SPOKANE, Wash. - Whitworth, winners of four of the last five regular-season Northwest Conference men's basketball titles, hopes to begin pursuing another crown this week when the Pirates host Lewis & Clark College (Friday) and George Fox University (Saturday) in the Whitworth Fieldhouse. Both games are scheduled to tip off at 8:00 p.m. as the second half of NWC women's-men's doubleheaders.
Links to live coverage for both games this week can be found in the column to the right. Friday's game will also be the second of four live broadcasts on local cable TV station SWX and Whitworth will stream that broadcast. See below for more information.
Whitworth is 4-0 so far this season following a pair of double-digit victories over NCAA west region opponents in California last weekend.
The Pirates: Whitworth earned victories over Cal Lutheran and Chapman at the NWC-SCIAC Challenge last weekend at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, California. Those wins will count toward the team's regional won-loss record and strength of schedule.
The Bucs opened the challenge with a 67-53 win over Cal Lutheran. After shooting only 26% (7-27) in the first half, the Pirates improved to 61% (11-18) in the second period to pull away from the Kingsmen. Idris Lasisi (Sr., G, Leuven, Belgium) led Whitworth with 16 points, while Jack Loofburrow (Sr., F, Yakima, Wash.) added 13 points and a team-high nine rebounds. Dustin McConnell (So., G, Clarkston, Wash.) came off of the bench for a career-high 11 points.
On Sunday the Pirates met Chapman for the fifth time in the last five years and Whitworth has now won the last four meetings after a 58-44 victory over the Panthers. The Pirates took advantage of a size mismatch in the post as Felix Friedt (Sr., F, Düsseldorf, Germany) made 10 of 13 shots for a season-high 24 points to go along with nine rebounds. Loofburrow added 11 points and eight rebounds. Wade Gebbers (Sr., G, Brewster, Wash.) dished a season-high seven assists.
National Raking: Whitworth moved up to 8th in the first regular season D3hoops.com top 25 poll. The Pirates moved up four spots from 12th in the preseason poll. Going back to the 2009-10 season, the Bucs have been ranked in the D3hoops.com top-25 for 22 consecutive polls. Last winter Whitworth reached #1 in the D3hoops.com poll twice, becoming the first school west of St. Paul, Minnesota to ever ascend to the top of the D3hoops.com national rankings.
Team Captains: The members of the Whitworth basketball team and coaching staff have voted Felix Friedt, Wade Gebbers and Michael Taylor (Sr., P, Aspen, Colo.) as team captains for the 2011-12 season.
Ehlo Joins In: Austin Ehlo (Fr., W, Spokane, Wash.) has joined the Whitworth basketball team following a successful first year in football. He earned First Team All-NWC honors this fall as a punter and Second Team All-NWC as a wide receiver. Ehlo was an All-Greater Spokane League selection in football and basketball as a senior at Lewis & Clark HS in 2010.
Streaking: Whitworth continues two impressive winning streaks this season.
Following Sunday's win over Washington, Whitworth has won the last 39 games at home including both this season. The Pirates went 15-0 in the Whitworth Fieldhouse last season and 15-0 in 2009-10. They finished the 2008-09 season on a seven game home winning streak.
Since the 2001-02 season, the Pirates are 18-0 in non-conference, regular-season home games, and 22-0 at home against non-conference opponents when NCAA tournament games are factored into the mix.
And though it's not exactly a streak, the Bucs have won 57 of their last 61 games, an amazing run of success matched by few other college teams at any level.
Home-Sweet-Home: Whitworth had been stellar in the Fieldhouse throughout the 1990's and 2000's. Since the 2001-02 season the Pirates are 103-10 (.911) in the Whitworth Fieldhouse. Since the 2005-06 season, the Bucs are 70-3 (.959) at home. Whitworth is currently on a 39-game home-court winning streak.
The school record for consecutive home victories is 45, beginning during the 1994-95 season and ending during the 1997-98 season.
Learning (and winning) Against Legends: Whitworth's Matt Logie is in his first season as a head coach. Logie might have set a new standard for trial by fire as three of the first four coaches he went up against have combined for 69 years of head coaching experience and 1,168 victories. But Logie led the Pirates to victory against Chapman's Mike Bokosky (20 years, 346 wins), Cal Lutheran's Rich Rider (18 years, 277 wins) and Washington University's Mark Edwards (31 years, 545 wins).
Wade Leading the Way: Wade Gebbers is one of Whitworth's leading scorer so far this season, averaging 12.5 points per game and making 55% of his three-point tries through the first four contests. Gebbers leads the team with 14 assists and he scored a career-high 25 points in the win over Washington University on November 20th.
