Feb. 27, 2008
Northern Colorado (12-15, 5-9 Big Sky) at Montana (13-14, 7-7 Big Sky)
Thursday, Feb. 28 • Missoula, Mont. • Dahlberg Arena (7,321) • 7:05 p.m.
Northern Colorado at Montana State (15-12, 7-7 Big Sky)
Saturday, March 1 • Bozeman, Mont. • Worthington Arena (7,250) • 7:05 p.m.
The Series........................... UM.................. MSU
Overall Record.................. 2-6................. 11-31
In Greeley......................... 2-3.................. 7-16
At Opponent...................... 0-3.................. 4-15
At Neutral Sites.................. 0-0................... 0-0
Last Meeting................... Jan. 26............. Jan. 24
Boyle vs........................... 0-3................... 0-3
Northern Colorado............ Tad Boyle (16-39, 2nd yr)
Montana..................... Wayne Tinkle (30-29, 2nd yr)
Montana State................. Brad Huse (26-31, 2nd yr)
KFKA 1310 AM......... Troy Coverdale, play-by-play
Big Sky............................................. bigskytv.org
Montana State msubobcats.com
The End Is Near
This week marks the final games of the regular season for Northern Colorado as they play at Montana on Thursday and Montana State on Saturday. With two wins, the Bears could potentially advance to the Big Sky Conference Tournament beginning on March 8.
Now Or Never
Northern Colorado holds its tournament destiny in its own hands. The Bears are currently in eighth place in the Big Sky Conference standings, but remain in the hunt. They must win their final two games this weekend and await the outcome of several other games in the conference race. Portland State, Northern Arizona and Weber State have all clinched berths to the six-team tournament, while five teams are fighting for the final three spots.
The Bears are looking for their first wins over Montana and Montana State since joining the Big Sky Conference. All-time, NC is 2-6 against the Grizzlies and 11-31 against the Bobcats and are 0-3 and 4-15, respectively at the opponent's home gym.
Leaps And Bounds
Senior guard Sean Taibi moved up two spots to fourth on the career scoring chart at Northern Colorado. He now has 1,343 points, passing John McFarland (1994-97) who tallied 1,326 points and Jim Hruska (1956-60) with 1,330. The record for career scoring is 2,112 by Mike Higgins (1985-89).
Carom By Committee
For the first time since the 2003-04 season, four Bears have recorded more than 100 rebounds in a season. Both juniors Jabril Banks and Robert Palacios have 160 rebounds, while sophomore Jefferson Mason is right behind them with 154 boards and freshman Taylor Montgomery has 105 caroms. In 2003-04, Northern Colorado averaged 33.4 rebounds per game, while this season's team is getting 35.7 boards a contest.
Double Your Fun
Sophomore forward Jefferson Mason notched the first double-double of his career with 14 points and 12 rebounds against Portland State on Wednesday. He narrowly missed his second double-double with 12 points and nine rebounds against Eastern Washington on Saturday.
For the third time this season, junior forward Jabril Banks had a perfect night shooting from the field as he hit all nine field goals against Eastern Washington. In the season opener against VMI, Banks was 7-for-7, and he repeated that performance at Denver. Banks leads the team with a .575 field goal percentage, which also ranks fourth in the Big Sky Conference.
250... And Counting
With his second of four three-pointers against Eastern Washington, senior guard Sean Taibi made the 250th triple of his career and now has 252. He began his senior year already holding the school record with 210 and has 42 in his last year with the Bears.
Dishing Them Out
Sophomore forward Jefferson Mason tied his career high with five assists in the Bears' win over Eastern Washington. Mason has now tallied at least one assist in 15 straight games and has had multiple assists in the last seven contests.
In the team's final two home games, Northern Colorado had identical offensive outputs, scoring 79 points against both Portland State and Eastern Washington, however the defense played a notch higher against the Eagles, allowing 22 less points than it had on Wednesday.
