10th-ranked Pirates to Host Three Games in Five Days

SPOKANE, Wash. – After moving into sole possession of first place in the Northwest Conference men's basketball standings, Whitworth can build some separation at the top if the Pirates can be successful during the upcoming homestand that includes three games over a five-day period.  Whitworth will host Pacific University on Friday, Linfield College on Saturday and Whitman College on Tuesday.  All three games are scheduled to start at 8:00 p.m. as the second half of a women's-men's doubleheader.

All three games can be heard live in the Spokane area on KSBN 1230am and world-wide on the internet on KSBN.net.  In addition, Tuesday's game will be carried live on local cable television station SWX.

Whitworth heads into the weekend with an 11-2 overall record, 4-0 in the NWC, after earning a pair of hard-fought victories in Tacoma last weekend.  That fact that the Pirates were able to get those wins without the services of two starters makes the results even more impressive.

Boy's and Girl's Club Week: On Wednesday (January 11th) the Whitworth men's basketball team will host a free clinic for approximately 50-75 local youth at the Mead Boys and Girls Club (located at 12509 N. Market St., in the old Mead Middle School) from 4:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Participating youth will receive vouchers for admission and hot-dogs/soda to Friday's home game against Pacific (January 13th).

The Pirates: Survive might be the operative word to describe Whitworth's 103-94 double overtime victory at Pacific Lutheran last Friday.  The Pirates built a 13-point lead (78-65) with 2:44 to play, but PLU went 4-4 from three point range and forced a couple of turnovers to outscore Whitworth 20-7 down the stretch and force overtime thanks to a 30-foot three-pointer at the buzzer by James Conti.  But in the second overtime Felix Friedt hit a big three with less than a minute to play and followed that with a pair of free throws to extend the lead.  Idris Lasisi led the Pirates with 20 points, while Wade Gebbers added 19 points and seven assists.  Freidt posted 17 points and 10 rebounds.  But the breakout performance came from Michael Taylor, a senior making his first career start, who posted career highs of 19 points and eight rebounds.  The Pirates shot 62.1% (36-58) from the field as a team.

Trailing by nine points early in the second half on Saturday at 16th-ranked Puget Sound, short-handed, and coming off of a draining double-overtime game at Pacific Lutheran less than 24 hours before, Whitworth easily could have succumbed to its first conference loss of the season.  But the Pirates outscored the Loggers 38-16 the rest of the way to win the game 80-67.  Friedt posted his fourth straight double-double with 21 points and 11 rebounds, while Lasisi also scored 21 points.  Gebbers made five three-pointers to finish with 15 points.  Whitworth had its second straight strong shooting night, making 55% (28-51) from the field and 44% (10-23) from three-point range.

Friedt Honored: Whitworth's Felix Friedt is the Northwest Conference men's basketball Student-Athlete of the Week after his performance in the Pirates' three most recent wins.  He led Whitworth to three wins, all away from home. He averaged a double-double: 21.6 ppg and 10.6 rpg, while making 58% of his shots from the field and 88% of his free throws.  It is the second time this season that Friedt has been selected for this award.

National Raking: Whitworth is ranked 10th in this week's D3hoops.com top 25 poll.  The Pirates were ranked 10th in the previous poll. Going back to the 2009-10 season, the Bucs have been ranked in the D3hoops.com top-25 for 27 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 % - 48.2 (1st NWC / 31st NCAA DIII)
 Team Free Throw % - 78.5 (1st NWC / 3rd NCAA DIII)
 Team Three Point % - 39.7 (2nd NWC / 31st NCAA DIII)
 Points Per Game – 77.2 (1st NWC)
 3-pointers made per game – 9.4 (1st / 14th NCAA DIII)
Turnovers per game – 11.6 (1st NWC / 16th NCAA DIII)
Assists per game – 13.9 (1st NWC)
Assist / TO ratio – 1.2 (1st NWC / 26th NCAA DIII)

Date

Time

Game

Live Coverage

Jan. 13

8:00 pm

vs. Pacific (Ore.)

