Friday, February 27, 2009

Vengence is Mine, Saith the Coach

While fully believing in the separation of Church and State, a quick lesson on the blog today. For those of you that miss their Bible Studies, Romans 12:19 says "Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord."

Well, Joe O'Brien was hoping his team would exact a little revenge on Sacramento State last night, and holy cow did they ever. In case you missed it (and you shouldn't have...we had a shuttle) ISU led 26-3 with 5:36 left when Sacramento State scored their first field goal. Seriously. They went 0-for-14 until Randy Adams hit a basket from underneath. It was weird to watch, it wasn't like Sacramento State wasn't trying ... they were hustling everywhere, and they were in our grill defensively, but ISU shot 63.0% for the game. It was like watching was fun to watch.

But my thoughts was .... where would this rate on the Bill Simmons "Vengence Scale"? That scale came about due to the Shaquille O'Neal meeting against Kobe and the Lakers on Christmas Day a few years back when he torched the Lakers. For the full Vengence Scale from 0.0 (Rocky Balboa defeating Tommy Gunn in Rocky V) to 10.0 (Keyser Soze in the Usual Suspects), just click here and prepare to lose about 30 minutes of time at work. It's OK...everyone needs a break.

Anyways, I'm putting the 74-39 beatdown at 7.15, right between:

7.1 -- Snoop and Dre taking shots at Easy E in "Wit' Dre Day" ... Biggie recording "Who Shot Ya?" ... 50 Cent creating the word "Wankster" in a song about Ja Rule.

7.2 -- Darren McCarty beating up Claude Lemeiux (after Lemeiux broke Kris Draper's jaw the previous season) ... Ricky Steamboat learning to speak again after Randy Savage crushed his larynx with the ring bell, then ultimately seeking revenge (bonus points for the comedy of every taped piece where Steamboat pretended he couldn't speak, so he had to make crazy gestures to indicate how angry he was).

I remember the Ricky Steamboat incident from my childhood...we used to run around my house pretending we couldn't speak because of him....good times. Anyways, 7.15 belongs to the Bengals.

Tickets on Sale.....Psyche!
There are things that are embarrassing, and then there was the slip up last night after the game, where ISU announced that we were selling tickets for our conference tournament home game, but for some reason, the ticket folks thought that we hadn't clinched a home game yet because Northern Colorado snuck up and beat Montana. I'm not sure how it happened, but I am the scenariologist around here, and if I say we host.....well....listen to me, we host.

Anyways, fans can get tickets today, Saturday, and all next week, and how about ISU LOWERING the prices for the tournament? Nice right? Tickets are $14 and $9 for adults (those are on the floor in the end zones for $9...a steal), children and seniors are $6, and ISU students are $3 (have to charge for the tournament).

Seton Sobolewski for Coach of the Year
I should make buttons for that. Seriously....who else gets it on the women's side? Everyone and their parents knew Portland State and Montana would be 1-2. Montana State is a disappointing 6-7. ISU is 6-8 and in fourth place after changing coaches, losing the greatest player in the history of the Big Sky Conference, losing ISU's top two career scorers, and having just seven scholarship players. He is totally the Coach of the Year....not a doubt in my mind.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

While Pondering the Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham and Overtime Hockey Games....

....seriously, I had to play in an overtime playoff game yesterday after pulling the goalie and scoring with :05 on the clock to tie the game at 3-3...and then we scored on a power play 2:42 into the OT. That's drama baby. And then I come home and watch the Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham. Unreal night for me.

Tonight however, ISU clinches not just a playoff spot with a win, but a home game to boot (ticket will be available should ISU win tonight ... prices are LOWER than the regular season prices by a buck...but still, nice showing there). Remember the shuttle starting at 6:15 from Holt.

Here are the conference's updated playoff scenarios courtesy of myself and Jon Kasper (the two scenario geeks!)

*Weber State is hosting the conference tournament, they win the regular season outright with a win over NAU or SAC OR a Montana loss at UNC.

To finish second…
*Win over UNC OR one PSU loss to either MSU or EWU
*Loss to UNC and two PSU wins IF MSU defeats UNC (that would ensure that MSU would finish ahead of UNC in the standings)

To finish second
*Wins over MSU and EWU AND UM loss to UNC AND UNC win over MSU (only way to do it)
Anything else and they are the #3 seed

To clinch a spot in the tournament
*A win over either NAU or SAC OR an NAU loss to WSU OR one MSU loss to either UNC or WSU OR an EWU win over PSU OR one Northern Colorado loss. ISU cannot lose a 7-9 tie to any team involved in the tie unless the only two teams in the tie are ISU and NAU.
To clinch fourth
*Wins over either NAU or SAC OR with losses to NAU and SAC AND if MSU wins one or none of their final two games AND UNC does not sweep UM and MSU
To clinch fourth
* A win over either NAU or SAC OR with two losses exactly one MSU win AND exactly one UNC win. ISU cannot lose a 7-9 tie to any team involved in the tie unless the only two teams in the tie are ISU and NAU.

