December 15, 2006

Men's Basketball Looks to Continue Progress on Road Trip

Dec. 15, 2006

Bowling Green/Eastern Michigan Game Notes in PDF Format
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University of Northern Colorado Bears (2-8)
vs. Bowling Green State University Falcons (4-3)
Game #11 * Tuesday, December 19, 2006 * 5:00 p.m. MT
Bowling Green, Ohio * Anderson Arena (4,700)

University of Northern Colorado Bears
vs. Eastern Michigan University Eagles (1-7)
Game #12 * Thursday, December 21, 2006 * 1:00 p.m. MT
Ypsilanti, Mich. * Convocation Center (8,844)

The Series: Bowling Green and Northern Colorado have never met, while the Bears will meet Eastern Michigan for the third time. The Eagles won the first round with an 82-55 decision at home on Dec. 23, 2003, but the Bears picked up their first victory last season on Dec. 30 with a 76-70 win in Greeley, snapping a 14-game losing streak to open the season.

The Coaches: Tad Boyle is 2-8 (.200) in his first season as head coach at Northern Colorado.

Dan Dakich is 147-125 (.540) in his tenth season at Bowling Green. Charles Ramsey sits at 8-28 (.222) in his second season at the helm of the Eastern Michigan program.

Radio: Bears' Radio Network (Flagship Station - Newstalk KFKA 1310-AM in Greeley). KFKA's Troy Coverdale will have the play-by-play which starts with a 25-minute pre-game show. The broadcast can also be heard free online at UNCBears.com.

Livestats: Live stats available through links at UNCBears.com.

Internet: Log onto UNCBears.com for the latest information on the Bears program including rosters, bios, statistics, releases, feature stories, box scores and much, much more.

BigSkyTV: All Northern Colorado Big Sky basketball games (and home non-conference matches) can be seen live (and also on-demand) through the first-year venture BigSkyTV.org. Packages to see all Northern Colorado volleyball, football and men's and women's basketball games start as low of $59.99. For more information log onto www.BigSkyTV.org.

GAME INFORMATION
Northern Colorado heads east for a pair of games against the Mid-American Conference. On Tuesday, the Bears will play at Bowling Green in the first-ever meeting between the teams. Two days later, they head up to Ypsilanti, Mich., for a battle with Eastern Michigan. The two teams met last season in Greeley, when the Bears won 76-70.

LAST TIME OUT
Sean Taibi scored a season-best 26 points, with a majority of those coming from behind the arc as the junior sharpshooter hit seven 3's - tying his career-high - to lead the Bears to a 74-59 victory over the Denver Pioneers (1-9).

The 1993-94 season was the last time a meeting between the two teams went in the Bears' favor, a 110-95 decision on December 11 in Greeley.

Five of Taibi's 3's came in the first half, as the home team took a 36-33 lead into the locker room, only the third time this season they had done that. In the first half, the Bears out-shot DU 56 percent to 41 percent.

Dwayne Birden scored 11 of his season-high 21 points in the second half to keep the Pioneers at bay.

The win was the Bears first over a Division I in-state rival since the program moved into Division I, at the start of the 2003-04 season.

OPPONENT INFORMATION

Bowling Green: The Falcons ended a three-game winning streak with a Dec. 9 loss to Central Arkansas, 72-58. So far this season, they have defeated Denison (89-52, Nov. 11), South Alabama (65-64, Nov. 25), Troy (71-69, Dec. 2) and Arkansas State (81-72, Dec. 4), while losing to Arkansas State (64-54, Nov. 16) and Furman (63-59, Nov. 19), before dropping the game to Central Arkansas.

Martin Samarco leads the team and the conference in scoring with a 22.6 average, and is second on the team with 5.0 rpg. He has led the team in scoring in every game this season.

Eastern Michigan: Eastern Michigan is 1-7 and on a six-game losing streak. They have played just one game at home this season, a 66-54 loss to Oakland University on Dec. 5, and have suffered defeats to No. 16 Marquette (95-62, Nov. 18) and Michigan (81-50, Nov. 12).

