Nov. 13, 2013
BELLINGHAM, Wash. -
Working on a school and conference record 27-game home court winning streak, the Western Washington University men's basketball team opens its 2013-14 season with eight games at Sam Carver Gymnasium.
The Vikings open their campaign against Notre Dame de Namur on Friday, Nov. 15, followed by BYU-Hawaii on Tuesday, Nov. 19. Both games tip off at 7 p.m.
The last two seasons have been the best back-to-back years in the history of the program.
The Vikings claimed a NCAA Division II National Championship in 2012, then followed it up with a trip to the national semifinals as part of a 2012-13 campaign that saw WWU post a 31-3 record, including a 24-game winning streak to start the season. On the way, the Vikings claimed a second straight Great Northwest Athletic Conference regular-season championship with a 17-1 mark and a second straight West Regional title.
Most of the core of those teams is gone now, but the Vikings still hold high hopes that the players remaining and an exciting group of newcomers can sustain the level of success achieved the past two seasons. Outsiders share that optimism, as WWU was ranked ninth in The Sporting News Pre-season NCAA II Top 10, No.10 in the National Basketball Coaches Association Pre-season Top 25 and No.17 in the Division II Bulletin Pre-season Top 25.
"In the 15 years we've been in Division II, we've hosted the regional six times," said WWU head coach Tony Dominguez (2nd year, 31-3). "When you take that history, then look at what we've done the last couple years, it creates a culture where winning is expected. Because of that, guys come in with a certain level of confidence."
Six letter winners, including two starters, return from last season for the Vikings, and four of them are seniors.
Leading the returnees are senior guard Richard Woodworth and senior center Austin Bragg, pre-season all-GNAC selections who both started all 34 games last season.
Woodworth was a second-team all-GNAC pick and West Regional Most Outstanding Player last season, averaging 11.1 points, 3.4 assists and a team-high 1.4 steals while shooting 43.8 percent (42-of-96) on 3-pointers. He is the lone starter left from the national championship squad, having started 69 of WWU's last 70 games, and enters the year with 812 career points.
"Richard has been an unsung hero for us," said Dominguez. "He rebounds, he defends, he's unselfish, and when we need him to score, he scores. He's been our do-everything guy."
Bragg averaged 9.1 points and team-highs of 7.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks to earn all-GNAC honorable mention.
The other returnee to see extensive action last season is junior forward Anye Turner, who contributed 4.2 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.2 blocks, shooting 59.3 percent (48-of-81) from the field.
"Austin and Anye played supporting roles last year, which is something they'd never done in their basketball careers before, and played those roles well," Dominguez said. "Now that they can step back into primary roles, they're going to be even better."
Two returning senior guards also figure to play prominent roles. Dane Thorpe averaged 1.9 points in 18 contests last year and was also a part of the regular rotation in the post-season. Alfred Davis averaged 1.9 points in 15 games.
"Both of those guys are seniors who have waited for their time and are both battling for starting spots," Dominguez said. "Dane works really hard, and is a good athlete with the ability to score. Alfred is very tough, and we'd like him to play a big role defensively."
The other player back after seeing time last season is junior forward Robert Oliver, who saw action in 12 contests, scoring eight points.
In the frontcourt, freshmen forwards Joey Schreiber and Jeffrey Parker return after redshirting. Both could see significant time.
"They are both very skilled guys who can shoot the three and drive," said Dominguez. "They have great potential and we expect them to be contributors this season."
Another redshirt freshman forward, Dana Abe, will become eligible at the winter break.
There's also a host of newcomers. Senior guard Robert Harris, Jr., a transfer from NCAA I Idaho, figures to have the most immediate impact. He averaged 4.7 points and 1.8 assists for the Vandals last season while making 12 starts.
Another guard expected to contribute is freshman Nick Velasquez. He was first-team all-state pick in Hawaii as a high school senior, as well as the Interscholastic League of Honolulu Division I Player of the Year. Completing the backcourt is junior Mark Hopkins, a transfer from Temple JC.
Inside, two junior college transfers are expected to have immediate impact. Junior forward Colby Mitchell averaged 13.6 points and 7.2 rebounds for Mount Hood CC last year, and junior center Jordan Mosby-Barber averaged 11.6 points and 7.8 rebounds for Clackamas CC. Dominguez believes both will bring an added element of toughness to the roster.
Four players are expected to redshirt - junior forward Chris Tanis from Whatcom CC, junior guard Ricardo Maxwell, freshman forward Evan Scholten, and junior center Blake Bowen from Clark CC.
Nov. 15 (Fri.) NOTRE DAME DE NAMUR# (Carver Gym, 7 p.m.)
Nov. 19 (Tue) BYU-HAWAII# (Carver Gym, 7 p.m.)
Nov. 24 (Sun.) QUEST# (Carver Gym, 3 p.m.)
Nov. 30 (Sat.) METRO STATE # (Carver Gym, 7 p.m.)
Dec. 5 (Thu.) WESTERN OREGON*# (Carver Gym, 7 p.m.)
Dec. 7 (Sat.) SAINT MARTIN'S*# (Carver Gym, 7 p.m.)
Dec. 14 (Sat.) MULTNOMAH# (Carver Gym, 7 p.m.)
Dec. 17 (Tue.) THOMPSON RIVERS# (Carver Gym, 7 p.m.)