To clinch a spot in the tournament
*One win over UNC or WSU OR one NAU loss and one EWU loss OR one NAU loss and a UM win OR one EWU win and a UM win.
To clinch a home game
*Two wins and two ISU losses

To clinch a spot in the tournament
*Two wins OR a win over UM and an NAU loss
To clinch a home game
*Two wins AND two ISU losses.

*Win over PSU AND either two MSU losses or two UNC losses
NOTE: if UNC, NAU, and EWU all finish 6-10, NAU wins the tiebreaker if they defeat WSU but lose to ISU. If NAU defeats ISU but loses to WSU, then all three teams have identical results, and the RPI tiebreaker would be used to determine 6th, 7th, and 8th, and currently Eastern has the highest RPI of the tied teams. If NAU finishes 5-11, EWU and UNC can still tie at 6-10 and have identical results, going to the RPI tiebreak.

To clinch a spot in the tournament
*Wins over WSU and ISU AND an ISU loss to SAC AND a PSU win over EWU AND both MSU and UNC do not finish 7-9.
If MSU, UNC, EWU, and NAU all finish 7-9 providing UNC beats UM but loses to MSU and ISU beats SAC; MSU is fifth (defeat of WSU, and a possible sweep, plus a win over Portland State) and NAU is sixth (win over WSU)
If MSU, UNC, EWU, and NAU all finish 7-9 providing UNC beats MSU but loses to UM and ISU beats SAC; UNC is fifth (4-2 against tied teams), MSU is eighth (2-4 against tied teams), and NAU is sixth (defeated WSU)
If ISU, MSU, UNC, EWU, and NAU all finish 7-9 providing UNC beats UM but loses to MSU; ISU is fourth (5-3 vs. tied teams), MSU is eighth (3-5 vs. tied teams), NAU is fifth (beat WSU), UNC is sixth (beat UM), and EWU is seventh (best win is PSU).
If ISU, MSU, UNC, EWU, and NAU all finish 7-9 providing UNC beats MSU but loses to UM; ISU and UNC are both (5-3 vs. tied teams), MSU is eighth (2-6 vs. tied teams), NAU is sixth (beat WSU) and EWU is seventh (best win is PSU). ISU is fourth (beat UM), and UNC is fifth.
To clinch a first round home game:
*Wins over WSU and ISU AND an ISU loss to SAC AND a PSU win over EWU AND MSU losses to UNC and WSU AND a UM win over UNC.


In case you missed it the softball media guide is up (actually got a facebook message thanking me for it and the efforts to promote the team, which honestly warmed my heart just a little) and I posted a photo gallery of the first two tournaments that sort of introduces you to the team...courtesy of Caitlin McGrath's mom, who sent me a ton of pictures. Gotta love softball parents! Make sure you check it out.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Post-Season Invites? What Might Have Been

Just one more week before we will all be sick to death of the term "on the bubble," but here's why you have to love college basketball: according to the web site RealTime RPI, Idaho State's men's basketball team has beaten the No. 11 team in the country this year in Utah -- and lost to the No. 341 team in Sacramento State. Pretty wild.

The Bengals get a chance to atone for that Sac State loss Thursday night at Reed Gym, when they host the Hornets in a game that means absolutely nothing to Sac, and a whole bunch to ISU. If the Bengals win, they will clinch a Big Sky Conference post-season tournament berth, and go a long way toward locking up the No. 4 seed and a host role in the first round of the tournament.

As far as Idaho State, with its 10-18 overall record, is concerned the only way the Bengals are going to a post-season tournament (other than the conference tourney) this year is if they sweep through the Big Sky tournament and win the league's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament. But there are at least 13 teams that the Bengals have played this year who could be in the running for post-season play. This year, there are four post-season tournaments: the NCAA, the NIT, the CBI and a new tournament sponsored by College Insider. That means 129 teams will get post-season invitations out of the nation's 343 Division I programs.

Here's a look at Idaho State's opponents, where they are ranked by RealRPI, and their post-season prospects.

Heading to the Big Dance

Utah (11), Arizona State (22), Utah State (27), Wisconsin (28) and BYU (30) all have good to excellent shots at at-large berths in the NCAA tournament if they fail to win their conference tournaments. Weber State (82), of course, will be the favorite to win the Big Sky's automatic berth.

NIT Bound

The NIT is required to take any regular season conference champion that fails to get invited to the NCAA tournament. So if Weber should happen to stumble in the conference tourney, the Wildcats would get an automatic berth in the NIT. If the Wildcats do win the tournament, Portland State (134) and Montana (159) have shots at an NIT berth. PSU's wins over Boise State and Gonzaga would seem to set them up for an NIT bid, if they finish out the regular season strong and get to the Big Sky title game. Montana is much more of a long shot.

