In the midst of a stretch with five of six games on the road, Eastern tries to maintain winning record
EWU vs. Pacific Lutheran
Friday, Dec. 16 - 6:05 p.m. Pacific
Reese Court (6,000) - Cheney, Wash.
EWU at Saint Mary's
Tuesday, Dec. 20 - 7 p.m. Pacific
McKeon Pavilion (3,500) - Moraga, Calif.
Mondays 6 p.m. at the Q Sports Bar and Restaurant at Northern
Quest Resort & Casino. . . 700-AM ESPN, www.espnnorthwest.com
& via iphone app. (search for “Spokane Radio” and
download app). Fans are invited to attend the show live and food
service is available. Live shows take place at the Q on 1/2, 1/9,
1/23, 1/30, 2/6, 2/13, 2/20, 2/27, 3/5. There are no shows on
12/19, 12/26 and 1/16. Note: Shows on 1/2 and 1/9 will be
aired on KXLY 920-AM (www.kxly920.com) due to
programming conflicts with NFL playoff games and college bowl
TV: None for Pacific Lutheran and Saint
Radio: (all EWU games) 700 ESPN "The Ticket" and http://www.espnnorthwest.com
Radio via iPhone App: Search for “Spokane Radio” and download app
Webcasts: (All home games and all Big Sky Conference games) http://www.bigskytv.org; (Saint Mary's) CLICK HERE
Live Stats: (PLU) CLICK HERE; (Saint Mary's) CLICK HERE
It’s been five years since the Eastern Washington University men’s basketball team has had a winning record, and as its successful pre-conference season nears a close, that accomplishment appears to be there for the taking.
The Eagles, 5-5 on the season with two games remaining before Big Sky Conference play begins, entertain Pacific Lutheran this Friday (Dec. 16) at 6:05 p.m. at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash. The Eagles have won all three games thus far at home.
“We are undefeated at home and we are going to defend our home court,” said Eastern head coach Jim Hayford following his team’s 60-47 loss at UCLA on Wednesday (Dec. 14). “We’re 5-5 and fighting for a winning record and trying to get to 6-5. We need to go win that game.”
Eastern was within two points against UCLA with just 14:35 left to play, but the Eagles couldn’t overcome a 26 percent shooting night and the Bruins pulled away. Other than the shooting, Eastern’s performance was splendid with a 42-32 rebounding advantage over the towering Bruins, one less turnover than UCLA and a defensive performance that held the Bruins to 42 percent shooting from the field.
And with limited practice time before playing again, Hayford looked at the UCLA game as excellent preparation for Friday’s meeting versus PLU. The Lutes, a member of NCAA Division III, are 4-3 on the season.
“We had a great practice tonight for the next game,” Hayford quipped following his team’s game versus the Bruins. “That’s where you mentally have to go with this game. I’m sure Pacific Lutheran had a great practice (Wednesday), but we got to practice against UCLA.”
After the PLU game, Eastern makes one more pre-Christmas trip to California to face Saint Mary’s in Moraga, Calif., on Dec. 20. The Gaels, a member of the West Coast Conference, are 6-1 heading into home games Thursday (Dec. 15) against North Carolina A&T and Saturday (Dec. 17) versus Bethune-Cookman.
Then, the Eagles open Big Sky Conference play on the road at Montana State (Dec. 28) and Montana (Dec. 30), meaning the Eagles are in the midst of a stretch in which they play five of six games on the road. In its first 10 games, Eastern’s highlights have been NCAA Division I road victories over Hawaii (89-72) and Idaho (73-66), and the lowlight came in the form of a 75-49 road loss at Washington State – one of three setbacks to Pac-12 Conference opponents the Eagles suffered.
“With the exception of Washington State, I think we’ve played harder than our opponents in every game,” praised Hayford. “Our effort is something we can take tremendous pride in. I’ve often said that a lot of times the team that plays harder can negate talent differentials. Let’s be honest – there is a talent differential when you play teams like UCLA, Oregon, Gonzaga, Cal State Fullerton and Washington State. It’s great playing against them – it’s making us a better team and we’re playing hard. We are going to keep getting better and better.”
Eastern is 29-25 all-time versus the Lutes and 2-3 all-time versus Saint Mary’s. Pacific Lutheran and Linfield, a team Eastern defeated 104-54 in its last home contest on Dec. 8, are members of the NCAA Division III Northwest Conference. That’s the same league Hayford belonged to the past 10 seasons while he was at Whitworth. Hayford is now 18-4 against the Wildcats and is 18-3 versus the Lutes, who knocked off Linfield 76-68 on Dec. 3 in McMinnville, Ore.
Hayford, who compiled a gaudy 217-57 (.792) record in 10 seasons at NCAA Division III Whitworth University in Spokane, inherited an EWU team that finished the 2010-11 season with a 10-20 record overall. The Eagles finished 7-9 and in a fifth-place tie with Montana State in the Big Sky Conference standings, advancing the Eagles to the Big Sky Conference Tournament for the first time in five years. Eastern’s last winning season came in 2006-07 – with sophomore Rodney Stuckey leading the way – when EWU finished 15-14.
