Eastern Tries Try to Continue Home Mastery of Sac State
It won’t be easy against a much-improved Hornet squad, but Eagles will be trying to win their 16th-straight against Sacramento State in Cheney
EWU versus Sacramento State
Saturday, Feb. 4 - 6:05 p.m. Pacific
Reese Court (6,000) - Cheney, Wash.
EWU at Weber State
Saturday, Feb. 11 - 6:35 p.m. Pacific
Dee Events Center (12,000) - Ogden, Utah.
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. Remaining live shows take place at the Q on
2/6, 2/13, 2/20, 2/27, 3/5.
TV: There is no TV for the Sac State or Weber
Radio: (all EWU games) 700 ESPN "The Ticket" and via the web at http://www.700espn.com
Radio via iPhone App: Search for “Spokane Radio” and download app
Webcasts: (All home games and all Big Sky Conference games) http://www.bigskytv.org
Live Stats: (All EWU Home Games) CLICK HERE; (Weber State)
Now in fifth place in the league standings after its third Big Sky Conference road victory in five tries this season, Eastern Washington University head men’s basketball coach Jim Hayford has a simple analysis of his team’s chances at advancing to the postseason.
“We just have to keep winning,” he said matter-of-factly after the Eagles improved to 5-5 in the Big Sky Conference and 11-12 overall with a 74-68 win at Northern Arizona on Thursday (Feb. 2).
Next, the Eagles will try to beat Sacramento State for the 16th-straight time at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash., when the Hornets visit Saturday (Feb. 4) for a pivotal league contest. The game starts at 6:05 p.m. Pacific time, with all Eastern fans encouraged to wear white on “White Out Reese” night.
The radio broadcast of Saturday’s game, featuring play-by-play announcer Dennis Patchin, may be heard on 700-AM ESPN, via the web at 700espn.com and via iPhone application (search for “Spokane Radio” and download the free app).
The Eagles have had mixed success at home this season, and actually have a better league road record (3-2) than home record (2-3) thus far. But it hasn’t been that way in the last 15 years for Eastern against Sac State.
Eastern has a 16-1 record versus Sacramento State in Cheney, and has won the last 15 meetings at home versus the Hornets, dating back to a 68-67 Hornet victory on Jan. 19, 1995. The Eagles are 26-9 all-time versus Sacramento State, and EWU has won 19 of the last 24 meetings.
But Eastern hasn’t exactly been dominating at home, and enters Saturday’s game 6-3 at Reese Court after a 4-0 start. The Hornets, meanwhile, picked up a big road win with a 73-62 victory at Northern Colorado Thursday, and are 7-14 on the season and 2-8 in the Big Sky. After losing its first eight league games of the season, the Hornets registered a 77-43 home win over NAU on Jan. 28 and will come to Cheney with a two-game winning streak.
That victory over the Lumberjacks snapped a nine-game losing streak overall for Sac State, which is now 2-8 on the road this season. The Hornets won at UC Davis 69-61 back on Nov. 22, and had lost seven road games in a row until knocking off UNC in Greeley. Eastern beat UC Davis at home, 79-59, five days after Sac State’s win over the Aggies.
“It’s going to be a very physical game on Saturday and we need our fans to support us,” said Hayford. “(Sacramento State head coach Brian Katz) has done a great job to get his team turned back around. They’ll come in here with some mojo.”
Hayford is excited to return home after making the most difficult trip of the season to Flagstaff, Ariz., where Eastern has traditionally struggled. The win snapped a seven-game losing streak for the Eagles in Flagstaff, dating back to Jan. 15, 2004, when Eastern was victorious 63-57. Eastern is 7-20 all-time in Flagstaff.
“This is the hardest road trip in the league – you have the longest flight and the longest bus ride,” said Hayford. “It’s a bummer, but the positive is that Sacramento State played in Greeley, so they have to bus to Denver and get themselves to Spokane too.”
Eastern moved past Portland State, a 92-79 loser at league-leader Weber State on Thursday, into fifth in the league standings. Only the top six teams at the end of the regular season advance to the Big Sky Conference Tournament.
