Time for Rematches as Eagles Host Grizzlies and Bobcats
Big Sky season started in December for Eastern with upset in Bozeman and near-miss in Missoula
EWU versus Montana
Thursday, Jan. 26 - 6:05 p.m. Pacific
Reese Court (6,000) - Cheney, Wash.
EWU versus Montana State
Saturday, Jan. 28 - 6:05 p.m. Pacific
Reese Court (6,000) - Cheney, Wash.
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
1/23, 1/30, 2/6, 2/13, 2/20, 2/27, 3/5.
TV: UM & MSU games televised in the Spokane
area and throughout Eastern Washington on SWX (SWX Digital 6.2 in
Spokane, 25.3 in the Tri-Cities & 23.3 in the Yakima area;
Comcast 115; Time Warner 306; Charter 287, Cable One 466).
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
The first meetings were interesting. The rematches are intriguing.
Although the Eagles still haven’t played Idaho State, essentially the second half of the Big Sky Conference schedule begins this week for the Eastern Washington University men’s basketball team when they host Montana and Montana State at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash.
The Eagles play the Grizzlies Thursday (Jan. 26) and then host the Bobcats two nights later on Saturday (Jan. 28), with both games starting at 6:05 p.m. Pacific time. A month ago, Eastern upset MSU 75-61 before falling to UM 79-71 in a game the Eagles led by nine early in the second half.
“I don’t know what it will be like this year or what the carryover will be from my previous years in coaching, but my teams have always been good in the second half of the league schedule,” said Eastern head coach Jim Hayford, who spent the past 10 seasons at NCAA Division III powerhouse Whitworth University. “We would start to come together at this time of year and that’s what I’m hoping happens to this team.”
The radio broadcast of the games, 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). Both games will also be televised in the Spokane area and throughout Eastern Washington on SWX (SWX Digital 6.2 in Spokane, 25.3 in the Tri-Cities & 23.3 in the Yakima area; Comcast 115; Time Warner 306; Charter 287, Cable One 466).
Thursday’s game will be “Red Out Reese” Night with EWU fans encouraged to wear red shirts, and pizza given to fans during selected timeouts. EWU Dining Services will also be serving a $8.95 prime rib dinner at the game starting at 5 p.m. Saturday is “Alumni Appreciation Night” with free tickets available for alums at alumni.ewu.edu when they sign-up by Jan. 24. There will be also a post-game autograph session featuring Eagle players, and 2011 Walter Payton Award Winner Bo Levi Mitchell will be recognized at the game as well. In addition, EWU coaches will wear sneakers instead of dress shoes with their suits to demonstrate their support for the American Cancer Society as part of the annual Coaches vs. Cancer Suits and Sneakers awareness weekend.
Eastern enters action this week 3-4 in the Big Sky and 9-11 overall, having missed out a chance to move into sole possession of fourth place in the standings when the Eagles lost at home to Portland State. Because of the 78-76 overtime loss on Jan. 21, Eastern fell into a fifth-place tie with Northern Colorado and Idaho State.
“It’s a work in progress and we’ve been right there with a chance to win in our last two league games,” said Hayford, whose team fell at Northern Colorado 71-70 on Jan. 14. “We had an overtime loss and a crazy ending at Northern Colorado. We’re just really, really close, and we just need to make a few smarter plays at the end of games. We’re that close to 5-2, but that’s not reality. Reality is that we’re 3-4, but I don’t think we’re that far away. It’s going to come together but we have to keep pushing.”
Eastern’s Colin Chiverton has had four-straight 20-point performances for the Eagles – and 10 for the season -- but the Eagles have struggled with its shooting eye in recent games. The Eagles fell from second to third in NCAA Division I in 3-pointers made per game after a 6-of-25 performance (24 percent) against PSU, resulting in a 40 percent shooting night overall (28-of-70). The Eagles made 50 percent of their shots versus MSU, but have been above the 45 percent mark once in seven games since then (47.5 percent in a home win against Northern Arizona).
Eastern, which is averaging 9.7 treys per game, is 6-0 when it makes 45 percent or more from the field and 3-11 when it doesn’t.
The Eagles continue to do an excellent job in the turnover department, ranking 15th nationally in turnover margin (+4.1 per game). Eastern has had fewer turnovers than its opponent in all but one game this season (Saint Mary’s).
“We need to shoot a little better, and maybe the more we are at home the more we’ll get used to shooting well at home,” Hayford added. “We had a lot of open looks against Portland State where it seemed the ball went halfway down the basket and came back out. If we keep working and working, good things will come our way.”
