Tall Task for 5-4 Eagles Against Towering UCLA Team

Eastern plays at UCLA on Wednesday as they take on a Bruins team with five players 6-foot-9 or taller

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Wednesday, Dec. 14 - 7:30 p.m. Pacific
L.A. Sports Arena (16,161) - Los Angeles, Calif.

EWU vs. Pacific Lutheran
Friday, Dec. 16 - 6:05 p.m. Pacific
Reese Court (6,000) - Cheney, Wash.

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Mondays 6 p.m. at the Q Sports Bar and Restaurant at Northern Quest Resort & Casino. . . 700-AM ESPN, www.espnnorthwest.com & via iphone app. (search for “Spokane Radio” and download app). Fans are invited to attend the show live and food service is available. Live shows take place at the Q on 1/2, 1/9, 1/23, 1/30, 2/6, 2/13, 2/20, 2/27, 3/5. There are no shows on 12/19, 12/26 and 1/16, but there will be a show aired as a remote from Los Angeles on 12/12). Note: Shows on 12/12, 1/2 and 1/9 will be aired on KXLY 920-AM (www.kxly920.com) due to programming conflicts with NFL playoff games and college bowl games.


TV: UCLA game is televised Regionally in the California Area by Fox Sports West. None for Pacific Lutheran.
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The tall timber only starts with Puget Sound product Joshua Smith.

Playing its third and final game of the season versus a Pac-12 Conference member, the 5-4 Eastern Washington University men’s basketball team takes on a towering UCLA squad this Wednesday (Dec. 14). Tipoff is 7:30 p.m. at the Los Angeles Sports Center, the temporary home for the Bruins while famed Pauley Pavilion undergoes renovations.

The radio broadcast of the game, featuring play-by-play announcer Dennis Patchin, may be heard on 700-AM ESPN, via the web at www.espnnorthwest.com and via iPhone application (search for “Spokane Radio” and download the free app). The UCLA game will also be televised regionally in the California Area by Fox Sports West.

Eastern is currently 5-4, and is coming off a 91-76 loss against a talented Cal State Fullerton squad on Sunday (Dec. 11). The Titans featured four starters who had transferred from four-year colleges, including a pair from Pac-12 member Cal.

In playing a UCLA squad that is currently 3-5, the Eagles will be taking on a team that has five players 6-foot-9 or taller.

Joshua Smith, a 6-foot-10, 305-pound center from Kentwood High School in Kent, Wash., is one of those players. North Carolina transfers Travis Wear (6-10) and his brother David Wear (6-10) have combined to start 12 games thus far.

“It’s on the schedule and is there to help us get better,” said Eastern head coach Jim Hayford. “They are one of the biggest teams in America, and they are still figuring out how to play with all of that height. They looked really good against Penn and are improving with every outing. That’s the challenge we are given so we’ll go take it on.”

Eastern enters its first-ever meeting against UCLA 12-74 all-time versus teams from the Pac-12. Earlier this season, Eastern lost 73-65 to Oregon and then lost to Washington State 79-49 for its 13th-straight loss versus current teams from the league. Since Eastern moved to NCAA Division I in the 1983-84 season, EWU is 2-33 versus the Pac-12.

“We are playing a really, really hard schedule,” said Hayford. “We have to just keep working hard to get better as a team.”

Following the road trip, Eastern returns home to face Pacific Lutheran on Dec. 16 before making one more pre-Christmas trip to California to face Saint Mary’s in Moraga, Calif., on Dec. 20. Then, the Eagles open Big Sky Conference play on the road at Montana State (Dec. 28) and Montana (Dec. 30), meaning the Eagles are about to embark upon a stretch in which they play five of six games on the road.

“It’s hard but we’ve played really well on the road for the most part,” Hayford said. “And starting league play in Montana will be a tough road trip, but you know what, those are two road games we won’t have to play later in the season.”

Eastern has never played UCLA before and is 29-25 versus the Lutes. Linfield and PLU are members of the NCAA Division III Northwest Conference – the same league Hayford belonged to the past 10 seasons while he was at Whitworth. Hayford was 17-4 against the Wildcats and 18-3 versus the Lutes, which improved to 4-2 by knocking off Linfield 76-68 on Dec. 3 in McMinnville, Ore.

Hayford, who compiled a gaudy 217-57 (.792) record in 10 seasons at NCAA Division III Whitworth University in Spokane, inherited an EWU team that finished the 2010-11 season with a 10-20 record overall. The Eagles finished 7-9 and in a fifth-place tie with Montana State in the Big Sky Conference standings, advancing the Eagles to the Big Sky Conference Tournament for the first time in five years.

His first Eastern team features seven returning letterwinners currently on the roster, including six who combined to start 125 games a year ago. Hayford hopes a challenging schedule, including three games versus members of the Pac-12 Conference, will help his team prepare for the rigors of league play.

 “I know in January and February we are going to be a good basketball team,” Hayford said earlier in November. “In November and December we play a really tough schedule that will make us a better basketball team. That familiarity process takes a step forward each day. We will be a really good basketball team during Big Sky Conference play.”


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NCAA Basketball -- http://www.ncaa.com/sports/m-baskbl/ncaa-m-baskbl-body.html
ESPN College Scoreboard -- http://sports.espn.go.com/ncb/scoreboard
Rodney Stuckey NBA Page -- http://www.nba.com/playerfile/rodney_stuckey/index.html
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More About the Bruins

UCLA is coached by Ben Howland, who is no stranger to the Big Sky Conference and the Pacific Northwest. He graduated from Weber State in 1979 and was a graduate assistant in 1981 at Gonzaga. Now in his ninth season at UCLA and 17th overall as a collegiate head coach, he was head coach at Northern Arizona and Pittsburgh before becoming head coach of the Bruins.

