24 January 2011

Fisher Of Men

It was back in 1991 when Steve Fisher first gathered the talent and gave the nation "The Fab Five" arguably by many as the greatest recruiting class ever assembled. That was then. This is now. Oh how time flies. Its also been said that good things often take time. Could he do it again? Before Coach Fisher took over in 1999 the Aztecs had suffered a 17 year NCAA tourney drought including 13 of 14 losing seasons in 14 years. Piece by piece Fisher has carefully rebuilt the Aztec program into a potential powerhouse. All eyes will now be directed to the Marriott Center as the San Diego State Aztecs come into town riding the nations longest active winning streak at 20 games with a #4 ranking (AP25 Poll). It will likely be standing room only in this matchup of epic proportions. Steve Fisher certainly has plenty of valuable experience to draw upon over 19 years winning over 402 games. The Aztecs are certainly heading on the right track with a coach who has been a fisher of men.

San Diego State returns all five starters and ranks #8 in FG percentage (49.2 to be exact) which clearly shows the decision process taking quality shots and making nearly half. The Aztecs are also in the top 30 in rebounding margin as well helping considerably second chance opportunities. They are led by 6-7 sophomore forward Kawhi Leonard who averages 15.7 points per game including 10.3 rebounds per contest. Yes, over 10 board a game. At the other forward is 6-9 senior Malcolm Thomas who averages nearly 12 a game and 8 rebounds. The Aztecs can also spread things around and stretch defenses. On the season senior DJ Gay has knocked down 118 threes. He's definately not afraid to spot up and take the jumper from the perimeter averaging nearly 13 points a game. There is definately some solid balance to this squad. The offense is spread enough that they have over 6 players who have taken at least 100 shots making it tough to focus on one individual.

Last time the two met it was the cougs who walked away victorious 82-68. Jimmer had 26 and Emery chipped in 18 points. It's a different day and another shot at the cougs. Can the cougs do it again? If Jimmer is on the court don't count the cougs out. Wednesday's mountain of a matchup will clearly be a huge game with some bigtime hype for both sides. It could easily be one of the biggest games in state history featuring two top ten teams both from the MWC. This is one you won't want to miss. Set aside your schedule. Whatever it takes to get there or watch on tv to see who really will be the fisher of men.

13 January 2011

You Just Got Jimmered

Most athletes are relentlessly seeking to find the zone. Tuesday everyone's all american somehow found not only the zone but something even beyond it as Fredette dropped 47 on the yewts with 13 NBA scouts present. Teammate Jackson Emery even said "When he starts to shoot from 40 feet out you know he's feeling something". Jimmer's thoughts? "I just felt good right from the beginning. It was just one of those special nights. The basket felt real big and my teammates did a great job of getting me the ball in good situations." Fredette like his brothers song was simply "Amazing". That night was an absolutely surreal and phenomenal performance. The avalanche of shots came from everywhere and the yewts had no answers to stop it. The daggers to the heart just kept coming. It marked the highest scoring outburst by a player in the Huntsman Center in 37 years. No other cougar has ever waltzed onto the yewts own homecourt and scored more than 35. That performance helped vault Fredette into an elite list one could call the 2000 point club joining former legends Danny Ainge, Devin Durrant and Michael Smith. One could say with complete confidence tuesday to team north: you just got Jimmered.

Possibly lost in the highlight show is Emery reaching significant milestones of his own. With 12:47 left in the first Jackson passed all time great Danny Ainge as the all time steals leader. He also became the 42nd cougar who have scored 1000 when he drained a three with 6:55 remaining on the clock. Emery finished the night with 20 points 3 rebounds 3 assists and 2 steals. Absolutely not a bad stat line from possibly the leagues best defender.

Cougs we got something truly special and simply amazing right in front of us that doesn't come along often. There are 7 home games remaining. Take the time, reschedule events if you need to and get out to see Jimmer and the cougar cagers while you can. Blogger Matt Jones for cbssports summed it up rather nicely: "Get out in front of the masses, upgrade your cable package and buy whatever version of the Home Shopping channel is showing his next game".

