College basketball
Trey Woodbury (4) returns for Utah Valley as the Wolverines look to knock off Utah State for the first time in program history. Courtesy UVU Athletics.

Happy College Basketball Eve, WAC Hoops Fans!

College basketball is finally here. Yes, say it with me…COLLEGE BASKETBALL IS FINALLY HERE!

It’s been a long eight months. But, it’s also been a fun eight months. From season previews, to interviews with each coach around the league, we have you covered here at WAC Hoops Digest.

On the men’s side, there are 13 games on Monday night. And on the women’s side, there are nine games tipping off on Monday night.

In fact, it is on the women’s side that we get the first games among WAC Hoops squads.

New Mexico State tips off first in Big 12 Country. The Aggies travel to Boulder to take on Colorado to open the season. Tip is set for Noon MT. It is an opportunity to get a good look at first-year Aggie head coach Jody Adams and the system she is bringing to Las Cruces. Colorado is coming off a 22-win season and a trip the NCAA Tournament. Quay Miller highlights the Lady Buffs roster. Miller averaged 10.6 points and played in all 31 games for the Buffs in 2021-22.

Doubleheaders on Opening Night

Doubleheaders are something fans will see throughout WAC play. And on opening night, quite a few schools will give their fans a taste of what those doubleheaders will look like.

It starts in Riverside. The CBU women’s basketball team hosts UC San Diego with tip set for 2 p.m. PST. Head coach Jarrod Olson has quite a few new faces on his roster. But, Preseason All-WAC selection Trinity San Antonio returns as does veteran Brittany Klaman.

Following the CBU women, the CBU men’s basketball team tips off at 7 p.m. PST against Big West regular season champion Long Beach State. The Lancers feature WAC Freshman of the Year Taran Armstrong along with some key Division I transfers. There is a lot of hype surrounding the Lancers in 2022-23 and they get a big test to tip off the 2022-23 season.

Taran Armstrong leads CBU into the 2022-23 season opener against Big West regular season champ Long Beach State. Courtesy CBU Athletics.

SFA Doubleheader

Stephen F. Austin will have a doubleheader, as well. The Ladyjacks host UTSA with tip set for 5:30 p.m. CT. Aiyanna Johnson and Avery Brittingham lead the defending WAC champs into the 2022-23 season. Head coach Mark Kellogg has the mantra of ‘sustained success’ and the Ladyjacks get an opportunity to showcase that on opening night.

On the men’s side, Kyle Keller’s Jacks host Non-Division I opponent LeTourneau. Roti Ware returns. Nigel Hawkins is healthy. And the super sophomore group of Jaylin Jackson-Posey, Latrell Jossell, Day Day Hall, and Derrick Tezeno lead the Jacks into the 2022-23 season.

GCU Doubleheader

Per the usual, there is a lot of hype surrounding both GCU basketball teams. And on Monday night, the Havocs get to have a fun night of basketball. The GCU women host Arizona Christian with tip set for 4 p.m. MT. Molly Miller’s squad is led by Tiarra Brown, Chicago State transfer Aaliyah Collins and Western Illinois transfer Evan Zars.

On the men’s side, the preseason favorite to win the WAC gets quite the test. GCU hosts one of the favorites to win the Big Sky Conference in Montana State. Jovan Blacksher Jr. and Rayshon Harrison anchor a Lopes squad that is picked by most media outlets to win the WAC in 2022-23. The Bobcats are coming off a 27-win season, a Big Sky regular season and tournament title and a trip to the NCAA Tournament. Tip is set for 7 p.m. MT on ESPN+.

In-State Games

There are in-state games happening on opening night. And in-state game are always good for college basketball.

Arguably the biggest in-state games take place on the men’s side. Utah Valley heads north to Logan to take on Utah State. The Wolverines have lost 13 straight times to the Aggies. And the two teams haven’t played since the 2018 season. With Trey Woodbury returning from a season-ending knee injury last season, the additions of Tahj Small and 7-footer Aziz Bandaogo, Utah Valley might give Utah State a run for its money on Monday night.

Another big in-state game has already been discussed in this write-up. Long Beach State at California Baptist. It is the Big West regular season champ against the Lancers who are finally eligible for the NCAA Tournament. The schools are separated by about 50 minutes. So, you know the CBU Events Center will be rocking for this season opener.

On the women’s side, the WAC preseason favorite UT Arlington Lady Mavs host Texas Southern. Led by Preseason WAC Player of the Year Starr Jacobs, the Lady Mavs are looking to continue their success from the 2021-22 season. UTA won the Sun Belt Conference tournament and hung with Iowa State in the NCAA Tournament.

The SFA Ladyjacks host Conference USA foe UTSA.

Another in-state game on the women’s side has already been mentioned in this write-up, as well. California Baptist hosts UC San Diego in an opening day doubleheader at the CBU Events Center.

Shyai Smith and the UTA Lady Mavs host Texas Southern to open the 2022-23 season. (Photo by/Sharon Ellman)

Big Names Return from Injuries in 2022-23

In 2021-22, the WAC had some big names. Teddy Allen, Fardaws Aimaq, Darrion Trammell, Savion Flagg, and Holland Woods among others.

But there were also some names missing. Utah Valley guard Trey Woodbury and SFA guard Roti Ware are those two names. And Southern Utah’s Tevian Jones returns after suffering a season-ending injury hand injury against Montana State on March 1 in Bozeman. Jones missed the final two games of the regular season, the entire Big Sky tourney and the entirety of The Basketball Classic.

All three are back and all three should be in for big nights on opening night. Report is that Woodbury looks really good and is in even better shape than he was prior to his injury last November. Ware is primed and ready to go, according to head coach Kyle Keller. And Jones is ready to make up for lost time for the T-Birds.

Opening night of college basketball is going to be a fun one. We will have as much coverage as time allows. I am traveling to Logan for the Utah Valley-Utah State game. But we will keep you posted on all things WAC Hoops.

About the author

Kyle McDonald

Love everything about WAC Hoops so decided I wanted to write more about it and cover this amazing conference that just keeps getting better. Follow us on Twitter @wachoopsdigest for information, game analysis and much more.

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