His current team struggled early, starting the season with losses to Loyola Marymount (69-58) and Middle Tennessee State (86-66). After a victory over Chaminade (92-60) and losses to nationally-ranked Kansas (72-56) and Michigan (79-63), the Bruins rebounded for an overwhelming 62-39 win over Pepperdine. After a loss to Texas (69-59), UCLA knocked off Penn 77-73.

Lazeric Jones is averaging 12.6 points and 3.3 assists per game, and Travis Wear and Jerime Anderson are chipping in 10.6 and 9.9 points per game, respectively. Joshua Smith, a 6-foot-10, 305-pound center from Kentwood High School in Kent, Wash. is averaging 8.4 points and 5.3 rebounds on 55.3 percent shooting from the field, but is averaging only 16.5 minutes per game. Interestingly, Jones lists former Kentwood and Eagle start Rodney Stuckey – now with the Detroit Pistons in the NBA – as the professional athlete he most admires.


More About the Lutes

Pacific Lutheran is 4-3, and has one common opponent with EWU in Linfield College. The Lutes defeated the Wildcats 76-68 on Dec. 3, just five days before Eastern downed Linfield 104-54. Pacific Lutheran’s other victories were against La Verne (73-59), Portland Bible (77-46) and Willamette (82-81 in overtime), and the Lutes are coming off a 48-46 loss to Northwest University on Dec. 10 after leading by seven at halftime.

Coached by Steve Dickerson, now in his sixth season, PLU is led by guards Andrew Earnest and James Conti. Earnest is averaging 15.1 points and 5.1 rebounds per game, and Conti is averaging 14.6 points and 3.1 assists. Kai Hoyt, a 6-foot-4 wing player, is averaging 11.9 points and 4.6 boards. Conti was the only PLU player in double figures against Northwest University with 10, as the Lutes made only 33 percent of their shots from the field – 29 percent in the second half.


With Turnover Advantage in Every Game Thus Far, Eastern Ninth Nationally in Turnover Margin

Eastern has had fewer turnovers than its opponents in all nine games thus far, with 153 turnovers forced and 101 committed. The result is a Big Sky-leading turnover margin of plus 5.8 per game which ranks ninth in NCAA Division I. Eastern has a league-leading 1.3 assist-to-turnover ratio.

“We’ve been forcing the most turnovers in the Big Sky and we’ve been doing it against quality competition,” said Hayford after EWU’s game on Dec. 8 against Linfield, in which the Eagles had just six miscues compared to 21 for the Wildcats.

In other Big Sky team statistics, Eastern is first in 3-pointers made (10.2 per game to also rank fourth nationally) and offensive rebounds (12.9 per game); second in assists (14.4); and third in 3-point field goal percentage offense (.365), 3-point field goal percentage defense (.331), steals (7.2) and blocked shots (3.3). The Eagles are last in field goal percentage (.410) and rebounds allowed per game (37.3).

Individually, Collin Chiverton is second in the league and 12th in NCAA Division I in 3-pointers made per game (3.3), and is third in scoring (17.4) fifth in free throw percentage (.864) and ninth in 3-point field goal percentage (.423). Cliff Colimon leads the Big Sky Conference in steals (2.4 per game) and is second in assists (5.6), second in assist-to-turnover ratio (+2.2), sixth in scoring (13.9) and sixth in 3-pointers made per game (2.1). Cliff Ederaine is fourth in rebounding (7.7), 15th in scoring (10.9), eighth in field goal percentage (.507), fourth in blocked shots (1.0) and 13th in steals (1.2). Laron Griffin is second in the league in offensive rebounds (3.0) and is ninth overall in rebounding (5.9), and Jeffrey Forbes is fourth in minutes played (34.8) and sixth in 3-pointers made per game (2.1).


Eagles Lead Big Sky and are Fourth in NCAA Division I in 3-Point Shooting

Ranking fourth in NCAA Division I through nine games, the Eagles are averaging a Big Sky Conference-leading 10.2 3-pointers per game. They have made 92-of-253 for 36.4 percent (fourth-best in the league) to rank only behind Troy (11.5), Florida (11.3) and Samford (10.6) on the national leaders list.

Eight different Eagles have made treys, led by the 30 of junior college transfer Collin Chiverton. For Eastern to score the same amount of points from inside the arc with the same amount of shots, the Eagles would have to make 54.5 percent.

“We’re confident with our system that we are going to get the 3-point shot no matter who we play,” said Eastern head coach Jim Hayford after Eastern made 13 treys in a 73-66 win over Idaho on Nov. 30. “We are not always going to shoot the percentage we like, but we got 28 looks from three against Idaho and that’s right around where we’ve been. There are times where we might have five 3-point shooters or four on the floor at the same time, and we start the game with only three. (Idaho’s Memorial Gym) was an easy gym to shoot in because it’s small, and I think our players bought into it. So we shot the ball well. And hitting 13 threes – eight in the first half – kind of takes them out of the defense they want to play.”

When an Eastern player takes what Hayford considers a poor shot, more often than not they take a seat on the bench next to the first-year Eagle head coach. Although Eastern sank 52 percent of its shots from the floor – including 15-of-36 3-point attempts in EWU’s 104-54 win over Linfield on Dec. 8 – it happened several times against the Wildcats, who had five blocked shots in the game.

