Pirate Men to Resume NWC Title Defense

Pirate Men to Resume NWC Title Defense

 SPOKANE, Wash. – The Whitworth University men's basketball team resumes defense of its Northwest Conference title when Pacific University and Linfield College visit the Whitworth Fieldhouse this weekend.  The game against Pacific tips at 8:00 pm on Friday and the Bucs host the Wildcats on Saturday at 6:00 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 this week's games.

The Pirates:  Whitworth is 10-1 this season coming off two wins at the Comfort Inn Classic, hosted by Whitman College in Walla Walla.  The Bucs are ranked 5th in the latest D3hoops.com top-25 poll.

Whitworth never trailed, but struggled to pull away from Buena Vista University in a 90-80 victory on Friday evening.  The Pirates opened up 16-point leads in each half, but the Beavers continued to claw their way closer.  Whitworth shot 55.6% (30-54) from the field and 52.4% (11-21) from three-point range.  The Pirates also made 86.4% (19-22) of their free throws.  All five starters reached double figures in scoring, led by Kenny Love's 20 points.  Christian Jurlina and Derek Isaak scored 15 each as Isaak went 5-8 from three-point range.  Jurlina led the team with seven rebounds.  Love, Jurlina and Kyle Roach (11 points) all had five assists in the game.

The Pirates started slowly, but got going in the second half of Saturday's 95-62 win over Crown College (Minn.).  Whitworth shot the ball poorly from three point range (7-22, 31.8%), with a couple notable exceptions.  Ben College came off of the bench to make 5-7 from distance and led the team with 19 points.  Jurlina added 16 points, making both of his three-point tries, and finished with nine rebounds.  It was also a big game for a couple of other Whitworth bench players: CJ Johnson (13 points) and Sam Lees (10 points).  Despite the struggles from three-point range, the Pirates still shot better than 50% from the field overall (33-65).  The Bucs also finished with a 46-34 advantage on the boards.

The Opponents:  Pacific University is off to a 7-3 start this season, 1-1 in the NWC.  The Boxers lost to Ripon (Wis.) 75-72 at home on December 30th in their most recent game, but are 4-1 away from the Stoller Center so far this year.  Pacific, under seventh-year head coach Tim Cleary, leads the NWC in offensive rebounds per game (14.4) and ranks second in rebound margin (+6.3) and in scoring defense (64.2).  Junior forward Nate Olowo averages 12.7 points per game and ranks second in the conference in rebound average (9.6).  Senior guard Michael Joseph adds 10.9 points and 3.2 assists per contest.  Whitworth swept Pacific in 2015-16 and has won 16 straight over the Boxers, dating to Feb. 9, 2008.  The Bucs have won the last 12 meetings in the Whitworth Fieldhouse (Jan. 23, 2004).

Linfield is 7-4 overall and 1-1 in the NWC under fourth-year head coach Shanan Rosenberg heading into Friday night's game at Whitman College.  The Wildcats recently returned from a trip to Whittier College (California) where they defeated Redlands 70-58 but lost to the host Poets 71-67.  Linfield leads the league in scoring defense (62.6 ppg) and in rebound margin (+7.7) this season.  Sophomore guard Riley Bruil leads the team in scoring average (12.6 ppg) and makes 55.2% of his three-pointers.  He is the younger brother of Whitworth volleyball standout Brenna Bruil.  Senior guard Kyle Maloof adds 11.4 points, 4.0 assists and 1.9 steals per game.  The Pirates swept the Wildcats and have won the last 16 contests between the schools, dating to Jan. 10, 2009.  Whitworth has also won 16 straight over Linfield at the Fieldhouse (Jan. 20, 2001).

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. In 2015-16 the Pirates became the first team in league history to win seven straight NWC championships in men's basketball. 

On Fire:  Nearing the midpoint of the 2016-17 season, Whitworth is one of the hottest shooting teams in all of NCAA Division III.  The Pirates rank among the top-ten teams in the nation (out of 416) in all three shooting categories:  Field Goals (9th, 50.5%), Free Throws (4th, 80.6%) and Three-Pointers (3rd, 45.0%).  Needless to say, Whitworth leads the Northwest Conference in all three categories by a wide margin.

Forecast in the 90's:  Whitworth has reached 90 points in a game seven times already in 2016-17.  The only other time that the Pirates hit 90 points as many as seven times in one year was 2010-11, a season in which the Bucs finished 28-2 and spent most of the year ranked #1 in the country.  They hit 90 or more seven times in 30 games that season.

National Ranking:  Whitworth moved up to 5th from 8th in the January 2nd D3hoops.com poll, the highest ranking of the season for the Pirates.  Dating back to late January of 2015, Whitworth has been ranked in 27 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 278-50 (.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 63-12 (.840) away from home, 47-10 (.824) in true road games.

Showing Some Love:  It is another big season for senior guard Kenny Love.  Love is averaging 12.4 points per game and has made 41.2% of his three-pointers.  He ranks first in the NWC in assists per game (5.2). Love, a two-time All-Northwest Conference honoree, was 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 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 11th on Whitworth's all-time scoring list with 1,320 points and needs 28 points to move into 10th place.  Jurlina is averaging 17.4 points and a team-best 5.2 rebounds per game.  He is making 60% of his three-point attempts to rank 2nd in the NWC.  He was selected as the NWC's men's basketball Student-Athlete of the Week on December 12th

Jutlina 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 2.2 blocks per game.  Sears is averaging 9.5 points and 4.7 rebounds per contest.  His overall field goal percentage of 60.6% is ranked second in the NWC.

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 (18.0 ppg) while making 57.8% of his field goals (3rd in the NWC) and 50% of his three pointers (tied for 5th in the NWC).  Roach also is second on the team in rebounding (5.1 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). 

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.

Coming up next:  Whitworth will continue a four-game homestand on January 13th and 14th when the Pirates host Puget Sound (Friday) and Pacific Lutheran (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.