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Tuesday, March 8, 2011 » THE TRIBUNE

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Kingman charges through health obstacles in sports career and life By Matt Schuman


he University of Northern Colorado men’s basketball team posts thoughts for the day before each practice. Neal Kingman’s favorite is “one of the greatest pleasures in life is achieving something that no one said you could.” Kingman, a senior forward, has certainly done that many times over. From the time he was born when he was told by doctors he would never play sports, he has not only proved them wrong, but has become a major factor in helping the Bears become the Big Sky Conference regular-season champions and within two games of making the NCAA tournament. Kingman is living the Hollywood script of a hometown hero living his dream, but it didn’t come easy.


Kingman was born with a clubfoot on his right leg. The doctor told his parents, Craig and Melanie, he would never run fast, jump high or be able to play sports. He wore casts on his legs for 12 weeks and then wore orthopedic shoes with a bar between both feet until he was 3. That’s when the doctors did surgery to lengthen the right Achilles’ tendon. After the surgery, he had to wear casts again for seven weeks and undergo physical therapy, but it never kept him from playing sports. From the time he was born, Craig said he had a ball in his hands. Even with casts on, Kingman would play baseball in his backyard, hitting the ball off a tee. “I was such an active kid that I didn’t let it affect my activity level,” Kingman said. “I would push the limits until my parents told me not to.” No need to. Kingman was doing fine and excelling in the sports he played. It wouldn’t be long until basketball became his passion. As Kingman said, “God had a plan for me and basketball was a part of it.” So despite the challenges he faced, it served as a motivator to prove the doctors wrong. “It is always a little sense of

pride to be able to kind of show them I was able to overcome it,” Kingman said. EXCELLING IN SPORTS

By the time he reached high school, Kingman was not only a basketball standout, but he was showing the doctors that he could run fast and jump high. At Greeley West, Kingman was a standout basketball player, and as a senior, he also ran track, qualifying for state in the 200-meter run and the long jump. From the time he started playing basketball at John Evans Middle School, Kingman’s talent and prospects for Division I basketball caught the eye of Greeley West boys basketball coach Bill Whitehead. Even though he wasn’t very tall at that point, Whitehead said he was “flashy good” even as a seventh grader. “He would do things even as a seventh grader that occasionally would really catch your eye,” Whitehead said. Kingman started as a sophomore at Greeley West and grew to be 6-foot-2, but was a scrawny kid at 135 pounds. By his senior season, Whitehead said Kingman had reached 6-6 and had put on some pounds, but was still lanky. Still, he showed the skills to be a


University of Northern Colorado forward Neal Kingman has grown into one

of the leaders of the Bears.


Division I player and the college coaches started knocking on his door. ALMOST A WILDCAT

One of those who heavily recruited Kingman was Weber State University coach Randy Rahe.

Kingman also drew interest from an assistant coach at Wichita State University named Tad Boyle. Boyle called Whitehead wanting to know if Kingman might be a good fit for the Shockers. It wasn’t much later that Boyle, a Greeley native, was named the head coach at UNC. Soon after, as Kingman was

preparing to make a visit to Weber State with his waiting-tobe-signed scholarship papers on his parents’ table, Rahe made a phone call to his parents. “He said ‘Well, has Tad Boyle


continued 13: Kingman

4 » Tuesday, March 8, 2011


»»How we got here A glance at what the four Big Sky Conference semifinalists did to arrive in Greeley. No. 1 Northern Colorado Players and coaches have pointed to Christmas as the turning point for the Bears. After a so-so nonconference schedule, which included just three home games, the Bears stood at 4-7 and had lost four games in a row, the final game of the stretch, a 78-75 loss to the University of Louisiana-Monroe on Dec. 22. A week later, the Bears opened Big Sky play at Portland State University and won 79-66 then completed a rare road sweep of the Pacific Northwest by beating Eastern Washington University 75-73 on Dec. 31. That kickstarted a seven-game winning streak, which was interrupted by a last-second loss at Weber State University and at Northern Arizona University. Not deterred, the Bears closed the season eight of the final games, their only loss coming at the University of Montana. The Bears closed out their first Big Sky regular season title with a 84-54 blowout of Sacramento

