The new year also means a new start for Eastern Washington senior forward Collin Chiverton.
Last year’s Big Sky Conference Newcomer of the Year, Chiverton took an extended personal leave after the death of his mother as well as a childhood friend.
“Collin is back, he’s in a great mood and he’s working hard,” EWU coach Jim Hayford said before the Eagles departed for tonight’s game at Big Sky preseason favorite Montana.
The 6-foot-6 Chiverton is averaging 11 points a game, but scored 51 in three games earlier this year against Utah Valley, South Carolina Upstate and Santa Clara before departing in late November.
Last season, as a junior transfer, Chiverton averaged 13.9 points while shooting 40.6 percent from 3-point range.
“More confident,” Hayford said. “He’s a dynamic scorer, and he brings a lot of levity. And that’s one of the hard things about having him so down (emotionally).”
Visit from ‘Spang’
Former Gonzaga forward Ryan Spangler arrived late for the GU-Oklahoma State game on Monday night but he had an excuse. Spangler, redshirting after transferring to Oklahoma, was courtside for the Sooners’ 72-42 victory over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi earlier Monday in Norman and then drove 90 minutes north to Stillwater.
“Just got here,” said Spangler, after taking a seat in the front row behind GU’s bench at halftime. “It’s been going really good.”
The 6-foot-8, 227-pound Spangler left Gonzaga to be closer to home. He’s from Blanchard, roughly 15 miles from Norman. Spangler played in 22 games, averaging 2.5 points and 2.4 rebounds, last season as a freshman. He missed four games with a broken finger.
Spangler visited with his former teammates inside Gonzaga’s locker room after the Zags’ 69-68 win and then spoke with coach Mark Few for a few minutes.
WSU, UW healthy
Washington State should be at full strength when it hosts Washington on Saturday. The Huskies should be, too.
The Cougars sent a pair of players to the bench due to injury during their final nonconference tuneup against Idaho State last week. Dexter Kernich-Drew fell hard on his right shoulder and didn’t return to the game, and walk-on guard Bryce Leavitt injured his right wrist on a hard fall late in the game.
Neither player practiced on Wednesday, but coach Ken Bone said he expects both will be able to play against the Huskies.
Bone mentioned Washington is getting healthy at the right time, too.
Backup point guard Andrew Andrews is back from a sprained ankle, and forward Shawn Kemp Jr. returned a few games ago from a torn patella tendon.