First Place Whitworth Opens Second Half of NWC Schedule

SPOKANE, Wash. – It's time for round two.  Eleventh-ranked Whitworth will head into the second half of the Northwest Conference men's basketball schedule this weekend, beginning with a trip to Oregon to take on George Fox University (Friday at 8:00 p.m.) and Lewis & Clark College (Saturday at 6:00 p.m.).

Both games can be heard live in the Spokane area on KSBN 1230am and world-wide on the internet on KSBN.net.

Whitworth heads into the weekend with a 14-3 overall record, 7-1 in the NWC, after winning at Willamette last Friday.  The Pirates remain one game ahead of Whitman (6-2) and George Fox (6-2) in the conference standings.

The Pirates: Whitworth had won 25 years in a row at home against Whitman College, but that streak came to an end when the Missionaries handed the Pirates their first NWC loss of the season last Tuesday night.  Whitman rallied from a ten-point deficit to win 77-66.  Whitworth struggled from beyond the arc, making 18.5% (5-27) of its three-point tries.  Wade Gebbers led the Pirates with a career-high 26 points.  Idris Lasisi scored 14 and grabbed 11 rebounds, while Mack Larkin returned to the starting lineup for the first time since December and scored 12 points.

Whitworth was much more consistent in Friday night's 83-69 win at Willamette.  The Pirates outscored the Bearcats by seven points in each half and improved their outside shooting to 33.3% (9-27) in the game.  Where Whitworth dominated the most was on the backboards as the Pirates finished with a 43-28 rebounding advantage, including a 14-8 edge in offensive boards.  Idris Lasisi finished with 23 points while Wade Gebbers scored 14 and dished four assists.  Felix Friedt posted his ninth double-double of the season with 13 points and 13 rebounds.

National Raking: Whitworth is ranked 11th in this week's D3hoops.com top 25 poll.  The Pirates were ranked 9th in the previous poll. Going back to the 2009-10 season, the Bucs have been ranked in the D3hoops.com top-25 for 29 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 % - 46.8 (1st NWC)
Team Free Throw % - 79.7 (1st NWC / 2nd NCAA DIII)
Points Per Game – 75.4 (2nd NWC)
3-pointers made per game – 8.6 (1st / 28th NCAA DIII)
Turnovers per game – 11.6 (tie 1st NWC / 20th NCAA DIII)
Assists per game – 12.7 (2nd NWC)
Assist / TO ratio – 1.1 (2nd NWC)

Date

Time

Game

Live Coverage

Jan. 27

8:00 p.m.

At George Fox

Audio / Live Stats / Video

Jan. 28

6:00 p.m.

At Lewis & Clark

Audio /


The Opponents:
George Fox comes into the week as the hottest team in the NWC.  The Bruins have won five games in a row to improve to 9-8 overall and 6-2 (tied for second) in the NWC.  GFU won 84-77 at Linfield last Friday and 53-52 at home over Pacific Lutheran on Saturday.  The Bruins lead the league in assists per game (14.1), assist to turnover ratio (1.2) and fewest turnovers per game (11.6).  Senior wing Michael Taylor averages 15.6 points (sixth in the NWC), 5.1 rebounds and 4.2 assists (first in NWC) per game.  Freshman post AJ Grant adds 12.3 points per game and makes 40.2% of his three-point tries.  Junior wing Anthony Sanchez scores 11.5 points per game and hit the game-winning basket at the horn in Saturday's win over PLU.  Whitworth defeated George Fox 75-48 on December 3rd in the teams' first meeting.  Idris Lasisi had 23 points and eight rebounds for the Pirates in that win.

Lewis & Clark is also 9-8 overall and the Pioneers are 4-4 (6th) in the NWC.  The Piooneers defeated Pacific 84-50 at home on Friday night before falling 76-74 at Puget Sound on Saturday.  L&C is second in the league in three-pointers per game (8.6) and second in team free throw percentage (74.3), both right behind Whitworth.  Junior guard James Hollins ranks among the conference's leaders in both scoring average (15.6 – 6th) and rebounding average (7.0 – 6th).  Junior guard Ross Erickson is scoring 13.2 points per contest and leads his team in field goal percentage (51.2).  Senior guard PJ Taylor contributes 11.7 points per game and makes 38.3% of his three-pointers and 91.7% of his free throws.  Whitworth overcame a halftime deficit to defeat Lewis & Clark 77-69 in Spokane on December 2nd in the NWC opener for both schools.  Felix Friedt had 23 points and 10 rebounds in the game.

Rolling On: It's not exactly a streak, but the Bucs have won 67 of their last 74 games, an amazing run of success matched by few other college teams at any level.  Within the Northwest Conference, Whitworth has won 42 of its last 44 – 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 108-12 (.900) in the Whitworth Fieldhouse. Since the 2005-06 season, the Bucs are 75-5 (.938) 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 from 2009 until this December 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 (16.8 ppg – 2nd in the NWC), while making 57.2% of his shots from the field (4th in the NWC). He currently leads the Northwest Conference in rebounding average (8.9).   Friedt devastates opponents by drawing fouls and making free throws.  Not only is he fourth in the NWC in free throw percentage (81.0%), he has made more free throws (115) 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 nine 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 13.9 points per game.  He leads the team in assists per game (3.6), which ranks third in the NWC and he also has an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.90-1.  Gebbers leads the league in three-pointers made per game (2.9) and ranks sixth in the league in three-point percentage (43.1).  He scored a career-high 26 points on January 17th against Whitman.

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 16.3 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. His scoring average is fourth in the NWC and he ranks ninth in the league in three-point percentage (39.4).  He also leads the team in steals (23).  Lasisi scored a season-high 25 points in Whitworth's game against nationally-ranked Wisconsin-Whitewater on December 21st.

Instant Ignition: Jack Loofburrow is working his way back into the regular rotation.  He had been sidelined with a foot injury since early December, but made his first brief return in the game against Whitman.   In nine games he has averaged 6.9 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 5.0 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 has stepped into that role. Larkin is most often tasked with guarding the opponent's best offensive player. And he has added 6.5 points and 4.9 rebounds with 22 assists and ten steals this season.  Larkin missed four games in early January after suffering a mild concussion in practice.  He returned for the Whitman game.

Coming up Next Week: Following this weekend's games at GFU and L&C, Whitworth will return home to host Puget Sound and Pacific Lutheran on December 2nd and 3rd.

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.

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