Eastern seeks to avenge loss at UC Irvine
Sunday, Dec. 15 - Reese Court (8,600) -
2:05 p.m. Pacific - Eastern Washington (5-3) vs. UC Irvine (5-5)
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Tuesdays from Nov. 26 to Jan. 7 (no shows Dec. 24 and Dec. 31) and
Mondays Jan. 13 to March 10 (no shows Jan. 27 and Feb. 24), and
feature head coach Jim Hayford and host
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TV: Televised regionally by SWX digital 6.2 in
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Radio: All Eastern games are on 700-AM ESPN in Spokane. Larry Weir returns for his 21st season calling the play-by-play, starting 20 minutes prior to tipoff.
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The Eastern Washington University men's basketball team puts its perfect 3-0 home record on the line this Sunday (Dec. 15) when the Eagles host UC Irvine in a non-conference men’s game at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash. Tipoff is 2:05 p.m. in the first of four EWU games broadcast regionally this season on SWX. The game is also broadcast via 700-AM ESPN.
Fans who present a ticket from Eastern’s Dec. 14 football game against Jacksonville State will be given a free ticket for upper level seating. Also, Eagle player Tyler Harvey will answer questions from fans on EWU’s Twitter account on Thursday, Dec. 12 from noon to 1 p.m., utilizing #GoEags.
Eastern fell to UC Irvine 81-58 on Nov. 24, and this week’s rematch is a return game for EWU’s appearance two seasons ago in Irvine in the ESPN BracketBusters series of games. The Anteaters were 21-16 overall a year ago and played in the College Basketball Invitational Tournament, and won a game before falling in the quarterfinals.
Currently 5-5, UCI had 14 blocked shots in the previous meeting against EWU. They held the Eagles to season-low 30.0 percent shooting from the field, including just 4-of-21 shots from the 3-point stripe. In its most recent outing, EWU made a season-low 17.4 percent of its 3-point shots (4-of-23) against Saint Mary’s after entering the game ranked 28th among 345 schools with an average of 8.7 treys made per game and 28th in 3-point field goal percentage (41.5 percent).
Mamadou Ndiaye, a 7-foot-6 freshman for UC Irvine, is ranked 10th in NCAA Division I with 32 total blocks for the season and 22nd with an average of 3.2 swats per game. He had 10 of the blocks in the first meeting against Eastern. The Anteaters are one of the top passing teams in the nation, ranking seventh nationally with an average of 18.6 assists per game and a total of 186 which ranks second.
At 5-3, EWU is still off to its best start in five years, and are nearly two months ahead of its winning pace from a year ago. The Eagles finished 10-21 last season and didn’t win their fifth game until Jan. 28 and their sixth three days later.
Eastern’s December schedule also includes games against Seton Hall and Connecticut before opening Big Sky Conference play Jan. 2. Eastern opens league play on the road at Weber State (Jan. 2) and Idaho State (Jan. 4) before hosting Montana (Jan. 9) and Montana State (Jan. 11).
“It will be a very, very difficult month of December,” said Eastern head coach Jim Hayford earlier this month. “I’m sure we’ll be the underdog in all of our games, but with that comes the opportunity to gain more and more respect. That’s one thing we are doing, at least with our work in November. We’ve gained respect and that is something we need to go out and do every day.”
PDF Link to Fact Book
The complete version of the 2013-14 EWU men’s basketball
fact book may be found at:
More Eagle Basketball Links
Eastern Basketball -- http://goeags.com/sports/m-baskbl/index
Link to Ticket Information: http:// http://www.goeags.com/tickets
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
* In NCAA Division I statistics through games of Dec. 8, Eastern ranks 41st among 345 schools with an average of 8.1 3-pointers made per game and is 66th in scoring with an average of 79.5 points. Eastern is also 57th in 3-point field goal percentage (38.2 percent), 49th in field goal percentage (48.5 percent) and 103rd in fewest turnovers per game (11.6). Individually, Tyler Harvey is 10th in 3-pointers made per game (3.8) and 22nd in 3-point percentage (49.2 percent), with Drew Brandon 26th in assists (5.9).
* The Eagles are leading the Big Sky Conference thus far in assists (14.3), assist-to-turnover ratio (plus 1.2) and field goal percentage defense (.400), and are second in scoring offense (79.5 per game), scoring margin (+6.9), 3-pointers (8.1), field goal percentage defense (.411) and blocked shots (4.3). Eastern is also second in rebounding margin with a plus 2.4 for the season thus far. A year ago, Eastern was 10th out of 11 teams with a minus margin of 4.2 per game.
