NCAA Spotlight on the Aussie Men: The Lobos howl plus more of Maynard (4-Feb-14)

Damian Arsenis checks back in with all the latest on the Aussie men playing Division I college hoops over the past week.

Another week has flown by and the Aussie men are now all deep into conference play. there were highs and lows, and I will just get straight into recapping the best of the best over the past week...

Player of the Week

After his eye-catching performances over the past week, I was unable to overlook senior guard Corey Maynard who collects his second straight Pick and Roll player of the week award.

Maynard controlling the tempo for Bryant - Courtesy Torrey Vail via Bryant University Athletics

In a top of the table Northeast Conference contest, Bryant once again were unable to overcome the unbeaten Robert Morris in falling short 76-79. Maynard converted a three-point play with under a minute remaining to edge the Bulldogs to within 1 point, but he was unable to complete the heroics as his attempt to send the game into overtime missed at the buzzer. Maynard ended the game with an impressive 19 points on 7/10 shooting to go with 6 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal in 39 minutes.

The Bulldogs were quick to bite back however, as they then went on to defeat Sacred Heart on the road 76-67. Maynard was again at his consistent all-round best, compiling 20 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal in 39 minutes. His drive, leadership and outstanding play has Bryant on track push Robert Morris all the way in the conference tournament and a potential berth in the NCAA tournament.

With just two conference losses against their name (both to Robert Morris), Bryant is now 6-2 in Northeast Conference play and remains in 2nd place, with Maynard good for 13.4 points, 5 rebounds and 4.8 assist per contest.

Team of the Week

Yet again it is the New Mexico Lobos who take the honours for being team of the week. They were the one team featuring Aussies performing at their best that stood out over the past week and this is how they did it...

Playing without star center Alex Kirk, New Mexico hit the road and managed to collect an impressive win against Utah State 78-65. Star power forward Cameron Bairstow was able to take the load, racking up a game-high 22 points on 7/13 shooting to go with 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal and 4 blocks in 38 minutes. The Aggies had no answer for the senior power forward who was able to score at will. Hugh Greenwood was able to show once again the value he brings to his team, collecting a game-high 10 rebounds to go with 5 points and 4 assists in 31 minutes. A win on the road is always cherished, and a win on the road without one of your best players is even more satisfying.

Bairstow faces up - Courtesy University of New Mexico Athletics

With Kirk back in the lineup and back home at The Pit, the Lobos manhandled a struggling San Jose State in running away with a 72-47 victory. Bairstow was again prominent with 14 points, 7 rebounds and 1 steal and combined with Kirk, proved far too much. The Lobos only turned it over 3 times compared to dishing out a combined 20 assists and it was largely in part to the efforts of Greenwood. The 6’4” guard chimed with a game-high 7 assists with 7 rebounds and 1 steal and just 2 points but with no turnovers.

New Mexico remain hot on the heels of San Diego State with a 8-1 Mountain West record. Bairstow still leads the team in scoring with 20 points, 6.9 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.4 blocks per game, while Greenwood has averages of 6.1 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.3 assists.

Best of the Rest

Angus Brandt was pushing Maynard for player of the week honors in two very good outing for Oregon State. He first collected 14 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 block as Oregon State managed to scrape past a struggling USC 76-75. However there are no easy games in the Pac-12 this year, and this game was evidence of that.The good form continued as Brandt backed up with a superb all-around performance against the renowned UCLA. He racked up 13 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 1 block in 30 minutes as the Beavers defended their home court by accounting for the Bruins 71-67. Brandt's ability to stretch the defense with his long-range shooting combined with a capability to fill the paint at the other end, has seen the Beavers able to compete with the best the Pac-12 has to offer. In winning 4 of their past 5 games, the Beavers improve to 5-4 in conference play, amazingly just 1 game behind 2nd placed UCLA. Brandt is in great form, now averaging a career-best 12.5 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game, and he will be hoping to carry that through against Arizona State this week. to an impressive 17 point and 11 rebound double-double from forward Sam Rowley, his 4th of the season, Albany were able to upset America East leaders Stony Brook 77-67 at home. The victory was Stony Brook’s first conference loss of the season, and enabled the Great Danes to stay in touch with the leading pack. The elder Rowley also chimed in with 1 assist, 1 steal and 1 block in 36 minutes of action, while star guard Peter Hooley provided 11 points, 1 rebound and 3 assists in 38 minutes of his own.

Vermont was the next hurdle who with Stony Brook were at the top of the America East standings. In what turned into a dour defensive struggle, the Great Danes were unable to create a 2nd straight upset and this time fell 45-55. Hooley was solid with a team-best 11 points, 1 rebound and 4 assists, while Sam Rowley eked out 4 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists before fouling out in just 22 minutes. Albany are now 5-4 with their two Australian stars leading the way. Hooley in leading the team in scoring and assists with 14.5 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game, while Sam Rowley is second in scoring with 11.5 points and a team leading 6.6 rebounds per game.