“We have to get better in our shot selection,” he explained. “They know if it’s not a great shot we’re going to sub them out. We get them right back in, but it’s a teachable moment. We had to do that six or seven times against Linfield. In Big Sky games or against Cal State Fullerton on the road, you can’t afford to waste six or seven possessions with a bad shot.”

In 72 Minutes in Last Two Games, Colimon Has 46 Points, 15 Assists, 10 Rebounds, Six Steals and Just One Turnover

It’s hard to put up better numbers than what senior point guard Cliff Colimon has compiled the last two games in a victory over Linfield (104-54 on Dec. 8) and a loss to Cal State Fullerton (91-76 on Dec. 11). In 72 minutes of action, Colimon had 46 points, 15 assists, 10 rebounds, six steals and just one turnover. He combined to make 18-of-34 shots from the field and 7-of-16 from 3-point range en route to scoring 23 points in each outing.

In Eastern’s 104-54 win over Linfield on Dec. 8, Colimon scored 23 points and had three steals and a career-high 11 assists to equal the seventh-most in school history. It was Eastern’s top assist performance in more than 10 years since Jason Lewis had 12 versus Cal State Northridge on Jan. 20, 2001. Colimon also had no turnovers in 32 minutes of action.

Head coach Jim Hayford said it best after the Linfield game: “I loved Colimon’s line – 11 assists, 23 points and no turnovers.”

Thus far, Colimon leads the Big Sky Conference in steals (2.4 per game) and is second in assists (5.6), second in assist-to-turnover ratio (+2.2), sixth in scoring (13.9) and sixth in 3-pointers made per game (2.1).

 “We stopped calling him Little Cliff – his name is ‘Tough Cliff’ now,” Hayford said in reference to the nickname given to Colimon and the “Big Cliff” moniker given to forward Cliff Ederaine. “Colimon was hurt more than anybody by his performance at Washington State – he had a tough night down there. Hopefully the confidence he gained against Linfield will be fuel in his tank.”

Colimon’s 23 points against Linfield and Cal State Fullerton were the second-most in his two seasons as an Eagle. He scored 17 points and had eight assists in his season-opener against Gonzaga on Nov. 11. The eight assists versus the Bulldogs was his career high until the output of 11 versus Linfield. His assists total against Gonzaga doubled his previous career high of four set last season against Idaho State (1/29/11) and Sacramento State (12/29/10).

Colimon’s career high of 27 points came in the final game of the 2010-11 season against Weber State (3/5/11) in the Big Sky Conference Tournament. In fact, in his last three games last season and first game this year, Colimon averaged 18.5 points per game, including victories over Montana (59-55) and Weber State (75-59), and near-misses versus Weber State (79-70) and Gonzaga (77-69).


Chiverton Making Early Statement for Big Sky Newcomer of the Year Accolades

Junior college transfer Collin Chiverton is making an early-season case for Big Sky Conference Newcomer of the Year accolades, as he already has had five 20-point performances as an Eagle. He is second in the league and 12th in NCAA Division I in 3-pointers made per game (3.3), and is third in scoring (17.4) fifth in free throw percentage (.864) and ninth in 3-point field goal percentage (.423).

He opened his Eastern career in a big way, scoring 25 points in Eastern’s 77-69 loss at Gonzaga on Nov. 11. A former redshirt at GU rival Saint Mary’s in California, Chiverton made 6-of-12 shots from the 3-point arc and 8-of-24 shots from the field against Gonzaga. He scored 25 again in EWU’s 70-61 win over South Dakota, making 9-of-21 shots overall and 6-of-13 from the 3-point arc. He added a third 20-point performance with 20 points in EWU’s 89-72 upset of Hawai’i on Nov. 19, then had 25 in a 104-54 win over Linfield on Dec. 8. Chiverton scored 26 in Eastern’s most recent outing, a 91-76 loss at Cal State Fullerton on Dec. 11.

Chiverton’s debut versus GU was the best for an Eagle since Eastern moved to NCAA Division I in the 1983-84 season. The previous best came a year ago when Chiverton’s Eastern teammate Tremayne Johnson scored 21 in a 67-60 loss at San Jose State. Interestingly, current Detroit Piston Rodney Stuckey scored only 14 points in his debut against Pacific Lutheran in the 2005-06 season. Chiverton’s scoring output was also the second-best season-opening performance by an Eagle since David Peed scored 29 points on Nov. 25, 1989, in EWU’s 96-84 loss to BYU.

After leaving Saint Mary’s, Chiverton played one season at Salt Lake Community College before leading City College of San Francisco to the 2010-11 California Community Colleges Athletic Association title. He averaged 19 points per game as a sophomore, including an average of 30 per game in the tournament, as San Francisco finished the season 32-1 with a 27-game winning streak.

Still Coming Up With Big Games at Home, Ederaine Wins Big Sky Player of the Week Award

After leading Eastern to a pair of late November victories, senior forward Cliff Ederaine was selected as Big Sky Conference Player of the Week, the league announced Nov. 29. The 6-foot-7, 205-pound senior forward from Moreno Valley, Calif., averaged 20.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists and two blocks per game as the Eagles notched a road win over Hawai’i (89-72) on Nov. 22, and topped UC Davis (79-59) on Nov. 27 in Cheney.

Ederaine made 8-of-9 shots from the field, including his first trey of the season and only the second in 35 career games versus UC Davis. A 45.6 percent free throw shooter a year ago, he made 6-of-9 for the line against the Aggies to improve to 20-of-26 – 76.9 percent (currently he is at 69.4 percent, 25-of-36).

