January 2, 2008

Men's Basketball Will Host Idaho State, Weber State

Jan. 2, 2008

Weekly Release: Idaho State, Weber State Get Acrobat Reader

*Complete release attached in pdf format*


Games #14-15

Idaho State (3-10, 0-0 Big Sky) at Northern Colorado (6-7, 1-1 Big Sky)

Thursday, Jan. 3 • Greeley, Colo. • Butler-Hancock (2,734) • 7:05 p.m.

Weber State (5-7, 0-0 Big Sky) at Northern Colorado

Sunday, Jan. 6 • Greeley, Colo. • Butler-Hancock (2,734) • 2:05 p.m. • Altitude Sports

The Series........................... ISU.................. WSU

   Overall Record................. 10-24................. 0-2

   In Greeley........................ 6-11.................. 0-1

   At Opponent..................... 1-13.................. 0-1

   At Neutral Sites.................. 3-0................... 0-0

   Last Meeting................... 2006-07............ 2006-07

   Boyle vs........................... 0-2................... 0-2


The Coaches

   Northern Colorado......... Tad Boyle (10-31, 2nd year)

   Idaho State................ Joe O'Brien (16-27, 2nd year)

   Weber State.............. Randy Rahe (25-19, 2nd year)



   KFKA 1310 AM......... Troy Coverdale, play-by-play


Audio Streaming

   KFKA............................................. 1310kfka.com



   Weber State..................................... Altitude Sports


Video Streaming

                Big Sky    bigskytv.org


Home Sweet Home

Northern Colorado continues Big Sky Conference play and looks to keep its unbeaten home record intact hosting Idaho State on Thursday and Weber State on Sunday. The game against the Bengals is scheduled for 7:05 p.m., while Sunday's contest against the Wildcats is at 2:05 p.m. and will be broadcast on Altitude Sports & Entertainment.


Strange Scheduling

This will be the Big Sky Conference opener for both teams who visit Butler-Hancock this weekend, while the Bears will be playing in their third and fourth league tilts. Northern Colorado is currently 1-1 in conference contests and 6-7 overall, while Idaho State is 3-10 and Weber State is 5-7.


Series History

Northern Colorado and Idaho State met twice a year from 1947-48 through 1962-63 and didn't play again until last season when both were members of the Big Sky. Idaho State holds the 24-10 advantage in the all-time series and an 11-6 lead in Greeley. Last year, the Bengals won 70-60 in Pocatello and 66-55 in Greeley. This will be just the third meeting between the Wildcats and Bears, with Weber State winning both games last year, 61-60 in Greeley and 76-65 in Ogden. With four minutes left in Greeley, WSU held a seven-point lead, but the Bears scrabbled back to tie it at 60-60 with 1:32 to go but missed their last two shots and the Wildcats managed a free throw with 0:15 to seal the win.


Shooting His Way Out

Senior guard Sean Taibi broke out with his largest game of the year in the Big Sky Conference opener against Sacramento State. Taibi scored a season-high 24 points, nailing six three-pointers to push him over the 1,200 scoring mark for his career. Then in his first start since returning from a knee injury, Taibi scored 13 against Northern Arizona bringing his career total to 1,217 points. For the week, Taibi averaged 18.5 points per game, while shooting .519 (14-27) from the field and .615 (8-13) from the three-point line.


Crashing The Boards

Northern Colorado out-rebounded Sacramento State by 20 (43-23) on Friday, giving the Bears their largest margin of the year. NC is averaging 36.2 rebounds per game, while opponents are getting 32.2 per game for the third largest margin in the Big Sky (+4.0). The Bears have now out-rebounded eight opponents this year and are 5-3 in those contests.


You Just Never Know

In the two conference games, head coach Tad Boyle has used two different starting lineups, and has used five this season. The three constants in the five on the floor at tip have been junior forward Jabril Banks, junior guard Robert Palacios and senior guard Thanasi Panagiotakopoulos. Sophomore forward Jefferson Mason (8), freshman forward Taylor Montgomery (8), senior guard Sean Taibi (5), freshman guard Devon Beitzel (2), freshman forward Neal Kingman (2) and senior center Kirk Archibeque (1) have all also been in the starting lineup this season.


Finding His Shot

Redshirt freshman Neal Kingman has posted career-highs in scoring in each of the last three games, scoring 10 at Portland, 11 against Sacramento State and 17 at Northern Arizona. His 17 led the team against the Lumberjacks, as he hit a career-best three three-pointers. Kingman is now averaging 4.5 points per game and 8.2 over the last five games. He has also hit six of his last 15 attempts from beyond the arc (.400) after missing his first 12 tries on the year.