If Eastern can knock off Sac State, that would give the Eagles season sweeps over Montana State, Northern Arizona and the Hornets, and the associated tiebreaker advantages that come with it. Earlier this season, Eastern knocked off the Hornets 65-60 on Jan. 12 to improve to 9-8 overall and 3-2 in the Big Sky, but then lost four-straight games. However, that skid was stopped with a 69-52 home win over Montana State last Jan. 28.
“Our goal now is to get three sweeps in row,” said Eastern head coach Jim Hayford before the NAU game. “It was 16 days since we won, and a couple of those were heartbreakers -- they were demoralizing. It is just a different mood coming to practice every day. Unfortunately, losing is contagious just like winning is contagious. At some point we had to draw a line in the sand and stop it. So beating Montana State was a really, really good game to win.”
Eastern has had fewer turnovers than its opponent in all but two games this season (Montana on Jan. 26 and Saint Mary’s on Dec. 20). The Eagles are 14th in NCAA Division I in turnover margin (+4.1 per game).
All and all, Hayford is pleased with his team’s progress after winning just nine games in the 2009-10 season and 10 a year ago.
“We need to look at the big picture,” said EWU’s first-year head coach. “We’re playing with nine scholarship players because we have two redshirts and we lost two players, so we don’t have a tremendous amount of depth. Our margin for error is small and we’ve hurt ourselves a little bit. But in the last two years Eastern has won nine and 10 games, and now we have our 10th win on night No. 22.”
Even then, Hayford knows his team has to still correct some mistakes if it’s going to be a legitimate championship contender.
“I’m glad we won, but we have to keep pushing and pushing to stop making mistakes,” he said after the NAU victory. “You want your team to play hard for you, but you have to respect the game of basketball mentally too. We keep trying to teach and teach, and we’re at the time of the season where those lessons should be learned. That’s the hard part, but I am happy with the victory. I want us to learn from previous mistakes. But it was a lot better to ride back down to Phoenix with a win than having to learn those lessons with a loss.”
“This is a team game and it’s not about one individual at any point of the game,” he added, making note of how hard his team played at NAU. “We want our team to play hard and smart, and right now were getting one of the two.”
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Football Links and Headlines
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Big Sky Conference Basketball -- http://www.bigskyconf.com/index.aspx?tab=basketball&path=mbball
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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Eagles Play at UC Irvine in BracketBuster Game
The Eastern Washington University men’s basketball team will play at Big West Conference foe UC Irvine on Saturday, Feb. 18 at 7 p.m. as part of the Sears ESPN BracketBusters announced Monday (Jan. 30). Tip-off will be 7 p.m. Pacific time at the Bren Events Center in Irvine, Calif.
Eastern is 3-3 all-time against UC Irvine, having lost the first three meetings and winning the last three. The teams last met in the 2008-09 season when they had a home-and-home series against each other. Eastern won 74-69 in Irvine on Nov. 19, 2008, then won again 11 days later in Cheney, Wash., by a 78-64 score.
As part of the Sears ESPN BracketBusters agreement, UC Irvine will play in Cheney in the 2013-14 season.
Eagles 211th in RPI
In the Ratings Percentage Index lists released by the NCAA on Jan. 30, Eastern was ranked 211th out of 344 NCAA Division I schools. The only Big Sky teams ahead of the Eagles were Weber State (91st) and Montana (107th) After Eastern, which was a season-high 129th on Jan. 2, the next league schools were and Portland State (212th), Montana State (261st), Idaho State (263rd), Northern Colorado (264th), Northern Arizona (323rd) and Sacramento State (336th).
In the Sagarin Computer Ratings (through games of Feb. 2), the Eagles were 196th with the 195th-highest strength of schedule rating. Montana was 107th, followed by Weber State (117th), Portland State (215th), Northern Colorado (262nd), Montana State (279th), Idaho State (281st), Sacramento State (288th) and Northern Arizona (326th).
