Friday, January 9, 2009

Is Double-13 Lucky?

One of my favorite parts of co-hosting the Chili's Coaches Show on Monday nights is getting to meet some of the Bengal athletes. This week, we got to know Chrondarius Andre Tatum -- better known to you all as Chron. Now, in addition to having one of the really cool names on the basketball team, Chron is also a true gentleman -- and he's turning into one of the more pleasant surprises on this year's team.

You will recall that Chron (above) started off his Idaho State career with a couple of big games last season, including a 20-point, 6-rebound effort against BYU, and a 14-9 performance against Long Beach State. Then, he got sick and never really recovered. He saw his playing time dwindle to a few minutes, here or there, and he told us on the coaches' show Monday night, he never really felt healthy all season long.

When this season started, Tatum was a backup to Demetrius Monroe, who came out of the gates like gangbusters, posting four straight double-doubles. Then Meech crashed into a wall of his own -- he's gone 7 straight games now in single figures scoring, and his last substantial rebound effort was six against Nevada, five games ago. That has re-opened the door to Tatum, and the Atlanta native has responded with four double-figure scoring games in his last six, including a 13-point, 13-rebound effort in the loss at Eastern Washington on Thursday.

Tatum is an interesting story -- when he got out of high school in Atlanta, he thought his basketball career might be over. No one offered him a scholarship, and he wound up paying his own way to play at Riverside Community College in California for a season. He was in the process of redshirting his sophomore year at Riverside when the Bengal coaches saw him play at an open gym and began the recruiting process. The fact that he still had three years of eligibility left made him particularly attractive to the Bengals, and Tatum is equally thrilled to have a chance to continue his basketball career in Pocatello.

You always get interesting little nuggets from these interviews, and one thing Tatum told Jerry Miller and I on Monday (other than his full, first name) is that, while he's officially listed as 6-8 by the Bengals, he's really only about 6-4 1/2. That makes that 13-rebound effort against the Eagles all the more impressive. Tatum leads Big Sky-only games with an average of 10 boards a contest.

I'm sure you'll see both Monroe and Tatum continue to contribute in substantial ways throughout Big Sky Conference play. They, along with JC transfer Felix Caspari, offer the Bengals great depth at the prototypical small forward position, and are yet another reason why this is one of the deeper Bengal teams I can recall in recent years.

Okay, I Admit It: I'm Clueless

Well, it took all of less than two weeks of conference play to prove that I don't know what the heck I'm talking about when it comes to Big Sky basketball. To wit:

--I bragged about how dominant Portland State has been at home in conference play over the last two seasons or so -- and then the Vikings get whacked by Weber State in the Stott Center.
--I picked both the Wildcats and Montana to collapse in conference play, and they are both off to good starts.
--I fingered Montana State and Idaho State to finish in the top four, and they are both struggling so far.

At least it's still early. Here are some players who have gotten my attention to date:

--Anthony Johnson, a 6-3 Juco transfer, has stepped in at PG for Montana following the suspension of Ceylon Elgin-Taylor. Johnson is not your typical point man -- he's a scorer, having posted back-to-back 30 point games for the Griz. He starts in the same backcourt as 3-point gunner Ryan Staudacher, so the Griz figure to present some matchup problems -- and face some -- against teams with the smaller, quicker point guards in the league.

--Kyle Bullinger, a 6-6 redshirt freshman F, has been on fire for Weber State in league play, averaging 19.5 points, including a five-for-five night from 3-point range against Portland State Thursday night. The Wildcats lead Big Sky play in 3-point shooting, hitting 47 percent from beyond the arc, including 15 against Northern Colorado in a big comeback win.

--Cameron Jones, a 6-4 sophomore G, is averaging over 20 points a game for NAU in the Axers' four league games. NAU has been the tough luck team in the conference so far, losing three games by a total of four points. Despite their misfortune, the Axers are third in the league in scoring, averaging almost 76 points a game.
Congrats to ISU Women
And if you need further evidence I don't know what I'm talking about, note that ISU's women's team is off to a 2-0 league start. While I still believe lack of depth will eventually catch up with Seton Sobolewski's team, I must say I'm impressed by their effort to date. Keep up the good work, ladies.
--Brad B.
And thanks for being a being Bengal fan -- it ain't always easy, but it's always fun.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Delayed again....story of a basketball team's life on the road....

