SEASON RECAP: Eagles Improve by Three Wins With Best Season in 10 Years
Senior-less Eastern falls a victory shy of a postseason berth, but the progress made has EWU eager for 2014-15 season
A near-miss left the Eastern Washington University men’s basketball team only hungrier for its next opportunity.
Although they came a victory shy of a Big Sky Conference Tournament berth, the Eagles finished with three more league wins and five more victories overall than a year ago. Eastern established eight school records in the 2013-14 season, including one league mark.
Eastern was 7-4 in its last 11 league games to help EWU finish 15-16 overall and 10-10 in the league. The 15 victories equals the most for the Eagles in 10 years since EWU finished 17-13 in the 2003-04 season. With 40 victories overall and 25 league wins in three seasons under head coach Jim Hayford, this is the best three-year stretch since 2005-08 when Eastern had 41 wins and the best in league play since 2001-04 when the Eagles won 30.
The best news of all is that the Eagles had no seniors on its 2013-14 roster, and the Eagles return highly-regarded sophomores Tyler Harvey and Venky Jois. Harvey was a first team All-Big Sky selection and earned second team honors on the National Association of Basketball Coaches All-District 6 team – EWU’s first player honored on that team since Rodney Stuckey in 2007. Jois earned honorable mention accolades for the second-straight year, as well as being the 2012-13 Freshman of the Year in the league. College Sports Madness named Jois (third team) and junior point guard Drew Brandon (second team) to its All-Big Sky Conference squad, and Jois earned first team All-BSC honors from College Hoops Daily.
“We were the youngest team, but starting next season you won’t hear me say that anymore,” said Hayford. “We have balanced classes, depth and experience. We are going to have upper classmen next year and will start juniors and seniors. We have the building finished and had the two premier underclassmen in the league this year.”
Eastern Washington ended the season with a 72-68 loss to Weber State in which the Eagles rallied from an 18-point second half deficit only to miss potential game-tying and game-winning shots in the final seconds. The Eagles finished in a head-to-head tie with Sacramento State for seventh, but were eliminated in the tiebreaker for the final berth in the league tourney because the two teams split their season series and the Hornets picked up a tie-breaking victory over Weber State.
“We were right there,” said Hayford. “Unfortunately our conference tournament is one where every team doesn’t qualify. I can’t judge this year’s team on not going to the postseason tournament, although our goal is to be a perennial playoff team. Last year a 10-10 record tied for fourth in the league, and in my first year we were at .500 (8-8) and hosted a first-round game. Go figure.”
Eagles Make History – Again . . .
In the 32 years the Big Sky Conference has consisted of six teams or more, only twice has a league team finished with a .500 league record and not qualified for the postseason. And both times the Eagles have been the hard-luck team – in 2006-07 when they were 8-8 in the sophomore season of future NBA star Rodney Stuckey and again in the 2013-14 season. In 2012-13, in the first year the league schedule consisted of 20 conference games, the first team excluded from the tournament was 8-12 (Eastern was 7-13).
“Whatever the hand you are dealt with you have to use to make your team better,” said Hayford. “Our team was getting better every single week. We’ll use it to motivate our players. If we win the two games against Portland State, the game at the end of the season against Weber State would have been for a share of the league championship.
“I want to have t-shirts made that our team can wear in the offseason that say, ‘leave no doubt,’” he added. “Let’s not lose in a tiebreaker and let’s secure a postseason berth next year without needing help. Leave no doubt is what we want to do.”
Under Hayford, Eastern Has Best Three Seasons All-Time for Most 3-Pointers and Fewest Turnovers . . .
En route to leading the Big Sky in scoring with an average of 76.2 points per game, Eastern finished with the third-most 3-pointers made in school history (251). The top two marks – 283 in 2012 and 264 in 2013 – came in Hayford’s first two seasons at the helm. The previous record was 242 in 2011.
And the Eagles did it while averaging only 12.0 turnovers per game, ranking only behind the 11.8 the Eagles averaged in Hayford’s first season as EWU’s head coach. Again, Eastern’s top three seasons in school history have come under Hayford, having averaged 13.4 in 2013 (the previous record before 2012 was 13.5 in 2000).
