November 11, 2011
Big Sky-champion Bears start with BracketBusters rematch
#1: New Mexico State (Greeley, Colo. / Boulder, Colo.)
Northern Colorado notes | New Mexico State notes | Big Sky Conference notes
Game 1: Northern Colorado (0-0, 0-0 Big Sky) hosts New Mexico State (0-0, 0-0 WAC)
When: 7:05 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 12
Where: Greeley, Colo. -- Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion(2,992)
Live stats: www.uncbears.com
Coaches: The Bears' B.J. Hill (21-11 overall; second season) vs. the Aggies' Marvin Menzies (76-58; fifth season)
All-time series: Northern Colorado maintains a 3-1 lead all-time against NMSU. The last meeting was in last year's ESPN Bracketbusters
TV: BigSkyTV (Trov Coverdale)
Radio: KFKA-AM 1310 (Troy Coverdale)
NORTHERN COLORADO NOTEBOOK
THE BEARS BASICALLY
- Northern Colorado began its transition to the NCAA Division I level in 2003, and the Bears' basketball program was first postseason eligible in 2007.
- Northern Colorado won the Big Sky Conference's regular-season and postseason championships in 2011 and qualified for its first NCAA Tournament appearance at the Division I level. The Bears drew a No. 15 seed and lost to second-seeded San Diego State 68-50 in Tucson, Ariz.
- The Bears had qualified for the NCAA Division II Tournament four times previously, including in 1964, 1965, 1966 and in 1989.
- Northern Colorado received 141 points, one first-place vote and the third pick in this year's Big Sky Conference Preseason Basketball Media Poll, which is the programs' second top-three preseason nod in the last two seasons. The Bears' preseason media picks since joining the league in 2006: 9th, 8th, 6th, 6th, 2nd.
- The Bears received 41 points, no first-place votes and the fourth pick in the Big Sky Preseason Coaches poll, which is where they were picked last year, too.
- Northern Colorado finished the 2011 season ranked No. 98, coming in ahead of Big Sky-teams Montana (122), Northern Arizona (161) and Weber State (162).
- That top-100 finish represented a monumental turnaround for the Bears, who finished the 2007 season ranked at No. 336 -- the lowest in NCAA Division I.
- Northern Colorado qualified for its third consecutive NCAA Division I postseason last season (Big Sky quarterfinals in 2009, CIT quarterfinals in 2010 and NCAA Tournament in 2011).
- Northern Colorado finished the 2010-11 season ranked eighth in the country in team free-throw percentage, and it also ranked in the national top 50 in three-point field-goal percentage (21st), rebounding margin (28th) and 3-pointers made per game (31).
- The Bears have made at least one 3-pointer in 141 straight games, with their last 0-for coming against Weber State on Dec. 28, 2006.
- The Bears finished the 2010-11 season 14-0 at home, making it 27-2 in Greeley over the past two seasons and 37-6 at home since 2008.
- Northern Colorado has only had three undefeated home season in its 107-year history. The Bears also finished with a spotless record in Greeley in the 1948-49 season (10-0) and the 1926-27 campaign (8-0).
- The Bears are 37-4 over the last two seasons when leading at the half, including a 16-2 mark in that situation in 2010-11.
- At 1,043 all-time victories (107 seasons) Northern Colorado basketball is the second-winningest program in school history, behind Northern Colorado baseball, with 1,423).
SOMETHING'S MISSING HERE ...
- Northern Colorado achieved great success during a historic run in 2011, but much of that was due in large part to the production of seniors (Devon Beitzel, Chris Kaba, Neal Kingman and Taylor Montgomery) who aren't with the program anymore.
- Here's a closer look at what the Bears will have to replace this season to match last year's success: 1,501 points (66 percent of team's scoring), 453 made field goals (62 percent), 418 made free throws (73 percent) and 602 rebounds (58 percent).
- The Bears in 2011-12 will also have to replace quite a few minutes played, with Beitzel, Kaba, Kingman and Montgomery accounting for 112 minutes played per game last season (56 percent).
- The last time Northern Colorado returned less than 40% of its previous year's scoring was in the 2004-2005 season.
