Eastern Washington freshman Venky Jois is already making a big first impression on the boards. The 6-foot-7 forward from Boronia, Australia, ranks among the top 10 freshmen in the nation in rebounding at 9.3 a game.
Jois leads the Big Sky Conference with seven double-doubles. He averages 13.1 points.
Jois had 14 points and 14 rebounds in a win over Northern Arizona last Thursday. He ranks 38th overall in the nation in rebounding.
In his last game, against Sacramento State, Jois blocked six shots – better than anyone else in the conference except for teammate Martin Seiferth.
On Saturday, Jois will face another tough rebounder in Northern Colorado jumior Derrick Barden.
Barden recorded back-to-back double- doubles last week. He scored 14 points with 11 rebounds in a 69-66 loss to Montana State, and netted 21 with a career-high 15 boards on Saturday in 85-77 loss to Montana.
In six conference games, Barden is averaging 14.8 points and 9.8 rebounds per game.
Lacy finds mark
Ken Bone teased DaVonte Lacy prior to Wednesday’s victory over Utah.
The sophomore guard hadn’t made a 3-pointer since Dec. 29, a source of some frustration as he spent extra time with coaches this week working on his outside shot.
It paid off. Lacy made two of his first three attempts from 3-point range and finished with 10 points in WSU’s 75-65 win over the Utes.
“I said, ‘You know, if you don’t hit a 3 this game, I’m just going to tell people you’re just not a very good shooter, (and) you got lucky your first year,’ ” Bone joked. “We’re trying to loosen him up a little bit, let him relax, go out and play the way he’s capable of doing. I thought he did it.”
Said Lacy: “My teammates never lost confidence in me. They always said, ‘keep shooting.’ I’ve been shooting well in practice and stuff, just been getting up extra shots, so I knew one was going to fall eventually. I couldn’t miss the rest for my life.”
Idaho hasn’t been able to sustain leads or get over humps late in games this season, and one reason why has been its inability to create turnovers on the defensive end.
Idaho is last in the WAC, and fifth-worst in the nation, in turnover margin (-5.07 per game). UI is also last in the WAC in steals (3.7 per game). It averages 13.3 turnovers per game – fourth-best in the WAC – but its opponents have only turned it over 8.2 times per game.