After Reaching Milestones in Win, Eagles Host NAU Saturday at 2:05 p.m.
Lumberjacks have climbed into second place in the Big Sky standings, but an EWU win will move the Eagles up to at least sixth
Saturday, Feb. 15 - Reese Court (5,000)
- Cheney, Wash.
2:05 p.m. Pacific - Eastern Washington (11-13/6-7 Big Sky) vs. Northern Arizona (11-13/8-5)
Saturday, Feb. 22 - Centrum (5,300) -
Cedar City, Utah
6:05 p.m. Pacific - Eastern Washington at Southern Utah (1-21/0-13 Big Sky - host Idaho State on 2/15 & PSU 2/20)
Shows take place at the Swinging Doors in Spokane at 6 p.m.
Mondays Jan. 13 to March 10 (no show 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
Webcast: EWU home games and all Big Sky games are carried at http://www.watchbigsky.com and via the new iphone/android app "Watch Big Sky"
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: ewulive.statb.us (web/all EWU Home Games) or ewustats.com (mobile phones/EWU Home Games).
As nice as the milestones are for Tyler Harvey and Venky Jois, a weekend home sweep would make them that much more gratifying.
Harvey scored his 500th point of the season and Jois had his 100th career blocked shot in EWU’s most recent outing, and on Saturday (Feb. 15) the Eastern Washington University men’s basketball team will seek to climb another step in the Big Sky Conference basketball race when second-place Northern Arizona visits. Tipoff is 2:05 p.m. at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash., in a game carried live on ESPN 700-AM and www.watchbigsky.com.
Eastern and NAU are in the middle of a logjam from second to 10th in the league standings, with just 2 1/2 games of separation in those nine places. The Lumberjacks and NAU are tied for second with 8-5 records, followed by three teams at 7-6 and three more at 6-7. Idaho State is currently 10th at 5-7.
Coming off a wire-to-wire 85-72 victory versus Sacramento State on Thursday (Feb. 13), the Eagles are now in the three-way tie for seventh in the Big Sky at 6-7 in the league and 11-13 overall. Northern Arizona defeated Portland State 65-63 on Thursday to improve to 8-5 in the league and 11-13 overall.
Because two of the 7-6 teams play each other Saturday, an Eastern victory will move the Eagles up to sixth, maybe even fifth when the dust clears that night. However, getting to 7-7 is the only thing on EWU’s mind at this point – and it won’t be easy against a Lumberjack team who has won three of their last four games.
Earlier this season, the Eagles lost on the road to NAU (84-65) and Sac State (75-64). In hopes of garnering one of seven berths in the Big Sky Conference Tournament in March, EWU is ahead of last year’s marks of 4-9 and 7-17 at the same juncture a year ago when EWU failed to qualify.
“We need to go defend our home court and get our record to 7-7,” said Eastern head coach Jim Hayford earlier this week. “We’ll see where the dust lays after that – this league is crazy right now.”
Jois had a blocked shot against Sacramento State, giving the sophomore 100 in his career to take over sole possession of the school record. Teammate Martin Seiferth and former Eagle Paul Butorac (2004-07) have 99 each.
Harvey scored 16 points in Thursday’s win over the Hornets, including 11 in the second half, as he eclipsed the 500-point mark for the season. Now with 503 on the year, Harvey is just the 10th player in school history to hit that milestone.
The sophomore continues to lead the Big Sky Conference in scoring both overall (21.0) and in league games only (22.4), and ranks in the top 14 nationally in three categories. He already has 85 3-pointers this season and is on pace to finish the regular season with 109 and break the school record of 103 set by Shannon Taylor in 1999.
Overall, the Eagles are now 8-2 at home, including a 5-1 mark during Big Sky play. The Eagles are 1-11 on opponent home courts, with the lone victory a 79-50 romp in Bozeman on Feb. 6. Last season, EWU was 7-7 at home, including just 5-5 in league games.
“One of our big goals as a program is to do a better job defending our home court than we did last year,” said Hayford. “If we want to advance our season, we have to do that.”
Following the NAU game, Eastern will return to the road next Saturday (Feb. 22) to face Southern Utah before hosting Portland State the following Monday (Feb. 24). The Thunderbirds are 0-13 in the league thus far heading into Saturday’s home game with Idaho State.
