SPOKANE, Wash. -- Seventh-ranked Whitworth is headed to Texas for the opening rounds of the 2012 NCAA Division III men's basketball tournament. The Pirates will play McMurry University in the first round on Friday at 5:30 pm (CST). Host University of Mary Hardin-Baylor will play Trinity University in the other first round game on Friday at 7:30 pm (CST). Friday's winners will meet in the second round on Saturday at 7:00 pm (CST).
All post-season games can be heard live in the Spokane area on KSBN 1230am and world-wide on the internet on KSBN.net with longtime voice of the Pirates Bob Castle calling every play. UMHB will also provide a free video stream of all three games.
Whitworth is 24-3 overall after winning its sixth straight Northwest Conference tournament. The Pirates take an 11-game winning streak into their sixth straight appearance in the NCAA Div. III tournament.
Tournament Info: Mary Hardin-Baylor is located in Belton, Texas, 45 miles south of Waco. Available airports are Waco (45 miles), Austin (70 miles) and Dallas/Ft. Worth (90 miles). Tickets will be $6 for adults and $3 for students and seniors. More ticket information will be posted once it becomes available.
The Pirates: Whitworth overcame a slow start to defeat Lewis & Clark 79-61 in the NWC tournament semifinals. After falling behind 11-2 in the opening minutes, the Pirates came back behind Idris Lasisi, who scored Whitworth's first 13 points of the game. He alone pulled the Bucs to within 14-13 before the rest of the team started hitting shots. Lasisi tied his career high with 27 points and added eight rebounds and a pair of steals. Felix Friedt posted his 13th double-double of the season with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Jack Loofburrow scored nine points off of the bench. Whitworth has now won the last nine games against Lewis & Clark.
Whitworth shot 55% from the field (60% in the second half) to defeat Puget Sound 86-71 in the NWC tournament final on Saturday night in the Fieldhouse. Six different Whitworth players reached double figures in scoring and the Pirates outrebounded the best rebounding team in the NWC 30-27. Idris Lasisi had 19 points and Wade Gebbers had 17 points to lead Whitworth. Both dished five assists. Felix Friedt scored 12 and grabbed eight rebounds, while Mack Larkin and Dustin McConnell each scored 11 points. Jack Loofburrow had all ten of his points off of the bench in the first half. The Pirates earned their seventh straight win over the Loggers.
NCAA Tournament History: Whitworth is making its sixth consecutive NCAA Division III tournament appearance and seventh overall. The Pirates are 6-6 all-time in the NCAA DIII post-season and have advanced to three Division III sweet 16s since 2009
- In 2011 Whitworth defeated Chapman 77-63 in the second round. The Pirates went to Wooster (OH) and defeated Marietta (OH) 93-77 in the round of 16 to reach their first-ever Elite Eight. Wooster beat Whitworth 76-66 to reach the Div. III final four for the third time in that school's history.
- In 2010 Whitworth defeated Chapman 77-56 in the second round before the Pirates fell to Eastern Mennonite 74-71 in the round of 16 at Guilford (N.C.).
- In 2009 the Pirates had to win at 3rd-ranked Puget Sound in the NWC tournament final just to make the NCAA field, then defeated Claremont-Mudd-Scripps in the first round before losing back at Puget Sound in round two.
- In 2008 Whitworth defeated Occidental (Calif.) in the second round of the tournament before falling to Wheaton (Ill.) in the round of 16 at Hope (Mich.).
- In 2007 the Bucs went to St. Louis, Missouri and defeated DePauw (Ind.) in overtime in the first round before falling by two points to host Washington University in the second round.
- In 2003 the Pirates lost at eventual championship-game participant Gustavus Adolphus in the first round.
Prior to its recent history in the NCAA Division III tournament, Whitworth had a longer post-season history as a member of the NAIA. The Pirates played in the 1996 and 1998 NAIA Division II tournaments, hosted by Northwest Nazarene College in Nampa, Idaho. In 1996 Whitworth advanced to the title game before losing in overtime to Albertson (now College of Idaho) College. In 1998 Whitworth lost on a last-second basket to eventual champion Bethel College (Ind.) in the quarterfinals. Prior to the splitting of the NAIA into divisions in 1992, the Pirates played in the NAIA tournament in Kansas City five times. Whitworth advanced to the quarterfinals in 1952 and then suffered first-round losses in 1954, 1955, 1961 and 1991.