Live Stats / Live Video / Live Audio

Jan. 14

8:00 pm

vs. Linfield

Live Stats / Live Video / Live Audio

Jan. 17

8:00 pm

vs. Whitman

Live Stats / Live Video / Live Audio

 

The Opponents: Only one season after finishing 4-21 overall and 3-13 in the NWC, Pacific has shown itself to be the most improved team in the league.  The Boxers are currently 8-5 overall and 2-2 in the NWC after splitting last weekend. Pacific won 78-66 at Willamette on Friday, but fell 61-53 at home to George Fox on Saturday.  Junior guard Colin Wester is averaging 15.5 points and 5.4 rebounds per game.  Fellow guard David Berney adds 11.8 points per game.  As a team the Boxers are shooting 46.6% from the field, the second-highest total in the NWC behind Whitworth.  Last season the Pirates swept the Boxers, winning 94-48 at home and 84-45 on the road.  Whitworth has won the last six meetings between the teams.

Linfield will bring the NWC's most dynamic scorer to the Fieldhouse.  Junior forward Zach Anderson leads the league (and ranks 12th nationally) in scoring at 22.9 ppg. He has made 41% of his three-point tries and adds 7.6 rebounds per game.  First-year center Andrew Batiuk contributes 13.4 points per contest.  The Wildcats are 3-10 overall and 1-3 in the NWC, but showed strong improvement last week.  Linfield dropped a tough 62-59 decision at Lewis & Clark on Friday, but then rebounded to roll past Willamette 95-71 at home.  Last year Whitworth beat Linfield 90-57 in McMinnville and 70-43 in Spokane.  The Pirates have won the last six meetings with the Wildcats.

Whitman, last season's NWC runner-up, heads into the weekend 9-4 overall and 2-2 in the league.  The Missionaries lost 68-63 at Puget Sound last Friday before winning 58-57 at PLU on Saturday.  Whitman continues to play a high-pressure defensive style and leads the conference in turnover margin (+5.1).  Senior forward David Michaels is having an All-NWC type season, averaging 16.1 points and 6.3 rebounds per game.  Senior guard Brandon Shaw was a First Team All-NWC selection a year ago.  Last winter Whitworth rolled to a 104-71 win over Whitman in Spokane, but the Missionaries rallied from a 17-point second-half deficit to defeat the Pirates 82-79 in Walla Walla, handing Whitworth its only NWC loss.  The Bucs defeated Whitman 74-50 in the NWC tournament final, played in Spokane.

Rolling On: It's not exactly a streak, but the Bucs have won 64 of their last 70 games, an amazing run of success matched by few other college teams at any level.  Within the Northwest Conference, Whitworth has won 39 of its last 40 – including the four wins from the last two NWC tournaments.

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).

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 (18.1 ppg – 2nd in the NWC), while making 57.9% of his shots from the field (5th in the NWC). He currently leads the Northwest Conference in rebounding average (8.6).   Friedt devastates opponents by drawing fouls and making free throws.  Not only is he third in the NWC in free throw percentage (81.2%), he has made more free throws (91) than any other player in the league has attempted.  He been named NWC Men's Basketball Student-Athlete of the Week twice – first on December 6th and then on January 10th.  Friedt leads the conference with six double-doubles this season.

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 13.0 points per game.  He leads the team in assists per game (3.9), which ranks third in the NWC and he also has an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.04.  Gebbers leads the league in three-pointers made per game (3.2) and ranks third in the league in three-point percentage (45.6).  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 16.4 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. His scoring average is third in the NWC and he ranks seventh in the league in three-point percentage (41.0).  He also leads the team in steals (17).  Lasisi scored a season-high 25 points in Whitworth's game against nationally-ranked Wisconsin-Whitewater on December 21st.

Instant Ignition: Jack Loofburrow hopes to return to the Pirates by the end of the month.  He has been sidelined with a foot injury since early December.   Over the first seven games he averaged 8.9 points, but he 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.  .

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.  Larkin missed last week's games after suffering a mild concussion in practice.  His status for the upcoming weekend is day to day.

Trio of Shooters:  Opponents have a difficult time deciding which Pirate players to cover on the perimeter.  Three of the top-seven shooters in the NWC (by three-point percentage) are Whitworth players: Wade Gebbers (3rd – 45.6%), Dustin McConnell (4th – 45.5%) and Idris Lasisi (7th – 41.0%).

Coming up Next Week: Following Tuesday's home game against Whitman, Whitworth will travel to Salem, Oregon to take on Willamette the following Friday (Jan. 20th).  That game will be heard live on KSBN 1230am and KSBN.net.

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.