* Individually, Tyler Harvey is second in the Big Sky in scoring (20.3) and Venky Jois is 11th (14.5). Drew Brandon leads the league in assists (5.9), Martin Seiferth leads in field goal percentage (.682) and Harvey leads in 3-pointers made per game (3.8).
* Venky Jois, the Big Sky Conference Freshman of the Year in the 2012-13 season, is EWU’s second-leading scorer through with a 14.5 average. He is also averaging a team-leading 7.6 rebounds, as well as 2.8 assists and 1.4 blocks per game. So far with two double-doubles this season (22 points and 11 rebounds against Pacific and 19 points and 10 rebounds versus Seattle), he had nine double-doubles as a freshman to rank among the leaders in NCAA Division I.
* Point guard Drew Brandon, a transfer from Sierra College in California, is averaging 11.6 points, 7.3 rebounds, a league-leading 5.9 assists and 1.6 steals per game after his first eight games in NCAA Division I. He already has a pair of double-doubles, including 15 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists against Boston University. He equaled the 15th-most assists in school history with 10 assists against Walla Walla, becoming the 28th Eastern player to finish in double figures in assists in a game. He also had nine rebounds, four steals and three points, just two nights after finishing with 13 points, 14 rebounds and six assists versus Washington. He is the lone newcomer to EWU’s starting lineup.
* In defeating Seattle 82-75 on Nov. 29, Eastern improved to 5-2 on the season for the first time since 2008-09 when EWU started 6-2. At the time, the Eagles were 3-0 at home, 0-2 on the road and 2-0 on neutral courts, and nearly two full months ahead of last year’s win total. The Eagles, who were 10-21 a year ago, picked up their fifth victory on Jan. 28, 2013, with a 76-65 victory over Portland State and their sixth victory three nights later.
* Eastern guard Tyler Harvey was selected as the Big Sky Conference Player of the Week on Dec. 3 after his 30-point performance against Seattle in an 82-75 victory Nov. 29. In recording the 49th performance of 30 points or more in school history (currently tied with nine others for 39th), Harvey sank four crucial free throws in the final three minutes to help Eastern improve to 5-2 on the season. It’s the best start in five seasons for EWU, which was 6-2 to start the 2008-09 season. Harvey made 9-of-15 shots from the field, including 6-of-9 3-point attempts, and also sank all six of his free throws. He has now averaged 18.6 points per game in his last 15 games as an Eagle after averaging 1.3 points in his first 13 outings. “Tyler obviously had a tremendous game,” said Eastern head coach Jim Hayford. “He is an extremely talented offensive player, and he has improved in every level of his game. For him to come and get 30 points tonight shows that he is a great guy to coach, and he is a great person.” A year ago, Harvey scored 132 points (16.5 average) on 55 percent shooting from the field (52-of-94, including 20-of-44 3-point attempts) in EWU’s last eight games. In the first 13 games he played in the 2012-13 season, Harvey scored just 17 points. For the season, he played in 21 of EWU’s 31 games and averaged 14.0 minutes and 7.1 points per game, compared to averages of 35.2 minutes and 20.3 points per game this season.
* Four Eagles are already ranked among Eastern’s career leaders, including shot-blockers Martin Seiferth and Venky Jois. Seiferth’s 81 blocks ranks third in school history, six behind Brandon Moore (2007-10) and 18 behind the school record of 99 (Paul Butorac 2004-07). Jois has 77 to rank fifth. Seiferth also currently ranks No. 1 in career field goal percentage (.636), ranking just above Ron Cox (.629 from 1974-77). Tyler Harvey is currently ranked second for 3-point field goal percentage (46.5 percent), ranking only behind the school-record of 50.3 percent held by Marco Quinto (1999-02). Kelly is ninth in percentage (40.7 percent) and 10th in 3-pointers made with 101. Ranking just ahead of him on the 3-point list is Alvin Snow (2001-04) with 104.
* In the previous meeting this season against UC Irvine, the Eagles followed a 64 percent shooting night with a 24 percent half and went on to lose to the Anteaters 81-58 on Nov. 24 in the 2K Sports Classic at the Bren Events Center in Irvine, Calif. Eastern fell behind by 21 points at halftime and lost for just the second time in six games. Eastern had defeated Boston University 80-68 and LIU Brooklyn 102-70 in the first two games of the tournament, including a 64 percent shooting performance in their previous game. UC Irvine made 11-of-19 3-point shots (58 percent) and 40 percent overall in the game. Eastern finished at 26 percent, but the damage was done in the first half when EWU made just 7-of-29 shots overall, and 2-of-11 from 3-point range. Led by 7-foot-6 Mamadou Ndiaye – the tallest player in NCAA Division I -- UC Irvine blocked 14 of EWU shots. Ndiaye had 10 of the blocks and had five points and eight rebounds, with 6-3 guard leading the Anteaters with 19 points and five 3-pointers. Sophomore Tyler Harvey, who scored 35 points in the first two games in Irvine, had 21 points to lead the Eagles against UC Irvine. He made 6-of-13 shots while the rest of the EWU lineup was just 12-of-47 for 26 percent.
