January 7, 2008

Men's Basketball Steps Out Of Conference

Jan. 7, 2008

Weekly Release: At San Diego State Get Acrobat Reader

Game #16

Northern Colorado (7-8, 2-2 Big Sky) at San Diego State (11-3, 1-0 Mountain West)

Wednesday, Jan. 9 • San Diego, Calif. • Cox Arena (12,414) • 7:05 p.m.


The Series................................................. SDSU

   Overall Record.......................................... 0-4

   In Greeley................................................. 0-1

   At San Diego............................................. 0-3

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

   Last Meeting........................................... 1971-72

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


The Coaches

   Northern Colorado......... Tad Boyle (11-32, 2nd year)

   San Diego State.... Steve Fisher (322-202, 17th year)



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


Audio Streaming

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





Video Streaming



Live Stats

   San Diego State................................ goaztecs.com


Stepping Out

Northern Colorado will step away from Big Sky Conference play to take on San Diego State of the Mountain West Conference. The Aztecs are currently 11-3 on the year and are tied for 11th in the nation with a 13-game home winning streak, while the Bears are 7-8 on the season and in search of their first road victory of the year.


Series History

This will be the fifth meeting between San Diego State and Northern Colorado but the first since the 1971-72 season. The Bears are 0-4 all-time against the Aztecs and 0-3 in San Diego. In 1960-61, when the Bears were Colorado State College, NC dropped games on back-to-back days in San Diego.


What A Difference A Year Makes

Last season, Northern Colorado went 2-14 in Big Sky Conference play, dropping its first four games before winning an 88-86 decision against Northern Arizona. This season, the Bears won their Big Sky opener and are already 2-2 in conference action, with wins over Sacramento State (74-60) and Weber State (55-52). The Bears also have seven victories this year, surpassing last year's total of four and are two wins shy of tying the win tally from the last two years combined.


Down The Stretch

Senior guard Thanasi Panagiotakopoulos scored a season-high 15 points to help lead the Bears to the 55-52 victory over Weber State on Sunday. Six of his 15 came in the final 0:52 of the game, as he hit his fourth three-pointer to give NC the lead back at 50-49. With 0:30 left he nailed both of his free throw attempts and then added one more with three ticks on the clock for the 55-52 final score.


That's A First

For the first time this season, Northern Colorado won a game after trailing at halftime. On Sunday against Weber State, the Bears were down 27-24, but rallied to outscore the Wildcats 31-25 in the second stanza for the 55-52 victory. Northern Colorado is now 6-0 in games when leading at the half and 1-8 when they trail at the break.


Bear Improvements

The Bears have significantly improved their win-loss record this season. This success seems to be defensively related statistical categories, especially scoring defense and rebounds. The following chart details some significant differences from last season to this year:


                                                 2006-07                   2007-08

W/L Record                                  4-24                          7-8

Scoring Defense                           76.7                         66.5

Rebounds                                    34.4                         35.6

Rebound Defense                        35.0                         31.8

Field Goal % Defense                  .457                         .436

Steals                                            5.3                           7.4

Opponent Turnovers                    14.3                         16.7


One, Three, 10 Go

Senior guard Sean Taibi currently ranks ninth in career scoring at Northern Colorado with 1,225 points and needs just one to tie for eighth place, three for seventh and 10 for sixth place (6. Henry Clausen, 1966-69, 1,235; 7. Lovell Hocks, 1971-75, 1,228; 8. Sean Nolen, 2000-05, 1,226).


Quick Recap

Northern Colorado split a pair of conference games, falling to Idaho State 76-65 before defeating Weber State 55-52. Junior forward Jabril Banks led the team in scoring in both games, hitting for 16 against the Bengals and notching a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds against the Wildcats. Banks was the only Bear in double figures in scoring against ISU, while senior guard Thanasi Panagiotakopoulos added a season-high 15 points against WSU. The split kept NC at .500 in Big Sky Conference play with a 2-2 record.


Banks To The Boards

Junior forward Jabril Banks has either led or shared the lead in rebounding in each of the four Big Sky Conference games. Banks is averaging 7.8 rebounds per game in league play, which ranks seventh in the league statistics, and third among players who have had more than one conference contest. Overall this year, Banks is averaging 6.1 caroms per game to rank seventh in the Big Sky.


Getting To The Line

For the second time since joining the Big Sky Conference, the Bears made 20 or more free throws in back-to-back contests. Northern Colorado made 23-31 against Idaho State on Thursday and sunk 20-27 against Weber State on Sunday. Last year, the Bears made 22-25 against Eastern Washington on 1/4 and 20-27 against Portland State on 1/6.


