January 8, 1997 in Sports

Big West Conference Basketball

 

WESTERN DIVISION

1. Pacific Tigers (9-1, 0-0)

1995-96 Record: 15-12, no postseason; 11-7 in Big West, tied for 2nd

Coach: Bob Thomason

Years coaching: 12, 9 at Pacific

Record: 112-116 at Pacific, 164-143 overall

Top returnees: G Monty Owens (6-2, Sr.); G/F Corey Anders (6-3, Jr.); C Rayne Mahaffey (6-10, Jr.); F Vic Trierweiler (6-9, Sr.); C Michael Olowokandi (7-0, Jr.); G Mark Boelter (6-4, Sr.).

Top newcomer: F Aaron Woliczko (6-5, Jr.).

Quickly: Olowokandi, an Englishman, called Pacific a couple of summers ago because he had a friend who attended and liked Pacific. He might be best non-scholarship player in country.

Outlook: Veteran team with nice outside-inside balance. Whipped Georgetown and Santa Clara. Lost Adam Jacobsen to knee injury, but Boelter has capably filled in. Record of 9-1 ties school’s best start.

2. Long Beach St. 49ers (4-6, 0-1)

1995-96 Record: 17-11, no postseason; 12-6 in Big West, 1st

Coach: Wayne Morgan

Years coaching: First

Record: 0-0

Top returnees: G James Cotton (6-5, Jr.); F Brian Yankelvitz (6-8, Sr.); F Marcus Johnson (6-9, Jr.); G Brandon Titus (6-4, Sr.).

Top newcomers: G Tommie Davis (5-9, Soph.); C Ike Nwankwo (6-11, Sr.); D’Cean Byant (6-7, Soph.); G Quincy Nuckles (6-3, Jr.).

Quickly: Nwankwo, who transferred from UCLA, sat out first seven games before transcripts arrived. Morgan served 12 years on Jim Boeheim’s staff at Syracuse.

Outlook: Cotton led league in scoring last year and is at 24 per game this season. Guards (Cotton, Titus, Davis) have been stellar and Nwankwo could be key inside. Talented team still adjusting to new coach and system, as Tuesday’s dismissal of starting forward Akeli Jackson attests.

3. Cal St. Fullerton Titans (7-3, 0-0)

1995-96 Record: 6-20, 5-13 in Big West, 10th

Coach: Bob Hawking

Years coaching: 3, all at CS Fullerton

Record: 13-40

Top returnees: G Chris Dade (6-2, Jr.); G Chris St. Clair (6-0, Jr.); F John Williams (6-5, Sr.); F DeVaughn Wright (6-6, Jr.).

Top newcomers: G/F Craig Whitehead (6-6, Jr.); G Dane Plock (6-1, Fr.).

Quickly: Lost only one player, Charles Overton, from last year’s club. Overton, though, averaged 15.8 points per game.

Outlook: Improving club that took its lumps last year with underclassmen. Won at Montana and gave Gonzaga fits last week. Titans lack height, but have decent quickness.

4. UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (5-5, 0-0)

1995-96 Record: 11-15, no postseason; 8-10, tied for 7th

Coach: Jerry Pimm

Years coaching: 23, 14 at UCSB

Record: 203-168 at UCSB, 376-254 overall

Top returnees: F Kealon Wallace (6-6, Jr.); G Bakir Allen (6-4, Sr.); F B.J. Bunton (6-7, Soph.).

Top newcomers: G Raymond Tutt (6-4, Jr.); G Les Bean (5-11, Jr.); F Josh Merrill (6-9, Soph.).

Quickly: Former Eastern Washington coach John Wade is a Gauchos assistant. Roster includes nine juniors.

Outlook: Brown is averaging 23 points, but he’s not getting much help from a team stocked with newcomers. Return of Wallace from a broken hand will help.

5. Cal Poly SLO Mustangs (6-6, 0-0)

1995-96 Record: 16-13, no postseason; 5-1, 1st in America West Conference

Coach: Jeff Schneider

Years coaching: 2, all at Cal Poly

Record: 16-13

Top returnees: G Shanta Cotright (6-2, Sr.); G Colin Bryant (6-2, Sr.); G Ben Larson (6-0, Soph.); F Damien Levesque (6-7, Sr.); F/C Ross Ketcham (6-7, Soph.).

Top newcomers: G Mike Wozniak (6-2, Fr.); G Mitch Ohnstad (6-2, Fr.).

Quickly: Schneider was an assistant at Washington State under Kevin Eastman in 1994-95. He orchestrated biggest turnaround in country last year as Mustangs improved from 1-26 to 16-13.

Outlook: SLO doesn’t play slow. They force 27 turnovers a game and score 84 points. But tougher schedule could make for bumpy maiden voyage in Big West.

6. UC Irvine Anteaters (0-9, 0-0)

1995-96 Record: 15-12, 11-7, tied for 2nd

Coach: Rod Baker

Years coaching: 11, 6 at Irvine

Record: 51-91 at Irvine, 124-142 overall

Top returnees: F Paul Foster (6-8, Sr.); G Lamar Parker (6-1, Soph.).

Top newcomers: F Brian Johnson (6-6, Fr.); G Juma Jackson (6-4, Fr.); F Wendell Robinson (6-8, Jr.).

Quickly: Former Idaho coach Joe Cravens is an Anteaters assistant. Irvine lost two players to graduation (Raimonds Miglinieks and Shaun Battle). Brian Keefe (16.4 points last year), Kevin Simmons and Clay McKnight all transferred.