A Tale Of Two Halves

It almost seemed as two different Northern Colorado teams played each half against Northern Arizona and Sacramento State. In the first half against the Lumberjacks, the Bears shot .593 (16-27) from the field and hit .700 (7-10) from beyond the arc, while the second stanza, NC managed just .333 (11-33) from the floor and just .091 (1-11) from the three-point line. The reverse was true against the Hornets as the Bears shot just .333 (9-27) from the floor and .111 (1-9) from the arc in the first half and .533 (16-30) from the field and .667 (8-12) from the arc in the second half. Both field goal percentage differences from the first half to the second half were the largest of the year, the +.200 against the Hornets being the biggest positive swing and the -.260 against the Lumberjacks being the largest negative swing.


He's Got A Chance

With his 37 points last week, senior guard Sean Taibi continued to move higher on the school scoring chart. Taibi currently ranks ninth with 1,217 points and needs just 10 to take sole possession of eighth place, 12 for seventh and 19 for sixth place (6. Henry Clausen, 1966-69, 1,235; 7. Lovell Hocks, 1971-75, 1,228; 8. Sean Nolen, 2000-05, 1,226). For a complete look at the Northern Colorado career record book, please see page seven of this release.


Smile For The Cameras

Northern Colorado's game against Weber State will be televised by Altitude Sports & Entertainment, bringing the season total to six televised games, the most-ever in school history to be broadcast on national television. It is the last game currently scheduled to be televised this season, though the Big Sky Conference Tournament semifinals (Altitude) and finals (ESPN2) will be broadcast. The Bears have will have appeared on both Altitude Sports and FOX Sports three times each.


They Can All Lead

Through the first 13 games of the season, the Bears have had six different players lead the team in scoring during a game.  Junior forward Jabril Banks, the team's leading scorer at 13.5 points per game has led the team six times, while senior guard Sean Taibi has been atop the scoring column three times. Sophomore guard Will Figures, freshman forward Taylor Montgomery, junior guard Robert Palacios and freshman forward Neal Kingman have all also led the squad in scoring. Eight different players have also led, or tied for the lead in rebounds. Banks (4), sophomore forward Jefferson Mason (4), Montgomery (3), Palacios (2), Taibi (2), senior center Kirk Archibeque (1), senior guard Thanasi Panagiotakopoulos (1), and Kingman (1) have all had a share of the lead.


Making The Ones That Count

Against Sacramento State, the Bears made 15-of-16 from the free throw line, posting a season-best .938 percentage. It is the best free throw percentage in a game since the Bears played at South Dakota State on Jan. 20, 2001 and also hit .938 (15-of-16).


Open For Deposits

Junior forward Jabril Banks has made the most of his shot attempts this year. He has shot over .500 from the field in all but one game, and twice has made all seven shots from the floor. The Indian Hills Community College transfer leads the Big Sky Conference with a .646 field goal percentage. He also surprised many in the stands of Butler-Hancock making his only three-point attempt of the year against Sacramento State.


Simplistic Reasoning

It seems Northern Colorado needs to come out firing in the first half, or it will be in trouble. The Bears are a perfect 6-0 this year when leading the contest at halftime and are 0-7 when trailing. NC is the only team in the league with a true record, however two other teams, Idaho State (0-8) and Sacramento State (0-7) are both winless when trailing at halftime and Weber State has won just one game this year when trailing after the break (1-6).



Junior forward Jabril Banks needs 24 points for 200 this year, while sophomore guard Will Figures needs 10 for 250 in his career. Sophomore forward Jefferson Mason is just 25 points shy of 300 and his next rebound will be 150. Senior guard Thanasi Panagiotakopoulos is 16 points shy of 300 and eight rebounds shy of 100 and senior guard Sean Taibi needs 11 assists for 150.


Closing In

Every victory is more than just "another win" for the Bears' program. Since beginning reclassification to Division I in 2003-04, Northern Colorado has struggled on the hardwood, winning no more than eight games in a single season. With the six victories this year already, NC has surpassed the total from 2005-06 and last year's total of four wins. In 2003-04 the Bears were 6-22 and sported an 8-21 record in 2004-05. Of course, the school has faced some of the toughest competition during those seasons, playing schools from the Mountain West (9), Big XII (7), Pacific-10 (5), West Coast (5), Big Ten (3) and Big East (2) during those four years.


Lucky Sevens

Twice this season, junior forward Jabril Banks has been perfect from the field when taking seven shots. In the season opener against VMI Banks posted an unblemished night, hitting all seven attempts from the field. He then repeated that performance at Denver. He has also made seven shots from the floor three other times (Denver, Colorado State, Bowling Green State). Banks is shooting .646 from the floor (62-96) this season and has shot under 50 percent in just one contest this year.


He Figures In

Sophomore guard Will Figures made 17 three-pointers in 28 games played last season as a freshman. This year through 12 games played, he has already tied that mark of 17. Figures makes the most of his three-point attempts, connecting on .548 this season, nailing 17 of his 31 tries from beyond the arc to rank second among Big Sky Conference players.



