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October 13, 2010
League preview: Big Sky
We continue with our league breakdowns for the upcoming season; we'll work backward from league No. 32 to our top-ranked league.
The breakdowns will become more in-depth as the leagues get bigger.
20. Big Sky
By Joe Rexrode
Up at the half and down just a point with 1:40 left -- despite falling victim to a 17-0 run early in the second half -- Montana was right there against New Mexico, on the verge of pulling a mammoth 3-14 upset in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The Grizzlies couldn't quite get it done and now must make up for the loss of their catalyst, star guard Anthony Johnson.
Still, a 26-point, 13-rebound performance from center Brian Qvale against New Mexico may have been a sign of big things to come. Qvale and the Grizzlies once again should joust with Weber State for the Big Sky title.
Franklin Session's early departure knocks Weber State down a peg from "clear favorites" status. But conference player of the year Damian Lillard is back to try to get the Wildcats to the NCAA tournament a season after they fell to Cincinnati in the first round of the NIT. Weber State is hoping transfer Scott Bamforth provides some much-needed perimeter help for Lillard.
The rest of the pack isn't far behind. Northern Arizona and Northern Colorado return star guards in Devon Beitzel and Cameron Jones, respectively. B.J. Hill takes over at Northern Colorado after his boss, Tad Boyle, bolted for the Colorado job.
Portland State isn't eligible for the Big Sky tournament or any other postseason play because of poor APR performance.
ALL-LEAGUE FIRST TEAM
ORDER OF FINISH