WWU's Brad Jackson one shy of 500 victories
Jan. 3, 2012
BELLINGHAM, Wash. - With head coach Brad Jackson needing just one victory to become just the fifth collegiate coach in the state of Washington, male or female, to reach the 500 milestone in career wins, the nationally ranked Western Washington University men's basketball team hosts two Great Northwest Athletic Conference rivals this week, entertaining Saint Martin's University on Thursday and league-leading Western Oregon University on Saturday. Both games have 7 p.m. tipoffs at Sam Carver Gymnasium on the WWU campus.
The contests can be heard live on KBAI Radio (930 AM - www.930kbai.com) with Doug Lange handling the play-by-play and Mark Scholten providing the color commentary. They also can be viewed on the internet at http://wwu.nmtvsports.com and live stats are available at http://www.wwuvikings.com/multimedia/livestats.html.
One more win would also make Jackson, who is in his 27th year directing the Vikings, the 40th NCAA Division II men's coach to win 500. The state foursome in all divisions to achieve that standard are Marv Harshman (Pacific Lutheran, Washington State, Washington) 637, Dean Nicholson (Central Washington) 620, Hec Edmundson (Washington) 508 and Leo Nicholson (Central Washington) 505.
WWU, ranked No.23 in this week's National Association of Basketball Coaches/NCAA II Top 25 Poll, is 12-2 overall, 6-0 at home, and 3-0 in conference play, being tied with Alaska Anchorage. Western Oregon leads the GNAC standings with its first 4-0 start in the 11-year history of the league.
The Vikings won 87-73 at Simon Fraser last Saturday as senior forward Rory Blanche scored a career-high 26 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, giving him back-to-back double-doubles.
WWU has beaten three of four top 25 NCAA II teams faced this season, the lone loss being by just three points. At their Great Western Shootout in Las Vegas held in mid-December, the Vikings defeated No.10 Rollins FL, 80-61, then had a nine-game winning streak snapped in a 77-74 loss to No.18 Alabama Huntsville.
In its other two contests against top 25 opponents, WWU won 79-71 at No.19 Seattle Pacific on Dec. 3 and upset 2011 national runner-up and No.3 ranked BYU-Hawaii, 88-69, at Carver Gym on Nov. 21.
Blanche, who has scored double-figures in 31 of his last 32 games, leads the team in both points and rebounds with respective per game averages of 15.9 and 7.7. He is second in the GNAC in offensive rebounds (3.1), fifth in field-goal shooting (57.5 percent, 96-of-167), seventh in rebounds and eighth in scoring.
Blanche has scored 924 points during his four-year career as he looks to become the 22nd player in school history to reach 1,000.
Junior guard John Allen is averaging 14.4 points. He ranks among the top 10 league leaders in six categories, topping the GNAC in free throw percentage (91.9, 34-of-37). Allen is third in steals (2.3), fifth in three-point makes (2.5), ninth in both assists (3.4) and three-point percentage (43.8, 35-of-80) and 10th in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.6).
Senior forward Zach Henifin is averaging 10.9 points, shooting 51.0 percent (51-of-100) from the field, 5.6 rebounds and 2.2 steals, fourth in the GNAC. He has scored at a 16.7 clip over the last three games, hitting 56.7 percent (17-of-30) from the field.
Rounding out WWU's first five are junior guard Richard Woodworth, who is averaging 9.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists; and junior center Chris Mitchell, averaging 5.9 points on 50.0 percent (31-of-62) floor shooting and 42.9 percent three-point accuracy (12-of-28).
Three top reserves have been junior guard Rico Wilkins (9.9 ppg), junior forward Paul Jones (7.2 ppg, 5.0 rpg) and senior center Dan Young, third in the GNAC in blocked shots at 1.8. Young had 12 points and a career-high 15 rebounds against Simon Fraser after missing the previous two games because of a concussion.
WWU leads the GNAC in steals, averaging 10.4 per game, and is second in scoring offense (82.9), scoring margin (12.6), field-goal shooting (48.1) and rebound margin (6.5).
SAINT MARTIN'S: The Saints are 5-8 overall and 1-3 in GNAC action, losing three of their last four games. A major graduation loss for coach Keith Cooper (9th year, 96-127) was All-American center Blake Poole, who finished his career second in the GNAC in rebounds with 1,104 and 10th in points with 1,764. Three starters back are 6-8 senior forward Jeremy Green (18.0 ppg, 6.8 rpg), 6-5 junior forward Roger O'Neill (13.7 ppg) and 5-10 junior guard Brady Bomber (3.4 ppg, 4.6 apg), a Lynden High graduate. Another top returnee is 6-7 senior center Brok Pendleton (12.2 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 2.3 bpg). SMU ranks second in the GNAC in blocks, averaging 4.1 per game. WWU holds a 120-60 series advantage, winning the last three meetings.