Thanks to One of Best Non-Conference Records in School History, Winning Season in Reach for Eagles
It’s been five years since the Eastern Washington University men’s basketball team has had a winning record, and its successful non-conference season has helped the Eagles make that an attainable feat. Now in its 25th season as a member of the Big Sky Conference, only seven of those years has Eastern had a non-losing non-conference record. Eastern is now 6-7 in non-conference games, and still has to play UC Irvine on Feb. 18 in the ESPN Bracketbusters.
Eastern’s last winning season came in 2006-07 – with sophomore Rodney Stuckey leading the way – when EWU finished 15-14 and 8-8 in league play. One season earlier, the Eagles were 9-5 in the Big Sky in Stuckey’s freshman season – the last time the Eagles have had a winning record in league play.
The 2006-07 season was also the last time Eastern has enjoyed a .500 or better record in the non-conference portion of its schedule. Eastern was 6-5 in the 1989-90, 1990-91 and 1997-98 seasons; 5-5 in 2000-01; 8-6 in 2002-03 when Eastern advanced to the National Invitation Tournament; and 7-6 in 2006-07 when the Eagles tied for fifth in the league but did not advance to the league tournament because of tiebreakers.
Eastern entered league play 6-6, and Hayford looked forward to the new experience of Big Sky Conference play after going 4-0 at home and recording huge road wins at Hawaii and Idaho during the pre-conference portion of his debut season. Until those victories, Eastern hadn’t won consecutive road games since the 2007-08 season.
“Everything is a first-time experience for our program, but I’m loving the journey,” first-year head coach Jim Hayford said prior to the team’s league opener. “I want them to win and they want to win. They are hurting when they lose, and that shows me a lot. I think I owe it to our team to take a big-picture step back and say we have played some good basketball. But we need to keep doing that.
“We’re 6-6 and we’ve played eight out of 12 on the road,” he explained. “Saint Mary’s is probably a top 25 team and Gonzaga spent some time there, and we have three losses to Pac-12 teams. Those are five losses to teams that would be picked to win the Big Sky if they were in our league. We’re 6-1 in the other seven games, and you can take away the non-Division I wins if you want. That’s 4-1 against similar teams and I think we’ll be alright during the league season.”
With Turnover Advantage in All But Two Games Thus Far, Eastern 14th Nationally in Turnover Margin
Eastern has had fewer turnovers than its opponents in 21 of 23 games thus far, with 364 turnovers forced and 270 committed. The result is a Big Sky-leading turnover margin of plus 4.1 per game to rank 14th in NCAA Division I through games of Feb. 2. Eastern leads the league in turnovers forced at 15.8 per game and is also No. 2 in fewest committed with a current mark of 11.7 to rank 29th in NCAA Division I through games of Feb. 2.
In other Big Sky team statistics rankings, Eastern is second in the league in 3-pointers made with a current average of 9.26 per game to rank fifth nationally behind Florida at 10.5, Coppin State at 9.7, Troy at 9.6 and Weber State at 9.33 through games of Feb. 2. The Eagles also are first in offensive rebounds (12.3 per game) and steals (7.2); and third in assist-to-turnover ratio (+1.0) and blocked shots (3.3). The Eagles are last in in field goal percentage (.407) and rebounds allowed per game (36.6); and second-to-last in rebounding margin (-2.5).
Individually, Collin Chiverton is second in the league in 3-pointers made per game with an average of 3.3 to rank sixth in NCAA Division I through games of Feb. 2, third in scoring (16.9), seventh in 3-point percentage (.425) and seventh in free throw percentage (.788). Cliff Colimon is third in the Big Sky Conference in steals (1.8 per game), third in assists (5.2), sixth in assist-to-turnover ratio (+1.7), sixth in scoring (14.3), fifth in 3-pointers made per game (2.0), fifth in free throw percentage (.806) and fifth in minutes played (34.3). Cliff Ederaine is second in rebounding (7.8), 16th in scoring (10.9), 11th in field goal percentage (.492), fourth in blocked shots (1.1), ninth in assists (2.9), sixth in steals (1.5) and fourth in offensive rebounds (2.3). Laron Griffin is leading the league in offensive rebounds (3.2) and is fourth overall in rebounding (6.7), and Jeffrey Forbes is 15th in 3-pointers made per game (1.4). Tremayne Johnson is ninth in blocked shots (0.7), 18th in rebounding (4.4) and 15th in offensive rebounds (1.7).