Hayford’s first Eastern team features seven returning letterwinners currently on the roster, including six who combined to start 125 games a year ago. Hayford hopes a challenging schedule, including three games versus members of the Pac-12 Conference, will help his team prepare for the rigors of league play.
“I know in January and February we are going to be a good basketball team,” Hayford said earlier in November. “In November and December we play a really tough schedule that will make us a better basketball team. That familiarity process takes a step forward each day. We will be a really good basketball team during Big Sky Conference play.”
PDF Link to Fact Book
The complete version of the 2011 EWU football fact book may be
Football Links and Headlines
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
More About the Lutes
Pacific Lutheran is 4-3, and has one common opponent with EWU in Linfield College. The Lutes defeated the Wildcats 76-68 on Dec. 3, just five days before Eastern downed Linfield 104-54. Pacific Lutheran’s other victories were against La Verne (73-59), Portland Bible (77-46) and Willamette (82-81 in overtime), and the Lutes are coming off a 48-46 loss to Northwest University on Dec. 10 after leading by seven at halftime.
Coached by Steve Dickerson, now in his sixth season, PLU is led by guards Andrew Earnest and James Conti. Earnest is averaging 15.1 points and 5.1 rebounds per game, and Conti is averaging 14.6 points and 3.1 assists. Kai Hoyt, a 6-foot-4 wing player, is averaging 11.9 points and 4.6 boards. Conti was the only PLU player in double figures against Northwest University with 10, as the Lutes made only 33 percent of their shots from the field – 29 percent in the second half.
More About the Saint Mary’s
The Gaels have won six of their first seven games, including a convincing 87-70 home win over Big Sky Conference preseason favorite Weber State, which currently has the best record in the league at 6-2. The lone loss for Saint Mary’s was a 70-58 loss at Denver on Nov. 23.
Six-foot-6 senior forward Rob Jones leads the Gaels with averages of 18.0 points and 11.3 rebounds per game, and is also averaging 2.4 assists, 1.4 blocked shots and 1.3 steals per game, while making 63 percent of his shots from the floor and 50 percent from the 3-point line (10-of-20). Junior guard Matthew Dellavedova is averaging 13.3 points and 6.3 assists, while making 14-of-37 3-pointers, and 6-7 forward Clint Steindl has made 19-of-37 from the arc to help him averaged 9.3 points per outing.
The Gaels have been picked to finish second behind Gonzaga in the WCC this season, and their game against the Eagles will no doubt be used as a measuring stick as to how Saint Mary’s stacks up versus GU. Eastern lost 77-69 to the Bulldogs on Nov. 11 in a game in which EWU had four second half leads, the last with 6:48 to play.
With Turnover Advantage in Every Game Thus Far, Eastern Ninth Nationally in Turnover Margin
Eastern has had fewer turnovers than its opponents in all 10 games thus far, with 166 turnovers forced and 113 committed. The result is a Big Sky-leading turnover margin of plus 5.3 per game which ranks ninth in NCAA Division I (through games of Dec. 11). Eastern has a league-leading +1.2 assist-to-turnover ratio.
“We’ve been forcing the most turnovers in the Big Sky and we’ve been doing it against quality competition,” said Hayford after EWU’s game on Dec. 8 against Linfield, in which the Eagles had just six miscues compared to 21 for the Wildcats.
In other Big Sky team statistics rankings, Eastern is first in 3-pointers made (currently 9.7 per game, 10.2 through Dec. 11 to also rank fourth nationally) and offensive rebounds (13.5 per game); second in assists (13.5); and third in steals (7.2) and blocked shots (3.3). The Eagles are last in field goal percentage (.396) and rebounds allowed per game (36.8).
Individually, Collin Chiverton is second in the league and 12th in NCAA Division I (rankings through games of Dec. 11) in 3-pointers made per game (3.3), and is third in scoring (17.2) and 11th in 3-point field goal percentage (.413). Cliff Colimon leads the Big Sky Conference in steals (2.4 per game) and is second in assists (5.5), second in assist-to-turnover ratio (+2.2), 11th in scoring (13.0) and seventh in 3-pointers made per game (1.9). Cliff Ederaine is third in rebounding (7.7), 19th in scoring (10.4), 14th in field goal percentage (.474), third in blocked shots (1.0) and 13th in steals (1.2). Laron Griffin is second in the league in offensive rebounds (3.1) and is ninth overall in rebounding (5.8), and Jeffrey Forbes is second in minutes played (35.2) and seventh in 3-pointers made per game (1.9).
