Once again playing without a true point guard, Eagles play nationally-ranked Gonzaga in EWU's third game in a seven-day span
EWU at Gonzaga
Tuesday, Nov. 30 - 6:05 p.m.
McCarthey Athletic Center - Spokane, Wash.
EWU vs. New Hope
Saturday, Dec. 4 - 7:05 p.m. (note time change)
Reese Court - Cheney Wash.
TV: (Gonzaga) Live regionally on Fox Sports Net and locally on KHQ
Radio: (all EWU games) 700 ESPN "The Ticket" and http://www.espnnorthwest.com
Webcasts (All home games and all Big Sky Conference games): http://www.bigskytv.org
Live Stats: (EWU home games): http://web.ewu.edu/groups/athletics/mbasketball/mblivestats/xlive.htm
Just when the outlook was getting brighter, it became bleak again on the injury front for the Eastern Washington University men's basketball team.
But despite facing the prospect of playing nationally-ranked Gonzaga on Tuesday (Nov. 30) without a true point guard for the third time in six games this season, Eastern head coach Kirk Earlywine can only worry about what his team can control.
"They are really good and we are going to go in there short-handed," said Earlywine. "But I'm pretty sure the referees aren't going to let them play more than five guys, and we'll have five guys healthy. I expect whatever five players we have out there in black jerseys will compete their butts off."
Tipoff at the McCarthey Athletic Center on the GU campus is 6:05 p.m. in a game televised regionally on Fox Sports Net and locally on KHQ TV. Following that game, Eastern will host New Hope Christian College from Eugene, Ore., on Saturday (Dec. 4) in a game that has been moved from 3:05 p.m. to 7:05 p.m. because of the football playoff game EWU is hosting that day.
The radio broadcast of the all Eastern games game may be heard on 700-AM ESPN "The Ticket" and via the web at www.espnnorthwest.com, with veteran play-by-play broadcaster Dennis Patchin calling the action. All home games and other Big Sky Conference games may also be viewed free of charge at www.bigskytv.org.
Gonzaga, which lost 81-64 to Kansas State and defeated Marquette 66-63 in last week's O'Reilly Auto Parts CBE Classic in Kansas City, Mo., is 3-2. The Bulldogs opened the year with victories over Southern (117-72) and IUPUI (86-56) before falling to San Diego State (79-76).
Ranked 22nd last week by Associated Press and 18th in the Coaches Poll, GU was 27-7 overall last season and 12-2 in the West Coast Conference. The Bulldogs have won the last 22 meetings against Eastern, including last year's 94-52 romp.
And their roster is deep and talented. In fact, a backup -- Mangisto Arop -- has caught the eye of Earlywine after scoring 15 in the win over Marquette. Arop had 10 points, seven rebounds and six assists in just 18 minutes of action in last year's romp over EWU.
But that's just a start.
"Arop jumped out at me in the minutes I've watched," said Earlywine. "I know (Robert) Sacre is a load in the post and (Kelly) Olynyk is really skilled. (Steven) Gray is playing like an old, experienced senior -- and their go-to guy -- should play. And when (Elias) Harris is healthy, he's a pro.
"I know (Arop) is a heckuva offensive rebounder, a good athlete and tough," he continued. "When we played them last year we didn't think he was a very good shooter and he jumped up and made threes against us. I know he can shoot the ball. You can add that to (Demetri) Goodson's speed that immediately jumps out at you, and their size."
"They punched us in the mouth on their first possession of the game last year and we didn't recover and we didn't fight back," said Earlywine of last year's game in which the Eagles had nine turnovers in the first seven minutes. "I will suspect that won't happen again."
The Point-Less Eagles: The Eagles are coming off a 70-60 loss to Idaho last Saturday (Nov. 27) in which the Eagles played the game without point guards Glen Dean and Cliff Colimon, as well as forward Rashano McCrae. Colimon (ankle) and McCrae (concussion) suffered their injuries in practice, while Dean has a stress fracture in his foot and will now be re-evaluated on Dec. 6.
