EWU kicks off busy Bay Area trip on Sunday
As he prepares for a big road trip, Eastern Washington men’s basketball coach Jim Hayford is trying to look at the big picture.
“Having 10 new players and starting the season with six road games is a recipe for adversity,” said Hayford, in his second year at Eastern.
“But I think that will only help make us a better team.”
The Eagles (0-2) are coming off losses at Washington State (88-69 on Saturday) and Cal State Northridge (96-79 on Monday), and face four games in six days in the Bay Area.
First up is West Coast Conference power Saint Mary’s. Tipoff is at 5 p.m. Sunday in Moraga, Calif. After a day off, the Eagles play back-to-back games in the College Basketball Experience Hall of Fame Classic in Santa Clara against Utah Valley and South Carolina Upstate.
Two days later, on the day after Thanksgiving, the Eagles will play at Santa Clara.
“The big picture is that I’m approaching the preseason as a time for developing a good unit,” said Hayford, whose club plays at home on Nov. 30 against Cal State Fullerton.
Eastern shot only 37 percent from the field at WSU. “That comes from execution and shot-selection,” Hayford said.
Against Northridge, the Eagles gave up 35 fast-break points and had 22 turnovers. Senior point guard Kevin Winford fouled out midway through the second half, “which left us exposed without enough ballhandlers to handle their pressure,” Hayford said.
On the other hand, sophomore transfer Martin Seiferth took Big Sky Player of the Week honors with a 27-point, 17-rebound night against Northridge that also included a school-record seven blocked shots.
“Martin played outstanding,” Hayford said. “That has to be an outstanding confidence-builder for him. And if we can get that kind of play from inside, that is something we can really build on.’’
Mostly, Hayford aims to further define roles on the court. “We really haven’t figured out our roles yet, and that’s going to be a bumpy road. But we have to keep up our focus on getting ready for conference play.”
Pirates kick off season
The Whitworth men’s season officially gets under way today when the Pirates host St. Thomas of Minnesota in the Fieldhouse.
Whitworth, coming off a three-point exhibition loss at Idaho State of the Big Sky Conference, is ranked 14th in the first D-III Hoops poll of the season and returns three starters and nine total letter-winners from 2011-12, when the Bucs went 26-4 overall and 15-1 in the Northwest Conference to win the regular-season title. Tipoff is at 7 p.m.