Monday, March 29, 2010

The Show-Me show me somewhere near St. Louis

Well, its finally here Spot it what you will, the show down in the Show-Me State, the sprint to Springfield, or, as the wonderful people at the would probably perfer...the CIT Championship.  There are 12 teams in men's DI college basketball that are still playing for something, and your Pacific Tigers happen to be one of them as they take on the Missouri State Bears at the JQH Arena ( Sorry Spot fans, the June 15th Carrie Underwood concert is sold out!) for the CIT Championship.  Here is a little info on both teams and the Spot's take on the Championship Game:

CIT Championship Game: Pacific vs. Missouri State- 5pm on Fox College Sports (3/30)

23-11 overall/11-6 on the road
5-6 vs. teams in the post-season (Wins vs. San Diego St., Nevada, Northern Colorado, Appalachian State and Loyola Marymount)

Head Coach Bob Thomason- 22nd Season at Pacific, 364 total wins, 5-time Big West Conference Coach of the Year.

Key Players:
Sam Willard 11.2 ppg/8.1 rpg
Demetrece Young 9.4 ppg/2.8 apg
Michael Nunally 7.8 ppg/4.2 rpg
Joe Ford...not to sound like a broken record...but, just play defense Joe!!

Key off the Bench:
Allen Huddleston
Nykia Williams
Lavar Neufville
Pat Eveland

Missouri State Bears
Record: 23-12/19-2 @ home
Vs. teams in the post-season:  8-7
(Wins vs. Tulsa, St. Louis University, Indiana State, Creighton (2), Nevada, Middle Tennesse St., Louisiana Tech)

Head Coach Cuonzo Martin- 2nd year 34-32 overall
Former player/ asst. coach at Purdue University 

Key players:
Kyle Weems- 6-6 F/Soph. 13.6 ppg/6.1 rpg/40.8 3pt. percentage
Adam Leonard 6-1 G/Jr. 13.1 ppg/ 39.5%  3pt. percentage
Jermain Mallet  6-3 G/Jr. 10.7 ppg/5.7 rpg
Will Creekmore 6-9 F-C/Jr. 8.5 ppg/4.8 rpg

The Spot's take: These teams seem to be mirror images of each other:

  •  Both teams have out-scored their opponents by nearly identical margins this season (Pacific 65.6 to 60.4 for a 5.2 point margin while Missouri State outscored its opponents 71.3 to 65.3 for a 6 point margin). 
  • Both coaches know what the Post-Season is all about.  Pacific's Thomason having guided the Tigers to 4 NCAA Tournaments, 2 CIT Tournaments and 1 NIT Tournament and Missouri State's Martin having made it to an Elite Eight and Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament as a player for the Purdue Boilermakers and helping to guide his alma mater to another Elite Eight and three NCAA 2nd round apperances as an Assistant Coach.  
  • Both teams distribute their scoring evenly with three players averaging in double digits for the Bears, led by 6-6 do-it-all Sophmore Kyle Weems, who leads his team in scoring, rebounding and 3-point percentage, while Sam Willard leads Pacific's balanced attack with 11.7 points per game and 8.4 rebounds per game. 
  •  Both teams also have guards who can hit from beyond the arc, with Pacific's Demetrece Young making nearly 38% of his three point shots while the Bear's Adam Leonard hits on 39.5% of his three's.

The difference in this game will come down to two things, the bench and intangibles.  Pacific has the ability to go to it's bench, which has helped it endure a two week CIT road trip that rivals anything the Griswold Family ever had to go through.  Pat Eveland averages 7.4 points per game and 33% behind the arc coming off the bench.  Eveland is a streaky shooter...when he's on he doesn't miss...when's he's not, cover your eyes please.  Pacific can also bring in newly minted Mid-Major Freshman All-American Allen Huddleston along with big man Nykia Williams, who has shown drastic improvement and made significant contributions off the bench late in the season.  Missouri State brings Nafis Ricks and Caleb Patterson and their combined 13.1 points per game off the bench but not much else.

As for intangibles, Missouri State is a member of the always tough Missouri Valley Conference, which can often be confused for College Basketball's version of "Survivor".  As recently as a few years ago "The Valley" as it's called, sent 4 teams to the NCAA tournament, and this year sent 6 teams to post-season play.  As a testament to how tough and talented "The Valley" can be, the Bears took Conference Champion Northern Iowa to the final shot before losing by 1 at home this past season (for refrences on how good Northern Iowa is, please see Jayhawks, Kansas).

Pacific, on the other hand, has attained true "Road Warrior" status over the past couple of weeks.  The Tiger's road in the CIT has taken it cross-country and half way back again, and they have done so in games where the defense has stepped up when needed.  Against Northern Colorado, the key was to contain their leading scorer Will Figures, and Pacific's D held him to 4 points.  Against Appalachian State the key was for the Tiger front line to counter-act their opponent's strength up front, and they responded by out-rebounding the Mountaineers by 15.  In other words, if it needs to get done, Pacific has been able to get it done, some way, some how, they continue to survive.

So what's the Spot's a nail-bitter, the Tigers find a way to win once again, 57-55.

Quick facts you may not know:  

  • Springfield, Missouri, home of the Bears, has the motto "The Middle of Everywhere".
  • Degrees of separation: Pacific Coach Bob Thomason coached at Escalon High School in the mid-70's, leading them to a State Championship.  The Spot played at Escalon High School as a member of his alma mater, the Hilmar High Yellowjackets...where he got burned for 19 points by David Anderson and tried unsuccessfully to....umm..."Borrow" the stuffed cougar that sat above Escalon's trophy case.
  • A win for Pacific would be it's first ever post-season championship, while Missouri State won back-to-back NAIA National Championships in 1952-53.
  • Missouri State was formerly known as Southwest Missouri State.
  • Current New Mexico Coach and former Indiana star Steve Alford had his first Division I head coaching job at Missouri State.  He led them to a Sweet 16 apperance before becoming head coach of the Iowa Hawkeyes.

1 comment:

  1. Sorry Tigers, you guys don't stand a chance tonight!