"I don't know when Cliff will be back," Earlywine said after the Idaho game. "(For concussions) they administer some tests, and when (Rashano) can pass those tests he can play. With Kevin Winford, it was two weeks last year."
Colimon had injured the ankle earlier and has now missed two games in EWU's 1-4 start. Dean has yet to play after earning Big Sky Conference Freshman of the Year accolades in the 2009-10 season when he averaged 12.2 points and 4.4 assists per game.
"The only analogy I can think of is trying to play a football without a quarterback," said Earlywine. "If all your quarterbacks get hurt and you have to all of the sudden throw another player from another position in there, he has to be able to recognize coverages, audible, change plays, call the pass protection and those types of things. Chances are it's going to be a disaster. To a degree, that's where we're at right now."
Eastern has averaged 18.8 turnovers per game thus far, including eight in the first half against Idaho in which the Eagles fell behind at intermission 28-22. Eastern was out-rebounded by five and the two teams combined for 21 three-pointers, but the difference in the game was shooting percentages and a 10-0 Vandal run to end the game. Idaho made 42 percent of its shots compared to 36 percent for the Eagles.
"I was not at all unhappy with our level of competitiveness against Idaho," said Earlywine. "We tried hard, we rebounded the ball good and we hit some shots. But at times we didn't get great shots, and part of that was not being able to run sets because they were mixing it up between man-to-man and zone defenses. That's where you really need a point guard."
The lack of an experienced point guard was particularly noticeable in a 66-60 exhibition loss to Montana State-Billings on Nov. 8 as Eastern had only four assists and made just 15-of-60 shots from the field. The Eagles had 12 assists and made 37 percent from the field in a 67-60 loss against San Jose State, but had 12 of their 17 turnovers in the second half after leading 36-33 at intermission.
Colimon, a transfer from Eastern Utah Junior College, started and played Eastern's next three games until the loss to Idaho. He is averaging 12.0 points and 2.1 assists in three games thus far in an average of 20.0 minutes per game. Because of the absence of a point guard for the most part this season, guard Jeffrey Forbes is averaging 35.2 minutes per game. He and guard Kevin Winford (25.8 minutes per game) played all 40 minutes against Idaho.
Coaches Shows Resume Dec. 13: Eagle Coaches Shows at Northern Quest Casino and Resort will feature head men's basketball coach Kirk Earlywine and play-by-play announcer Dennis Patchin during the 2010-11 season.
Shows begin at 6 p.m. and will take place as early as Dec. 13, depending on how far the Eastern football team advances in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs. The show will take a break for the holidays, then resume on Jan. 3 and continue through the end of the season.
The show will take place live from Northern Quest in the former broadcast room adjacent to the Q Sports Bar and Restaurant. Fans will be able to order food and beverages and listen to the show from that location, as well as watch Monday Night Football and other sporting events.
The show is aired on 700-AM ESPN "The Ticket" and via the internet at www.espnnorthwest.com.
Northern Quest is located at 100 N. Hayford Road in Airway Heights. From downtown Spokane, take exit 277 off I-90 and follow Highway 2 for 4.4 miles, then turn right on Hayford Road and follow for 1.0 miles. From Cheney, take exit 272 off I-90 and follow WA-902 toward Medical Lake for just 0.3 miles. Take a right on Geiger Blvd., followed by a quick left on Hayford Road and follow for 4.4 miles.
Eastern Basketball -- http://goeags.com/sports/m-baskbl/index
Big Sky Conference Basketball -- http://www.bigskyconf.com/index.aspx?tab=basketball&path=mbball
NCAA Basketball -- http://www.ncaa.com/sports/m-baskbl/ncaa-m-baskbl-body.html
ESPN College Scoreboard -- http://sports.espn.go.com/ncb/scoreboard
Rodney Stuckey NBA Page -- http://www.nba.com/playerfile/rodney_stuckey/index.html
More Information and Links are Available at: HTTP://WWW.GOEAGS.COM
Recent EWU Men's Basketball Headlines . . .
