Tag:Big Sky
Posted on: March 7, 2012 11:27 pm

Tiny Dancers: Montana

Wayne Tinkle's Grizzlies took down arguably the nation's top point guard, Weber State's Damian Lillard, to earn a trip to the NCAA tournament. 

This Montana-Weber State championship contest wasn't quite as electric as the last time the two teams met with everything on the line, when Montana's Anthony Johnson went for 42 points, but the result was the same. 

Montana is led by junior guard Will Cherry, but Tinkle has plenty of weapons. 

The Grizz had all five starters reach double-figures in the championship game. Sophomore Kareem Jamar and junior Mathias Ward, who each had 18 in the semifinal win, led Montana with 23. Cherry had 13, senior big man Derek Selvig had 16 points and nine boards and Art Stewart finished with 10 points and seven rebounds. 

The Grizzles, who won their first outright regular-season crown since 1991-92, trailed by five at the break -- but outscored Weber State, 54-30, in the second half to blow the game open. 

Player to know: Will Cherry - The 6-foot-1 junior guard leads the team in scoring at 16.1 points per game, but he's versatile and is also one of the nation's top defenders. He’s topped 20 points on 10 separate occasions this season, and has dramatically improved his outside shooting since last season.

The Vitals:

  • Record: 25-6 overall, 15-1 in Big Sky
  • Most recent tournament appearance: 2010
  • We’re thinking: 15
  • KenPom ranking: 97
  • Sagarin ranking: 102
  • RPI: 81
  • Best wins: Long Beach State, Weber State
  • Worst losses: North Dakota
  • Notable stat: The Grizzlies enter the game on a school-record 14-game winning streak.  

 -- Jeff Goodman

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: December 8, 2011 3:40 pm

Weber State's non-butt-kissing recruiting pitch

By Gary Parrish

The nation's leading scorer is a kid named Damian Lillard.

He plays at Weber State.

I wrote a column about him that's on the college basketball page now. But one of the things I didn't get into is how the Oakland native ended up at Weber State because that's not the biggest school that recruited him. Sure, Lillard was an under-the-radar prospect. Only worth two stars, according to Scout.com. But Washington State was still on him. And so was Saint Mary's. So I asked Weber State coach Randy Rahe how he approached recruiting the 6-foot-2 guard, and Rahe told a pretty neat story about the time Lillard and his father visited campus.

"Damian's dad is just a tough guy. A great guy. But a hard-nosed guy," Rahe said. "He believes in working hard. Doesn't think anything should be handed to you. But throughout the recruiting process Damian was being told this and that. You know, stuff like, 'If you come here you can shoot every ball and you can do whatever you want.' But in reality, that's not how we do things here. So I was just very honest with them."

Rahe's message was simple ...

If you come here, you're good enough to play as a freshman. But if you don't work, you'll be sent home. And if you aren't a good teammate, you'll be sent home. And if you don't go to class, you'll be sent home. And ...

"Then I crossed my fingers and hoped I'd be OK," Rahe said with a laugh. "But they really took to that."

Damian Lillard committed to Weber State about a week later.

"He wanted reality. He didn't want BS," Rahe said. "So that worked for us."
Posted on: November 16, 2011 3:00 pm

Weber State has its chances for at-large bid

By Jeff Goodman

Randy Rahe's Weber State squad quietly got a victory last night against Utah State.

The Wildcats will likely have three more shots - against Saint Mary's at the Gaels' tournament, at BYU and at Cal - to make their way into the equation as potential mid-major at-large candidates come March.

Rahe realizes its unlikely, especially with the history of the Big Sky getting at-large teams into the field.

"You never know," Rahe said. "It puts you in position to be talked about - which is all you can hope for. Our league doesn't get at-large bids, but never say never."

Rahe has a couple of big-time players in Damian Lillard and Scott Bamforth.

The 6-foot-2 Lillard, who has been compared to Jason Terry and Rodney Stuckey, is a combo guard who is on the radar of NBA scouts - and Bamforth (he's 12-of-14 from deep) may be as good a shooter from deep as just about anyone in the country.

"Damian has done a great job maturing and making the adjustment to being more of a point guard," Rahe said. "He's a great kid, unbelievable worker and he's a guy who doesn't care about his numbers. He just wants to win."

And, thanks to an unscheduled game at the end of last season, Rahe will have Lillard for one more season after this year.

Lillard broke his foot in the ninth game against Tulsa.

"We were one game short percentage-wise of being able to get him a redshirt," Rahe said. "You need to play less than 30 percent of your games, so we put it out there to every school that we were looking for one more game at the end of the season."

He was hoping for a cupckake, but instead Saint Mary's obliged and now Lillard is a redshirt junior instead of this season being his swan song.

"We'd do it 100 times over," Rahe said.

Photo: AP

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Category: NCAAB
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