To add to his night, Ederaine also added eight rebounds, three blocked shots and a steal. Ederaine scored 11 points in the first 6:24 of the game as Eastern held early leads of 13-4 and 17-9. He had 11 points, five boards and five assists in the second half alone. “We were running our offense through the high post and Big Cliff put the team on his shoulders,” said Eastern head coach Jim Hayford.

In another home game this season – a 70-61 win over South Dakota on Nov. 15 -- Ederaine had 15 points, 14 rebounds, five assists, two blocks and two steals. In the team’s third home game on Dec. 8 versus Linfield, he had his third career double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds, and also had six assists.

In the Big Sky Conference, Ederaine is fourth in rebounding (7.7), 15th in scoring (10.9), eighth in field goal percentage (.507), fourth in blocked shots (1.0) and 13th in steals (1.2).

His performance against South Dakota was his second career double-double, with his first coming against New Hope last year when he had 12 points and 17 rebounds, as well as his previous career high for assists with four. He had 10 double figure scoring performance and seven with at least 10 rebounds in the 2010-11 season.

Winning Streak Ended with Learning Opportunity

Before its disappointing 75-49 setback to Washington State of the Pac-12 Conference on Dec. 3, Eastern had won three-straight games in convincing fashion. Eastern defeated Hawaii (89-72), UC Davis (79-59) and Idaho (73-66) by an average margin of 14.7 points per game, and had hoped to give WSU a tougher game.

But Eastern was out-shot 50 percent to 25 percent, and was pounded on the boards 45-29 by the Cougars.

“A lot of times it’s harder to handle success than failure,” explained Hayford. “When you do poorly, you are motivated to improve. Sometimes when you do well, you take it easy. We’ve played three great ballgames in a row, and if somebody only watched the Washington State game and hadn’t seen us play the previous three games, they wouldn’t believe it. We were totally different.”

Prior to the WSU loss, Eastern made 44 percent of its shots versus Idaho, and one game earlier sank what was then a season-high 48.1 percent versus UC Davis. Eastern’s 15-of-59 effort against WSU included only 4-of-23 3-point attempts for 17 percent. The Eagles had entered the game leading the Big Sky Conference in 3-pointers per game (10.3) on an average of 27.5 attempts (37.6 percent). Hayford thinks shot selection is the major difference.

“We’ve been getting higher percentage shots than the shots that go with those kinds of percentages,” he said. “What were we not doing to get us the same kind of looks? We have our work cut out for us to get that figured out.”

With the Big Sky Conference schedule looming, Hayford knows the WSU loss – Eastern’s third game in a six-day span -- is yet another learning experience for his squad.

“I think Washington State did a really, really good job of game planning for us,” he said. “We are going to have three games in six days in the Big Sky, and you can’t lay an egg on the last one. We’re going to grow and learn from this. We’re going to work a lot harder.”

Eastern’s 4-2 start to the season was only the seventh time in 29 seasons since Eastern became a member of NCAA Division I in 1983-84 that the Eagles have won at least four of their first six games. That has happened only once in the last eight seasons, with EWU going 6-2 in 2008-09 before finishing just 12-18.


Eagles Continue to Climb Three-Point and Free Throw Career Lists

A pair of Eagles already rank in the top 10 on several Eastern season and career lists. Junior Jeffrey Forbes has 121 3-pointers made in his career to rank fourth, his 305 attempts are eighth and his .397 percentage ranks ninth. Fellow junior Kevin Winford has 105 makes to rank sixth and his 306 attempts are seventh.

Those players has also been impressive from the free throw line in their careers. Forbes, in fact, set a single season school record for free throw percentage (.900, 54-of-60) in the 2010-11 season, just ahead of the previous record of .899 set by Darren Cooper in 2001-02). In his career, Forbes has made what would be a school record at 87.4 percent (111-of-127), but he is 11 attempts shy to meet the minimum of two free throw attempts per game. Winford’s 85.3 percent (58-of-68) would rank third had he met the minimums (he has 68 and would need 132). Currently with the school record is the 84.9 percent performance of Eastern Athletics Hall of Fame member Dick Edwards (1953-55).

 The Eagles finished the 2010-11 season with a pair of school records for 3-point shooting. Eastern finished with 242 makes and 656 attempts, breaking the single season makes record of 241 set in 1999, and the record for attempts of 649 set the same season. Winford made 66 3-pointers in the 2010-11 season to rank fifth in single season school history, and his 187 attempts are fourth.

Winford poured in 39 points -- including a record 10 3-pointers -- in Eastern’s overwhelming 112-41 non-conference victory over New Hope Christian College on Dec. 4. En route to the fifth-best scoring night in school history against New Hope, Winford broke the school record of nine treys he set just a week earlier against Idaho on Nov. 27. As a team, the Eagles broke the school record for made 3-pointers (18) and three pointers attempted (43), and tied the mark for field goals made in a game with 45. Previous records were 16 3-pointers versus Cascade on Dec. 14, 2007; 38 attempts versus Nevada on Feb. 14, 1991; and 45 field goals made against U.S. International on Feb. 2, 1991.

Winford’s 23 three-point attempts were also a Big Sky Conference record, breaking the previous mark of 17 set by Nevada’s Kevin Franklin against Oregon on Dec. 16, 1989. His makes were third-most, with Portland State’s Brian Towne owning the record with 12 in a 1998 game against Idaho State. As a team, Eastern was two made 3-pointers from the Big Sky record of 20, but its 43 attempts were a record.

