December 23, 2013

EWU Faces Huge Challenge at No. 15 Connecticut

The 10-1 Huskies are the first nationally-ranked foe for the 5-5 Eagles since Jim Hayford’s debut in 2011

Complete Release in .PDF Format

Upcoming Games

Saturday, Dec. 28 - Webster Bank Arena (8,700) - Bridgeport, Conn.
10:05 a.m. Pacific - Eastern Washington (5-5) at #15 Connecticut (10-1)

 

Coaches Show

Shows take place at the Swinging Doors in Spokane at 6 p.m. 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 Larry Weir. The Swinging Doors is located at W. 1018 Francis in Spokane. Shows are broadcast on 700-AM ESPN, www.700espn.com & via iphone app. (search for “Spokane Radio” and download app).

Coverage

TV: Televised on SportsNet New York (SNY) and ESPN3.
Webcast:
http://www.espn3.com; EWU home games and all Big Sky games are carried at http://www.watchbigsky.com
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.
Internet Radio:
www.700espn.com or www.tunein.com
Radio iPhone App:
Search for “Spokane Radio” and download app. An app is also available for tunein radio.
Live Stats: http://www.uconnhuskies.com/multimedia/live-stats.html; ewulive.statb.us (web/EWU Home Games) or ewustats.com (mobile phones/EWU Home Games)


The Eastern Washington University men’s basketball team has had this one circled on their calendars for a long time.

One of the biggest challenges in school history awaits the Eagles this Saturday (Dec. 28) when they play at 10th-ranked Connecticut at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Conn., to wrap-up the non-conference portion of the EWU schedule. The game against the 10-1 Huskies begins at 10 a.m. Pacific time and is televised on SportsNet New York (SNY) and ESPN3, and may also be heard on ESPN 700-AM.

The 5-5 Eagles are coming off a 92-70 loss to Seton Hall on Sunday (Dec. 22) in which Eastern trailed by only two at halftime. 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).

Connecticut is ranked 15th in the Associated Press poll and the USA Today Coaches poll following last week’s road split on the West Coast. The Huskies won at Washington 82-70 on Sunday (Dec. 22) after losing its first game of the season four days earlier to Stanford 53-51. UConn made just 32 percent of its shots against the Cardinal but made 55 percent versus the Huskies. Guard Shabazz Napier leads the Huskies with averages of 15.5 points, 6.7 rebounds, 5.6 assists and 1.9 steals per game.

 “They are an athletic team – they play with a lot of pressure and play above the rim,” said Eastern head coach Jim Hayford of UConn. “Stanford did a good job of making Connecticut miss, for whatever reason. But they can shoot the ball a lot better.”

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.

The storied program has won three NCAA Tournament Championships (1999, 2004 and 2011). The Huskies have participated in four NCAA Final Fours and appeared in the NCAA tournament 31 times. Eastern is just 1-18 all-time against ranked teams, and hasn’t played one since falling to Gonzaga 77-69 in the EWU head coaching debut for Hayford on Nov. 11, 2011.

The Eagles have two common opponents. Eastern lost to Washington 92-80 on Nov. 17 and beat Boston University 80-68 on Nov. 22, while UConn has defeated both by scores of 82-70 and 77-60, respectively.

"We are playing up a level, but it’s a good opportunity and will show us where we need to get better,” Hayford continued. “But what I do like about our team is that we’ll come with a focus that we are going to go get that done.”

The first half of the Seton Hall game featured seven ties and eight lead changes, but Eastern was out of sync offensively in the second half and, as a result, defensively. Nevertheless, Hayford is encouraged when he looks at the league standings and sees only one team ahead of the Eagles with six wins (Northern Colorado), and realizes EWU has two of the Big Sky’s nine victories away from home (9-47).

 “We have good basketball in us – we do,” he said. “We’re 5-5 and when you look at our schedule, you try to figure out where we can get the sixth win. Maybe we can shock the world and do it against UConn. Looking across the Big Sky we’re having a little more success than other people, but we have to keep getting better.”

Hayford’s team will do everything it can to use this final game to prepare the Eagles for the rigors of the Big Sky Conference. In Eastern’s first three games, one is against pre-season favorite Weber State and one is versus Montana, which is picked to finish second by the media and third by the coaches. The Eagles were picked to finish fifth by the coaches and sixth by the media.

“As we enter Big Sky play it is going to be tough,” he said. “We just need to keep getting better. It is a long season. This team has the potential, especially because we have no seniors, to be playing as good as anybody in the Big Sky in March. We need to make sure we get enough wins.”