Mark your calendars. Circle the 26th. A matchup of epic proportions. Next few stops on the schedule include TCU (the 18th), Colorado State (the 22nd) and San Diego State (the 26th). The aztecs will ride into Marriott Center with a #6 ranking currently attempting to steal one away in what could be one of the biggest games on the season. Fans across the nation will be watching two top ten teams battling out for MWC supremacy. Hopefully at games end cougar fans will be able to say once again you just got Jimmered.

11 January 2011

Boylen Is Boilin

Yes, the series might be tied at 125 each. However, tonight the cougar cagers will likely be running a clinic up on the hill against team north. One can only imagine that things are getting pretty heated up in salt lake. Team north coach Jim Boylen finished last season with a disappointing 14-17 record with five players leaving the program (Jace Tavita being the most recent to transfer). Currently the yewts are also on a six game losing streak which certainly can't make things any easier on Big Jim. Unfortunately to make things worse to consider? On that losing streak it includes to Air Force who in the last two years have gone 1-31. On paper this looks like a mismatch of epic proportions. Two teams headin in different directions. One squad just cracked the top ten. That team is winning games when they sometimes haven't played a complete 40 minutes. Team north is still trying to figure out how to put together a complete forty. Until they do the yewts and Jim Boylen will be boiling.

Team north features a pair of dynamic juniors in Will Clyburn and Josh Watkins paving the way. Clyburn averages 18.8 ppg and 8.3rpg. Watkins, a sociology major is averaging 14.6 points a game. Although the yewts are horrible in the assist turnover ratio (rank 293rd in ast/TO ratio and 320th in ast per game per Wrubell). Defensive player of the year for the MWC returns in David Foster who hopes to alter some shots and disrupt some defenses.

Of course the cougs will be led by everyones All American Jimmer Fredette who averaged 30 points in the cougs victories last week. Without question Jackson Emery should also pass Danny Ainge as the schools all time steals leader. Sophomore Brandon Davies has been in double figures 11 times, including 8 of his last 9 appearances. The athletic Davies could be in for a big game considering the yewts have a soft interior defense. Come early. Wear blue. Make some noise and outdraw the yewts on their home court! As Jim would say: nice of you to show up.

08 January 2011

The Rest Of The Story

Most cougar fans will be recognize the names of Sammy Linebaugh or Toby Christensen among other names who have worked the sidelines. This next season cougar nation will become more familiar with Holly Rowe, Jenn Brown and Erin Andrews to name a few. Many fans might consider those individuals simply pretty faces or that former athlete filling in downtime during a slow game. Have any of us truly considered the amount of work that goes in behind the scenes? How do they always find that star players mother sitting on the 40 yard line section B row 34 out of 62,384 fans in the stadium? How did they know the tuba player was the running backs brother? Yes they may pop up between downs and only briefly. What do they do during their off airtime? Those individuals soon as they receive their assignments often will dive into mountains of previous stories, google every players name and begin prep work looking for possible insights that others may miss. And on gameday itself? They will begin working the lobbies and sidelines relentlessly gathering all the possible information asking the questions (team trainers, sports information directors, athletic directors, equipment managers) so us as fans will know the rest of the story.

The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat may have been coined approximately fifty years ago by Roone Arledge but those words also exemplify everything that these sideline journalists bring us even today. The passion. The triumphs. The tragedies. Those slobberknocker hard hitting sounds. Things we can expect to be addressed at halftime for each of our teams. So next time we see that reporter asking the tough questions on a controversial call or relaying a simple tidbit we as fans will know the rest of the story.