Most importantly, a year after giving up the most offensive rebounds in school history (420), Eastern allowed 91 less – nearly three per game. The result was EWU’s rebounding margin going from a minus 4.2 in the 2012-13 season (10th out of 11 league teams) to a plus 1.5 in the 2013-14 season (fifth).
Harvey’s 109 3-Pointers Headlines List of School Records . . .
Harvey was the Big Sky’s leading scorer with a 21.8 average, and ranked in the top 13 nationally in four categories. Through games of March 9, his scoring average ranked eighth, and his combined ranking of 18th in 3-pointers per game (5th, 3.52) and 3-point shooting percentage (13th, 43.3) was third in NCAA Division I. He was also 10th in free throw percentage (89.7).
Harvey set the school’s single season record for 3-pointers made on Feb. 27 when he had seven against UNC, breaking the previous record of 103 set by Shannon Taylor in the 1998-99 season. He finished with 109 for the season, ranking second in Big Sky Conference history behind the league record of 124 (Stephen Sir, Northern Arizona, 2006-07).
Jois, the Big Sky Conference Freshman of the Year as a freshman, finished with averages of 13.4 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.6 blocked shots per game while making 52.8 percent of his shots from the field. He established a new school record for career blocked shots, with a current total of 115.
Harvey’s perfect 20-of-20 free throw performance against Southern Utah on Jan. 23 was both a school and conference record, and his 20 free throws made was a school mark. He also had 10 3-pointers versus Northern Colorado to set a school record.
The other school records established included the career shooting percentage for Martin Seiferth (currently 64.4 percent to rank ahead of Ron Cox at .629 from 1974-77), and team records for free throws made (38) and attempted (49) versus Southern Utah on Jan. 23, 2014.
“I want to shine a light on all our players,” added Hayford. “I was proud of all of them.”
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* Eastern’s 15 victories equaled the most for the Eagles in 10 years since EWU finished 17-13 in the 2003-04 season. The Eagles also had 15 in Jim Hayford’s first season as head coach in the 2011-12 season, as well as in 2006-07 and 2005-06.
* At 15-16 overall, Eastern was five victories better than the 2012-13 season (10-21) and had three more league wins as a year ago (7-13).
* With 40 victories overall and 25 league wins in three seasons under Jim Hayford, this is the best three-year stretch since 2005-08 when Eastern had 41 wins and the best in league play since 2001-04 when the Eagles won 30.
* Eastern was 7-4 in its last 11 league games, and the only league team that had a better mark than that was Montana at 9-2. Eastern made 48.2 percent of its shots overall and 40.9 percent from the 3-point stripe (95-of-232) in that 11-game stretch. Eastern averaged 80.2 points per game, with sophomore Tyler Harvey averaging 24.6 points on 43.8 percent shooting from 3-point range (42-of-96). Other major contributors in that stretch were Venky Jois (13.2ppg, 7.2rpg, 2.0bspg, 3.0apg), Martin Seiferth (9.7ppg, 7.9rpg, 1.5bspg, 69.6 percent shooting), Drew Brandon (10.2ppg, 5.7rpg, 5.0apg) and Parker Kelly (10.2ppg, 4.2rpg).
* The Eagles concluded February with a 6-2 record, equaling the 2005-06 squad for the best record in that month since going 6-1 in the 2001-02 season. Eastern was 3-4 in February a year ago.
* In the 32 years the Big Sky Conference has consisted of six teams or more, only twice has a league team finished with a .500 league record and not qualified for the postseason. And both times the Eagles have been the hard-luck team – in 2006-07 when they were 8-8 in the sophomore season of future NBA star Rodney Stuckey and again in the 2013-14 season. In 2012-13, in the first year the league schedule consisted of 20 conference games, the first team excluded from the tournament was 8-12 (Eastern was 7-13 to place ninth). In seven prior seasons when the tourney consisted of four teams, on three occasions a 7-7 team did not make it.
* Entering the Montana-Montana State game on March 3, three games separated second through 10th in the league standings. There was even the potential of an eight-way tie at 11-9 for the final six playoff berths. In the 2003-04 season when EWU won Big Sky regular season and tournament titles and advanced to the NCAA Tournament, the league had a similar logjam. Entering the final weekend of action, six teams were tied for second at 6-7, and last-place Portland State was 5-8 and in the running to finish as high as fifth.