WESTERN OREGON: The Wolves are 11-2 overall (Jan. 5 at Simon Fraser) and 4-0 in GNAC play, their best start since the league was formed 11 years ago. Their two losses have been 69-53 at Chaminade HI and 66-42 at NCAA I Washington State. All five starters returned for first-year head coach Brady Bergeson, who was the top assistant at Sacramento State the last three seasons after six years as an assistant at Metro State CO. Leading that group is 6-2 senior guard Blair Wheadon (14.4 ppg, 45.2 3-pt. pct., 28-62), a second-team GNAC all-star who has scored 1,393 career points. Rounding out the quintet are 6-3 senior guard Kyle Long (13.2 ppg), 6-8 junior center Kolton Nelson (11.4 ppg, 4.6 rpg), 6-6 junior forward Tarance Glynn (10.0 ppg, 9.5 rpg), who is no longer with the team, and 6-0 senior guard Jordan Freelander (7.2 ppg). Another top returnee is 6-6 junior center James Gehring (6.3 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 61.0 FG Pct.). WWU leads the series, 36-13.
VIKING NOTES: Nine of WWU's 12 wins have been by double figures ... Allen has had one or more steals in every game (15 overall) with a season-high five versus Rollins ... This week's national ranking is the first for the Vikings since two seasons ago ... WWU has made 10 or more treys five times this season with a high of 14 against Rollins ... Blanche has scored double-figure points in 31 of his last 32 games, scoring a career-high 26 points against Simon Fraser after tying his career high with 14 rebounds versus Alabama Huntsville ... WWU is 8-0 against West Region foes ... Blanche has 924 points and 403 rebounds during his four-year career, and is hitting 60.0 percent (394-of-657) from the field ... Henifin was named GNAC Player of the Week for his all-tournament performance at the Great Western Shootout ... Both Allen and Blanche were all-tournament picks at the Disney West Coast Classic ... WWU lost senior forward Shedrick Nelson, a top reserve, for the season against Notre Dame de Namur on Nov. 11 when he tore both the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his right knee near the end of the game.
2010-11 RECAP: WWU returns four starters from last year's squad that finished 16-11 and reached the first round of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Tournament. Allen earned second-team GNAC all-star honors, averaging 14.3 points a game, including 43 in a victory over Simon Fraser, the second highest point total ever by a WWU player and a school record at Carver Gym. The Washington State transfer also led WWU in assists (4.1) and steals (1.7), and shot 91.5 percent at the free-throw line (65-of-71), which ranked second nationally. Blanche received honorable mention all-GNAC recognition, averaging 14.3 points and 6.8 rebounds while shooting 62.8 percent from the field to rank 14th nationally.
COACH JACKSON: Brad Jackson is in his 27th season, the longest tenure of any coach in WWU history in any sport. He is the most successful men's basketball coach in school history, both in total wins (499-276) and winning percentage (.644). Prior to this season, Jackson ranked No.13 among active NCAA II coaches in victories and No.44 overall.
Jackson has directed the Vikings to 19 post-season appearances and 11 20-win seasons during his tenure. WWU reached the regional semifinals in 2010, losing 76-75 in overtime to eventual national champion Cal Poly Pomona.
The Jackson-led Vikings also have gotten to the NCAA II tournament in 2001, 2005, 2006 and 2009. In 2001, they finished 27-4 and reached the national semifinals, Jackson being named NABC/NCAA II West Region, Northwest small college and Pacific West Conference Coach of the Year.
JACKSON MILESTONE VICTORIES:
No.1 - Nov. 23, 1985 - WWU 89, British Columbia 78 - Victoria, B.C. No. 100 - Jan. 16, 1990 - WWU 73, Seattle U. 63 - Seattle, WA No. 200 - Feb. 16, 1995 - WWU 71, Puget Sound 63 - Tacoma, WA No. 276 - Jan. 4, 2001 - WWU 81, Chaminade 77 - Honolulu, HI (becomes school's all-time victory leader in men's basketball) No. 300 - Nov. 23, 2001 - WWU 98, Southern Colorado 70 - Bellingham No. 400 - Nov. 18, 2006 - WWU 67, Cal State L.A. 66 - Seattle, WA No. 412 - Nov. 23, 2007 - WWU 85, Northwest 69 - Bellingham (becomes school's all-time win leader for all sports) No. 450 - Nov. 21, 2009 - WWU 87, Dominican CA 72 - Seattle, WA
500-WIN FOUR-YEAR COLLEGIATE COACHES IN STATE OF WASHINGTON:
POST-SEASON: This year, the GNAC championship will be decided with a six-team tournament at Saint Martin's University (Marcus Pavilion) beginning Wednesday, Feb. 29. The No. 1 and No. 2 regular-season finishers will earn first round byes and play Wednesday's winners in semifinal action Friday, March 2. The championship game will be Saturday, March 3. Central Washington won the first GNAC tourney last year, when it consisted of eight teams and games were played at the highest seed.