* In Eastern’s most recent game, Saint Mary’s won for the 25th-straight time at home against a non-conference opponent with a wire-to-wire 93-65 victory over the Eagles at McKeon Pavilion in Moraga, Calif., on Dec. 8. The Gaels, who opened an early 40-19 lead, ended a seven-game homestand perfect on the season at 7-0. Sophomore guard Tyler Harvey led the Eagles with 20 points on 7-of-13 shooting from the field. Junior point guard Drew Brandon added 14 points on 5-of-10 shooting and a pair of assists. The rest of the team made only 11-of-36 for 31 percent. Eastern finished the Saint Mary’s game at 39 percent, and made only 4-of-23 shots from the 3-point stripe for 17 percent. Saint Mary’s, which had allowed opponents to make only 28 percent from the 3-point arc coming into the game, had a 48 percent night offensively. The Gaels out-scored EWU 44-24 inside the paint, and also made 8-of-17 3-point shots.
* In Eastern’s most recent home game, sophomore Tyler Harvey scored a career-high 30 points to lead Eastern past Seattle of the Western Athletic Conference 82-75 on Nov. 29 at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash. Sophomore Venky Jois had a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds, and also added three blocked shots, a pair of assists and two steals. Junior point guard Drew Brandon chipped in 12 points and seven assists, and Ognjen Miljkovic came off the bench to score 10. The Eagles led by as many as 11 in the first half, but fell behind by six in the second half. There were eight ties and six lead changes in the second half alone, and 10 and nine in the game, respectively. Eastern eventually took the lead for good on a 3-pointer by Harvey with 5:25 left to play, then he gave Eastern a 3-point advantage with another trey at the 4:56 mark. He closed his scoring with free throws – two at the 3:00 mark that gave EWU a 72-69 lead, and two more with 14 seconds to play to give EWU a five-point bulge. Jois closed out the scoring with a pair of free throws with three seconds left, and Brandon and Miljkovic also made big baskets down the stretch.
* The Eagles played three games in three nights on Nov. 22-24 in Irvine, Calif., as part of the of the 2K Sports Classic benefitting the Wounded Warrior Project. They came away with a 2-1 record, beating Boston University 80-68 and LIU Brooklyn 102-70 before bowing to host UC Irvine 81-58 in the finale. In Eastern’s 80-68 win over Boston University, four players scored in double figures on a hot-shooting night against the team picked to win the Patriot League title. Eastern made 54 percent of its shots while holding the Terriers to 38 percent. Six players scored in double figures the next night in a 102-100 victory over LIU Brooklyn, as Eastern had five 3-pointers in the first seven minutes to open a 28-1 lead. The 102 points Eastern scored was its most against a NCAA Division I opponent since beating Cal State Fullerton 110-70 on Nov. 27, 2006. Eastern finished the game making 11-of-17 3-pointers for 65 percent, and sank 64 percent of its shots overall. Eastern held the Blackbirds to 35 percent shooting and dominated rebounding by a 40-29 margin. The Eagles led 54-29 at halftime and led by as many as 37 in the second half. The third night, in an 81-58 loss to UC Irvine, Eastern fell behind by 21 points at halftime. UC Irvine made 11-of-19 3-point shots (58 percent) and 40 percent overall in the game, while Eastern made only 26 percent and was 4-of-21 from 3-point range.
* Sophomore Tyler Harvey was named to the All-Tournament team at the 2K Sports Classic in Irvine, Calif., where EWU went 2-1. Harvey led the Eagles in scoring against Boston University and UC Irvine with 21 points in each game, and also led EWU in rebounding with eight versus LIU Brooklyn. He followed that performance with a career-high nine boards against the Anteaters. He averaged 18.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.3 steals per game in the tourney while making 52.8 percent of his shots from the field including 7-of-15 from the 3-point stripe, as well as 11-of-13 free throws for 84.6 percent.
* Sophomore Venky Jois, the Big Sky Conference Freshman of the Year a year ago, joined Harvey on the All-Tournament team at the 2K Sports Classic. He averaged 15.0 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game while making 56.3 percent of his shots from the field.
