Task at Hand is Getting First Road Win on Monday
After victory over Southern Utah to hold serve at home,
Eastern plays at Portland State in “Dam Cup” game
Monday, Jan. 27 - Peter W. Stott
Center (1,500) - Portland, Ore.
7:05 p.m. Pacific - Eastern Washington (8-10/3-4) at Portland State (7-8/2-4 entering 1/25)
Thursday, Jan. 30 - Reese Court (5,000)
- Cheney, Wash.
6:05 p.m. Pacific - Eastern Washington versus North Dakota (7-10/4-3 entering 1/25)
Saturday, Feb. 1 - Reese Court (5,000)
- Cheney, Wash.
2:05 p.m. Pacific - Eastern Washington versus Northern Colorado
Shows take place at the Swinging Doors in Spokane at 6 p.m.
Mondays Jan. 13 to March 10 (no shows Jan. 27 and Feb. 24), and
feature head coach Jim Hayford and host
Larry Weir. The Swinging Doors is located at W.
1018 Francis in Spokane. Shows are broadcast on 700-AM ESPN,
www.700espn.com & via iphone app. (search for “Spokane
Radio” and download app).
TV: None for PSU & UND games; UNC game is
televised regionally on SWX.
Webcast: EWU home games and all Big Sky games are carried at http://www.watchbigsky.com
Radio: All Eastern games are on 700-AM ESPN in Spokane. Larry Weir returns for his 21st season calling the play-by-play, starting 20 minutes prior to tipoff.
Internet Radio: www.700espn.com or www.tunein.com
Radio iPhone App: Search for “Spokane Radio” and download app. An app is also available for tunein radio.
Live Stats: ewulive.statb.us (web/all EWU home Games, plus PSU) or ewustats.com (mobile phones/EWU Home Games, plus PSU)
Location shouldn’t matter, and that’s the quest of the Eagles this Monday (Jan. 27) in Portland, Ore.
Coming off a record-breaking 90-83 home win over Southern Utah, the Eastern Washington University men’s basketball team returns to the road to play at Portland State in a “Dam Cup” game. Tipoff is at 7:05 p.m. at the Stott Center on the PSU campus in a game carried live on ESPN 700-AM and www.watchbigsky.com.
Thus far, the Eagles are unbeaten at home and winless on the road in Big Sky Conference play. Overall, the Eagles are 0-9 on opponent home courts, 6-1 at home and 2-0 on neutral courts.
“The next step of maturity for us is to go win on the road,” said Eastern head coach Jim Hayford, whose team has no seniors. “I am glad we took care of business on our home court. We want to develop the toughness to play consistently regardless of the location.”
An 8-2 run to open the second half gave Eastern the lead for good in Thursday’s (Jan. 23) seven-point win over the Thunderbirds. But free throws were the main story as the Eagles improved to 3-4 in the Big Sky and 8-10 overall with their sixth win in seven tries at home.
Eastern set school records for attempts (49) and makes (38) from the charity stripe, with Tyler Harvey’s perfect 20-of-20 performance setting school and Big Sky records. His 20 made free throws also equaled the all-time league mark and broke EWU’s record. In all, Harvey finished with 36 points – ninth-most in school history – to move into the Big Sky lead in scoring average (21.3 per game).
A year ago at this time, Harvey was barely seeing the court for the Eagles. But he earned playing time at the end of the season, and has scored in double figures in 25 of EWU’s last 26 games, with a current streak of 22. He made only 43.5 percent of his free throws last year, but this season ranks second in the Big Sky in games overall (.888) and in league play (.909). Just two games ago, he made all 13 against Northern Arizona and enters the PSU game having made 41-of-43 in his last three outings.
“He had all the individual workout records for making free throws (last year), so we couldn’t figure out what it was,” recalled Hayford. “He really disciplined himself all year through the offseason to work on his foul shooting.”
