Whitworth Men Will Host Hamline on New Year's Eve

SPOKANE, Wash. – Whitworth will play its final scheduled non-conference game of the season and its final game on 2012 at the same time when the Pirates host Hamline University in a New Year's Eve afternoon contest on Monday at 2:00 pm.  Admission to the game will be free.

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The Pirates:   Whitworth trailed by 10 points three times in the first half of last week's 77-69 win over Simpson College (Iowa).  But the Pirates turned things around in the second half, shooting 70% (14-20) from the field after halftime and holding the Storm to only nine points over the first 12 minutes of the second period.  Mack Larkin scored a career-high 17 points to lead Whitworth.  Wade Gebbers added 16 points while Dustin McConnell finished with 10 points, four rebounds and four assists.  Adam Wilks and Zach Payne combined for 16 points and 10 rebounds in the post.

The Opponents: Hamline comes into the weekend with a 4-3 overall record and a 2-2 mark in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletics Conference.  The Pipers have been off since dropping a 68-62 conference game at Augsburg on December 5th.  Prior to the game at Whitworth, Hamline will take on Whitman on December 29th.  The Pirates and Pipers have never met as NCAA Division III members in men's basketball.

Sophomore forward Dior Ford leads his team in scoring (15.0 ppg) and rebounding (4.6 rpg).  Senior forward Noah Aguirre adds 12.3 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.7 assists per contest.  Junior guard Tyler Pannell scores 12.3 ppg while making 45% of his shots from three-point range.  As a team the Pipers shoot better than 50% from the field.

National Raking: Whitworth moved up two more places in the most recent D3hoops.com top-25 poll.  The Pirates came in at 11th, a season-high, this week after they were 13th in last week's poll. Going back to the 2009-10 season, Whitworth has been ranked in the D3hoops.com top-25 for 40 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:  60.9
1st - Opponent 3-pt%: 30.6
1st - Team FG%: 48.4
1st – Fewest Fouls Per Game: 13.3
2nd - Opponent FG%: 40.5
2nd - Fewest Turnovers per game: 11.6
2nd – Team FT%: 71.9

NWC Favorites: Whitworth was picked first in the Northwest Conference preseason coaches poll.  The Pirates picked up seven of nine first place votes and 70 total points.  Whitman was second in the poll with two first place votes and 54 points.

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.

Back on KSBN: Local radio station KSBN (1230am) will carry all remaining regular season Pirate games, and any post-season contests.  The relationship between Pirate athletics and KSBN goes back to 1994, a span of almost 20 years.  Bob Castle, whose voice has become synonymous with Whitworth athletics on the radio, is back as the voice of the Pirates in 2012-13. Bob has called Whitworth games for the past 12 seasons, as well as in 1997-98. Bob has 20 years in radio and his experience as a sports broadcaster includes stints as the voice of Spokane Indians Baseball, Gonzaga University baseball and Washington State women's basketball.

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 88 of their last 97 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 118-13 (.901) in the Whitworth Fieldhouse. Since the 2005-06 season, the Bucs are 85-6 (.934) 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 18-2 away from home, 11-0 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 10.4 points, 2.9 assists, and 2.8 rebounds per game.  He scored 23 points in the season-opener against St. Thomas.

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 8.1 points and 4.4 rebounds per game while making 54% of his shots from the field and 39% from three-point range.  He scored a career-high 17 points in the win over Simpson on December 22nd.

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 38% 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 12.7 points, 3.0 assists and 1.7 steals per game.  He had a career-high 20 points in Whitworth's win at Occidental (Dec. 15).

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 is second on the team in scoring average (12.2 ppg) and has made 53% of his shots from the field.  He is one of the team's best defenders as well, ranking second on the team in steals (15).  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 9.6 points and leads the team with 4.7 rebounds per game.  He is making almost 36% 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 this Week: Whitworth will return to Northwest Conference play with games at Pacific (Oregon) and Lewis & Clark on Friday and Saturday, January 4-5.

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.

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