11th-ranked Pirates to Play at PLU and Puget Sound

SPOKANE, Wash. – Whitworth is set to return to Northwest Conference action this week and the two games are set up to be huge contests.  The 11th-ranked Pirates are 2-0 in the NWC, tied with Pacific Lutheran and Puget Sound atop the league standings.  Whitworth plays at PLU on Friday night (8:00 p.m.) and at 16th-ranked UPS on Saturday (6:00 p.m.).

Whitworth heads into the weekend with a 9-2 record after rolling to a 76-51 win against Calvin College last week.

The Pirates: Whitworth played one of its best all-around games of the season in last Thursday's victory over Calvin played at Mercer Island, Washington.  The Bucs outrebounded the Knights 47-32, including a 22-9 edge in offensive rebounds, despite a fairly significant height disadvantage.  Felix Friedt had another huge night, posting his fourth double-double of the season with 27 points and 11 rebounds.  Dustin McConnell scored a career-high 16 points while draining four three-pointers and dishing four assists.  Mack Larkin added eight points and a career-high 11 rebounds.  Whitworth opened a 12-point lead at halftime and steadily pulled away throughout the second half.  Whitworth is now 1-1 all-time against Calvin.

 

Date

Time

Game

Live Coverage

Jan. 6

8:00 p.m.

At Pacific Lutheran

Audio / Live Stats

Jan. 7

6:00 p.m.

At Puget Sound

Audio / Live Stats

 

Logie's Homecoming: Whitworth head coach Matt Logie made a significant homecoming last week when the Pirates played Calvin College at Mercer Island High School on Thursday night.  Logie graduated from Mercer Island in 1999 having led the Islanders to a pair of state championships in 1997 and 1999 under his coach and grandfather – Ed Pepple.  Pepple won 952 games and four state championships in his 49 years as the head coach at Mercer Island and in 2010 the gymnasium was dedicated to Ed and Shirley Pepple following his retirement.  Thursday night's contest was Logie's first competitive game at Mercer Island since he led the Islanders to a win over Bellevue High School in February of 1999.

National Raking: Whitworth is ranked 11th in today's D3hoops.com top 25 poll.  The Pirates were ranked 8th in the previous poll, but went 1-1 during the trip to San Antonio, Texas (losing to now 10th-ranked Wisconsin-Whitewater). Going back to the 2009-10 season, the Bucs have been ranked in the D3hoops.com top-25 for 26 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 as team captains for the 2011-12 season.

Stat Leaders: Whitworth ranks first or second as a team in several key NWC statistical categories:
Team Field Goal % - 46.3 (1st)
Team Free Throw % - 79.1 (1st)
Team Three Point % - 38.8 (2nd)
Points Per Game – 74.5 (2nd)
3-pointers made per game – 9.2 (1st)
Turnovers per game – 11.5 (1st)
Assists per game – 13.8 (2nd).

Rolling On: It's not exactly a streak, but the Bucs have won 62 of their last 68 games, an amazing run of success matched by few other college teams at any level.

Home-Sweet-Home: Whitworth has been stellar in the Fieldhouse throughout the 1990's and 2000's. Since the 2001-02 season the Pirates are 106-11 (.906) in the Whitworth Fieldhouse. Since the 2005-06 season, the Bucs are 73-4 (.948) at home. During the decade of the 1990s the Pirates won more than 80% of their games played at home.

The 41-game home court winning streak was the second-longest in Pirate history. The school record for consecutive home victories is 43, 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 more than 1,170 victories. But Logie led the Pirates to victory against Chapman's Mike Bokosky (20 years), Cal Lutheran's Rich Rider (18 years) and Washington University's Mark Edwards (31 years).

The Opponents: Pacific Lutheran comes into the week 5-6 overall and 2-0 in the NWC.  The Lutes opened Northwest Conference play in early December with a pair of road victories – 82-81 in overtime at Willamette and 76-68 at Linfield.  PLU hasn't played since competing in the same National Invitational at Trinity University that the Pirates did.  The Lutes defeated Redlands 74-62 then dropped a hard-fought 70-65 decision to now 23rd-ranked Wheaton (Ill.).  PLU has a terrific back court, led by junior guard Andrew Earnest who averages 14.8 points per game and makes 50% of his three-point attempts (2nd in the NWC). Senior point guard James Conti adds 12.5 points per game and dishes 3.8 assists per contest (2nd in the NWC).  As a team the Lutes lead the league in team three-point percentage (39.3).  Last season Whitworth played PLU three times, winning 93-58 in Spokane and 85-59 in Tacoma.  However the Lutes gave the Pirates a very tough battle before falling 74-63 in the conference tournament.  Whitworth has won the last 12 meetings.