* Six-foot-10 junior Martin Seiferth finished with 24 points and 18 rebounds against Walla Walla, as he equaled the fifth-best rebounding performance in school history. He came close to his career highs of 27 points and 21 rebounds set in separate games last season. The last time EWU had a 20-20 performance was Paul Butorac against Lewis-Clark State College on Nov. 18, 2006.
* Eastern returns four starters and seven total letterwinners from last year’s team, which finished 10-21 overall and 7-13 in the 11-team Big Sky under head coach Jim Hayford, who is in his third year at the helm of a squad with no seniors. A year ago, Eastern finished with four wins in its last eight outings, but came up short in qualifying for the seven-team Big Sky Conference Tournament. However, three of those late losses included an overtime loss to UNC, a four-point setback to North Dakota and an eight-point loss at Weber State.
* Eastern’s lone remaining non-conference home game is against UC Irvine (Dec. 15). Big Sky Conference play begins on the road, but the Eagles host Montana in their league home opener on Jan. 9. Home games will begin at 6:05 p.m. Pacific time for weekday games and Sunday and Saturday games will start at 2:05 p.m.
* In all, Eastern’s 2013-14 schedule includes 10 games versus six schools who participated in national postseason tournaments a year ago. Eastern will play six games against those opponents on the road, and four games at home. Three appeared in the NCAA Tournament – LIU Brooklyn (Nov. 23 in Irvine), Saint Mary’s (Dec. 8 on the road) and Montana (Jan. 9 at home and Feb. 8 on the road). UC Irvine (Dec. 15 at home and Nov. 24 in Irvine) played in the College Basketball Invitational Tournament, and won a game before falling in the quarterfinals. The other three postseason opponents on EWU’s schedule were also in the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament (CIT). Weber State (Jan. 2 on the road and March 8 at home) won four games to advance to the championship, where it lost to East Carolina 77-74. North Dakota (Jan. 30 at home and March 1 on the road) played in the first round, as did Boston University (Nov. 22 at UC Irvine Tournament).
* The schedule also features a trip to the East Coast to play Connecticut and Seton Hall. Connecticut finished 20-10 overall and 10-8 in the Big East Conference last season, while Seton Hall was 15-18 overall and 3-15 in the league. However, Seton Hall and six other teams in the so-called “Catholic 7” broke off from the league, but will retain the Big East tag. The remaining Big East teams, plus others in the expanded conference, will now be named the American Athletic Conference.
* Eastern has been picked to finish fifth by the coaches and sixth by the media in preseason polls announced by the Big Sky Conference on Oct. 17. EWU was picked to finish behind preseason pick Weber State, North Dakota, Montana and Northern Colorado in the coaches’ poll. The media picked Montana State to finish in fifth just ahead of the Eagles. Weber State was picked to win the league in both polls.
* Eastern will be trying for its third Big Sky Conference Tournament berth in the last four years in 2013-14, and its 13th in 27 years as a member of the league. Eastern has 12 previous appearances (1990, 98, 99, 2000, 01, 02, 03, 04, 05, 06, 11, 12).
* The Big Sky Conference Tournament will take place March 13-15 at the site of the regular season champion. For the second-straight year, it will now include seven teams, with the regular season champion receiving a first-round bye. The tournament will include a quarterfinal round with six of the teams playing, followed by semifinals and the championship game.
* The Eagles hope a more experienced team will translate to winning more of the close games they lost in the 2012-13 season. Nine of EWU’s losses were one-possession games with less than four minutes remaining, and the Eagles finished 6-10 in games decided by 10 points or less.
* Hayford won for the 279th time in his 400th game as a collegiate coach on March 7 when the Eagles beat Idaho State 87-73. He entered the 2013-14 season with a 279-122 (69.6 percent) record in 14 seasons as a head coach, including a 25-38 mark at Eastern. He was 217-57 (79.2 percent) in 10 seasons at Whitworth (2001-2011), and before that was 37-27 in two seasons at the University of Sioux Falls (S.D.).
Quoting Coach Hayford
On Saint Mary’s Loss: “Saint Mary’s is a better team than I thought – they whupped us. They are a very good team and I give them credit for the win. For the most part I was really pleased with our character – this game didn’t come easy. Saint Mary’s is a top 25 team. We just have to use it to get ourselves better. They had some high-percentage looks and we didn’t impede what they wanted to do offensively. That just highlighted some things we have to do better defensively. They had 18 offensive rebounds and that’s an effort stat. We’ll use this situation to get better. This was a tough night.”
