December 5, 2007

Men's Basketball Hosts Bowling Green; Travels To Denver

Dec. 5, 2007

Weekly Release: Bowling Green State & at Denver Get Acrobat Reader

**Full release attached in pdf format**

 

Games #7-8

Bowling Green State (4-3) at Northern Colorado (4-2)

Thursday, Dec. 6 • Greeley, Colo. • Butler-Hancock (2,734) • 7:05 p.m.

Northern Colorado at Denver (2-3)

Saturday, Dec. 8 • Denver, Colo. • Magness Arena (7,200) • 4:00 p.m.

 

The Series......................... BGSU....................... DU

   Overall Record.................. 0-1..................... 42-72

   In Greeley......................... 0-0..................... 32-35

   At Opponent...................... 0-0..................... 10-37

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

   Boyle vs........................... 0-1........................ 1-2

 

The Coaches

   Northern Colorado

   ............................... Tad Boyle (8-26, second year)

   Bowling Green State

   ......................... Louis Orr (4-3, first year at BGSU)

   Denver

   .............................. Joe Scott (2-3, first year at DU)

 

Radio

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

 

Audio Streaming

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

 

Television

   Denver........................ Fox Sports Rocky Mountain

   ........................................ Tim Ring, Play-by-Play

   .......................... Greg Lackey, Color Commentary

   ............................. Alanna Rizzo, Sideline Reporter

 

Video Streaming

   Bowling Green................................... bigskytv.org

                Denver      denverpioneers.com

 

Home & Away

Northern Colorado will play two contests this week, hosting Bowling Green State on Thursday, before traveling south to face Denver on Saturday for the second time this year. The Bears defeated the Pioneers back on Nov. 17, 64-46 and Saturday's game will be broadcast on FOX Sports Rocky Mountain, marking the third time this year NC has been on TV (at Iowa, vs Colorado State).

 

Series History

This will be the second meeting in the series between Bowling Green State and Northern Colorado, with the first one coming last season in Bowling Green, a 63-53 victory for the Falcons.

 

Even though Denver and Northern Colorado are not currently in the same league, the teams will be playing a home-and-home in the same year for the 39th time. The two teams squared off twice every year from 1976-77 through 1992-93 despite being in different leagues, and then both were in the Rocky Mountain Conference from 1925-1937. The last time the Bears won at Denver was the 1988-89 season, dropping their last five games at Magness Arena.

 

A Big Improvement

Northern Colorado has already tied its win total from last season. The Bears are currently 4-2 on the year, going for their fifth victory against Bowling Green State on Thursday. Last year, NC was 4-24 and had a 2-10 mark against non-conference opponents. With one more victory, the Bears will also tie the win total from 2005-06, as NC went 5-24 that season. The 4-2 start to the year is the best since the Bears started 2002-03 with a 4-2 tally.

 

It's Been A While

On Saturday, Northern Colorado defeated instate rival, Colorado State, 72-59 in front of a near-sell-out crowd of 2,759. It snapped an eight-game losing streak against the Rams, dating back to 1986-87 when the Bears won at Moby Arena, 56-54. It was also the first time since 1956-57 the teams had played in Greeley. Northern Colorado is now 25-23 all-time against the Rams in Greeley and sports a 37-65 record in the all-time series which dates back to the first meeting in 1901-02 -- the very first game in Northern Colorado's history.

 

Nice View

For the first time since going Division I, Northern Colorado men's basketball sits atop the conference standings. The Bears are 4-2 and hold sole possession of first place in the Big Sky. Montana and Portland State are currently tied for second place with 5-3 records.

 

Boardroom Executives

Northern Colorado now has a +10.5 rebounding margin this season, which is the best in the Big Sky Conference this season and ranks 12th among NCAA Division I teams. The Bears are averaging 39.3 rebounds per game, while holding opponents to just 28.8 per contest. The 39.3 rebounds per game also ranks first among Big Sky Conference teams.