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
Story on EWU Basketball Program at Collegeinsider.com -- http://vimeo.com/85124429
Link to Ticket Information: http://www.goeags.com/tickets
Spokesman-Review EWU Basketball Page: http://www.spokesman.com/ewuhoops
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
* The Eagles have had eight or fewer turnovers in their last two games, but achieved that feat only twice in their first 22 outings. Point guard Drew Brandon had only one turnover and nine assists in 39 minutes of action against Sacramento State when EWU had just eight miscues as a team. Although just 6-4 when having 10 or less turnovers, the Eagles are 6-2 when they have fewer turnovers than their opponent. “We are taking good care of the ball and we are showing a lot more offensive patience,” said Eastern head coach Jim Hayford of EWU’s last two games.
* The Eagles are leading the Big Sky Conference in scoring offense (75.6), 3-pointers made per game (8.2) and rebounds (36.5); are second in blocked shots (4.3) and defensive 3-point field goal percentage (.347); and are third in offensive rebounds (10.8) and assists (13.5). The Eagles are last in scoring defense (75.9), but allowed just 50 to Montana State on Feb. 6.
* Two of the greatest strides the Eagles have made this season are in rebounding margin and free throw percentage. Eastern is now fifth in rebounding margin with a plus 0.7 for the season thus far. A year ago, Eastern was 10th out of 11 teams with a minus margin of 4.2 per game. The Eagles were 11th and last in the Big Sky in free throw percentage last year at 65.5 percent, but this year have improved that to 68.7 percent to rank ninth in the Big Sky. The Eagles are shooting at a 72.2 percent clip in conference play (fifth).
* In league games only this season, EWU leads the Big Sky in 3-pointers made per game (8.0) The Eagles are also second in scoring (75.6), 3-point field goal percentage defense (.349), assists (13.5) and blocked shots (4.4), but are last in points allowed (76.3).
* In NCAA Division I statistics through games of Feb. 13, Eastern is ranked 26th among 345 schools with an average of 8.2 3-pointers made per game, 80th in 3-point field goal percentage (36.8 percent) and 70th in scoring offense (75.6).
* Win-loss trends continue to show the importance of field goal shooting and field goal shooting defense in EWU’s win-loss record. Eastern is 10-0 when it has a better shooting percentage than its opponents and 1-13 when it doesn’t. Also, the Eagles are 11-1 when making at least 45.0 percent of their shots, and 0-12 when they are under that mark. In addition, EWU is 8-1 when it holds opponents to 44.4 percent or less from the field, and 3-12 when opponents shoot better than that mark. Eastern is 10-4 when scoring 71 or more points, and 6-1 when allowing 70 or fewer.
* Finding consistency at home and on the road continues to be of prime importance for the Eagles at this juncture of the season. At home or on neutral courts this season, EWU is 10-2 and has averaged 80.8 points per game on 49.6 percent shooting from the field (41.9 percent from the 3-point line), while allowing 69.8 points per game on 43.4 percent shooting (32.3). But on opponent home courts where EWU is 1-11, the Eagles are averaging 70.4 points on 40.3 percent shooting (32.2), while opponents are scoring at an 81.7 clip and making 47.1 percent from the field (36.3). “It is a growing process to develop a team and get consistency of performance,” said Eastern head coach Jim Hayford. “We will be working on execution and a strong mindset, so that home or away, our shot selection and execution does not vary. The answer is very clear -- we need to put the ball in the basket with consistency. At the same time, we cannot have our mindset be that we will outscore teams. We need to first take a mindset of defensively stopping our opponent. We need to be better on defense.”
* In the Sagarin computer ratings through games of Feb. 13, Eastern is 232nd with the 219th-toughest strength of schedule in the nation. December opponents Connecticut (23rd), Saint Mary’s (55th), Seton Hall (111th) and UC Irvine (108th) are all ranked among the nation’s leaders. Weber State is the top Big Sky team at 162nd, followed by Northern Colorado at 194th and Montana at 203rd. Eastern is No. 4 in the Big Sky, and NAU is fifth in the league and 249th overall.