*Great Northwest Athletic Conference contest
#broadcast on KBAI Radio (930 AM) and on internet at wwuvikings.com
NOTRE DAME DE NAMUR: The Argonauts, who finished 12-14 last season, are led by 6-6 junior forward Don Washington, who had 14 points and 12 rebounds in a 72-66 exhibition win over UC-Merced and 6-6 junior guard Micah Dunhour, who had 17 points and 11 rebounds in a 95-57 exhibition loss to University of San Francisco. NDNU is coached by George Puou, who is beginning his 12th season (112-155). WWU has won both previous meetings.
BYU-HAWAII: The Seasiders, who open at home on Nov. 16 against Western State CO, are led by 6-10 senior center DeAndre Medlock, who averaged 13.7 points on 64.1 percent field-goal shooting and 4.3 rebounds on last year's 16-12 team. Medlock was a pre-season Pacific West Conference all-star as BYU-Hawaii was picked to finish third in the 13-team league. Three other top performers for coach Ken Wagner (22nd year, 431-199) are 6-8 senior forward Bracken Funk, 6-3 junior guard Pablo Coro and 6-5 sophomore guard Scott Friel. The Seasiders were the NCAA II national runner-up in 2011. WWU holds an 8-6 series advantage.
THREE-DOT NOTES: Bragg and Woodworth were pre-season GNAC all-conference picks ... WWU was ranked ninth in The Sporting News Pre-season NCAA II Top 10, No.10 in the National Basketball Coaches Association Pre-season Top 25 and No.17 in the Division II Bulletin Pre-season Top 25 ... The Vikings were picked third in the GNAC Pre-season Coaches Poll, behind Seattle Pacific and Alaska Anchorage. They were not the pre-season in either of the last two years.
AFTER THIRD STRAIGHT WEST REGIONAL TITLE: WWU is hoping to become the first team since 1994 to win three straight West Regional titles, Cal State Bakersfield completing a string of five that season. The only other team to win three consecutive West Region championships was UC Riverside from 1973 to 1975.
COACH DOMINGUEZ: Tony Dominguez (2nd year, 31-3) directed the Vikings to a 31-3 record in 2012-13, GNAC regular-season and West Regional titles, and the NCAA II national semifinals. He became the first rookie coach in school history to win 20 games and the first in NCAA II history to win his first 24. Dominguez was a finalist for Clarence "Big House" Gaines National Coach of the Year honors and shared the GNAC Coach of the Year award. He was an associate head coach the previous two seasons and an assistant 17 years overall, all at WWU. During that stretch, the Vikings posted a 317-165 (.658) record, made six regional appearances and won five conference championships. WWU took the NCAA II national crown in 2012, winning a school record 31 games, and reached the national semifinals in 2001.
GNAC REGULAR-SEASON CHAMPS: The Vikings won the 2012-13 GNAC regular-season championship for the second straight year, finishing with a 17-1 record, the best in GNAC history. The GNAC title was the fifth overall for WWU, which also won conference titles in 2002, 2005 and 2009 when they weren't separated as to regular season and tournament.
RADIO BROADCASTS: Selected WWU games are being broadcast this season on KBAI Radio (930 AM) and KPUG Radio (1170 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 www.wwuvikings.com.
ON THE WEB: All Viking home games are being video streamed live and are available free at http://client.stretchinternet.com/client/wwu.portal#. For up-to-date statistics, box scores of every game, records, stories, etc., see the WWU Athletic 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.gnacsports.com.
PROBABLE WWU STARTERS & TOP RESERVES:
G Richard Woodworth, 6-3, ***Sr., Bellevue, WA/Newport
G Robert Harris, 5-10, Jr., TR, Kent, WA/Rainier Beach/
Eastern Arizona CC/Idaho
C Austin Bragg, 6-9, *Sr., Longview, WA/Mark Morris/Clark CC
F Anye Turner, 6-7, *Jr., Tumwater, WA/Black Hills/South Puget Sound CC
F Colby Mitchell, 6-7, Jr., JC, Chugiak, AK/Chugiak/Mount Hood CC
F Jeffrey Parker, 6-6, R-Fr., Richmond, CA/Salesian
F Joey Schreiber, 6-7, R-Fr., Renton, WA/Eastside Catholic
C Jordan Mosby-Barker, 6-9, Jr., JC, Portland, OR/Parkrose/Clackamas CC
G Alfred Davis, 6-0, *Sr., Tacoma, WA/Lincoln/Pierce CC
G Dane Thorpe, 6-4, ***Sr., Bellingham, WA/Sehome
G Mark Hopkins, 6-3, Jr., JC, San Antonio, TX/Randolph/Temple JC/
F Robert Oliver, 6-4, *Jr., Federal Way, WA/Decatur
G Nick Velasquez, 6-2, Fr., Honolulu, HI/Punahou
MOST RECENT GAME SUMMARIES:
Nov. 11 - WWU 116, Douglas BC 59 at Bellingham (Exhibition)
Parker and Harris, Jr., each had 17 points as WWU rolled over Douglas College, 116-59, in an exhibition game at Carver Gym.The result was never in doubt, as the Vikings went out to a 38-10 lead in the first 12 minutes and led 63-28 at halftime as Harris scored 14 points in the first 15 minutes. Pavan Leeho led Douglas with 13 points. Seven WWU players scored in double figures. Joey Schreiber had 16 points, eight rebounds and four steals; Thorpe had all of his 13 points in the first half; Woodworth had 11 points, and Oliver and Turner each had 10 points, with Oliver also having game highs of nine rebounds and five assists. WWU shot 57.0 percent (45-of-79) from the field, including 52.2 percent (12-of-23) on 3-pointers, and had a 56-24 advantage in rebounds.
- WWU -