November 27, 2010 - Winford Sets School Record with Eight Treys in Loss
November 24, 2010 - Eagles Drop Road Game in Boise, 83-54
November 18, 2010 - Fast Start Helps Eastern Win 96-87|
November 16, 2010 - Promising Start for Naught as Eagles Fall to Huskies 98-72
November 12, 2010 - Despite Strong Defensive Effort, Eagles Begin Season With 67-60 Loss
November 8, 2010 - Eastern Falls to Montana State-Billings 66-60
November 5, 2010 - Eagles Should Have More Firepower Available Monday
November 2, 2010 - Shorthanded Eagles Fall to Seattle Pacific 87-82
October 29, 2010 - SEASON OUTLOOK: Returning Guards Key to Eastern's Big Sky Hopes
Winford Sets School Record With Eight Three-Pointers: Sophomore Kevin Winford set a school record with eight three-pointers in EWU's 70-60 loss to Idaho on Nov. 27. He finished with a career-high with 28 points as he made 8-of-16 treys, breaking the record for attempts as well.
Eastern trailed by 17 in the second half, but rallied behind his hot-shooting to knot the game at 60. Idaho, which made 11 three-pointers compared to 10 for the Eagles, made a pair of treys to ignite its game-ending 10-0 run, with the other four points coming at the free throw line in the last 22 seconds.
Winford, a 2008 graduate of Bartlett High School in Anchorage, Alaska, broke the previous record of seven three-pointers set on 11 different occasions by five different Eagles. The latest was Marc Axton versus Gonzaga on Dec. 21, 2004, and the first was Greg Gaulding versus New Mexico on Feb. 1, 1987. Shannon Taylor had five of the performances during his two-year career from 1998-99.
"We started to figure out how to get a shot for Kevin," said Eastern head coach Kirk Earlywine. "They figured out he had the hot hand and was making shots. That's not an easy thing to do when you don't have a point guard on the floor."
Winford's previous career high for points was 20 set twice last season as a redshirt freshman. For the season, Winford is averaging 11.4 points per game and has made 13-of-29 three-pointers (44.8 percent) and 21-of-46 shots overall (45.7 percent). As a freshman he averaged 6.9 points and made 34-of-104 treys (32.7 percent) and 69-of-182 total field goals (37.9 percent).
For The Second-Straight Season, Eagles Spend First Month Dealing with Injuries: Eastern got off to a rocky start on the injury front when practices started in mid-October for the 2010-11 season. Just a few days into practice, Eastern lost 2009-10 Big Sky Conference Defensive Player of the Year Glen Dean due to a stress fracture in his foot. Dean averaged 12.2 points and 4.4 assists a year ago, and has a redshirt year available if needed. He still hasn't played this season, and after recent evaluations provided mixed results regarding his recovery, he will be re-evaluated again on Dec. 6.
Early practices sidelined true freshman Geoffrey Allen, and he was feared lost for the season with what was thought to be a broken hand. But once swelling and bruising subsided, the injury wasn't as severe as first thought and he returned to practice on Nov. 10. He made his debut against San Jose, finishing with three points, three rebounds and three assists in 15 minutes of action. The son of former UCLA and NBA standout Lucius Allen, he is from Los Angeles, Calif., and is a 2010 graduate of Pacific Hills High School
Also, freshman Carter Warnock (who is now redshirting) missed two weeks with a severe case of pink eye, and did not play in EWU's exhibition opener versus Seattle Pacific. Point guard Cliff Colimon missed the second exhibition with a sprained ankle suffered on Nov. 7, and did not play in the season opener against San Jose. He hurt it again in a practice and missed the Idaho game on Nov. 27. Freshman walk-on redshirt Sean Fischer has a cartilage tear in his shoulder and has yet to make his first appearance in an Eagle uniform.
Actually, the rash of injuries started the week prior to practices starting when men's basketball athletic trainer Donald Sims suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon, then assistant coach Jamie Matthews spent time in the hospital with a staph infection near his eye.
Besides injuries in early practices to Dean and Allen, returnee Laron Griffin and Colimon both suffered minor injuries within seconds of each other during the same drill. Griffin took an elbow to his head and Colimon was poked in the eye. Newcomer Rashano McRae suffered from back spasms in the opening practices and has missed practice time and one game since then.
