Vikings make first regular-season home appearances this week

John Allen

Nov. 9, 2011

BELLINGHAM, Wash. - Following a runner-up performance at the Disney West Coast Tip-Off Classic to open its campaign, the Western Washington University men's basketball team makes its first two regular-season home appearances at Sam Carver Gymnasium this week, entertaining Notre Dame de Namur University on Friday (7 p.m.) and Capilano University B.C. on Saturday (7 p.m.) in a pair of non-conference contests.

The games are being broadcast on KPUG Radio (1170 AM - on Friday and KBAI Radio (930 AM - on Saturday with Doug Lange handling the play-by-play and Mark Scholten providing the color commentary. The contests also can be heard on the internet at

The Vikings won two of three games at the Disney Classic last weekend, defeating two West Region teams - Dominican CA, 74-61, and tourney champion UC San Diego, 78-68 - before falling 80-71 to Chestnut Hill PA.

Two WWU players were all-tournament picks - senior forward Rory Blanche and junior guard John Allen. Blanche averaged 14.7 points and 6.3 rebounds, both team-leading figures. Allen scored at a 12.0 clip, shooting 40.0 percent (6-of-15) from three-point range and 90.9 percent (10-of-11) at the free-throw line, while dishing out a team-best 14 assists.

Junior guard Rico Wilkins came off the bench to average 11.3 points. Senior forward Zach Henifin averaged 9.0 points and had nine steals, and senior center Dan Young blocked nine shots.

Brad Jackson, who is in his 27th season as WWU's head coach, is just 11 wins shy of becoming the 40th NCAA Division II coach to reach the 500 milestone. His 489 wins rank 13th among active NCAA II coaches.

Notre Dame de Namur: The Argonauts, who were 6-20 last year, are led by 6-2 senior guard Arron Mollet (13.0 ppg), 6-6 senior forward Tyler Fricke (12.6 ppg, 6.5 rpg), and 6-0 senior guard Jeff Ford (12.5 ppg). In two pre-season exhibition games against NCAA I teams, NDNU lost 78-50 at San Jose State and 63-46 at Cal Poly SLO. WWU lost the only other series meeting, 84-70 in 2006-07.

Capilano: The Blues return second-year 5-9 guard James Lum, the British Columbia Collegiate Athletic Association Rookie of the Year, and third-year 6-5 forward Michael Steele. Two standout transfers are fifth-year 6-3 guard Tyler Lutton from Acadia University and third-year 6-4 forward Omid Davani from University of Victoria. First meeting.

VIKING NOTES: 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. Three Vikings were named GNAC Academic all-stars - Blanche, junior center Chris Mitchell and senior guard Anthony Wiederkehr. Blanche and Wiederkehr were both honored for the second time.

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 (489-275) and winning percentage (.640). 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 2009-10, 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 record and reached the national semifinals, Jackson being named NABC/NCAA II West Region, Northwest small college and Pacific West Conference Coach of the Year.

RADIO BROADCASTS: Selected Western games are being broadcast this season on KBAI Radio (930 AM) with Doug Lange handling the play-by-play and Mark Scholten providing the color commentary. They also can be heard on the internet at

ON THE WEB: All Viking home games are being video streamed live and are available free at For up-to-date statistics, box scores of every game, records, stories, etc., see the Western Athletic web page at Up-to-date league standings and statistics can be found on the Great Northwest Athletic Conference web page at


G John Allen, 6-0, *Jr., Brier/Mountlake Terrace/Washington State
G Richard Woodworth, 6-3, **Jr., Bellevue/Newport
C Zach Henifin, 6-5, *Sr., Bellingham/Whatcom CC
F Paul Jones, 6-4, JC-Jr., Kent/Kent-Meridian/Whatcom CC
F Rory Blanche, 6-6, ***Sr., Ashland, OR/Ashland

F Chris Mitchell, 6-8, **Jr., Everson/Nooksack Valley F Shedrick Nelson, 6-3, *Sr., Tacoma/Wilson/Highline CC C Dan Young, 6-10, *Sr., Federal Way/Lakewood/Highline CC G Dane Thorpe, 6-3, *So, Bellingham/Sehome G Rico Wilkins, 6-0, Jr., Dallas, TX/DeSoto/Yakima Valley CC *letters

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 484-156 (.756) in 49 years.