Puget Sound is 10-1 overall and 2-0 in the NWC, and ranked 16th in the most recent D3hoops.com poll, heading into a Friday night contest against Whitman College.  The Loggers suffered their first loss of the season in their most recent game – a 90-72 setback to Redlands at the Trinity National Invitational on December 22nd.  UPS opened its NWC schedule with a 67-61 win at Pacific (Ore.) and a 73-59 win at Willamette in early December.  The Loggers continue to run a high-pressure style of defense, rotating many players off of the bench throughout the game.  Senior forward Anthony Gittens leads the team in scoring (13.5 ppg) and rebounding (6.5 rpg).  Freshman Derek Jobe adds 10.8 points per contest.  As a team the Loggers lead the league in points per game (78.8 ppg) and are second in steals per game (9.2).  Last season Whitworth defeated Puget Sound 72-65 at home and 89-76 in Tacoma.  The Pirates have won the last four meetings.

Prime Time Match-up:  Saturday's game will make the fifth time in recent years that Whitworth and Puget Sound have met while both teams were ranked in the D3hoops.com top-25 poll.  The Loggers have won all four previous meetings: March 7, 2009 in Tacoma (#7 UPS 84 - #21 Whitworth 72); Jan. 16, 2009 in Spokane (#12 UPS 89 - #24 Whitworth 77); Feb. 9, 2007 in Tacoma (#18 UPS 95 - #13 Whitworth 90); Jan. 12, 2007 in Spokane (#17 UPS 77 - #6 Whitworth 72).

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 is leading the team in scoring average (17.9 ppg – 2nd in the NWC), while making 56% of his shots from the field. He also averages a team-best 8.0 rebounds per game (also 2nd in the NWC). Friedt devastates opponents by drawing fouls and making free throws.  Not only is he fourth in the NWC in free throw percentage (81.1%), he has made more free throws (77) than any other player in the league has attempted.  He was named NWC Men's Basketball Student-Athlete of the Week on December 6th for his efforts in wins over L&C and George Fox.

A Second Team All-NWC selection in 2011, Friedt 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.

Wade Leading the Way: Point guard Wade Gebbers is one of Whitworth's leading scorers so far this season, averaging 12.3 points per game.  He leads the team in assists per game (3.7), which ranks third in the NWC and he also ranks fifth in the league in three-point percentage (45.2).  He scored a career-high 25 points in the win over Washington University on November 20th.

Last season Gebbers 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 league. 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.

Belgian Burner: Idris Lasisi, a fourth-year transfer from North Idaho College, is making a big impact in his only season with the Pirates, averaging 15.6 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. His scoring average is fifth in the NWC and he ranks fourth in the league in three-point percentage (45.3).  He also leads the team in steals (13).  Lasisi scored a season-high 25 points in Whitworth's game against nationally-ranked Wisconsin-Whitewater on December 21st.

Instant Ignition: Jack Loofburrow continues to contribute in significant ways for the Pirates this season. He is averaging 8.9 points per game, but can heat up and score quickly as he demonstrated in the second half of the December 3rd win over George Fox (12 points scored after halftime). The 6'-7" senior also adds 5.6 rebounds per game.  He has missed the last four games due to injury but the coaching staff hopes to have him back for this weekend's NWC action.

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.

The Next Glue Guy: Successful Whitworth teams have always had the unsung hero who does all the little things that help the team succeed, but don't always show up in the box scores. In recent years that role has been filled by the likes of Clay Gebbers ('11), Calvin Jurich ('09), and Mike Larkin ('05). This season Mack Larkin (Jr., F, Anacortes, Wash.) has stepped into that role. Larkin is most often tasked with guarding the opponent's best offensive player. And he has added 6.0 points and 4.9 rebounds with 20 assists and nine steals this season.

Trio of Shooters:  Opponents have a difficult time deciding which Pirate players to cover on the perimeter.  Three of the top-five shooters in the NWC (by three-point percentage) are Whitworth players: Dustin McConnell (3rd – 48.0%), Idris Lasisi (4th – 45.3%) and Wade Gebbers (5th – 45.2%). 

Coming up Next Week: Whitworth will play three home games in a five-day span.  The Pirates will host Pacific (Ore.) on Friday, January 13th, then take on Linfield on the 14th and Whitman on Tuesday the 17th.  The contest against Whitman will be broadcast live on SWX cable television.

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.