The first week of the full conference season for all four Montana based big Sky Conference, and we got to see how the new Friday / Saturday schedule does NOT work.
The Bobcat women really got screwed – thank you Mr. Fullerton- while the Lady Griz seems to really benefitted from a really screwed up system. The Bobcat men seem to get the best of the schedule on the men’s side – thanks to a TV game on Sunday, while the Griz men faired better than expected from the scheduling gods.
When the Big Sky conference announced the Friday/Saturday it was said that this was done as a travel cost savings move. By making the away team travel and play the next day it was also figured to be a distinct advantage for the home team, but the conference leaders insisted since all teams will abide by this scheduling there would be no advantage gained by any teams. In theory it sounded OK, but as you look at the schedule you can see it did not work out that way in reality.
Overall the Lady Griz came up the winner this week and I think the scheduling gods were very much on their side this week. The Bobcat Men also had a big week getting a much valued road victory over Idaho State.
Scheduling Gods: How the Lady Griz managed to get a Saturday / Monday home dates is some what a mystery to me. I was told that when the league was doing the schedule for this year the University of Montana informed them that they had another tourney scheduled for December 30th thru January 1st and as such they would not be able to play on New Years like the other team. If young live in Missoula you know no tourney was played in Missoula those days. In any case what this did for the well rested Lady Griz is allow them to catch Weber State 22 hours after playing in Bozeman the night before. Idaho State game was a similar situation catching ISU after playing a tough game over time game in Bozeman. The Gods were smiling.
Games: Two solid games by the Lady Griz this week end. In both games they were behind early, only to come back in the second half. The Lady Griz still are going to be a bear at home and it appears they have a budding star in freshman Katie Baker
Scheduling Gods: While it appears the scheduling gods did the Montana State men a big favor by switching them from a Friday / Saturday road game to a Thursday / Sunday afternoon road game, it was not as big of an advantage as one might think. After playing at Weber Thursday night they did not travel directly to Idaho State, instead since it was a three day layover they traveled back to Bozeman (though Pocatello mind you) Friday and then traveled back down to ISU Sunday for the afternoon game. The Bobcats put a lot of miles in last week.
Games: I know Brad Huse would have really liked to have picked up both road wins this week end I have a feeling he is very happy with the spilt. The Bobcats looked like they had a chance at Weber but in the end Weber was able to use their talent and pull the win out. At ISU the Bobcats were able to pull a win out but they also gave away separate 17 and 12 points leads so fast it made your head spin. The Bobcats have some things to work on.
Scheduling Gods: The Bobcat women were the only one of the four teams that actually had to abide by the mandatory Friday / Saturday schedule – imagine that – this week end. Even so it was no advantage for the Bobcats. A well rested Bobcat team played a well rested Weber State and came away with a 20 point win. Unfortunately Idaho State did not have to play in Missoula on Friday and came in well rested on Saturday and managed to pull out the game after taking the Bobcats to over time. So much for the home court advantage. Both the WSU and ISU had the entire week to focus on the Bobcats and it showed.
Games: The Bobcat Women managed a home split this week end and that plane will not do it for a team who want to challenge for the league title. Despite all of the scheduling shenanigans it is quite clear that the Bobcats need to get more consistent play from Katie Busey. She has been up and down all season. When she plays like she did against Idaho State this is a pretty good team but when she plays like she did against Weber State this is a championship caliber team.
Scheduling Gods: The Griz men got a little respite this week from the Friday/Saturday road swing schedule by having to play its first game on Thursday instead of Friday, and it allowed them to travel to Weber after the Idaho state game and have a day of rest before facing Weber State. It was a small advantage but really did not seem to make a difference in the game.
Games: I thought the Griz men had a real chance to get a road victory against both Weber State and Idaho State late into the second period. Unfortunately in the end both ISU and WSU were able to out last the grizzlies and pull out the victories. It appears the formula to defeat the Griz is to take the ball inside and get Qvale and the very thin Griz front court in foul trouble. It also appears that the Big Sky defensive are getting better at holding Johnson to a reasonable scoring outings. I am going to real curios to see what happens this week end and if these treads continue.