Vikings open season at UC Davis Hamilton Classic
Nov. 18, 2002
BELLINGHAM, Wash. -
UPCOMING GAMES: Nov. 22 (Fri.) at UC Davis Hamilton Classic vs. Southwest State MN (Davis, CA - 6 p.m.) Nov. 23 (Sat.) at UC Davis Hamilton Classic vs. UC Davis (Davis, CA - 8 p.m.) Nov. 26 (Tue.) PUGET SOUND (CARVER GYM, 7 P.M.) Nov. 29 (Fri.) WWU/CHUCK RANDALL THANKSGIVING CLASSIC (CARVER GYM) Saint Martin's vs. Cal Poly Pomona, 5 p.m. WESTERN vs. Brigham Young-Hawaii@, 7 p.m. Nov. 30 (Sat.) WWU/CHUCK RANDALL THANKSGIVING CLASSIC (CARVER GYM) Saint Martin's vs. Brigham Young-Hawaii, 5 p.m. WESTERN vs. Cal Poly Pomona, 7 p.m. Dec. 5 (Thu.) at Saint Martin's* (Lacey, WA - 7 p.m.) Dec. 7 (Sat.) at Central Washington*@ (Ellensburg, WA - 7 p.m.) *Great Northwest Athletic Conference counter @broadcast on KBAI Radio (930 AM - Bellingham) and internet (wwuvikings.com)
UPDATE: Take a look around Sam Carver Gymnasium. A number of familiar faces aren't there anymore. Seven players, including five four-year letter winners, finished their Western Washington University careers last season.
Those players were a major part of the team that went 21-6 in 2001-02, tying for the inaugural Great Northwest Athletic Conference championship with a 15-3 mark but being denied a berth in the West Region of the NCAA Division II National Tournament after reaching the national semifinals in 2000-01.
This season, the Vikings will have six freshmen on their roster. Some will see extensive action, but there's also a core of returnees, led by 6-foot-10 senior all-West Region center Mike Palm, who have played major roles in the Vikings going 48-10 over the last two years.
"In many ways, it's a new team," said Western coach Brad Jackson (18th year), the winningest coach in school history and among the top 30 of active NCAA II coaches in victories. "But we still have some core players here. Mike Palm is the cornerstone, and as a fifth-year senior, he was part of that big class. But there's other guys who have been important parts of our program and now move into new leadership roles."
Western enters the season with a nine-game winning streak. The Vikings have also won 13 straight games at home, and 20 straight conference games at Carver Gym.
"We have a highly motivated, self-disciplined group," said Jackson. "All our incoming players are smart and played in good programs. The key is that we need to develop quickly if we hope to be able to compete at a high level in our conference and in the West Region."
The centerpiece of the Vikings, in more ways than one, is Palm. Palm averaged a team-high 13.6 points a game last season, shooting 60.6 percent from the field and earning second-team all-West Region honors. He also contributed 7.9 rebounds, 1.5 blocks and made a team-best 89.0 percent (121-of-136) of his free throws, ranking 10th nationally in NCAA II, one of just two players 6-8 or taller to be in the top 30 in any of the three NCAA Divisions. Palm enters the season 11th in Western history in career scoring (1,149) and is fifth in both rebounds (610) and blocked shots (109). He needs just 40 points to become one of just two players to be in Western's top 10 in points, rebounds and blocked shots.
In June, Palm spent a week with the Swedish national team, averaging 7.5 points in four games and impressing Sweden assistant coach Per Karlsson to the point Karlsson says the only European big man with a comparable touch is Dirk Nowitzki.
"What gets lost with Mike's size is that he's a really good basketball player, he has a great sense and feel for the game," Jackson said of Palm. "Beyond that, he's a very gifted offensive player with about every shot you can imagine. He's also worked hard to get stronger, and over his first three years, he's been very consistent. You always know what you're going to get from Mike."
The other returning starter is senior 6-4 forward Nehemiah Campbell, who started 13 games, including seven of the nine in the season-ending winning streak. Campbell averaged 3.8 points and 2.5 rebounds, and is a defensive stopper often assigned the other team's top scorer. He's also an inspirational leader who plays with visible and vocal enthusiasm.