The Eagles have four scorers averaging over eight points per game. Devon Dumas leads the team with 10.4, followed by Carlos Medlock (9.9), Brandon Bowdry (9.5) and Jesse Bunkley (8.6).

Series History: This is the Bears' first meeting with Bowling Green and third with Eastern Michigan. With EMU, the home team has won both times. The Eagles won the first game, 82-55, on Dec. 23, 2003 in Michigan. The Bears responded last season with a 76-70 win to snap their season-opening 14-game losing streak.

Common Opponents: Northern Colorado has played no common opponents with either Bowling Green or Eastern Michigan.

NORTHERN COLORADO NOTES

MAC Attack: The Bears are 2-3 all-time againt current Mid-American Conference teams. Aside from the two games they have played against Eastern Michigan, Northern Colorado opened this season with a 81-42 loss at Ball State. Their only other games against a current MAC opponent happened over 50 years ago, when they split a a pair of games with Akron, winning 52-49 on December 18, 1950 and losing 79-71 on December 20, 1954, both at Akron. At the time, the Zips were members of the Ohio Athletics Conference.

Going Downtown: Four Bears are connecting on over 40 percent of their 3-point attempts this season. Sean Taibi is second in the Big Sky with 35 (35-of-68, .515) 3's this season, while Will Figures (7-of-16, .438), Dwayne Birden (8-of-19, .421) and Matt Kline (12-of-29, .414) are also hitting over 40 percent. As a team, the Bears have hit 76-of-180 3's this season, for a .422 mark which is second best in the Big Sky Conference, behind Idaho State's .439.

Still Connected: Sean Taibi tied his career high with seven 3-pointers against Denver, stretching his school-record of consecutive games with at least one 3-pointer to 39. Taibi connected in all 29 games last season to start the streak. This season, he has hit 35-of-68 attempts (.515), which if he continues at that clip, will best his own school record for highest 3-point percentage in a season (.435). Last season, Taibi had the best long distance shooting in school history, knocking down 84 3-pointers in establishing a new school record for a single-season (breaking the previous record of 75 by Sean Nolen). His 193 attempts were the most in school history (passing the 180 attempts by UNC Hall of Famer Derek Chaney). Taibi was deadly from long range, hitting 84-of-193 (43.5%), which ranked in the top 30 nationally during the season. At 163 career 3-pointers including this season, his third season with the team, he has tied Chaney (1990-94) for 4th all time. Next in his sights is Marvin Jones (1994-97), who is 3rd with 172. He is just 24 away from the career mark held by Nolen.

Archibeque, Kline & Taibi Near 1,000 Point Club: This season three Bears have a chance to become members of the schools' 1,000 Point Club. Junior Kirk Archibeque is an even 100 points away from 1,000 career points, while senior Matt Kline is 247 points away and junior Sean Taibi is 235 points away. There are currently 14 members in the Bears 1,000-Point Club, with Sean Nolen (2000-05) being the last person to join the club, doing so two years ago. The program has never had two players join the 1,000 Point Club in the same season.

You Don't Know the Players Without a Program: Fans attending a Northern Colorado game this season may need to pick up a media guide or program to know who is on the roster. Only six players (although four of those were starters) return from last year's team while eight newcomers (including seven freshmen) dot the roster.

Kline Keeps On Playing: One thing can be said about senior guard Matt Kline - he just keeps on playing. The native of Denver has never missed a game during his prep or college career. At Northern Colorado he has played in all 96 games of his career. If he plays in all 29 games this season his career total of 115 games will equal that of school record John Olander (1988-92).

Kline Helps Out: Senior Matt Kline proved last season to be a big helper last season, literally. He dished out 4.8 'helpers' or assists per game, which was second among Division I Independent players (including 6.0 assists/game in his last 16 games of the season). He twice had 10 or more assists in a game last season and entered the season ranked sixth in school history in career assists with 283. With his season-high 8 assists against DU, Kline passed Carlos Martinez (313) for 4th on the school's all-time list. He currently has 318. He also ranks in the top 10 in school history in career steals (10th - 90), 3-pointers made (T-9th - 125) and three-pointers attempted (6th - 373).