Among ISU's non-conference opponents, Wisconsin is probably more likely to go to the NIT than the NCAA; Kansas State (75), Boise State (89) and Washington State (102) have outside shots, although I see BSU and Wazzu more likely to go to one of the other tournaments.

CBI or College Insider

Believe it or not, Idaho (132) is talking post-season this year, but the Vandals would probably need to win all three of their final regular season games and a first-round game in the WAC tournament to do it. Nevada (91) is also a likely post-season invitee.

And what of the Bengals? Even though they played a brutal non-conference schedule, Idaho State still could have made a post-season case for itself if the Bengals had won the "winnable" games on that schedule: Hawaii, Long Beach State, Boise State, Sacramento State, and the first Weber State game. That's four games the Bengals lost in overtime and a loss to the third worst team in the nation.

Had the Bengals won those five games, swept their final two regular season games against Sac and NAU, and won a first-round game in the Big Sky tournament, they would have finished with an 18-14 mark and wins over six other potential post-season tournament teams in Utah, BSU, Weber, Idaho, Montana and Portland State. That might have been enough to land them in the CBI or College Insider. Instead, the Bengals will have to put together a "perfect finish" reminiscent of the last ISU team to make the post-season -- the 1987 team that rose from a No. 7 seed to sweep through the Big Sky Tournament and into the NCAA tournament.

--Brad B.

And thanks for being a Bengal fan -- it ain't always easy, but it's always fun.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Injury Update

It looks like the Bengals will be short on bodies when they host Sacramento State and Northern Arizona in their final regular season games at Reed Gym this weekend. The Bengals are fighting to hold on to fourth place and a host role for a first-round Big Sky playoff game.

On our coaches' show Monday night, ISU Head Man Joe O'Brien said that two recent starters may not be available for action this week. Small forward Chron Tatum (right), who had a nice game in Missoula against the Griz Saturday night, sustained a moderate concussion in that game and is doubtful for Thursday night's game with the Hornets. His status for Saturday's game with NAU is also cloudy.

Point guard Sherrod Baldwin, who missed Saturday night's game against Montana after spraining an ankle in the win over Montana State Thursday night, is also uncertain for the Sac State game, but he sounded a little more likely to play. Baldwin took a limited role in practice Monday, and may be able to give the Bengals a few minutes Thursday night.

Baldwin and Tatum join forward Demetrius Monroe and guard Kal Bay on the injured list. Monroe, who has been suffering from a very painful bone bruise in his knee, is probably done for the season. Bay, who broke a bone in his shooting hand several weeks ago, is trying to get enough strength back in his hand, and regain enough game conditioning so that he can play a few minutes on Saturday vs. NAU.

Guard Austin Kilpatrick will probably get the call in the Bengal starting lineup Thursday night in place of Tatum, as ISU will go small with its four-guard lineup. David Busma, Felix Caspari and Phyllip Taylor will likely be the main reinforcements off the bench if Baldwin can't provide any minutes.

--Brad B.

And thanks for being a Bengal fan -- it ain't always easy, but it's always fun.

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I think it's safe to say that even though I have the very lofty title of "Assistant Athletic Director for Media Relations" ... well, I'm pretty much a geek at heart. I mean let's face it, I'm very popular on UniWatch as I'm a bit of a uniform obsessive. I also am all into LOST, and I follow the blogs after an episode, and I feel like I could write in what little spare time I have for LOSTpedia. On this last road trip once my computer battery died I found out that I enjoyed this a little bit too much, and I got to rewatch a few great sports documentaries, including Long Shots, the Life and Times of the American Basketball Association (a must-see) and When It Was A Game as well.

So, with this the final week for Big Sky men's basketball, you know I get geeked up when I get to help the conference office with conference tournament scenarios. I mean seriously, I love it. And while I won't break down everything (Jon at the conference office is looking everything over and comparing it to what he has figured out), I do know the ISU ones down pat.

Amazingly, ISU can finish as high as third, or out all together, but for that to happen, it would take a major, major miracle. Here is the scenarios for Idaho State:


To clinch a spot in the tournament

*A win over either NAU or SAC OR a NAU loss to WSU OR if MSU wins one or none of their final three games OR an EWU win over PSU OR one Northern Colorado loss. ISU cannot lose a 7-9 tie to any team involved in the tie unless the only two teams in the tie are ISU and NAU.

To clinch fourth

*Wins over NAU and SAC OR one win over either NAU or SAC and one loss by MSU to either PSU, UNC, or WSU OR with losses to NAU and SAC AND if MSU wins one or none of their final three games AND UNC does not sweep UM and MSU

To clinch third

*Wins over NAU and SAC AND PSU losses to MSU and EWU

Pretty simple right? I mean that is a load for ISU to miss the tournament. Anyways, back to the release, but I'm sorta pumped after figuring all that out. Have I ever mentioned I love my job?

