SPOKANE, Wash. – The Whitworth men's basketball team will hit the road for the first away game of the 2012-13 season on Wednesday night at Montana Tech, before returning home to host US Santa Cruz on Saturday. Wednesday's game in Butte will start at 7:00 pm (MST) / 6:00 pm (PST) while Saturday's contest in the Fieldhouse will tip off at 8:00 pm.
Watch the Whitworth men's basketball schedule for live links to Wednesday night's game at Montana Tech.
Follow the links below for Saturday's home game with UCSC.
The Pirates: Whitworth (1-1) earned its first victory of the season with a 70-61 decision over Mary Hardin-Baylor last Friday afternoon. The Crusaders are the preseason favorite to defend their own title in the American Southwest Conference. The Pirates shot 54% (14-26) from the field in the second half, including 40% (6-15) from three-point range. Dustin McConnell led the way with a career-high 18 points, while Colton McCargar came off of the bench for 13 points and six rebounds. Mack Larkin and George Valle scored 12 points each to give Whitworth four players in double figures. Zach Payne led the Bucs with seven rebounds off of the bench. Valle and Wade Gebbers had four assists each.
National Raking: Whitworth fell one spot to 15th in this week's D3hoops.com top 25 poll. Going back to the 2009-10 season, the Bucs have been ranked in the D3hoops.com top-25 for 36 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 80 of their last 89 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 114-13 (.898) in the Whitworth Fieldhouse. Since the 2005-06 season, the Bucs are 81-6 (.931) 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: Montana Tech is off to a very strong start this season. The Orediggers (5-2) are coming off of a great weekend in Salt Lake City at the Westminster College Thanksgiving Classic. Tech beat NCAA Div. II Chadron State 85-70 on Friday then topped 20th-ranked (NAIA Div. I) Cal State San Marcos 85-81 on Saturday.
Sophomore forward Adam Greger leads the 'Diggers in scoring at 18.7 points per game while making 53% of his three-point attempts. He also averages 6.7 rebounds per game. Junior guard Bryan Brock adds 13.1 points per game and dishes 4.0 assists per contest.
Last season Montana Tech came to Spokane and defeated the Pirates 83-73 on December 10th, ending Whitworth's 41-game home winning streak. The 'Diggers shot 60% from the field as a team and got a game-high 23 points from Greger. Wade Gebbers scored 20 points for the Pirates. Whitworth's last visit to Butte came on December 13, 2009 and resulted in a 77-58 win over Tech.
UC Santa Cruz is 2-3 this season after a trip to Southern California last weekend. The Banana Slugs earned an impressive 61-59 win at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps on Friday before running out of gas in a 77-45 loss at Pomona-Pitzer on Saturday. UCSC, coming off of its first winning season (12-10) in more than a decade, is led by first year head coach Ron DuBois – a former assistant for the Memphis Grizzlies of the NBA.
Sophomore forward James Townsend leads the team in scoring (12.0 ppg) and adds 4.5 assists per contest. Junior guard Spencer Wells contributes 10.5 points per game.
Whitworth opened the 2011-12 season with a 70-54 win over UCSC in the Fieldhouse. Wade Gebbers scored 17 points while Zach Payne had nine rebounds off of the bench.
Coming up Next Week: Whitworth will open defense of its Northwest Conference crown by hosting Pacific Lutheran on Friday, December 7th and Puget Sound on Saturday, December 8th. Both games are scheduled to tip off at 8:00 pm.
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.