 

Stop Thief

Junior guard Robert Palacios recorded nine steals in the two games last week, with a career-best seven against Johnson + Wales. Palacios has tallied at least one steal in all six games this season and leads the Big Sky Conference with 3.2 steals per game. His average also ranks 12th in this week's NCAA Division I statistics.

 

It's Got Some Beitzel To It

Redshirt freshman guard Devon Beitzel had a great week of basketball last week. Against Johnson + Wales, he scored a career-high eight points in his first career start. Then against Colorado State, Beitzel upped his career-high to 10 points with eight coming in the first half. Entering the game against the Wildcats on Tuesday, he had scored just one point and had played just four minutes. He is now averaging 4.8 points per game and shooting .412 on the year (7-for-17) with three three-pointers.

 

A Night For The Ages

Several players recorded career-highs against Colorado State on Saturday. Junior guard Robert Palacios recorded his first double-double as a Bear, notching a career-best 14 rebounds and freshman guard Devon Beitzel scored a career-high 10 points, with eight coming in the first half. Both sophomore forward Jefferson Mason and junior forward Jabril Banks tied their NC highs in rebounds with eight and nine, respectively.

 

Career Night

True freshman Taylor Montgomery had the best night of his young career against Johnson + Wales on Tuesday evening. He recorded a double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds. Montgomery was the only player for the Bears in double figures in either category and both were career-bests. He also made the only three-pointer he attempted and recorded two steals on the evening.

 

It's All His

Senior guard Sean Taibi entered the season already holding the career three-pointers made record at Northern Colorado. With his third attempt against Denver, he took over the record for three-pointers attempted as well. Taibi's next attempt from beyond the arc will be the 500th of his career and his current amount of 499 breaks the school record of 498 by Sean Nolen (2000-05). Every three-pointer Taibi makes adds to his school record of triples made, which currently stands at 216.

 

Now Open For Deposits

Junior forward Jabril Banks leads the Big Sky Conference, shooting .641 from the field. Banks has made 25-of-39 through the first six games of the season, despite making just half his shots against Colorado State (7-for-14).

 

Etched

Senior center Kirk Archibeque also has his name firmly entrenched in the career record books at Northern Colorado. He and senior guard Sean Taibi rank ninth and 11th in career scoring with 1,173 and 1,156 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.

 

It Figures

Sophomore guard Will Figures has been a breath of fresh air coming off the bench for the Bears this season. He is third on the team in scoring, averaging 11.8 points per game and has been almost perfect at the free throw line, making 15 of his 17 attempts (.882). Figures has also made 10 of his 15 three-point attempts to lead the team with a .667 percentage from the arc. Figures free throw percentage ranks second in the Big Sky this season and his three-point field goal percentage is the best in the league.

 

Carom Catchers By Committee

The entire Northern Colorado roster takes rebounding seriously, as six student-athletes are averaging 3.0 or more rebounds per game and five are getting better than four caroms per game. Junior forward Jabril Banks leads the way with 6.0 per game, while junior forward Robert Palacios  (5.8), senior guard Sean Taibi (4.8), senior center Kirk Archibeque (4.8), sophomore forward Jefferson Mason (4.0) and freshman forward Taylor Montgomery (3.8) are all averaging over three per game.

 

Using Miscues Wisely

Northern Colorado has forced 19.2 turnovers per game this season and are taking advantage of those miscues. The Bears have scored 141 points thus far off opponent turnovers, or 34 percent of their points (23.5 points per game).

 

A Look Back

There are quite a few differences between the 2006-07 team and the 2007-08 team through the first six games, and not only the record (1-5, 4-2). At this point last year the Bears were scoring 69.2 points and allowing 79.7, compared to 68.5 and 63.8 this season. Rebounds are also quite different this season, 39.3 for the Bears and 28.8 for opponents, compared to 33.8 last year with opponents getting 32.5 per game.

 

Leading The Way - As A Team

In the latest Big Sky Conference statistics, Northern Colorado leads the league in scoring margin (+4.7), rebounding margin (+10.5) and rebounding offense (39.3) and is second in scoring defense (63.8), field goal percentage defense (.412), three-point field goal percentage defense (.333), rebounding defense (28.8), offensive rebounds (14.17), steals (7.50) and defensive rebounds (25.17).