Forward Corban Wroe shot an efficient 5/8 from the field including 3/4 from long-range on his way to 14 points but he could not help prevent a 60-67 loss to America East heavyweight Vermont. Wroe also chipped in 3 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 steal before he had to leave the game with 5 fouls in 28 minutes, while Taylor Dyson scored just 5 points with 1 steal in being foul plagued himself in just 23 minutes on court.

Unlike Albany, Hartford were not able to upset Stony Brook but fell just 4 points short in trying (52-56). It was the two Aussie starters who helped push the Hawks within range, with Wroe contributing 13 points on 4//5 shooting including 3/4 on triples with 2 rebounds, 4 assists and 1 steal in a foul plagued 24 minutes, while Dyson compiled 12 points and 4 rebounds in 29 minutes. Hartford are now 4-5 in conference play ahead of their home clash with Albany – a game that could potentially see 7 Australian’s take to the court.

At home in Taco Bell Arena, Boise State were able to account for Air Force 69-58. With an equal game-high 16 points (6/11 FG), Anthony Drmic was integral for the Broncos, also chipping in 6 rebounds and 1 assist along the way. However just like New Mexico before them, they stumbled on the road at UNLV 69-73 after leading for the majority of the game. Aussie duo Drmic and Nick Duncan had little influence on the game in scoring a combined 8 points as Igor Hadziomerovic did not suit up. The Broncos who attended the NCAA Tournament last year and return all 5 starters are now just 5-4 in the Mountain West, and next up take on the daunting task of #5 ranked San Diego State but at least at home. Drmic is now posting a team leading 17 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.3 steals per game, but his scoring has cooled off over recent weeks, contributing just 11 points per game over the last 6 outings.

Eastern Washington lost to Portland State 83-92 despite a Venky Jois posting his 7th double-double of the season. Jois finished with 11 points, 10 rebounds and 3 assists in 35 minutes but he was unable to get enough support to enable the Eagles to get over the line. Returning home, things did not get any easier for the Eagles as they then dropped a 61-73 game to North Dakota, gaining just 6 points from the bench. Jois as usual did his best to try to get his team over the line in scoring a team-high 15 points alongside 5 rebounds, 1 assist and 2 blocks in 34 minutes.

Still at home, the Eagles were finally able to gain a break as they managed to win a 94-90 overtime thriller against Northern Colorado. Jois played a solid support role in this game, scoring just 6 points on 3/5 shooting to go with 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals and 3 blocks in 37 minutes. The Eagles improved to 4-6 in the Big Sky, with Jois averaging 13.1 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.5 blocks per game.

Lafayette was unable to avoid dropping their 11th straight game in losing to Colgate 68-75. Dan Trist came off the bench to score 9 points alongside 8 rebounds and 1 steal in just 23 minutes. However things finally turned around as the Leopards were able to register their first Patriot League victory of the season as they smashed Navy 72-54. Trist was at the front and leading the way, scoring 17 points with 6 rebounds in only 22 efficient minutes. Lafayette are now just 1-9 in conference play, with Trist contributing 13.4 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1 assist in just 22.7 minutes per outing.

Ball State’s season continued to head in the wrong direction as they were beaten 46-73 by Akron. However power forward Majok Majok was arguably the only silver lining for the Cardinals in being their only player to score in double figures. He had an equal game-high 15 points (7/9 FG), 3 rebounds and 1 assist in 30 minutes. The Cardinal’s then lost their 3rd in a row as they dropped a heart-breaking 65-67 overtime thriller to Northern Illinois. Majok was 1 point shy of a double-double, finishing with 9 points, 1 rebounds, 1 steal and 2 blocks before checking out with 5 fouls in 26 minutes. Ball State are now just 1-7 in the Mid-American Conference with Majok averaging 11.1 points and 9.8 rebounds per game.

UC Riverside lost their 11th game by 5 points or less in another overtime thriller, falling 89-93 short of UC Northridge. Forward Chris Patton did his best in contributing 13 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists but it was not enough. Patton’s Highlanders are now just 2-5 in Big West play, with the Aussie forward leading the team in scoring with 13.4 points 6 rebounds per game.

In rounding out this week's coverage, it is worth shouting our the performance of forward Sam McBeath at Nicholls State. He exploded for 20 points on 8/11 shooting (2/3 3PT) alongside 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 1 steal as Nicholls State defeated Central Arkansas 78-67. The Colonels are now a solid 7-2 in the Southland Conference, just 2 games behind 1st placed Stephen F. Austin.

Has Damian left out any performance of note? Do you agree with his selections? Please share a comment!