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. 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.

 “Last year we needed one more win to be a part of that tournament,” added Hayford. “That is where all of our focus has to be for coaches and players. We have to keep getting better every week.”

 

PDF Link to Fact Book

The complete version of the 2013-14 EWU men’s basketball fact book may be found at:
http://goeags.com/trads/ewas-factbooks.html

 

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

 

Eagle Tip-Ins 

* The Eagles will enjoy the Christmas holiday in New York, and spend the week practicing and taking in the sights and sounds of the Big Apple. Wrote Eastern head coach Jim Hayford on Monday to supporters of the Eagles: “We have most of this week with the guys to show them New York City and grow and bond as a team. We will gather at Ground Zero and think about just how precious life is and how that day devastated so many families. We will see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island and reflect on how great it is to live in a country that is free and only richer from the great blend of diversity that makes us Americans. We will go to the Stock Exchange and marvel at the wheels of commerce turning. We will see Times Square and wave a EWU flag for the world to see.”

* The Eagles are tops in the Big Sky Conference and 144th in NCAA Division I (345 schools) in RPI, including a strength of schedule ranking of 78th (fourth-best in the league). Northern Colorado is 180th with the 16th-toughest schedule nationally. The Big Sky’s team RPI rating is 24th among 33 conferences. Among EWU’s opponents this season, UConn is 24th and Saint Mary’s is just ahead of the Huskies at 23rd. Others include Boston (110), UC Irvine (111), Seattle (114), Seton Hall (141) and Washington (165).

* Eastern is tied with Maine and Nicholls State for the most foreign players in NCAA Division I with seven (3 from Australia, 3 from Germany, 1 from Serbia).

* A year ago, mainly because of injuries, Eastern used 14 different starting lineups. Thus far, Eastern has used one.

* In NCAA Division I statistics through games of Dec. 22, Eastern ranks 33rd among 345 schools with an average of 8.4 3-pointers made per game and is 92nd in scoring with an average of 76.7 points. Eastern is also 73rd in 3-point field goal percentage (37.5 percent), 113th in field goal percentage (46.0 percent) and 112th in fewest turnovers per game (11.9). Individually, Tyler Harvey is seventh in 3-pointers made per game (3.7), 17th in 3-point percentage (47.4 percent) and 55th in scoring (19.3), with Drew Brandon 31st in assists (5.8).

* Connecticut ranks just behind EWU in 41st in 3-pointers per game, but is fourth in percentage (43.7 -- the leader is Virginia Tech at 44.0). The Huskies are also 13th in blocked shots (6.5 per game), 39th in scoring defense (63.9) and 41st in scoring margin (12.1). Shabazz Napier is 33rd in assists (5.6), 76th in steals (1.9) and 250th in scoring (15.5), and is one of six players nationally to have a triple-double. He had 14 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in an 80-62 victory over Yale on Nov. 11.

* The Eagles are leading the Big Sky Conference thus far in scoring offense (76.7), assists (13.7), blocked shots (4.1) and assist-to-turnover ratio (plus 1.2), and are second in 3-pointers (8.4). Eastern is also fourth in rebounding margin with a plus 1.7 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 (19.3), Venky Jois is 13th (13.4), Drew Brandon is 25th (11.3) and Parker Kelly is 30th (10.4). Brandon leads the league in assists (5.8) and is second in assist-to-turnover ratio (+2.4). Martin Seiferth leads in field goal percentage (.627) and is second in blocked shots (1.4), and Jois is third in blocked shots (1.4) and third in rebounding (8.1). Harvey also leads in 3-pointers made per game (3.7) and is second in 3-point field goal percentage (.474).

* Venky Jois, the Big Sky Conference Freshman of the Year in the 2012-13 season, is EWU’s second-leading scorer with a 13.4 average. He is also averaging a team-leading 8.1 rebounds, as well as 2.7 assists and 1.4 blocks per game. So far he has three double-doubles this season (22 points and 11 rebounds against Pacific; 19 points and 10 rebounds versus Seattle; and 11 points and 11 rebounds at Seton Hall). He had nine double-doubles as a freshman to rank among the leaders in NCAA Division I, and now has 12 in his 38-game career.

* Point guard Drew Brandon, a transfer from Sierra College in California, is averaging 11.3 points, 7.1 rebounds, a league-leading 5.8 assists and 1.3 steals per game after his first 10 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.