Portland State is coming off a road split last week, winning 68-64 at Sacramento State in overtime and falling at Northern Arizona 77-56. The Vikings are 7-8 overall and 2-4 in the league heading into Saturday’s home game against Southern Utah, and can return the “Dam Cup” to Portland with a victory over the Eagles.
Following Monday’s game, Eastern returns for a pair of home games at Reese Court versus North Dakota on Thursday, Jan. 30 and Northern Colorado on Saturday, Feb. 1.
Before EWU’s win over Southern Utah, the Eagles fell 84-65 to Northern Arizona on the road and 75-64 two nights later at Sacramento State. Eastern allowed game-deciding mid-game runs of 29-7 to NAU and 31-10 to Sac State.
PDF Link to Fact Book
The complete version of the 2013-14 EWU men’s basketball
fact book may be found at:
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Link to Ticket Information: http://www.goeags.com/tickets
Spokesman-Review EWU Basketball Page: http://www.spokesman.com/ewuhoops
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
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* Finding consistency at home and on the road is of prime importance for the Eagles at this juncture of the season. At home or on neutral courts this season, EWU is 8-1 and has averaged 81.1 points per game on 49.8 shooting from the field (41.0 percent from the 3-point line), while allowing 66.9 points per game on 42.1 percent shooting (32.8). But on opponent home courts where EWU is 0-9, the Eagles are averaging 67.3 points on 38.3 percent shooting (30.6), while opponents are scoring at an 84.0 clip and making 47.5 percent from the field (37.0). “It is a growing process to develop a team and get consistency of performance,” said Eastern head coach Jim Hayford. “We will be working on execution and a strong mindset, so that home or away, our shot selection and execution does not vary. The answer is very clear -- we need to put the ball in the basket with consistency. At the same time, we cannot have our mindset be that we will outscore teams. We need to first take a mindset of defensively stopping our opponent. We need to be better on defense.”
* Early-season trends show the importance of field goal shooting and field goal shooting defense in EWU’s win-loss record. Eastern is 7-0 when it has a better shooting percentage than its opponents and 1-10 when it doesn’t. Also, the Eagles are 8-0 when making at least 45.0 percent of their shots, and 0-10 when they are under that mark. In addition, EWU is 6-1 when it holds opponents to 44.4 percent or less from the field, and 2-9 when opponents shoot better than that mark. Eastern is 7-2 when scoring 71 or more points, and 5-1 when allowing 70 or fewer.
* Portland State and Eastern are in the fourth year of a five-sport rivalry cup called “The Dam Cup.” The Vikings currently lead the competition, 9-4. The so-named rivalry refers to the four dams linking Oregon and Washington that one passes on the 339-mile drive from the Portland State campus to the Eastern Washington campus. Located along the Columbia River, they are Bonneville Dam, The Dalles Dam, The John Day Dam and the McNary Dam. The winner of the Dam Cup will possess The Dam Trophy acknowledging the achievement for the following year. Eastern Washington captured the cup last year, but PSU won the inaugural Dam Cup in 2010-11 and again in 2011-12. The annual football game is worth four points, the women's soccer match is worth one point, each women's volleyball match is worth two points for a total of four points possible, and each men's and women's basketball game is worth two points for a total of four points possible in each of those sports. The total points possible are 21, which means EWU must win the final three games (men’s BB on 1/27 & 2/24, and women’s BB on 2/24), plus win the two-point fan challenge at www.damcup.com to defend its title.
* In NCAA Division I statistics through games of Jan. 23, Eastern is ranked 48th among 345 schools with an average of 7.8 3-pointers made per game, 124th in 3-point field goal percentage (35.3 percent) and 117th in scoring offense (74.2).
* The Eagles are leading the Big Sky Conference thus far in 3-pointers made per game (7.8), blocked shots (4.3) and rebounds (36.4); are second in scoring offense (74.2); and are third in assists (12.6) and defensive 3-point field goal percentage (.346). Eastern is now seventh in rebounding margin with a minus 0.8 for the season thus far. A year ago, Eastern was 10th out of 11 teams with a minus margin of 4.2 per game.