PDF Link to Fact Book
The complete version of the 2011 EWU football fact book may be
Football Links and Headlines
Eastern Basketball -- http://goeags.com/sports/m-baskbl/index
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
More Information and Links are Available at: HTTP://WWW.GOEAGS.COM
More on This Week’s Matchups
The Eagles will be trying to snap a three-game losing streak when they host the Grizzlies, currently 6-1 in the league and 13-6 overall. Montana State enters its game Thursday at Portland State with a 10-8 record overall and 5-2 league mark.
“Even though we are coming together, you have to give room that the other team is coming together too,” EWU head coach Jim Hayford said. “That makes for great, exciting basketball, and all the more reason we need all our fans to be out here supporting us and to be difference makers.”
The only loss for the Grizzlies in league play was an 80-64 loss at unbeaten Weber State (7-0) on Jan. 14. Since beating EWU by eight on Dec. 30, Montana has won four league games by margins of 24, 25, 18 and 29 points – an average winning margin of 24.0 points per game (average score of 77-53).
“They were beat-up pretty good by Weber State, but in the other four games they won by 96 points – they’ve just been steam-rolling people,” said Hayford. “Montana is playing really, really well, and is a veteran team with a veteran coach. They have four-year players, and right now we don’t have any fourth-year seniors playing on our team.”
The Bobcats have won five of six games since falling to EWU in the Big Sky Conference debut for Hayford. It was the school’s most lopsided victory in Bozeman in school history. The Eagles are now 9-27 all-time in Bozeman, with the previous largest margin of victory versus MSU in Bozeman coming in a 75-61 Eastern victory on Dec. 29, 1953.
“The Bobcats are playing really good basketball and I’m sure they are fighting mad that we beat them pretty good in the league opener at their place,” Hayford said. “They want to equalize that by getting a win on our home court, so that should make for a great basketball game. Coach (Brad) Huse does a fantastic job there, and I really like the things he does basketball-wise. It should make for exciting games this week on our home court.”
Eastern may have come out of the opening weekend 2-0 if not for one difficult 10-minute stretch. An 18-1 Grizzly run turned a 47-38 Eastern lead with 18:11 left in the game into a 56-48 Montana advantage at the 10:49 mark. During that stretch, the Eagles were 0-of-9 from the field, 1-of-4 from the free throw line and had two turnovers. Eastern, which made 64 percent of its shots in the first half, missed a total of 10-straight shots before ending a 9:37 stretch without a field goal.
Coaches versus Cancer Awareness is Saturday versus MSU
The annual Coaches vs. Cancer Suits and Sneakers awareness weekend, a collaborative initiative of the American Cancer Society and the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC), takes place this weekend. Eastern coaches will wear sneakers instead of dress shoes with their suits on Saturday versus Montana State (Jan. 28) to demonstrate their support for the American Cancer Society and its vision of a world with less cancer and more birthdays.
Fans may support this cause by texting COACH to 20222 from any wireless phone to make a $5.00 donation toward Coaches vs. Cancer and help in the search for a cure. For more information, visit the Coaches vs. Cancer Facebook page, facebook.com/coachesvscancer.
This year, Coaches vs. Cancer will also launch a new promotion, "National Sneakers Day", on Friday, Jan. 27, to kick off Suits and Sneakers Weekend. Similarly to coaches wearing sneakers on the sidelines, the public is asked to wear your favorite sneakers to work in support of Coaches vs. Cancer and encourage colleagues to do the same.
Additional information is available at coachesvscancer.org.
Eagles 209th in RPI
In the Ratings Percentage Index lists released by the NCAA on Jan. 23, Eastern was ranked 209th out of 344 NCAA Division I schools. The only Big Sky teams ahead of the Eagles were Weber State (82nd), Montana (137th) and Portland State (159th). After Eastern, which was a season-high 129th on Jan. 2, the next-best league schools were Northern Colorado (243rd) and Montana State (264th).
In the Sagarin Computer Ratings (through games of Jan. 22), the Eagles were 188th with the 120th-highest strength of schedule rating. Weber State was 114th, Montana was 117th, Portland State was 195th and Northern Colorado was 236th.
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 an opponent to be determined in the ESPN Bracketbusters in February.
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 One Game Thus Far, Eastern 15th Nationally in Turnover Margin
Eastern has had fewer turnovers than its opponents in 19 of 20 games thus far, with 316 turnovers forced and 235 committed. The result is a Big Sky-leading turnover margin of plus 4.1 per game to rank 15th in NCAA Division I through games of Jan. 22. Eastern also leads the league in turnovers forced at 15.8 per game and is also No. 2 in fewest committed (currently at 11.8 to rank 30th in NCAA Division I through games of Jan. 15).