State University on Wednesday. No. 2 Montana Behind the league’s stingyest defense, the Grizzlies have arrived in Greeley with designs on defending their Big Sky tournament title. The Grizzlies allow opponents to connect on just 39.9 percent from the floor and give up 60.6 points per game, a mark that’s 4 points better than second-best Northern Arizona. During the regular season, the Grizzlies proved to be UNC’s tightest competition for the regular season title, staking its claim to the title after the Bears lost at NAU. The Grizzlies, however, slipped back to second for good in their first Big Sky game, losing an overtime game at Eastern Washington, 5955 on Feb. 26. The Grizzlies piled up a five-game nonconference winning streak, which included a victory against Oregon State University; they scored, perhaps, the league’s marquee victory by winning at UCLA 66-57 on Dec. 5. They also opened Big Sky play winning eight of nine with their lone loss coming in Greeley, 63-45 on Jan. 6. The Grizzlies boast the Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year:

Associated Press

Montana center Brian Qvale dunks the

ball over Northern Colorado forward Mike Proctor during the second half of Montana's victory Feb. 12. center Brian Qvale. No. 3 Weber State Save two weekend road trips, the Wildcats have been nearly

flawless against the Big Sky. The Wildcats, however, went 0-2 on two crucial road trips that left them with the tournament’s third seed. The first game Dec. 29 and Dec. 31 when Montana and Montana State University dropped them by a combined nine points. Then on Jan. 20 and Jan. 22 trips to Portland State and Northern Colorado ended in losses. In fact, their 65-46 loss at UNC is their worst loss of the season. After the loss to the Bears, the Wildcats won eight consecutive Big Sky games to put the 2010 regular season champ back in the mix. They were in the mix for a quarterfinal bye before losing to Eastern Washington 75-45 in their regular season finale but avenged that loss Saturday in the Big Sky quarterfinals, 79-70. No. 4 Northern Arizona The Lumberjacks won’t shy away from a 3-pointer and for good reason. They’re pretty good at it. NAU has connected on 43.3 percent from deep, which is the best mark of the teams in Greeley. The Lumberjacks also have the best scoring margin a 7.6 (Montana is second at 6.9, Northern Colorado third at 6.6 and Weber State

»»Big Sky N. Colorado Montana Weber St. N. Arizona Montana St. E. Washington Portland St. Idaho St. Sacramento St.

Men Conference Overall W L PCT W L PCT 13 3 .813 19 10 .655 12 4 .750 20 9 .690 11 5 .688 18 11 .621 9 7 .563 19 11 .633 7 9 .438 13 18 .419 7 9 .438 10 20 .333 5 11 .313 13 16 .448 4 12 .250 9 20 .310 4 12 .250 7 21 .250

fourth at 5.1). Gabe Rogers and Eric Platt have combined to make 119 3-pointers — Rogers’ 74 is tied with UNC’s Devon Beitzel for most made 3-pointers this Rogers season. In addition, Cameron Jones has also made 35. The Lumberjacks started 2-4 in Big Sky play but have won five of their past six, including a 65-62 victory against Montana State in Saturday’s quarterfinal. Their only loss during the recent stretch — a 72-71 defeat in Greeley. Staff reports

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Hill keeps it simple, keeps working hard By Samuel G. Mustari

The message on B.J. Hill’s cell phone is genuine, straight to the point minus any frills and definitely without fanfare. In summary, Hill is receptive to the call and explains how he’ll call back as soon as possible. He means it. Leaving anything undone doesn’t coincide with how Hill does his business. Technically, he’s in the business of winning basketball games. Figuratively, he’s also in the business of winning basketball games. In between, what you see is what you get — a basketball coach who’s well versed in winning, what it takes to win, the meaning of winning and the implications that follow. That doesn’t mean the firstyear University of Northern Colorado men’s basketball coach will play, or even, look the role. You see, being B.J. Hill is actually pretty easy. Hill, 37, may appear vanilla, but that’s by choice. From Iowa to Greeley, and places in between

