Friday, December 31, 2010

Grizzlies to ring in 2011 with important 2-game swing in Nebraska

KEARNEY, Neb.- After a solid 6-2 start in 2010, the Adams State College men's basketball team will look to get back to their winning ways when they begin the 2011 portion of the campaign here against the University of Nebraska-Kearney Sunday evening in what could be their final visit to the Lopers' Health & Sports Center.

Tip-off is at 5 p.m. CST (4 p.m. Mountain) following a 3 p.m. CST women's start.

The Grizzlies, 3-2 in Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference play, have never won on the Lopers' home court, and have defeated UNK, 5-5 overall and 3-3 in RMAC play, just once in 23 all-time tries.

The Grizzlies then continue the important Nebraska road swing at Chadron State, also 5-5 overall and 3-3 in RMAC play, Monday at 5 p.m., before returning home to begin a stretch in which they play 4 of 6 and 8 of 12 games in the friendly confines Plachy Hall.

Monday's game against the Eagles in Armstrong Gymnasium can be heard live on KSPK-FM (104.1 in Alamosa) as the second half of a women's and men's doubleheader.  The station will also have tape-delayed coverage of Sunday's games following the Denver Broncos' season finale.

Live streaming coverage of both games can also be seen with a single-game or season pass subscription to America One (formerly B2 Networks) or followed with live statistics at the links at the bottom of this article.

The Grizzlies hold a slight 15-14 edge in the all-time series with Chadron State but have dropped three straight decisions by just eight combined points, including a 95-93 overtime heartbreaker in Plachy Hall last season.

The Grizzlies enter the road trip in a 3-way tie for fifth place in the RMAC's tightly-bunched overall standings, just a half-game behind Mesa State, the team that beat the Grizzlies, 89-77, in their final pre-holiday game.  They also sit just a half-game ahead of both the Lopers and Eagles, who face Fort Lewis (7-2, 3-2 RMAC) on Sunday night, making the set of tilts quite important for future RMAC tournament qualifying and seeding hopes for all four teams.

The Lopers, who will leave the RMAC after the 2011-12 season in which they will visit Plachy Hall for the only regular season meeting of the teams, have been solid at home thus far in the season and sport a perfect 3-0 mark in the Health & Sports Center, including a 73-65 win over Mesa State, and an earlier 12-point non-conference victory over in-state rival Nebraska-Omaha.

The Lopers, who got out to a 2-0 RMAC start, however, limped out of 2010 dropping three of their last four in two weekend trips to the metro Denver area.

Loper freshman forward Mike Dentlinger, who checks in at 6-feet-6-inches and 210 pounds, leads the team in both scoring and rebounding with 13.9-point and 6.6-rebound per game averages.  He is also shooting 53.8 percent from the field and is the only Loper to have started all 10 games.

Meanwhile, veteran Max Froehlich, a 6-foot-4 junior guard, is the team's top defensive player with 14 steals and eight blocked shots.  He also paces the team with 48 assists, good for a 4.8 per game average that has him ranked second in the RMAC, and is second on the team in scoring after pouring in an even dozen per game.  The Preseason All-RMAC pick also leads the RMAC with his 89.1 success rate from the free throw line, a big part of why the Lopers lead the RMAC in that category as a team at 80.3 percent.

Chadron State also had a rough end to 2010 dropping three of four in their trips to Denver after defeating both Mesa State and Western State on the first weekend of December in the middle of what was a 4-game, home-court winning streak.

The Eagles are led by 6-foot-4 junior guard Kevin McClelland, who is averaging 15.2 points per game to rank ninth in the RMAC.  Trey Mosby is also averaging in double figures at 10.1 points per game while Preseason All-RMAC pick Moala Tautuaa leads a balanced rebounding squad with 4.4 boards per night.
The Eagles, 4-1 at home, also have three of the top eight long-range sharp-shooters in the RMAC and pace the conference in 3-point field goal percentage (.385) while making 77.

The Grizzlies, 3-1 on the road this year, hold the RMAC lead in five statistical categories, including field goal percentage defense (.403), and have held all but one of their opponents below the 50.0 percent mark this season.

Led by RMAC individual leader Jamiko Verner (Denver, Colo.), the Grizzlies also lead the RMAC in steals, turnover margin and rebounding.

Offensively, the Grizzlies are second in the RMAC in scoring average (84.2) and have four players averaging in double figures, including junior Marqus Richards (Los Angeles, Calif.) at 13.6 points per game.

Senior Seth Heinbaugh (Prescott Valley, Ariz.), also amongst that group at 11.3 points per game, is leading the team while ranking fourth in the RMAC with his 8.4-rebound per game average.  He also leads the RMAC in field goal percentage at .617.

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