Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Northern Colorado Bears @ Eastern Washington Eagles: Game Preview

Laron Griffin (#15) will need to stay
out of foul trouble against the Bears
photo from goeags.com
The Eagles (5-7, 11-14) are busy preparing to host the Northern Colorado Bears (5-8, 8-16) on Wednesday night, tip off @ 6:05pm pst, in a match up that could go along way towards determining which of these two teams will make the Big Sky Conference Tournament this year and which will not.  The Eagles sit alone in the 6th and final spot, just ½ game ahead of the Bears.  Both teams will play in Bracket Buster match ups on Saturday, with the Eagles travelling to take on the Anteaters of UC-Irvine (5-7 Big West, 9-16) and the Bears playing host to the Cal Poly Mustangs (6-6 Big West, 15-11).

In their last match up the Eagles lost a close and hard fought game 71-70 in Greeley.  This time the Bears will travel to Cheney looking to get their first back to back wins in conference play this season.  The Eagles are coming off a loss to Weber State 84-75 that was closer than the final score indicates.  The Bears shot 57% from the field in that contest, substantially higher than their season average (47%), while the Eagles shot 39% from the field, pretty much at their season average (40%).

If the Eagles want to change the results this time around they will need to apply the formula that worked so well against Montana State and for stretches against Weber State.  A patient offense led by Cliff Colimon (#11) with a focus on dribble penetration they give themselves more open shots, create foul trouble for the opposing teams and prevent some of the breakaways that other teams use to create havoc (fouls and points) against them.  Defensively the Eagles must contest every shot against the Bears who are hitting 47.7% of their field goals (27th in all of Division 1 Basketball), but they’ve got to do it without getting into foul trouble.

Tevin Svihovec (#5) averages 10 ppg
photo from uncbears.com
In their last match up the Bears attempted more free throws (40) than field goals (35) and that was decisive in a game decided by a single point.  The Bears will be without Guard Elliot Lloyd in this game due to his earlier suspension, in the last match up Lloyd went 7 of 10 from the free throw line scoring 9 points and adding 6 rebounds and 3 assists.  The absence of Lloyd means the trio of guards: Paul Guarnica (#3), Tate Unruh (#15) and Tevin Svihovec (#5) have had to play more minutes down the stretch.

Eastern will need a solid contribution from the big men Cliff Ederaine (#42), Laron Griffin (#15) and Tremayne Johnson (#20) who will need to shut down the Bears inside and stay out of foul trouble.  Look for Parker Kelly (#10) to continue his solid contributions from the bench where he is averaging 10 points a game over the last three.  Collin Chiverton (#24) hit 5 of 9 three point shots last time against the Bears en route to scoring 21 points, but he’s been in a slump the last three games, so this could be an opportunity for the Eagles leading scorer to get unlocked.

Last meeting: February 3rd, 2011 Eagles 53 @ Bears 63