Eagles Lead Big Sky and are Fourth in NCAA Division I in 3-Point Shooting
Ranking fourth in NCAA Division I through nine games, the Eagles are averaging a Big Sky Conference-leading 9.7 3-pointers per game. They have made 97-of-275 for 35.3 percent (fourth-best in the league) to rank only behind Troy (11.5), Florida (11.3) and Samford (10.6) on the national leaders list.
Eight different Eagles have made treys, led by the 33 of junior college transfer Collin Chiverton. For Eastern to score the same amount of points from inside the arc with the same amount of shots, the Eagles would have to make 52.9 percent.
“We’re confident with our system that we are going to get the 3-point shot no matter who we play,” said Eastern head coach Jim Hayford after Eastern made 13 treys in a 73-66 win over Idaho on Nov. 30. “We are not always going to shoot the percentage we like, but we got 28 looks from three against Idaho and that’s right around where we’ve been. There are times where we might have five 3-point shooters or four on the floor at the same time, and we start the game with only three. (Idaho’s Memorial Gym) was an easy gym to shoot in because it’s small, and I think our players bought into it. So we shot the ball well. And hitting 13 threes – eight in the first half – kind of takes them out of the defense they want to play.”
When an Eastern player takes what Hayford considers a poor shot, more often than not they take a seat on the bench next to the first-year Eagle head coach. Although Eastern sank 52 percent of its shots from the floor – including 15-of-36 3-point attempts in EWU’s 104-54 win over Linfield on Dec. 8 – it happened several times against the Wildcats, who had five blocked shots in the game.
“We have to get better in our shot selection,” he explained. “They know if it’s not a great shot we’re going to sub them out. We get them right back in, but it’s a teachable moment. We had to do that six or seven times against Linfield. In Big Sky games or against Cal State Fullerton on the road, you can’t afford to waste six or seven possessions with a bad shot.”
Tongue-Lashing Keeps Winford Out of UCLA Game
In a tongue-lashing of a rare kind, junior guard Kevin Winford had to sit out the UCLA game on Dec. 15 because of a swollen tongue. Winford bit his tongue in EWU’s game at Cal State Fullerton on Dec. 11, then spent two days in a California hospital – some of it in intensive care -- because of an inordinate degree of swelling.
Because he is Eastern’s backup point guard, starter Cliff Colimon was forced to play all 40 minutes against UCLA because of the absence of Winford. A 2008 graduate of Bartlett High School in Anchorage, Alaska, Winford is only averaging 14.6 minutes per game this season, and is averaging 3.2 points per game on 5-of-15 shooting from beyond the 3-point arc. But the 5-foot-11 academic All-America nominee provided the play of the game in Eastern’s 104-54 victory over Linfield on Dec. 8.
“The best play of the night was Kevin’s drive and dunk down the lane – that was pretty emphatic,” Eastern head coach Jim Hayford said. “He’s a very athletic player and we want him to show it. That was an example of it. He’s just a great young man – a tremendous student and a great leader. He’s a business major, and some business will be really glad to hire him some day. I just think the world of him. I promise you he’ll be showing his grandkids that dunk someday.”
Colimon Has 46 Points, 15 Assists, 10 Rebounds, Six Steals and Just One Turnover in Back-to-Back Games
It’s hard to put up better numbers than what senior point guard Cliff Colimon compiled in a victory over Linfield (104-54 on Dec. 8) and a loss to Cal State Fullerton (91-76 on Dec. 11). In 72 minutes of action, Colimon had 46 points, 15 assists, 10 rebounds, six steals and just one turnover. He combined to make 18-of-34 shots from the field and 7-of-16 from 3-point range en route to scoring 23 points in each outing. He followed that with five assists, two steals and two turnovers in 40 minutes versus UCLA, but scored just five points on 1-of-12 shooting.
In Eastern’s 104-54 win over Linfield on Dec. 8, Colimon scored 23 points and had three steals and a career-high 11 assists to equal the seventh-most in school history. It was Eastern’s top assist performance in more than 10 years since Jason Lewis had 12 versus Cal State Northridge on Jan. 20, 2001. Colimon also had no turnovers in 32 minutes of action.
Head coach Jim Hayford said it best after the Linfield game: “I loved Colimon’s line – 11 assists, 23 points and no turnovers.”
Thus far, Colimon leads the Big Sky Conference in steals (2.4 per game) and is second in assists (5.5), second in assist-to-turnover ratio (+2.2), 11th in scoring (13.0) and seventh in 3-pointers made per game (1.9).
“We stopped calling him Little Cliff – his name is ‘Tough Cliff’ now,” Hayford said in reference to the nickname given to Colimon and the “Big Cliff” moniker given to forward Cliff Ederaine. “Colimon was hurt more than anybody by his performance at Washington State – he had a tough night down there. Hopefully the confidence he gained against Linfield will be fuel in his tank.”
Colimon’s 23 points against Linfield and Cal State Fullerton were the second-most in his two seasons as an Eagle. He scored 17 points and had eight assists in his season-opener against Gonzaga on Nov. 11. The eight assists versus the Bulldogs was his career high until the output of 11 versus Linfield. His assists total against Gonzaga doubled his previous career high of four set last season against Idaho State (1/29/11) and Sacramento State (12/29/10).