* Eastern head coach Jim Hayford had hoped that 10 league victories would get his team to the postseason, but with two weeks to play in the Big Sky season, he predicted at least one .500 or better team would end up being left home. In a year of balance and in the world of tiebreakers, it happened to be his. “There is nothing I have ever seen like this,” he said. “I do know that if it was a 10-team tournament, there wouldn’t be a bad game out there. There is going to be a good team or two that gets left out of the tournament. That is tough.”
* The UNC victory on Feb. 27 was EWU’s sixth win in its last eight games – equaling the school’s best February record in 12 seasons. Coupled with EWU’s win at Southern Utah on Feb. 22, the two-game road winning streak was Eastern’s first since 2003-04 when the Eagles opened the league season with five-straight league road wins en route to the league title. The Eagles then came up just short on March 1 versus UND of their first Big Sky road sweep since the 2003-04 season when the Eagles swept Montana and Montana State late in the year.
* Overall, the Eagles finished 10-4 at home, including a 7-3 mark during Big Sky play. The Eagles were 3-12 on opponent home courts, with the lone victories a 79-50 romp in Bozeman on Feb. 6, an 85-74 win at Southern Utah on Feb. 22 and an 80-66 victory in its next road game at Northern Colorado on Feb. 27. In the 2012-13 season, EWU was 7-7 at home, including just 5-5 in league games.
* The Eagles led the Big Sky Conference in scoring offense (76.1), 3-pointers made per game (8.1), rebounds (36.8), and blocked shots (4.3); were second in defensive field goal percentage (.446); and finished third in assists (13.45) and defensive 3-point field goal percentage (.345). The Eagles were last in scoring defense (75.1), but allowed just 50 to Montana State on Feb. 6 and 66 against Northern Colorado (Feb. 27) and Idaho State (March 6). The Bears were nearly 10 points below their season average (74.8 to rank second in the league).
* Two of the greatest strides the Eagles made in the 2013-14 season were in rebounding margin and free throw percentage. Eastern was fifth in rebounding margin with a plus 1.5 for the season. A year ago, Eastern was 10th out of 11 teams with a minus margin of 4.2 per game. The Eagles were 11th and last in the Big Sky in free throw percentage in the 2012-13 season at 65.5 percent, but in the 2013-14 season improved that to 69.3 percent to rank eighth in the Big Sky. The Eagles shot a 71.7 percent clip in conference play (sixth).
* In league games only, EWU led the Big Sky in scoring (76.6) and 3-pointers made per game (7.9), and were second in assists (13.5), rebounds (35.7) and blocked shots (4.4). Eastern was last in points allowed (75.2).
* In NCAA Division I statistics through games of March 9, Eastern was ranked 30th among 345 schools with an average of 8.1 3-pointers made per game, 66th in 3-point field goal percentage (37.1 percent) and 55th in scoring offense (76.2).
* For the most part, win-loss trends showed the importance of field goal shooting and field goal shooting defense in EWU’s win-loss record. Eastern was 14-2 when it had a better shooting percentage than its opponents and 1-14 when it didn’t. Also, the Eagles were 15-3 when making at least 45.0 percent of their shots, and 0-13 when they are under that mark. In addition, EWU was 10-2 when it held opponents to 44.4 percent or less from the field, and 5-14 when opponents shot better than that mark. Eastern was 14-6 when scoring 71 or more points, and 9-2 when allowing 70 or fewer.
* With 251 3-pointers on the season, EWU finished just 32 from the school record of 283 EWU had in Jim Hayford’s first season as EWU’s head coach in 2012. The 264 EWU had in 2013 currently ranks second and their mark in 2014 is third. The Big Sky record is 317 set by Portland State in 2009. Eastern’s record for attempts is 793 in 2012, and the Eagles finished with 677 to rank third in school history (EWU had 775 in 2013).
* Eastern 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).
* In the 2012-13 season, mainly because of injuries, Eastern used 14 different starting lineups. In 2013-14, Eastern used six.