In Big Sky Conference statistics only, EWU leads in turnover margin (+4.3) and offensive rebounds (12.7); and is last in field goal percentage (.403), assists (11.2 per game) and rebounds allowed (36.3). Griffin leads in offensive rebounds (3.6).
On Pace for School Records, Eagles Second in Big Sky and Sixth in NCAA Division I in 3-Point Shooting
The Eagles are currently averaging 9.26 3-pointers per game to lead the Big Sky, just behind the 9.33 average for Weber State. Eastern’s average ranks fifth nationally behind Florida at 10.5, Coppin State at 9.7, Troy at 9.6 and Weber State at 9.33 through games of Feb. 2. Eastern has made 213-of-593 for 35.9 percent (fourth-best in the league). 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 53.9 percent.
Eight different Eagles have made treys, led by the 76 of junior college transfer Collin Chiverton and 46 by point guard Cliff Colimon. Chiverton’s average of 3.3 per game is second in the league and ranks sixth nationally through games of Feb. 2.
Based on the 30-game regular season, Eastern is on pace to finish 277-of-773 and shatter school records for 3-point makes and attempts (242, 656). Chiverton already ranks third in school history for treys made in a season, with the record of 103 set by Shannon Taylor in the 1998-99 season. Chiverton is on pace to finish with 99.
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. Kevin Winford made 66 3-pointers in the 2010-11 season to rank fifth (now sixth) in single season school history, and his 187 attempts were fourth. Jeffrey Forbes made 55 treys to rank 11th (now 12th).
“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.”
Eagles Flexing Their Muscles Inside
With Eastern’s shooting percentage from the perimeter suffering in recent games, Eastern has re-established an inside presence. In a 69-52 win over Montana State on Jan. 28, Eastern had a season-high 40 points inside the paint, second only overall to the 44 the Eagles had versus Linfield on Dec. 8. The previous most versus a NCAA foe was on Dec. 28 when the Eagles had 26 against MSU in a 82-66 victory in Bozeman.
A trio of seniors 6-foot-7 or taller paved the way for the most recent win over MSU, combining for 40 points and 30 rebounds. Laron Griffin (6-8) had a double-double with 12 points and 14 rebounds; Cliff Ederaine (6-7) had 17 points, eight rebounds and three assists; and Tremayne Johnson (6-7) came off the bench to score 11 points and grab eight boards. In the next game, a 74-68 road win at Northern Arizona, Ederaine had a double-double with 11 points and 13 rebounds; Griffin had seven rebounds and five points; and Johnson had six points and three boards. Collectively, they made 12-of-18 free throws versus the Lumberjacks.
“One of the things that we were really working on is that if we want to get the ball inside we need to get higher percentage shots and we need to shoot more free throws,” said Hayford after the MSU rematch. “We knew our team was progressing and we needed to develop some sort of low post presence in order to get better as a team.
“It doesn’t feel like there are that many nights where the other team’s big guys are the same size as ours,” Hayford said of his big men. “So it was neat for us to flex our muscles down low.”
In Big Sky Conference statistics, Ederaine is second in rebounding (7.8), 16th in scoring (10.9), 11th in field goal percentage (.492), fourth in blocked shots (1.1), ninth in assists (2.9), sixth in steals (1.5) and fourth in offensive rebounds (2.3). Griffin is leading the league in offensive rebounds (3.2) and is fourth overall in rebounding (6.7), and Johnson is ninth in blocked shots (0.7), 18th in rebounding (4.4) and 15th in offensive rebounds (1.7).
