SPOKANE, Wash. – The Whitworth University men's basketball team is in the unfamiliar role of chaser, rather than the chased, heading into the second half of the Northwest Conference schedule. The Pirates will begin the second half by hosting Whitman College, the team the Pirates are looking up at in the NWC standings, on Tuesday night (8:00 pm) in the Fieldhouse. The week will finish on Friday with an Alumni Night game against Willamette University (8:00 pm). Tuesday night's game will be telecast on cable station SWX.
Watch the Whitworth men's basketball schedule for other live links to this week's games.
The Pirates: Whitworth is 15-2 overall and 6-2 in the NWC this season following a weekend road sweep at Lewis & Clark and George Fox, two other teams that came into the week tied for second place with the Pirates. The Bucs are ranked 6th in the D3hoops.com top-25 poll for the second straight week.
Whitworth pulled away in the second half for a 66-61 win at Lewis & Clark on Friday night. The Pirates and Pioneers traded leads throughout the first half, but Whitworth took the lead for good early in the second period and eventually led by as many as ten points with four minutes to play in the game. The Bucs shot 53% from the field in the game (27-51), while holding L&C to only 35% (24-69). Christian Jurlina led Whitworth with 13 points, while Kenny Love added a dozen and Drew Sears came off of the bench for ten. Love led the Pirates with nine rebounds and Kyle Roach dished five assists. Whitworth earned its seventh straight win over L&C.
Despite playing a well-rested George Fox squad on Saturday night, Whitworth dominated from beginning to end in an 83-53 victory. The Pirates' defense was very impressive, holding the Bruins to the lowest output of any opponent this season and limiting GFU to only nine points over the final 14 minutes of the game. Six Whitworth players reached double figures in scoring, led by Jurlina (14 points) for the second straight night. Roach and Love each had 13 points, while CJ Johnson and Ben College came off of the bench for 12 and 11 points, respectively. Sears had 10 points for the second straight night. Johnson posted his first career double-double by adding ten rebounds. The win was Whitworth's sixth in a row over GFU.
The Opponents: Whitman College (17-0 overall, 8-0 NWC) comes into Tuesday night's contest as the #2 team in the D3hoops.com poll and the last unbeaten men's Division III team in the country. Whitman's turnaround under 9th-year head coach Eric Bridgeland (154-74 leading the Blues) is well documented. His teams use high-pressure defense to force plenty of turnovers, which turn into easy baskets. So it's no surprise that the Blues rank third in NCAA DIII in turnover margin (+9.7), fourth in steals per game (12.4) and second in scoring margin (+17.9). That all creates a league-best 90.5 scoring average. Whitman is led by junior guard Tim Howell, who leads the NWC in scoring average this year at 20.2 ppg and has been selected as the NWC men's basketball student-athlete of the week for two weeks in a row. He makes a high percentage of his shots, and also gets to the free throw line often, where he makes 84%. He is coming off of a 40-point game in Sunday's win at George Fox and now has 997 points in his career. Howell is complemented by sophomore wing Austin Butler, who does everything else on the floor for Whitman. In addition to averaging 9.2 ppg with a league-best 62.5 FG%, Butler averages 4.8 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 2.9 steals per contest. Whitman won the first match up of the season on December 6th in Walla Walla by a score of 79-65, despite 18 points and 8 rebounds from Christian Jurlina. The Blues won the game in the first eight minutes by jumping out to a 27-10 lead.
Willamette is 3-14 overall and 1-7 in the NWC heading into Friday night's game at Whitworth. The Bearcats earned their first conference win of the season on Saturday at Pacific (70-69), the same team that beat Whitworth in Spokane three weeks ago. Willamette is averaging 69.7 ppg while allowing 80.0 and the Bearcats are coached by Kip Ione, who is in his 8th year leading his alma mater. Sophomore Jordan Jenkins leads his team in scoring average (11.3 ppg) and makes 46% of his three-pointers. Nico Troplent adds 9.9 ppg and leads his team in rebounding (5.9 rpg). Whitworth defeated Willamette 91-79 on December 3rd in the Pirates' conference opener. It was the Pirates' 18th straight win over the Bearcats.
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: Just past 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-15 teams in the nation (out of 416) in all three shooting categories: Field Goals (14th, 49.7%), Free Throws (10th, 78.7%) and Three-Pointers (6th, 42.2%). 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 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 much of the year ranked #1 in the country. They hit 90 or more seven times in 30 games that season.
National Ranking: Whitworth remained 6th in today's (Jan. 23) D3hoops.com poll. It is the Pirates' second straight week at that spot in the rating. Dating back to late January of 2015, Whitworth has been ranked in 30 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. Whitworth is tied with St. Thomas (Minn.) at 11 in a row.
More Than A Decade of Dominance: Since the beginning of the 2005-06 season the Pirates are 283-51 (.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 124 of its last 132 (.939) – 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 142-13 (.916) 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 65-12 (.844) away from home, 49-10 (.831) in true road games.
Showing Some Love: It is another big season for senior guard Kenny Love. Love is averaging 13.9 points per game and has made 42.5% of his three-pointers. In December he became the 28th player in Whitworth history to surpass 1,000 career points and he currently has 1,141. He ranks second in the NWC in assists per game (4.5). 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 in his third straight year as a Pirate starter in 2016-17. He is 9th on Whitworth's all-time scoring list with 1,400 points and needs four points to move into 8th place. Jurlina is averaging 15.9 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. He is making 44.4% of his three-point attempts to rank 8th in the NWC. He was selected as the NWC's men's basketball Student-Athlete of the Week on December 12th.
Jurlina claimed his second straight First Team All-NWC award in 2015-16. 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 1.9 blocks per game. Sears is averaging 9.1 points and 4.7 rebounds per contest. His overall field goal percentage of 61.8% ranks 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 fourth in the Northwest Conference in scoring average (16.5 ppg) while making 54.4% of his field goals (7th in the NWC) and 45.3% of his three pointers (6th in the NWC). Roach also leads the team in rebounding (5.4 rpg). Roach is one of only three players 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 are once again 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 return to Oregon for the second time in three weeks with contests at Linfield and Pacific on February 3rd and 4th.
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.