Well I did not manage to get my Big Sky Conference men’s prediction out before the media and coaches polls were released yesterday. But any way this is how look at it. There will be a few key injuries that will screw this whole thing up but who want to predict that.
1. Weber State – Clearly the top team coming into the season. With reigning Big Sky conference MVP Damian Lillard returning and a solid cast behind him Weber is on everybody’s list to take the league title. Weber’s backcourt should be one of the best in the league. The front court has a lot of returning pieces to build from, but aside Kyle Bullinger it will take a while for Weber to work out their rotation.
2. Montana – In a year where most Big Sky teams are going to be perimeter oriented the Grizzlies should have the best front court in the league. I think Qvale, Selvig, and Ward should really give quite a few programs fits this year. Will Cherry is one of the better young guards in the conference should help bring some stability and punch from the back court which will be untested.
3. Northern Arizona- NAU should have top to bottom the best back courts in the conference. They should have 3-4 perimeter scorers who could put up 20 points on any given night. Don’t be surprised if they have 3-4 guards on the court at any given time. Their post play is somewhat suspect at this point but they do have some nice pieces to build on.
4. Montana State- Montana State will be all about all-conference players Bobby Howard on the inside and Eric Rush on the perimeter. Sharp shooter Danny Piepoli is also primed for a big senior season. These three should be able to put up points for the Bobcats, but the big question will be rebounding, and that may determine who gets the starting center (5) spot. 2009-10 was Huse’s best recruiting class, but so look for some new comers to make an impact right away.
5. Northern Colorado – No. Col. surprised a lot of people last year with a dominating start of the 2009-10 season and first half of the conference season. When All-conference player Devon Beitzel went down in February to a season ending injury they came back down to earth. Beitzel is back this year but UNC has lost a lot of talent including their head coach. They could surprise again but I am not counting on it.
6. Eastern Washington – EWU returns another very dynamic, young (not to mention small) back court with Dean, Forbes and Winford returning- all in the 5-10 range. They also have a couple very promising guard recruits coming on board. The big question is the front court. There more frontcourt experienced player, are not that impressive, they have a couple very promising looking freshman, but will they be ready. Another big problem could be that it was just announced that Dean has a stress fracture in his foot. If Dean is not ready this could be a big hit for EWU
7. Idaho State– ISU returns Broderick Gilchrest who maybe the second best guard in the conference. ISU also field a group of front court that could rival Montana for the number of true big men, but most are untested. An August tournament in Canada should help them but they key will be how do they mix all of their new players to build around Gilchrest.
8. Portland State – How the mighty have fallen. PSU was at the top of the league a few years ago, but their coach leaves, and saddled the program with NCAA APR problems. Due to NCAA sanctions they are down 2 scholarships and on probation. They have some talent, including one of the best players in the league, Phil Nelson. PSU will be the spoiler, they will knock off some of the upper echelon teams at times, but should finish in the bottom half of the league.
9. Sacramento State – The rebuilding process at Sacramento State continues, as it has for the past 6-7 years. They have a lot of very nice role playing players but no one that really looks like a star. They need a player to step forward and become that go to guy, until then they will be languishing at the bottom of the conference.