Colimon’s career high of 27 points came in the final game of the 2010-11 season against Weber State (3/5/11) in the Big Sky Conference Tournament. In fact, in his last three games last season and first game this year, Colimon averaged 18.5 points per game, including victories over Montana (59-55) and Weber State (75-59), and near-misses versus Weber State (79-70) and Gonzaga (77-69).
With Return to Saint Mary’s Ahead, Chiverton Making Early Statement for Big Sky Newcomer of the Year Accolades
Junior college transfer Collin Chiverton is making an early-season case for Big Sky Conference Newcomer of the Year accolades, as he already has had five 20-point performances as an Eagle. He is second in the league and 12th in NCAA Division I (rankings through games of Dec. 11) in 3-pointers made per game (3.3), and is third in scoring (17.2) and ninth in 3-point field goal percentage (.413).
He opened his Eastern career in a big way, scoring 25 points in Eastern’s 77-69 loss at Gonzaga on Nov. 11. A former redshirt at GU rival Saint Mary’s in California, Chiverton made 6-of-12 shots from the 3-point arc and 8-of-24 shots from the field against Gonzaga. He scored 25 again in EWU’s 70-61 win over South Dakota, making 9-of-21 shots overall and 6-of-13 from the 3-point arc. He added a third 20-point performance with 20 points in EWU’s 89-72 upset of Hawai’i on Nov. 19, then had 25 in a 104-54 win over Linfield on Dec. 8. Chiverton scored 26 in Eastern’s most recent outing, a 91-76 loss at Cal State Fullerton on Dec. 11.
Chiverton’s debut versus GU was the best for an Eagle since Eastern moved to NCAA Division I in the 1983-84 season. The previous best came a year ago when Chiverton’s Eastern teammate Tremayne Johnson scored 21 in a 67-60 loss at San Jose State. Interestingly, current Detroit Piston Rodney Stuckey scored only 14 points in his debut against Pacific Lutheran in the 2005-06 season. Chiverton’s scoring output was also the second-best season-opening performance by an Eagle since David Peed scored 29 points on Nov. 25, 1989, in EWU’s 96-84 loss to BYU.
After leaving Saint Mary’s – a team Eastern plays on Dec. 200 -- Chiverton played one season at Salt Lake Community College before leading City College of San Francisco to the 2010-11 California Community Colleges Athletic Association title. He averaged 19 points per game as a sophomore, including an average of 30 per game in the tournament, as San Francisco finished the season 32-1 with a 27-game winning streak.
Still Coming Up With Big Games at Home, Ederaine Wins Big Sky Player of the Week Award
After leading Eastern to a pair of late November victories, senior forward Cliff Ederaine was selected as Big Sky Conference Player of the Week, the league announced Nov. 29. The 6-foot-7, 205-pound senior forward from Moreno Valley, Calif., averaged 20.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists and two blocks per game as the Eagles notched a road win over Hawai’i (89-72) on Nov. 22, and topped UC Davis (79-59) on Nov. 27 in Cheney.
Ederaine made 8-of-9 shots from the field, including his first trey of the season and only the second in 35 career games versus UC Davis. A 45.6 percent free throw shooter a year ago, he made 6-of-9 for the line against the Aggies to improve to 20-of-26 – 76.9 percent (currently he is at 67.4 percent, 29-of-43).
To add to his night, Ederaine also added eight rebounds, three blocked shots and a steal. Ederaine scored 11 points in the first 6:24 of the game as Eastern held early leads of 13-4 and 17-9. He had 11 points, five boards and five assists in the second half alone. “We were running our offense through the high post and Big Cliff put the team on his shoulders,” said Eastern head coach Jim Hayford.
In another home game this season – a 70-61 win over South Dakota on Nov. 15 -- Ederaine had 15 points, 14 rebounds, five assists, two blocks and two steals. In the team’s third home game on Dec. 8 versus Linfield, he had his third career double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds, and also had six assists.
In the Big Sky Conference, Ederaine is third in rebounding (7.7), 19th in scoring (10.4), 14th in field goal percentage (.474), third in blocked shots (1.0) and 13th in steals (1.2).
His performance against South Dakota was his second career double-double, with his first coming against New Hope last year when he had 12 points and 17 rebounds, as well as his previous career high for assists with four. He had 10 double figure scoring performance and seven with at least 10 rebounds in the 2010-11 season.
Winning Streak Ended with Learning Opportunity
Before its disappointing 75-49 setback to Washington State of the Pac-12 Conference on Dec. 3, Eastern had won three-straight games in convincing fashion. Eastern defeated Hawaii (89-72), UC Davis (79-59) and Idaho (73-66) by an average margin of 14.7 points per game, and had hoped to give WSU a tougher game.
