Feb 1, 2012

Whatcom men climb to NWAACC's No. 1

NWAACC Men's Basketball
Now that the regions have gotten some play under their collective belts, things are beginning to get rather mixed up. The powerful NWAACC North is now battling against itself, meaning that many of the teams at the top have been falling as of late. New to this week's rankings is the South-leading Mt. Hood, the only team from the Southern Region that has made the list. Mayhem is sure to continue as the regular season unfolds, but here is how things have shaken out so far:  Coaches rankings are in italics under each team's record, and will be updated when they are made available.


1. Whatcom (15-3, 7-1 North)
#2 Coaches
Previous Ranking: No. 2, No. 4 Coaches 

Forget for a moment that Whatcom lost to Seattle on January 28th, and get a good look at their accomplishments over the past few weeks: They outscored the NWAACC's highest scoring team, Shoreline, in a 120-97 affair. They have victories over both Bellevue (box) and Peninsula (box) on the road. And before their 70-62 loss to Seattle on the road, they had won nine straight games. Behind an incredibly balanced scoring attack (six players averaging 10 points or more, three players have scored 29+) Whatcom is looking more and more like a championship contender out of the heavyweight Northern Region.


2. Clark (17-1, 7-0 West)
#1 Coaches
Previous Ranking: No. 3, No. 2 Coaches

Clark hasn't lost in over a month, and in that time they've only had one game where they won by less than ten points. They've won seven straight since their loss to Snow College back in December, and are proving to be one of the better rebounding teams in the league, averaging  just over 45 a game. Clark is also near the top of the NWAACC in assists with 17.61 per game. Interestingly enough, Clark is second in both categories to Shoreline, which is a team that easily leads the league in scoring because of their ridiculously fast pace and their refusal to play defense.


3. Big Bend (15-3, 5-2 East)
#7 (tie) Coaches
Previous Ranking: No. 7, No. 6 Coaches

Big Bend is a classic example of a team that has their ups and downs. Normally a squad that averages just under 90 points a game, there are two games that stick out: a 94-76 embarrassment to unranked Yakima Valley, and a 74-69 loss to unranked Walla Walla. Those two games are the only times since late December that Big Bend has scored less than 90, and those are their only two losses. Both games were on the road, and so Big Bend can only hope that this won't become a habit. Those two losses aside, Big Bend is still tied for the best overall record in the East, something that may change when Spokane starts to make up the games they missed due to weather. 


4. Bellevue (16-2, 6-1 North)
#4 Coaches
Previous Ranking: No. 1, No. 1 Coaches

Bellevue's 94-84 win over the flashy and high-flying Peninsula might have been more impressive had it not come on the heels of back to back losses. First Bellevue fell dropped a 77-75 nail biter at home to Whatcom, and then went on the road only to get winded by Shoreline 101-93. That said, Bellevue can still pack quite a punch: They are tied for first in the NWAACC in field goal percentage, and average better in assists, steals, and blocks than #1 Whatcom. 2nd place in the leagues toughest division isn't too bad of a place to be, but Bellevue will need to put those stats to work when they visit Whatcom on February 15th.


5. Peninsula (16-3, 6-2 North)
#3 Coaches
Previous Ranking: No. 4, No. 3 Coaches

What started out as a magical season coming off an NWAACC Championship has turned a little sour in perspective. In the last few weeks, the Pirates have losses to Bellevue and Whatcom, two teams that they trail in the Northern Region. Those losses can be excused, however, in comparison to the narrow victories over unranked teams like Olympic (5-12, 2-5 North), and Edmonds (1-14, 1-6 North). Peninsula is still blowing opponents out, but they are beginning to show their weaknesses in not winning the big games and by  letting some weaker teams stick with them. Make no mistake, 3rd place in the North is no consolation after winning a league championship the year before.


6. Tacoma (14-4, 6-1 West)
#5 Coaches
Previous Ranking: No. 5, No. 5 Coaches

Tacoma had been doing fairly well this season until the puzzling loss to Lower Columbia. Make no mistake, Lower Columbia (11-7, 5-3 West) is a decent team, but Tacoma should be on a different level, given their talented scorer Mark McLoughlin, who now leads the NWAACC with 28.28 points per game, and their track record this season. Tacoma has mopped up against most of the inferior opponents they've faced and fought hard against the top teams in the league. Before the loss to Lower Columbia, Tacoma's losses were only to then #1 Peninsula, #2 Clark, and then #3 Clackamas. Tacoma and #2 Clark College will meet on February 6th for one of two more meetings before the regular season is over, a match up which will shed light on both programs.


7. Mt. Hood (15-6, 6-1 South)
#7 (tie) Coaches
Previous Ranking: UR, No. 8 Coaches

Before falling to Chemeketa 89-77 on the road, Mt. Hood had won eight in a row and nine of ten. Mt. Hood leads the Southern Region, which isn't the region that it used to be. However, the Saints have picked up wins in several difficult gyms, including a 61-59 victory over rival Clackamas. Mt. Hood is one of the best shooting teams in the league at 49%, and leads the NWAACC in 3 point percentage. Chemeketa, as the only Southern team to have defeated Mt. Hood, looks to be the only probable challenger to Mt. Hood for the division title.


8. Spokane (15-6, 6-1 East)
#6 Coaches
Previous Ranking: UR, No. 8 Coaches

Dropping Spokane is a little unfair, given that they've hardly played in the last few weeks due to bad weather conditions. Looking at the games that Spokane has played, however, the Sasquatch have looked strong in region play. Their one loss is to #3 Big Bend, and now Spokane has had an extra week of rest, something that they may need of they're going to make up the missed games before the regular season concludes. Spokane continues their steady boycot of flashy statistics, their best category being free throw percentage, at which they are tied for 1st in the NWAACC with 74%.


Teams moving up: Whatcom, Big Bend
Teams added: Mt. Hood
Teams moving down: Tacoma, Chemeketa, Peninsula, Bellevue
Teams dropped: Spokane

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