* In the Sagarin computer ratings through games of March 12th, Eastern was 222nd to rank fourth among Big Sky teams. Weber State was the top Big Sky team at 177th, followed by Montana at 207th and Northern Colorado at 213th. North Dakota was fifth in the Big Sky and 247th overall, and Eastern also ranked ahead of tournament participants Northern Arizona (248th), Portland State (264th) and Sacramento State (272nd). Eastern’s December opponents Connecticut (29th), Saint Mary’s (67th), Seton Hall (93rd) and UC Irvine (96th) are all ranked among the nation’s leaders.
* Through games of March 9, the Eagles were fifth in the Big Sky Conference and 225th in NCAA Division I (349 schools) in RPI. Weber State was the top league school at 169, followed by Montana at 174th, Northern Colorado at 221st and North Dakota at 224th. Ranking after the Eagles but getting into the Big Sky Conference Tournament were Northern Arizona at 236th, Portland State at 256th and Sacramento State at 261st. In the 2012-13 season, Eastern was 315th out of 342 schools.
* Ron Cox, who earned All-America recognition all four seasons he played basketball for Eastern, had his No. 30 jersey retired in ceremonies taking place March 8 at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash. Current Detroit Piston Rodney Stuckey is the only other Eastern player to have his jersey retired, and Cox’s No. 30 now hangs next to No. 3. Formerly from nearby Coulee City, Wash., Cox played four seasons for the Eagles from 1973-77. He had record totals of 1,741 points and 1,273 rebounds in leading Eastern to a 77-30 record and three Evergreen Conference titles. In his first two years playing for head coach Jerry Krause, the Eagles played in Memorial Fieldhouse along the East side of Washington Street. But the Special Events Center opened across the street in fall of 1975, and his final two seasons were played in the new facility (later additionally named Reese Court). In his senior season, in which the Eagles finished 25-4, Cox helped Eastern start a school-record 31-game home winning streak, which would continue until Dec. 8, 1978. Cox received his bachelor’s degree at Eastern in 1978 and his master’s degree in 1995. Drafted in the sixth round of the 1977 NBA draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers, a foot injury ended his professional career before it even started. Cox went on to a highly-successful high school coaching career which included 388 victories in 26 seasons. He was inducted into the Eastern Athletics Hall of Fame in 1998, and in 2011 was admitted to the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association Hall of Fame.
Eagle Player Notes
* Sophomores Tyler Harvey and Venky Jois were included on the All-Big Sky Conference team announced by the league office March 10, and head men’s basketball coach Jim Hayford certainly likes where his team is headed. After ranking in the top 13 in four categories in NCAA Division I in the 2013-14 season – including eighth with a league-leading average of 21.8 points per game -- Harvey was selected to the All-Big Sky first team. Jois received honorable mention after earning the league’s Freshman of the Year honor a year ago. Harvey is from Torrance, Calif., and graduated from Bishop Montgomery High School in 2011, and Jois is from Boronia, Australia, and Box Hill High School. In all, 21 players were honored, including no freshmen and just three sophomores. Joel Bolombay from Weber State was the only other player honored that didn’t have junior or senior standing. Eastern’s squad in 2013-14 had no seniors on its roster.
* Sophomore Tyler Harvey earned a variety of honors following his record-breaking season for the Eagles, including first team All-Big Sky Conference and second team NABC All-District 6 honors. He was also selected by College Sports Madness to its All-BSC second team. Harvey finished with a school-record 109 3-pointers on the season, giving him sole possession of second on the league’s all-time list, passing the 105 of Cory Schwab from Northern Arizona in the 2000-01 season. Former BSC record holder Shannon Taylor from Eastern is now fourth on the list with 103 in the 1998-99 season, and the league record is 124 set by Stephen Sir of NAU in 2006-07. Harvey’s average of 3.52 per game finished fourth in league history.
* Sophomore Venky Jois, the Big Sky Conference Freshman of the Year in the 2012-13 season, earned honorable mention All-BSC honors for the second-straight season. He was selected by collegehoopsdaily.com to its five-person All-Big Sky team, as well as for the first three months of the season. College Sports Madness selected him as a second team All-BSC pick. He was EWU’s second-leading scorer with a 13.4 average (12th in the Big Sky) on 52.8 percent shooting from the field (ninth). He also averaged a team-leading 8.0 rebounds (fourth), as well as 2.5 assists and 1.6 blocks per game (third). He had a double-double with 22 points and 11 rebounds versus North Dakota on March 1, and also finished with three steals and a pair of blocked shots. He finished with nine double-doubles in the 2013-14 season to rank 62nd in NCAA Division I, and his rebounding average was 96th. He had nine double-doubles as a freshman to rank among the leaders in NCAA Division I, and now has 18 in his 59-game career (56 as a starter). He is averaging 12.9 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.9 blocked shots per game in his career, and holds the school record with 115 career blocks.
