SPOKANE, Wash. – Whitworth will try to bounce back from its first men's basketball loss of the season when the Pirates host Covenant College (Ga.) in a non-conference game on Friday night at 7:00 pm. It is the first game this year that will air on local cable television station SWX. The Pirates' game 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 4-1 this season and 1-1 in the Northwest Conference after winning at Willamette, but losing at 4th-ranked Whitman. The Bucs are ranked 7th in the latest D3hoops.com top-25 poll.
In last Saturday's NWC opener at Willamette, the Pirates built a big early lead, saw the Bearcats rally to within five points, and then pulled away down the stretch for a 91-79 victory. Whitworth took its largest lead of the game (40-18) with five minutes to play in the first half before Willamette got to within 75-70 in the second period. Kyle Roach tied his career high with 28 points and also led the Pirates with seven rebounds. Christian Jurlina scored 22 points and dished four assists, while Kenny Love added 13 points. Whitworth shot 51% from the field to win its 18th straight game against Willamette and 14th in a row in Salem, Oregon.
Whitman took the early initiative in a match-up of Northwest Conference top-ten teams on Tuesday night and came away with a 79-65 win in Walla Walla. The Pirates came out of the gate cold, missing some easy shots and allowing the Blues to go on a 13-0 run for an early 22-6 deficit. Trailing 59-41 early in the second half, Whitworth was able to rally to within seven points three times in the final ten minutes, but could get no closer. Jurlina totaled 18 points and eight rebounds to lead the Bucs in both categories. Roach was the only other Whitworth player in double figures with 11 points. The Pirates finished with season-low percentages in field goals (37.9%) and three-pointers (26.3%).
The Opponents: Covenant College is small, liberal arts college affiliated with the Presbyterian Church in America. Located in Lookout Mountain, Georgia, Covenant was originally founded in 1955 in Pasadena, California and moved to St. Louis in 1956 where it existed for eight years. The school moved to its current location in Georgia in 1964. The Scots are member of the USA South Athletic Conference.
Coming off of an 18-10 season in 2015-16 that saw the Scots earn a berth in the NCAA Division III tournament, Covenant is 4-2 so far this season. The Scots defeated Oglethorpe 78-64 at home on Tuesday night in their final tune up before heading to the Northwest. They will play at Whitman College on Saturday before returning home. Covenant, which opened the season with an impressive 74-70 win over Emory, is led by junior guard Berto Dryden, who averages 16.4 points, 3.6 assists and 2.6 steals per contest. Whitworth and Covenant have never played in men's basketball. The last USAC-member team that Whitworth faced was LaGrange College (Ga.) in the first round of the NCAA Division III tournament in 2015. The Pirates won 88-60.
SWX Broadcast: Friday's game will be televised live on SWX in Eastern Washington and North Idaho. Sam Adams will provide play by play while former NBA star Craig Ehlo gives color commentary. SWX stands for Sports & Weather Right Now and is owned by local NBC affiliate KHQ channel 6. SWX can be seen both over-the-air and through some cable services in the Spokane-Coeur d'Alene, Kennewick-Pasco-Richland, and Yakima viewership areas, as well as in Montana. In the Spokane-Coeur d'Alene area, SWX is found on digital channel 6.2, on Comcast channel 306 in Spokane and Time Warner channel 306 in North Idaho. Click here for a complete list of SWX station numbers throughout the Eastern Washington/North Idaho region.
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 7th after the second regular season D3hoops.com poll of 2016-17. The Pirates had been ranked 8th in the previous poll. Dating back to late January of 2015, Whitworth has been ranked in 24 consecutive D3hoops.com polls. The Pirates' longest streak of appearing in the D3hoops.com national rankings was 52 consecutive polls from midway through the 2009-10 season until December of 2014.
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 272-50 (.845) 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 119 of its last 126 (.944) – 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 58-12 (.829) away from home, 45-10 (.818) 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 13.6 points per game and has made 37% of his three-pointers. He ranks second in the NWC in assists per game (5.2).
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 1,205 points. He is currently averaging 15.2 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 leads the conference an average of 3.0 blocks per game. Sears is also tied for the team lead in rebounds per game (6.6). He is currently averaging 10.6 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 is tied for the lead in the Northwest Conference in scoring average (21.4 ppg). He also is third in the league in three-point percentage (57.7) and is tied for the team lead in rebounding (6.6 rpg). 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 take next week off for final exams before flying out to California for a pair of games on December 18th and 19th.
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.