Winford is only averaging 14.6 minutes per game this season, and is averaging 3.2 points per game on 5-of-15 shooting from beyond the arc. But the 5-foot-11 academic All-America nominee provided the play of the game in Eastern’s 104-54 victory over Linfield on Dec. 8.

 “The best play of the night was Kevin’s drive and dunk down the lane – that was pretty emphatic,” Eastern head coach Jim Hayford said. “He’s a very athletic player and we want him to show it. That was an example of it. He’s just a great young man – a tremendous student and a great leader. He’s a business major, and some business will be really glad to hire him some day. I just think the world of him. I promise you he’ll be showing his grandkids that dunk someday.”


Blocked Shots Totals High Too

With 120 blocked shots for the 2010-11 season, Eastern finished only 10 blocked shots away from the school record of 130 set in 2006. A trio of current Eastern players recorded three of the top 11 single season performances in school history including Tremayne Johnson (35, third), Cliff Ederaine (34, tied for fourth) and Laron Griffin (28, tied for 11th).

In their careers thus far, Griffin ranks sixth in school history with 52 and Ederaine (43) is 10th. Johnson (42) is one shy of making his way onto the top 10 list.


Wide Gap in Fouls and Free Throws Thus Far

In most statistical categories, the Eagles have held their own against three opponents thus far. But the glaring difference has been in fouls and free throws, yielding a deficit of 78 points at the charity stripe (8.7 points per game).

Eastern has been whistled for 216 fouls, compared to 152 for opponents. Eastern players have fouled out on 14 occasions already, compared to four for opponents. The result has been 182-of-268 free throw shooting by opponents, compared to a 104-of-142 mark for EWU.

Senior forward Laron Griffin, who set the school record with 114 personal fouls a year ago, has fouled out in five games so far and has 40 of a possible 45 fouls. Griffin is averaging only 19.2 minutes per game, but has scored 52 points (5.8 per game) and grabbed 53 rebounds (5.9) thus far. 

Football Player Alden Gibbs Returns to Hoop Squad After Departure of Three Players

Having already lettered at Eastern in both basketball and football, senior Alden Gibbs has re-joined the basketball squad, head coach Jim Hayford announced in late November. He also announced that Willie Hankins, Rocky Brown and Justin Omogun are no longer on the team. Hankins played in EWU’s first two games and Brown played in one, while Omogun hasn’t played at all.

After lettering in basketball for Eastern Washington in the 2009-10 season under former head coach Kirk Earlywine, Gibbs switched to football and lettered on special teams for the Eagles in 2010. A starting cornerback in 2011, Gibbs is the first Eagle to letter in both sports since Bob Picard in the early 1970’s.

A 6-foot-3 guard on the basketball court, Gibbs finished his 18-game football career with 36 total tackles, four passes broken up and a forced fumble. As a junior for the Eastern basketball team in the 2009-10 season, he started 14 of 23 games and averaged 2.6 points and 3.3 rebounds in an average of 16.4 minutes per game. He is from Brooklyn, N.Y., and played basketball for the College of the Siskiyous before becoming an Eagle.

Picard lettered in football in 1968, 1969, 1971 and 1972, and also lettered in basketball in the 1972-73 season. Picard held Eastern’s career receiving record for 21 years with 166 catches (now sixth) that were good for 2,373 yards and 19 touchdowns. His receiving record was broken by Tony Brooks in 1993. Picard had his No. 84 jersey retired, was inducted into the Eastern Athletics Hall of Fame in 2003 and was selected  to the "100 for 100" All-Time Football Team in 2008 to help commemorate the 100th year of football at Eastern. In 27 career basketball games, Picard averaged 3.0 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.6 assists. He went on to play three seasons (54 career games) in the National Football League for the Philadelphia Eagles, and ended his career at the first training camp of the expansion Seattle Seahawks in 1976.

Several other Eagles have played both football and basketball since Picard, but none have lettered in both. Wide receiver Jerrold Jackson lettered in football from 1993-96, and played one minute for the hoop squad in the 1995-96 season. All-America quarterback Harry Leons lettered in football for three seasons from 1995-97, and was also on the basketball roster for a short time but did not play. Henry Bekkering lettered in basketball for Eastern in the 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons, and was also on the football roster in 2003. He played in four football games that season as a non-lettering squad member, and averaged 56.5 yards on 27 kickoffs, while routinely kicking the ball into the end zone.


Hayford’s First Eastern Win Has South Dakota Connections

Coming full circle, Jim Hayford’s first win as Eastern Washington’s head coach came in a 70-61 win on Nov. 15 over South Dakota. South Dakota was directed by veteran head coach Dave Boots, who has won nearly 500 games in 23-plus seasons at the helm of the Coyotes. In fact, in the 1999-2000 season, Boots’ South Dakota squad knocked off Hayford’s University of Sioux Falls team 95-73. Hayford went on to finish 15-15 in his first season as a collegiate head coach, while the Coyotes finished 22-6.

“I’ll always remember my first win at Eastern was against South Dakota,” said Hayford. “It’s kind of poetic because my first head coaching job was in South Dakota.”

Debut Schedule for Hayford Features Games Versus 11 Participants in 2011 National Tournaments

His debut schedule as a NCAA Division I head coach is incredibly difficult, but that doesn’t bother Jim Hayford.

The schedule for the first-year Eastern men’s basketball coach is top-heavy with perennial NCAA Tournament teams, including the likes of Gonzaga, Oregon, UCLA and Saint Mary’s.

