bobcats the benefit of the doubt that the other teams don’t get, and second I think I know Montana and Montana State real while other schools not so well. Last night though I was once again asked to give my opinion to a friend, so I went a head and gave it a shot. Here is my educated guess. I will be real interested to see how it compares when the official coaches and media polls come out.
First up the Women’s Programs.
1 EWU – Clearly the number one team coming into the season. EWU finished the regular season at #1 and lost only two players off that team. They have the reigning league MVP returning in Piper to go along with the co- defensive player of the year. This was the easiest pick of the bunch.
2 (tied) MSU – The Bobcat’s return 4 of their five starters. Two All-conference players including co-defensive player of the year Sarah (Strand) Balian. Balian is such a well rounded player that she could challenge Piper for MVP this year. Bussey needs to play more consistent this year. When Bussey is on her game few players in the conference can score the ball like she can. The biggest question is who will replace All conference point guard Erica Perry. The Bobcats have a lot of options at the point, but someone needs to stake a claim to the spot. The Bobcats should have a much improved post game but, may not a lot of depth there.
2 (tied) UM – There is a lot of talent on the Lady Griz roster, but also a lot of injury questions. Katie Baker has all conference talent but is coming off a knee injury. She could have a big impact for the Lady Griz. The Griz graduated its two point guards last season, and it appears the reins of the program will be handed over to true freshman Lexi Nelson. True freshman Torry Hill and redshirt freshman Ashley Ferda could also be a factor at the point but both are also coming off of knee injuries. Watch the point guard spot, if the Lady Griz gets solid play there they will be off to the races.
4 PSU – Portland State always seems to have a boat load of talent, and this year will be no difference. I think they have the talent that compares well with the top 3 teams in the league and could be a dark horse in the race, and it will all depend on how the coaches put it together.
5 Sac St - Sacramento State does not always have the biggest or most talented team in the conference but it is hard to argue that anyone plays a more scrappy game. They will win some games this year they should not simply by out hustling and out toughing some teams. Other games if the refs call it tight they will get blown out.
6 NAU – I thought N. Arizona had one of the best recruiting years last year. They have a lot of young talented players, but I do not think they are ready yet.
7 ISU - Every time I count Idaho State down they come back to have a good year. I do not think they have the talent this year to be a contender, but coach Sobolewski seems to do his best work with little.
8 UNC – N. Colorado is the school I know the least about but they lost All conference player Whitley Cox off of last years team and I do not think they have the talent to replace her yet.
9 WSU – I am just not that impressed with where Weber State is right now. I do not see a lot of talent, nor particularly great coaching. I think it could be a log year.
Of course a few key injuries here or their and all of this could change dramatically but that is my take. If you disagree let me know.