Five On It: Against CU, five Northern Colorado players scored at least 12 points, marking the first time this season as many players had reached double-digits in scoring. Twice this season four players have scored in double-digits. First against UCCS, when Sean Taibi, Dwayne Birden, Jefferson Mason, and Chris Kaba accomplished the feat and again in their win over Colorado Christian when Taibi, Birden, Archibeque and Mason did it.

Mason Work: Freshman Jefferson Mason made the most of his season-high 18 minutes in the Bears game against Colorado, scoring a season-best 15 points. Mason, who now has three double-digit scoring performances in just eight games this season has excited fans with his inside-out game and emerged as a consistant offensive threat.

Doubling Up: Kirk Archibeque picked up his first double-double of the season, and 13th of his career, in the Colorado game. In fact, every single game Archibeque has pulled down 10 or more rebounds, he he also scored at least 10 points.

Home Sweet Home: Northern Colorado is 230-154 (.599) all-time at Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion, which opened on Feb. 4, 1975 (a 64-56 loss to Air Force). The Bears were 5-7 at home last season. Following their loss to Colorado-Colorado Springs (Nov. 17, 2006) this season, Northern Colorado is 21-10 all-time in home openers at Butler-Hancock in 31 seasons of playing in the building.

Openers: After an 81-42 loss to Ball State to open the season, the Bears are now 5-8 overall in their last 13 season openers overall, 12 of which have come in road contests. With their 96-91 loss to Colorado-Colorado Springs, they moved to 6-7 in home openers during that span.

The Early Bird Gets the Worm: Two years ago (2004-05) the Bears started the regular season with a November 11th game at Syracuse (Coaches vs. Cancer Classic). The start to a regular season was the earliest ever for Northern Colorado in its 104 (now 106) years of basketball. The Bears equaled that mark this year when they played Ball State on Nov. 11. Last season the Bears started on Nov. 13 (vs. Lipscomb at the Guardians Classic), the second earliest opener in school history, also equaled on Nov. 13, 1998 when the Bears defeated Fort Lewis 85-50.

Bears to Appear on National TV Three Times This Season: Northern Colorado fans will get to see the team in games available to a nationwide audience three different times this season. The Bears appeared on Fox Sports Rocky Mountain on Nov. 19 at Denver, and on Fox Sports Arizona on Nov. 28 at Arizona State and will appear on Altitude Sports & Entertainment on Jan. 4 when they host Big Sky foe Eastern Washington. The Bears hope to fare a little better this season in TV games, as they are 0-14 over the four seasons prior to this one in games that have been available to a nationwide audience.

Tongue Tied: You may notice one name on the Bears' roster is a little longer than the others. Thanasi Panagiotakopoulos earns the honor of having the longest last name (17 letters) in school history and probably the best name in all of Division I basketball. The Phoenix native of Greek ancestry pronounces his name Thanasi (TH-nah-see) Panagiotakopoulos (Pana-Yo-Toe-CO-PO-los). His real first name, however, is not Thanasi but Athanassios. Growing up his friends and teammates nicknamed him 'T-Soup' or 'Soup' - short for alphabet soup (since his name was so long). Last season, Thanasi got a treat on Dec. 9 at New Mexico when his grandfather (also named Athanassios) made the trip to see him play; Thanasi scored three points in that game. His grandfather and grandmother, who live in Greece, were in the United States for the holidays. A recent CollegeHoopsNet.com website ranking listed Thanasi as having the 39th best name in college basketball (a little low in the rankings probably). No. 1 on that list? It was Stetson's Chief Kickingstallionsims, who has two more letters in his last name than Panagiotakopoulos does.