In all, the Eagles play 15 games versus 11 NCAA Division I schools which played in national postseason tournaments in 2011. The Eagles will play all 11 of those foes on the road, as well as four league home games.

“This will be a very difficult preseason schedule,” admitted Hayford. “It’s road-heavy and the opponents are very good. But it’s also the kind of schedule we need to play to prepare ourselves to become a perpetual postseason team.”

Headlining the list of opponents are 2011 NCAA Tournament participants Gonzaga from the West Coast Conference, UCLA from the Pac-12 and Northern Colorado from the Big Sky. Eastern officially opens its season at Gonzaga on Nov. 11, and plays at UCLA on Dec. 14. The Eagles and Bears play in Greeley, Colo., on Jan. 14 and in Cheney, Wash., on Feb. 15.

The Eagles play a pair of road games against teams which played in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) a year ago – Washington State from the Pac-12 (Dec. 3) and Saint Mary’s from the WCC (Dec. 20). The Cougars won three games before losing in the semifinals to Wichita State.

A third Pac-12 foe on Eastern’s road schedule is Oregon (Nov. 17), which won last year’s College Basketball Invitational Tournament (CBI). Other EWU opponents who played in the CBI are Big Sky rivals Montana and Weber State.

The Eagles also play three teams who participated in the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament (CIT), including road games at Hawai’i (Nov. 22) and Idaho (Nov. 30). Northern Arizona from the Big Sky also played in the CIT in 2011.

Eastern’s other NCAA Division I non-conference games are against South Dakota (Nov. 15 at home), UC Davis (Nov. 27 at home), Cal State Fullerton (Dec. 11 on the road) and Seattle (Jan. 16 on the road). The Eagles will also play on the road in an ESPN BracketBusters game on Feb. 17 or 18.

Eastern’s Big Sky Conference slate begins Dec. 28 and Dec. 30 with road games at Montana State and Montana, respectively. The Eagles open their league home schedule on Jan. 5 versus Weber State, then host Northern Arizona two nights later. Eastern home games will begin at 6:05 p.m. Pacific time this season, except for a Sunday afternoon game versus UC Davis (1:35 p.m.).

The quarterfinals of the Big Sky Conference Tournament are scheduled for March 3 at campus sites. The regular season champion will host the semifinals on March 6 and the championship game on March 7.


Coaches Pick Eagles to Finish Third

Whether or not the respect is warranted will be determined next March. But for now, new Eastern men’s basketball coach Jim Hayford and his team received notable respect from Big Sky Conference head coaches by being picked to finish third, the league announced on Oct. 19.

With eight returning letterwinners and several talented newcomers, Eastern was picked by the coaches to finish behind predicted winner Weber State and runner-up Montana in the league race. The Eagles were just one point ahead of fourth-place Northern Colorado, the league’s defending regular season and tournament champion.

In the media poll, Eastern was picked to finish sixth, just three points away from No. 5 Portland State. Weber State, Montana, Northern Colorado and Northern Arizona held down the first four positions.

“The coaches who have been in the conference know about this much more than me,” said Hayford, “and they are saying it looks like a very competitive conference race with many close games in store for our team.”

The top six teams in the regular season standings advance to the league’s postseason tournament, which begins March 3, 2012. Last year, Eastern finished 10-20 overall and 7-9 in the Big Sky to advance to the tournament for the first time in five years.

“Both polls pick us to be in the post-season,” added Hayford, who was 217-57 the past five seasons at NCAA Division III Whitworth University. “I hope they are correct.”

Eastern opens the 2011-12 season on Nov. 11 at Gonzaga, and its league opener is Dec. 28 at Montana State.


Coaches Poll
1. Weber State (8) – 64 votes
2. Montana (1) – 56
3. Eastern Washington – 42
4. Northern Colorado – 41
5. Portland State – 38
6. Northern Arizona – 35
7. Montana State – 24
8. Sacramento State – 16
9. Idaho State – 9

Media Poll
1. Weber State (19) – 210
2. Montana (4) – 193
3. Northern Colorado (1) – 141
4. Northern Arizona – 125
5. Portland State – 112
6. Eastern Washington – 109
7. Montana State – 101
8. Sacramento State – 45
9.  Idaho State – 41


Eagles Versus Ranked Teams

Now 1-18 versus nationally-ranked teams, Eastern narrowly lost 77-69 on Nov. 11, 2011, to a Gonzaga team ranked 23rd in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today preseason coaches' polls.

Eastern lost to Washington 98-72 on Nov. 16, 2010, and 86-57 to Gonzaga on Nov. 30, 2010, in EWU’s other recent games against nationally-ranked teams. Washington was ranked 17th by Associated Press and 15th in the ESPN/USA Today coaches' poll, and Gonzaga was 24th by the coaches.

In the 2009-10 season, the Eagles fell 94-52 to Gonzaga on Dec. 28, 2009. The Bulldogs were ranked 22nd by ESPN/USA Today, but were just out of the top 25 at No. 26 by Associated Press. The 2008-09 season was the first time since 2002-03 that Eastern did not play a nationally-ranked team. The Eagles played 12 such games in the five seasons before that.

