Big West Tips Off Men's Basketball Season This Weekend
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Men's Basketball Release No. 1
The long awaited 2011-12 Big West men's basketball season finally begins this weekend with 12 games on the schedule. Fans get their first look at the senior-laden and preseason favorite Long Beach State, which hosts Idaho among a non-conference slate that includes five opponents ranked within the top 15.
KEEP AN EYE ON
David Hanson, Cal Poly
Hanson, an All-Big West Second Team selection as a junior, enters his final Cal Poly campaign needing 121 points to reach the milestone 1,000 for his career. The forward ranked eighth in scoring (15.2 ppg) and ninth in rebounding (6.1 rpg) on the Big West circuit last year. Hanson also knocked down 73 three-pointers, an average of 2.4 per game which ranked second in the conference. He had 10 games or 20 points or more, and scored in double figures in 11 of the last 12 contests last season.
Big West Begins 43rd Season Of Men’s Hoops
A total of 12 games dot the schedule this weekend to commence the 2011-12 Big West men’s basketball season. UC Irvine travels to No. 24 California in the lone matchup against a ranked non-conference opponent. Jim Les makes his UC Davis head coaching debut at the Basketball Travelers Tournament in San Diego, where the Aggies face Southern Utah, Bryant and host San Diego State in a three-day stretch. Preseason Big West favorite Long Beach State hosts Idaho, while two-time defending conference tournament champion UC Santa Barbara entertains Chapman.
UC Santa Barbara looks to extend its streak of winning season openers to nine when the Gauchos host Chapman on Friday. It is the longest active current streak among Big West schools. In contrast, UC Riverside is attempting to halt a streak of 11 consecutive losses in season openers. The Highlanders host Cal Lutheran on Friday. Below is a list of Big West teams and their current streak in season openers.
Cal Poly Won 1
Cal State Fullerton Lost 1
Cal State Northridge Lost 2
Long Beach State Lost 1
UC Davis Lost 3
UC Irvine Lost 1
UC Riverside Lost 11
UC Santa Barbara Won 8
Pacific Won 2
Favorite Long Beach State Takes On All Comers
Long Beach State, led by 2010-11 Big West Player of the Year Casper Ware and all-conference first team pick Larry Anderson, was picked to win this year’s regular season conference championship by a 24-member media voting panel. The 49ers earned 20 first-place votes and 212 points, outdistancing second place UC Santa Barbara, which received the other four first-place nods and 196 points. Cal Poly came in third with 158 points and Cal State Fullerton was fourth with 131 points. UC Riverside, Pacific, UC Davis, Cal State Northridge and UC Irvine rounded out the poll. Long Beach State is tackling one of, if not the toughest non-conference schedule in the country after coming off a 22-12 season that ended in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament. The 49ers play three teams in the preseason top 10, including No. 1 North Carolina, and five programs ranked in the top 15 in the first month and a half of the season. LBSU is receiving votes in both the Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN polls.
LONG BEACH STATE NON-LEAGUE OPPONENTS
Date Opponent Ranking
Nov. 16 at Pittsburgh #10 AP/#11 USA Today
Nov. 28 at Louisville #9 AP/#8 USA Today
Dec. 6 at Kansas #13 AP/#13 USA Today
Dec. 10 at North Carolina #1 AP/#1 USA Today
Dec. 23 vs. Xavier #14 AP/#15 USA Today
Thomason Poised To Rewrite Record Book
Pacific’s Bob Thomason finished the 2010-11 season with a career record of 403-290. The 403 victories puts him second all-time among Big West head coaches, leaving him just three short of record holder Jerry Tarkanian’s 405 mark. The Tigers posted a 16-15 record in 2010-11 to secure a winning season for the seventh time in the last eight years. Thomason already is the Big West record holder for most conference victories (229) and tournament games coached (27).
ALL-TIME VICTORY LEADERS - BIG WEST TENURE
Rk. Coach, School No.
1. Jerry Tarkanian, LBSU & UNLV 405
2. Bob Thomason, Pacific 403
3. Neil McCarthy, New Mexico State 248
4. Jerry Pimm, UC Santa Barbara 222
5. Bob Williams, UC Santa Barbara 217
Bold denotes active Big West head coach
Johnson, Ware Named To John R. Wooden Watch List
The past two Big West Players of the Year are now up for college basketball’s most prestigious honor, as Orlando Johnson of UC Santa Barbara and Casper Ware of Long Beach State were named to the 2011-12 John R. Wooden Award Preseason Top 50 List. The duo represents the first Big West players to be considered for the award since UC Irvine’s Jerry Green in the 2001-02 season. Johnson, the 2009-10 Big West Player of the Year, led the league last season in scoring for the second straight time, averaging 21.1 points and scoring a single-season school record 673 points. He was named First Team National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) All-District 9, the United States Basketball Writers of America (USBWA) All-District Team, Lou Henson Mid-Major All-American and Associated Press Honorable Mention All-American. Ware became the first player in league history to capture Big West Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year accolades in the same season, as his phenomenal 2010-11 campaign included 17.2 points, 4.4 assists and 1.6 steals per game. He ranked second in the Big West in scoring and assists, and fourth in steals. Ware’s postseason accolades included NABC First Team All-District 9, USBWA All-District Team, the 2011 Lefty Driesell Defensive All-America Team and 2011 Lou Henson Mid-Major All-American.
Robinson Eyes Big West Rebounding Record
Long Beach State forward T.J. Robinson’s consistency catapulted the junior into the Big West’s top 10 career rebounding list after only three years. He ended 2010-11 season with 861 career rebounds, placing him No. 10 all-time. Robinson, who has compiled rebounding totals of 185, 332 and 344 in his first three seasons, enters his senior campaign well within reach of the all-time conference record. Robinson sits 254 caroms shy of equalling Cal State Fullerton’s Tony Neal’s (1981-85) total of 1,115. Robinson is just 139 rebounds away from becoming only the fourth player in league history to collect 1,000 in a career.
Les Begins UC Davis Tenure
The Jim Les era at UC Davis officially begins on Friday as the Aggies compete in the Basketball Travelers Tournament in San Diego. Les is no stranger to Division I head coaching, as he compiled 152 wins and reached the Sweet 16 in 2006 during his nine years as the mentor at Bradley University. He inherits nine returning letterwinners, including 2010-11 Big West Co-Freshman of the Year Josh Ritchart. The Aggies have three players with connections to the National Basketball Association. Tyler Les, a 6-2 sophomore guard, plays for his father. Tyrell Corbin, a 6-0 freshman guard, is the son of Utah Jazz head coach Tyrone Corbin. In addition, Corey Hawkins is a 6-3 sophomore guard whose father, Hersey, was a 13-year NBA veteran. Corey must sit out the 2011-12 season after transferring from Arizona State.