Nov. 4 - WWU 74, Dominican 61 at Disney Classic (Anaheim, CA)

Forward Rory Blanche and guard John Allen each scored 14 points, lifting WWU to a 74-61 victory over Dominican of California in opening-day action at the Disney West Coast Tip-Off Classic. It was the season debut for both teams. Blanche, who also grabbed a game-high nine rebounds, scored 12 points in the first 20 minutes to give the Vikings a 33-32 lead at halftime. Allen had 10 points in the second half. WWU opened up a nine-point lead, 47-38, with 12:20 left in the game on a layup by Rico Wilkins, who had eight of his 12 points in the final period. But Dominican cut that advantage to two, 50-48, with 10:01 to go and was within six, 58-52, at the 7:07 mark. The Vikings then scored 13 straight points to take a 19-point lead, their biggest of the game, with 3:44 left. Dominican never got closer than 13 after that. Ryan McIntosh scored a game-high 15 points for Dominican, 13 in the first half. WWU, which did not make a 3-point field goal in 11 attempts, had just 10 turnovers to 24 for the Penguins. Zach Henifin contributed nine points, five steals and four rebounds for the Vikings.

Nov. 5 - WWU 78, UC San Diego 68 at Disney Classic (Anaheim, CA)

Guard Rico Wilkins came off the bench to score a team-high 17 points, making 5-of-11 three pointers, as WWU defeated UC San Diego, 78-68, in second-day action at the Disney West Coast Tip-Off Classic. The Vikings had four players besides Wilkins finish with double-figure points. Rory Blanche had 13, Zach Henifin and Shedrick Nelson each had 11 and Richard Woodworth 10. UCSD, 1-1, was led by center Christian Hatch, who had game-highs of 18 points and eight rebounds. WWU was 10-of-22 (45.5 percent) from beyond the arc against the Tritons. The Vikings, who trailed only in the first minute, led by 13, 39-26, at halftime. Wilkins scored 12 of his points in the second half as WWU built its lead to as many as 18, 68-50, with 7:02 to go. UCSD never got closer than 10 after that. WWU's Dan Young blocked five shots and Paul Jones (Jr., Kent/Kent-Meridian) grabbed eight rebounds and scored eight points.

Nov. 6 - WWU 80, Chestnut Hill PA 71 at Disney Classic (Anaheim, CA)

WWU lost 80-71 to Chestnut Hill PA in final-day action at the Disney West Coast Tip-Off Classic. The Vikings got 17 points each from forward Rory Blanche and guard John Allen, who also had six assists. The 2-1 Griffins were led by the game-high 21 points of forward Dan Comas, who was 8-of-11 from the field. They also got 16 points from reserve Alssene Sanitilus on 7-of-10 floor accuracy. WWU scored nine of the game's first 10 points over the first two minutes as Allen hit two three-pointers and reserve Rico Wilkins one. The Vikings led 19-11 with 11:41 to go in the first half before Chestnut Hill responded with 11 straight points to begin a 15-2 run that gave the Griffins a 26-21 lead with 7:15 to go. Chestnut Hill extended its advantage to 41-32 at halftime as Comas had 15 points in the opening period. WWU narrowed the margin to one, 47-46, with 14:10 left in the game, and was still within six, 72-66, with 2:08 remaining. But Mark DiRugeris scored all five of his points over a one-minute span to give the Griffens' a nine-point lead, 77-68, with 29 seconds left to seal the victory. The Vikings shot only 37.9 percent (25-of-66) from the field, connecting on just 10-of-35 three-pointers (28.6 percent). Chestnut Hill hit 50.9 percent (28-of-55) from the floor and converted 22-of-31 free throws. Brandon Williams scored 12 points for the Griffins, and Luke Dickson had 10.


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