7-2 Grizzlies finally return home for weekend tilts
by Chris Day
ALAMOSA, Colo.ó The Adams State College menís basketball team will try to bounce back from their first Division II loss of the season as they host two Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference East Division teams going in opposite directions this weekend in Plachy Hall.
The Grizzlies had won five straight games before dropping last Saturdayís decision to Regis and now prepare to host Colorado Christian at 8 p.m. Saturday before taking off traditional RMAC power Metro State at 6 p.m. Sunday. Both games, which follow womenís contests with the same opponents, can be heard on KSPK-FM (103.5 & 104.1 in Alamosa) and via the internet at www.kspk.com.
The Grizzlies come into their first home weekend in nearly a month with 7-2 overall and 1-1 RMAC marks. ASC, away from home for seven straight games, went 5-2 away from the Grizzly Den, with their only losses coming against Division I Arizona, ranked 21st in the nation, and the Rangers.
Colorado Christian, which plays at Colorado State-Pueblo on Thursday night, currently sports 4-3 overall and 2-0 marks. The Cougars have won three straight games.
Metro State, which is at Colorado State-Pueblo on Saturday, is just 4-6 overall and 0-2 in RMAC play. The Roadrunners have lost four of their last five.
Although the Grizzlies have had several players come through during their quick start, the teamís best in ASCís NCAA Division II (1992-93/Present) era, senior forward Rece Hampton (Greenwood, Miss.) has been consistently dominant.
The 6-foot-5, 205-pounder is the reigning RMAC/Baden West Division Player of the Week after averaging 26.0 points and 11.9 rebounds per game last week. He had 31 points and 15 rebounds in the Regis game to go along with six steals and three blocked shots. The Eastern New Mexico transfer leads the entire RMAC in field goal percentage, blocks, steals and offensive rebounds. His season 18.6 and 8.0-point and rebound per game averages are fourth and sixth best in the league.
Larry Charles, Jr. (Tucson, Ariz.) is also averaging a solid 11.9 points per game while Travis Carr (Canon City, Colo.) is scoring 9.7.
While the Grizzlies have counted on Hampton, Colorado Christian has done the same with 6-foot-7 senior forward Brian Stamer. Named as the RMACís Preseason Player of the Year, Stamer is the reigning RMAC/Baden East Division Player of the Week after leading the Cougars to home wins over Mesa State and Fort Lewis last weekend.
Stamer is averaging 17.0 points and 9.7 rebounds per game and is a solid 60.0 percent from the field. He is fifth in the RMAC in scoring and third in rebounding
The Cougars also have talented guards of in Rory Morgan and Jordan Long. Morgan, a 6-foot-4 senior, is averaging 16.3 points per game, sixth best in the RMAC, while Long, a 6-foot-1 junior, is scoring 12.0. He also leads the RMAC with his 6.43-assist per game average.
The Cougars live and die by the 3-point shot and have done more living in the recent past as they have hit 47 treys in their last three victories.
Both the Cougars and Grizzlies are solid shooting teams as they rank second and third in the RMAC in field goal percentage with .509 and .508 team marks. Not surprisingly, they are first and second in the RMAC in assists per game.
While first-year coach Mark Murdock certainly has his squad focused on Saturday night, he must also pay attention to Metro State, picked to win the RMAC.
The game, moved to Sunday because of ASCís winter commencement, is a chance at revenge for the Grizzlies who advanced to the RMAC Tournament Championship Game and the NCAA Division II National Tournament for the first time before the Roadrunners knocked them out of both.
The Roadrunners have certainly played a tough schedule but only show a 72-68 home win over Denver-based Johnson & Wales win since Thanksgiving.
Just 11th in the RMAC in field goal percentage and scoring, the Roadrunners can claim one of the leagueís best defenses as they hold opponents to just a 42.0 percent shooting effort from the field and an even lower 29.5 percent clip from 3-point land. Those marks are second and first in the league, respectively.
Offensively, the Roadrunners have four players averaging in double figures, a group led by junior forward Jesse Wagstaff, the only Roadrunner to have started all 10 of their games. One of three Australians on the roster, Wagstaff is averaging a team-high 14.5 points and 6.3 rebounds per game.
He and Marquise Carrington, a 5-foot-11 junior, joined Stamer, Fort Lewisí Devon Manning and Colorado Minesí Kyle Pape on the Preseason All-RMAC Team. Carrington is averaging 12.4 points per game and leads the team with 49 assists, a 4.90 per game average that is good for third in the RMAC, just one spot ahead of ASCís Marcus Mortensen (Cortez, Colo.), who is averaging 4.89 per game.