07 January 2011

Band Of Brothers Origination

Artistotle the great philosopher once said "The whole is greater than the sum of its parts." The men of E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne truly embraced this idea who volunteered for this elite fighting force because they wanted to be the army's best while avoid fighting alongside the unmotivated out of shape undisciplined draftees. The price they paid for that desire was long, arduous, and incredibly rigorous training, followed by some of the most horrific heated battles of World War II. The HBO mini-series Band Of Brothers is based off this group of individuals who gave their heart and soul. It's a very close and personal account, as Stephen Ambrose historian/biographer who conducted numerous interviews with the surviving members of the company and uses those interviews to get a true sense of closeness into the action who gave their everything. It highlights the triumphs, the tragedies and everything in between of that single US Army infantry company over its span formed in July 1944 and deactivated in November 1945. E Company was also one of the most successful light infantry units in the European theater that we may know today simply as a Band of Brothers.

Back in 2006 when Bronco introduced the slogan "Band of Brothers" it has proved to be quite visionary recapturing the heart and soul of the team. This season the cougar nation saw conflicts, suspensions, coaching staff changes, injuries, struggles, controversies and triumphs of a team which truly embodied this very concept. Cougar fans witnessed the change, the growth, and the emergence of a team who overcame the obstacles, odds and hurdles. There is a newfound chemistry. A team unity. A team filled with vision hungry and determined. Sometimes an entity must look to the past to find its future as a band of brothers.

06 January 2011

WCC: A Look Ahead/Overview

Next season the cougs will have a new look. Jackson Emery will have graduated and Jimmer will have taken his talents to the next level. For those who might not be completely informed here's a quick overview of what the cougs will be embracing this next season in the new conference affiliation.

Gonzaga is a private Catholic university located in Spokane Washington that was established in 1887. The campus houses 105 buildings across 131 acres along the Spokane River. The university offers 92 fields and 26 graduate programs. It ranked third in the 2009 US News and World Report for Master's Universities in the west. The basketball games are held in the McCarthey Athletic Center which seats 6000 and they like the cougs don't often lose there winning over 90 percent of the matchups coached by Mark Few. Interestingly, one of his assistants is former team north coach Ray Giacolleti. The arena opened in 2004 and has housed various events/concerts as switchfoot, yellowcard, ben folds, bill cosby and jeff foxworthy. Its school colors are blue and white. Their mascot is spike the bulldog. Most might remember names as John Stockton, Adam Morrison and Ronny Turiaf.

Loyola Marymount University (LMU) is a private Roman Catholic University based in Los Angeles that was founded in 1911. LMU was ranked 4th for "Best universities with master's programs in the west" by US News and World Report in 2008. Many will recall the 1990 hoop team led by Hank Gathers and Bo Kimble when the tragedy struck in the WCC tourney. Gathers collapsed during a game and died due to a previously diagnosed heart condition. Playing admirably for their fallen teammate, the Lions were able to advance to the Elite Eight before falling to eventual champs UNLV. The cougs hoopsters will matchup against the Lions at the Gersten Pavilion which seats 4156 built in 1981 which also serves as the part time practice home for the LA Lakers. The pavilion was also the site for the weightlifting competition of the 1984 Summer Olympics. LMU's basketball coach is Max Good who led the lions to a 18-16 record for the 2009-2010 season. The school colors are crimson and navy while its mascot is Iggy The Lion.

Pepperdine University is an independent private university 830 acre campus near Malibu California affiliated with the Churches of Christ that was established in 1937. Its school colors are blue and orange and they are known as the waves. Its mascot is Willy The Wave. The university was recently ranked by the Sears Cup as having the most successful athletic program for non football Division I schools. Many may have seen the youtube video of Keion Bell's dunk which has topped over a million views. The waves are coached by Tom Asbury who is in his eighth year with Pepperdine.

Portland University is a private Roman Catholic university located in Portland founded in 1091. It has a student body of about 3600 students. The womens soccer program has been highly successful winning the 2002 and 2005 Division I NCAA Womens Championships. The university also boasts one of the nations top NCAA Division I mens cross country teams coached by Rob Conner which has won 31 straight WCC Championships, one of the longest active conference championships streaks in the NCAA. On the national level Portland University has finished in the top ten at the NCAA Championships four times. Its colors and purple and white. The nickname is the pilots and the mascot is known as Wally The Pilot. Portland basketball coach Eric Reveno is in his fourth year with the Pilots.