* Junior point guard Drew Brandon earned third team All-Big Sky Conference accolades from College Sports Madness after an impressive debut season in NCAA Division I that saw him finish the season ranked among the league leaders in four categories. He had averages of 10.4 points (27th), 6.4 rebounds (seventh), 5.1 assists (first) and an assist-to-turnover ratio of +2.1 (first) after his first 30 games in NCAA Division I (29 as a starter). Brandon was the only player in the Big Sky Conference to rank in the top 30 in scoring (10.4), as well as the top eight in both rebounding (6.4) and assists (5.1). The transfer from Sierra College in California ranked 51st in NCAA Division I in assists despite being limited late in the year with a hand injury. He is formerly from Corona, Calif., and graduated in 2010 from Santiago High School.
* The combined NCAA Division I 3-point shooting rankings (through games of March 9) of Tyler Harvey add up to 18 (5th in average made at 3.52 and 13th in percentage at 43.3), ranking him second nationally. First is Ethan Wragge of Creighton with a total ranking of 15 (12th 3.20, 3rd 47.8), Brady Heslip of Baylor has a total ranking of 18 (14th 3.16, 4th 46.4) and Karvel Anderson from Robert Morris has a total ranking of 20 (15th 3.15, 5th 45.8).
* In NCAA Division I statistics through games of March 8, Tyler Harvey was fifth in 3-pointers made per game (3.52), 13th in 3-point percentage (43.3 percent), eighth in scoring (21.8) and 10th in free throw percentage (.897). Drew Brandon was 51st in assists (5.1) and Venky Jois was 62nd with nine double-doubles and 96th in rebounding (8.0).
* Sophomore Tyler Harvey led the Big Sky in scoring (21.8), ahead of North Dakota’s Troy Huff (19.6), Weber State’s Davion Berry (19.2) and Montana’s Kareem Jamar (18.8). Venky Jois was 12th (13.4) and Drew Brandon was 27th (10.4). Harvey and Jois are both sophomores, and no other sophomores or freshmen ranked in the top 20. Harvey also led in 3-pointers made per game (3.5) and free throw percentage (.897), and was fourth in 3-point field goal percentage (.433). Brandon led in assists (5.1) and assist-to-turnover ratio (+2.1) and ranked seventh in rebounding (6.4). Jois was third in blocked shots (1.6), fourth in rebounding (8.0) and ninth in field goal percentage (.528), and Martin Seiferth was first in field goal percentage (.667), fourth in blocked shots (1.4) and 11th in rebounding (5.5).
* In league only statistics, Tyler Harvey led in scoring (23.3) and 3-pointers made per game (3.5), and was second in free throw percentage (.907). Drew Brandon was second in assists (4.7), third in assist-to-turnover ratio (+1.9), seventh in rebounding (6.2) and eighth in free throw percentage (.824). Venky Jois was 11th in scoring (14.0), third in rebounds (8.0) and third in blocked shots (1.6), and Martin Seiferth was first in field goal percentage (.704), fourth in blocked shots (1.5) and eighth in rebounding (6.2).
* Freshman Felix Von Hofe provided a spark off the bench in EWU’s last three games, scoring 26 points on 5-of-11 shooting from the 3-point arc. Included was a career high 11 points against Idaho State on March 6. For the season, he played in 28 games and averaged 2.9 points and 8.6 minutes per game, while making 19-of-57 (33.3 percent) triples. “We recruited Felix to be a three-point-shooting specialist,” said head coach Jim Hayford. “He is a really good shooter. He really came on particularly in the second half of league. He may be a freshman but he has a lot of international experience so being in a big game is something he looks forward to. Especially with Drew’s injury, we knew he was going to get looks.”
