TUCSON,Ariz -- Northern Colorado senior guard Devon Beitzel has earned the nickname "Little Jimmer" for leading the Bears to their first NCAA Tournament berth.
Over his last nine games, Beitzel has averaged 26.5 points per game, a number close to that put up by BYU guard, and National Player of the Year front-runner Jimmer Fredette. So his teammates tagged him "Little Jimmer" whether he likes it, or not.
"Whenever you get compared to a player like Jimmer, it's a compliment," Beitzel said. "I'll take the comparisons and I'll take the compliments, but I'm definitely not at that level."
Beitzel and Fredette both wear number 32 and stand nearly the same size: Beitzel is 6' 1", Fredette 6' 2". Like Fredette, Beitzel can take over a game.
"There will be times when you can just feel like it's time for Devon to take over and do his thing," said Northern Colorado forward Taylor Montgomery. "Shot-wise, he has a great shot. He's got a quick release and he can score at a high level and he can hang with the best of them."
Fredette led BYU to two regular season victories over the Aztecs, but in the Mountain West Conference tournament championship game, SDSU "contained" Fredette by taking away his outside shooting and forcing him into the middle.
When 15th-seed Northern Colorado takes on the second-seed San Diego State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday at approximately 1:40 pm, Beitzel will see a similar strategy
"We're going to corral him, make his three-point shots hard and make him take tough twos," said Aztecs guard Chase Tapley. "He's a crafty player, just like Jimmer. So we're going to do the team effort tomorrow and see what happens."
"I think we're going to try to make him prove himself," said Aztecs' guard D.J. Gay. "We'll see that first four-minute segment and see how he comes out and the adjustments we have to make."
Beitzel earned the Big Sky regular season and tournament MVP awards for carrying the Bears to the conference title.
As a fifth-year senior, he has also helped Northern Colorado build up from the Division one basement. In 2007-08, the Bears were the worst team in terms of RPI, winning just four games.
"To be here today, it's been an incredible turnaround," Beitzel said. "It's been one of the proudest accomplishments of my career, to be say I had a hand in turning this program around."
That's something even Fredette didn't do.
Aztecs look to contain 'Little Jimmer'
Devon Beitzel (March 16, 2011)