Also, newcomer Willie Hankins has yet to be cleared to practice by the NCAA Clearinghouse, thinning further Earlywine's roster. At one point after the first weekend of practices, Earlywine remarked, "I don't know whether to laugh or cry."
A year ago, the Eagles spent the first month of the season dealing with injuries to five Eagles -- Gary Gibson (knees), Brandon Moore (foot and ankle), Abebe Demissie (hamstring), Kevin Winford (concussion) and Matthew Brunell (ankle). The missed time impacted Eastern not only in games, but in practice.
"We've already had a season's worth of bad luck," said Earlywine a year ago before Eastern's league opener on Dec. 5. "Hopefully we're close to being through it and we don't have any more. It's been hard, and it's been hard because you can't practice effectively."
Brunell and Winford suffered their injuries in the second game of the season, and Moore missed the Walla Walla game and parts of another with a sprained ankle. Moore also missed much of the preseason because of a foot injury that required minor surgery. Brunell missed five full games and parts of two others; Gibson missed six games; and Winford missed two.
Brunell continued to be bothered by his injury, and then missed Eastern's game against Sacramento State with an injury to his other ankle. Another sprained ankle, this time by starter Alden Gibbs, kept him out of four games from Jan. 15 to Jan. 23.
Eagles Receiving High Marks Academically: Eastern has a high-achieving team academically, with a team grade point average of over 3.0 in each term a year ago. Glen Dean, Jeffrey Forbes and Kevin Winford were all selected to the Big Sky Conference All-Academic Team and all three have current GPAs of 3.23 and above. They are joined by several other recruits with impressive academic credentials, including a 4.0 high school GPA by Carter Warnock and 3.5 and above accumulative GPAs for Jaylen Henry and Geoffrey Allen. Cliff Ederaine expects to major in pre-med in hopes of becoming a doctor.
"That's an overlying theme with this year's incoming class of high school players and several others," said head coach Kirk Earlywine. "Three of our incoming freshmen are 3.5 students or higher, they come from good families and they are high-character kids. We want student-athletes who want to get a degree and are also good basketball players, and many of our student-athletes fall into those categories."
Eagles May Be The Least Experienced Team in NCAA Division I: Eastern has no seniors on its 2010-11 roster, and features a quartet of returning letter winners from last year's team that finished 9-21 overall and 5-11 in the Big Sky Conference. In preliminary results from a recent survey of NCAA Division I teams, no other school has less NCAA Division I experience than the Eagles, whose four returnees have lettered one year each.
Pair of Eagles Return to Puget Sound: Eagles Glen Dean and Jeffrey Forbes returned to the Puget Sound area when Eastern played at Washington on Nov. 16 and will return again on Jan. 6 when the Eagles play at Seattle.
Dean is a 2008 graduate of Roosevelt High School in Seattle, and Forbes is a 2009 graduate of Federal Way (Wash.) High School. Forbes helped Federal Way win the WIAA State 4A Championship in 2009.
Weber State the Team to Beat in League Race: The Eagles have been picked to finish sixth in the Big Sky Conference in both the media and coaches polls. Weber State, which has gone 28-4 in the BSC over the last two seasons and is the two-time defending league champion, is picked first in both polls.
"Weber State had kind of been the dominant team in the league the last three or four years, and the question we asked ourselves is 'what do we have to do to catch them and beat them?'" said Earlywine. "We can't sit back and hope they digress -- we have to go catch them."
"What we have to understand as a program is that the league is not going to back up -- we are going to have to catch them. In order to do that, the players in the program have to improve themselves -- not only in their skill level but also in their conditioning and strength. On top of that, we have to replace our five seniors with five players who are ultimately better. That's not a knock against those seniors, but that's just what we have to do to get better. You improve the players in your program and you go get better players to replace those who leave. That's what we are trying to do."