Last season he averaged 3.35 assists per game (5th in the NWC) and his assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.07 - 1 was third highest in the NWC. He scored a season-high 20 points on Feb. 12, 2011 against George Fox, all in the second half, to lead Whitworth back from a three-point halftime deficit to an 89-66 win.
Herr Friedt: Since his sophomore year Felix Friedt has supplied the strong, inside presence that the Pirates need to balance their outside shooting. So far this season he leads the team in scoring average (14.0 ppg), while making 61% of his shots from the field. He also averages 6.0 rebounds per game.
A Second Team All-NWC selection in 2011, he made 59.9% of his shots from the field last year, which was third in the NWC, and 81.8% of his free throws (also 3rd in the conference) while averaging 12.8 points and a team-high 7.1 rebounds per game (4th in the NWC). Friedt scored a career-high 27 points on January 8th vs. Puget Sound, then followed that up with 24 points and 14 points against the Loggers on February 4th.
Also, Friedt became only the second Academic All-American in Whitworth men's basketball history in 2011. He was selected to the Capital One Academic All-America® Men's Basketball College Division Third Team, the first Pirate chosen since Bryan Depew in 2004.
Instant Ignition: Jack Loofburrow continues to contribute in significant ways for the Pirates this season. He leads the team in rebounding with 6.3 boards per game, and also is averaging 10.0 points per contest.
Last season he earned honorable mention All-NWC honors, despite coming off of the bench in most games. He averaged 12.1 points per game while making 45.9% (5th in the NWC) of his three-point attempts. He torched PLU for eight three-pointers last February 5th to tie the previous school record for threes in a game and tie his own career high for points (31). Just as impressive was the rebounding with an average of 6.0 (12th in the NWC) rebounds per game and he averaged 0.82 blocks per contest (3rd in the NWC). He scored a career-high 31 points while making 13 of 14 shots from the floor in a win over Colorado College on December 29, 2010.
Belgian Burner: Idris Lasisi, a four-year transfer from North Idaho College, is making a big impact in his only season with the Pirates, averaging 13.3 points per game. He has been Whitworth's top free throw shooter so far, making 11-13 (85%) from the charity stripe.
The Opponents: Lewis & Clark comes into the week 3-1. The Pioneers are scheduled to play at NCAA Div. I University of Portland on Tuesday night. Dinari Foreman, a former NAIA All-American for the Pioneers, is in his first season as head coach. L&C earned an impressive 82-69 win over Eastern Oregon in its only game last week. EOU is ranked 10th in the NAIA Div. II poll. L&C is led by a trio of talented perimeter players. Senior PJ Taylor, a 2010-11 First Team All-NWC selection, leads the team in scoring (14.8 ppg). Ross Ericson, a junior transfer from NCAA Div. I Hartford, adds 13.5 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. James Hollins, a redshirt junior, has rebounded nicely from a season-ending injury last year and is averaging 12.0 points and 8.0 rebounds per game. Last season Whitworth defeated L&C 77-60 in Portland and 79-52 in Spokane. The Pirates have won the last six meetings with the Pioneers.
George Fox enters the week with a 1-3 record. The Bruins will play at Whitman in their NWC opener on Friday. Last week George Fox picked up an exciting 68-64 overtime win at Corban before falling 69-57 at home to Northwest Christian. Senior wing Mike Taylor, who transferred from NCAA Div. I Marist before last season, earned All-NWC honors in 2010-11. He is averaging 11.2 points per game this season. Freshman point guard AJ Grant leads the Bruins in scoring this season, averaging 13.0 points per game while making 40% of his three-point tries. Head coach Mark Sundquist is in his 12th season and his career record leading George Fox is 112-168. Last season Whitworth defeated the Bruins 81-57 in Newberg, Oregon and 89-66 in Spokane. The Pirates have won the last 12 meetings between the teams.
Coming up Next Week: Whitworth will host Montana Tech on December 10th in its only game next week.
The Coach: Matt Logie is in his first season as head men's basketball coach at Whitworth. He previously worked eight seasons as an assistant coach at Lehigh University (Pa.) his alma-mater. He also spent a season as an assistant coach at Kent State. In 2010 Logie was named as the top Patriot League Assistant Coach in men's basketball in a Foxsports.com Coaches Poll and in 2011 he was recognized as one of the top 50 assistants in Mid-to-Low Major college basketball by Hoopscoop on-line magazine. Logie is originally from Mercer Island, Washington where he won a pair of state basketball championships while playing for his grandfather, Ed Pepple, a legend in Washington's high school ranks who won 952 games and four state titles in 49 years of coaching.