“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 rankings, Eastern leads the league in 3-pointers made with a current average of 9.7 per game to rank third nationally behind Florida at 10.6 and Troy at 9.8. The Eagles also are first in offensive rebounds (12.3 per game); second in steals (7.1) and assist-to-turnover ratio (+1.1); and third in blocked shots (3.3). The Eagles are last in in field goal percentage (.412) and rebounds allowed per game (35.9); and second-to-last in rebounding margin (-2.7).
Individually, Collin Chiverton is tied for the league led in 3-pointers made per game (currently 3.4 to rank sixth in NCAA Division I), third in scoring (17.3) and sixth in 3-point percentage (.425). Cliff Colimon is third in the Big Sky Conference in steals (1.8 per game), second in assists (5.3), fifth in assist-to-turnover ratio (+1.9), sixth in scoring (15.0), fifth in 3-pointers made per game (2.2), fourth in free throw percentage (.823) and fifth in minutes played (34.2). Cliff Ederaine is second in rebounding (7.3), 16th in scoring (10.7), ninth in field goal percentage (.497), fourth in blocked shots (1.0), 10th in assists (2.8), sixth in steals (1.5) and ninth in offensive rebounds (2.1). Laron Griffin is leading the league in offensive rebounds (3.1) and is seventh overall in rebounding (6.3), and Jeffrey Forbes is 10th in minutes played (32.6) and 12th in 3-pointers made per game (1.5). Tremayne Johnson is 10th in blocked shots (0.7), 19th in rebounding (4.5) and 12th in offensive rebounds (1.9).
In Big Sky Conference statistics only, EWU leads in 3-pointers per game (9.6), turnover margin (+4.3) and offensive rebounds (12.6); and is last in field goal percentage (.415) and rebounds allowed (34.7). Chiverton is tied for the lead in 3-pointers per game (3.1) and Griffin leads in offensive rebounds (3.6).
Eagles Leading Big Sky and Third in NCAA Division I in 3-Point Shooting
The Eagles are currently averaging 9.7 3-pointers per game to lead the Big Sky, just ahead of the 9.3 average for Weber State. Eastern’s average of 9.7 is third in NCAA Division I through games played on Jan 22, ranking only behind Florida at 10.6 and Troy at 9.8. Eastern has made 194-of-540 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 68 of junior college transfer Collin Chiverton and 43 by point guard Cliff Colimon. Chiverton’s average of 3.4 per game is tied for the league lead and is sixth nationally.
Based on the 30-game regular season, Eastern is on pace to finish 291-of-810 and shatter school records for 3-point makes and attempts (242, 656). Chiverton already ranks fifth 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 102.
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.”
Coaches Pick Eagles to Finish Third
Whether or not the respect is warranted will be determined in 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 seven returning letterwinners currently on the roster 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.”
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
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
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 1- 20-point performances as an Eagle – including EWU’s last four games. He is tied for first in the league in 3-pointers made per game (currently 3.4 to rank sixth in NCAA Division I through games of Jan. 22), third in scoring (17.3) and sixth in 3-point percentage (.425).
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.
“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. “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 68-of-160 from the 3-point stripe for 42.5 percent and 50-of-139 inside the arc for 36.0 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.
“You can tell he is getting more and more comfortable with his foot,” said Hayford after the PLU game. “We want him to get under the basket, look for 2-point baskets and post up -- we think he will have a size advantage in Big Sky. I was really pleased to see how he performed against PLU.”
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 17.2 points per game on 45.5 percent shooting from the field (23-of-53 from the 3-point arc for 43.4 percent). In EWU’s losses, he is averaging 13.2 points on 34.4 percent shooting from the field (20-of-62 3-point shooting for 32.3 percent).
For the season, Colimon is third in the Big Sky Conference in steals (1.8 per game), second in assists (5.3), fifth in assist-to-turnover ratio (+1.9), sixth in scoring (15.0), fifth in 3-pointers made per game (2.2), fourth in free throw percentage (.823) and fifth in minutes played (34.2).
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).
Ederaine Wins Big Sky Player of the Week Award After November Victories
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.
So far this season in Big Sky Conference statistics, Ederaine is second in rebounding (7.3), 16th in scoring (10.7), ninth in field goal percentage (.497), fourth in blocked shots (1.0), 10th in assists (2.8), sixth in steals (1.5) and ninth in offensive rebounds (2.1).. He has had three double-doubles this season (four in his career), including 12 points and 12 rebounds in a 71-70 loss at Northern Colorado on Jan. 14.
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 (66.7 percent shooting), 7.9 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.2 blocked shots per game. In losses, he is averaging only 7.9 points (37.1 percent shooting), 6.7 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 64.8 percent, 57-of-88).
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.
