With three freshmen in his starting lineup in 2009-10, Eastern head men's basketball coach hopes to turn the corner next year
Eastern Washington University head men's basketball coach Kirk Earlywine has received a contract extension and will return for his fourth season at the helm of the Eagles, EWU athletic director Bill Chaves has announced.
Earlywine, 45, is 32-58 in his first three seasons, including a 17-31 record in the Big Sky Conference. With three freshmen in its starting lineup this past season, Eastern was 9-21 overall and 5-11 in the league, but placed seventh and missed the six-team league tournament for the fourth-straight season. The Eagles lost 10 games by six points or less.
"We look forward to our men's basketball program turning the corner next year and again being a part of the Big Sky Tournament," said Chaves.
A former assistant coach at Weber State, Earlywine concluded his 10th season of experience in the Big Sky Conference in 2009-10. A total of 16 of 30 Eastern games were decided by six points or less, and EWU was 6-10 in those 16 nail-biters.
"I am very happy that (EWU President) Dr. (Rodolfo) Arévalo and Bill Chaves have chosen to allow me to continue the rebuilding process of the men's basketball program here at Eastern," said Earlywine. "From day one, I knew that this would be a long and difficult process. However, with the young players who stepped forward this year, along with our redshirts and our incoming recruiting class, I feel that we are very close to turning the corner.
"We have worked very hard to establish a foundation with young men who are committed to their academic endeavors in addition to being good basketball players and first-class representatives of Eastern Washington University," he continued. "I firmly believe that this foundation will carry us to a place that will make the community, our fans, and the University proud, and I am excited to continue the work that will allow us to reach that goal."
Originally hired on the late date of June 14, 2007, Earlywine's first team had six players who had never played in a NCAA Division I game. In his debut year, he led the Eagles to a respectable 11-19 finish that included a 6-10 league mark. Among the team's triumphs in his first season was a victory over Portland State, which would go on to win the league's regular season and tournament titles and represent the Big Sky in the NCAA Tournament.
In his second season, EWU had a 12-18 record overall and was 6-10 in the Big Sky. The Eagles started the season 6-2, and then lost a tiebreaker with Montana for the sixth and final Big Sky tourney berth.