Eagles Versus Ranked Teams: Eastern lost to Washington 98-72 on Nov. 16 in EWU's most recent game against a nationally-ranked team. Washington was ranked 17th by Associated Press and 15th in the ESPN/USA Today coaches' poll.
Last year, the Eagles fell 94-52 to Gonzaga on Dec. 28, 2009, in EWU's most recent game against a nationally-ranked foe. The Bulldogs were ranked 22nd by ESPN/USA Today, but were just out of the top 25 at No. 26 by Associated Press. The 2008-09 season was the first time since 2002-03 that Eastern did not play a nationally-ranked team. The Eagles played 12 such games in the five seasons before that.
Eastern is 1-16 versus nationally-ranked teams -- including three games in the 2004-05 season alone as well as three the year before. Seven of the games came under former head coach Mike Burns and five others came under Ray Giacoletti from 2000-2004.
11/16/10 vs. #17 Washington - L, 72-98
12/28/09 vs. #22 (ESPN/USA Today) Gonzaga - L, 52-94
12/5/07 vs. #3 Kansas - L, 47-85
11/9/07 vs. #10 Washington State - L, 41-68
12/15/06 vs. #22 Oregon - L, 74-100
11/24/06 vs. #16 Washington - L, 83-90
12/19/05 vs. #8 Gonzaga - L, 65-75
12/16/05 vs. #11 Washington - L, 74-91
12/28/04 vs. #14 Arizona - L, 45-79
12/21/04 vs. #13 Gonzaga - L, 70-83
12/5/04 vs. #14 Washington - L, 56-89
3/19/04 vs. #3 Oklahoma State - L, 56-75
12/31/03 vs. #16 Gonzaga - L, 49-70
11/21/03 vs. #14 Oklahoma - L, 59-69
11/15/01 vs. #10 St. Joseph's - W, 68-67
11/25/00 vs. #4 Michigan State - L, 61-83
1/21/85 vs. #10 DePaul - L, 50-72
Big Crowds: The Eagles have played in excess of 16,000 fans on three occasions, including the largest crowd EWU has ever played against -- 16,840 -- on March 19, 2004, at Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Mo., in the NCAA Tournament. Eastern played in front of 16,300 fans on Dec. 12, 2007, when Eastern lost to Kansas at legendary Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kan.
In the 2006 season, the Eagles played in front of 10,000 at Washington after the previous two games there drew 9,876 (2005) and 9,418 (2004). Three of the 10,000+ crowds came in the 2003-04 season and three more the following year. Several other games have been played in the first game of pre-season tournaments that have drawn at least that many fans, but the Eagles haven't faced the host team.
Here is a list of those crowds:
16,840 - 3/19/04 vs. Oklahoma State - L, 56-75
16,374 - 11/15/02 vs. Wisconsin - L, 55-81
16,300 - 12/5/07 vs. Kansas - L, 47-85
14,759 - 11/25/00 vs. Michigan State - L, 61-83
14,535 - 12/28/04 vs. Arizona - L, 45-79
14,422 - 11/14/08 vs. Illinois - L, 50-66
12,533 - 11/24/01 vs. Minnesota - L, 68-86
12,299 - 12/31/03 vs. Gonzaga - L, 49-70
12,016 - 11/12/06 vs. New Mexico - L, 57-92
12,000 - 12/21/04 vs. Gonzaga - L, 70-83
11,977 - 11/26/08 vs. Minnesota - L, 67-88
11,879 - 12/19/05 vs. Gonzaga - L, 65-75
11,268 - 11/21/03 vs. Oklahoma - L, 59-69
11,031 - 12/5/03 vs. Iowa - L, 54-70
11,000 - 12/22/02 vs. Gonzaga - L, 64-67
10,432 - 12/28/01 vs. Indiana - L, 60-87
10,216 - 11/20/04 vs. Wichita State - L, 62-80
10,215 - 11/9/06 vs. Washington State - L, 41-68
10,210 - 3/12/03 vs. Weber State - L, 57-60
10,000 - 11/24/06 vs. Washington - L, 83-90
EWU versus Gonzaga Series History: Eastern has lost the last 22 meetings against Gonzaga, with the last Eastern win in the series coming on Jan. 8, 1990, in Spokane by a 70-55 score. Eastern is 5-32 versus Gonzaga since Eastern moved to NCAA Division I in the 1983-84 season, including a 2-15 record at Gonzaga, 2-12 mark in Cheney and 1-5 record on neutral courts. The two teams paired off in the Inland Empire Classic at the old Spokane Coliseum in November of 1986 and 1987. The Bulldogs lead the all-time series 51-7. Here is a list of the meetings since EWU became a member of NCAA Division I in the 1983-84 season.