* Through games of Jan. 23, the Eagles are third in the Big Sky Conference and 229th in NCAA Division I (345 schools) in RPI. Northern Colorado is currently the top Big Sky school in the RPI at 162nd and Weber State is 204th. Portland State is 309th nationally and ninth in the league.
* In the Sagarin computer ratings through games of Jan. 23, Eastern is 258th with the 172nd-toughest strength of schedule in the nation. December opponents Connecticut (32nd), Saint Mary’s (51st), Seton Hall (98th) and UC Irvine (99th) are all ranked in the top 100. Portland State is 298th, with Northern Colorado the top Big Sky team at 139th.
Eagle Player Notes
* In NCAA Division I statistics through games of Jan. 23, Tyler Harvey is eighth in 3-pointers made per game (3.4), 19th in 3-point percentage (44.6 percent) and 15th in scoring (21.2), with Drew Brandon 53rd in assists (5.2) and Venky Jois 50th with six double-doubles this season.
* The combined NCAA Division I 3-point shooting rankings of Tyler Harvey add up to 27 (19th in percentage at 44.6, 8th in average made at 3.44), ranking him sixth nationally. The national leader is Ethan Wragge of Creighton with a total ranking of five (1st 50.0, 4th 3.89).
* Individually, Tyler Harvey has moved into the lead in the Big Sky in scoring (21.2), just ahead of North Dakota’s Troy Huff (20.6). Venky Jois is 12th (13.6), Drew Brandon is 26th (10.6) and Parker Kelly is also 26th (10.6). Harvey and Jois are both sophomores, and no other sophomores or freshmen rank in the top 21. Harvey also leads in 3-pointers made per game (3.4), and is second in free throw percentage (.888) and fifth in 3-point field goal percentage (.446). Kelly is third in free throw percentage (.887). Brandon leads in assists (5.2), is third in the league in assist-to-turnover ratio (+2.1) and ranks eighth in rebounding (6.4). Martin Seiferth is third in blocked shots (1.4) and 15th in rebounding (4.4), and Jois is third in blocked shots (1.4), second in rebounding (8.5) and seventh in field goal percentage (.528).
* In league only statistics, Tyler Harvey leads in scoring (24.1) and 3-pointers made per game (3.3), and is second in free throw percentage (.909). Venky Jois is second in rebounds (9.3), Martin Seiferth is second in blocked shots (1.7) and Drew Brandon is third in assists (4.4).
* Sophomore Tyler Harvey has now averaged 19.7 points per game in his last 26 games as an Eagle after averaging 1.3 points in his first 13 outings. A year ago in EWU’s last eight games, he scored 132 points (16.5 average) on 55 percent shooting from the field (52-of-94, including 20-of-44 3-point attempts). In the first 13 games he played in the 2012-13 season, Harvey scored just 17 points (by contrast, in the first 13 games this season he scored 261 with an average of 20.1 per game). In his freshman season, he played in 21 of EWU’s 31 games and averaged 14.0 minutes and 7.1 points per game, compared to averages of 36.4 minutes and 20.3 points per game this season.
* Venky Jois, the Big Sky Conference Freshman of the Year in the 2012-13 season, is EWU’s second-leading scorer with a 13.6 average on 52.8 percent shooting from the field. He is also averaging a team-leading 8.5 rebounds, as well as 2.2 assists and 1.4 blocks per game. So far he has six double-doubles this season. He had nine double-doubles as a freshman to rank among the leaders in NCAA Division I, and now has 15 in his 46-game career (44 as a starter). He is averaging 12.8 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 2.0 blocked shots per game in his career.
* Point guard Drew Brandon, a transfer from Sierra College in California, is averaging 10.6 points, 6.4 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 1.1 steals per game after his first 18 games in NCAA Division I. He already has a trio of double-doubles, including a near-miss of a triple-double with 15 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds versus Montana State in a 77-72 win. He equaled the 15th-most assists in school history with 10 assists against Walla Walla and MSU, becoming the 28th Eastern player to finish in double figures in assists in a game. He finished with 13 points, 14 rebounds and six assists versus Washington on Nov. 17 in just his second D-I game. He is the lone newcomer to EWU’s starting lineup.
