SPOKANE, Wash. – Whitworth is in final exams this week and the 13th-ranked Pirates will celebrate the conclusion of the semester with a trip to Southern California for three NCAA West Region contests. The first one will come on Saturday night at Occidental College in Los Angeles at 7:00 pm.
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The Pirates: Whitworth opened its Northwest Conference schedule last weekend with victories over Pacific Lutheran and Puget Sound. Those two wins mean the Pirates will head into 2013 tied for first place in the conference standings.
Whitworth used its defense to turn the game against PLU into a 63-56 victory last Friday night. The Lutes led by seven points early in the second half, then by five with just over 14 minutes to play. But the Pirates held PLU scoreless for more than nine minutes of clock and turned that deficit into a nine-point lead. After the Lutes shot 43.3% in the first half, the Bucs held PLU to 27% in the second period. George Valle led Whitworth with 16 points, six rebounds, four steals and three assists. Mack Larkin added 12 points.
The Pirates rolled to a 78-45 win over Puget Sound on Saturday. It marked the second time in the last three games that Whitworth has held an opponent under 50 points in a game. The Bucs held the Loggers to 27% shooting from the field, 18% from three-point range. Whitworth also gained a significant advantage in rebounding (43-34). Colton McCargar scored a career-high 18 points while Dustin McConnell added 14 points and a career-best eight rebounds. George Valle finished with 11 points.
The Opponents: Occidental College is a member of the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletics Conference. The Tigers have begun the season 2-4 overall and 0-3 in the SCIAC. Oxy has not played since a hard-fought 96-94 loss at home to league-rival Redlands on December 5th. Senior guard Eric Leider scored a career-high 27 points in that game thanks to seven three-pointers. Junior forward Kris Montoya is the Tigers' leading scorer this season. He is averaging 20.7 points per game and has been very effective getting to the free throw line, where he makes better than 81% of his attempts. Senior forward DeShun McCoy adds 16.8 points per game and leads the team with 6.7 rebounds per contest.
Whitworth and Occidental have played twice in the last decade. Oxy won the first meeting 68-67 on January 2, 2006 in Los Angeles. The Pirates defeated the Tigers 83-75 in the second round of the NCAA Division III tournament in Spokane on March 8, 2008.
National Raking: Whitworth's roller coaster ride on the D3hoops.com top-25 poll continued this week. One week after falling from 15th to 20th despite two victories, the Bucs climbed seven spots to a season-high rating of 13th in the current poll. Going back to the 2009-10 season, Whitworth has been ranked in the D3hoops.com top-25 for 38 consecutive polls.
NWC Leaders: Whitworth leads the Northwest Conference, or ranks second, this season in several team statistical categories. To the Pirates' credit, those statistical rankings come on both ends of the floor. They include:
1st - Defensive Points Per Game: 59.2
1st - Opponent FG%: 38.3
1st - Opponent 3-pt%: 26.9
1st - Fewest Turnovers per game: 11.0
1st - Team FG% (46.5)
2nd – Team FT% (71.7)
Four SWX Broadcasts: Local cable station SWX will carry four Whitworth men's basketball games live this season: Dec. 8 vs. Puget Sound; Dec. 22 vs. Simpson; Jan. 18 vs. Willamette; and Feb. 1 vs. Lewis & Clark. SWX stands for Sports & Weather Right Now and is owned by local NBC affiliate KHQ channel 6. SWX can be seen both over-the-air and through some cable services in the Spokane-Coeur d'Alene, Kennewick-Pasco-Richland, and Yakima viewership areas. In the Spokane-Coeur d'Alene area, SWX is found on digital channel 6.2, on Comcast channel 115 in Spokane and Time Warner channel 306 in North Idaho. Click here for a complete list of station numbers throughout the Eastern Washington/North Idaho region.
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: The Bucs have won 84 of their last 93 games, an amazing run of success matched by few other college teams at any level. Within the Northwest Conference, Whitworth has won 54 of its last 56 – 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 117-13 (.900) in the Whitworth Fieldhouse. Since the 2005-06 season, the Bucs are 84-6 (.933) 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 have been even better away from the Whitworth Fieldhouse in the last two seasons. Since the start of the 11-12 season, Whitworth is 15-2 away from home, 9-0 in true road games.
Wade Leading the Way: Point guard Wade Gebbers is the heart that drives the Pirate engine on the basketball floor. He has battled through persistent injuries this season to average 8.5 points, 4.0 assists, and 3.8 rebounds per game.
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. So far this season he has averaged 9.2 points and 4.7 rebounds per game while making 54% of his shots from the field and 45% from three-point range. But even beyond the obvious statistics, further analysis shows that Larkin leads all Pirates in plus-minus (+11) when he is on the floor.
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 is dangerous from three-point range, making better than 33% of his shots from beyond the arc this season. But he is even harder on opposing defenses with his hard drives to the basket, often getting the shot to go down while drawing a foul. So far this season he is averaging 11.7 points, 3.3 assists and 1.8 steals per game. He had 18 points in Whitworth's win over Mary Hardin-Baylor (Nov. 23).
He ended up with a 7.7 scoring average last winter after taking over as a starter eight games into the season. He made 38% of his attempts from three-point range.
Frosh Phenom: George Valle has already made a huge impact in his first season with the Pirates. He leads the team in scoring average (14.5 ppg) and has made 58% of his shots from the field. He is one of the team's best defenders as well, ranking second on the team in steals. He has already been selected as a Northwest Conference Student-Athlete of the Week in men's basketball (Dec. 4). His career-high is 23 points in the win at Montana Tech.
Mr. Reliable: Colton McCargar does everything asked of him, whether he is in the starting lineup or the first player off of the bench. He is averaging 10.8 points and leads the team with 5.0 rebounds per game. He is making 40% of his three-point tries so far this season. He scored a career-high 18 points in the win over Puget Sound (Dec. 8).
Coming up Next Week: Whitworth will continue its California trip with a game at Chapman University in Orange, California on Tuesday (Dec. 18), followed by a neutral site game with Redlands on Wednesday at Chapman.
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.