Friday, November 14, 2008

BREAKING NEWS --- Caspari Cleared to Play

I was literally on the way to run some errends and grab lunch when word came down from the NCAA that Felix Caspari has been cleared to play for today's game with Eastern Oregon. As you could well imagine, Felix was ecstatic in the offices upstairs, as was the coaching staff, particularly Geoff Alexander, who has worked the phones and internet tirelessly along with Compiance Director Joel Vickery. Apparently it's a provisional clearence, but there should be no other problems, so ISU is at full strength, and now Caspari can travel to Hawaii, because up until 20 minutes ago he couldn't travel either. Get there early and let's see you tonight.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Just One Big Crazy Weekend Coming Up

I'm continually impressed with the posts that Brad Bugger has been enlightening us with...I hope you all are enjoying. Oh, that crazy weekend? Men's basketball game on Friday at 7, get done at 10, drive to Missoula, get in a 3:30 am or so, sleep for four hours, handle all the pregame stuff, radio show at 10:45 am in Missoula, football at noon, drive back at 4 or so, back in Pocatello at 10 or so, repack, sleep, get up at 5:15 am, catch the Salt Lake Shuttle to the airport, and fly to catch up with men's basketball at noon. The saving grace, when all that ends....I'll be in Hawaii...I hope I'm awake to enjoy it. Back to one of the 100 or so Division I blogs on the internet (and about 80 or so popped up after this one).

Men's Basketball Opener on Friday night
Just a reminder that the team is doing a Meet & Greet at Wingers (all you can eat Sticky Fingers for $9.99 ... I mean are you serious?) where fans can get promotional materials and get pictures and autographs. Just don't take Busma's wings. Also, nothing too new on Felix's deal, but Felix has personally been in contact with the people in Brazil the NCAA is trying to reach for their International Clearinghouse, so I'm thinking good happy, positive thoughts right now. Let's keep our hopes up on this one.

However, Friday is the big day as the Joe O'Brien era, year three, officially opens against a ridiculously good NAIA opponent in Eastern Oregon. For those that think this is a pushover so there isn't a need of showing up, just read Kellis Robinett's blog post on that one. Hey, you can even ask the newlywed a question too! Also, Ryan Collingwood (an Eastern Oregon grad doncha know...) has his season preview of the Bengals up as well.

One question that wasn't asked was about parking for the game on Friday at Reed. There were still good spots near the facility last Friday, and the crowd was really not bad for an exhibition game. While Reed did lose parking spots, folks can park at the Vocational Tech building across from Reed, or at Turner-Garrison, catty-corner from Reed. It might involve a one block walk, but it's not further than parking near Bonneville Park and walking to the Holt front doors.

Lots of Women's Debuts this Week
The Seton Sobolewski era officially starts on Saturday when ISU takes on a very, very, very good DePaul team down in Albuquerque for the first of three games in that tournament (they also have Alcorn State and New Mexico). Along with the debut of Seton Sobolewski and his staff (actually, Jordan Green and Angela Munger have both coaches here before, so only Seton and Holly Robertson debut) Mark Liptak will be going at it solo on the radio call, so make sure you tune in for Mark's broadcasts. Also, Kelvin Ang talks about ISU's first recruiting class for Sobolewski, who stole one recruit out from under the University of Idaho for good measure. Idaho did announce former Bengal Bianca Cheever has signed with Jon Newlee and the Vandals.

Volleyball's Late Run
I joked at the press conference this week that very quietly, the volleyball team has won six of their last nine, making a late playoff push. The great thing is while we are all pretty happy with the team's resurgence, Chad is disappointed they haven't won more, and he isn't satisfied that the team is playing up to their potential, and wants them to do even better. Gotta like that, but credit to him and his's ISU's first four-match win streak since 2003. It's a tough road this week at Northern Colorado and Northern Arizona.

Super Secret Press Conferences?
I was asked recently why ISU's Monday press conferences are not available video-wise or audio-wise, and the answer is the video thing is an equipment issue. The digital camera int he office doesn't have any sound for video, so that's not helpful, and the audio files can only be stored for a short period due to the amount of server space we get as an athletic department, which would eventually lead to major linkrot. Eventually I'd love to have a nicer digital camera that records video just for that purpose. I know Tim Flagstad videos the press conference with his camera (My wife's camera can do the video, but she uses it during the day because...well, it's hers...), but I can't find it on the Journal's site. If anyone would like to donate a good digital camera..... :) (EDIT 10:48 am ... Tim Flagstad sent me the link to his video of the press conference here. Yeah to Tim!!!!)

Three-point line stuff
The Journal has some good stuff on the new three-point line, as Kellis talked at length with some of ISU's long-range threats. When at Holt, there is no confusion because there is only the men's line, but at Reed, as you can see by the photo, there are two. Kelvin Ang took a closer look at how the two lines will effect the women's game.

In the Interest of Presenting All Sides
While I don't necessarily agree with all of Dan Thompson's points in his column, he does make some valid ones as well on the subject of marketing.