THE RETURNS ARE GOOD, THOUGH
- When the ball goes up Saturday night against New Mexico State, Northern Colorado will feature quite a different look than the team that took the floor during last year's run to "March Madness." But there will be some familiar faces and others who have been with the program for awhile, just not seen any floor time yet.
- Take senior forward Mike Proctor, for example. He's been an integral part of the Bears since his first career game at Oregon in November 2008, and Coach B.J. Hill will look for big things from his lone senior, who comes into this season averaging six points per game over his career, to go along with five rebounds per game and a 50 percent career shooting mark from the field.
- Redshirt-junior guard Elliott Lloyd also knows a thing or two about being a Bear, as this will be his fourth season in the program. He played in all of Northern Colorado's 32 games last season and started in 31.
- Lloyd has averaged eight points per game in the 65 he's played in the blue and gold, and his leadership, along with Proctor's, will be key for Northern Colorado during its title defense.
- The Bears will also welcome back this season Paul Garnica (played last year as a true freshman), Tate Unruh (redshirted two years ago; played last year), Emmanuel Addo (redshirted two years ago; played a lot last year), Connor Osborne (played two years ago; medical redshirt last year) and Tevin Svihovec (has never played but redshirted last year).
THE BEARS ALSO RETURN THE BIG SKY'S BEST COACH
- Northern Colorado coach B.J. Hill, in his first season with the Bears last year and in his first season as a head coach at any level, was tabbed by his peers as the top coach in the Big Sky Conference after keeping the Northern Colorado train on the tracks and guiding the Bears to just their third 20-win season in school history.
- Hill also led the Bears (21-11, 13-3 Big Sky) to their first regular-season Big Sky title in 2011, and the Big Sky Conference Championship and subsequent NCAA Tournament automatic berth.
- At the time, Hill's award was Northern Colorado's second Big Sky Conference Coach of the Year honor (Volleyball coach Lyndsey Benson won it in 2009), and the Bears have followed up with Jaime White's Conference Coach of the Year honor last season as well as soccer coach Tim Barrera's honor earned just last week.
NC ON THE TV
- The Bears turned in one of the best seasons of any team in the country last year, and they've been rewarded in their 2011-12 schedule with myriad television opportunities.
- Northern Colorado Basketball was on TV a school-record 10 times during the 2010-11 season, and its got the potential to match that this season with another run to the Big Sky Conference semifinal (Altitude) and final games (ESPN2) and NCAA Tournament (TBD).
- The Bears earned their first-ever national TV exposure with its Big Sky Championship and NCAA Tournament appearances last season.
- Northern Colorado is 10-31 all-time in televised contests and 7-7 in its last 14 TV games.
THEY'RE FREE ... WHY NOT TAKE ADVANTAGE?
- Northern Colorado has been one of the nation's best free-throw shooting teams since it joined the NCAA Division I ranks in 2006, and that was never more apparent than last, when the Bears finished ranked eighth in the country in free-throw shooting percentage at 77 percent.
- Northern Colorado's worst season from the stripe at the Division I level came in that first year, 2006-07, when the Bears shot 68.8 percent from the line. They've steadily improved every year since (70.9 pct. in 2008, 72.3 pct. in 2009, 74.5 pct. in 2010 and 77 percent in 2011).
HALFWAY MARK HAS BEEN ALL-THE-WAY INDICATOR
- Over the last two seasons, if Northern Colorado basketball can get to the half with a lead, the Bears usually hold on and end the game with a lead, too.
- The Bears are 37-4 since 2010 when leading at the half, including a 16-2 mark in that situation last season.
MEN'S BASKETBALL ADDS TUCKER IN EARLY PERIOD
- After adding six scholarship players in his first recruiting class last season, Northern Colorado coach B.J. hill added just one this year in dynamic guard Greg Tucker from Charleston High School in Charleston, Mo.
- Tucker is a 6-foot-2, 190 pound wing player, whom Hill compares to current Bears redshirt-freshman Tevin Svihovec
- Hill said he liked what he saw from Tucker on the court but really got interested after sitting down with him for a one-on-conversation.
- "I sat down with him for about an hour-and-a-half and liked him even more," Hill said. "Then I went to his house and met his mom and loved the family and what they were about and thought he would fit in perfectly with what we're trying to do. I think he's a great addition to our program.