"Especially last year, he's battled injuries that hurt him," said Jackson. "Every time a player is out of the lineup, it takes time to get back into the flow of things. Nehemiah is a great defensive player. He can D up anybody. He's always had the capability on offense, and if he can develop some confidence early in the season, he'll be solid."
Western's depth up front doesn't end with Palm and Campbell. Forward Maurice Tyree, a 6-7 sophomore, had an immediate impact as a freshman, averaging 5.9 points and 3.7 rebounds while shooting 56.2 percent from the field.
"Maurice is a warrior, a very tough, competitive kid," said Jackson. "He had an excellent freshman year and with that experience comes a little better understanding of college basketball. Because of that, I'd expect we'll see more improvement offensively. He gives us a lot of options, especially at the defensive end. He's long and very quick, and when there's a ball on the floor, he's after it."
The other experienced hand on the frontline is 6-9 senior center Chris Stevens, who lettered three years prior to redshirting last season. Stevens was the primary backup in the post as a junior as Western reached the national semifinals, averaging 2.0 points, 1.4 rebounds and providing a rugged inside defensive presence as well as shooting 72.3 percent from the field.
"Chris has been overshadowed in some ways, but he's a great team guy," Jackson said. "He's a very good defensive player and rebounder, and offensively, he's got a great touch and good range."
Adding additional depth in the post is 6-11 junior Luke Arthur, who played one season at NCAA I Montana State and most recently averaged 10.0 points and 6.0 rebounds at Olympic CC in 1999-2000.
"He's been out of basketball for awhile, but he's a big body (280 pounds) with a strong desire to make our team better," Jackson said. "He's real tough on the low block. Big guys are at a premium, and it helps us a lot to have him."
Two freshman forwards - 6-6 Darrell Visser and 6-6 Jordan Rush - may also figure in. Visser averaged 10.6 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.6 blocks for a Lynden High team that was 23-3 and reached the Class 3A state tournament, and proved his versatile athleticism by being a first-team all-state pick both offensively and defensively in football.
Rush averaged 14.5 points and 6.0 rebounds, earning MVP honors for a Crossroads High team that reached the second round of the CIF Southern Section 4A playoffs.
"Darrell is an exceptional athlete who doesn't yet know how good he can be," Jackson said. "He blocks a lot of shots, and I think he'll improve by leaps and bounds now that he's focused on basketball. Jordan is extremely quick and an explosive leaper. He's a very good defender both inside and outside, and offensively, he has a nice shot and good moves facing the basket."
Leading the backcourt is junior 6-1 guard Jason Burrell, who has played in every game the last two years. Burrell averaged 6.4 points and 2.8 assists last season and started three games. He contributed 8.5 points a game as a freshman.
"He's had two great years," Jackson said of Burrell. "We pulled him aside after last season and told him 'It's your team now.' He's the natural quarterback of our team."
The other backcourt returnee is 6-0 junior Stefan Dickason, a solid defensive player who played 10 games last season, averaging 1.1 points.
"He's a super hard worker, and he's really developed offensively," Jackson said of Dickason. "He's such a good athlete, and is an outstanding defender."
Freshmen make up the rest of the backcourt. One is 6-4 Grant Dykstra, who redshirted last season and can also play forward. He was the Class 2A Player of the Year in 2000-01, averaging 22.1 points, 7.6 rebounds and 4.1 assists.
"I've watched Grant play since about third grade," said Jackson. "He's a very intelligent player. He makes the right pass, he knows when to shoot, and he'll be more mature than most freshmen. He's the complete package - there's not a lot of weaknesses in his game."
Another redshirt freshman is 5-10 guard Kyle Jackson. The son of the head coach, he averaged 16.0 points and 4.4 assists as a high school senior, earning unanimous all-Western Conference honors and playing in the Washington-Oregon all-star game.
"He's in a unique situation, one a lot of kids never experience," said the elder Jackson. "He's very heady, he shoots as well as anybody, and he makes other people better."