Well, sitting here in Boise after a healthy grilled chicken caesar salad (you know you have been in too many airports when you know what the restaurants are by hears), and I'm on the free wireless.
In you hear that Salt Lake City International Airport? FREE WIRELESS....although get Kansas City, if you wanted to plug your laptop in to like, you know, charge it had to pay money to get power to the outlets. Seriously. How 1965 communist Russia is that? I'm not holding out for SLC to get free internet any time soon, since you have to pay money just to enter a bar and grill....sheesh.

Anyway, a few quick links before the flight (delayed again....of course). The Big Sky held their mid-season men's basketball conference call, and surprise, surprise...Portland State is still considered the team to beat.

Now, as soon as I can get my blog to post pictures again (I need to sit and figure out what I screwed up...) so you have to click here ... I'll have way more on this in like 10 days or so, but that's the new Holt Arena sign being constructed on Memorial...should be pretty sweet when it's all done with.

Coming Second to Army Ain't Half Bad...

I'll have more on this later, but the bus is leaving for Boise to catch the plane to Spokane to catch the bus to Cheney (whew!) in like 15 minutes, but I got the word that this little blog....this teeny little blog that was banned from existence just a few short months is now officially an "AWARD WINNING BLOG!!!!!" Holy crap, right?

Eye of Sports Media was the runner-up for the ... get this title ... "2008 Eye on Sports Media "Bloodshot Eyeball" Award for Best Sports Information Department Blog" ... behind the U.S. Army Athletic blog, run by Bob Barretta. This might be the coolest award I have ever I'd like to thank Jeff Tingey at this time for allowing the blog to happen, as well as Brad Bugger, who bring some great content with a decidedly Bengal view of things....he's a big key in this award to. I'd also like to thank my wife, my children, Bill Champlin, John Zamberlin, and most of all, Mr. Belvedere...OK, seriously, I'll have more once we get to Boise and their lovely free internet service!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Take Me Home.....'s me! I'm weary, exhausted, but alive. The Joe O'Brien/Men's Basketball Fund-raising Tour 2008-09 has finished, just in time to return to ISU's home base....Big Sky Conference play. I can't tell you how many time I listened to Marc Broussard's "Home" on the way back from Kansas State, just giddy about being done with all the crazy non-conference we just have crazy conference travel, but at least the guys are used to that. (Editor's note: Marc Broussard is the best singer no one has heard about...Bil Champlin in Chicago basically told me to drop everything and pick up Marc's stuff...I did and have NOT been disappointed, back to the blog)

The fundraising tour had some benefits ($325,000 being the obvious one) and some drawbacks (a 3-11 non-conference record), but hey, ISU gets to boast playing a top three non-conference schedule at least. I know sports information doesn't see much of that money though ... quick note about the Kansas State road trip...we should have known what kind of trip it was going to be when we stopped to eat at a steakhouse only to find out they had no beef, just pork chops, chicken and pasta. Shoulda known right there I suppose. Of course, I had a lovely dinner on my anniversary with Joe O'Brien, while my wife had pizza with our daughter. Gotta love having a New Year's Day anniversary, huh?

I still haven't found jayjay057 to figure out how the heck he sliced all this together, but if you missed Amorrow's shot, or Busma's tip at the buzzer, they are both here....pretty cool stuff.

I'm on TV all the time, but I found this hilarious anyways....
Seriously, I sorta don't care to be on TV, but I do see myself on all the time (I got about 3,352 texts within five minutes of saving Wisconsin's Joe Krabbenhoft from crashing into the stands on the Big Ten Network), but my younger bother the cop in Florida, he's NEVER on TV....until now. He apparently is one of the cops features in the Tru TV network (formerly Court TV) show, Speeders, and also Speeders Fight Back. Well, here is a clip of on of the segments (it's the very first one....entitled Duh!)...I'm proud to say his snarkiness comes from me.

The men have company in the undefeated category...
And that would be the women's team, which, just like the men, came back from a halftime deficit to defeat Northern Colorado, picking up a big road win on Friday night, even bigger because UNC defeated Weber State on Sunday. Of course, Idaho State beat UNC in overtime, and then UNC lost on Saturday to Weber State in overtime after leading by 16 in the second half, by 11 with 3:30 left, and by seven with 40 seconds left. Of course, those overtimes are nothing compared to what Northern Arizona and Portland State went through on the Big Sky Game of the Week on Altitude yesterday afternoon...

We're Number Six! We're Number Six...and Utah can Say They are #1 in Something...
Idaho is the sixth-fastest growing state in the union, and Utah is actually first, according to the United States Census.

Make sure you come out and support the women on Thursday and Saturday, and go BENGALS!