Can I say that on this blog? Well, okay, it's been a darn good week, how's that? Hey, what could be better than Northwestern winning AT Michigan State, followed by Idaho State winning AT Northern Arizona? Well, how about NU winning at Michigan, followed by ISU winning at Sac on Saturday? Now that will be one hel...heckuva week!
Some random thoughts and observations on the Bengalsphere:
The Continuing Rebirth of AK
Sure, Amorrow Morgan continued his first-team all-Big Sky caliber play in the Bengals' win over NAU last night, but I really thought the key to the game was the continued rebirth of Austin Kilpatrick (above). His three-pointer ignited the Bengal 21-0 run, and he wound up with 6 points and 4 rebounds. If AK can continue that kind of contribution off the bench, the Bengals are going to be competitive with just about anybody in the league.
I also like the way Chron Tatum (8 points, 7 rebounds) continues to fill his role as designated mid-range shooter and garbage rebounder. And Lucas Steijn (12 points, 3 rebounds) filled a nice niche off the bench on a night when David Busmas didn't bring much to the table. We are starting to see the kind of chemistry and understanding of roles and rotation that were missing earlier this season.
What if They Played a Game and Nobody Came?
Was it just me, or, for those of you who watched the game on Dish last night, was that the most sterile, empty, boring atmosphere for a college basketball game you've ever seen?
If you're the AD at NAU, you've got to be asking some serious questions about what needs to be done to stimulate interest in your basketball program. Mike Adras has done a consistently good job putting together NAU's basketball program, but it's pretty apparent the people in Flagstaff don't care anymore. Couple that with NAU's propensity for blowing double-digit second half leads this year (Portland State, Northern Colorado, Montana and ISU), and Adras has to be feeling some heat.
The Bengals will have to self-motivate again Saturday night in Sacramento, where the Hornets drew 791 for their game with Weber State last night. The Bengals will have to bring their own energy and toughness to the Hornet's Nest to avoid giving up the huge momentum surge they picked up with their win in Flagstaff. A sweep of this road trip would mean a four-game winning streak with Weber coming to town. That might be enough to stimulate a 3,000-plus turnout for the Wildcats at Holt Arena on Thursday night.
I was talking to Mark Campbell, the Bengals chief strength pooh-bah, at the ISU women's basketball game last night, and I reminded him of the job he has ahead of him -- getting the Bengal football team physically fit to play Arizona State and Oklahoma back-to-back. The school made it official Thursday, announcing ISU will play Oklahoma in September a week after the trip to Tempe, for a combined two-game payoff of just short of a cool million bucks.
Mark was virtually drooling at the prospect of preparing his athletes to play the best in the nation. The Bengals are already in off-season conditioning, and he has thrown out the gauntlet to the returning players -- if you can compete physically with the Sooners, who in the Big Sky will intimidate you? Campbell is telling his charges they have essentially eight months to "be all they can be" physically before they take on the Sun Devils and Sooners. If that doesn't motivate the Bengals, well, they are in for a worse thumping than any of us are fearing right now.
The Bengal coaching staff, meanwhile, is trying to close on this year's recruiting class, with national signing day coming up Feb. 4. I'm told the Bengals have four mid-year junior college transfers in the fold and on campus. They will be announced with the high school and beginning- of-the-year JC transfers on signing day. My biggest concerns right now are these: the Bengals will be down to one scholarship running back (Ben LaPorta) for spring practice, after Clint Knickrehm underwent wrist surgery this week; and there still does not appear to be a left offensive tackle on campus. Filling those holes will be keys between now and the start of fall camp. Bengal fans are advised to be patient, as productive JC and four-year-transfers have been known to accrue well after national signing day.
And thanks for being Bengal fans -- it ain't always easy, but it's always fun.