Go Bengals!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Down the Stretch We Come

The Bengal men (more on the women below) got a split on the recent Montana road trip and they got the biggest win of the two available -- over Montana State. That gives Idaho State the first tiebreaker should the Bengals and MSU both finish with the same record in the race for fourth place, ISU having swept the season series over the Bobcats. Had MSU won in Bozeman Thursday the Bobcats would have clinched a tiebreaker by virtue of having beaten Weber State once this season while ISU was swept by the first-place Wildcats.

With just two regular season games left for Idaho State and Weber State, Montana and Portland State virtually locked in at the 1-2-3 spots, here's a look at the race for the No. 4 spot and that first-round hosting opportunity:

The Bengals are 7-7, a half-game ahead of Montana State and a full-game ahead of Northern Colorado for fourth place. If ISU beats both Sac State (Thursday) and Northern Arizona (Saturday) in Reed Gym this week the Bengals will clinch fourth place. They would host Northern Colorado, MSU or Eastern Washington in a first-round game.

The Bengals can also grab the fourth place spot with one win this week if Montana State loses one of its three final games (at Portland State, at Northern Colorado and at home against Weber State), and Northern Colorado loses either of its final two at home games against Montana and Montana State.
If the Bengals drop both games this week, they would need MSU to lose to Portland State and Weber State, and Northern Colorado to lose both its final two games.

Northern Colorado had a gut-wrenching road trip this past week, losing at Portland State by three and at Eastern Washington by a point. Had the Bears won either of those, they could have put a lot of pressure on ISU, especially if they had held on to the big lead they had at PSU.
More on Willie Humes

I got an email from former ISU Sports Information Director Glenn Alford, who explained that former Bengal star Willie Humes is not in the ISU Athletic Hall of Fame because "he's never been nominated." The inference I get from Glenn's email is that Willie, who is ISU's all-time scoring average leader at 31.5 points a game, was something of a gunner. Humes averaged over 30 shot attempts a game his senior year.

While Willie may not have been all-conference when it came to shot selection, however, his individual scoring exploits would still seem to me to qualify him for the Hall of Fame. He is, afterall, still ranked No. 10 in NCAA career scoring average, was a two-time all-Big Sky selection and made the conference's Silver Anniversary Team.
Willie played at a very different time in college basketball, back in the days when guys like Pete Maravich and Johnny Neumann averaged over 40 points a game for entire seasons. There were a lot of "gunners" in college basketball in the late 1960s and early 1970s -- Rick Mount, Austin Carr, Bo Lamar, Freeman Williams, Travis Grant, etc. UCLA was dominating the NCAA tournament with exemplary "team basketball," but a lot of programs were giving their stars free reign to fire at will.
Willie Humes was one of those stars. In my view, he shouldn't be penalized for taking advantage of the times. So I nominated him for the ISU Hall of Fame Class of 2009. We'll see what the selection committee decides. In the meantime if anybody knows if Willie is still alive or what he's doing these days, I'd still love to hear about him.
Return of the Whistle
Ty Elkin's wife officiated the ISU-Montana women's game in Reed Gym Saturday, and I was able to return Ty's spare whistle, which I used to discipline my marauding dogs, through her. Brutus has gone home and I'll have to find another means of keeping peace between he and my dog Burley next time Brutus comes to visit.

Welcome Coach Cullen

I ran into several members of the Bengal football coaching staff on Saturday night, as they were preparing to take a recruit to dinner. They were beaming about the addition of new defensive line coach Joe Cullen, who comes to Pocatello after three seasons of working with the Detroit Lions. Cullen's past history has been much reviewed in other places, but suffice it to say the Bengal coaches are thrilled to have his experience and expertise available, and they firmly believe Cullen has put his past problems behind him.
Farewell Michelle and Jenna
Saturday's blow-out loss at the hands of Montana's women's team Saturday certainly was not the way Michelle Grohs and Jenna Brown (above) wanted to leave the ISU women's program, but both seniors have a lot to be proud of. They were both outstanding complementary players on outstanding ISU teams that featured all-league stars Natalie Doma and Andrea Lightfoot.
Then both became leaders and all-Big Sky quality producers on this year's team which has been stripped of the talent and depth of those recent top-quality Bengal teams. They will both be missed greatly as Seton Sobolewski rebuilds the ISU program, both for their athletic talents and for the outstanding young women they are off the floor.

Here's hoping the Bengals can get a couple of wins out of their final three road games and cement a place in the post-season tourmanent, so Michelle and Jenna can build more fond memories of their ISU career.

--Brad B.

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