SPOKANE, Wash. – Final exams are presenting the Whitworth men's basketball team with plenty of competition this week. But once testing is over after Friday, the Bucs will head to Southern California and Oregon for three non-conference games. Whitworth will play at the University of La Verne on Sunday (2:00 pm), at Chapman University on Monday (7:00 pm) and then will play Alma College (Mich.) in Salem, Oregon on Wednesday (2:00 pm). The 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 the upcoming games.
The Pirates: Whitworth is 5-1 this season coming off of a 93-62 victory over Covenant College (Ga.) in the final non-conference home game. The Bucs are ranked 8th in the latest D3hoops.com top-25 poll.
The Pirates bounced back from their first loss of the season with an impressive win over the Scots last Friday night in the Whitworth Fieldhouse. While the Bucs hit season-highs for points, field goal percentage (60.0) and three-point percentage (56.3) in one game, head coach Matt Logie credited the defensive effort for the team's success against Covenant. Whitworth held the Scots to a field goal percentage of 39.1, which included a three-point percentage of 16.7, and forced 17 turnovers. Freshman guard Ben College had a big night, exploding for 28 points on 8-10 shooting from the floor (6-8) from beyond the arc. Christian Jurlina added 20 points and led the team with nine rebounds. Kenny Love dished nine assists, seven in the second half.
Jurlina Honored: Christian Jurlina is the Northwest Conference Student-Athlete of the Week in men's basketball. He led Whitworth in scoring and rebounding last week, averaging 19.0 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. In a 79-65 loss to 4th-ranked Whitman, he scored 18 points with eight rebounds, then tallied 20 points with nine boards in a 93-62 non-conference win over Covenant. He finished the week shooting 58.3 percent from the field (14-24), including 3-5 on three-pointers, and 87.5 percent from the line (7-8). He also added two assists, two steals and a blocked shot.
Jurlina is the second Whitworth player to earn the award this season. Kyle Roach was selected for the award on November 28th.
The Opponents: The University of La Verne is off to a 5-1 start this season and the Leopards look like they could be serious contenders in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletics Conference (SCAIC). They completed a recent trip to the Northwest with wins at Willamette (88-87 on December 9th) and at Linfield (87-80 on December 10th). La Verne is deep, using at least 10 players in every game, and is averaging 86.8 points per game while giving up 79.8. Senior Hakim Arnold, a First Team All-SCIAC honoree last year, is averaging 18.2 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. Junior Anthony White adds 14.5 ppg and is the team's top three-point threat. Whitworth last played La Verne in the 2015-16 season opener in Spokane, a game that tipped at 12:01 am on November 13th, and defeated the Leopards 87-80.
Chapman University is 3-4 so far this season. The Panthers finished 20-7 last year and won both the SCIAC regular season and tournament championships. Cam Haslem was named the SCIAC Player of the Year as a freshman in 2015-16 and he is a D3hoops.com Preseason All-American this season. He is currently averaging 18.0 points per game, leading an offense that is putting up 71.3 points per contest and allowing 70.4. Junior forward James Taylor contributes 13.0 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. The Panthers last played on December 9th and defeated La Sierra University 85-72. They will host West Coast Baptist on Friday before the Pirates visit on Monday. The last game between Whitworth and Chapman was December 18th, 2012 and the Pirates won 67-62 on the road.
Alma College is the defending champions of the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA). The Scots are coming off of the best season in school history when they finished 24-7 and advanced to the NCAA DIII Elite Eight. But graduation of a couple key players and a very tough non-conference schedule have led to a 1-5 record so far. Alma will host Wheaton (Ill.) on Saturday before flying west to play at Willamette (Tuesday, Dec. 20) and against Whitworth next Wednesday (also at Willamette). Freshman forward Preston Laketa leads the team in scoring (17.5 ppg) and adds 7.0 rpg. Junior forward Trevor Gernaat contributes 15.8 points and 7.2 boards per contest. Whitworth and Alma have never played in men's basketball. The Pirates' last game against an opponent from the MIAA was last December, a 68-65 win over Calvin College in Las Vegas.
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 in the December 12th D3hoops.com poll. The Pirates dropped only one spot from the previous poll following a loss at (now) #3 Whitman College. Dating back to late January of 2015, Whitworth has been ranked in 25 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 273-50 (.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 139-12 (.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 12.5 points per game and has made 39.3% of his three-pointers. He ranks first in the NWC in assists per game (5.8).
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 1,225 points and is averaging 16.0 points and 5.3 rebounds 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 2.7 blocks per game. Sears is also second on the team lead in rebounds per game (5.8). He is currently averaging 11.0 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 second in the Northwest Conference in scoring average (20.0 ppg) while making 53.6% of his three pointers (4th in the NWC). Roach also currently leads the team in rebounding (6.2 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 break for the holidays before returning to action on December 30th and 31st. The Pirates will play Buena Vista (Iowa) and Crown (Minn.) in a tournament hosted by Whitman College in Walla Walla.
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.