On 5-2 Start: “We’re pleased with where we are with this team, but there is a long, long way to go. We wanted to get through November based on the carryover of returners from last year, and put the emphasis on blending a new point guard into that mix of players. The bonus of that is to incorporate O.G. (Miljkovic) into the mix. In December, with a week of preparation for each game, we need to develop a little bit more of the bench. It is my intention to play seven or eight guys a game and give some more minutes to them. When you look at the development of our team, we have players who fill roles, but you want them to never be content with the role and you want them to want more.”
On Offense: “Right now we’re playing the most efficient offensively since I’ve been here. The offense we’ve wanted to put in place we are now putting in place. We are on our third point guard in three years, and now we get Drew Brandon for two years. That’s a big part of being the kind of offensive team we want to be. He’s picked that up and that’s a credit to Drew. And we’re getting a better balance of shooting the outside shot and having inside threats. We’re playing offensive basketball the way we want to play.”
On Seattle Victory: “It is a very satisfying win. I remembered at the end of my last year at Whitworth being told your team is 50-2 in your last 52 games. I told myself it is just as satisfying to get our team to 5-2 against Seattle because these guys have been through so much. They have matured, and they had a great offseason. I am just a very proud coach.”
On Drew Brandon and Rebounding: “He’s a really good player. He went to the same junior college that Craig Fortier played at, so that’s how Craig knew about him. What I like about him is he is really unaffected – he’s going to play at his own speed and he plays hard. He’s one of the best rebounding guards I’ve ever coached. Drew is obviously a great addition to our program. We had all these pieces coming back, but we needed to go find a point guard. He certainly is meeting our expectations. Rebounding is something we better improve on from last year, or we will have the same results. Drew really helps us. He really helps us on the boards, and he knows how to run the offense. As he gets more comfortable, we are going to get better and better.”
On Bench Play: “We need to keep getting them in. After you get past Thomas (Reuter), the rest of the bench is new and young. We need to keep developing that. Later in the year we are going to go deeper in the bench. I thought it would have been nice to go a little deeper in the Husky game. There were some things I saw from Felix (Von Hofe) and O.G. (Ognjen Miljkovic) against Walla Walla that I really like. We need Thomas -- he is our Swiss-army knife. He can play multiple positions and fix what is happening on the court. He is our sixth starter, and so we have to get Thomas going little bit more. Garrett Moon brings great energy off the bench. We had a couple of injured guys in Danny Powell (concussion) and Daniel Hill (calf). The bench is going to keep come along, and it will come.”
On Team Identity: “Our identity is that as we are going to play smart and hard basketball, and we are going to do it together. You are going to see an unselfish team that lays it out on the court every night and plays like the band of brothers they are. The biggest difference (from last season) is our players are all a little bit older. We were Eagles that were barely out of the nest last year, and now we can fly a little bit.”
On This Year’s Eagle Team: “We have a great chemistry – they really like each other. A year ago they didn’t know one another. They have been living life together and they do a lot of things as a group. They enjoy spending time with one another, and I think that will spill over into on-court success.”
On Playing at UConn and Seton Hall: “The East Coast trip jumps out at you -- it is an excellent opportunity for our guys to see a different part of the country and to experience playing against one of the nation’s elite programs. I know the guys are looking forward to that trip.”
On Big Sky Conference Race: “I think the Big Sky Conference is going to be more difficult -- there are many teams returning solid rosters. We have a very challenging preseason that will prepare us for a great conference season.”
On Competitiveness of Big Sky: “There were a number of close games. That is part of being in a competitive conference. The hard part about experience is getting it. Hopefully we got it, and we will win more than our fair share of those close games this year. I do like that our guys found ways to win some of those last year.”
On Playing Difficult Schedule: “You cannot be afraid of a tough schedule playing these bigger schools regardless of the outcome. You just focus on it making you better and better. I think we have a non-conference schedule that will put us in the fire. It will refine us, make us stronger and prepare us for Big Sky play. That is what this year’s schedule is, so we embrace it.”
* Eastern is 3-5 all-time against UC Irvine, having lost the first three meetings, winning the next three and then losing the last two. Eastern fell 78-73 on Feb. 18, 2012, in a Sears ESPN BracketBusters game, and then lost 81-58 earlier this season. EWU is 2-0 in games played against the Anteaters in Cheney.
12/28/86 - L - UC
Irvine - 68-97 – 4
12/13/88 - L - UC Irvine - 101-112 – A
12/9/95 - L - UC Irvine - 66-86 – A
12/4/96 - W - UC Irvine - 80-53 – H
11/19/08 - W - UC Irvine - 74-69 – A
11/30/08 - W - UC Irvine - 78-64 – H
2/18/12 - W - UC Irvine - 73-78 – A
11/24/13 – L – UC Irvine – 58-81 - A
4 -- Anteater Classic