Ederaine has had five double-doubles this season (six in his career), including 12 points and 12 rebounds in a 71-70 loss at Northern Colorado on Jan. 14 and 10 points and 13 boards against Montana on Jan. 26. Griffin has had one double-double this season (four in his career), but has had four performances with at least 10 rebounds this year (10 in his career). Johnson has had four double-doubles in his career, including two this year versus Portland State (20 points, 10 rebounds on Jan. 21) and Montana (14 points and 10 rebounds on Dec. 30)
After leading Eastern to a pair of late November victories, 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.
He had a splendid outing in a 76-69 loss to Weber State on Jan. 5, finishing with 20 points, nine rebounds, five assists, a career-high five steals and a pair of blocked shots. He had no turnovers in 34 minutes after having five in 23 minutes in EWU’s previous game, a 79-71 loss at Montana.
“Big Cliff played a great game -- he was the best big man on the court,” said Eastern head coach Jim Hayford after the Weber State game. “We were able to run the offense through him. He felt bad about the turnovers in Missoula so I asked him what he was going to do about that the next game. He really worked hard tonight.”
Interestingly, in Eastern’s victories this season Ederaine is averaging 14.0 points (62.4 percent shooting), 8.4 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.4 blocked shots per game. In losses, he is averaging only 8.1 points (37.8 percent shooting), 7.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.7 steals and 0.8 blocks per game. Prior to the Weber State game, in losses he was averaging only 6.1 points (27.3 percent shooting), 6.1 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.0 steals and 0.7 blocks per game.
En route to a career-high 23 points versus UC Davis, Ederaine made 8-of-9 shots from the field, including his first trey of the season and only the second of his career. 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 63.3 percent, 69-of-109).
To add to his night, Ederaine also had 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.
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.
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 has had 11 20-point performances as an Eagle – including five-straight games from Jan. 12-26. Chiverton is second in the league in 3-pointers made per game with an average of 3.3 to rank sixth in NCAA Division I through games of Feb. 2, third in scoring (16.9), seventh in 3-point percentage (.425) and seventh in free throw percentage (.788).
However, an off-season stress fracture in his foot was reinjured over the Christmas break, and the 6-foot-6 Chiverton has been hampered ever since. He didn’t play in the first half against NAU on Jan. 7, but scored 12 points in the second half – including EWU’s first 10 of the half to give the Eagles the lead for good in the 76-59 win. He followed that with 21 points in just 25 minutes of action versus Sacramento State on Jan. 12, 21 in 18 minutes versus Northern Colorado on Jan. 14 and 26 in 26 minutes at Seattle on Jan. 16. Thus, in those four games, he scored nearly a point a minute – 80 in 83 minutes – while making 19-of-34 (56 percent) from the 3-point arc.
He followed that by playing 37 minutes against Portland State on Jan. 21, and scored 22 points on 4-of-11 shooting from the 3-point stripe and 7-of-21 overall. His fifth-straight 20-point performance came versus Montana on Jan. 26 when he made 5-of-10 shots overall and 4-of-6 from the 3-point stripe, as well as 8-of-12 free throws.
“It’s an injury that the doctor says he can play through, but with a tremendous amount of pain,” Eastern head coach Jim Hayford explained after the NAU win. “So you have to respect him as a teammate in that he’ll do whatever he can to play. We’re trying to get him as much rest as we can. He had 10 points in his first four minutes, but he also did a great job guarding (NAU guard Stallon) Saldivar.”
For the season, Chiverton is 74-of-171 from the 3-point stripe for 43.3 percent and 52-of-150 inside the arc for 34.7 percent. He made 6-of-8 treys and 1-of-2 2-point attempts en route to scoring 21 points versus Sac State on Jan. 12, but his previous 20-point outing came versus Pacific Lutheran on Dec. 16 when he made 6-of-9 2-point attempts and 4-of-10 treys en route to scoring 26 points.
Chiverton 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.
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 – a team he scored 18 against on Dec. 20 -- 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.