Outlook: Young team has taken unmerciful beatings that will probably continue in league. Baker, the Big West coach of the Year last season, probably will be on the hot seat by year’s end.

EASTERN DIVISION

1. New Mexico St. Aggies (6-4, 0-0)

1995-96 Record: 11-15, no postseason; 8-10 in Big West, tied for 7th

Coach: Neil McCarthy

Years coaching: 22, 12 at New Mexico State

Record: 229-114 at New Mexico State; 429-212 overall

Top returnees: F Charles Gosa (6-8, Soph.); G Tobias Lampkin (6-6, Sr.); F Aaron Brodt (6-8, Soph.); F Enoch Davis (6-7, Sr.); G Bostjan Leban (6-5, Jr.).

Top newcomers: F Louis Richardson (6-8, Jr.); G Antoine Hubbard (5-11, Soph.); G Denmark Reid (6-0, Jr.); F Carl Laws (6-8, Fr.).

Quickly: Richardson and Hubbard played at Jones County (Miss.) JC under coach Fletcher Cockrell, who assisted Kermit Davis at UI in 1988-90 and Texas A&M; in ‘91.

Outlook: Impressive talent and athleticism. Five players average in double figures, led by Hubbard’s 17.6.

2. Utah State Aggies (8-4, 1-0)

1995-96 Record: 18-15, no postseason; 10-8 in Big West, 4th

Coach: Larry Eustachy

Years coaching: Seven, four at Utah State, three at Idaho

Record: 53-36 at Utah State, 114-69 overall

Top returnees: G Justin Jones (6-3, Jr.); G Duane Rogers (6-4, Jr.); Antwan Smith (6-8, Sr.).

Top newcomers: F Maurice Spillers (6-7, Sr.); G Marcus Saxon (6-2, Jr.); Kevin Rice (6-3, Jr.).

Quickly: Aggies have only one player who isn’t a JC or transfer from a four-year school.

Outlook: Flock of newcomers trying to mold together. Solid defensive club that struggles with perimeter shooting, but has capable slashers.

3. Boise State Broncos (5-5, 1-0)

1995-96 Record: 15-13, no postseason; 10-8 in Big Sky, tied for 2nd

Coach: Rod Jensen

Years coaching: Two, all at Boise State.

Record: 15-13

Top returnees: F J.D. Huleen (6-8, Sr.); G Joe Wyatt (6-2, Sr.); G Gerry Washington (6-1, Soph.); G Mike Tolman (6-5, Jr.).

Top newcomers: F Roberto Bergersen (6-6, Jr.); F Justin Lyons (6-7, Jr.) Quickly: Steve Shephard, the first guard off the bench, was the Big Sky Freshman of the Year in 1993-94. He missed most of the last two years with knee injuries.

Outlook: Broncos’ 25-point road pasting of Long Beach State probably raised an eyebrow around the conference. Defense and 3-point shooting are strengths. Could be in trouble against foes with size.

4. Nevada Wolf Pack (5-5, 0-1)

1995-96 Record: 16-13, no postseason; 9-9 in Big West, 5th

Coach: Pat Foster

Years coaching: 17, four at Nevada

Record: 45-41 at Nevada, 321-163 overall

Top returnees: C David Morgan (6-10, Jr.); F Faron Hand (6-7, Sr.); G Richard “Tu Tu” Brown (6-4, Sr.).

Top newcomers: G Jimmy Carroll (6-6, Jr.); C Marvin Wilson (6-10, Jr.), G/F Paul Culbertson (6-6, Jr.).

Quickly: Two Wolf Pack players made Playboy’s all-nickname team - Richard “Tu Tu” Brown and Faron “Meat” Hand.

Outlook: Carroll, a 3-point bomber, sat out last season after transferring from Utah. Wolf Pack probably aren’t as athletic as last year.

5. North Texas Eagles (5-5, 0-0)

1995-96 Record: 15-13, no postseason; 12-6 in Southland, 2nd

Coach: Tim Jankovich

Years coaching: Four, all at North Texas

Record: 43-41, same at North Texas

Top returnees: F David Miller (6-6, Jr.); C Sean Riley (7-0, Soph.); G Chad Elstun (6-3, Sr.); G James Duncan (5-9, Sr.).

Top newcomer: G Mensah “Pooh” Davis (6-1, Fr.).

Quickly: Eagles have consistent schedule pattern in conference - four on road, four at home, etc.

Outlook: Riley is an emerging force on a young team. If Eagles play like they did in wins over SMU and Rice, they could be factor. If they play like they did in loss to Sam Houston State, last place is possible.

6. Idaho Vandals (7-6, 0-0)

1995-96 Record: 12-16, no postseason; 5-9 in Big Sky, 6th

Coach: Kermit Davis

Years coaching: Four, third season at Idaho (previous two 1988-90)

Record: 50-12 at Idaho, 58-32 overall

Top returnees: G Kris Baumann (6-1, Jr.); F Jason Jackman (6-9, Sr.), G/F Eddie Turner (6-3, Sr.).

Top newcomers: F Jon Harris (6-5, Fr.); G Derrick Elliott (6-0, Jr.); F Troy Thompson (6-4, Jr.); F Kevin Byrne (6-8, Soph.).

Quickly: Vandals only have eight scholarship players due to defections, academic casualties and injury.

Outlook: With Reggie Rose’s season-ending injury, margin of error keeps getting slimmer for the Vandals. Jackman must stay out of foul trouble.

, DataTimes MEMO: See related story under the headline: Vandals face big task in expanded Big West

See related story under the headline: Vandals face big task in expanded Big West


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