But Eastern was out-shot 50 percent to 25 percent, and was pounded on the boards 45-29 by the Cougars.
“A lot of times it’s harder to handle success than failure,” explained Hayford. “When you do poorly, you are motivated to improve. Sometimes when you do well, you take it easy. We’ve played three great ballgames in a row, and if somebody only watched the Washington State game and hadn’t seen us play the previous three games, they wouldn’t believe it. We were totally different.”
Prior to the WSU loss, Eastern made 44 percent of its shots versus Idaho, and one game earlier sank what was then a season-high 48.1 percent versus UC Davis. Eastern’s 15-of-59 effort against WSU included only 4-of-23 3-point attempts for 17 percent. The Eagles had entered the game leading the Big Sky Conference in 3-pointers per game (10.3) on an average of 27.5 attempts (37.6 percent). Hayford thinks shot selection is the major difference.
“We’ve been getting higher percentage shots than the shots that go with those kinds of percentages,” he said. “What were we not doing to get us the same kind of looks? We have our work cut out for us to get that figured out.”
With the Big Sky Conference schedule looming, Hayford knows the WSU loss – Eastern’s third game in a six-day span -- is yet another learning experience for his squad.
“I think Washington State did a really, really good job of game planning for us,” he said. “We are going to have three games in six days in the Big Sky, and you can’t lay an egg on the last one. We’re going to grow and learn from this. We’re going to work a lot harder.”
Eastern’s 4-2 start to the season was only the seventh time in 29 seasons since Eastern became a member of NCAA Division I in 1983-84 that the Eagles have won at least four of their first six games. That has happened only once in the last eight seasons, with EWU going 6-2 in 2008-09 before finishing just 12-18.
Eagles Continue to Climb Three-Point and Free Throw Career Lists
A pair of Eagles already rank in the top 10 on several Eastern season and career lists. Junior Jeffrey Forbes has 121 3-pointers made in his career to rank fourth, his 308 attempts are seventh and his .393 percentage ranks ninth. Fellow junior Kevin Winford has 105 makes to rank sixth and his 306 attempts are eighth.
Those players has also been impressive from the free throw line in their careers. Forbes, in fact, set a single season school record for free throw percentage (.900, 54-of-60) in the 2010-11 season, just ahead of the previous record of .899 set by Darren Cooper in 2001-02). In his career, Forbes has made what would be a school record at 87.4 percent (111-of-127), but he is 13 attempts shy to meet the minimum of two free throw attempts per game. Winford’s 85.3 percent (58-of-68) would rank third had he met the minimums (he has 68 and would need 132). Currently with the school record is the 84.9 percent performance of Eastern Athletics Hall of Fame member Dick Edwards (1953-55).
The Eagles finished the 2010-11 season with a pair of school records for 3-point shooting. Eastern finished with 242 makes and 656 attempts, breaking the single season makes record of 241 set in 1999, and the record for attempts of 649 set the same season. Winford made 66 3-pointers in the 2010-11 season to rank fifth in single season school history, and his 187 attempts are fourth.
Winford poured in 39 points -- including a record 10 3-pointers -- in Eastern’s overwhelming 112-41 non-conference victory over New Hope Christian College on Dec. 4. En route to the fifth-best scoring night in school history against New Hope, Winford broke the school record of nine treys he set just a week earlier against Idaho on Nov. 27. As a team, the Eagles broke the school record for made 3-pointers (18) and three pointers attempted (43), and tied the mark for field goals made in a game with 45. Previous records were 16 3-pointers versus Cascade on Dec. 14, 2007; 38 attempts versus Nevada on Feb. 14, 1991; and 45 field goals made against U.S. International on Feb. 2, 1991.
Winford’s 23 three-point attempts were also a Big Sky Conference record, breaking the previous mark of 17 set by Nevada’s Kevin Franklin against Oregon on Dec. 16, 1989. His makes were third-most, with Portland State’s Brian Towne owning the record with 12 in a 1998 game against Idaho State. As a team, Eastern was two made 3-pointers from the Big Sky record of 20, but its 43 attempts were a record.
Blocked Shots Totals High Too
With 120 blocked shots for the 2010-11 season, Eastern finished only 10 blocked shots away from the school record of 130 set in 2006. A trio of current Eastern players recorded three of the top 11 single season performances in school history including Tremayne Johnson (35, third), Cliff Ederaine (34, tied for fourth) and Laron Griffin (28, tied for 11th).
In their careers thus far, Griffin ranks sixth in school history with 53 and Ederaine (44) is ninth. Johnson (42) is two shy of making his way onto the top 10 list.
Wide Gap in Fouls and Free Throws Thus Far
In most statistical categories, the Eagles have held their own against three opponents thus far. But the glaring difference has been in fouls and free throws, yielding a deficit of 84 points at the charity stripe (8.4 points per game).