They'll be joined by 6-1 true freshman Ryan Diggs, the younger brother of student assistant coach Shelton Diggs, the ninth leading scorer in school history. Ryan Diggs averaged 16.3 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.0 assists at Silverado High, being named MVP of the Desert Sky Conference.
"Ryan is a very talented player," said Jackson. "He's smart and very physically developed for his age. The thing I really like is that he comes to play, he sticks his nose right in and gets after it. He's capable of being a big-time scorer at some point."
D-II PLAYOFFS EXPANDED: The NCAA Division II post-season playoff field has been expanded from 48 to 64 schools, with eight schools from each region qualifying. That means that even though the GNAC champion doesn't earn an "automatic" berth in the playoffs, it could conceivably have three or possibly four of its teams advance to the March tournament.
STREAKING VIKINGS: Western enters the season with a nine-game winning streak, the longest current string among NCAA II schools. The Vikings have also won 13 straight games at home, and 20 straight conference games at Carver Gym.
PALM CLOSING IN ON TRIPLE TOP 10: Six-foot-10 junior center Mike Palm is closing in on becoming just the second player to be ranked among Western's career Top 10 in points, rebounds and blocked shots, as he is fifth in blocked shots (109, needs 8 to move into fourth) and rebounds (610, needs 19 to move into fourth) and is No.12 in scoring at 1,149 (needs 40 to move into 10th). The only Viking ever to accomplish that was forward Harold Doyal (1991-95), who ranks third in all three categories and now plays professionally in the first division in France. During his three-year career, Palm is shooting 58.4 percent (411-of-704) from the floor and 83.1 percent (325-of-391) at the free throw line.
THREE-DOT NOTES: Humboldt State was the near-unanimous preseason coaches poll pick to win the 2002-03 GNAC title, getting nine of 10 first-place votes and 108 points. Western was second at 77, with Central Washington third at 75 and Seattle Pacific fourth at 74.
ANOTHER DYKSTRA: Greg Dykstra, just a few days removed from completing a record-setting career as a wide receiver for the Western Washington University football team, has been added to the roster of the Viking basketball squad. The 6-foot-2 Dykstra, who will be a senior in eligibility, joins his younger brother Grant, a redshirt freshman, on the hoop team. The two were basketball teammates for half-a-season at Lynden Christian High School when the Lyncs placed third in the 1998 Class 1A State Tournament. Dykstra holds Western career football records with 181 receptions and 38 consecutive games with a least one catch, and shares the record for touchdown catches with 30. He is second in career receiving yards (2,720) and sixth in scoring (188). He was the leading Viking receiver this year with a career-high 59 catches for 825 yards and nine touchdowns. Dykstra was a first-team Class 1A all-state pick as a senior at Lynden Christian High, averaging 18.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists. A four-year letter-winner, he set school career marks for points (1,403), assists (375) and steals (227), although all were later broken by his brother.
RADIO BROADCASTS: Twelve Western games are being broadcast this season on KBAI Radio (930 AM) with Doug Lange handling the play-by-play, and Jason Stiles providing the color commentary. They also can be heard on the internet at www.wwuvikings.com.
ON THE WEB: For up-to-date statistics, box scores of every game, records, stories, etc., see the Western 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.
COACH JACKSON: Brad Jackson enters his 18th year as the winningest coach in school history, both in total wins (320-189) and winning percentage (.629). Two years ago, Jackson directed Western to a 27-4 record and the semifinals of the NCAA II National Championship, being named NABC/NCAA II West Region, Northwest small college and Pacific West Conference Coach of the Year. Five times named district/region Coach of the Year, Jackson has directed Western to 14 post-season playoff appearances, including district/region/conference championships and national tournament appearances in 1988,1994 and 2001. He has had seven 20-win campaigns (1986-90, 1993-94, 2000-01, 2001-02).