* Through games of Feb. 9, the Eagles are fifth in the Big Sky Conference and 237th in NCAA Division I (345 schools) in RPI. Weber State is currently the top Big Sky school in the RPI at 157th, followed by Northern Colorado at 189th and Montana at 193rd. Northern Arizona is sixth in the league at 267th..
Eagle Player Notes
* Eastern is 5-1 in the six games this season junior Martin Seiferth has scored in double figures, and 4-1 when he’s had at least nine rebounds. He has scored in double figures in EWU’s last four outings, including a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds against Sacramento State on Feb. 13. In that four-game stretch, he is averaging 12.5 points and 8.8 rebounds while making 76.7 percent of his shots from the field (23-of-30). For the season, he is averaging 7.0 points and 5.0 rebounds on 67.5 percent shooting. As a result, he is currently the school record holder for career field goal percentage at 64.5 percent, just ahead of Ron Cox (1974-77) at 62.9 percent. In his 55-game EWU career (51 as a starter), the Oregon transfer is averaging 7.7 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.8 blocked shots per game.
* Junior Parker Kelly, a starter in EWU’s first 20 games this season and 17 in his sophomore season, came off the bench in three-straight games before starting again on Feb. 13 in an 85-72 win versus Sacramento State. He responded with a game-high 18 points, including 15 in the first half on 6-of-10 shooting in helping EWU open a 21-point lead. He is averaging 10.3 points and 35.5 minutes per game this season, and 8.0 points with 133 career 3-pointers (sixth in school history) in his 85-game career (39 as a starter). “Parker had a really good first half shooting the basketball, and that is why we put him in the starting lineup for this game,” said Eastern head coach Jim Hayford. “I thought he played like a veteran should, and I was really pleased.”
* The combined NCAA Division I 3-point shooting rankings (through games of Feb. 13) of Tyler Harvey add up to 17 (5th in average made at 3.54 and 12th in percentage at 44.7), ranking him third nationally. The national leader is Ethan Wragge of Creighton with a total ranking of 11th (4th 48.2, 7th 3.42), followed by Karvel Anderson from Robert Morris with a total ranking of 15th (5th 48.1, 10th 3.35).
* Venky Jois, the Big Sky Conference Freshman of the Year in the 2012-13 season, was recently selected by collegehoopsdaily.com to its All-Big Sky team for the first three months of the season. He is EWU’s second-leading scorer with a 12.8 average on 51.3 percent shooting from the field. He is also averaging a team-leading 8.0 rebounds, as well as 2.5 assists and 1.4 blocks per game. So far he has seven double-doubles this season. He had nine double-doubles as a freshman to rank among the leaders in NCAA Division I, and now has 16 in his 52-game career (50 as a starter). He is averaging 12.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.9 blocked shots per game in his career.
* Junior point guard Drew Brandon, a transfer from Sierra College in California, ranks among the league leaders in four categories. He has averages of 11.0 points (23rd), 6.9 rebounds (seventh), 5.5 assists (first) and an assist-to-turnover ratio of +2.1 (first) after his first 24 games in NCAA Division I. He already has five double-doubles, including a near-miss of a triple-double with 15 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds versus Montana State in a 77-72 win. He had a double double-double during one homestand this season -- he had 11 points and 13 rebounds versus North Dakota on Jan. 30, then had 15 points and 12 assists in a 94-90 overtime victory over Northern Colorado on Feb. 1. His 12 assists were a career high, and rank as the fourth-most in school history (the record is 18). He followed that with his fifth double figure rebounding game with 10 at Montana State on Feb. 6, then had a career-high 19 points at Montana two nights later. He equaled what is now the 16th-most assists in school history with 10 assists against Walla Walla and MSU. He finished with 13 points, 14 rebounds and six assists versus Washington on Nov. 17 in just his second D-I game. He was the lone newcomer to EWU’s opening night starting lineup.
* In NCAA Division I statistics through games of Feb. 13, Tyler Harvey is fifth in 3-pointers made per game (3.54), 12th in 3-point percentage (44.7 percent), 14th in scoring (21.0) and 28th in free throw percentage (.880). Drew Brandon is 38th in assists (5.5) and Venky Jois is 66th with seven double-doubles and 88th in rebounding (8.0).