Eastern has been whistled for 238 fouls, compared to 168 for opponents. Eastern players have fouled out on 15 occasions already, compared to four for opponents. The result has been 200-of-294 free throw shooting by opponents, compared to a 116-of-159 mark for EWU.
Senior forward Laron Griffin, who set the school record with 114 personal fouls a year ago, has fouled out in five games so far and has 43 of a possible 50 fouls. Griffin is averaging only 19.1 minutes per game, but has scored 55 points (5.5 per game) and grabbed 58 rebounds (5.8) thus far.
Football Player Alden Gibbs Returns to Hoop Squad After Departure of Three Players
Having already lettered at Eastern in both basketball and football, senior Alden Gibbs has re-joined the basketball squad, head coach Jim Hayford announced in late November. He also announced that Willie Hankins, Rocky Brown and Justin Omogun are no longer on the team. Hankins played in EWU’s first two games and Brown played in one, while Omogun hasn’t played at all.
After lettering in basketball for Eastern Washington in the 2009-10 season under former head coach Kirk Earlywine, Gibbs switched to football and lettered on special teams for the Eagles in 2010. A starting cornerback in 2011, Gibbs is the first Eagle to letter in both sports since Bob Picard in the early 1970’s.
A 6-foot-3 guard on the basketball court, Gibbs finished his 18-game football career with 36 total tackles, four passes broken up and a forced fumble. As a junior for the Eastern basketball team in the 2009-10 season, he started 14 of 23 games and averaged 2.6 points and 3.3 rebounds in an average of 16.4 minutes per game. He is from Brooklyn, N.Y., and played basketball for the College of the Siskiyous before becoming an Eagle.
Picard lettered in football in 1968, 1969, 1971 and 1972, and also lettered in basketball in the 1972-73 season. Picard held Eastern’s career receiving record for 21 years with 166 catches (now sixth) that were good for 2,373 yards and 19 touchdowns. His receiving record was broken by Tony Brooks in 1993. Picard had his No. 84 jersey retired, was inducted into the Eastern Athletics Hall of Fame in 2003 and was selected to the "100 for 100" All-Time Football Team in 2008 to help commemorate the 100th year of football at Eastern. In 27 career basketball games, Picard averaged 3.0 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.6 assists. He went on to play three seasons (54 career games) in the National Football League for the Philadelphia Eagles, and ended his career at the first training camp of the expansion Seattle Seahawks in 1976.
Several other Eagles have played both football and basketball since Picard, but none have lettered in both. Wide receiver Jerrold Jackson lettered in football from 1993-96, and played one minute for the hoop squad in the 1995-96 season. All-America quarterback Harry Leons lettered in football for three seasons from 1995-97, and was also on the basketball roster for a short time but did not play. Henry Bekkering lettered in basketball for Eastern in the 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons, and was also on the football roster in 2003. He played in four football games that season as a non-lettering squad member, and averaged 56.5 yards on 27 kickoffs, while routinely kicking the ball into the end zone.
Hayford’s First Eastern Win Has South Dakota Connections
Coming full circle, Jim Hayford’s first win as Eastern Washington’s head coach came in a 70-61 win on Nov. 15 over South Dakota. South Dakota was directed by veteran head coach Dave Boots, who has won nearly 500 games in 23-plus seasons at the helm of the Coyotes. In fact, in the 1999-2000 season, Boots’ South Dakota squad knocked off Hayford’s University of Sioux Falls team 95-73. Hayford went on to finish 15-15 in his first season as a collegiate head coach, while the Coyotes finished 22-6.
“I’ll always remember my first win at Eastern was against South Dakota,” said Hayford. “It’s kind of poetic because my first head coaching job was in South Dakota.”
Debut Schedule for Hayford Features Games Versus 11 Participants in 2011 National Tournaments
His debut schedule as a NCAA Division I head coach is incredibly difficult, but that doesn’t bother Jim Hayford.
The schedule for the first-year Eastern men’s basketball coach is top-heavy with perennial NCAA Tournament teams, including the likes of Gonzaga, Oregon, UCLA and Saint Mary’s.
In all, the Eagles play 15 games versus 11 NCAA Division I schools which played in national postseason tournaments in 2011. The Eagles will play all 11 of those foes on the road, as well as four league home games.
“This will be a very difficult preseason schedule,” admitted Hayford. “It’s road-heavy and the opponents are very good. But it’s also the kind of schedule we need to play to prepare ourselves to become a perpetual postseason team.”
Headlining the list of opponents are 2011 NCAA Tournament participants Gonzaga from the West Coast Conference, UCLA from the Pac-12 and Northern Colorado from the Big Sky. Eastern officially opens its season at Gonzaga on Nov. 11, and plays at UCLA on Dec. 14. The Eagles and Bears play in Greeley, Colo., on Jan. 14 and in Cheney, Wash., on Feb. 15.
