Men's Hoops Opens NWC Title Defense

Men's Hoops Opens NWC Title Defense

SPOKANE, Wash. – Whitworth University, winners of seven consecutive Northwest Conference regular season titles, begins defense of that streak this week when the Pirates open league play with games at Willamette University and Whitman College.  Whitworth travels to Willamette on Saturday (6:00 pm), then plays at Whitman on Tuesday (8:00 pm).  The Pirates' games will be heard live in Spokane on KSBN 1230 am and on the web at KSBN.net.

Watch the Whitworth men's basketball schedule for other live links to this weekend's game.

The Pirates:  Whitworth is 3-0 this season and coming off of two victories at the Quality Inn Whit Classic on November 25-26 in the Whitworth Fieldhouse.  The Bucs, ranked 8th in the latest D3hoops.com top-25 poll, defeated Texas Lutheran 95-87 and Schreiner (Texas) 87-63.

Whitworth used a late 17-2 run to overcome a seven point deficit and defeat visiting Texas Lutheran 95-87 last Friday night.  Kyle Roach posted career-highs of 28 points and 11 rebounds to lead four Pirates in double figures.  Kenny Love scored 21 points and dished five assists.  Drew Sears added his own double-double with a career-best 18 points and 10 boards, while Christian Jurlina scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half.  Whitworth was incredibly efficient at the free throw line, making 25 of 26 attempts (96.2%) as a team.  The Bucs shot 50.8% (31-61) from the field, including 40% (8-20) from three-point range.  Whitworth finished with a 34-29 edge on the boards.

Love and Roach combined for 45 points to lead Whitworth to an 87-63 win over visiting Schreiner on Saturday night.  Love scored 25 points and Roach added 20.  They combined to make 9-16 from three-point range and 6-6 from the free throw line.  Both also had four assists and a pair of steals.  Whitworth shot 51.7% (30-58) from the field, including 50% (11-22) from three-point range.  Once again the Pirates were nearly perfect at the free throw line, making 16-17 (94.1%).  Jurlina added ten points to give the Bucs three players in double figures and Whitworth finished with a 38-33 edge in rebounding.  Sears totaled nine boards, eight points and three blocks.

Roach Honored:  Kyle Roach has been selected as this week's NWC men's basketball Student-Athlete of the Week after he led the Pirates to a pair of wins at the Quality Inn Whit Classic over the weekend. He scored a career-high 28 points on Friday in a 95-87 win over Texas Lutheran, and made it a double-double with a career-best 11 rebounds. He added 20 points and 7 boards in an 87-63 win over Schreiner on Saturday. He was very efficient, making 61% of his shots from the field (14-23), 60% of his three-pointers (9-15), and 100% of his free throws (11-11). In two games, he averaged 24 points, 9 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.5 steals per game.

The Opponents:  Willamette University heads into a Friday night game against Whitman with a 1-4 record.  The Bearcats fell twice at the Colorado College Thanksgiving Classic last weekend, losing 76-64 to St. John's (Minn.) and 85-77 to Augsburg (Minn.).  Willamette is successfully getting to the free throw line, averaging 23.4 attempts per game.  The team is also blocking 4.8 shots per contest.  Sophomore Jordan Jenkins leads the team in scoring average (12.2 ppg) and rebounding (5.6 rpg).  Junior Casey Thornton is averaging 11.8 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game.  Whitworth defeated Willamette twice last season, but had to go to overtime to complete a comeback 81-77 victory in Salem.  The Pirates won 72-53 in Spokane to extend their series winning streak to 17 in a row.  Whitworth has won the last 13 times it has played at Willamette.

Whitman College is 3-0 this season, having played the same three teams as Whitworth.  The Blues are ranked 5th in the latest D3hoops.com poll, which means next Tuesday's game could be a top-ten DIII showdown.  Whitman defeated Schreiner 90-61 and Texas Lutheran 98-82 at last weekend's Quality Inn Whit Classic.  The Blues once again are leading the NWC in scoring average (98.7 ppg) by a wide margin.  But much of their offense is generated by defense.  The Blues lead the league in forced turnovers (23.3) and steals per game (15.7).  Junior G Tim Howell, a First Team All-NWC selection in 2016, is averaging 18.3 points per game, leading five Whitman players who average in double figures.  Sophomore W Austin Butler is a statistics machine, generating 10.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 4.7 steals and 1.3 blocks per contest this season.  Whitworth and Whitman each won its own home court during last year's regular season.  But the Blues came to Spokane and knocked off the Pirates 88-86 in the second round of the NCAA DIII tournament.