Colimon Impressive in Eastern Victories
Senior point guard Cliff Colimon has been impressive in Eastern victories, including his 22-point effort on 8-of-16 shooting from the field in EWU’s Big Sky Conference-opening 82-66 victory over Montana State on Dec. 28. For the season, he has scored at least 20 points on six occasions.
In Eastern’s victories this season, Colimon is averaging 16.2 points per game on 43.1 percent shooting from the field (26-of-62 from the 3-point arc for 41.9 percent). In EWU’s losses, he is averaging 12.7 points on 33.1 percent shooting from the field (20-of-65 3-point shooting for 30.8 percent).
For the season, Colimon is third in the Big Sky Conference in steals (1.8 per game), third in assists (5.2), sixth in assist-to-turnover ratio (+1.7), sixth in scoring (14.3), fifth in 3-pointers made per game (2.0), fifth in free throw percentage (.806) and fifth in minutes played (34.3).
Colimon struggled with his shot in Eastern losses to Saint Mary’s (77-61 on Dec. 20), UCLA (60-47 on Dec. 14) and Washington State (75-49 on Dec. 3). He was just 4-of-33 (12.1 percent) from the field in those three games, including only 2-of-13 (15.4 percent) of his 3-point attempts.
But it’s hard to put up better numbers than what Colimon compiled 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.
Colimon followed that with five assists, two steals and two turnovers in 40 minutes versus UCLA, but scored just five points on 1-of-12 shooting. Two nights later versus PLU, he made 8-of-12 shots from the field, 4-of-6 3-pointers and 6-of-9 free throws to finish with a season-high 26 points – one from his career high. He also added seven assists and three steals, but also had an uncharacteristic seven turnovers.
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.”
“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.”
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).
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 134 3-pointers made in his career to rank fourth, his 349 attempts are fourth and his .384 percentage ranks 10th. Fellow junior Kevin Winford has 108 makes to rank sixth and his 318 attempts are fifth.
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 87.5 percent (128-of-146), but he is 20 attempts shy to meet the minimum of two free throw attempts per game. Winford’s 85.3 percent (58-of-68) also exceeds the school record, but he also does not meet the minimums (he has 68 and would need 158). Currently with the school record is the 84.9 percent performance of Eastern Athletics Hall of Fame member Dick Edwards (1953-55). Colimon has made 77.3 percent in his career (92-of-119) and is inching toward the No. 10 position (79.0 percent).
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 fourth in school history with 61, Ederaine is fifth with 59 and Johnson is now eighth with 52.
True Freshman Walk-On Parker Kelly Getting Significant Minutes
Walk-on guard Parker Kelly, a true freshman out of Gonzaga Prep in Spokane, Wash., is getting significant minutes as he continues to adjust to the college game. His is averaging 15.7 minutes in conference play and 12.5 minutes per game overall. He is averaging 4.7 points in the league on 10-of-23 shooting from the 3-point arc (44 percent), and has made 13-of-14 free throws (93 percent). Overall, he is averaging 3.5 points and has made 39 percent of his 3-point attempts (15-of-39) and 94 percent of his free throws (15-of-16).
Kelly equaled his season high with 12 points against Northern Colorado on Jan. 14, and had eight points in 21 minutes in EWU’s 69-52 victory over Montana State on Jan. 28. He followed that with 11 second-half points against Northern Arizona on Feb. 2, as the Eagles rallied from an eight-point second-half deficit to win 74-68. Down the stretch, Kelly made a basket with 4:06 remaining to put the Eagles up by seven, then made a trey with 1:18 to play to enable EWU to maintain a six-point advantage. He then knocked down 4-of-4 free throws in the final 51 seconds to ice the win for the Eagles.
“I was pleased with the job that Parker was doing,” Eastern head coach Jim Hayford said after the MSU rematch. “Parker has great character, he’s a solid person and that’s what he keeps showing over time. I’m really proud of how he is playing. We don’t have a lot of depth so there is a walk-on freshman playing 21 minutes in a big game -- so great job Parker.