The Eagles play a pair of road games against teams which played in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) a year ago – Washington State from the Pac-12 (Dec. 3) and Saint Mary’s from the WCC (Dec. 20). The Cougars won three games before losing in the semifinals to Wichita State.
A third Pac-12 foe on Eastern’s road schedule is Oregon (Nov. 17), which won last year’s College Basketball Invitational Tournament (CBI). Other EWU opponents who played in the CBI are Big Sky rivals Montana and Weber State.
The Eagles also play three teams who participated in the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament (CIT), including road games at Hawai’i (Nov. 22) and Idaho (Nov. 30). Northern Arizona from the Big Sky also played in the CIT in 2011.
Eastern’s other NCAA Division I non-conference games are against South Dakota (Nov. 15 at home), UC Davis (Nov. 27 at home), Cal State Fullerton (Dec. 11 on the road) and Seattle (Jan. 16 on the road). The Eagles will also play on the road in an ESPN BracketBusters game on Feb. 17 or 18.
Eastern’s Big Sky Conference slate begins Dec. 28 and Dec. 30 with road games at Montana State and Montana, respectively. The Eagles open their league home schedule on Jan. 5 versus Weber State, then host Northern Arizona two nights later. Eastern home games will begin at 6:05 p.m. Pacific time this season, except for a Sunday afternoon game versus UC Davis (1:35 p.m.).
The quarterfinals of the Big Sky Conference Tournament are scheduled for March 3 at campus sites. The regular season champion will host the semifinals on March 6 and the championship game on March 7.
Coaches Pick Eagles to Finish Third
Whether or not the respect is warranted will be determined next March. But for now, new Eastern men’s basketball coach Jim Hayford and his team received notable respect from Big Sky Conference head coaches by being picked to finish third, the league announced on Oct. 19.
With eight returning letterwinners and several talented newcomers, Eastern was picked by the coaches to finish behind predicted winner Weber State and runner-up Montana in the league race. The Eagles were just one point ahead of fourth-place Northern Colorado, the league’s defending regular season and tournament champion.
In the media poll, Eastern was picked to finish sixth, just three points away from No. 5 Portland State. Weber State, Montana, Northern Colorado and Northern Arizona held down the first four positions.
“The coaches who have been in the conference know about this much more than me,” said Hayford, “and they are saying it looks like a very competitive conference race with many close games in store for our team.”
The top six teams in the regular season standings advance to the league’s postseason tournament, which begins March 3, 2012. Last year, Eastern finished 10-20 overall and 7-9 in the Big Sky to advance to the tournament for the first time in five years.
“Both polls pick us to be in the post-season,” added Hayford, who was 217-57 the past five seasons at NCAA Division III Whitworth University. “I hope they are correct.”
Eastern opens the 2011-12 season on Nov. 11 at Gonzaga, and its league opener is Dec. 28 at Montana State.
1. Weber State (8) – 64 votes
2. Montana (1) – 56
3. Eastern Washington – 42
4. Northern Colorado – 41
5. Portland State – 38
6. Northern Arizona – 35
7. Montana State – 24
8. Sacramento State – 16
9. Idaho State – 9
1. Weber State (19) – 210
2. Montana (4) – 193
3. Northern Colorado (1) – 141
4. Northern Arizona – 125
5. Portland State – 112
6. Eastern Washington – 109
7. Montana State – 101
8. Sacramento State – 45
9. Idaho State – 41
Eagles Versus Ranked Teams
Now 1-18 versus nationally-ranked teams, Eastern narrowly lost 77-69 on Nov. 11, 2011, to a Gonzaga team ranked 23rd in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today preseason coaches' polls.
Eastern lost to Washington 98-72 on Nov. 16, 2010, and 86-57 to Gonzaga on Nov. 30, 2010, in EWU’s other recent games against nationally-ranked teams. Washington was ranked 17th by Associated Press and 15th in the ESPN/USA Today coaches' poll, and Gonzaga was 24th by the coaches.
In the 2009-10 season, the Eagles fell 94-52 to Gonzaga on Dec. 28, 2009. 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’s list versus nationally-ranked teams includes
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.
11/11/11 vs. #23 Gonzaga – L, 69-77
11/30/10 vs. #24 (ESPN/USA Today) Gonzaga - L, 57-86
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
Hayford Enters First Season as Head Coach
After spending 10 seasons building nearby Whitworth University into a NCAA Division III powerhouse, Jim Hayford was announced as Eastern’s new head men’s basketball coach on March 29, 2011. He becomes Eastern’s 17th head coach in history and ninth at the NCAA Division I level (since 1983-84).
In his tenure at the helm of the Pirates, Hayford had a record of 217-57 and a winning percentage of .792. He coached the Pirates to eight 20-win seasons, six appearances in the NCAA Division III Tournament (including the last five seasons in a row), five Northwest Conference titles, three NCAA DIII Sweet 16 appearances (2008, 2010, 2011) and one Elite Eight appearance (2011).