He spent his formative years growing up in Cedar Falls, Iowa, a community he proudly states reminds him a lot like Greeley. “We love it here, we really do,” Hill said, speaking for his family, which has grown by one since his arrival five years ago — wife Eliza, son Nate, 8; and daughter Alana, 3. Eliza uses two words to describe her husband — “very driven.” “When we first got here, I felt like I was at home right away,” Hill said. “UNC and UNI (University of Northern Iowa) are a lot alike, and the two cities are a lot alike.” Hill made his share of stops along the way, but none more notable than at Coffeyville Community College in Coffeyville, Kan., —

“Sure, a salary is part of the profession, but it’s not something that consumes me by any means. I’m in this business to be around athletes and individuals that I can help achieve dreams. It’s been so much fun to be with the players who came here at the same time I did, realizing that our hard work pays off.”

— B.J. Hill, UNC men’s basketball coach

“probably the worst place I’ve ever lived in terms of the social scene, but one of the best places to coach basketball.” Hill knew early on he wasn’t overly interested in taking the well traveled route to a Division I job by starting at the high school level. “The second year I was out of college, I went back and helped coach my high school team in Cedar Rapids,” Hill said. “I got a real feel for the parent involvement at the high school level, and besides, you don’t have control over your talent. That didn’t appeal to me. That’s when I migrated toward the college scene. North Iowa Area Community College in Mason City, Iowa was one of the places that I coached.” Filling his pockets not on Hill’s agenda

Hill also notes a high-end salary has not determined where he’s coached. “The first four years I coached, I lived in four different towns,” Hill said. “At Coffeyville, I made $44,000 per year. I spent one year at Indian Hills Community College (Iowa) before I came here and

« continued

10: Hill


University of Northern Colorado coach B.J. Hill watches his team play

against Sacramento State University on Wednesday at Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion. Hill has ledthe Bears to the Big Sky Conference regular season title in his first season as the Bears head coach.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011 » THE TRIBUNE

Freshmen thrive in the spotlight ERIC BELLAMY/

Youngsters Addo, Unruh, Garnica expect to add to UNC’s push toward Big Sky title By Samantha Fox The UNC Mirror

Three first-year University of Northern Colorado players have seized their chances. Freshmen forward Emmanuel Addo and guard Tate Unruh were redshirted last season but have stepped up when called upon. True freshman guard Paul Garnica has played regularly all season after joining the Bears from San Antonio’s Robert E. Garnica Lee High School. “We knew that there’d be a learning curve for those guys at the beginning of the year — not as much so for Tate and Emmanuel be- Unruh cause they’ve been through a redshirt year and knew what we expected,” UNC coach B.J. Hill said. Addo and Garnica have participated in every game this season. Addo has an average of 12.3 minutes per game and had his first start Feb. 3 against Eastern Washington University. “I think they’ve done a good job,” Hill said. “I don’t know if they’ve done a great job, but I think they’ve done a very good job. It’s a tough situation. I think if these guys weren’t on this specific team where there’s four seniors, they’d be getting a lot more minutes, and you’d see more growth. But I’m pleased with where they’re at.” Senior forward Neal Kingman has seen the amount of work these freshmen have contributed and said their effect on this season has been noticeable. “It’s always nice to have guys that will help us out at practice and come off the bench,” Kingman said. “They’ve worked hard in practice; they’ve worked hard in the weight room. We’ve got a couple playing

ebellamy@ greeleytribune. com

University of Northern Colorado

»»Freshmen contributions

redshirt freshman Emmanuel Addo shoots over the head of Sacramento State University’s Alpha N’Diaye on Wednesday.