The Century Mark
With his lone free throw against Eastern Washington, junior forward Jabril Banks made the 100th of the season and is one of only two in the Big Sky to rank among the percentage leaders with 100 makes (Carlos Taylor, MSU). Banks is shooting .735 from the charity stripe (100-136) to rank second on the team behind sophomore Jefferson Mason and 11th in the Big Sky statistics.
After scoring a season low 54 points in conference play against Weber State, Northern Colorado bounced back to score 79 in each of the last two league contests, which is one point off the season high against a league opponent in regulation (80 vs Northern Arizona, Jan. 31).
Stepping Up While Stepping In
Both senior guard Terry Anderson and freshman guard Monice Garrett have been stellar in splitting time at the point guard position over the last five games. Anderson has started all five games, averaging 21.0 minutes with 15 assists and just five turnovers, while Garrett is getting nine minutes with 12 assists and eight turnovers during that stretch.
The latest victory gave Northern Colorado 12 for the season, tripling last year's win total of four. It is also the most wins in the program since the 2001-02 squad went 14-13.
Getting To The Line
Junior forward Jabril Banks has attempted at least one free throw in all 27 games this year, while sophomore forward Jefferson Mason has taken one shot from the charity stripe in all but one game (Iowa). The two have combined to attempt 254 free throws, sinking 192 for a .756 percentage.
Junior guard Robert Palacios has 42 steals this season (1.6 per game) to rank among the Big Sky leaders this year. His season total is a new Division I school record, surpassing the total of 39 by Matt Kline from 2003-04.
Northern Colorado wrapped up the non-conference season with the tilt against Johnson+Wales last Tuesday with the 84-65 victory. It gave the Bears a 7-6 non-conference record and a perfect 5-0 mark at home. It was also the largest victory for NC this season.
Northern Colorado allowed Johnson+Wales only five offensive rebounds in the game on Tuesday and none in the first half. In fact, all five offensive rebounds went to one player, forward Andrew Baker. It was the 15th time this year the Bears allowed fewer than 10 second chance opportunities in a game. NC is allowing opponents just 9.8 offensive rebounds per game this season, while averaging 12.7 offensive rebounds to lead the Big Sky.
He's Smart Too!
Senior guard Thanasi Panagiotakopoulos was recently named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District VII First Team. Panagiotakopoulos is a business administration/finance management double major.
Banking On It
Junior forward Jabril Banks has now scored 10 or more points in nine straight games, his longest streak of the season and the longest active streak in the Big Sky Conference. Banks leads the team in scoring, averaging 13.1 per game, which also ranks him ninth in the Big Sky Conference.
Of the 135 possible starts this season (27 games, 5 positions) only 35 have been by members of the senior class. Thanasi Panagiotakopoulos led the way with 19 starting nods before his injury, while Terry Anderson has started in eight, Sean Taibi has started in seven and Kirk Archibeque in one. The junior class has 53 starts, sophomores have started 19 times and freshmen have 28.
Thank You Fans
Northern Colorado is averaging 1,292 per game in attendance this season, the highest average in school history. In 2005, the Bears averaged 1,085 fans per game for the only other season in recent history where they averaged more than 1,000 per game.
Several Bears have the top individual performances in the Big Sky this season. Juniors Jabril Banks and Robert Palacios and sophomore Jefferson Mason are tied for the best in the conference shooting 100 percent from the field (minimum five makes), and Banks has done so three times. Sophomore forward Jefferson Mason has the best free throw percentage after making all 10 of his attempts against Portland State. Palacios also has the most steals in a game with his seven against Johnson+Wales.
Thank You Sir, May I Have Another
Freshman guard Devon Beitzel became the first-ever men's basketball player to be named Big Sky Conference Player of the Week, sharing the honors with Kyle Landry of Northern Arizona after the Bears' victory at San Diego State. Beitzel notched a career-high in scoring with 15 points and steals with four. He shot 7-of-12 from the field with one three-pointer and two rebounds in the 62-56 win.
Double, Double, Toil & Trouble
Of the 12 players who have seen action on the court this season, 10 of them have scored at least 10 points in a game (Monice Garrett, Kirk Archibeque). The Bears have five players on the team who are averaging between 7-13 points per game, led by junior forward Jabril Banks with 13.1.