Saint Mary's is a private college located in Moraga, California, a small suburban community approximately 10 miles east of Oakland and covers about 420 acres. It is affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church. Saint Mary's was ranked the 12th best college to fulfill a Master's Degree in the West by US News and World Report in 2009. Its hoopsters received at large bids to the big dance of March Madness in both 2005 and 2008. In 2008, the team at one point had the longest active winning streak in the nation. Its school colors and red white and blue. Saint mary's nickname is the gaels and the mascot is known as Gael Force One. The gaels basketball coach Randy Bennett is in his 9th season with the university and has guided SMC to 4 post season appearances. He has certainly helped turn a program around and restore excitement to the stands. With the team’s 28 wins in 2009-2010, Bennett has led the Gaels to three straight 25-win seasons.

San Diego University is a Roman Catholic University establied in 1949. Its motto is Emitte Spiritum Tuum which means "send forth thy spirit". The school colors are navy blue and white. Its mascot is the toreros. Jenny Craig Pavilion is a 5100 seat multi purpose arena built in 2000 and is sometimes affectionately known as the "slim gym". Coach Bill Grier is looking to rebuild from a 11-21 record in 2009-2010 season.

San Francisco University is a private Jesuit university that was founded in 1855. It is the second oldest institution for higher learning in California and the eighth largest Jesuit university in the United States. Its colors are green and gold. The mascot is the Don. The cougs will hold court at the Koret Health and Recreation Center (the Koret Center as called by the students and staff) facing off against the Dons led by coach Rex Walters and former NBA player.

Santa Clara University is a private Jesuit affiliated university founded in 1851. It is the oldest operating institution of higher learning in California and the oldest Catholic university in the west. In 2008 the mens rugby team made it to the National Playoffs before falling to Utah Valley State. Its colors are red and white while the nickname is the broncos. Its mascot is Bucky the Bronco. The broncos basketball coach Kerry Keating is in his third year.

05 January 2011

Popcorn POPPIN-GA No More

The song popcorn popping can often be heard at Lavell Edwards Stadium. Yet, popcorn was first discovered ages ago by Native Americans and as a result of a elementary school project even became the state snack food of the state of Illinois. Recently former cougar Kelly Poppinga was elevated from intern and grad assistant to the full time linebacker coach and hopes now to develop the cougs defense making opponents offensive pads snap crackle and pop. He should have plenty to work with in the linebacking corps of Jordan Pendleton, Jameson Frazier, Kyle Van Noy, Uona Kaveinga, Brandon Ogletree, Zac Stout in the mix. Poppinga was an All MWC linebacker for the cougs helping the jerseys in blue achieve back to back conference championships in 2006 and 2007 even leading the team with 113 tackles his senior season. The Evanston Wyoming native has also completed both a bachelors and masters degree in exercise science. "It's an honor to have the opportunity to coach at the university where I played and under Coach Mendenhall, who has been a great mentor to me," Poppinga said. "I'm excited to help our program be successful and reach our goals through football excellence. I look forward to coaching the many talented players we have at outside linebacker and help them succeed."

Photo Credit Goes To BYU File Photo

04 January 2011

Back To The Future

It was approximately ten years ago that the jerseys in blue were led by the "Domanator". Once again the cougs offense will be front and center under Brandon Doman's careful watch as it was given the Bronco stamp of approval. Coach Mendenhall was recently quoted "I believe Brandon is the best quarterbacks coach in the country and I'm excited he has accepted the opportunity to also serve as offensive coordinator. He is one of the bright young coaches in the country and the kind of person who exemplifies the core values that our program represents. He is a great teacher and mentor to all in his care, and I'm confident he will thrive in this opportunity to build upon our successes as a program and as an offensive unit.". Bronco said there was no timetable and no deadline for finalizing the rest of the staff. The cougs under Doman with talent like Heaps, Quezada, Hoffman and the rest of the cougar gridiron crew will in no time be back to the future.

