Posted on: December 8, 2011 3:40 pm
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
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.
Posted on: March 7, 2011 9:19 am
Edited on: March 7, 2011 9:20 am
Way out west, the seeding has held true to form. The Big Sky tournament semifinals match No. 1 seed Northern Colorado (19-10, 13-3) with No. 4 Northern Arizona (19-11, 9-7), while No. 2 Montana (20-9, 12-4) will get another shot at No. 3 Weber State (18-11, 11-5). The semifinals and final will all be played at Northern Colorado's Butler-Hancock Athletic Center, starting Tuesday, March 8.
As the two top seeds, NoCo and Montana have yet to play a tourney game. They have been rewarded with the extra rest that a first-round bye imparts, and will get their feet wet on Tuesday.
Weber State got to this point by defeating the league's upset kings, the Eastern Washington Eagles, in a Saturday quarterfinal. EWU had almost single-handedly set the postseason seedings by closing out wins over Montana and Weber State to finish the regular season, and had their eye on doing the same to the Wildcats in the tournament. The Eagles ran up a 15-point advantage on Weber State that lasted into the second half, before junior forward Kyle Bullinger got on his horse, finishing with 26 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals to advance his team one step closer to a hoped-for Big Dance invitation.
Northern Arizona's road to the semis was eerily similar, as the Lumberjacks overcame a 16-point deficit to Montana State thanks to the heroics of two high-scoring players. Guard Cameron Jones scored 27, and reserve Eric Platt added 20, including a late game go-ahead three pointer that secured the eventual win.
In the regular season, Northern Colorado defeated the Lumberjacks by ten on the road and just one at home. Montana split the season series with Weber State, also experiencing success away from home.
Players to watch:
Devon Beitzel, 6-foot-1 senior guard, Northern Colorado
Neal Kingman, 6-7 senior forward, Northern Colorado
Brian Qvale, 6-11 senior center, Montana
Will Cherry, 6-1 sophomore guard, Montana
Kyle Bullinger, 6-6 junior forward, Weber State
Lindsey Hughey, 6-3 senior guard, Weber State
Cameron Jones, 6-4 senior guard, Northern Arizona
Stallon Saldivar, 6-1 sophomore guard, Northern Arizona
Big Sky tournament bracket
Other conference tournaments
Photo: US Presswire
Postedy by Eric Angevine
Posted on: March 3, 2011 10:20 am
Edited on: March 3, 2011 1:46 pm
The Big Sky conference doesn’t mess around. Of the league’s nine teams, only six make the postseason. That’s just the beginning. The top two seeds, in this case Northern Colorado (19-10 overall, 13-3 Big Sky), and Montana (20-9, 12-4) don’t have to play until the semis on Tuesday, March 8. On Saturday the 5th, the four bottom seeds battle it out to see who gets to go on, but it’s still not a straight bracket situation. After the first round, NoCo gets the lowest remaining seed and Montana gets the highest, and the rest of the tournament is played in the top seed’s building. Talk about protecting your No. 1 team.
Northern Colorado has that advantage on its own merits, but owes a huge debt of thanks to sixth-seeded Eastern Washington (10-19, 7-9). After enduring a four-game losing streak in February, the Eagles rebounded to win their final two games against Montana and Weber State (17-11, 11-5), the only teams that had a chance to sneak into the top slot in the conference.
Northern Colorado may be the most surprising success story in the league. The Bears have only been in the Big Sky since 2006, and only in D-I since 2004. They’re atop the league under a first-year coach, B.J. Hill (who took over from Tad Boyle when he ascended to the Big 12), and went 4-7 against D-I competition in the non-conference season, making the surge to the top of the standings all the more unexpected. Senior guard Devon Beitzel has a lot to do with that, putting up a conference-best 20.6 points per game.
Montana’s greatest threat is Brian Qvale, the 6-foot-11 senior who nearly led the Grizzlies to an upset of New Mexico in last year’s NCAA tournament. This year, his numbers are even better: 15 points per game, 62 percent shooting from the floor, 8.7 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per game. He helped Montana forge a season split with the Bears (you won’t find any more rugged mascots than in the Big Sky) and can easily power this team to another auto-bid, even from the second slot in the tourney.
If there’s a dark horse in this race, it’s probably the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks (18-11, 9-7), a team that has five seniors, a long-term coach in Mike Adras and the nifty ballhandling of Stallon Saldivar (3/1 assists to turnovers ratio) providing the intangibles that could fuel a run to the title.
Since NoCo won the regular-season championship, the semis and final will be held in Greeley, CO regardless of results, so it may all come down to the Bears’ ability to protect their house, where they haven’t lost a game all season long.
Title game: 9:00 p.m. ET, Wednesday, March 9 (ESPN2)
Conference RPI: 24
KenPom.com rating: 22
Sagarin rating: 23
NCAA tournament Bubble Teams: None
Last NCAA tournament Appearance:
Northern Colorado: N/A
Montana: 2010 (62-57 loss to New Mexico)
Weber State: 2007 (70-42 loss to UCLA)
Northern Arizona: 2000 (61-56 loss to St. John’s)
Montana State: 1996 (88-55 loss to Syracuse)
Eastern Washington: 2004 (75-56 loss to Oklahoma State)
Note: Portland State, which won back-to-back auto bids in 2008 and 2009, has been ruled ineligible to participate in the 2011 Big Sky tournament.
Posted on: January 31, 2011 1:11 pm
Edited on: January 31, 2011 1:34 pm
Posted by MATT JONES
The last time you probably cared about Weber State basketball, it had Harold "The Show" Arceneaux helping pull a shocker over North Carolina in the NCAA Tournament. But this weekend, Weber State was once again worth watching as it produced one of the more dramatic endings of the college basketball season.
With 2.4 seconds remaining in a tie game, the Wildcats fouled Northern Colorado's Devon Beitzel to put him at the line for two free throws and a chance to take the lead. While Beitzel was was at the line getting ready, Weber State's Scottie Bamforth had a premonition.
"When Beitzel was shooting the free throws, I was at halfcourt with (Northern Colorado's Elliott) Lloyd and (Chris) Kaba," Bamforth said. "We're talking and I'm like, listen, I'm about to make this shot. He was like, 'No, you're not,' and I was like, 'I promise you. I'm about to make this shot.'
After Beitzel calmly made both free throws, the ball was inbounded to Bamforth, and with one quick move he became the Big Sky's version of Babe Ruth calling his shot:
Unfortunately for Bamforth, his 40 foot game-winning heave has been overshadowed a bit nationally by an even more absurd game-winner by Manhattan's Michael Alvarado . But in a year with far too few buzzer beaters for my taste, lets not overshadow the work of Scottie B in Ogden. His shot may not get the distance award, but it certainly got the best crowd reaction.