Head coach Tad Boyle has now used 12 different starting lineups this season. Junior guard Robert Palacios is now the only player on the team to have started in all 27 games and 11 of the 12 players on the roster have started in at least one game with the lone exception being freshman guard Monice Garrett.
Terry Anderson is now just two rebounds shy of 100 for his career. Will Figures needs six points to reach 350 for his career, while Jefferson Mason needs nine rebounds for 250 and three steals for 50. Taylor Montgomery is four points shy of 150, while Sean Taibi is seven points shy of 1,350 and seven assists shy of 150.
Leading The Way - As A Team
In the latest Big Sky Conference statistics, Northern Colorado leads the way in rebounding offense (35.7) and offensive rebounds (12.74), and is second in rebounding margin (+3.8) and steals (7.19). In conference games only, the Bears lead in offensive rebounds (12.07), second in rebounding offense (34.6) and third in three-pointers made (7.64).
Leading The Way - Individually
In the Big Sky individual statistics, junior forward Jabril Banks ranks ninth in scoring (13.1), seventh in rebounding (5.9) and fourth in field goal percentage (.575). Junior Robert Palacios is eighth in rebounding (5.9) and third in steals (1.58), while Jefferson Mason is fifth in free throw percentage (.780) and 11th in rebounding (5.7). Will Figures continues to lead the league shooting .479 from beyond the arc, while Sean Taibi is tied for ninth with 2.00 three-pointers made per game. Against league foes, Banks ranks 10th in scoring (13.0), ninth in rebounds (6.2), sixth in field goal percentage (.545). Mason is fifth in free throw percentage (.831) and tied for eighth with Palacios in steals (1.29). Taibi is second in three-point percentage (.492), while Figures is third (.487) and Taibi is fifth in three-pointers made (2.23)
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.
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.
The Grizzlies are one of three teams tied in the Big Sky standings with a 7-7 record and one of five searching for a final spot in the Big Sky Tournament. They have lost two of their last three games and won a controversial overtime game at Idaho State on Sunday.
Jordan Hasquet leads the way with 14.2 points and 7.3 rebounds for Montana, ranking in the top five in both categories in the Big Sky statistics. Andrew Strait ranks right behind him with 13.3 points and 6.6 boards per game. Ceylon Elgin-Taylor averages a team-best 3.3 assists per game, while Strait leads with 0.9 steals and Brian Qvale is averaging 1.6 blocks per game.
Montana averages 69.6 points, 31.9 rebounds, 7.7 three-pointers, 15.1 assists, 12.3 turnovers, 4.6 steals and 3.4 blocked shots per game, while shooting .476 from the field, .392 from the three-point line and .684 from the free throw line. Opponents are averaging 65.1 points, 31.3 rebounds, 5.3 three-pointers, 12.0 assists, 12.1 turnovers, 5.4 steals and 2.0 blocks per game, while connecting on .442 from the floor, .344 from beyond the arc and .703 from the charity stripe.
Scouting Montana State
The Bobcats are another team tied in the Big Sky Conference standings with a 7-7 league record and searching for one of the final three spots in the league tournament. Last week, they dropped games at Idaho State and Weber State.
Carlos Taylor leads the team with 18.7 points per game, while Divaldo Mbunga gets 5.8 rebounds and is second in scoring with 12.3 per game. Casey Durham leads with 2.7 assists and 1.3 steals per game and Mbunga is tallying 1.3 blocks a contest.
Montana State averages 73.5 points, 34.7 rebounds, 7.4 three-pointers, 12.9 assists, 14.4 turnovers, 5.3 steals and 3.3 blocks per game while shooting .454 from the field, .371 from beyond the arc and .748 from the free throw line. Opponents are averaging 70.9 points, 32.2 rebounds, 6.4 three-pointers, 11.9 assists, 13.8 turnovers, 6.8 steals and 3.2 blocked shots while connecting on .440 from the floor, .345 from the three-point line and .750 from the free throw line.