Apparently there was never a desire to be elsewhere and the interview took a good three hours. Brandon was an amazing dual threat quarterback who ranks 3rd all time rushing only behind Steve Young and Virgil Carter. Doman was also one of the most efficient cougar quarterbacks ranking 4th behind McMahon, Sarkisian and Detmer. Quite a bunch of names to even be associated with. The players love him (maybe even run through brick walls for him). He clearly can recruit and understands the game in its entirety. As the cougs begin the march to independence Brandon is the right individual who will take the full potential of all the offensive players and elevate them to another plane.
"To be in a position that I am in as the offensive coordinator at this school is quite mind-boggling, and humbling for me, but I'm very excited," said Doman.

02 January 2011

Top 10 For 2010

There's another year up. Another year gone. However, there's also now a fresh new start. A time to look back and see what was. Here's the nominations for the cougs ten stories that happened in 2010.

Declaration Of Independence. Back in September the university boldly declared football independence and that it would join the WCC for the other sports. The cougs will leave the MWC but gain much more exposure with BYUtv and ESPN. Yes scheduling might be difficult but creates more opportunity to make some noise with big name games such as was announced with teams like West Virginia, Texas, Georgia Tech, Oregon State and Notre Dame in its future.

Stop. Its Jimmer Time. Yes the cougs may have already known who and what Jimmer was but the nation saw simply how amazing he really is starting with dropping 49 on Arizona and leading the cougs bolding into March Madness' 2nd round scoring 37 against Florida. What was even sweeter? After flirting with the NBA option he came back to the cougs for another year.

Two Quarterback Shuffle. Two quarterbacks often mean no quarterback. A win against Washington at home may have been sweet but also prolonged the development of the future. Once the reins came off we saw the growth and emergence of a future star.

Coaching Whirlwinds Of Change. It began with Barry Lamb's retirement then worked its way to the dismissal of Jaime Hill after the humiliation of losing to little brother in Logan. That wasn't the end of it either. After the New Mexico Bowl victory the entire offensive staff was told to seek other possible employment. Offensive coordinator Robert Anae took that advise to seek a new chapter in his coaching career. More changes likely on the way and soon.

Life After Harvey. After Unga decided to seek the potential of a NFL career the cougs found their way by a backfield by committee. The trio of DiLuigi, Kariya and Quezada rushed for 19 TDs and nearly 2000 yards (1959 to be exact). It may not have been pretty at times but the jerseys in blue got things done and with the emergence of a future star in Juice.

Volleyball Visibility. Former standout Rob Neilson stands now as the interim coach as the cougs roll through its 2nd coaching change in four years. Shawn Patchell's contract wasn't renewed as the university confirmed the NCAA was looking again into possible vilations concerning scholarship money distribution. The cougs will look to regroup and should again be tough this season.

Rugby Appearance Or Not. The cougs reached the national championship and again fell to Cal this time 19-7. Perhaps the big story truly is the women who stood strong in their beliefs. The women also reached the championship game but failed to make an appearance forfeiting the contest since it was on a sunday.

Collie's Concussions. Recently the Colts placed former cougar Austin Collie on injured reserve after numerous concussions ending his 2010 campaign with 8 TDs 649 yards and a 11.2 average per reception. One can only hope that everything is physically ok with Austin now and long term. Some things are bigger than football.

Golf Gallery. Former cougs and all americans Daniel Summerhays earned his PGA card while Carrie Summerhays Roberts was hired to coach the womens team. Unfortunately the cougs also lost a legend in Karl Tucker who passed away leaving a legacy. Under Tucker the cougs won 19 WAC titles, 170 team championships including in 1981 a national championship.

Under Further Review. It was one play. Yes it may have been botched but that was in the third quarter. Could one play make the difference? Possibly but there were also 37 plays still to be made in the fourth quarter alone per the yahoo box score. That's like saying that game could have been won if the pizza would have been delivered on time.