Emmanuel Addo Games: 29 (two starts) Points: 6.6 Rebounds: 3.5 Shooting percentage: 54.2 Paul Garnica Games: 29 (two starts) Points: 4.4 Rebounds: 2.0 Assists: 1.5 Tate Unruh Games: 18 (two starts) Points: 3.0 Rebounds: 0.4 Shooting percentage: 41.9

for us, obviously, in the games right now, so they’ve played a huge part in our success.” Part of that success comes from Garnica, who averages 4.4 points a game. He has a career-high of 10 points, which he scored two times this season. “Paul was talented enough to play, but there’s always a steep learning curve when he comes from high school right into college,” Hill said. “What we planned on doing was bringing those guys along and then hopefully having a major part at the end of the year, which they’ve done.” Garnica finished his high school career as the scoring leader in San Antonio history with 3,012 points, breaking the record of Devin Brown, who played in the NBA. His team won 82 games in four years. Entering the season, Hill expected Unruh to contribute, but he was recovering from a knee injury, which delayed his first appearance to Nov. 16 against the University of Wyoming. The first time he scored came Dec. 31 against Eastern Washington when he sank two free throws. “After not being out there last year at all, I come off this knee injury; I didn’t know how I’d react,” Unruh said. “I’ve been really happy with my (playing time). It’s been fun to get out there and just play the

game for the first time since high school.” Unruh received a 2009 McDonald’s All-American nomination for his time at Branson (Mo.) High School where he finished his career as the fourth-best 3-point shooter. He set records for

3-pointers in a game (nine), in a season (97) and in a career (236). This season he has made 12-for29 from 3-point range. Hill said Addo, Garnica and Unruh are all expected to play their regular minutes during the conference tournament, and Unruh

said he is excited for the opportunity. “You always dream of playing in the NCAA tournament, but for me, I just wanted to get out there and play,” Unruh said. “Get healthy and start playing, and now that it’s here, it’s become a reality.”



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Tuesday, March 8, 2011 » THE TRIBUNE

Hill earns respect on recruiting trail « Hill From 5

»»Hill’s career

made $50,000.” Last season as UNC’s top assistant, Hill earned $50,000, but he was rewarded with a base salary of $85,000 to become the Bears’ head coach. “Sure,” Hill said, “a salary is part of the profession, but it’s not something that consumes me by any means. I’m in this business to be around athletes and individuals that I can help achieve dreams. It’s been so much fun to be with the players who came here at the same time I did, realizing that our hard work pays off. “Anybody can get comfortable in a coaching position, and you see it at all levels. I’m more interested in the type of motor a guy has and as a hu-

Year Program Record 1997-98 North Iowa Area CC (AC) 17-15 (.531) 1998-99 Independence CC (AC) 22-10 (.688) 1999-00 South Dakota State (AC) 21-9 (.700) 2000-01 Coffeyville Community College (AC) 24-8 (.750) 2001-02 Coffeyville Community College (AC) 36-2 (.947) 2002-03 Coffeyville Community College (AC) 29-9 (.763) 2003-04 Coffeyville Community College (AC) 31-7 (.816) 2004-05 Coffeyville Community College (AC) 26-7 (.788) 2005-06 Indian Hills Community College (AC) 25-6 (.806) 2006-07 Northern Colorado (AC) 4-24 (.143) 2007-08 Northern Colorado (AC) 13-16 (.448) 2008-09 Northern Colorado (AHC) 14-18 (.438) 2009-10 Northern Colorado (AHC) 25-8 (.758) 2010-11 Northern Colorado (HC) 19-10 (.655) AC - assistant coach AHC - associate head coach HC - head coach

man being, the morals and standards you hold yourself accountable for.” Respect plays huge for Hill and Boyle

It was while Hill was at Coffeyville that he and Tad Boyle, his predecessor at UNC, hooked up. “I learned so much there,” Hill said. “We won at a high

rate, but even better, you had to get out and recruit hard. Even better, a lot of Division I schools came in and were recruiting our kids, so I got to see how a lot of them did their deal.” Boyle was an assistant at Wichita State University, and the two often shared stories while recruiting the same players at various levels of the Kansas state basketball tournaments, usually in Topeka or Emporia, Kan. One one occasion, Boyle had a key interest in Coffeyville’s Marlon Mahorn, the nephew of former NBA player Rick Mahorn. “They (Wichita State) followed him his freshman year, and then again as a sophomore, but I really didn’t think Marlon was the kind of guy they were looking for,” Hill said. “I told Tad that, and