* Eastern was 6-3 in the nine games junior Martin Seiferth scored in double figures, and was 6-2 when he had at least nine rebounds. He scored in double figures in seven of EWU’s last 11 outings, including double-doubles with 13 points and 15 rebounds against North Dakota on March 1 and 14 points and 10 boards against Idaho State on March 6. In his last 11 games, he averaged 9.7 points and 7.9 rebounds while making 69.6 percent of his shots from the field (48-of-69). For the season, he averaged 7.3 points and 5.5 rebounds on 66.7 percent shooting. As a result, he is currently the school record holder for career field goal percentage at 64.4 percent, just ahead of Ron Cox (1974-77) at 62.9 percent. In his 62-game EWU career (58 as a starter), the Oregon transfer is averaging 7.7 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.8 blocked shots per game. His 112 career blocked shots rank second in school history behind the 115 of teammate Venky Jois.
* Junior Parker Kelly, a starter in EWU’s first 20 games in the 2013-14 season and 17 in his sophomore season, came off the bench in three-straight games before starting again on Feb. 13 in an 85-72 win versus Sacramento State. He responded with a game-high 18 points, including 15 in the first half on 6-of-10 shooting in helping EWU open a 21-point lead. He then had 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting from the 3-point stripe in EWU’s 84-65 win over Northern Arizona on Feb. 15. Also EWU’s top defender, he averaged 9.7 points and 34.5 minutes per game in the 2013-14 season, and 8.1 points with 145 career 3-pointers (fifth in school history) in his 92-game career (46 as a starter).
* After missing six-straight games with an ankle injury, Ognjen Miljkovic averaged 19.7 points in his first three games back. He had 13 points and seven rebounds against Southern Utah (1/23/14) in his first career start, then had 32 points four days later against Portland State (1/27/14) to equal what is now the 31st-best performance in EWU history. He scored 10 of his points after halftime against SUU, including a go-ahead 3-pointer to start the second half that gave the Eagles the lead for good. He scored 17 in the first half versus PSU and made 11-of-13 shots from the field with four 3-pointers. He then scored 14 against North Dakota on Jan. 30. Until the SUU game, Miljkovic hadn’t played since scoring 15 points against Connecticut on Nov. 28. He closed the season with 11 points versus Weber State (3/8/14), and finished the season averaging 8.5 points and 3.3 rebounds in an average of 18.6 minutes per game.
* With the exception of seven minutes versus Idaho State, Eastern played 2 1/2 games late in the year without starting point guard Drew Brandon, who missed the North Dakota game with a hand injury suffered against Northern Colorado. He played 32 minutes in EWU’s season finale against Weber State, but was limited by the heavily protected hand. In a home sweep on Feb. 13 and 15, Brandon had 18 assists and just two turnovers in 75 minutes in EWU’s home sweep over Sacramento State and Northern Arizona – including performances of nine assists and one turnover in each game. He finished with five 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 had a double double-double during one homestand in the 2013-14 season -- he had 11 points and 13 rebounds versus North Dakota on Jan. 30, then had 15 points and 12 assists in a 94-90 overtime victory over Northern Colorado on Feb. 1. His 12 assists were a career high, and rank as the fourth-most in school history (the record is 18). He followed that with his fifth double figure rebounding game with 10 at Montana State on Feb. 6, then had a career-high 19 points at Montana two nights later. He equaled what is now the 16th-most assists in school history with 10 assists against Walla Walla and MSU. He finished with 13 points, 14 rebounds and six assists versus Washington on Nov. 17 in just his second D-I game. He was the lone newcomer to EWU’s opening night starting lineup.
* Sharp-shooting sophomore guard Tyler Harvey hit nine 3-pointers en route to a 37-point outing in EWU’s 84-65 win over Northern Arizona on Feb. 15, to go along with performances of 36 and 38 he had in the final 14 games of the season. Now with three of the top 17 performances in school history, only Rodney Stuckey (45, 38, 36, 36) and David Peed (44, 37, 37) have accomplished that feat. Harvey’s nine 3-pointers against NAU were one from the school record he tied on Feb. 1 in his 38-point effort versus Northern Colorado. He had 31 points and seven more 3-pointers in the rematch versus UNC on Feb. 27, giving him a total of 69 points and 17 treys in a season sweep over UNC for the Eagles.
