North Dakota senior guard Troy Huff was one of seven players honored by the program before Saturday’s game against Eastern Washington, and he’ll leave the Big Sky school as one of the best players in program history. Huff entered the game having scored 1,883 points in his North Dakota career, ranking fourth in school history while also ranking second in steals.
Saturday’s game was a matchup of the top two scorers in the Big Sky, with EWU’s Tyler Harvey averaging 22.1 points per game and Huff 19.6. Both were held in check in the first half, with Huff failing to score a single point. He would bounce back to score 14 in the second half, with his final points of the afternoon coming on a basket as time expired, giving North Dakota the 69-67 win.
And he even did a celebratory cartwheel.
As a result of the win North Dakota moves closer to locking up a spot in the Big Sky conference tournament, with the top seven teams in the 11-team conference being eligible for a shot at the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
Marcus Smart played his way to the top of our Player of the Year Power Rankings after he put together one of the most dominating two-way performances that we’ve seen this season. Smart went for 39 points and four assists along with five steals and two blocks, leading the Cowboys to a 101-80 win over then-No. 11 Memphis. He was terrific.
But he may not have been the best Marcus in the country this past week, as North Carolina’s Marcus Paige put on a show at Mohegan Sun this weekend. He had 26 points in a win over Richmond on Saturday and followed that up with a career-high 32 points in an impressive win over then-No. 3 Louisville. North Carolina has their issues, but Paige looks like he could be ready to step into that starring role.
They were good, too:
Kyle Anderson and Jordan Adams, UCLA: Anderson averaged 15.0 points, 11.0 boards and 9.0 assists and Adams scored 52 points in a 2-0 week for the Bruins.
Jahii Carson, Arizona State: Carson led ASU to a 2-0 week, highlighted by 40 points and seven assists in a win over UNLV.
Troy Huff, North Dakota: Averaging 34.5 points, 9.5 boards and 3.0 steals will get you recognized, even if a loss to Wisconsin is included.
Jeremy Ingram, N.C. Central: Ingram averaged 31.3 points in a 3-0 week that included a 29-point performance in a win over N.C. State
Alex Kirk, New Mexico: The Lobos finished in third place in the Charleston Classic, but it wasn’t Kirk’s fault. He averaged 21.3 points, 12.0 boards and 4.3 blocks.
Cady Lalanne, UMass: Has Lalanne become UMass’ best player? He averaged 17.0 points, 11.7 boards and 3.0 blocks as they won the Charleston Classic.
Shabazz Napier, UConn: UConn won the 2K Sports Classic. Napier went for 27 points and hit every clutch shot in the title game win over Indiana.
TEAM OF THE WEEK: UMass Minutemen
Is UMass the best team in the Atlantic 10 right now? They very well may be, especially after watching VCU struggle their way through the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. Perhaps the best sign for UMass is that their star point guard Chaz Williams may not actually be the best player on the team right now. That honor goes to double-double machine Cady Lalanne.
They were good, too:
North Carolina: The Tar Heels bounced back from a loss to Belmont by winning the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Classic, including a win over No. 3 Louisville.
Charlotte: The 49ers came out of nowhere to win Puerto Rico Tip-Off at the buzzer against No. 24 Michigan in the title game.
Florida State: So maybe we need to pay attention to the Seminoles this season? They blew out VCU and nearly knocked off Michigan before beating Northeastern.
Providence: The Friars are now sitting at 6-0 after advancing to the final of the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands.
UConn: UConn swept Boston College and Indiana to win the 2K Sports Classic.
Iowa State: After winning against Michigan at home last Sunday, the Cyclones went to Utah and knocked off BYU in one of the toughest home environments in the country.
NCCU: Three wins, including one in overtime at N.C. State? Impressive.
All month long, CBT will be rolling out our 2013-2014 season preview. Check back throughout the day, as we’ll be posting three or four preview items every day.
To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here. To see the rest of the Conference Previews we’ve published, click here. For a schedule of our previews for the month, click here.
Here’s a wild stat for you: over the last two seasons, Weber State is 33-2 against Big Sky opponents not named Montana. But since the Wildcats have managed just a 2-4 record against the Grizzlies in their six matchups, they have no Big Sky titles to show for it. Twice, they lost to Montana in the Big Sky conference title game, while also losing a matchup between the two teams on the final day of the regular season to determine the champ.
This is the year for Weber State to change that fact. The Wildcats lose Scott Bamforth and Frank Otis, but they bring back a Player of the Year candidate in wing Davion Berry as well as Joel Bolomboy and Kyle Tresnak, who will make up the best front line in the conference. Gelaun Wheelwright’s decision to transfer leaves Randy Rahe’s club lacking some back court depth, and guys like Jordan Richardson and Royce Williams will need to up their scoring, but the talent is there to win the league.
On the flip side, while Montana brings back reigning Big Sky Player of the Year Kareem Jamar, the Grizzlies also lose a number of key pieces, including Mathias Ward and Will Cherry. The Grizz will need Jordan Gregory and Keron DeShields to have big years, but if none of their big men step up, Wayne Tinkle’s run about the Big Sky may come to an end.
The team to keep an eye on this season is North Dakota. The No Names (seriously, they don’t actually have a nickname right now) won 11 of their last 15 games in league play after starting the year 1-4. Troy Huff, who may be the most exciting player in the league, is back, as is the much-improved Aaron Anderson. The x-factor here? The addition of Texas Tech transfer Jaron Nash in the front court.
Eastern Washington, Montana State and Northern Colorado are all talented enough to be noted, but likely won’t be pushing for the league titled.
PRESEASON BIG SKY PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Davion Berry, Weber State
Berry is the best player on the best team in the league. Coming off of a season where he averaged 15.2 points, 4.2 boards and 3.8 assists, Berry’s role as go-to-guy will become all the more important with second-leading scorer Scott Bamforth gone.
FOUR MORE NAMES TO KNOW:
Kareem Jamar, Montana: Jamar isn’t flashy, but he’s one of the best all-around players in the country (14.2 points, 5.9 boards, 4.0 assists).
Troy Huff, North Dakota: At 6-foot-8, Huff puts up huge numbers (19.2 points, 6.9 boards, 2.4 steals) and does stuff like this.
Derrick Barden, Northern Colorado: Listed as 6-foot-5 but closer to 6-foot-3, Barden (13.5 points, 8.8 boards) is the Big Sky version of the old man at the park.
Venky Jois, Eastern Washinton: The Aussie could end up being the most productive player in the league as a sophomore (12.3 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 2.0 apg, 2.4 bpg).