Senior center Kirk Archibeque also has his name firmly entrenched in the career record books at Northern Colorado. Senior guard Sean Taibi and Archibeque rank ninth and 10th in career scoring with 1,217 and 1,173 points, respectively. Archibeque also ranks seventh in career rebounds with 610 and is ninth with 53 blocked shots. He ranks 10th in field goals made with 450, seventh in free throws made with 273 and is fifth in free throws attempted with 422. Career record book is on page six.


Leading The Way - As A Team

In the latest Big Sky Conference statistics, Northern Colorado ranks second in field goal percentage defense (.432) and steals (7.31) and third in rebounding offense (36.2), rebounding margin (+4.0), offensive rebounds (12.15) and defensive rebounds (24.00).


Leading The Way - Individually

In the Big Sky individual statistics, junior forward Jabril Banks leads the league in field goal percentage (.646), is fourth in free throw percentage (.797), fifth in scoring (13.5), tied for seventh in rebounding (5.6) and seventh in defensive rebounds (3.77), while junior forward Robert Palacios is third in steals (1.75), eighth in offensive rebounds (2.25) and ninth in rebounding (5.6). Senior guard Thanasi Panagiotakopoulos is seventh in steals (1.31) and eighth in assists (2.85), sophomore guard Will Figures is second in three-point field goal percentage (.548) and freshman forward Taylor Montgomery ranks in a tie for ninth in offensive rebounds (2.08).


It's An Honor

Following the action on the court during the Air Force Classic, Northern Colorado had a pair players named to the All-Tournament Team in guards sophomore Will Figures and senior Sean Taibi. Figures averaged 19.5 point per game in the tournament while Taibi chipped in 16 points per game.


Postseason Eligible

The Northern Colorado men's basketball team is now eligible to compete in postseason play in 2007 after successfully making the transition to Division I. This year also marks the first year, NC is eligible to win the Big Sky Conference Championship as well as compete in the Big Sky Tournament. The Bears open Big Sky play this week with games against Sacramento State and Northern Arizona, two teams NC defeated last season en route to the two conference wins.


Picked Seventh/Eighth

Northern Colorado was chosen seventh by the coaches and eighth by the media in the Big Sky's Preseason Poll. The Bears received 19 points in the coaches poll and 56 in the media poll. The polls were also split with Weber State taking the coaches poll and Montana being chosen as the favorite by the media.


Home Sweet Home

Northern Colorado is 235-161 (.593) all-time at Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion, which opened Feb. 4 1975. Last season, the Bears posted a 3-9 record at home and this season have started 4-0 this season. The contest against Montana State on January 24 will be the 400th men's basketball game in the arena.


What A Name

Senior guard Thanasi Panagiotakopoulos has the longest last name (17 letters) of any player in school history. The Phoenix product of Greek ancestry pronounces his name Thanasi (TA-nah-see) Panagiotakopoulos (Pa-na-yo-toe-COE-PO-los). His given first name, however is not Thanasi but Athanassios.


Scouting Idaho State

The Bengals are 3-10 on the season and will be playing in their Big Sky Conference opener against the Bears. Both teams have lost to Iowa, Oregon State and Portland this season.


Matt Stucki leads the Bengals with 11.5 points and 3.1 assists per game, while Amorrow Morgan is averaging 10.3 points per game. Demetrius Monroe leads the club with 4.0 rebounds, while Logan Kinghorn has a team best 12 steals and Austin Kilpatrick has 10 blocks.


Idaho State is averaging just 56.9 points per game, as well as 29.2 rebounds, 10.9 assists, 14.2 turnovers, 5.3 steals and 2.1 blocks while shooting .407 from the field, .277 from the three-point line and .685 from the free throw line. Opponents are averaging 73.6 points, 35.1 rebounds, 16.3 assists, 12.6 turnovers, 6.7 steals and 2.9 blocks and shooting .456 from the field, .430 from the arc and .766 from the charity stripe.


Scouting Weber State

The defending Big Sky champions are 5-7 and will be playing in their first Big Sky game on Sunday and the two teams have not played any common opponents this year.


Arturas Valeika leads the team with 11.3 points and 8.3 rebounds per game, while Desmon Harris averages a team-best 2.3 assists per game. Daviin Davis leads with 14 blocks on the year, while Brody Van Brocklin has a team-high 14 steals.


Weber State is averaging 63.4 points, 30.9 rebounds, 11.3 assists, 16.9 turnovers, 4.9 steals, 3.1 blocks while shooting .455 from the floor, .392 from the arc and .710 from the free throw line. Opponents are getting 66.6 points, 27.8 rebounds, 13.9 assists, 13.2 turnovers, 6.9 steals and 2.8 blocks while connecting on .470 from the floor, .407 from the arc and .652 from the free throw line.


On The Forefront

Northern Colorado will hit the road for a non-conference game at San Diego State on Jan. 9 before traveling to take on Eastern Washington on Jan. 17 and Portland State on Jan. 19.