The seeds of Taylor Farnsworth’s success were planted some 18 months ago; the fruits of it are being harvested now.
A 6-foot-8 post from Mead transferred to Whitworth after spending a redshirt season at the University of Montana. In his first season in a Pirates uniform, he played in 17 games, coming off the bench to add size and inside muscle for a deep team that finished 26-4 and reached the round of 16 in the NCAA Division III tournament.
That was enough to earn the confidence of head coach Matt Logie, who’s also in his second year at Whitworth – even though Farnsworth’s own confidence level was lagging to start the 2012-13 season.
“Having the coaching staff show so much confidence in me has meant a lot to me,” Farnsworth said. “Them showing that confidence in me helped me find that confidence in myself.”
At the beginning of the season, Farnsworth was a steady defensive force for the Pirates, but his offense showed a distinct lack of confidence.
Not to worry, Logie told anyone who showed concern for the Pirates inside game. The inside boys will be alright.
And he was right.
Farnsworth found his offensive touch during a stretch of three games in California early in the season, and now, as Whitworth prepares for its Northwest Conference semifinal game in the Fieldhouse against Lewis & Clark Thursday at 7, he’s an offensive force averaging just under 11 points per game and pulling down 5 rebounds.
Offensively, Farnsworth’s breakout game came at Chapman, when he scored 14 points – his first double-figure effort of the season. Two games later, at home against Hamline, he scored 16 points, then erupted for 29 at Pacific.
Where Farnsworth struggled to get even layups to fall early on, he now shoots with confidence and regularly powers his way to the hoop past any and all defenders. Where he once agonized over misses, he now maintains confidence when the shots don’t fall.
“He’s come a long way in the last 18 months, and that’s not atypical of big men” Logie said. “When they hit their stride, they can go along way. He has great feet and is so quick that he gives us a solid defensive presence.”
More than that, Logie said. He’s the team’s most improved player.
“He’s worked hard and made huge strides,” he said. “He said he wanted to put on some muscle over the summer and he did just that. He’s got the kind of tools that could see him playing beyond college.”
With a team loaded with great outside shooters, having a strong inside presence is vital, and Farnsworth recognized that need after his first season.
“Last year we had a lot of really good, big guys and I was fortunate to be able to play with them. After the season, I knew I would have to really step up because we lost that inside size,” he said. “I talked to coach Logie and I told him I wanted to add 30 pounds for this season. I started out at 205 pounds and by the start of the season, I was 235. I’ve lost a lot of that over the course of the season, but I’m stronger and it made a big difference, especially when I go up against big guys. I’m lucky to go up against Zach Payne every day in practice – he’s the strongest post player in the league.”
Since his breakout, Farnsworth has led Whitworth in scoring five times while matching up defensively against the top posts in the Northwest Conference.
It’s a product of the Whitworth atmosphere, Farnsworth insists.
“Everyone here is so positive and it starts with the coaches,” he said. “When you make a mistake, you get corrected, but it’s always in a positive context. They don’t criticize you, they help you learn. That’s the biggest difference here from what I experienced at Montana. I’m so much happier here.”
Being just a couple miles from home is also a big plus, the Mead graduate said.
“Everyone here is like family.” he said. “We all hang out together and we spend a lot of time together. And to have my family and friends able to come watch me play, that means a lot.”