* Not only is he the Big Sky’s leading scorer, but Eastern’s Tyler Harvey became a dead-eye free throw shooter for the Eagles. A year ago in early February, 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 37 of EWU’s last 39 games, with a streak of 23 snapped versus North Dakota on Jan. 30. The sophomore made only 43.5 percent of his free throws as a freshman, but in the 2013-14 season led the Big Sky in games overall (.897) and was second in league play (.907). He made 118-of-128 (.922) in his last 16 outings, concluding the season with a string of 25 in a row that included a season-ending 12-of-12 performance versus Weber State on March 8. He also had a Big Sky and EWU record 20-of-20 versus Southern Utah on Jan. 23, a 13-of-13 effort at Northern Arizona on Jan. 16, an 11-of-11 effort at Montana on Feb. 8 and two other 8-of-8 efforts. “He had all the individual workout records for making free throws (in the 2012-13 season), 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.”
* Sophomore Tyler Harvey has now averaged 21.3 points per game in his last 38 games as an Eagle after averaging 1.3 points in his first 13 outings. In fact, his one-year improvement by 14.1 points per game ranked third in the nation. 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 in the 2013-14 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. He currently ranks sixth in school history with a 15.9 career scoring average in 52 games (35 as a starter).
Eagle Records Watch
* With 109 3-pointers in 31 games, Tyler Harvey broke the school record of 103 set by Shannon Taylor in 1999. He finished 15 behind the Big Sky record of 124, and his 3.52 average per game ranks fourth in league history. Harvey scored 677 points to rank third in school history, and his 21.8 average was third behind only the averages of 24.6 and 24.2 that Rodney Stuckey had in the 2007 and 2006 seasons, respectively.
* During the 2013-14 season, Venky Jois moved ahead of Martin Seiferth for the school record for career blocked shots. Jois has 115 and Seiferth has 112, as they both surpassed the former record of 99 set by Paul Butorac (2004-07). They own four of EWU’s top five single season performances. Jois had 49 in the 2013-14 season to rank fourth, and Seiferth had 44 to rank fifth. A year ago, Seiferth set the school record with 68 blocks and Jois was right behind with 66.
* Martin Seiferth ranks first in school history in career field goal percentage (.644, ranking just ahead of Ron Cox at .629 from 1974-77). Tyler Harvey is currently fifth in 3-point field goal percentage (43.3 percent), eighth in 3-pointers made (132) and second in free throw percentage (84.3 percent). Parker Kelly is 10th in 3-point percentage (39.6 percent) and fifth in 3-pointers made (145). Kelly’s 85.0 percent shooting from the free throw line in his career would rank as the school record (the record is 84.9) if he had enough attempts to qualify (he has 160 and needs 184).
* En route to what is now the 11th-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. He also scored 38 against Northern Colorado (Feb. 1) and 37 versus Northern Arizona (Feb. 15) to rank sixth and eighth, respectively, in school history. Previously, Harvey opened league play with a 30-point effort against Weber State (1/2/14) when he equaled what is now the 42nd-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 Recaps
* Although they were a made 3-pointer short, it was a thrilling way to end the regular season for the Eagles. Eastern rallied from an 18-point deficit in the second half, but missed two chances to tie or take the lead in the final seconds in an 82-78 loss to Big Sky Conference regular season champion Weber State. Junior point guard Drew Brandon had a potential game-tying shot blocked with seven seconds left, but got the rebound and fed Parker Kelly for an open 3-pointer that was just off the mark. The Wildcats closed the victory with two free throws with 0.6 seconds remaining, denying EWU a win that would have secured a berth in the Big Sky Conference Tournament. Kelly scored 20 points for the Eagles and made both of his 3-pointers until his final miss. Big Sky Conference leading scorer Tyler Harvey scored 24 points and had four steals, but he was 0-of-6 from the 3-point line in only the second game in the 2013-14 season he has not made a 3-pointer. He made 6-of-18 shots overall. Freshman Ognjen Miljkovic came off the bench to score 11 points, and Venky Jois finished with eight points, seven rebounds and three assists. In a battle of the league’s top offense (Eastern) versus the top defense (Weber State), the defense of the Wildcats prevailed. They held the Eagles to 39 percent shooting from the field, and just 3-of-15 from the 3-point arc (20 percent). Weber State, led by Davion Berry’s 24 points, seven assists and six rebounds, made 49 percent from the field and sank 10-of-21 3-pointers. The Eagles forced 16 Weber State turnovers and had a season low six turnovers themselves. Seven of those Wildcat turnovers came after Weber State had opened up its 18-point advantage.
