December 12, 2008

Bears' Journey Continues at Qwest

GAME DAY NOTES: at Creighton

GAME DETAILS

Date: Saturday, Dec. 13, 2008
Tip: 6:05 p.m. (MT)
Location: Omaha, Neb.
Venue: Qwest Center Omaha
Promotions: None
Television: gocreighton.com ($6.95)
Radio: 1310 KFKA (Greeley)
Talent: Troy Coverdale
Live stats: gocreighton.com
Web stream: 1310KFKA.com
Series: Creighton, 7-3
Last: CU, 105-54 at CU (12/2/59)

SOME STORY LINES

  • Northern Colorado will begin play tonight in the Findlay Toyota Las Vegas Classic. The Bears will play their first two tournament games at on-campus sites (Fresno State) before playing Dec. 22 (Liberty) and Dec. 23 at Orleans Arena.
  • Bears coach Tad Boyle, formerly of Wichita State University and the Missouri Valley Conference, will coach his first game tonight against a MVC opponent as the leader of Northern Colorado.
  • These schools haven’t met on the hardwood in nearly 50 years. The last time they played was during the 1959-60 season, when Creighton pulled off a convincing 105-54 victory in Omaha.
  • Tonight will be the Bears’ first game in Boyle’s tenure without Jefferson Mason. Mason announced earlier this week his decision to transfer away from Northern Colorado and the Bears men’s basketball program.

SERIES HISTORY

  • The Bears and the Falcons first met during the 1938-39 season. The Bears won 50-37 at Gunter Hall.
  • Creighton holds a 7-2 advantage in games played. Both of Northern Colorado’s victories came in Greeley.
  • The Bluejays have outscored the Bears 522-424. Creighton has scored the most (105), Northern Colorado the least (34).
  • The teams haven’t met in nearly 50 years, since the 1959-60 season.

ABOUT CREIGHTON

  • Head coach Dana Altman is in his 15th year as head coach of the Bluejays. He’s been honored as national, conference, regional or district coach of the year in 10 of his 23 years as a head coach.
  • Creighton (6-2) has wins this season against St. Joseph’s and Dayton (currently 26th in the polls). Their only losses came against Arkansas-Little Rock (71-69) and rival Nebraska (54-52). They’ve won 11 straight home games.
  • Senior Booker Woodfox, who has scored 20-plus points in two straight games, is this week’s Missouri Valley Conference player of the week. He’s the third Bluejay to win the award this season.

NEWS AND NOTES

Mason Says "Adios"
Jefferson Mason, a junior guard/forward from Crystal, Minn., has announced his decision to transfer away from the University of Northern Colorado and the Bears men's basketball program.
"We wish Jefferson nothing but the best in all his future endeavors," Northern Colorado coach Tad Boyle said. "We appreciate all the contributions he's made to help us rebuild Northern Colorado men's basketball in the short time the coaching staff has been here.
"This is Jefferson's decision, and we wish him well."

A TELL-TALE Stripe
Northern Colorado is 2-0 this season when shooting above 70 percent from the free-throw line ... and 0-4 when coming in below 70 percent from the stripe.

Tale of two halves
The Bears have been outscored by just 14 this season (454-440), but a breakdown of their scoring by half shows a 196-177 advantage after the first 20 minutes with a 234-272 deficit in the second half.

WHAT'S MY LINE?
Northern Colorado has used five different lineups in six games this season. Some of that has been out of necessity -- Robert Palacios' injury forced a change, for example.
The Bears will definitely use a different lineup tonight against Creighton, too, after Jefferson Mason left the team following the Bears' loss to Air Force on Saturday, Dec. 6.

You can Bank-S on it
Senior Jabril Banks enters this week ranked No. 6 in the nation in field-goal percentage.
He's connected on 30 of his 44 shots (.682) to find his way into the country's top 10.
He was a perfect seven for seven on Saturday, Dec. 6, against Air Force.

Banks Earns ‘Player of the Week'
OGDEN, Utah -- Northern Colorado's men's basketball team got its first win at Denver since 1989 on Wednesday, Nov. 26, and then knocked off Texas State at home in a run-and-gun shootout Saturday night, Nov. 29.
Once the dust settled on the Bears' 2-0 run, senior Jabril Banks emerged as the Big Sky Conference's third player of the week for the 2008-09 season.
It's the first such honor for Banks, a forward out of Denver's George Washington High School, and just second honor for Northern Colorado in the last two seasons. Devon Beitzel was a co-honoree on Jan. 14, 2008.