Eastern’s list versus nationally-ranked teams includes three games in the 2004-05 season alone as well as three the year before. Seven of the games came under former head coach Mike Burns and five others came under Ray Giacoletti from 2000-2004.
11/11/11 vs. #23 Gonzaga – L, 69-77

11/30/10 vs. #24 (ESPN/USA Today) Gonzaga - L, 57-86
11/16/10 vs. #17 Washington - L, 72-98
12/28/09 vs. #22 (ESPN/USA Today) Gonzaga - L, 52-94
12/5/07 vs. #3 Kansas - L, 47-85
11/9/07 vs. #10 Washington State - L, 41-68
12/15/06 vs. #22 Oregon - L, 74-100
11/24/06 vs. #16 Washington - L, 83-90
12/19/05 vs. #8 Gonzaga - L, 65-75
12/16/05 vs. #11 Washington - L, 74-91
12/28/04 vs. #14 Arizona - L, 45-79
12/21/04 vs. #13 Gonzaga - L, 70-83
12/5/04 vs. #14 Washington - L, 56-89
3/19/04 vs. #3 Oklahoma State - L, 56-75
12/31/03 vs. #16 Gonzaga - L, 49-70
11/21/03 vs. #14 Oklahoma - L, 59-69
11/15/01 vs. #10 St. Joseph's - W, 68-67
11/25/00 vs. #4 Michigan State - L, 61-83
1/21/85 vs. #10 DePaul - L, 50-72


Hayford Enters First Season as Head Coach

After spending 10 seasons building nearby Whitworth University into a NCAA Division III powerhouse, Jim Hayford was announced as Eastern’s new head men’s basketball coach on March 29, 2011. He becomes Eastern’s 17th head coach in history and ninth at the NCAA Division I level (since 1983-84).

In his tenure at the helm of the Pirates, Hayford had a record of 217-57 and a winning percentage of .792. He coached the Pirates to eight 20-win seasons, six appearances in the NCAA Division III Tournament (including the last five seasons in a row), five Northwest Conference titles, three NCAA DIII Sweet 16 appearances (2008, 2010, 2011) and one Elite Eight appearance (2011).

Hayford, 43, earned five NWC Coach of the Year awards and was honored by the National Association of Basketball Coaches as the West Region Coach of the Year in both the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons. In Hayford’s final two years at Whitworth, the Pirates were 54-5 overall and 31-1 in league play. Whitworth was ranked 21-consecutive times in the D3hoops.com NCAA Division III rankings over Hayford’s final three seasons at Whitworth.

During his 10 seasons leading the Pirates, Hayford coached six Northwest Conference Players of the Year – Bryan Depew (2003), Lance Pecht (2006), Bryan Williams (2007), Ryan Symes (2008), Nate Montgomery (2010) and Michael Taylor (2011). During the same period, 25 Whitworth players earned All-NWC honors, including 18 first-team selections.

Including his two seasons at Sioux Falls (1999-2001), Hayford’s win-loss record is 254-84 (.751) in 12 seasons as a head coach. His career winning percentage ranks among the top 10 among all active NCAA Division III coaches.

Whitworth spent three weeks in the 2010-11 season ranked No. 1 in the D3hoops.com NCAA Division III rankings, including the top ranking at the end of the regular season. The Pirates set a school record for victories  and winning percentage in finishing 28-2 (.933), and ended the season ranked fifth nationally after losing at Wooster 76-66 on March 12, 2011. Whitworth advanced to the NCAA Division III Sectional Final (Elite Eight) for the first time in school history, while making its fifth-straight NCAA DIII Tournament appearance. The Pirates also claimed their fifth-straight NWC Tournament title.



Eastern 12-74 Versus the Pac-12 Conference; 11-54 Versus Washington State

Eastern plays three foes from the Pac-12 Conference this season – Oregon, Washington State and UCLA -- and is currently 12-74 versus teams from that league. Earlier this season, Eastern lost 73-65 to Oregon and then lost to Washington State 79-49 for its 13th-straight loss versus current teams from the league.

The Eagles are now 11-54 in the all-time series against Washington State, to go along with a 1-11 record all-time against Washington. Eastern is 0-9 against other members of the Pac-12, giving the Eagles a 12-74 record all-time against that league. Since Eastern moved to NCAA Division I in the 1983-84 season, EWU is 2-33.

Eastern’s win at Washington in the 2002-03 season snapped a five-game losing streak versus Pacific 10 Conference opponents dating back to Eastern’s 83-82 overtime win versus Washington State on Dec. 22, 1997, in Kennewick, Wash. That victory over WSU was Eastern’s first-ever victory over a Pacific 8 or Pacific 10 Conference opponent since the inception of the conference in 1968. It was also Eastern’s first win over Washington State since Dec. 1, 1952, when the Eagles pulled out a 72-71 overtime road win, which is EWU’s last win in Pullman in the series. The Cougars had led the all-time series 50-10 and had won 17-straight games over the Eagles prior to that EWU victory in 1997.

Eastern’s lone victory over the Huskies was 62-58 in December 2002. Washington won the previous four meetings which all took place between December 1989 and December 1996.

Other meetings against the Pac-12 have yielded losses to Oregon (73-65 on Nov. 17, 2011 and 100-74 on Dec. 15, 2006), Arizona (79-45 on Dec. 28, 2004), California (56-27 on Nov. 16, 2001 and 94-63 on Nov. 25, 1998) and Oregon State (58-50 on Dec. 19, 2000 and 78-62 on Dec. 15, 1999).

Against new members of the Pac-12, the Eagles are 0-2. Eastern has lost twice to Colorado (79-61 on Dec. 18, 1999 and 87-67 on Dec. 2, 1994) and has never played Utah. Eastern has also never played UCLA, USC, Arizona State or Stanford.