A Little Of This, Little of That

Junior guard Robert Palacios has done a little of everything for the Bears this season. He averages 6.1 points per game for sixth on the team, but ranks second in rebounds (5.5), second in assists (2.1), leads the team in steals (1.6) and is third in field goal percentage (.430). The transfer from Indian Hills Community College ranks among the conference leaders in rebounds (10th), steals (3rd), offensive rebounds (9th) and defensive rebounds (12th).


Starting Off

Head coach Tad Boyle has now used six different starting lineups 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 (10), freshman forward Taylor Montgomery (9), senior guard Sean Taibi (5), freshman forward Neal Kingman (3), freshman guard Devon Beitzel (2), and senior center Kirk Archibeque (1) have all also been in the starting lineup this season.


Crashing The Boards

Northern Colorado out-rebounded Sacramento State by 20 (43-23), giving the Bears their largest margin of the year. NC is averaging 35.6 rebounds per game, while opponents are getting 31.8 per game for the third largest margin in the Big Sky (+3.8).


They Can All Lead

Through the first 15 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 14.0 points per game has led the team eight 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.


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 .631 field goal percentage.



Senior guard Terry Anderson needs 26 points for the 100th of his career and after tallying four steals against Idaho State, he needs just two more for 30. Junior forward Jabril Banks is just nine rebounds shy of 100, while sophomore guard Will Figures is seven points shy of 250. Sophomore forward Jefferson Mason is now just 16 points shy of 300, while junior guard Robert Palacios needs nine points and 18 rebounds for 100 in each category. Senior guard Thanasi Panagiotakopoulos is also just six rebounds shy of 100 and his next three-pointer will his 50th.


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 .631 from the floor (70-111) 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 14 games played, he has already surpassed that mark with 18. Figures makes the most of his three-point attempts, connecting on .545 this season, nailing 18 of his 33 tries from beyond the arc to lead the Big Sky Conference.


Leading The Way - As A Team

In the latest Big Sky Conference statistics, Northern Colorado ranks second in steals (7.40) and third in field goal percentage defense (.436), rebounding offense (35.6), rebounding margin (+3.8), offensive rebounds (12.00) and defensive rebounds (23.60). In conference games only, the Bears rank second in rebounding offense (33.8) and offensive rebounds (10.25) and third in rebounding margin (+3.5) and steals (7.50).


Leading The Way - Individually

In the Big Sky individual statistics, junior forward Jabril Banks leads the league in field goal percentage (.631), is fifth in scoring (14.0), seventh in rebounding (6.1), fourth in free throw percentage (.793) and sixth in defensive rebounds (4.00). Junior guard Robert Palacios ranks third in steals (1.64), while senior guard Thanasi Panagiotakopoulos is right behind him in fourth (1.33). Palacios also ranks ninth in offensive rebounds (2.14). Sophomore guard Will Figures is tied for the league lead in three-point field goal percentage (.545). In conference only games, senior guard Sean Taibi and Banks are tied for fourth in scoring, while Banks is seventh in rebounds (7.8), Panagiotakopoulos is eighth in steals (1.50) and Taibi leads in three-pointers per game (3.33). The conference only numbers are a little skewed as the Bears have played four games already, while four other teams have played just once.


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.


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 236-162 (.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 6-1 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 San Diego State

San Diego State is 11-3 on the year and 1-0 in the Mountain West Conference with a 64-57 victory over TCU the other night. The Aztecs defeated Portland, 78-64, while the Bears dropped a 70-63 decision for the only common opponent this season, though San Diego State will face Colorado State twice later in the year.


Lorrenzo Wade leads the way with 14.7 points per game, while Kyle Spain averages 13.3 and Kelvin Davis 11.0. Spain also leads with 6.0 rebounds per game, while Richie Williams has a team-high 37 assists and Billy White leads the way with 25 steals. Three different Aztecs have six blocked shots on the season.


San Diego State is averaging 71.6 points, 35.1 rebounds, 14.0 assists, 14.4 turnovers, 9.9 steals and 2.1 blocks per game, while shooting .457 from the field, .354 from the three-point line and .672 from the free throw line. Opponents are averaging 64.6 points, 31.8 rebounds, 13.2 assists, 17.7 turnovers, 5.4 steals and 2.7 blocks per game, while connecting on .440 from the floor, .351 from beyond the arc and .671 from the charity stripe.


On The Forefront

Northern Colorado takes eight days off from game action, traveling to take on Eastern Washington on Jan. 17 and Portland State on Jan. 19. The Bears have just one non-conference tilt remaining on the schedule, playing Johnson+Wales for the second time on February 12.