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Whitworth men’s basketball team back home for tuneup prior to conference opener

The Whitworth men’s basketball team came back to life this week after 17 days between official games, and now finally returns home for two contests at Whitworth Fieldhouse.

The Pirates (5-2) will end almost a monthlong span between home games Sunday when they take on a Marian (Wisconsin) team that finished 22-7 last year and made it to the NCAA Division III national tournament.

The Pirates broke their long hiatus with road wins over Southwestern (Texas) on Tuesday and Trinity on Thursday.

“We scheduled Marian knowing it was a great opportunity to play an NCAA tournament program,” Whitworth coach Matt Logie said, “and we want to test ourselves as much as possible heading into conference play.”

As the team continues to assimilate new players, the Pirates already have home losses this year to Rutgers-Newark and St. Thomas (Minnesota).

“It’s always important to protect your home court and this will be a great battle for us,” Logie said. “We are healthy and starting to play our best basketball on the defensive end.”

As expected, Whitworth has been led in scoring by sophomore wing Christian Jurlina, who is averaging 17.1 points and 5.1 rebounds per game.

Otherwise, the scoring has come by committee. Sophomore guard Kionte Brown is averaging 8.8 points; junior transfer point guard Matt Staudacher is averaging 9.3 points; transfer sophomore forward Forrest Baker is averaging 7.7 points; and junior forward George Valle is averaging 8.1 points.

“We feel we have lots of offensive options and take great pride in playing together,” Logie said. “So you can’t really predict, even as a staff, where our scoring will come from. As long as we are getting great shots as a group we can live with the results.”

After playing Marian on Sunday, the Pirates are hosts to Wells College of Aurora, New York at noon on Monday.

While Logie said he hadn’t had a chance to scout Wells, he said every game is important before the Pirates open up Northwest Conference play on Jan. 2 at Willamette.

“For the most part, we are who we thought we were and still have a lot of room to improve as a unit,” Logie said. “We used final exam week to focus on some areas we know will be critical in conference.”

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