Here is a list of the previous meetings against Washington State since EWU became a member of NCAA Division I in the 1983-84 season:

12/14/85 - L - Washington State - 71-80 – A
11/27/87 - L - Washington State - 46-68 – N
11/26/88 - L - Washington State - 47-55 – N
12/11/89 - L - Washington State - 42-81 – A
12/10/91 - L - Washington State - 59-80 – H
12/12/92 - L - Washington State - 66-83 – A
11/29/94 - L - Washington State - 59-87 – A
11/26/95 - L - Washington State - 58-90 – A
12/7/96 - L - Washington State - 46-80 – H
12/22/97 - W - Washington State - 83-82 (ot) – N
12/5/98 - L - Washington State - 72-91 – H
11/9/07 - L - Washington State - 41-68 – A
11/16/09 - L - Washington State – 61-67 – A
12/3/11 - L - Washington State – 49-75 - A


Here is a list of the previous meetings against Washington:
12/13/89 - L - Washington - 58-74 - A
11/25/94 - L - Washington - 48-64 - A
11/28/95 - L - Washington - 55-74 - H
12/29/96 - L - Washington - 54-81 - A
12/14/02 - W - Washington - 62-58 - A
11/29/03 - L - Washington - 91-104 - A
12/05/04 - L - Washington - 56-89 - A
12/16/05 - L - Washington - 74-91 - A
11/24/06 - L - Washington - 83-90 - A
11/18/07 - L - Washington - 68-82 - A
12/20/08 - L - Washington - 50-83 - A
11/16/10 - L - Washington - 72-98 - A


Here is a list of the previous meetings against other members of the Pac-10 Conference since EWU became a member of NCAA Division I in the 1983-84 season:
12/2/94 - L - Colorado - 67-87 - A
11/25/98 - L - California - 63-94 – A
12/15/99 - L - Oregon State - 62-78 - A
12/18/99 - L - Colorado - 61-79 - A
12/19/00 - L - Oregon State - 50-58 - A
11/16/01 - L - California - 27-56 - A
12/28/04 - L -  Arizona - 45-79 - A
12/15/06 - L - Oregon - 74-100 - A
11/17/11 - L - Oregon - 65-73 - A

Eastern versus Pacific Lutheran

The Eagles lead the all-time series 29-25, and have won both previous meetings since EWU moved to NCAA Division I in the 1983-84 season. Former rivals in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), the series dates back to 1924 (a 51-16 Eastern victory).

12/20/93 - W - 83-58 - H
11/19/05 - W - 89-63 - H


Eastern versus Saint Mary’s

Eastern is 2-3 all-time versus Saint Mary's, including an 85-65 loss in Moraga on March 13, 2009, in a late addition to the schedule. The late addition to the schedule came after SMC was looking for another game to help better prepare All-America candidate Patrick Mills, who had missed nine games prior to the WCC Tournament because of a broken hand, for the NCAA or NIT Tournament (they ended up in the NIT). He finished with 19 points against the Eagles on 6-of-14 shooting from the field. He had four three-pointers and added a pair of assists and four steals.

Eastern is 2-0 in Cheney against the Gaels, winning 88-80 in Cheney on Nov. 26, 2002. The Eagles finished 18-13 and advanced to the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) that season, a year before EWU advanced to its first and only NCAA Tournament.

Eastern lost 73-67 in Moraga on Dec. 22, 2001, in Randy Bennett’s first year as Saint Mary’s head coach. Eastern’s head coach in the last 2001 and 2002 meetings with the Gaels was Ray Giacoletti, who is now an assistant coach at Gonzaga.

The Eagles also beat the Gaels on Dec. 29, 1989, in Cheney and lost to them 76-56 on Dec. 19, 1988, on a neutral court.

3/13/09 - L - 65-85 - A
11/26/02 - W - 88-80 - H
12/22/01 - L - 67-73 - A
12/29/89 - W - 98-73 - H
12/19/88 - L - 56-76 - N


Last Meeting -- Saint Mary’s 85, Eastern Washington 65

For a hastily-scheduled game that looked like a mis-match on paper, the Eastern Washington University men’s basketball team didn’t go out quietly.

The Eagles led much of the first half, but Saint Mary’s pulled away in the second half for an 85-65 victory in a non-conference game March 13, 2009, at McKeon Pavilion in Moraga, Calif.

Six-foot-11 center Omar Samhan paced the Gaels with a career-high 29 points and 12 rebounds as four Saint Mary’s players scored in double figures. Eastern’s 6-9 center, Brandon Moore, scored 10 first-half points and finished with 15 points and five rebounds. Benny Valentine scored 11 and Andy Genao and Chris Busch each added 10 points for the Eagles.

Saint Mary’s out-scored Eastern 19-3 to open the second half and put the game out of reach.

Eastern finished the season 12-18, although it thought it had ended its season on Feb. 28 with a 68-62 overtime loss to Portland State. The setback eliminated the Eagles from contention for one of six berths into the Big Sky Conference Tournament, which started March 7 and ended with PSU winning the title and advancing to the NCAA Tournament  for the second-straight year.

Saint Mary’s, meanwhile, improved to 26-6. Two days after the victory, the Gaels were disappointed to not receive a NCAA Tournament at-large berth and had to settle for an appearance in the National Invitation Tournament instead.

The late addition to the schedule came after SMC was looking for another game to help better prepare All-America candidate Patrick Mills, who had missed nine games prior to the WCC Tournament because of a broken hand. He finished with 19 points against the Eagles on 6-of-14 shooting from the field. He had four three-pointers and added a pair of assists and four steals.

Saint Mary’s had 14 offensive rebounds, leading to 18 second-chance points and a 38-27 rebounding edge overall. The Gaels also turned 13 Eastern turnovers into 20 points.

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