* Individually, Tyler Harvey continues to lead the Big Sky in scoring (21.0), ahead of North Dakota’s Troy Huff (19.7), Montana’s Kareem Jamar (19.6) and Weber State’s Davion Berry (19.1). Venky Jois is 15th (12.8), Drew Brandon is 23rd (11.0) and Parker Kelly is 27th (10.3). Harvey and Jois are both sophomores, and no other sophomores or freshmen rank in the top 24. Harvey also leads in 3-pointers made per game (3.5), and is second in free throw percentage (.880) and sixth in 3-point field goal percentage (.447). Kelly leads in free throw percentage (.898). Brandon leads in assists (5.6) and assist-to-turnover ratio (+2.1) and ranks seventh in rebounding (6.9). Jois is third in blocked shots (1.4), fourth in rebounding (8.0) and ninth in field goal percentage (.513) and Martin Seiferth is fourth in blocked shots (1.3) and 14th in rebounding (5.0).
* In league only statistics, Tyler Harvey leads in scoring (22.4), 3-pointers made per game (3.5) and free throw percentage (.890). Drew Brandon is leading in assists (5.3) and is sixth in rebounding (7.0). Venky Jois is fifth in rebounds (7.9) and third in blocked shots (1.3), Martin Seiferth is third in blocked shots (1.3) and Parker Kelly is second in free throw percentage (.882).
* Not only is he the Big Sky’s leading scorer, but Eastern’s Tyler Harvey has become a dead-eye free throw shooter for the Eagles. A year ago at this time, Harvey was barely seeing the court for the Eagles. But he earned playing time at the end of the season, and has scored in double figures in 30 of EWU’s last 32 games, with a streak of 23 snapped versus North Dakota on Jan. 30. The sophomore made only 43.5 percent of his free throws as a freshman, but this season is second in the Big Sky in games overall (.880) and leads in league play (.890). He has made 72-of-79 (.911) in his last eight outings, a 13-of-13 effort at Northern Arizona on Jan. 16, a Big Sky and EWU record 20-of-20 versus Southern Utah on Jan. 23, an 8-of-8 in a 38-point effort versus Northern Colorado on Feb. 1 and an 11-of-11 effort at Montana on Feb. 8. “He had all the individual workout records for making free throws (last year), so we couldn’t figure out what it was,” recalled Hayford. “He really disciplined himself all year through the offseason to work on his foul shooting.”
* After missing six-straight games with an ankle injury, Ognjen Miljkovic averaged 19.7 points in his first three games back. He had 13 points and seven rebounds against Southern Utah (1/23/14) in his first career start, then had 32 points four days later against Portland State (1/27/14) to equal what is now the 30th-best performance in EWU history. He scored 10 of his points after halftime against SUU, including a go-ahead 3-pointer to start the second half that gave the Eagles the lead for good. He scored 17 in the first half versus PSU and made 11-of-13 shots from the field with four 3-pointers. He then scored 14 against North Dakota on Jan. 30. Miljkovic hadn’t played since scoring 15 points against Connecticut on Nov. 28. He is now averaging 8.9 points and 3.4 rebounds in an average of 18.2 minutes per game.
* Sophomore Tyler Harvey has now averaged 19.8 points per game in his last 32 games as an Eagle after averaging 1.3 points in his first 13 outings. In fact, his improvement by roughly 14 points per game ranks among the top 10 in the nation. A year ago in EWU’s last eight games, 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 the first 13 games he played in the 2012-13 season, Harvey scored just 17 points (by contrast, in the first 13 games this season he scored 261 with an average of 20.1 per game). In his freshman season, he played in 21 of EWU’s 31 games and averaged 14.0 minutes and 7.1 points per game. He currently has a 14.5 career scoring average in 45 games (28 as a starter).
Eagle Records Watch
* Venky Jois has taken over sole possession of the school record for career blocked shots with 100. Right behind him is teammate Martin Seiferth with 99, with the former record 99 set by Paul Butorac (2004-07).