GNAC COACHES TAB VIKINGS THIRD: WWU was picked to finish third in the preseason GNAC coaches poll. Alaska Anchorage, which won its only GNAC title in 2008 when it advanced to the NCAA II national semifinals, edged Seattle Pacific, 95-94. Both the Seawolves and Falcons, who won GNAC titles in 2002, 2006, 2007 and 2010 and have qualified for the NCAA II post-season in seven consecutive seasons, each received four first-place votes. Three-time conference champion WWU (2002, 2005, 2009) got a pair of first-place votes and placed third. Defending champion Central Washington was fourth.
RADIO BROADCASTS: Selected WWU games are being broadcast this season on KBAI Radio (930 AM - www.930kbai.com) with Doug Lange handling the play-by-play and Mark Scholten providing the color commentary. They also can be heard on the internet at www.wwuvikings.com.
ON THE WEB: All Viking home games are being video streamed live and are available free at http://wwu.nmtvsports.com. For up-to-date statistics, box scores of every game, records, stories, etc., see the WWU Athletics web page at www.wwuvikings.com. Up-to-date league standings and statistics can be found on the Great Northwest Athletic Conference web page at www.pennatlantic.com.
PROBABLE WESTERN STARTERS & TOP RESERVES:
G John Allen, 6-0, *Jr., Brier/Mountlake Terrace/Washington State G Richard Woodworth, 6-3, **Jr., Bellevue/Newport C Chris Mitchell, 6-8, **Jr., Everson/Nooksack Valley F Zach Henifin, 6-5, *Sr., Bellingham/Whatcom CC F Rory Blanche, 6-6, ***Sr., Ashland, OR/Ashland
CARVER GYM CELEBRATES 50TH ANNIVERSARY: Dedicated on March 30, 1962, WWU's Sam Carver Gymnasium is celebrating its 50th anniversary this season. It is named for Sanford E. Carver, a NAIA Hall of Famer who was Western's first director of athletics and the chairman of the physical education department from 1914-55. Carver Gym was an addition to the existing physical education facility. It added 54,233 square feet of floor space at a cost of $1.04 million. The most significant addition was the present main gymnasium. The facility opened in time for the 1961-62 basketball season, although it wasn't named for Carver until the dedication ceremony the following spring. Dr. James L. Jarrett, then Western's president, and Dr. E.V. Pullias, a professor at the University of Southern California, were the main speakers at the gathering. Basketball has been one of the primary activities at Carver Gym. The Seattle Pacific men were Western's opponent in the first game played on the new floor on Dec. 6, 1961. The Viking men have racked up an impressive record during their time in the building, going 490-156 (75.9 percent) in 50 years.
RECENT GAME SUMMARY:
Dec. 31 - WWU 87, Simon Fraser 73 at Burnaby, BC
Rory Blanche scored a game and career-high 26 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as WWU defeated Simon Fraser, 87-73, in a GNAC contest at West Gymnasium on the SFU campus. Dan Young, seeing his first action after missing three games with a concussion, came off the bench to contribute 12 points and grabbed a career-high 15 rebounds for the Vikings. SFU fell to 5-6 overall and 0-3 in conference play with its fourth loss in five games. Guard Justin Brown had 19 points and five assists for the Clan, and Connor Lewis added 16 points and five assists. SFU led by as much as seven in the opening half and held a 40-36 lead at halftime. A Connor three-pointer to open the second half pushed the margin to seven, but then Blanche took over. Blanche scored 16 points, including two dunks, in the next 10 minutes as WWU went on a 30-11 charge to take a 66-54 lead with 9:14 to play. The Clan responded with 11 straight points to pull within one, 66-65, with 5:49 to go, but the Vikings were able to pull away after that, using a 12-3 run to put the game out of reach. Zach Henifin had 13 points, eight rebounds and four steals for WWU, which had a 50-23 advantage in rebounds. John Allen had 11 points and seven assists, and Richard Woodworth added 10 points. SFU was without forward Javari Williams, who leads the GNAC in scoring at 23.8 points a game, because of academic ineligibility.
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