Boyle Announces ‘Big' Signings
GREELEY, Colo. -- They won't officially step onto campus until the end of August 2009, but Connor Osborne and Emmanuel Addo already have made Northern Colorado men's basketball coach Tad Boyle a happy man.
The two verbally committed to play for the Bears previously, but nothing was official until Wednesday, Nov. 19, when Addo's National Letter of Intent was validated and joined Osborne's.
"It's only a two-person class," Boyle said, "but it's as good a two-person class as we ever could have hoped for. Both of these kids are going to be great players for us."
Addo (pronounced ‘Ah-doo') is a lefty big man who was born in Africa and raised in Toronto and later in Minneapolis. He didn't begin playing organized basketball until about four years ago, but in that short time he's developed a game that draws comparison's from Boyle of current Bear Jabril Banks. He's, obviously, not nearly as polished as Banks, but Boyle thinks he's capable of filling that same role.
As for Osborne, the sky's the limit, Boyle said. He averaged about 13 points and four rebounds a game as a junior last season for the Rebels, and he also led the state in blocked shots (nearly eight per game).
"To get where we want to get -- to win a Big Sky Championship and to get to the NCAA tournament -- we need guys like Connor. Not only his size, but his athletic ability is going to be huge for our program. That's one of the hardest things to do is get quality big men, and we feel like we've gotten two with this class."

BEARS THE SIX PICK IN BIG SKY PRESEASON POLLS
OGDEN, Utah -- Big Sky Conference media members and men's basketball coaches think improvement is being made within Tad Boyle's Northern Colorado program.
But just a little.
The conference office released its preseason media and coaches poll in late October, and Boyle's Bears were picked sixth in both polls -- a view of marginal improvement from last season, in which Northern Colorado finished seventh, a spot out of the conference-tournament field.
But that's just fine with Boyle and his assistants. If anything they just hope being picked as a barely-there-tournament team will help to motivate this year's squad.

Altitude, Big Sky Conference Announce ‘Games of the Week'
OGDEN, Utah -- The Big Sky Conference announced in early September that its 2008 men's basketball "Game of the Week" programming will return to Altitude Sports & Entertainment for a second straight season.
Altitude will televise nine regular-season games in all, with the first coming Sunday, Jan. 4. All nine Big Sky teams will appear at least once and games will originate from seven conference sites.

ALTITUDE "GAMES OF THE WEEK"
Sunday, Jan. 4: Portland St. at Northern Arizona (2 p.m. MT)
Sunday, Jan. 11: Weber St. at East. Washington (2 p.m. MT)
Sunday, Jan. 18: Portland St. at Northern Colorado (2 p.m. MT)
Sunday, Jan. 25: Northern Colorado at Montana (2 p.m. MT)
Sunday, Feb. 1: Portland State at Montana State (2 p.m. MT)
Sunday, Feb. 8: Sacramento State at Portland State (2 p.m. MT)
Saturday, Feb. 14 East. Washington at Idaho State (4:30 p.m. MT)
Saturday, Feb. 21: Idaho State at Montana (4:30 p.m. MT)
Sunday, March 1: Montana St. at Northern Colorado (2 p.m. MT)
Tuesday, March 10: Men's Champ. Semifinal (6 p.m. MT)

Men's Basketball Bears Are Headed To Vegas
GREELEY, Colo. -- Northern Colorado's men's basketball team will spend the days leading up to this Christmas in the land of slot machines and poker tables.
The eight-team field for the seventh annual Findlay Toyota Las Vegas Classic is set, and Tad Boyle's Bears will join Creighton, Depaul, Fresno State, Liberty, Saint Louis, South Carolina Upstate and Southern in the event.
Each team will play four games total, with the first two coming at campus sites and the final two coming December 22 and 23 at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.
Tickets for the event went on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 7. For more information, call 702-284-7777 or visit www.orleansarena.com.

Boyle Adds Bonner To The Bears
GREELEY, Colo. -- Yahosh Bonner, a 6-foot, 210-pound guard who led Salt Lake Community College to a second-place finish at this year's NJCAA national tournament, signed with the Bears in early May after being recruited by San Francisco, Utah Valley, Montana and Liberty.
Bonner's signing followed a long and successful post-high school journey. After earning first-team all-state status at Mesa (Ariz.) Mountain View High School -- and spending a year at Choate Rosemary Hall prep school in Wallingford, Conn. -- he served a two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Tampa, Fla.
He then spent a year at Cochise College in Arizona during the 2006-07 season before shooting 52 percent from the field and 46 percent from the three-point line this year at Salt Lake.

Bears Recruit John PeÑa Pours In Points In All-Star Game
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- John Peña may be small, but he was mighty at the NJCAA Men's Basketball All-Star Game.
Peña, a 5-foot-11 guard out of Mesa Community College who transferred and joined coach Tad Boyle's Northern Colorado men's basketball team for the 2008-09 season, scored a game-high 26 points and grabbed seven rebounds Saturday, April 19, in leading the Arizona All-Stars to a 101-97 upset victory against the NJCAA Division I All-Stars.
The NJCAA Division I All-Stars featured several top Division I recruits, including Southwestern Illinois' Devron Bostick, this year's junior-college player of the year, and Hutchinson Community College's Bobby Maze.