A word of introduction,
To provide some analysis on the non-power ranking weeks, Full Court Press will be released every other Wednesday throughout the NWAACC basketball season. In most installments for both the men and the women, FCP will include a prediction and two games of the week, as well as any interesting tidbits that happen to come to light. Now with that out of the way, dig in:
We haven't seen much of top-ranked Chemeketa so far this season, as they've played three of their five games against non-NWAACC competition. As previewed in the first set of power rankings, the Storm are returning a lot of class talent that we have yet to catch a glimpse of. They play Lower Columbia on Dec. 8th, but won't play again until they have a rematch with LCCC at the start of the Bellevue crossover on Dec. 14th. Because of their lack of games, Chemeketa will most likely take a bit of a dip in the December 19th Power Rankings, especially if Big Bend and Yakima Valley continue to win as they have been of late.
Of note: Congrats to Portland. They won their first game in two years on November 19th, their last victory coming over Linn-Benton on February 24th, 2010.
Dec. 8th - Bellevue vs. Big Bend
One of the biggest early season matchups, this game pits two playoff squads from last season against one another, with the two teams combining for a record of 9-2 so far. Both Bellevue and Big Bend are tied for the best record in their regions. While Big Bend has the definite scoring edge (1st in the league with 94.3 ppg), Bellevue has held two teams to 50 points or less, and has only allowed more than 65 points just once so far. This being preseason, the game doesn't have any playoff implications, but this will be a big test for both sides, both having lost big names in the off season and both looking to rebound.
Dec. 8th - Skagit Valley vs. No. 4 Tacoma
Skagit Valley and the Titans have seen one another once already this season, with Tacoma's furious second half rally coming up just short in a 62-59 Cardinal victory. This game presents an interesting early season chance for the 2012 NWAACC Champion Tacoma Titans to prove their metal after getting 12 new players on their roster. They took down a good Big Bend team (their only loss), and lost to Everett (3-1), making the rematch with Skagit Valley somewhat of a fork in the road. For Skagit Valley, this game could be a statement. Two victories against the defending champs in as many weeks with a tough regular season looming in the Northern Region would be great momentum going forward.
Things are always difficult to call at the beginning of the season, but that being said, the starts They've dominated teams thus far with the exception of a close loss to Skagit Valley, and their height and talent will be extremely difficult to deal with all season long. Expect Umpqua to take a huge leap in the power rankings when they come out next on December 19th, and if their current streak continues, to contend for a championship in March.
Dec. 9th - Yakima Valley vs. No. 5 Chemeketa
Chemeketa is a hard team to read, at this point. They played a close game with Umpqua (8-1) and lost, and then went on to lose four consecutive times, in each instance to non-NWAACC competition. They faced a semi-pro squad and community colleges in Idaho and Salt Lake City, and are just now returning to face teams they'll see later on in the season. This game against Yakima Valley, who is undefeated up to this point, will be a reality check. Did Chemeketa face much tougher competition, or does their 1-4 record really reflect their future. And for Yakima Valley, this is another game to prove that they haven't missed a step since losing Brandi Henton (injury, graduated) and Simone Jordan (graduated) from last season.
Dec. 8th - No. 8 Umpqua vs. George Fox JV
This one is simply intriguing, pitting one of the NWAACC's best in the early season against George Fox's JV squad. It may seem innocuous at first, but realize that George Fox has one of the best women's basketball programs in the third division of the NCAA. They won the 2009 national title after a perfect season, and advanced to the 2012 final four. This may not be the varsity team, but it is part of a national powerhouse and could be an interesting chance to gauge how Umpqua stacks up. Right now, the Riverhawks are 2nd in the league in average points, and lead the league in both field goal percentage and three point field goal percentage. George Fox JV is 3-1 against the NWAACC so far, their only loss coming to SW Oregon.