I told him to take a look at Ryan Martin.” To make a long story short, Wichita State signed Martin, who in turn was named as the Missouri Valley Conference’s top sixth man on a team that advanced to the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Division I tournament. Martin is now a UNC assistant coach. “Tad and I trusted each other’s viewpoint and opinion on players,” Hill said. “He respected the job we were doing at Coffeyville.” While assisting longtime Coffeyville head coach Jay Herkelman, the Ravens won five Jayhawk Conference titles, three regional titles, once played for the Junior College national title, and were fifth and seventh nationally. The success at Coffeyville didn’t get Hill anywhere near a

head coaching position. “Jobs were open for the three worst teams in the conference — at Colby Community College, at Fort Scott, Kan., and at Pratt Junior College in Kansas. I couldn’t even get a sniff at any of the three,” Hill said. “As a college coach, you learn to live with persistence. “There were plenty of days I told myself that I should buy my dad’s insurance business (Peterson/Hill Independent Insurance Agency in Cedar Falls) and take that route,” Hill added. “I thank God everyday for where I’m at and for the opportunity I’ve been given at UNC.” When Boyle left UNC for a bigger stage at the


continued 11: Hill

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« 11

Coach defers credit for talent on roster « Hill From 10 University of Colorado, he offered Hill a chance to go with him, but also gave him a glowing recommendation to UNC athletic director Jay Hinrichs. Hinrichs knew it was inevitable that Boyle would eventually move on to a major Division I program, and kept a keen eye on Hill, noting that his work ethic was unmatched, and at the time of his hiring stated “B.J. won’t be outworked.” Hill’s biggest fan was Boyle, who kept Hill atop his list of potential assistant coaches when the time came he’d hire his own staff. “Tad offered to take me to CU with him, but also asked me if I’d be interested in the job here,” Hill said. “I told him I was interested in being UNC’s head coach, he said he’d help me get the job, but if I didn’t get it, he’d have a spot for me at CU.” Hill knows he’s the favorite to win Big Sky Conference Coach of the Year honors, but he shrugs off the thought, preferring to talk about the players on UNC’s roster that he feels have put him in a position to succeed.


University of Northern Colorado men’s head coach B.J. Hill

sets up a play last week at Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion. One by one, Hill’s players refer to their coach as the guy who has their back, and vice versa. “That’s the guy (responsible) right there,” senior forward Neal Kingman said, pointing to Hill after the Bears’ victory against Sacramento State University to clinch the Big Sky Conference regular season crown. “We know he’s got our back,

and we have his.” Kingman added Hill instills a horde of confidence into the program. “It can’t happen to a better guy,” said Kingman, referring to the Bears’ Big Sky title and the opportunity to host the postseason tournament. “He came and took the reins, and we didn’t skip a step. He never let us make excuses. No matter what the

circumstance was, whether it was losing a coach or losing whoever’s not playing this year or the injuries we had or anything like that, he just said we’re a good team regardless of who we have on the floor. He works harder than anybody. All the credit to him, no doubt.” Instead of offering the obvious answer to whether or not he had a big hand in

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recruiting everybody on the Bears’ roster, Hill opts to say “I’d like to think so, but everybody (on staff) had a piece of the (recruiting) process.” That, of course, includes Boyle, who quickly made Hill his top assistant when taking over a then-slumping program five years ago. “He was my automatic No. 1 choice for an assistant,” Boyle said. “I had seen him work, and we look for the same type of toughness in players. I didn’t know how good a coach he was, and that turned out to be a pleasant surprise. B.J. is special because he’s a great recruiter and coach, and you don’t always find that (combination) in your assistants.” Greeley’s quality of life appeals to Hill

Hill wouldn’t change anything about the route he’s taken to become UNC’s head coach, mixing a plethora of knowledge he’s absorbed at every stop along the way. “I’ve learned from everybody I’ve worked with,” Hill said. His thinking process includes measuring the quality of life in a community, an aspect in Greeley that he can-

didly boasts about. “It’s not to coach at the highest level possible as it is the quality of life you can provide for your family and to be able to provide for them,” Hill said. “Some guys may be willing to do things that aren’t very ethical just to survive. That’s not something I’m interested in.” Hill knows the recent run of success the Bears have experienced plays a major role in recruiting, and could make him a hot commodity, but he didn’t hesitate to share the kudos with the UNC administration. “The facilities we have here are great, and that includes the two phases of improvements that have happened since I got here. Everything they said they would do when I got here, they’ve done,” he said. “We have a lot to sell here,” he added. “This is a great community and a great place for a kid to come spend four or five years of their life. It’s a win-win situation because this is a place where you can succeed in the classroom as well as on the basketball court. At UNC, I’m surrounded by people who offer a lot of support and the chance to play for championships.”