Quick Football Hitters
Since I'm gonna be rolling into Missoula around 3:30 am on Saturday morning, catching about four hours of sleep and getting up at 7:30 to start getting ready for the game, it'll be a quick hitter for me, so here are some quick hitters for you...Roman Stubbs of the Kaimin, Montana's student newspaper, has two pretty good pieces, on John Zamberlin, and on how Montana is approaching this game, knowing the Brawl of the Wild is next up for them. Dan Thompson has his weekly power poll as well as his notebook (note McBride's comments...a tremendously classy individual to note that while recovering from his ailment). I like Mac even more now. Fritz Neighbor of the Missoulian has his look at Idaho State, but I'm not sure who Mike Phipps is.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Things I Think I Know

Thoughts, musings, reflections and inferences from watching the Idaho State men's and women's basketball exhibition games on Friday:

--This ain't your father's -- or Jon Newlee's -- women's basketball team. Seton Sobolewski has definitely put a stamp on the Bengals in just one exhibition game. Gone is the fun-and-gun offense of his predecessor, replaced by the "patience squared" attack. (That's as in, "Patience, patience," Coach S's frequent admonition as the Bengals walk the ball into the front court). The Bengals will certainly take some time in adjusting to Sobolewski's motion O -- there were times Friday when it seemed like there were three ISU players all bunched in the same passing lane -- but it looks like everyone is going to get their chance to score. The Bengals are going to make other teams work hard on defense, and that's not a bad thing.

--Freshman Sheila Adams (pictured above) can play a little hoop, no? As Frank Mercogliano noted to me as we watched the Utah freshman put up 16 points in her debut, "You can certainly see how Jon (Newlee) thought she might eventually replace Andrea Lightfoot." Yes, I can. In fact, I think we'll be talking about who is going to replace Sheila Adams in four years.

--The Bengal ladies may be a touch thin this year, it doesn't look like they are going to go much more than 7 or 8 deep when the games start counting. They certainly could have used Ally Sissel and Bianca Cheever, two players who chose to follow Newlee to northern Idaho. But help appears to be on the way. The early signing period for basketball begins Wednesday and runs through Nov. 19. The Journal has already reported on two players expected to sign with the Bengals, and I'm told a true post player may also be on the way.

--On to the men. You know what I love about Joe O'Brien? Picking up a technical foul in an exhibition game. The man competes. Now, after exhibition wins over Montana Tech and Rocky Mountain College, things get serious, and Coach OB is all about wins. He knows that if the Bengals play as sloppy against Eastern Oregon this Friday as they did in the first half against Rocky Mountain College, they are setting themselves up for an L. O'Brien started "coaching to win" in the second half Friday night, when you started to see a real core lineup emerge. This week against EOU, I would expect a further refining of the troops.

--Will Austin Kilpatrick and Felix Caspari be part of the "game day" rotation? We shall see. O'Brien said A-K has served sufficient time in the doghouse, but how will he fit into the rotation? I haven't heard as of Monday afternoon whether Caspari has passed the NCAA Clearinghouse yet. One thing is clear -- if both are able to play, whether it's this week or sometime soon, minutes are going to become a precious commodity on this team. Particularly at the wing positions. By my count, you have six guys who are serious contenders for playing time on the wings--Kal Bay, Kilpatrick, Matt Stucki, Amorrow Morgan, Donnie Carson and Phyllip Taylor. (And Mike Lacey was pondering whether to redshirt????) Now, somebody is going to have to play the nominal "point guard," and if Sherrod Baldwin is not the immediate answer, that will open up minutes for one of the wings. Still, that's a lot of talent to share a maximum of 120 minutes a game.
--I think it's safe to say the Sherrod Baldwin experiment is over, at least for now. Oh, I certainly am not about to write off the young freshman from Memphis -- he will be a contributor, hopefully before the end of this season. But you can't play two games without an assist and call yourself a serious candidate for the starting point guard position. Bay, playing with an ab injury and flack jacket, certainly demonstrated what he can mean to this Bengal team against Rocky Mountain. I expect to see he, Morgan and Stucki taking turns initiating the ISU offense for much of this year.

--Okay, I now know how to spell his first name -- Deividas Busma. Thanks, Frank. I still can't pronounce it, but he'll be Big D before you know it, anyway. Eleven blocks in the first two exhibition games makes me think that someone other than guard Austin Kilpatrick will lead ISU in that statistical category this year. Still, Big D is going to have to learn to play better fundamental defense as the season progresses. The "big boys" like BYU, Utah, Wisconsin and Washington State have plenty of skilled players upfront who will go right at Big D, and he won't be on the floor more than 10 minutes against any of those guys if he doesn't use his feet more. Repeat after me: big men take more time to develop than guards. By the time the Big Sky season rolls around, though, it will be awful comforting seeing Big D playing deep safety back there.
--Every year around this time, you will hear D-1 coaches talking up the various NAIA and D-II schools they are bringing in for exhibition games. Sometimes, believe it or not, this is not just BS. (See Northwestern's loss to Robert Morris, for example -- ouch!). O'Brien is not just blowing smoke when he talks about Eastern Oregon, either. The Mountaineers come into Reed on Friday with four starters back from a 26-win team, as well as newcomers Kris Groce (who averaged almost 11 points a game for Sac State two years ago), and 6-7 Jordan Gregg of Lewiston, who scored 16 points a game in EOU's first three games this year. The Mountaineers are 4-0 and coming off an overtime win over No. 22-rated Lewis-Clark State, so they will be battle tested. Don't believe anyone who tells you ISU has to win this game by double-digits in order to impress. Especially at this stage in the season, any old win will be sufficient.

--Brad B.

And thanks for being Bengal fans. It ain't always easy, but it's always fun.