November 6, 2012

2012-13 NWC Men's Basketball Season Preview

2012-13 Men's Basketball Coaches Pre-Season Poll:

School

(1st)

Pts.

2011-12 All

2011-12 NWC

1. Whitworth 

(7)

70

26-4

15-1

2. Whitman 

(2)

54

18-8

11-5

3. Lewis & Clark 

 

51

14-12

9-7

4. Puget Sound 

 

44

20-7

11-5

5. Pacific Lutheran 

 

32

12-13

9-7

6. George Fox 

 

24

11-14

8-8

7. Linfield 

 

22

5-20

3-13

8. Pacific (Ore.)

 

20

9-17

3-13

9. Willamette 

 

13

5-20

3-13

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(First-place votes in parenthesis. Points awarded on 9-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis).

Men's Basketball Preview

Whitworth Picked by Coaches to Repeat

SPOKANE, Wash. – The head coaches of the Northwest Conference have spoken, and the Whitworth Pirates are a near unanimous choice to finish atop the Northwest Conference standings once again. Whitworth claimed 70 out of 72 possible points and were chosen number one in all but just two ballots.

It has become a familiar refrain in Whitworth men's basketball season preview stories.  The Pirates lose their top player or two from the previous season – how will they carry on without him or them?

Last fall it was NCAA Division III Player of the Year Michael Taylor and four-time All-NWC honoree David Riley and Whitworth went on to finish 26-4. In 2010 it was All-American post Nate Montgomery and All-NWC guard Eric Beal and the Bucs finished 28-2.  In 2009 it was Ross Nakamura and Calvin Jurich, in 2008 it was Ryan Symes and Collin Willemsen, in 2007 it was Bryan Williams, Jon Young and James Jones, in 2006 it was Lance Pecht. And each year Whitworth went to the NCAA Division III tournament.

Now the Bucs will have to move on without a 2012 senior class that included Felix Friedt and Idris Lasisi, both of whom made lasting marks on the Whitworth program.

"There is no question this year's team will look different," said second-year head coach Matt Logie, who was named NWC Coach of the Year in his rookie season. "However, we talked about it last spring and our returning players are very hungry for the opportunity to show that they can do more and step into those leadership positions in our program."

Whitworth, ranked 14th in the D3hoops.com preseason poll, returns three starters from last season. In addition to posting a 26-4 record the Pirates won the Northwest Conference with a 15-1 mark, won their sixth straight NWC tournament and reached the third round of the NCAA Division III tournament by winning two games away from home for the first time.

Whitman is picked to finish second, gathering 54 points, despite the loss of the 2011-12 Northwest Conference Most Valuable Player, David Michaels. However, the Missionaries return a roster loaded with experience. They bring back four starters, all of whom are juniors or seniors.

Just behind Whitman are the Lewis & Clark Pioneers with 51 points. Last season, the Pioneers earned a berth into the Northwest Conference Tournament in Dinari Foreman's first year as head coach. Coach Foreman is set to return NWC All-Conference First-Team honoree James Hollins. The Pioneers however graduated three players from the 2011-2012 team, including NWC honorable mention recipients PJ Taylor and Marcus Wells.

Puget Sound, last season's NWC Tournament runner-up, is picked to finish fourth. The Loggers return only one starter from last year's squad, sophomore forward Derek Jobe. Jobe was the team's leading 3-point shooter and third on the team with 9.2 PPG.

The Lutes of Pacific Lutheran project to finish fifth with 32 points. The Lutes return nearly everyone from a team that tied for fourth place in the Northwest Conference in 2011-12. However, they do lose point guard James Conti, last season's leading scorer.

The George Fox Bruins are picked to finish where they ended 2011-12, sixth, earning 24 points in the preseason coaches' poll. Last season, George Fox finished .500 in conference play and bring back four starters from last year's squad. They lost All-NWC 2nd Team wing player Mike Taylor who averaged better than 14 points and three assists per game. Key returners include point guard A.J. Grant and wing player Sean Atkins.

Right behind the Bruins are the Linfield Wildcats gathering 22 points. Linfield finished 2011-12 with just three conference wins. The Wildcats also lost two of the team's top three leading scorers in Zach Anderson and David Lee. They do, however, return 6'9" center Andrew Batiuk who was second on the team in points and rebounds as a freshman, with 14.1 and 5.7 per game, respectively.

Perhaps no team in the Northwest Conference was hit harder by injuries than the Pacific (Ore.) Boxers, who are picked to finish eighth in the conference. Four starters lost significant time due to a wide array of injuries. Three of those injured starters return to improve on last season's three conference wins. Senior point guard Andrew Beatty, who missed most of 2011-12 with a broken wrist, looks to lead this team to an improved season.

Willamette, who also finished 2011-12 with three Northwest Conference wins, is forecasted to finish ninth in this year's standings. The Bearcats do return senior guard Terrell Malley who averaged 13.3 PPG and lead the team with 19 steals. The void left by last season's leading scorer and rebounder Taylor Mounts (18.1 PPG, 8.3 RPG) will prove difficult to fill.

The Northwest Conference determines its champion by the results of the regular season. The league will use a conference tournament, comprised of the top four regular season teams, to decide the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

The season officially gets underway on November 16th.

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