Hornets start conference play with 4-game road trip

State Hornet Staff

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Though Sacramento State’s season started with only four wins in its first nine games, head coach Brian Katz said the next twenty conference games are what really matter.

“I’m not even focused on our record,” Katz said. “I think we are in a pretty good spot right now.”

Sac State just came off a 69-67 win against UC Riverside Sunday afternoon at the Nest in which nine different Hornets scored, including newcomers junior forward Zach Mills, sophomore guard Case Rada, and freshmen forward Nick Hornsby and center Eric Stuteville. 

“If you look at our team, those are guys who didn’t contribute earlier this season,” Katz said. “We are really excited about that.”

This season makes the 17th season the Hornets have played in the Big Sky Conference, and even though they have only made their conference tournament under Katz, junior point guard Dylan Garrity said the end result is the same every year.

“The goal is to get to the postseason (tournament) and win a title,” Garrity said. 

Despite the University of Montana winning the conference five out of the last 10 seasons, polls have shown the Grizzlies are not necessarily the favorite. According to both the the coaches and media polls, Weber State, North Dakota, Montana and Northern Colorado make up the top four teams. Sac State was voted seventh and eighth for coaches and media, respectively.

“Clearly, Northern Colorado is the best team in this conference,” Katz said.

Northern Colorado started its Big Sky Season Sunday when it faced North Dakota and won, 84-66.

Montana started its first five games with only one win and has since won four in a row. Montana State has wins against Central Michigan, Cal State Northridge and the University of Portland. 

The Hornets start their season Thursday at Montana State and then continue on Saturday against Montana for the first two of a 4-game road trip, but Katz said the games will not judge Sac State’s conference season.

“In the big picture we have a rough start, but you always have to make it into a positive,” Katz said. “If we can survive, 10 out of the last 16 games are at home. It’s always better to be at home at the end of the year.”


Here is a look at the 10 Big Sky Conference teams Sac State will face on its schedule:

School: Montana State

2013-14 record: 5-6, 0-0

2012-13 record: 13-17, 10-10

Media and Coaches Poll Placement: 5th and 6th

Player to watch: No Bobcats have started all 11 games, but senior center Paul Egwuonwu started 10 games and averages 8.7 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. 

School: Montana

2013-14 record: 5-4, 0-0

2012-13 record: 25-7, 19-1

Media and Coaches Poll Placement: 2nd and 3rd

Player to watch: Senior guard/forward Kareem Jamar is averaging 19.7 points, 6.6 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game.

School: Northern Arizona

2013-14 record: 3-8, 0-0

2012-13 record: 11-21, 8-12

Media and Coaches Poll Placement: 7th and 9th

Player to watch: Senior forward Max Jacobsen is averaging 13.7 and 5 rebounds per game. 

School: Southern Utah

2013-14 record: 1-8, 0-0

2012-13 record: 11-20, 8-12

Media and Coaches Poll Placement: 10th and 11th

Player to watch: Freshman guard Trey Kennedy is the only Thunderbird to start all nine games. He averages 10.7 points per game. 

School: Portland State

2013-14 record: 5-4, 0-0

2012-13 record: 8-20, 5-15

Media and Coaches Poll Placement: 9th and 8th

Player to watch: Junior guard Tim Douglas is averaging 16.1 points and 4.1 assists per game

School: Eastern Washington

2013-14 record: 5-6, 0-0

2012-13 record: 10-21, 7-13

Media and Coaches Poll Placement: 6th and 5th

Player to watch: Sophomore guard Tyler Harvey is averaging 19.3 points per game and is shooting 45 percent from 3-point range.

School: North Dakota

2013-14 record: 3-8, 0-0

2012-13 record: 16-17, 12-8

Media and Coaches Poll Placement: 3rd and 2nd

Player to watch: Senior guard Troy Huff is averaging 22.7 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. 

School: Northern Colorado

2013-14 record: 7-3, 0-0

2012-13 record: 12-18, 10-10

Media and Coaches Poll Placement: 4th and 4th

Player to watch: Senior forward Derrick Barden is averaging 14.1 points and 9.2 rebounds per game.

School: Idaho State

2013-14 record: 3-6, 0-0

2012-13 record: 6-24, 5-15

Media and Coaches Poll Placement: 11th and 10th

Players to watch: Senior guard Tomas Sanchez and junior forward Chris Hansen. Both are shooting above 40 percent from 3-point range.

School: Weber State

2013-14 record: 3-5, 0-0

2012-13 record: 29-7, 18-2

Media and Coaches Poll Placement: 1st and 1st

Player to watch: Senior guard/forward Davion Berry is averaging 16.9 points and 3.6 rebounds per game.

Ryan can be reached on Twitter at @rskuhn

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