* In Eastern’s final victory of the season, the Eagles held Idaho State to 34 percent shooting from the field – including just 5-of-26 3-point attempts – in a wire-to-wire 77-69 victory March 6 at Reese Court. A trio of players – sophomore Tyler Harvey, junior Parker Kelly and freshman Felix Von Hofe -- combined for 11 3-pointers for Eastern. Martin Seiferth added a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds, and Harvey and Kelly combined to make 6-of-6 free throws in the final 36 seconds to clinch the win. Harvey, filling in for injured Drew Brandon at point guard, finished with 22 points and a career-high 10 rebounds to finish with his first career double-double. He also tied his career highs with eight assists and four steals. Kelly added 16 points, seven rebounds to equal a career high, and three assists, and Venky Jois chipped in 12 points and seven rebounds, and neared career highs with six assists and six blocked shots. Also providing a boost was Von Hofe, who played 16 minutes off the bench. He hit a trio of 3-pointers and scored 11 points, eight in the first half. Eastern lost the rebounding battle 43-41 and had twice as many turnovers as ISU (16 to eight). But EWU out-shot the Bengals 47 percent to 34 percent and had six more 3-point baskets.
Quoting Coach Hayford
On All-Big Sky Performers Tyler Harvey and Venky Jois: “Tyler had an outstanding season. He was one of the top perimeter shooters not only in the Big Sky Conference, but in the whole country. It’s fitting for him to be recognized as a first team All-Big Sky player who led the Big Sky in scoring. We’re proud of him. And most importantly, Eagle fans are excited we have to more great seasons ahead with Tyler. I’m glad Venky was recognized as a sophomore too. To have two underclassmen recognized in the all-conference voting really bodes well for where our program is headed.”
On WSU Loss: “We had a look to tie it, and then we had a look to win it. Parker’s was a great look -- it just went in and out. We were that close to one of the greatest comebacks in college basketball. I know we were down 18, but our players showed tremendous fight. You look at (Weber State) and say, ‘there is a good team and they are the conference champion. They had a great inside game, they had a great outside game and they made some great threes.”
On ISU Win: “That was a great home win. We defended our home court against a veteran Idaho State team that gave it all they had. Our game plan was solid and our guys executed it. Our veterans stepped up. This is a really solid team win, and I am really proud of our team. We advanced our program. We had a great first half. Credit Idaho State because at halftime they came out knowing their season was on the line. We took their best punches.”
On Tyler Harvey’s Record-Breaking Performance at UNC: “It’s becoming routine for Tyler -- a 31-point game and 7-of-11 from three. He is becoming a very, very special player.”
On UNC Win: “This is a great win and they were undefeated in home until we beat them. Our team showed great character to come back and play this way after Monday’s loss (at home to Portland State). This was our third game in five days. I’m just really proud of our team – we showed great character and great togetherness. We executed really well. Northern Colorado is a really good rebounding team and we owned the boards. It was a really good team win. We took great care of the ball and only had eight turnovers. And our shot selection from three was really wise.”
On Exceeding Win Totals of Last Season: “Our whole goal this year was to move this program forward. Our total wins are higher, our home wins are higher and our conference wins are higher. It just indicates that we are moving in the right direction. There is an asterisk next to all of this because we don’t have any seniors. We will keep growing as a team, and as each individual keeps committing to a consistency in their performance, I think we have the program headed in the right direction.”
On Honors Won Feb. 17 by Drew Brandon & Tyler Harvey: “Drew is playing complete games. He’s a defender, a rebounder, he runs our offense and he takes care of the ball. He is coming into his own. Tyler is being recognized for his great individual play that is leading to team success. I am very happy for him. He works hard and deserves the honor.”
On 3-Point Shooting: “We recruit to shoot. If players are three-point shooters, they want to come here. We let it fly and we are among the nation’s leaders in that. What we need to recognize is when they take away the three we need to balance that with attacking the rim. I think our guys are starting to find that balance. If they are going to let us shoot it, we’ll shoot it because we have some guys who are really good shooters.”
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. 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.”