“The player that came up with the most clutch plays was our only true freshman on the team,” praised Hayford after the NAU game. “Parker hit a big clutch shot with the shot clock going down and then made those big free throws. He had a lot of courage tonight.”
Kelly helped Gonzaga Prep accumulate a 73-11 overall record and 45-5 league mark in three seasons. He helped lead the Bullpups to the 2011 State 4A Championship, as they were 23-3 after finishing the Greater Spokane League season with a 14-2 record. Kelly scored 24 points in the State title game and earned second-team All-State Tournament honors. Also selected to play in the All-State Game, Kelly averaged more than 18 points per game as a senior en route to earning first team All-Greater Spokane League honors.
His father, Terry, had his No. 44 basketball jersey retired by Gonzaga Prep, as he averaged 26.2 points per game his senior year in 1976 to lead the Spokane City League in scoring. He was the league’s player of the year after leading the Bullpups to a third-place finish at the State AAA Tournament. He went on to Washington State University where he started 80 straight games at one stretch and led the Cougars to the 1980 NCAA tournament.
Tongue-Lashing Keeps Winford Out of UCLA and PLU Games
In a tongue-lashing of a rare kind, junior guard Kevin Winford had to sit out the UCLA game on Dec. 14 and the Pacific Lutheran game two days later because of a swollen tongue. Winford bit his tongue in EWU’s game at Cal State Fullerton on Dec. 11, then spent two days in a California hospital – some of it in intensive care -- because of an inordinate degree of swelling. He returning to play sparingly – just one minute -- against Saint Mary’s on Dec. 20.
Because he is Eastern’s backup point guard, starter Cliff Colimon was forced to play all 40 minutes against UCLA because of the absence of Winford. A 2008 graduate of Bartlett High School in Anchorage, Alaska, Winford is only averaging 11.0 minutes per game this season, and is averaging 2.0 points per game on 8-of-27 shooting from beyond the 3-point 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.”
Kevin Winford poured in 39 points -- including a school-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.
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.”
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.
Hayford’s 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.”
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 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.
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.”
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.
EWU-Sacramento State Series History: Since Eastern became a member of NCAA Division I in the 1983-84 season, the Eagles are 26-9 versus Sacramento State, and the two schools did not play against each other prior to that. Earlier this season, Eastern won in Sacramento 65-60.
The Eagles have won 19 of their last 24 games against the Hornets, and have a 16-1 record versus Sacramento State in Cheney and a 10-8 record in Sacramento. Eastern has won the last 15 meetings at home against Sac State, dating back to a 68-67 Hornet victory on Jan. 19, 1995.
Until falling 74-67 at Sacramento State on Feb. 7, 2010, the Eagles had won the last eight meetings dating back to an 88-69 Hornet victory on Jan. 7, 2006, also in Sacramento.
EWU-Weber State Series History (Since 1983-84): Since Eastern became a member of NCAA Division I in the 1983-84 season, the Eagles are 20-39 against Weber State (20-40 all-time). The Eagles are 14-14 in Cheney, 4-25 in Ogden and 2-0 on neutral courts versus the Wildcats since 1983-84. The only other game in the series was an 83-65 loss in Ogden on Dec. 14, 1978, making EWU 4-26 in Ogden all-time.
Until winning 75-59 on March 2, 2011, the Eagles had lost the last five meetings, with their last win in the series coming on Feb. 14, 2008, at home by a 69-57 score. The Eagles have won 14 of the last 35 meetings after losing nine-straight from 1992-1996. Earlier this season, the Eagles lost at home to the Wildcats, 76-69.
Eastern has defeated the Wildcats three times in the semifinals of the Big Sky Conference Tournament (72-53 in 2004, 62-57 in 2002 and 83-67 in 1990). Besides the 2011 victory, Eastern’s lone victories in Ogden came in 2006 (76-73), 2001 (81-70) and 2000 (90-78). In 2000, Eastern snapped the Wildcats' 30-game home winning streak, which at the time was the fourth longest in NCAA Division I.