* Martin Seiferth ranks first in school history in career field goal percentage (.640, ranking just ahead of Ron Cox at .629 from 1974-77). Tyler Harvey is currently third in 3-point field goal percentage (44.4 percent) and 10th in 3-pointers made (108), and Parker Kelly is 11th in 3-point percentage (39.0 percent) and sixth in 3-pointers made (133). Kelly’s 84.6 percent shooting from the free throw line in his career would rank second in school history (the record is 84.9) if he had enough attempts to qualify (he has 143 and needs 170).
* With 85 3-pointers in 24 games, Tyler Harvey already ranks third in school history, and needs only three to move into second (88, Collin Chiverton, 2011-12). His average of 3.54 per game is on pace to finish with 109 (31 games) and break the record of 103 set by Shannon Taylor in 1999. Harvey has already scored 503 points to rank 10th in school history, and his 21.0 average currently is third behind only the averages of 24.6 and 24.2 that Rodney Stuckey had in the 2007 and 2006 seasons, respectively.
* En route to what is now the 10th-best scoring night in school history with 36 points, sophomore Tyler Harvey finished a perfect 20-of-20 from the free throw line in EWU’s 90-83 win over Southern Utah (1/23/14). He broke the previous school and conference record of 16-of-16 by set by Jason Lewis against Weber State on Jan. 27, 2001. The NCAA record is 24-of-24. In addition, Harvey’s 20 charity shots tied the Big Sky record and broke the school mark of 17 set by Matt Piper against Humboldt State on Dec. 28, 1982. His free throw attempts were one shy of Piper’s 21 in that game. Previously, Harvey opened league play with a 30-point effort against Weber State (1/2/14) when he equaled what is now the 41st-best performance in school history. He scored 21 in the first half alone en route to equaling the career high of 30 he set in EWU’s victory on Nov. 29 versus Seattle.
* Eastern set a pair of school records for free throws by finishing 38-of-49 in a 90-83 win over Southern Utah (1/23/14). The previous team record for made free throws was 34 set against Sacramento State (1/19/95) and Whitman (11/17/09), and the old mark for attempts was 48 versus Sacramento State (1/19/95).
Recent Game Recap
* In EWU’s most recent game, Parker Kelly and Martin Seiferth started like gangbusters Thursday (Feb. 13) against Sacramento State, helping the Eagles open a 21-point lead in the first half en route to an 85-72 victory over the Hornets at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash. The Eagles led from start to finish, but had to withstand a second-half rally by the Hornets. Eastern closed out the game by making 9-of-10 free throws in the final two minutes. All five starters scored in double figures, led by Kelly’s 18 points and a double-double for Seiferth of 16 points and 11 rebounds. They combined for 25 first-half points as the Eagles opened an early 37-16 advantage. Point guard Drew Brandon finished with 14 points, nine assists, six rebounds and just one turnover, and Venky Jois had 12 points, nine rebounds and a career-high seven assists. Big Sky Conference leading scorer Tyler Harvey added 16 points, including 11 in the second half, as he eclipsed the 500-point mark for the season. The Eagles had their third-best shooting night of the season and best in conference play, making 55.8 percent of their shots. Eastern also had just eight turnovers.
Quoting Coach Hayford
On Sacramento State Win: “I thought we had a great week of preparation for this game and put together a really solid plan for how we could be successful. We really studied what happened in the game at Sacramento, and we had everybody on the same page. I thought that was what we saw in the first half.”
On Montana State Win: “We played a really complete game, especially on defense and on the boards. We shared the ball very well on offense. They were really keying on Tyler and he was able to run offense that got other guys baskets off the pressure they were putting on him. And he had only one turnover. He did a really good job of not forcing things. He did what he needed to do. We wanted to exert our will, and make it a game of our size over their speed. We established Martin early in the first half with 10 points, and he played really big. We followed a game plan for 40 minutes.”
On Northern Colorado Win After Losing 14-Point Lead: “Our guys stepped up and took victory out of the jaws of defeat instead of snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory. That is something we need to keep learning, so it was an important step for our program. We made it harder on ourselves than we had to, but maybe that is going to be good for us in the long run. The other thing is that we haven’t been in the situation enough where we have been up ten. The other team is going to throw everything at you. They are going to grab, fight, pull and kick. They are like a desperate person, and that is a big wave of energy coming at you. We have not had that many opportunities to understand that. Honestly, we failed it, but we regrouped in the last two minutes and got it done.”