National Ranking: Whitworth moved up to 7th in this week's (Feb. 27) D3hoops.com top 25 poll. The Pirates were 10th in the previous two polls. Going back to the 2009-10 season, the Bucs have been ranked in the D3hoops.com top-25 for 34 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.
Northwest Conference Honors: After winning the 2012 NWC title by four games, no one was surprised when Whitworth was well represented on the 2012 All-Northwest Conference basketball team. Matt Logie was selected by his peers as the NWC Coach of the Year in his first season as Whitworth's head coach. Felix Friedt and Idris Lasisi were First Team All-NWC selections, Friedt's second season on the team after earning Second Team honors last year. Wade Gebbers was named Second Team All-NWC and Jack Loofburrow earned honorable mention honors for the second straight season.
NWC Tournament History: There have been 15 conference tournaments since the NWC (then the NCIC) first began a league playoff following the 1993-94 season. Whitworth has competed in 14 of those tournaments, one ahead of Lewis & Clark for the conference's all-time lead. The Pirates are 14-7 all-time in the league playoffs and have won the last nine tournament games in which they have played. The Bucs have appeared in the championship game ten times and have won eight times: 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2003, 1996. The league did not hold a tournament in 1999, 2004 and 2005. The only season the Bucs did not qualify is 2000.
NWC Title: Whitworth clinched the 2012 regular season NWC championship with a full week to play in the schedule. The conference championship is the Pirates' third in a row and fifth in the last six years. Whitworth has now won a total of 14 Northwest Conference titles in men's basketball (since rejoining the league in 1982).
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 % - 50.0 (1st NWC)
Team Free Throw % - 79.9 (1st)
Team 3-Pt % - 40.4 (1st)
Points Per Game - 78.4 (1st)
Points Allowed Per game - 65.3 (1st)
3-pointers made per game - 9.6 (1st)
Assists per game - 13.7 (1st)
Turnovers per game - 11.2 (2nd)
McMurry: McMurry University is located in Abilene, Texas and is a member of the American Southwest Conference (ASC). The War Hawks are 20-8 and finished 13-8 (third place) in the west division of the 13-team ASC. McMurry rolled through the ASC tournament, held at Mary Hardin-Baylor, by defeating East Texas Baptist 100-75 in the first round, host UMHB 77-69 in the second round and Hardin-Simmons 86-81 in overtime in the championship game. The War Hawks are making their second straight NCAA tournament appearance and enter the tournament on a five-game winning streak.
McMurry has succeeded this season on defense and rebounding. The War Hawks have dominated the boards, outrebounding opponents by a Division III-best 12.2 margin. They have also held opponents to 43% shooting from the field and 32% from three-point range. Senior forward Steven Jones dominates foes to the tune of 17.4 points and 9.0 rebounds per game. Senior guard Bryce Hill averages 14.0 points per game while making 40.5% of his three-point tries. Senior point guard Jaden Isler adds 13.3 points per game and averages 5.8 assists.
Whitworth and McMurry have never met in men's basketball. And they may never meet again as the War Hawks are scheduled to move to the ranks of NCAA Division II next season.
The Other Two: If Whitworth is fortunate enough to defeat McMurry in the first round, the Pirates would play the winner of the game between Mary Hardin-Baylor and Trinity in the second round on Saturday.
UMHB comes into the NCAA tournament 25-2 overall. The Crusaders (The Cru to their fans) were the regular season champions of the ASC with a 20-1 record and earned the right to host the conference tournament. UMHB defeated Mississippi College 75-63 in the first round before falling to McMurry in the semifinals. The Crusaders are making their fifth trip to the NCAA tournament in the last six years. Senior guard Marlon Miller is averaging 18.3 points per game and he makes 35% of his three point tries and 85% of his free throws. Sophomore forward Kitrick Bell adds 10.1 points and 5.3 rebounds per game while hitting 60.4% of his shots from the field. UMHB is a deep team that has pressured opponents into more than 18 turnovers per game this season.
