WWU off to Great Western Shootout
Dec. 13, 2011
BELLINGHAM, Wash. - Already with two wins over nationally ranked opponents, the Western Washington University men's basketball team travels to Las Vegas, Nevada, to meet two more nationally ranked foes as it hosts the Sixth Annual Great Western Shootout on Thursday and Friday at The Arena at South Point.
The 10-1 Vikings, who are working on an eight-game winning streak, meet No.10 Rollins College FL on Thursday (3 p.m.) and No.18 University of Alabama Huntsville on Friday (3 p.m.). WWU will flip-flop opponents both days with Central Washington University, the CWU contests beginning at 5 p.m.
Both WWU games can be heard live on KPUG Radio (1170 AM - www.kpug1170.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://www.ustream.tv/channel/great-western-shootout-2011 and live stats are available at http://www.wwuvikings.com/multimedia/livestats.html.
WWU, which is the second school listed in "others receiving votes" in the latest national poll, concentrated on fall quarter final examinations last week before crushing Quest (B.C.) University, 106-61, in a non-league game Monday.
The previous week, the Vikings opened Great Northwest Athletic Conference play with two road wins, overcoming halftime deficits to beat Montana State Billings, 81-70, and No.19 Seattle Pacific, 79-71.
WWU is 7-0 against West Region foes, also posting two wins over Dominican CA, 74-61 and 74-69, as well as victories against UC San Diego, 78-69; Notre Dame de Namur CA, 87-73; and No.3-rated BYU-Hawaii, 88-69.
Head coach Brad Jackson, who is in his 27th season (497-275) at WWU, is just three wins shy of 500. He is looking to become just the 40th NCAA II men's coach to reach that milestone and only the fifth in all divisions in the state of Washington (Marv Harshman 637, Dean Nicholson 620, Hec Edmundson 508 and Leo Nicholson 505).
Senior forward Rory Blanche leads the team in both scoring and rebounding with respective per game averages of 15.7 and 7.2. He is ninth in the GNAC in both statistical categories and is fifth in field-goal shooting at 59.2 percent (77-of-130).
Junior guard John Allen, who is averaging 14.8 points, ranks second in the GNAC in free throw percentage (.903, 28-of-31) and third in steals (2.2).
WWU leads the GNAC in field-goal shooting at 49.0 percent.
ROLLINS: The 7-0 Tars, seeking a third straight Sunshine State Conference title, are ranked No.10 in the latest National Association of Basketball Coaches/NCAA II Top 25 Poll. Rollins is led by 6-6 senior forward Jeremy Sharpe (14.4 ppg, 5.0 rpg), who returns after a two-year absence. Also back for coach Tom Klusman (32nd year, 581-317) are 6-4 senior guard Myk Brown (13.0 ppg), 6-3 senior point guard Ian Scott (10.7 ppg, 4.9 apg, 3.0 spg, .639 FG Pct.) and 6-8 senior center Chris Malcolm (8.9 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 2.7 bpg). A top newcomer is 6-6 junior forward Dave Diakite (10.9 ppg, 5.0 rpg), a transfer from NCAA I Central Florida. In their only previous meeting, WWU lost 80-70 to the Tars at the 2010 GWS.
ALABAMA HUNTSVILLE: The 6-2 Chargers (Dec. 15 vs. Central Washington), ranked No.18 nationally, are led by two players who were both named to the NABC DII All-America team last year and were preseason All-America picks by The Sporting News this season. They are 6-1 senior guard Josh Magette (12.3 ppg, 9.1 apg, 4.9 rpg, 2.6 spg), the school's career leader in assists, and 6-8 junior center Zane Campbell (14.3 ppg, 5.9 rpg, .648 FG Pct.), last year's Gulf South Conference Player of the Year. Three more solid returnees for coach Lennie Acuff (15th year, 260-148; overall 22nd year, 277-260) are 6-3 junior guard Jaime Smith (18.0 ppg, 3.1 apg. .529 3-pt. pct., 27-51), a second-team all-GSC pick; 6-3 junior guard Xavier Baldwin (9.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg) and 6-6 senior forward Srdjan Boskovic (7.0 ppg). UAH lost 67-60 at NCAA I Alabama in a preseason exhibition game. This is the first meeting between WWU and UAH.
CENTRAL WASHINGTON: The defending GNAC champion Wildcats are 6-2 as they seek a fifth straight NCAA II national tournament appearance. Coach Greg Sparling's (17th year, 286-173) squad ranks No.1 in the league in scoring offense (86.5 avg.), scoring margin (16.9), rebound margin (7.5), blocked shots (6.9) and steals (10.9). A balanced attack is led by 6-1 senior guard Toussaint Tyler (15.7 ppg, .435 3-pt. pct., 20-46), who was a medical redshirt last season after being CWU's "sixth man" the previous year. Another top returnee is 6-4 senior forward Jody Johnson (10.1 ppg, 9.4 rpg). Three standout transfers from Tacoma CC are 6-4 junior forward Brandon Magee (12.8 ppg), 6-9 sophomore center Kevin Davis (12.3 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 3.4 bpg) and 6-1 junior guard Jordan Coby (9.9 ppg). Another talented newcomer is 6-1 sophomore guard Lacy Haddock (10.4 ppg), a transfer from Yavapai College AZ. Davis and Johnson are tied for the GNAC lead in rebounds and Magee tops the conference in blocks.
VIKING NOTES: WWU is tied for the GNAC lead with Western Oregon, which also got off to a 2-0 start ... Blanche has 875 points and 374 rebounds during his four-year career, and is hitting 60.5 percent (375-of-620) from the field ... 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 ... 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 (497-275) and winning percentage (.644). Prior to this season, Jackson ranked No.13 among active NCAA II coaches in victories and No.44 overall.
The 60-year-old Jackson is just three wins shy of 500. He is looking to become just the 40th NCAA II men's coach to reach that milestone and only the fifth in all divisions in the state of Washington (Marv Harshman 637, Dean Nicholson 620, Hec Edmundson 508 and Leo Nicholson 505).
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.
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:
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. 12 - WWU 106, Quest BC 61 at Bellingham, WA
Paul Jones came off the bench to score a team-high 18 points as WWU cruised past Quest BC, 106-61, in a non-conference contest at Carver Gym. The 106 points was a season-high for WWU, which had five players score in double figures. Quest, which fell to 1-10, was led by guard Jose Colorado led the Kermodes with a game-high 19 points, 17 of them in the second half. The Vikings took control quickly, hitting six of their first nine shots to jump to a 13-2 lead less than five minutes into the game. WWU extended the lead to 31-13 with nine minutes left in the half and held a 52-23 advantage at halftime. Rico Wilkins had 13 points and eight assists and Cameron Severson, playing his first game of the season, also had 13 points for WWU which shot 56.1 percent (46-of-82) from the field. Rory Blanche had 12 points on 6-of-7 field-goal shooting, and Chris Mitchell added 11. Quest's 61 points matched the fewest allowed by WWU this season. The Kermodes had 26 turnovers, 23 of them on Viking steals. Severson and John Allen each had five steals. WWU had a 45-23 advantage in rebounds with six players having five or more.
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