* After missing six-straight games with an ankle injury, Ognjen Miljkovic had 13 points and seven rebounds against Southern Utah (1/23/14) in his first career start. He scored 10 of his points after halftime, including a go-ahead 3-pointer to start the second half that gave the Eagles the lead for good. He hadn’t played since scoring 15 points against Connecticut on Nov. 28. He is now averaging 8.1 points and 3.8 rebounds in an average of 17.1 minutes per game.
Eagle Records Watch
* Martin Seiferth is nearing a school record with Venky Jois close behind, as four young Eagles are already ranked among Eastern’s career leaders. Seiferth’s 94 blocks ranks second in school history, only five behind the school record of 99 (Paul Butorac 2004-07). Jois has 92 blocked shots to rank third. Seiferth also currently ranks No. 2 in career field goal percentage (.627), ranking just behind Ron Cox (.629 from 1974-77). Tyler Harvey is currently third in 3-point field goal percentage (44.3 percent), and Parker Kelly is 11th in 3-point percentage (38.7 percent) and seventh in 3-pointers made with 120. Kelly’s 83.9 percent shooting from the free throw line would rank second in school history if he had enough attempts to qualify (he has 137 and needs 158).
* En route to the ninth-best scoring night in school history with 36 points, sophomore Tyler Harvey finished a perfect 20-of-20 from the free throw line in EWU’s 90-83 win over Southern Utah (1/23/14). He broke the previous school and conference record of 16-of-16 by set by Jason Lewis against Weber State on Jan. 27, 2001. The NCAA record is 24-of-24. In addition, Harvey’s 20 charity shots tied the Big Sky record and broke the school mark of 17 set by Matt Piper against Humboldt State on Dec. 28, 1982. His free throw attempts were one shy of Piper’s 21 in that game. Previously, Harvey opened league play with a 30-point effort against Weber State (1/2/14) when he equaled what is now the 40th-best performance in school history. He scored 21 in the first half alone en route to equaling the career high of 30 he set in EWU’s victory on Nov. 29 versus Seattle.
* Eastern set a pair of school records for free throws by finishing 38-of-49 in a 90-83 win over Southern Utah (1/23/14). The previous team record for made free throws was 34 set against Sacramento State (1/19/95) and Whitman (11/17/09), and the old mark for attempts was 48 versus Sacramento State (1/19/95).
Recent Game Recap
* Sophomore guard Tyler Harvey made a school and Big Sky Conference record 20-of-20 free throws and finished with a career-high 36 points as Eastern held off the Thunderbirds 90-83 Thursday (Jan. 23) at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash. The Eagles finished with school records of 38 free throws made and 49 attempts. An 8-2 run to open the second half gave Eastern the lead for good. Sophomore Venky Jois added 19 points and nine rebounds, freshman Ognjen Miljkovic had 13 points and seven boards in his first career start and junior Parker Kelly chipped in 12 points in the win. Point guard Drew Brandon, who was one of five Eagle starters to log at least 31 minutes, had five assists, six points and five rebounds.
Other Season Notes
* Until winning by five over Montana State on Jan. 11, none of EWU’s first 14 games this season were decided by less than seven points. Eastern was 10-21 overall and 7-13 in the Big Sky a year ago, and were 6-10 in games decided by 10 points or less. Nine of their losses were one-possession games with four minutes left. “We learned a lot of lessons last year by not having that fight in us, and I think the players have said it feels a lot better fighting,” said Eastern head coach Jim Hayford. “Nobody is going to give us anything so we have to go take it. I think that is part of the team maturing, and I am just really, really proud of our team’s progress.”