 

Leading The Way - Individually

In the Big Sky Conference individual statistics, junior forward Jabril Banks leads the league in field goal percentage (.641) and is sixth in scoring (12.8). Junior forward Robert Palacios leads in steals (3.20). Sophomore guard Will Figures leads in three-point field goal percentage (.667) and is second in free throw percentage (.882) and senior guard Thanasi Panagiotakopoulos is fourth in assists (3.33).

 

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 sophomore guard Will Figures and senior guard Sean Taibi. Figures averaged 19.5 point per game in the tournament while Taibi chipped in 16 points per game.

 

Ain't It Grand

The 100+ points scored against VMI was the 69th time in the program's history that it has topped 100, but the first time in the Tad Boyle era. The last time NC broke 100 was in 2005 against Colorado-Colorado Springs. Also, the 97 points given up by NC was the most since Feb. 17, 2004 when they gave up 110 to Rutgers. The 104 points scored on opening day was the second-most scored in the program's history behind the 106 scored by the Bears against Palm Beach Atlantic in 1999.  

 

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 timing is perfect as the Bears currently sit in first place in the Big Sky standings with a 4-2 record.

 

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 234-161 (.592) 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 3-0 this season against all in-state teams (Denver, Johnson+Wales, Colorado State).

 

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 Bowling Green State

The Falcons are 4-3 on the year and 3-2 in road/neutral games. The Bears and Falcons have not played any common opponents this season and they lost their last outing, 90-80 at Oakland.

 

The Falcons have a trio scoring in double figures in Chris Knight (15.3), Nate Miller (14.4) and Ryne Hamblet (11.1). Knight also leads with 6.0 rebounds per game and is shooting .535 from the field. Hamblet leads the club with 38 assists, while Miller has a team-best 13 steals and Marc Larson  and Otis Polk have both blocked nine shots in the early going. Bowling Green is averaging 70.7 points and 31.4 rebounds per game, while shooting .479 from the floor, .283 from the three-point line and .769 from the free throw line. Opponents are averaging 69.6 points and 35.9 rebounds, while shooting .401 from the floor, .289 from beyond the arc and .746 from the charity stripe.

 

Scouting Denver... Again

For the second time in three weeks, the Bears and Pioneers will meet on the hardwood. In the first meeting, the Bears won at Butler-Hancock, 64-46. Junior forward Jabril Banks led the Bears with 19 points, while sophomore guard Will Figures scored 14 and sophomore forward Jefferson Mason added 12. Senior guard Thanasi Panagiotakopoulos added a team-high six rebounds and junior forward Robert Palacios had four assists and two steals. Denver was led by forward David Kummer with 10 points and center Adam Tanner had a team-best six rebounds. Rob Lewis led the Pioneers with three assists. Northern Colorado out-rebounded Denver 34-18 and allowed the Pioneers just two offensive rebounds in the game.

 

Kummer leads the Pioneers with 12.2 points and 5.4 rebounds per game, while Lewis is averaging 10.6 points per game. Tyler Bullock has a team-best 17 assists and six blocked shots this year. Denver is averaging 58.4 points and 24.4 rebounds per game, while shooting .462 from the field, .406 from the three-point line and .732 from the free throw line. Opponents are averaging 67.6 points and 29.0 rebounds, while connecting on .452 from the floor, .393 from beyond the arc and .765 from the free throw stripe.

 

Since facing Northern Colorado, the Pioneers hosted Colorado, falling 54-44 and will face Colorado State before welcoming the Bears to Magness Arena.

 

On The Forefront

The Bears will take an eight-day respite from playing for final examinations and then will embark on a five-day, three-game road trip where they will play at Gonzaga (Dec. 17), Oregon State (Dec. 19) and Portland (Dec. 21) before returning home to open Big Sky Conference play against Sacramento State on Dec. 28.