Dec 10, 2013

Full Court Press: A high-scoring affair

A year ago, the bi-weekly publication Full Court Press got started as a way to bridge the gap between the power rankings. With the start of the 2013-14 NWAACC basketball season, FCP is back to provide a little analysis on the off-weeks and highlight some of the biggest happenings around the league as we careen toward region play in mid-January.

In some league-wide news, the initial coaches polls have been released, and the results have been added in to the first edition of the Joward Power Rankings, which were published on Dec. 3. 

At the moment, things are still a little shaky. This early on, most teams have faced a bunch of unknowns, including alumni teams, "all-star" teams and a few club teams from around the northwest. That can make it difficult to determine the haves from the have nots as far as a solid record is concerned, but with the holidays around the corner, we also have a host of crossover and holiday tournaments on the horizon which should provide ample perspective and discussion material. 

NWAACC Men (Rankings | Coaches Poll)

Even with the season being so young, it's unusual to have so many undefeated teams. Four currently grace the standings - Whatcom, Peninsula, Big Bend and Highline. Two, so far, have clearly asserted themselves, and the coaches seem to agree. Though Treasure Valley (4-1) picked up a huge boost by nabbing three first-place votes, Whatcom (5-0) and Big Bend (4-0) have outdistanced the rest of the contenders by a mile or two, and both will have a chance to face undefeated Highline before the year's end.

Game of the Week:

Dec. 13 - No. 1 Big Bend vs. Highline

Talk about an intriguing match up. Both teams average in the league's top-five in scoring, and each team gets it done in a completely different manner. Brendan Westendorf (34 ppg, 62% FG) is arguably one of the best scorer the league has seen these last few years, to be mentioned in the same breath as Tacoma great Mark McLaughlin (Now at Central Washington) and former Peninsula guard JT Terrell (USC). Westendorf isn't scoring in a vacuum, and he's not just jacking up an insane number of shots to bring down his points. He is one of the best shooters among players who actually take shots from outside the paint, and he's a threat from everywhere on the floor. Highline's resume and roster may not be quite as impressive, but their balance makes them a difficult team to stop. No one player is averaging more than 15.25 points, and yet they manage nearly 95 points per game. This is a major chance to prove they belong at the top of the rankings, and a major first step in their bid to make the tournament in March.

It's difficult to imagine how this could be anything but high scoring, and though Highline has an edge in 3-point shooting and rebounding, this looks like it should belong to Big Bend. I won't bet the house I don't own, but the chances of a Vik victory are pretty strong.

NWAACC Women (Rankings | Coaches Poll)

Columbia Basin is at it again. They've won five of their last six, and have broken 100 points in their last two. While their average of nearly 85 points per contest is likely to come down, it's clear that this is nothing like some of the CBC teams we've seen in the last few years. Defensively minded in the past, the Hawks are third in the league in scoring while only having attempted 75 three-pointers. And if they hold on to the defensive principles of Coach Holden? Oi.

Game of the Week:

Dec. 14 - No. 1 Blue Mountain vs. No. 5 Chemeketa

The last time the Timberwolves and Storm met, top-ranked Blue Mountain squeaked out a 59-56 victory. It was sluggish and fairly unusual for a women's game, as the teams combined for five (FIVE) three pointers, which is rather unheard of. Since then, Chemeketa has faced (and beaten) only one NWAACC opponent, spending most of their time out of state (Salt Lake CC, College of Southern Idaho). The Storm dropped both of their non-NWAACC games, making their 4-3 record a little misleading. Blue Mountain actually hasn't played since, and the few games before knocking off Chemeketa were close as well. It should be an interesting measuring-stick of a game, as both teams have nearly identical numbers, yet Blue Mountain is ranked 4th by the coaches and Chemeketa wasn't mentioned.

In spite of all the great numbers from Chemeketa, this one will likely not be quite as close. Blue Mountain has had time to rest up and work on a few things, and the road weary Storm may not be able to hold Blue Mountain to 37% shooting again. Timberwolves with the win, but still not going away.

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