Trinity University is 20-8 and the Tigers are making their eighth trip to the NCAA Div. III tournament under head coach Pat Cunningham. Trinity won the west division of the Southern Collegiate Athletics Conference (SCAC) with a 12-4 record before rolling through the league tournament at Birmingham, Alabama. Trinity defeated Sewanee 60-53, Rhodes 74-66 and Centre 61-50 in the championship game and carries an 11 game winning streak into the national tournament. Sophomore forward Zach Lambert averages 14.9 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. Fellow sophomore forward Robert Kitzinger (6'-7") is often a match-up nightmare, averaging 12.7 points as the team's leading three-point shooter. Junior forward Heath Hopson adds 10.4 points and makes 84% of his free throws. Whitworth and Trinity have met twice before, each on its home court in regular season match ups.
Twenty for Seven: Whitworth has extended its school record for consecutive seasons with at least 20 victories to seven in a row. Prior to this current streak, the most 20-win seasons in a row the Pirates had ever had was two (on three different occasions).
Rolling On: It's not exactly a streak, but the Bucs have won 77 of their last 84 games, an amazing run of success matched by few other college teams at any level. Within the Northwest Conference, Whitworth has won 52 of its last 54 - including the six wins from the last three 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 113-12 (.904) in the Whitworth Fieldhouse. Since the 2005-06 season, the Bucs are 80-5 (.941) 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.
Road Warriors: As good as Whitworth is at home, the Pirates have been even better away from the Whitworth Fieldhouse this season. The Pirates are 12-1 away from home, 8-0 in true road games.
And the stats demonstrate that Whitworth has been tough-minded away from home. The team has a better overall shooting percentage away from home (51.2%) than overall (50.0%) and three-point percentage away from home (43.9%) than overall (40.4%). Whitworth has outscored opponents by 15.7 points per game away from the Fieldhouse, while the scoring margin has been +13.1 overall.
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: A 2012 First Team Capital One Academic All-America® honoree and First Team All-Northwest Conference selection, Felix Friedt is having a special senior season. He is second on the team in scoring average (16.0 ppg), while making 58.1% of his shots from the field. He is first in the Northwest Conference in rebounding average (8.8). Friedt devastates opponents by drawing fouls and making free throws. Not only is he second in the NWC in free throw percentage (81.9%), he has made more free throws (163) than all but one other player in the league has even 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 13 double-doubles this season. He has 1,059 career points and became the 22nd player in Whitworth history to surpass the 1,000 career point total during the game at Whitman on February 14th.
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 13.3 points per game. He leads the team in assists per game (3.4), which ranks third in the NWC and he also has an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.7-1. Gebbers leads the league in three-pointers made per game (2.9) and ranks third in the league in three-point percentage (44.1). 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 a team-high 16.9 points and adding 4.7 rebounds per game. Lasisi also leads the team and he was selected as a 2012 First Team All-Northwest Conference honoree. Lasisi scored a season-high 27 points in Whitworth's win at Whitman on Feb. 14 and finished with 25 points in the Bucs' game against nationally-ranked Wisconsin-Whitewater on December 21st.
Instant Ignition: Jack Loofburrow has worked his way back into the regular rotation and has come alive over the last four weeks of the season. He had been sidelined with an ankle injury for eight weeks since early December. In 19 games this season he has averaged 9.3 points, but he can heat up and score quickly as he demonstrated in the win over Pacific Lutheran (21 points, 5-6 from 3-pt range) and in the second half of the December 3rd win over George Fox (12 points scored after halftime). The 6'-7" senior also adds 3.9 rebounds per game and was an All-NWC honorable mention choice for the second year in a row.
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 7.2 points and 4.0 rebounds with 36 assists and 16 steals this season. Larkin missed four games in early January after suffering a mild concussion in practice.