NWC Title Favorites: Whitworth is picked first in the 2016-17 NWC Coaches Poll.  The Pirates have claimed seven consecutive NWC regular season titles and nine in the last ten years.  Whitworth has won a total of 18 NWC crowns since rejoining the league in 1982. Last year the Pirates became the first team in league history to win seven straight NWC championships in men's basketball. 

On the Air Again:  Whitworth's games will once again be carried live this season on KSBN 1230am in Spokane.  The relationship between Pirate athletics and KSBN goes back to 1994, a span of 22 years.  Bud Nameck is the new voice of Whitworth basketball.  The co-host of 920 KXLY radio's Morning News, Nameck has more than 30 years of experience calling college basketball at Gonzaga University and Washington State.

National Ranking:  Whitworth is currently 8th after the first regular season D3hoops.com poll of 2016-17.  The Pirates opened the season ranked 12th in the D3hoops.com preseason top-25 poll.  It is the eighth year in a row that the Pirates have been ranked in the D3hoops.com preseason poll. 

Team Captains: The members of the Whitworth basketball team and coaching staff have voted all four seniors – Derek Isaak, Christian Jurlina, Kenny Love, and Drew Sears as captains for the 2016-17 season.  It is Love's second year as a captain.

20 By 11:  Last season Whitworth extended its school record for consecutive seasons with at least 20 victories to 11 in a row.  Prior to this current streak, the most 20-win seasons in a row the Pirates had ever had was two (on three different occasions).  Only Wooster (OH) with 19 and WPI (MA) with 13 have longer current runs of consecutive 20-win seasons in NCAA Division III men's basketball.

More Than A Decade of Dominance:  Since the beginning of the 2005-06 season the Pirates are 271-49 (.847) over the last 11+ years, an amazing run of success matched by few other college teams at any level.  Within the Northwest Conference, Whitworth has won 118 of its last 124 (.952) – including the 14 wins from the last seven NWC tournaments.

Home-Sweet-Home:  Whitworth has been stellar in the Whitworth Fieldhouse since the at least the 1990's. But since the beginning of the 2005-06 season, the Bucs are 138-12 (.920) at home. During the decade of the 1990s and 2000's Whitworth won more than 84% of its home games.

The Pirates have had two home-court winning streaks of more than 40 games since 1990.  A 41-game home court winning streak from early 2009 until December of 2011 was the second-longest in Pirate history. The school record for consecutive home victories is 43, beginning during the 1994-95 season and ending during the 1997-98 season.

Road Warriors: As good as Whitworth is at home, the Pirates have been almost as good away from the Whitworth Fieldhouse during Matt Logie's tenure as head coach.  Since the start of the 11-12 season, Whitworth is 57-11 (.838) away from home, 44-9 (.830) in true road games.

Showing Some Love:  It looks like it could be another big season for senior guard Kenny Love.  Love, a two-time Northwest Conference honoree, has been picked to the 2016-17 D3hoops.com Preseason All-American team (honorable mention).  He has also been voted as a team captain for the second year in a row.  Love is averaging 17.0 points per game and has made 44.4% of his three-pointers.  He leads the NWC in assists per game (7.0), which ranks 9th in NCAA DIII.

Love was a First Team All-NWC honoree for the second straight year in 2015-16, despite missing four games to an eye injury in December.  He averaged 14.6 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game.  Love made 41.2% of his three-pointers and 81.8% of his free throws.  He scored a career-high 28 points in Whitworth's win over Calvin College on December 29th, leading to a selection as the D3hoops.com Classic MVP and NWC Player of the Week, and he was the leading scorer with 23 points in the Pirates' victory over PLU in the NWC tournament championship game.

Love was the NWC Player of the Year, a First Team All-Region selection and a Third Team All-American (NABC) as a sophomore in 2014-15.  He averaged 11.9 points per game overall, but he averaged a team-best 14.7 points per game against NWC foes.  He ranked third in the league that season in three-point percentage (45.1%) and was the Pirates' leader in assists per game (2.7).