* Sophomore guard Tyler Harvey has now averaged 18.1 points per game in his last 18 games as an Eagle after averaging 1.3 points in his first 13 outings. A year ago, he 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 35.8 minutes and 19.7 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 82 blocks ranks third in school history, five behind Brandon Moore (2007-10) with 87 and 17 behind the school record of 99 (Paul Butorac 2004-07). Jois has 80 to rank fourth. Seiferth also currently ranks No. 2 in career field goal percentage (.624), ranking just behind Ron Cox (.629 from 1974-77). Tyler Harvey is currently ranked second for 3-point field goal percentage (45.8 percent), ranking only behind the school-record of 50.3 percent held by Marco Quinto (1999-02). Kelly is ninth in 3-point percentage (40.7 percent) and ninth in 3-pointers made with 107.

* In EWU’s most recent meeting, Seton Hall out-scored EWU 54-34 in the second half to break open a 38-36 game at halftime for a 92-70 victory on Dec. 22. Seton Hall made 61 percent of its shots in the second half while the Eagles struggled to 34 percent after a 45 percent first half. Sophomore Venky Jois had the 12th double-double of his career and third this season with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Junior Parker Kelly scored 17 points to lead the Eagles, and sophomore Tyler Harvey scored 16. Junior point guard Drew Brandon chipped in eight points, five rebounds and five assists. Eastern also received career-high scoring performances from freshman Felix Von Hofe (8) and junior Garrett Moon (5). The Eagles out-rebounded the Pirates 38-29, but EWU was guilty of 16 turnovers which led to 22 points for Seton Hall, which improved to 8-4. The Pirates made 57 percent of their shots in the game.

* In Eastern’s most recent victory, 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.

 

Other Season Notes

* Eastern sophomore forward Venky Jois from Boronia, Australia, was named to ESPN’s "All-Aussie" team selected by analyst Fran Fraschilla. The squad was revealed by Fraschilla during the New Mexico/Kansas game on Dec. 14. In addition, Jois was selected by College Hoops Daily to its All-Big Sky Conference Team for the month of November. Jois helped lead EWU to a 5-2 record in the month -- the school's best start to a season in five years.

* 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 on 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 -- 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. “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.”

* 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.

* 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.

* 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 Seton Hall Loss: “It’s a 40-minute game, but we had a really good first half. We had a little lack of offensive success to start the second half, and I thought that carried over to us losing a little bit of our defensive edge that we had. That’s a bad combination if you are gauging your toughness and your energy off of scoring baskets. If you make it easy for them on the other end, that’s how you get separation, and that’s exactly what happened. We’ll keep building on things. I don’t think they were 20 points better than us. I think the final score should have looked a lot like the first half. But we didn’t dig in and rely on toughness when we needed to. That is something we need to keep developing in our team. I want everybody to see the team we saw the first half, and see that team play for all 40 minutes. That’s our challenge as coaches.”

On Defense: “When we are not making shots, we can’t let that affect our confidence and our energy. If you want to be a tough team you have to hang your hat on defense, so that even when you are not making shots you can stay in the game. We’ll teach them and we’ll grow from that. There were definitely some positives.”

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 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 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 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.”

 

Eagles Versus Ranked Teams

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

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

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

Eastern’s list versus nationally-ranked teams includes three games in the 2004-05 season alone as well as three the year before. Seven of the games came under former head coach Mike Burns and five others came under Ray Giacoletti from 2000-2004.
12/27/12 vs. #15 Connecticut
11/11/11 vs. #23 Gonzaga – L, 69-77
11/30/10 vs. #24 (ESPN/USA Today) Gonzaga - L, 57-86
11/16/10 vs. #17 Washington - L, 72-98
12/28/09 vs. #22 (ESPN/USA Today) Gonzaga - L, 52-94
12/5/07 vs. #3 Kansas - L, 47-85
11/9/07 vs. #10 Washington State - L, 41-68
12/15/06 vs. #22 Oregon - L, 74-100
11/24/06 vs. #16 Washington - L, 83-90
12/19/05 vs. #8 Gonzaga - L, 65-75
12/16/05 vs. #11 Washington - L, 74-91
12/28/04 vs. #14 Arizona - L, 45-79
12/21/04 vs. #13 Gonzaga - L, 70-83
12/5/04 vs. #14 Washington - L, 56-89
3/19/04 vs. #3 Oklahoma State - L, 56-75
12/31/03 vs. #16 Gonzaga - L, 49-70
11/21/03 vs. #14 Oklahoma - L, 59-69
11/15/01 vs. #10 St. Joseph's - W, 68-67
11/25/00 vs. #4 Michigan State - L, 61-83
1/21/85 vs. #10 DePaul - L, 50-72

 
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