SPOKANE, Wash. – The Whitworth University men's basketball team will continue at home this weekend when the Pirates host California Lutheran on Thursday at 7:00 pm and the University of St. Thomas (Minn.) on Saturday at 7:00 pm.
Watch the Whitworth men's basketball schedule for other live links to this week's games.
The Pirates: Whitworth opened the 2019-20 season with wins over Claremont-Mudd-Scripps and Trinity (Texas) last weekend at the Whitworth Tip Off Classic presented by Quality Inn Oakwood.
The Pirates opened the season with a solid 93-83 win over CMS on Friday night. The Bucs led for the final 38 minutes of the game, building a margin of 19 points in the second half. After shooting only 40% from the field in the first half, Whitworth made 53.6% of its shots in the second half. Ben College led all players with 24 points in the game, going 12-15 from the free throw line. Jordan Lester added 18 points, eight rebounds and four assists. Isaiah Hernandez scored 16 points. JT McDermott scored a career-high eight points in 10 minutes off the bench. Claremont-Mudd-Scripps had defeated Whitworth in the opening round of the NCAA tournament in 2017 and 2018 in the previous two meetings between the teams.
The Pirates once again led for more than 38 minutes in Saturday's 96-73 win over Trinity (Texas). The Pirates built a 23-point halftime lead (54-31) and led by as many as 37 points late in the game. Whitworth made 57% of its shots from the field, including 50% (17-34) from beyond the arc, and had 19 assists on 37 made baskets. The Bucs also outrebounded the Tigers 42-30. College went 6-11 from three-point range and once again led Whitworth with 22 points. Lester had another strong all-around game with 12 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Garrett Paxton came off the bench for a career-high 14 points, as did Liam Fitzgerald with 11 off the pine.
The Opponents: Cal Lutheran will play its first game of the season on Thursday in Spokane. The Kingsmen went 7-18 overall and 5-11 in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletics Conference in 2018-19. Russell White, a '94 CLU graduate, is the new head coach after leading Crespi Carmelite HS in California for 13 successful seasons, including two state titles. Senior point guard Palmer Chaplin is one of only three upperclassmen on the 13-player roster. Chaplin averaged 6.4 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game last winter. Whitworth last played CLU on November 25, 2011 when the Pirates won 67-53 in a game played in Pleasant Hill, California.
St. Thomas (#15 in the D3hoops.com preseason poll) has been a fixture near the top of the national rankings under ninth-year head coach John Tauer (185-47). The Tommies, who won the 2015-16 NCAA DIII title, went 24-5 and advanced to the NCAA sweet 16 last season. They return two starters from last year, including sophomore Anders Nelson, who was the 2019 Division III Freshman of the Year. He averaged 14.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game. The Tommies will open their season on Thursday night at Whitman College in Walla Walla. Whitworth last played UST on Nov. 22, 2014 at home and the Tommies rolled to a 90-69 win over the Pirates.
D3Hoops.com Preseason Poll: The Whitworth Pirates are listed among "others receiving votes" in the D3hoops.com preseason top 25 poll.
NWC Preseason Poll: Whitworth is third in the 2019-20 Northwest Conference coaches poll. The Pirates received one first place vote and 51 points, trailing defending champion Whitman (7 first place votes, 63 points) and Linfield (1 first place vote, 57 points).
Lucky 14: With its win at Pacific Lutheran on February 15, 2019, Whitworth extended its school record for consecutive seasons with at least 20 victories to 14 in a row in 2018-19. 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 22, has a longer run of consecutive 20-win seasons in NCAA Division III men's basketball. Whitworth is scheduled to play at Wooster on December 29th.
More Than A Decade of Dominance: Since the beginning of the 2005-06 season (over 14 seasons) the Pirates are 338-64 (.841), an amazing run of success matched by few other college teams at any level. Within the Northwest Conference, Whitworth has won 159 of its last 176 (.903).
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. However, since the beginning of the 2005-06 season, the Bucs are 171-17 (.909) at home.
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 over the last decade. Since the start of the 11-12 season, Whitworth is 81-17 (.827) away from home, 61-13 (.824) in true road games.
Bull's Eye Ben: Ben College is a second team Preseason All-American (D3hoops.com) and already is averaging 23 points per game this season. In January of 2019 he became the 29th player in Whitworth history to surpass 1,000 career points and he currently has 1,246, which is 17th on the Pirates' all-time scoring list – one spot behind current assistant Kenny Love.
College earned first team All-NWC recognition and second team All-West Region (D3hoops.com) in 2019. He set a school-record with 11 three-pointers and a career-high 37 points during the Pirates' 104-74 win over D'Youville College on December 8th and ranked fourth in the Northwest Conference in scoring average at 19.7 points per game. College was 4th in NCAA DIII in free throw percentage (92.2) and made 43.1% of his three-pointers and 3.1 three-pointers per game (2nd in the NWC). He was selected as the NWC's men's basketball student-athlete of the week on January 4th.
College had a big shooting year in 2017-18. He made 45% of his shots from three-point range, including a 9-13 effort against Gallaudet on November 17th and a 6-10 night in the NWC tournament final at Whitman. College was second on the team in scoring average (16.5 ppg) and scored a career-high 31 points in a win over Gallaudet on November 17, 2017. College was an honorable mention All-NWC selection in 2018.
College finished second in the Northwest Conference in three-point field goal percentage as a freshman 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.
Wing Man: Jordan Lester has made a successful transition to wing player this season. In this year's first two games he averaged 15 points and led the squad in rebounding (7.5) and assists (4.5).
Lester was the Pirates' starting point guard in 2018-19. He averaged 12.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.2 steals per game. Lester was the team's leader in assists and steals.
The transfer from Robert Morris (Pa.) averaged 15.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game before injuring his knee in the ninth game of the season in 2017-17. At that time he led the league in assists and was third in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.31).
On the Air Again: Whitworth's men's basketball 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 25 years. Bud Nameck is in his third 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 travel to St. Louis to compete in Washington University's Lopata Classic on November 22nd and 23rd.
The Coach: Damion Jablonski heads into his ninth season on the Pirate coaching staff in 2019-20, and his first as head coach of the Pirates. Jablonski spent the previous six seasons with the title of Associate Head Coach. Over the course of his tenure the Bucs have won 194 games, six Northwest Conference titles and seven NWC tournament crowns.
As the head recruiting coordinator, Jablonski was instrumental in continuing the Bucs' tradition of success by helping to recruit high quality student-athletes to Whitworth. His efforts over the past severa; years have included the addition of First Team All-American Kyle Roach, third team All-American and NWC Player of the Year Kenny Love and First Team All Northwest Conference selection Christian Jurlina.
Jablonski joined the Pirate basketball bench after one season on the Lehigh University staff in 2010-11. As an assistant at Lehigh, Jablonski was tasked with recruiting, scouting and player development, as well as pre-season conditioning and program budget.
Prior to joining Lehigh, Jablonski spent three years at Oakland University in Michigan working under long time head coach Greg Kampe, who currently ranks in the top 20 for career wins among active Division I coaches. Jablonski began as a Graduate Assistant before taking over responsibilities as Video Coordinator.
Jablonski began his coaching career in 2005 as an assistant coach at Livonia Franklin HS in Livonia, Michigan. He graduated from Gonzaga University in 2000 with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering and went on to work as an engineer at Ford Motor Company from 2001-2007. He grew up in Polson, Montana.