PROBABLE WESTERN STARTERS & TOP RESERVES: G Jason Burrell** 6-1, Jr., Ontario, CA G Grant Dykstra 6-4, R-Fr., Everson, WA/Lynden Christian C Mike Palm*** 6-10, Sr., Puyallup,WA/Rogers F Neh. Campbell*** 6-4, Sr., Los Angeles, CA/Washington F Maurice Tyree* 6-7, So., Sacramento, CA/Jesuit
UPCOMING OPPONENT INFORMATION:
SOUTHWEST STATE UNIVERSITY MN: The Mustangs return three starters from a team that finished 21-8. It was their second straight 20-win season and fifth consecutive winning campaign. They won the NCAA II national championship in 1995 after reaching the Elite Eight in 1994. Last season, Southwest State missed winning its second straight Northern Sun Conference regular season title by one game and fell in the NSIC Tournament championship game on a last-second shot. Leading the returnees for second-year coach Greg Stemen is 6-1 senior guard Jacob Fahl (16.0 ppg), a Division II Bulletin preseason honorable mention All-American, who was a first-team all-league and second-team all-region pick last year. Fahl has scored 1,130 career points, fourth among SSU all-time leaders, and is 470 shy of the school record. Also back are 6-2 senior guard Robert Steib, the team's assist leader last season, and 6-5 senior forward Jimmy Dekker (7.3 ppg, 4.9 rpg). A top newcomer is 6-2 junior guard Jared Keavney, who hit 83 3-pointers and shot 40 percent behind the arc last season at North Dakota State College of Science. First meeting.
UC DAVIS: The Aggies, 15-12 last season, are led by 6-6 senior center Dominic Callorri (14.2 ppg, 10.4 rpg), a second-team all-West Region pick. Also back for coach Brian Fogel (5th year, 77-34) is 6-3 senior forward Danny Workman (3.7 ppg, 2.4 rpg). Western holds a 4-1 series advantage.
UNIVERSITY OF PUGET SOUND: The Loggers return three starters from last year's 11-14 team. Leading the trio for second-year coach Eric Bridgeland is second-team all-Northwest Conference choice 6-3 junior guard Matt Glynn (22.2 ppg). Also back are 6-0 senior Matt Scarlett (10.2 ppg) and 6-6 sophomore Aubrey Shelton (20.2 ppg). Western holds a 68-62 series advantage, with the teams last meeting in 1995-96.
BRIGHAM YOUNG-HAWAII: The Seasiders edged Western out of the sixth and last berth in the NCAA II West Regional last year, losing in the opening round to finish 19-10. Two talented returnees for coach Ken Wagner (13th year, 231-126) are honorable mention All-American 6-6 senior forward Alexus Foyle (20.3 ppg, 7.0 rpg) and 6-8 senior center Scott Salisbury (14.2 ppg, 10.2 rpg), who earned first-team Pacific West Conference honors. BYU-Hawaii holds a 5-4 edge in the series.
CAL POLY POMONA: The Broncos have three starters back from, last season's 18-9 team. Returning for third-year coach Greg Kamansky (35-19) are 6-7 senior center Steve Lambert (5.3 ppg, 3.6 rpg), 6-7 sophomore forward Jeff Bonds (11.7 ppg, 5.0 rpg) and 6-6 sophomore guard David Sybesma (6.4 ppg, 3.6 rpg). Western has won both previous meetings.
SAINT MARTIN'S: The Saints return four starters from last year's 10-16 team. They are led by 6-10 senior center Nick Gibbs (11.5 ppg, 4.3 rpg), who led the GNAC in blocks (2.5), and 6-1 senior guard Jarel Cherry (10.8 ppg, 3.5 apg), who led the GNAC in steals (2.5). Also back for coach Bob Grisham (16th year, 218-250) are 6-3 junior guard Jerrell Everson and 6-5 junior forward Matt Gruhler. Western holds a 106-56 series lead, winning both meetings last year.
CENTRAL WASHINGTON: The Wildcats have two starters back from a team that finished 16-10 last season. They are 6-2 senior guard Terry Thompson (15.2 ppg) and 6-2 junior guard Scott Freymond (10.3 ppg). Two top transfers for coach Greg Sparling (8th year, 133-72) are 6-9 junior center Jay Van Hook (21.0 ppg, 8.6 rpg) from Lower Columbia CC where he was the NWAACC West Region MVP, and 6-6 junior forward Chris Bond (10.9 ppg, 4.7 rpg) from Carroll College MT. Western trails 146-77 in the series, but won both meetings last year.
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