12/7/83 - L - 57-86 - A
1/10/84 - L - 80-91 - H
2/5/85 - L - 52-62 - A
2/11/85 - W - 66-63 - H
1/10/86 - W - 56-54 - H
2/12/86 - W - 60-58 - A
11/29/86 - W - 62-60 - N
12/20/86 - L - 58-87 - A
1/20/87 - L - 69-79 - H
11/28/87 - L - 61-82 - N
12/5/87 - L - 63-75 - A
1/5/88 - L - 68-88 - H
12/1/88 - L - 63-75 - H
12/10/88 - L - 68-70 - A
1/8/90 - W - 70-55 - A
12/13/90 - L - 67-108 - H
12/15/90 - L - 63-81 - A
12/15/91 - L - 67-74 - A
1/4/92 - L - 49-67 - H
12/23/92 - L - 50-71 - A
1/9/93 - L - 68-73 - H
12/11/93 - L - 54-99 - A
12/22/94 - L - 58-68 - H
12/22/95 - L - 55-68 - A
1/5/96 - L - 53-63 - H
12/21/96 - L - 65-80 - H
12/14/97 - L - 78-100 - A
11/30/98 - L - 59-81 - H
11/26/99 - L - 47-81 - A
11/17/00 - L - 65-74 - H
12/4/01 - L - 74-84 OT - A
12/22/02 - L - 64-67 - N
12/31/03 - L - 49-70 - N
12/21/04 - L - 70-83 - N
12/19/05 - L - 65-75 - N
11/10/06 - L - 75-90 - A
12/28/09 - L - 52-94 - A
Last Season . . . Gonzaga Grounds Eagles 94-52: With too many turnovers and not enough shots going in, the Eastern Washington University men's basketball team lost 94-52 to Gonzaga Dec. 28, 2009, in a non-conference game at the McCarthey Athletic Center in Spokane, Wash. The Bulldogs entered the game ranked 22nd nationally in the ESPN/USA Today poll, and 26th by Associated Press.
Eastern connected on just 28.8 percent of their shots from the field in the game, while the Bulldogs shot at a 50 percent clip -- including a 45.8 percentage from behind the three-point line. The Eagles were just 4-of-24 behind the arc for 16.7 percent and were out-rebounded 56-35.
The Eagles had nine turnovers in the first seven minutes of the game and finished with 16 in the first half. Gonzaga took full advantage of those turnovers, as 24 of its 53 points came off turnovers as the Bulldogs led by 28 at intermission.
"It wasn't very good -- we turned the ball over 16 times in the first half," said Eastern head coach Kirk Earlywine of his team's performance. "They treated us like a little brother in the backyard, and I mean that as a credit to Gonzaga. Physically they were more aggressive than we were. That's the way I wanted us to be."
The Eagles jumped out to a quick 5-1 lead at the 18:12 mark after Mark Dunn connected on a long three-pointer, but the Bulldogs responded by going on two separate 13-0 runs to go into halftime with a 53-25 lead.
Eastern took better care of the ball in the second half, turning the ball over just two times for a total of 18 for the game.
The Eagles were led in scoring by freshman Glen Dean, who had 11 of his 13 points in the first half. Also in double figures for the Eagles was Dunn, who finished with 11 points and five rebounds.
Center Brandon Moore, playing in his 100th game for the Eagles, picked up two quick fouls in the first half and played just six minutes. Moore finished the night with a team-high nine rebounds in 23 total minutes, but failed to score a point by going 0-for-6 from the field and 0-of-3 from the free throw line.