SPOKANE, Wash. – The Whitworth University men's basketball team heads to paradise this week for a Thanksgiving break tournament at Honolulu, Hawaii. The Pirates will play North Central (Ill.) on Friday (3:30 pm HST) and Arcadia (Pa.) on Saturday (5:45 pm HST) as part of the 2017 Hoops In Hawai'i Thanksgiving Classic. Both games will be broadcast live in Spokane on KSBN 1230 am and on the internet at KSBN.net.
Watch the Whitworth men's basketball schedule for other live links to this week's games. Please note, the host institution will charge a fee to view the live video stream of the games.
The Pirates: Whitworth opened the season at 12:01 am on Wednesday, November 15th, the very first possible minute the Bucs are allowed to play an official game under NCAA Division III rules. The Pirates pulled away for a 95-73 win over the LaVerne Leopards. Whitworth forced 19 turnovers by the fast-paced visitors and finished with a 47-38 edge in rebounding. That allowed the Bucs to take 14 more shots than LaVerne. Jordan Lester scored 26 points in his Whitworth debut, while Ben College added 18 points and four steals. Garrett Hull had 13 points, five rebounds and three assists off the bench in his first game as a Pirate, while Jared Christy contributed 10 points and five assists in his initial contest.
Whitworth hosted Gallaudet University from Washington D.C. on November 17 and cruised to a 92-56 victory over the Bison. The Pirates outscored Gallaudet by the exact same margin (46-28) in each half. Whitworth shot 50% from the field, thanks in part to 25 assists on 34 made baskets. College went off for a career-high 31 points, making 9-13 from three-point range. He came within one three-pointer of tying the school record for treys in a game. Lester came within one assist of a triple-double, finishing with 13 points, ten rebounds and nine assists. Kyle Roach added 15 points, six rebounds and six assists. The Whitworth defense held the Bison to only 29.7% shooting in the game.
The Pirates had another good defensive night in Saturday's 83-58 win over Waynesburg (Pa.). Whitworth held the Yellow Jackets to 30% shooting from the field, and only 15% (3-20) from three-point range. That effort was especially important on a night when the shots were not falling early in the game. After the Bucs went only 4-19 (21%) from three-point range in the first half, they were 7-13 (54%) from beyond the arc in the second period. Sam Lees and Kevin Crosno provided a spark off the bench, combining to make 5-8 from three-point range. Lees finished with a team-high 15 points, while Crosno totaled nine. Roach scored 14 points and dished six assists for the second straight night. Five Pirates reached double figures in scoring.
The Opponents: North Central College, from Naperville, Illinois, is a member of the powerful Collegiate Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin (CCIW). The Cardinals are ranked 12th in the D3hoops.com preseason poll and were picked second in the CCIW Coaches Poll after an 18-11 finish in 2016-17 that included a CCIW tournament championship and a second round exit from the NCAA Division III tournament. Two big reasons for the lofty expectations are 6-8 junior forward Alex Sorenson, a second team Preseason All-American (D3hoops.com), and 6-5 RS sophomore forward Connor Raridon, a third team Preseason All-American (D3hoops.com). Sorenson averaged 17.8 points and 9.2 rebounds per game in 2016-17 and he already holds the school's career record for blocked shots (113). Raridon, who was the 2015-16 CCIW Freshman of the Year, averaged 17.7 points, 7.0 rebounds and 5.9 assists in the first seven games last winter before going down with a season-ending injury. North Central was upset 98-93 in double overtime at Heidelberg in the Cardinals' season-opener last Saturday. NCC will play at Benedictine on Tuesday night before heading out to Honolulu. Whitworth has played the Cardinals once in men's basketball, winning 83-73 on December 5, 2002 at the Lee Fulmer Classic in Redlands, California.
Arcadia University is a member of the MAC Commonwealth Conference from Glenside, Pennsylvania. The Knights went 9-16 overall and 4-12 in conference play last season. Junior guard Josh Scott picked up honorable mention all-conference recognition in 2016-17 by averaging 12.9 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. After Arcadia lost 74-62 at Gwynedd Mercy in its season-opener last Wednesday, Scott scored five points in the final three seconds of the game to lift the Knights to a 99-96 win at Penn State-Abington on Saturday. Arcadia will play at Bryn Athyn on Tuesday night before making the long flight out to Hawaii. The Pirates and Knights have never played in men's basketball.
National Ranking: For the first time in nine years, the Whitworth Pirates were not among the top-25 in the D3hoops.com preseason poll. The Pirates are listed seventh among "others receiving votes" with 42 points.
20 By 12: Whitworth extended its school record for consecutive seasons with at least 20 victories to 12 in a row in 2016-17. 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), now with 20, has a longer current run 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 (12+ years) the Pirates are 294-54 (.845), an amazing run of success matched by few other college teams at any level. Within the Northwest Conference, Whitworth has won 132 of its last 142 (.929).
Home-Sweet-Home: Whitworth has been stellar in the Whitworth Fieldhouse since the 1990's. During the decade of the 1990s and 2000's Whitworth won more than 84% of its home games. But since the beginning of the 2005-06 season, the Bucs are 149-14 (.914) at home, including the last seven in a row.
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 69-14 (.831) away from home, 53-11 (.828) in true road games.
The Main Man: Kyle Roach, the only returnee from Whitworth starting lineup in 2016-17, earned second team All-Northwest Conference recognition last season. He will be the primary focus of most opponents' defensive efforts in 2017-18. Despite that focus, Roach averaged 13.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.0 assists over the first three games.
Roach finished fourth in the NWC in scoring average (15.9 ppg) while making 54.1% of his field goals (5th in the NWC) and 43.3% of his three pointers (6th in the NWC). Roach also finished second on the team in rebounding (5.2 rpg). Roach was selected as the league's men's basketball Student-Athlete of the Week twice this season (Nov. 28, Dec. 26).
Bull's Eye Ben: Ben College is picking up where he left off last season. He is 13-23 (56.5%) from three-point range through the first three games, including a 9-13 effort against Gallaudet.
College finished second in the Northwest Conference in three-point field goal percentage in 2016-17, making 46.5% of his shots from beyond the arc. He was 40-86 from long distance and his best game came on December 9th against Covenant College when he went 6-8 from three-point range and scored 28 points.
Coming Home: Jared Christy has prior experience playing college games in the Whitworth Fieldhouse, but it was previously all for Pacific Lutheran. Christy earned second team All-NWC recognition as a sophomore in 2016-17 after leading the league in rebounding by a wide margin (11.2 rpg). He added 13.8 points per contest. Christy is from Spokane and played high school basketball at Ferris. Through the first three games of 2017-18 he has averaged 8.3 points and 5.7 rebounds per game.
Got the Point?: New starting point guard Jared Lester has made an immediate impact for the Pirates. The junior transfer from Robert Morris (Pa.) has averaged 16.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game so far this season. He missed a triple-double in Whitworth's win over Gallaudet on November 17 by a single assist.
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 in his second season as the 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 open Northwest Conference play with games at Puget Sound (Dec. 1) and Pacific Lutheran (Dec. 2) after returning from Hawaii.
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 2017-18 season with a record of 149-25 and a winning percentage of .856 over his first six 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 97-11 against the NWC, counting each of the last six 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.