SPOKANE, Wash. – Whitworth will host its second consecutive game to open the 2012-13 men's basketball season on Friday afternoon when the Pirates take on the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. Tipoff is set for 3:00 pm.
Black Friday Special: Local fans are invited to come out to the Whitworth vs. Mary Hardin-Baylor game for free as part of a Black Friday special. Admission is normally $10 for adults and $5 for seniors/students/children. So fans are invited to wrap up their day out shopping with some free basketball on Friday.
The Pirates: Whitworth fell to visiting University of St. Thomas 70-65 last Saturday evening in a battle between teams ranked in the D3hoops.com preseason poll. The 11th-ranked Tommies, coming off of an easy season-opening win at Whitman on Friday, jumped to a lead of 14 points on three occasions in the first half and once early in the second half. But the 14th-ranked Pirates rallied to cut the lead to three points in the final minute of play on a three-point play by George Valle. UST made 7-8 from the free throw line in the final 45 seconds to secure the win.
Wade Gebbers scored a game-high 23 points to lead Whitworth. He added four rebounds and four assists. Dustin McConnell added 10 points, while Colton McCargar came off of the bench for nine points and three boards. Valle had eight points and tied for the team lead with five rebounds in his Pirate debut.
National Raking: Whitworth is ranked 14th in the preseason D3hoops.com top 25 poll. The first poll of the regular season will come out in early December. Going back to the 2009-10 season, the Bucs have been ranked in the D3hoops.com top-25 for 35 consecutive polls.
Team Captains: The members of the Whitworth basketball team and coaching staff have voted Wade Gebbers, Mack Larkin and Zach Payne as team captains for the 2012-13 season. It is the second season in a row that Gebbers has been voted as a team captain.
Twenty for Seven: Whitworth extended its school record for consecutive seasons with at least 20 victories to seven in a row in 2011-12. 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 79 of their last 88 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 113-13 (.897) in the Whitworth Fieldhouse. Since the 2005-06 season, the Bucs are 80-6 (.930) at home. During the decade of the 1990s the Pirates won more than 80% of their games played at home.
The Pirates have had two home-court winning streaks of more than 40 games since 1990. A 41-game home court winning streak from early 2009 until December of 2011 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 were even better away from the Whitworth Fieldhouse last season. The Pirates went 14-2 away from home, 8-0 in true road games.
Wade Leading the Way: Point guard Wade Gebbers earned Second Team All-Northwest Conference last season after averaging 12.8 points per game. He led the team in assists per game (3.5), which ranked third in the NWC. Gebbers led the league in three-pointers made per game (2.8) and ranked third in the league in three-point percentage (42.1). He scored a career-high 26 points on January 17th against Whitman.
In 2010-11 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.
The 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). Now Mack Larkin has stepped into that role. Larkin is most often tasked with guarding the opponent's best offensive player.
Last season he averaged 7.0 points and 3.8 rebounds with 39 assists and 19 steals, despite missing four games in early January after suffering a mild concussion in practice.
Driving Mr. Dusty: Dustin McConnell became a starter during the ninth game of last season and remained so the rest of the way. He was dangerous from three-point range, making better than 38% of his shots from beyond the arc. But he was even harder on opposing defenses with his hard drives to the basket, often getting the shot to go down while drawing a foul. He ended up with a 7.7 scoring average last winter.
The Opponents: Mary Hardin-Baylor, from Belton, Texas, is coming off of the best regular season in its men's basketball history. The Crusaders, Cru for short, went 25-3 overall and won the American Southwest Conference regular season title with a 20-1 record. UMHB then went on to win the ASC tournament before falling to Trinity (Texas) in the first round of the NCAA Division III tournament.
The Cru return two starters and several key letterwinners from last year's team. Junior guard James Allen returns to start at guard, where he led UMHB in assists and averaged nearly nine points and over three rebounds last season. Senior wing Brian Todd averaged almost eight points and four rebounds while starting 18 games last year.
The Cru rolled to a 73-50 win over Southwestern (Texas) in its season-opener at home on Tuesday night. Junior wing Thomas Orr led the way with 20 points, while Allen added 14. UMHB jumped to a 17-2 lead and went on to a 38-17 lead at the break. Then the Cru scored the first 12 points of the second half to put the game away early.
Whitworth and Mary Hardin-Baylor have never played in men's basketball, despite the Pirates being sent to UMHB's pod for the first two rounds of last season's NCAA tournament.
Coming up Next Week: Whitworth will play at Montana Tech on Wednesday, Nov. 28 in its first road game of the season before returning to host UC Santa Cruz on Saturday, December 1st.
The Coach: Matt Logie led Whitworth to a 26-4 record in 2011-12, his first season as coach of the Pirates. He was also selected as the NWC Coach of the Year by his peers after directing the Pirates to a 15-1 conference mark and their sixth straight NWC tournament championship.
Logie 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.