Whits Headed to Classic in Walla Walla

Whits Headed to Classic in Walla Walla

 SPOKANE, Wash. – The Whitworth University men's basketball team will close out the non-conference portion of its schedule when the Pirates compete in the 2016 Comfort Inn Classic at Whitman College in Walla Walla.  Whitworth will take on Buena Vista (Iowa) on Friday (3:00 pm) and Crown College (Minn.) on Saturday at 1:00 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 8-1 this season coming off three victories during a trip through California and Oregon immediately after final exams.  The Bucs are ranked 8th in the latest D3hoops.com top-25 poll.

Whitworth opened the trip with a 96-88 win at La Verne on Sunday, December 18th.  The Pirates played their most efficient offensive basketball of recent memory over the first 14 minutes, scoring 51 points and making nearly 80% of their shots.  But the host Leopards responded like SCIAC title contenders, and fought back from a 29-point deficit to within single digits in the second half.   Kenny Love and Christian Jurlina scored 22 points apiece to lead the Bucs, while Drew Sears, Ben College and CJ Johnson each scored ten points.  Love also led the Pirates with seven rebounds and three steals.  Whitworth finished the game making 52.5% from the field, including 61.1% from three-point range.

The Pirates played a very different type of game on Monday, December 19th at Chapman.  The defending champions of the SCIAC played a much more defensive-oriented contest and Whitworth prevailed 78-69. The Panthers built an early 23-15 lead before the Pirates closed the first half on a 23-6 run to open a 38-29 lead at halftime.  Whitworth eventually led by 16 points with 7:45 to play before Chapman closed the gap back to nine points.  Kyle Roach led the Bucs with 22 points and six rebounds.  Jurlina added 14 points and Ben Bishop came off of the bench for a dozen points – his career high.  Whitworth shot 48.3% from the floor and struggled from three-point range (26.3%), but the Pirates held the Panthers to only 38.2% from the field.

Whitworth got its three-point shooting groove back in a big way against Alma College (Mich.) in a game played at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon on Wednesday, December 21st.  The Pirates made 15-25 (60%) from beyond the arc in a 99-72 win over the Scots, the defending champions of the MIAA.  Christian Jurlina led Whitworth with 28 points and Roach scored 25.  Derek Isaak added 11 points while Kenny Love dished five of the Bucs' season-high 20 assists.  Whitworth finished the game 55.7% from the field, while holding Alma to 41.5% and forcing 22 turnovers.

Roach Honored, Again:  Kyle Roach was selected as the Northwest Conference men's basketball Student-Athlete of the Week on December 26th for his games against Chapman and Alma.  Roach led the Pirates to a pair of wins over defending conference champions to earn NWC weekly honors for the second time this season.  He scored 22 points and added six rebounds, an assist and a steal in Monday's 78-69 win at defending SCIAC champion Chapman. He then had 25 points, four rebounds, two assists, two steals and a blocked shot in Wednesday's neutral-site win over defending MIAA champion Alma. He made 65.5% of his shots from the field (19-29) and 63.6% of his three-pointers (7-11), while averaging 23.5 points and 5.0 rebounds per game.

Whitworth has won the award three times this season.  Christian Jurlina was the winner on December 12th and Roach was selected for the award previously on November 28th.

The Opponents:  Buena Vista University, from Storm Lake, Iowa, is a member of the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletics Conference.  The Beavers are 6-4 this season, coming off of a 115-108 shootout loss at Greenville College on December 20th in their most recent game.  Buena Vista is averaging 80.7 points and making 49.2% of its shots from the field.  Head coach Brian Van Haaften is 389-171 in his 21st year leading the Beavers and ranks among the leaders of active NCAA Division III coaches for victories and winning percentage (.695).  Senior forward Kennedy Drey is having a special final season, averaging 16.8 points and 9.1 rebounds per game, leading four players who average in double figures.  Whitworth and Buena Vista have never played in men's basketball.  The Pirates' most recent game against a member of the IIAC is a 77-69 win over Simpson College on December 22, 2012.

Crown College (St. Bonifacious, Minn.) is a member of the Upper Midwest Athletics Conference.  The Storm are 3-6 overall and 2-2 in the UMAC so far this season.  Crown lost 83-75 at Minnesota-Morris on December 17th in a conference-counting contest.  Head Coach Luke Herbert is in his seventh year and also took on the responsibility of Crown's head men's soccer coach beginning with this past season. The Storm are getting huge contributions from freshman forward Timothy Wendel, who is averaging 20.6 points and 6.0 rebounds per game.  Junior post Austin VanDerHeyden adds 13.3 points per contest.  Whitworth and Crown have never played in men's basketball.  The Pirates' most recent game against a member of the UMAC was a thrilling 78-76 win over Northwestern (Minn.) on December 18, 2011.

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 remained 8th in the December 19th D3hoops.com poll, the second straight week at that spot.  Dating back to late January of 2015, Whitworth has been ranked in 26 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 276-50 (.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 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 61-12 (.836) away from home, 47-10 (.824) 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 All-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 12.7 points per game and has made 41.9% of his three-pointers.  He ranks first in the NWC in assists per game (5.1).

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 1,289 points and is averaging 17.8 points and 4.4 rebounds per game.  He was selected as the NWC's men's basketball Student-Athlete of the Week on December 12th

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 (2014-15), 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 opening win over St. Olaf and he currently leads the conference an average of 2.3 blocks per game.  Sears is also tied for the team lead in rebounds per game (5.3).  He is currently averaging 9.3 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 (19.4 ppg) while making 59.6% of his field goals (2nd in the NWC) and 56.4% of his three pointers (3rd in the NWC).  Roach also currently is tied for the team lead in rebounding (5.3 rpg).  Roach is the only player in the Northwest Conference to be selected as the league's men's basketball Student-Athlete of the Week twice this season (Nov. 28, Dec. 26). 

Coming up next:  Whitworth will return to Northwest Conference play on January 6th and 7th when the Pirates host Pacific (Friday) and Linfield (Saturday).

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.