Editor’s note: This is one of 12 team capsules breaking down the men’s basketball teams in the Big Sky Conference. League play opens on Thursday, December 29.
Despite a roster not featuring a single senior a season ago, Northern Colorado experienced as much overturn as any team in the Big Sky Conference entering this season.
In April, the school fired head coach B.J. Hill after six seasons amid an NCAA investigation into “serious and concerning” allegations of violations within the program. Due to self-imposed sanctions, Northern Colorado is not eligible for the 12-team Big Sky Tournament in Reno in March. Because of the ineligibility, Anthony Johnson, an All-Big Sky selection as a junior last season, and Tanner Morgan, the slated starter at center entering his senior year, chose to redshirt, delaying their final seasons until next winter.
Standout veterans Cameron Michael, Jordan Wilson and Dallas Anglin each left the program at varying times before Hill’s termination.
UNC navigated a tough early schedule that included three straight losses at Butler, at Santa Clara and at Arizona. UNC has split its last eight, beating Colorado Christian, Northern New Mexico and UC Riverside in the only three true home games. The other win came over Sacred Heart on a neutral court.
Northern Colorado opens Big Sky play at Sacramento State on Thursday. The Bears play at Portland State on Saturday.
Current record — 4-7
2015-2016 record: 7-11 in Big Sky play, 10-21 overall.
Big Sky Tournament finish: The Bears earned the No. 9 seed and lost in the first round of the tournament to Portland State, 74-67.
Head Coach: Jeff Linder, first season at Northern Colorado. Linder takes over for B.J. Hill, who was fired after six seasons amid a cloud of controversy. Linder spent the last six seasons at Boise State, helping the Broncos to two NCAA Tournaments. Linder spent two seasons on Randy Rahe’s staff at Weber State, recruiting Damian Lillard to Ogden.
Linder on the upcoming conference campaign: “Our biggest goal was trying to develop some winning habits,” Linder said. “It isn’t necessarily things on the court but also things off the court, how we handle ourselves. Those winning habits take time to develop and hopefully, that helps us build into a Big Sky program that can compete for championships.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Jordan Davis — The Las Vegas native had one of the best rookie seasons in Northern Colorado history last winter. He set a UNC freshmen record by scoring 340 points. He averaged 11 points and more than a steal a game.
This season, the 6-foot-2 sophomore has taken his game to the next level under Linder. He is averaging 19.9 points per game while shooting 47.4 percent from the floor. He is chipping in 5.7 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 1.1 steals in 33.5 minutes per game.
“He’s sort of a Russell Westbrook version of the Big Sky,” Linder said. “He can get downhill on anyone.”
Chaz Glotta — The 6-foot-2 shooting guard played for one season at Southern Illinois before transferring to UNC before last year. He sat out last season.
This season, the sniper is hitting 41.3 percent of his 3-point tires. He hit five 3-pointers against Arizona and Colorado State, scoring a season-high 18 against the Rams. He is averaging 12.5 points per game.
Ibrahim Sylla — The 6-foot-8 Denver native started four games as a redshirt freshman last season. This season, he is averaging 7.4 points per game on 56.9 percent shooting. He is averaging 4.3 rebounds per game.
Jonah Radebaugh — The 6-foot-2, 165-pound redshirt freshman has provided the biggest rebounding boost of any Bear despite his slight frame, allowing Linder to start three guards. Radebaugh is playing 30.8 minutes per game, second to Davis on UNC. He is pulling down a team-high 5.1 rebounds per game. He is averaging 6.0 points per game and has scored in double figures twice.
Jordan Wilson — The 5-foot-7 guard used one of the quickest first steps in the league to lead the Bears in minutes played, starting 23 of 31 games and averaging 13.2 points, 2.8 assists and 2.9 rebounds per game. He scored 20 on six occasions and set a UNC record by reaching double figures in 21 straight games. He did not start the second half of the conference and elected to transfer before his senior season. The Los Angeles native is averaging 14.3 points per game at Cal State-Los Angeles.
Dallas Anglin — The Southern Miss transfer landed at his fourth school in as many years when he picked Northern Colorado. Last season, he averaged 13.2 points per game and made 11 starts, including nine in conference play. He was dismissed from the team two weeks before the season ended for a violation of team rules.
Cameron Michael — The talented, sharp-shooting former Air Force transfer averaged 12.9 points per game as a sophomore two seasons ago. Michael scored 27 points against nationally-ranked Kansas in Northern Colorado’s season opener last season. But he suffered what ended up being a career-ending concussion four games into the season.
DJ Miles — The 6-foot-6 swingman earned JUCO All-America honors at Otero JC before transferring to UNC> He scored just seven points in Northern Colorado’s first four games before notching 17 against Sacred Heart and 16 against Bucknell back-to-back nights. He is averaging 16.1 points per game since that breakout game, including scoring more than 20 in three of UNC’s last four. He is averaging 10.9 points per game.
Kai Edwards — The 6-9 true freshman from Amsterdam has played at least 17 minutes in six of UNC’s last nine. He is averaging 4.9 rebounds per outing in 15.5 minutes per game.
Kyle Cary — The 6-6 true freshman from London has scored in double figures twice during UNC’s 4-7 start. He is averaging 4.0 points per game despite shooting just 36.8 percent and 26.7 percent from beyond the arc during the non-conference.
Preseason polls finish: Northern Colorado was picked to finish 10th by the media and 11th by the Big Sky Conference’s coaches.
Sophomore Jordan Davis on this season: “Coach Linder doesn’t settle for anything less than perfection,” Davis said. “Perfection is what is going to help us win games and win championships in the near future.