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 132 3-pointers made in his career to rank fourth, his 345 attempts are fourth and his .383 percentage ranks 10th. Fellow junior Kevin Winford has 107 makes to rank sixth and his 317 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 (126-of-144), but he is 16 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 152). 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 78.0 percent in his career (85-of-109) 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 fifth in school history with 58, just one from equaling the fourth position. Ederaine (54) is sixth and Johnson (49) is now eighth.
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 11.7 minutes per game this season, and is averaging 2.3 points per game on 7-of-25 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.
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.”
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-UM Series History (Since 1983-84): Eastern has lost eight of the last 10 meetings and 14 of the last 17. The lone victories in that stretch came on Dec. 30, 2006, in Cheney when the Eagles beat the Grizzlies 74-71, on Feb. 14, 2010, when the Eagles prevailed 69-68 at Reese Court and on Feb. 26, 2011, when EWU upset the Grizzlies 59-55 in overtime in Cheney. Last year’s win over Montana helped a postseason berth for the Eagles and, in the process, kept the Grizzlies from clinching at least a share of the league title.
Eastern is 17-42 against the Grizzlies since 1983-84, including a 7-23 record in Missoula, 10-17 in Cheney and 0-2 on neutral courts versus the Grizzlies. Montana leads the series overall 59-38.
Earlier in the 2009-10 season, the Eagles fell at Montana 79-66. Eastern lost in 2008-09 by scores of 63-50 at home and 60-52 on the road, and lost in the 2007-08 season 80-61 in Missoula and 59-57 in Cheney. The two teams split in the 2006-07 season.
In the 2005-06 season, Montana swept the Eagles in three games -- 78-72 in Missoula, 68-46 in Cheney and 73-71 in overtime in the Big Sky Conference Tournament in Flagstaff, Ariz. In both regular season meetings that season, Eastern had leads before succumbing to Montana second-half comebacks. In the overtime loss, Eastern trailed by 14 before a late 10-0 run put Eastern back into the game. But Eagle freshman Rodney Stuckey missed a potential game-winning shot at the buzzer to end regulation. Montana then went on a 6-0 run in overtime to end Eastern’s season.
Prior the six-game losing streak that Eastern ended on Dec. 30, 2006, Eastern had won 10 of the previous 14 meetings including regular season sweeps three-straight conference seasons from 2001-03. However, the Grizzlies snapped a four-game losing streak to the Eagles when the fifth-seeded Grizzlies upset second-seeded EWU 70-66 in the 2002 Big Sky Conference Tournament championship game in Bozeman, Mont.
Included in the series history was an 81-75 victory in Missoula to end the 1998-99 season that clinched the sixth and final berth in the Big Sky Conference Tournament for the Eagles. That victory snapped Eastern's eight-game losing streak in Missoula, and a home win in 1998 snapped a 10-game losing streak overall in the series.
A 77-75 Eagle home loss at the end of the 2000-2001 regular season gave Montana a share of the Big Sky Conference men's basketball title in front of 5,426 fans at Reese Court in Cheney. The Eagles had taken a 12-point lead with 8:06 to play in the second half, but went the next 6:21 without scoring. During Montana's 17-0 run, the Eagles missed 10-straight field goal attempts while the Grizzlies made 6-of-7 shots. The loss was Eastern's first in eight conference home games. Montana made 4-of-6 free throws in the last 23 seconds to clinch the win and hold off Eastern's comeback attempt that included a trio of three-pointers in the last 1:45.
EWU-MSU Series History (Since 1983-84): Since Eastern became a member of NCAA Division I in the 1983-84 season, the Eagles are 23-34 against Montana State (includes two MSU forfeits in the 1993-94 season). Since 1983-84, Eastern is 7-22 in Bozeman and 16-12 in Cheney against the Bobcats. EWU trails in the all-time series 30-42 (18-12 in Cheney, 9-27 in Bozeman, 3-3 neutral).
Eastern has won 13 of the last 25 after winning just once in the previous 13 games. However, Eastern is just 5-9 against the Bobcats in the last 14 meetings, including losses in Bozeman in six of the last eight meetings. Until a 75-73 triumph on Jan. 10, 2010, in Bozeman, the Eagles hadn’t won in Bozeman since Feb. 5, 2004, in a 64-61 triumph. Later in the season on Feb. 12, 2010, Eastern won at home against the Bobcats 74-69 to complete EWU’s first sweep over MSU since 2004.
A year ago, Eastern lost at MSU 71-59 before dropping a 60-56 decision to the Bobcats in Cheney on Feb. 24. Earlier in the 2011-12 season, Eastern recorded a huge 82-66 road victory over the Bobcats in the first Big Sky Conference game in the head coaching career of Jim Hayford.