SEASON NOTES

Bears Now Officially a Member of the Big Sky Conference: On July 1, 2006 Northern Colorado officially became a member of the Big Sky Conference, ending its third year run as a Division I Independent after starting the reclassification process to Division I. The team will compete against a full 18-game conference schedule, although they are not eligible for the postseason until 2007-08. Northern Colorado in the ninth member of the Big Sky, joining Eastern Washington, Idaho State, Montana, Montana State, Northern Arizona, Portland State, Sacramento State and Weber State.

Bears Picked Ninth in Big Sky Preseason Poll: Northern Colorado was picked to finish in a preseason league vote by both coaches and media. In the Coaches Poll, Northern Arizona was picked first, followed by Montana, Eastern Washington, Portland State, Sacramento State, Weber State, Idaho State, Montana State and the Bears. In the Media Poll, Montana was the favorite, edging out Northern Arizona by a single point and was they were followed by Eastern Washington, Portland State, Sacramento State, Montana State, Weber State, Idaho State and Northern Colorado. It is no surprise the Bears were picked ninth, as it is the team's first season in the league, the squad has eight newcomers and the program in ineligible for postseason play until 2007-08 because of NCAA reclassification stipulations.

Early Success: With their win over CCU, the Bears picked up their first victory of the season earlier than in the two previous years. Last season, they didn't pick up their first win until Decemeber 30, and in 2004-05, they got win No. 1 on November 30.

You Don't Know the Players Without a Program: Fans attending a Northern Colorado game this season may need to pick up a media guide or program to know who is on the roster. Only six players (although four of those were starters) return from last year's team while eight newcomers (including seven freshmen) dot the roster.

Boyle Returns Home: Who says you can't go home again? First-year Bears head coach Tad Boyle did just that in the off-season when he was named the 17th coach in program history on April 25, 2006. Boyle, who attended Greeley Central High School, spent the past six seasons as the associate head coach at Wichita State, helping the Shockers to the Sweet 16 in 2006. Boyle was a high school All-American at Greeley Central before going on to play at Kansas, where he captained the team his senior season under Hall of Fame Coach Larry Brown. Boyle is not the only new coach in the Big Sky this season, as five teams (including Northern Colorado) have new coaches this season.

Taibi Tabbed Preseason All-Big Sky By Lindy's Magazine: Junior guard Sean Taibi was chosen as a second-team Preseason All-Big Sky selection by Lindy's magazine. Taibi, who led the team in scoring last season while setting a school record for 3-pointers (84), was a first-team Division I All-Independent selection last year.

BigSkyTV.org: Do you want to see every Northern Colorado Big Sky (and home non-conference games) volleyball, football, men's basketball and women's basketball game this season but cannot make it to the venues? Well with a new venture this season that is possible at BigSkyTV.org. When watching the games, fans can listen to the radio audio from either home or visiting team, participate in a live chat room and view live stats. For $99.99 per year, fans will have access to events from all conference teams. If fans want to just watch Northern Colorado events for the year, they can choose the $59.99 package. If fans want access to a month's worth of events, they can pay $49.99 for conference-wide events or $39.99 for a single team's events. Individual events cost $6.99. Revenues from subscriptions to the Northern Colorado feed go to the athletic department.

Bears Home Gets an Upgrade: A new conference is not the only thing the Bears have new about the program this season, as they move into the newly renovated Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion this season. The program's home since 1976, the building got a makeover as part of a $16 million dollar student fee referendum (that also including improvements to Jackson Soccer Stadium, Butler-Hancock Athletic Center practice fields, Butler-Hancock Tennis Complex and the addition of a practice gym). Butler-Hancock, which opened in 1976, received brand new theater-style chair back seats, a new sound system, scoreboard/message center and new entrance among other things, in helping to spruce up the building that is now over 30 years old.

Bears Radio Network: This season you can hear every Northern Colorado basketball game on the Bears' Radio Network. Newstalk 1310 KFKA in Greeley is the flagship station and KFKA's Troy Coverdale will have the play-by-play call all season long with a pre-game show starting 30 minutes before tip-off. If you are outside the Greeley area you can access all the games online through UNCBears.com (see the Events section at the bottom of the main page) or directly log into http://www.1310kfka.com.