* Twice in school history, EWU has now defeated Montana and Montana State in football, then followed with a home sweep of the Grizzlies and Bobcats in men’s basketball. Besides this year, the other time it happened was in 1992-93. Eastern has never gone 6-of-6 or even 5-of-6 in combined football/men’s basketball meetings with the Bobcats and Grizzlies, with the closest four wins several times. The Eagles play at Montana State on Feb. 6 and Montana on Feb. 8.
* Eastern is tied with Maine and Nicholls State for the most foreign players in NCAA Division I with seven (3 from Australia, 3 from Germany, 1 from Serbia).
* If the schedule and travel wasn’t difficult enough in December and early January, Eastern has had to battle a rash of illness and injuries in January. Head coach Jim Hayford said all but three of his players fought through flu-like symptoms while they were in Utah and Idaho, including a missed game versus Weber State for backup point guard Daniel Hill. Also, key reserve Ognjen Miljkovic missed six-straight games with an ankle sprain and Thomas Reuter battled the effects of Crohn’s Disease diagnosed during Eastern’s week-long trip to play Seton Hall and Connecticut. Reuter became ill after the team’s first day on the East Coast and missed both games. Said Eastern head coach Jim Hayford: “We came to New York and had a great practice; two hours later he was in the hospital and was in there for most of five days. The good thing is they found out what was wrong with him. It’s something he’s going to have to manage with medication and good medical help the rest of his life. It was a really, really hard week for Thomas, so my heart hurts for him.”
* A year ago, mainly because of injuries, Eastern used 14 different starting lineups. Thus far, Eastern has used two.
* Eastern has been picked to finish fifth by the coaches and sixth by the media in preseason polls announced by the Big Sky Conference on Oct. 17. EWU was picked to finish behind preseason pick Weber State, North Dakota, Montana and Northern Colorado in the coaches’ poll. The media picked Montana State to finish in fifth just ahead of the Eagles. Weber State was picked to win the league in both polls.
* Eastern will be trying for its third Big Sky Conference Tournament berth in the last four years in 2013-14, and its 13th in 27 years as a member of the league. Eastern has 12 previous appearances (1990, 98, 99, 2000, 01, 02, 03, 04, 05, 06, 11, 12).
* The Big Sky Conference Tournament will take place March 13-15 at the site of the regular season champion. For the second-straight year, it will now include seven teams, with the regular season champion receiving a first-round bye. The tournament will include a quarterfinal round with six of the teams playing, followed by semifinals and the championship game.
Quoting Coach Hayford
On Tyler Harvey’s 36 Points Against Southern Utah: “Our game plan was to put the ball in his hands because he is making plays. The defense kept fouling him, and Tyler kept making the free throws. It is where we need to be in every part of our program. He made a commitment to developing that area of his game. He went from a really poor free throw percentage last year to setting the Big Sky and school record. I couldn’t be more pleased. He is a good player, he’s a great young man and he is only a sophomore.”
On Needing Better Shooting from Inside the 3-Point Stripe and Rebounding at Specific Positions: “The bottom line is we need to make more baskets in our drive game, we have to get a little better rebounding at the three spot and we are going to need more offensive rebounding at the five spot. If we get those things we’ll get over this hump. (Tyler and Parker’s) 2-point shots have to be a higher percentage than their threes – just by nature of where they are shooting them from. We have to find ways to coach them better so they can finish those drives. We can’t be mid 20-percent in our drive game. We are going to have to do better there.
On SUU Loss: “We dug ourselves a big hole at the beginning of the second half. Our team showed tremendous pride, and I thought our staff coached a great game. Our guys kept fighting and I liked that.”
On Loss at NAU: “I want to be the eternal optimist – I think that’s the way you should be as a basketball coach. I want to let our guys play with a lot of freedom, and I think that is the way basketball should be played offensively. I don’t want to take away the confidence of our players, but we had a game plan and felt we could get our best looks inside. The shots we were taking weren’t as good compared to the shots that we were getting inside, and we took some shots early in the shot clock when we had advantageous match-ups.”