Aussie Aussie:  Christian Jurlina, a senior from Sydney, Australia, is heading into his third straight year as a Pirate starter in 2016-17.  He currently ranks 14th on Whitworth's all-time scoring list with 1,165 points.  He is currently averaging 12.0 points per game.

He claimed his second straight First Team All-NWC award last season.  He scored 14.6 points per contest and added 5.4 rebounds per game.  Jurlina scored 27 points in a victory over Lewis & Clark on December 4th and on January 15 and 16 he led Whitworth win wins over Willamette and George Fox, averaging 19.0 points and 8.0 rebounds to earn the NWC Player of the Week honor.

Jurlina became a First Team All-NWC honoree as a sophomore, leading the Pirates in scoring at 14.8 points per game.  He made 44.3% of his shots from the field and 41.4% of his three-pointers.  He also worked hard on the defensive end, leading the team in steals (54) and in rebounding (5.4 rpg).  He was the NWC Player of the Week on December 29th for his work in Whitworth's wins over Marian (Wis.) and Wells (N.Y.).

As a freshman Jurlina was named the NWC men's basketball Player of the Week on February 3rd after a breakout weekend in wins over Willamette and Pacific.  He averaged 10.9 points and 4.1 rebounds per game to rank third on the team in both categories.  He was one of only two first-year players on the 2014 All-NWC list, earning honorable mention honors.

The Sears Tower:  Bad news for Whitworth opponents in 2016-17: senior post Drew Sears grew an inch and a half since last season and is now officially seven feet tall.  He used all of that height while batting away a career-high seven shots in the season opener and he currently ranks third in DIII with an average of 4.33 blocks per game.  Sears also leads the team and ranks third in the NWC in rebounds per game (8.3).  He is currently averaging 11.7 points per contest.

Sears established himself as a dominating post player in the NWC as a junior, making 64.2% of his shots from the floor to lead the conference.  He also led the league in blocked shots per game (2.3) by a wide margin.  He averaged 7.8 points per game and led the team with 16 points in the NWC semifinal win over Puget Sound.  He set his career-high of 17 points in the win over Pacific on February 6th.

Super Soph:  Kyle Roach, the only sophomore in the Whitworth starting lineup among four seniors, is having a terrific season.  He leads the Northwest Conference in scoring average (22.7 ppg).  He also leads the league, and ranks 12th in DIII, in three-pointers per game (4.33) and he ranks second in the conference in three-point percentage (61.9).  Roach became the first Pirate player selected as NWC Student-Athlete of the week in men's basketball for the 2016-17 season on November 28th

Coming up next:  Whitworth will host Covenant College (Ga.) on December 9th in a game that will be televised live on SWX in Eastern Washington, North Idaho and much of Montana.

The Coach: Matt Logie leads NCAA Division III in winning percentage by active coaches with at least five years of experience.  Logie heads into the 2016-17 season with a record of 126-20 and a winning percentage of .863 over his first five seasons at Whitworth.  He also accomplished what no other coach had ever done in NCAA Division III history – win 100 games in his first four seasons as a head coach.  He is a three-time NWC Coach of the Year honoree, earning the award in 2012, 2014 and 2015.  He is 83-7 against the NWC, counting each of the last five conference tournaments.  Logie has guided several players to post-season honors in his four seasons, including Third Team NABC All-America recognition for George Valle (2016), Kenny Love (2015) and Dustin McConnell (2014).  Logie has been a finalist for the Glen Robinson Division III men's basketball Coach of the Year award twice in his career (2016 and 2013)

Logie previously worked eight seasons as an assistant coach at Lehigh University (Pa.), his alma-mater. He also spent a season as an assistant coach at Kent State. In 2010 Logie was named as the top Patriot League Assistant Coach in men's basketball in a Foxsports.com Coaches Poll and in 2011 he was recognized as one of the top 50 assistants in Mid-to-Low Major college basketball by Hoopscoop on-line magazine. Logie is originally from Mercer Island, Washington where he won a pair of state basketball championships while playing for his grandfather, Ed Pepple, a legend in Washington's high school ranks who won 952 games and four state titles in 49 years of coaching.