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University of Northern Colorado senior Courtney Stoermer

drives to the basket against Idaho State University this season at Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion in Greeley.

UNC women’s hoops

Bears charge past preseason outlook By Parker Cotton The UNC Mirror

Peers and observers of the Big Sky Conference cast a skeptical view of the University of Northern Colorado women’s basketball team before the season. Coming off a 200910 season in which UNC managed a 6-10 Big Sky record and 14-16 overall, the Bears fell to eighth of nine in the preseason

projections from fellow coaches and media. At the time, UNC coach Jaime White dismissed the projections. “The rankings are often based on how we ended last year. I would have to say that’s fair,” she said. “However, after the last two weeks of practice, I can tell you things look very different from last year.” She didn’t know how right she was.

The Bears (12-4 Big Sky, 17-12 overall) finished tied for first with Portland State University, having defeated every team in the conference at least once this season. UNC senior guard Courtney Stoermer said the early projection gave the team a goal for the season.


continued 14: Women


« 13

‘Bony’ seventh grader grows into star « Kingman From 3 been in your living room yet?’” Craig said. “And I said, ‘Well, he hasn’t been in our living room yet, but he’s coming Sunday.’” Boyle, now the head coach at the University of Colorado, came and sealed the deal for Kingman to come to UNC. However, a tumultuous freshman year left Kingman wondering whether he could make it as a Bear. HEALTH ISSUES

As Kingman started practicing his freshman year, he began to notice something was wrong. Around noon every day he would start to get tired, like he slept the night before. At practice, he would make two or three trips down the court and be so fatigued he could barely stand. It took its toll. Kingman was worried he might not even be able to stay on the team if he couldn’t show the coaches he could play. Boyle even told Whitehead that he wasn’t sure Kingman could keep up with the team. “It did creep into my head that he must think I’m out of shape all the time and that kind of stuff,” Kingman said. “But once it got to the point where it got to be a serious medical issue, I knew that he would understand it.” The worst part came after the second game of the season at Purdue University. One day after practice, he started urinating blood, and UNC trainer Rawley Klingsmith insisted he get it checked out immediately. It took a while for a diagnosis. Kingman submitted to blood work twice a week and even had to have a colonoscopy as doctors tried to understand his ailment. Finally, as his freshman year was coming to a close, the doctors discovered he had iron-deficiency anemia.


Neal Kingman, right, and his former

Greeley West basketball coach Bill Whitehead chat after UNC won last Wednesday. They gave him iron supplements to take every day and soon he was on the road to recovery. He received a medical redshirt from the NCAA after playing in only five games. Although Kingman was frustrated at the time, he now sees redshirting his freshman year as a blessing in disguise. “It allowed me to grow not only physically, but mature a little more,” Kingman said. “I think now that I look back on it, I wasn’t too happy when it was going on. But looking back on it, I’m glad it happened because it gave me a chance to grow a little bit without having to lose any eligibility.”


Kingman began to grow up and become the player he is today. However, it wasn’t always easy being the hometown kid trying to make a

name for himself. A standout in high school, Kingman knew friends and acquaintances have high expectations for him in college, and he wondered whether they questioned if he was good enough to play at this level. He didn’t play a lot his first two seasons after redshirting and said he felt “a little embarrassed.” “I remember how he was comfortable playing in high school, and I felt it took him a long time to show that comfort in college,” Melanie said. “I felt his junior and senior year he finally was playing that way again. His own relatives have said that too. ‘There’s the Neal we remember, just finally feeling good about himself.’” He blossomed and now has become a key component in the Bears championship run. Even through all the bad times, Kingman kept the positive attitude that made him a college standout and Big Sky champion. It’s those kind of charac-