On Home Sweep Over Montana Schools: “We’re building a program and we’re doing it with players who are doing it together. It’s interesting to think about where we were against Montana last year, and their roster and our roster this season only changed by a couple of players. To see how that played out just showed me that we are gaining ground. Montana State is a mature team – they have as many seniors and upperclassmen as anybody. For us to compete with them shows me that as a program we are moving in the right direction. The games themselves were both won on defense. We took care of the ball really well against Montana and not so much against Montana State. But in both games we found a way to win, and the result could have gone either way with four minutes to play. I think that shows maturity because there were a number of games last year in which we were right there with four minutes to go, but weren’t finding ways to win. Being a year older, our players are finding a way to win and that is what has me encouraged.”
On Venky Jois: “It’s neat when you feel like you have one of the premier frontcourt players in the Big Sky Conference and he’s playing that way. I only expect more and more from him each night out as he continues growing. He’s had lots of playing time, so he has the minutes of a junior with sophomore eligibility. He’s a leader and we count on him.”
On Drew Brandon and Rebounding: “He’s a really good player. He went to the same junior college that Craig Fortier played at, so that’s how Craig knew about him. What I like about him is he is really unaffected – he’s going to play at his own speed and he plays hard. He’s one of the best rebounding guards I’ve ever coached. Drew is obviously a great addition to our program. We had all these pieces coming back, but we needed to go find a point guard. He certainly is meeting our expectations. Rebounding is something we better improve on from last year, or we will have the same results. Drew really helps us. He really helps us on the boards, and he knows how to run the offense. As he gets more comfortable, we are going to get better and better.”
On Team Identity: “Our identity is that as we are going to play smart and hard basketball, and we are going to do it together. You are going to see an unselfish team that lays it out on the court every night and plays like the band of brothers they are. The biggest difference (from last season) is our players are all a little bit older. We were Eagles that were barely out of the nest last year, and now we can fly a little bit.”
On This Year’s Eagle Team: “We have a great chemistry – they really like each other. A year ago they didn’t know one another. They have been living life together and they do a lot of things as a group. They enjoy spending time with one another, and I think that will spill over into on-court success.”
On Big Sky Conference Race: “I think the Big Sky Conference is going to be more difficult -- there are many teams returning solid rosters. We have a very challenging preseason that will prepare us for a great conference season.”
On Competitiveness of Big Sky: “There were a number of close games. That is part of being in a competitive conference. The hard part about experience is getting it. Hopefully we got it, and we will win more than our fair share of those close games this year. I do like that our guys found ways to win some of those last year.”
On Playing Difficult Schedule: “You cannot be afraid of a tough schedule playing these bigger schools regardless of the outcome. You just focus on it making you better and better. I think we have a non-conference schedule that will put us in the fire. It will refine us, make us stronger and prepare us for Big Sky play. That is what this year’s schedule is, so we embrace it.”
EWU vs. Portland State Series Notes
* Since Eastern became a member of NCAA Division I in the 1983-84 season, the Eagles are now 18-18 versus the Vikings. All of the meetings have come since the 1996-97 school year when PSU joined the Big Sky Conference, and Eastern is 12-6 in Cheney and 6-11 against PSU in Portland (0-1 on neutral courts) since then. A year ago, Eastern won 76-65 at home then lost 89-80 on the road.
* The Vikings, who won 78-76 in overtime in the 2011-12 season in Cheney and 69-64 in Portland, has a 21-19 edge in the overall series. Eastern owns a 13-7 record in Cheney and 6-13 mark in Portland (0-1 on neutral courts) against the Vikings.
* Despite losing nine of the last 11 meetings, the Eagles have still won 16 of the last 29 meetings. With a 65-61 home victory on Jan. 27, 2011, Eastern snapped a six-game losing streak to the Vikings. Before that, the last Eastern win in the series was a 58-57 home win over the Vikings on Dec. 22, 2007. Prior to that, Eastern had won five of the last six meetings and 11 of 14.