On Tyler Harvey’s Performance Versus UNC: “To go 10-of-15 after going 1-of-8 on Thursday night shows that Tyler doesn’t lack any confidence. He believes in his game, and he believes in his teammates. He understands when he has a great shot it is his role to take it. There are a lot of players that would have come off of Thursday night and said, ‘Oh, I am not going to shoot it.’ He understands what his role is.”
On Tyler Harvey’s 36 Points Against Southern Utah: “Our game plan was to put the ball in his hands because he is making plays. The defense kept fouling him, and Tyler kept making the free throws. It is where we need to be in every part of our program. He made a commitment to developing that area of his game. He went from a really poor free throw percentage last year to setting the Big Sky and school record. I couldn’t be more pleased. He is a good player, he’s a great young man and he is only a sophomore.”
On Home Sweep Over Montana Schools: “We’re building a program and we’re doing it with players who are doing it together. It’s interesting to think about where we were against Montana last year, and their roster and our roster this season only changed by a couple of players. To see how that played out just showed me that we are gaining ground. Montana State is a mature team – they have as many seniors and upperclassmen as anybody. For us to compete with them shows me that as a program we are moving in the right direction. The games themselves were both won on defense. We took care of the ball really well against Montana and not so much against Montana State. But in both games we found a way to win, and the result could have gone either way with four minutes to play. I think that shows maturity because there were a number of games last year in which we were right there with four minutes to go, but weren’t finding ways to win. Being a year older, our players are finding a way to win and that is what has me encouraged.”
On Venky Jois: “It’s neat when you feel like you have one of the premier frontcourt players in the Big Sky Conference and he’s playing that way. I only expect more and more from him each night out as he continues growing. He’s had lots of playing time, so he has the minutes of a junior with sophomore eligibility. He’s a leader and we count on him.”
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.”
Other Season Notes
* 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 four.
* 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.
EWU vs. Northern Arizona Series Notes
* Since Eastern became a member of NCAA Division I in the 1983-84 season, the Eagles are 26-34 versus Northern Arizona, including a 8-21 record in Flagstaff, Ariz., 17-12 in Cheney and 1-1 on neutral courts. Eastern trails in the all-time series 26-35 (8-21 in Flagstaff, 17-12 in Cheney, 1-2 neutral). The only meeting before Eastern became a member of NCAA Division I was an 84-80 NAU victory on Dec. 20, 1969, in Fresno, Calif.
* A year ago, Eastern beat Northern Arizona 82-59 at home on Jan. 10, then picked up a 77-74 victory in Flagstaff on Feb. 9. In the home game, Venky Jois had a double-double with 14 points, 14 rebounds and four blocked shots.
* Despite sweeping NAU in the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons, the Eagles have lost 11 of the last 17 meetings. In winning two games versus NAU in the 2000-2001 season, Eastern swept the regular season meetings with the Lumberjacks for the first time in 10 years. Eastern duplicated that feat in 2003 and 2004, and again in 2012 and 2013.
* Eastern had won six-straight games against the Lumberjacks and nine of the last 11 until falling 77-64 in Flagstaff on Feb. 5, 2005. The Lumberjacks beat EWU 105-95 on Jan. 5, 2006, in a game in which Eastern’s Rodney Stuckey scored a school-record 45 points.
* Earlier this season, Northern Arizona took advantage of cold Eagle shooting from the outside for an 84-65 win on Jan. 16 in Flagstaff, Ariz. A 12-3 run to end the first half and a 17-4 run after intermission were the fatal blows for the Eagles, as NAU broke open a close game that had featured EWU season highs of seven ties and eight lead changes to that point. Eastern, which entered the NAU game ranked 23rd in NCAA Division I in 3-pointers made per game (8.5) and 82nd in percentage (36.9 percent), equaled its season low at 17 percent (4-of-23) against the Lumberjacks. Eastern made only 30.4 percent of their shots overall from the field – its second-worst performance of the year. Sophomore Tyler Harvey led the Eagles with 25 points, and sophomore Venky Jois had his sixth double-double of the season and 15th of his career with 14 points and a career-high 15 rebounds.