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»»Facts about Neal Kingman » Was born and lived in Fort Collins until he was nearly 6 and then moved to Utah until he was 9 when his family moved to Greeley. » Started playing basketball in Utah in a Little League called the Junior Jazz. » Between his junior and senior year in high school, he grew 6 inches. » His high school coach Bill Whitehead also played for UNC and had a successful high school career in Greeley at University High School. » Has a sister younger, Anna, who played soccer and volleyball at Greeley West. » He won a seventh grade championship at John Evans Middle School » He played AAU basketball with teammate Devon Beitzel before both came to UNC. Matt Schuman

teristics Whitehead believes will always make Kingman successful. “There is nothing forced or false about Neal,” Whitehead said. “Because of that people enjoy being around him. Those kind of things

were obvious when he was a horribly bony little seventh grader and it is still true today and it will be true when he’s 40. He is going to be a successful businessman and people are going to say the same things about him.”


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Tuesday, March 8, 2011 » THE TRIBUNE

Strange, Lockridge boost Bears « women From 12 “It’s nice, kind of being the underdog, but at times, we knew that we could prove to the Big Sky and to a lot of people that was not where we belonged in the conference,” Stoermer said. As the season went on, the Bears soared past their projection to finish eighth. “It says a lot about the kids that nobody knew about, which means our incoming kids,” White said. Sophomore forward Lauren Oosdyke provided perhaps, the biggest boost for the Bears this season. After posting 9.6 points and as a redshirt freshman, she has averaged 13.8 points this season. Her totals increased against those who expected UNC to

struggle. Oosdyke’s 15.5 points in conference games rank fourth; that includes five conference outings with at least 20 points, highlighted by a 28-point outburst in a 72-60 victory against Portland State on Jan. 13. Aiding the turnaround, guard D’shara Strange and forward Kim Lockridge boosted scoring and rebounding during standout freshmen seasons. Strange is the secondleading scorer (11.3 points per game) and leading rebounder (6.5) on the team. Lockridge has scored in double figures nine times, has 54 percent shooting percentage and already ranks fourth on the school’s Division I singleseason list with 58 offensive rebounds. Oosdyke, who has led the team in points 13 times this

»»Big Sky matchups Thursday No. 6 Eastern Washington vs. No. 3 Montana State, 5:35 p.m. No. 5 Idaho State vs. No. 4 Montana, 8:05 p.m. Friday No. 2 Northern Colorado vs. highest remaining seed, 5:35 p.m. No. 1 Portland State vs. lowest remaining seed, 8:05 p.m. Saturday Championship game, 3:07 p.m. All games played at Portland State University

season, said the freshmen have added great depth to the team. “I think a huge difference between our team last year





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University of Northern Colorado senior Brittany Fernandez,

right, fights for the rebound against Idaho State University this season and this year is we have so many people that can score and put the ball in the bucket,” Oosdyke said. “The freshmen have done a great job scoring down low, outside, everything. Give them a lot of credit. They’re going to be good.” Junior forward Kaisha Brown have increased their points per game averages from a season ago, and Stoermer, though scoring less than last year, has increased her assist total from last year.

White also said the team would not be where it is without center Kirsten Hess and guard Molly Duehn, two freshmen who have not seen a lot of game action but have been significant assets in practice — Hess with her size and ability to take away penetration into the lane and Duehn with her ability to “shoot the lights out,” as White said. “We gelled with the older girls pretty well,” Strange said. “Everybody just worked

together.” White said it feels good to have so much success in a season in which the team was projected to perform poorly. “It’s not the number at the beginning of the season; it’s always the number at the end, and we’ve said that from day one,” she said. “I don’t really put a lot of stock in that first ranking. In fact, I’d rather be eighth sometimes, or fifth — something right in the middle, and prove everybody wrong at the end.”


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Tuesday, March 8, 2011 » THE TRIBUNE






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Big Sky Championships Conference  

Big Sky Championships Conference Extra

Big Sky Championships Conference  

Big Sky Championships Conference Extra