Hayford, 43, earned five NWC Coach of the Year awards and was honored by the National Association of Basketball Coaches as the West Region Coach of the Year in both the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons. In Hayford’s final two years at Whitworth, the Pirates were 54-5 overall and 31-1 in league play. Whitworth was ranked 21-consecutive times in the D3hoops.com NCAA Division III rankings over Hayford’s final three seasons at Whitworth.
During his 10 seasons leading the Pirates, Hayford coached six Northwest Conference Players of the Year – Bryan Depew (2003), Lance Pecht (2006), Bryan Williams (2007), Ryan Symes (2008), Nate Montgomery (2010) and Michael Taylor (2011). During the same period, 25 Whitworth players earned All-NWC honors, including 18 first-team selections.
Including his two seasons at Sioux Falls (1999-2001), Hayford’s win-loss record is 254-84 (.751) in 12 seasons as a head coach. His career winning percentage ranks among the top 10 among all active NCAA Division III coaches.
Whitworth spent three weeks in the 2010-11 season ranked No. 1 in the D3hoops.com NCAA Division III rankings, including the top ranking at the end of the regular season. The Pirates set a school record for victories and winning percentage in finishing 28-2 (.933), and ended the season ranked fifth nationally after losing at Wooster 76-66 on March 12, 2011. Whitworth advanced to the NCAA Division III Sectional Final (Elite Eight) for the first time in school history, while making its fifth-straight NCAA DIII Tournament appearance. The Pirates also claimed their fifth-straight NWC Tournament title.
Eastern versus Pacific Lutheran
The Eagles lead the all-time series 29-25, and have won both previous meetings since EWU moved to NCAA Division I in the 1983-84 season. Former rivals in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), the series dates back to 1924 (a 51-16 Eastern victory).
11/19/05 W 89-63 H
Eastern versus Saint Mary’s
Eastern is 2-3 all-time versus Saint Mary's, including an 85-65 loss in Moraga on March 13, 2009, in a late addition to the schedule. The late addition to the schedule came after SMC was looking for another game to help better prepare All-America candidate Patrick Mills, who had missed nine games prior to the WCC Tournament because of a broken hand, for the NCAA or NIT Tournament (they ended up in the NIT). He finished with 19 points against the Eagles on 6-of-14 shooting from the field. He had four three-pointers and added a pair of assists and four steals.
Eastern is 2-0 in Cheney against the Gaels, winning 88-80 in Cheney on Nov. 26, 2002. The Eagles finished 18-13 and advanced to the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) that season, a year before EWU advanced to its first and only NCAA Tournament.
Eastern lost 73-67 in Moraga on Dec. 22, 2001, in Randy Bennett’s first year as Saint Mary’s head coach. Eastern’s head coach in the last 2001 and 2002 meetings with the Gaels was Ray Giacoletti, who is now an assistant coach at Gonzaga.
The Eagles also beat the Gaels on Dec. 29, 1989, in Cheney and lost to them 76-56 on Dec. 19, 1988, on a neutral court.
11/26/02 W 88-80 H
12/22/01 L 67-73 A
12/29/89 W 98-73 H
12/19/88 L 56-76 9
Last Meeting -- Saint Mary’s 85, Eastern Washington 65
For a hastily-scheduled game that looked like a mis-match on paper, the Eastern Washington University men’s basketball team didn’t go out quietly.
The Eagles led much of the first half, but Saint Mary’s pulled away in the second half for an 85-65 victory in a non-conference game March 13, 2009, at McKeon Pavilion in Moraga, Calif.
Six-foot-11 center Omar Samhan paced the Gaels with a career-high 29 points and 12 rebounds as four Saint Mary’s players scored in double figures. Eastern’s 6-9 center, Brandon Moore, scored 10 first-half points and finished with 15 points and five rebounds. Benny Valentine scored 11 and Andy Genao and Chris Busch each added 10 points for the Eagles.
Saint Mary’s out-scored Eastern 19-3 to open the second half and put the game out of reach.
Eastern finished the season 12-18, although it thought it had ended its season on Feb. 28 with a 68-62 overtime loss to Portland State. The setback eliminated the Eagles from contention for one of six berths into the Big Sky Conference Tournament, which started March 7 and ended with PSU winning the title and advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the second-straight year.
Saint Mary’s, meanwhile, improved to 26-6. Two days after the victory, the Gaels were disappointed to not receive a NCAA Tournament at-large berth and had to settle for an appearance in the National Invitation Tournament instead.
The late addition to the schedule came after SMC was looking for another game to help better prepare All-America candidate Patrick Mills, who had missed nine games prior to the WCC Tournament because of a broken hand. He finished with 19 points against the Eagles on 6-of-14 shooting from the field. He had four three-pointers and added a pair of assists and four steals.
Saint Mary’s had 14 offensive rebounds, leading to 18 second-chance points and a 38-27 rebounding edge overall. The Gaels also turned 13 Eastern turnovers into 20 points.