Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Off to Eastern Washington on Friday

SJSU v Eastern Washington - Friday, November 12 , 5:35 p.m.

Eastern Washington is a member of the Big Sky Conference and located in Cheney, Washington (and no, the former vice president didn't invade and take over the town so obviously no WMD was located). The community was originally called the rather ominous sounding Section Thirteen, then the bucolic Willow Springs, followed by Depot Springs upon the railroad arriving. Billings was its fourth name until Cheney was settled on to honor a director of the Northern Pacific Railroad.

Returning to hoops, the Eagles were selected to finish sixth in the Big Sky Conference in both the media and coaches recent polls.

EW, which finished 9-21 overall and 5-11 in the Big Sky Conference, has no seniors on its 2010-11 roster. But three returning starting guards provide a solid foundation, including last year's Big Sky Conference Freshman of the Year Glen Dean.

Besides Dean, returning starters include fellow sophomores Jeffrey Forbes and Kevin Winford, who averaged 11.0 and 6.9 points, respectively, a year ago. Forbes was also one of the top newcomers in the league, averaging 13.2 points in 16 Big Sky Conference games as he started 27 of 30 games in the 2009-10 season.

The fourth returning letter winner is 6-foot-8 Laron Griffin, who averaged 4.8 points and 3.8 rebounds last season. Other inside players include junior college transfers Cliff Ederaine (6-foot-7) and Rashano McRae (6-foot-7), as well as true freshmen Jaylen Henry (6-foot-7) and Carter Warnock (6-foot-9).

Coach Kirk Earlywine has also brought in highly-touted and very athletic Tremayne Johnson. He was recruited by San Francisco and Arizona, but originally signed a letter of intent with the Eagles in spring 2009 and then re-signed in November 2009.

Plus, 6-foot-0 junior college transfer Cliff Colimon is expected to help out at the point.

"We can certainly build around those three returning guards, as well as Laron Griffin and Tremayne Johnson," Earlywine added. "For the first time we have a core of players that are going to be in the program for a number of years that we can build with. But we have to add pieces to it."

EWU most recently fell in exhibition play to Montana State-Billings, now coached by former Idaho mentor George Pfeifer. Here's the game writeup by Steve Bergum of the Spokane Spokesman Review:

"Not surprisingly, the nearly unfathomable run of injuries that continues to plague the Eastern Washington University men’s basketball team made the Eagles’ 66-60 exhibition loss to Montana State-Billings at Reese Court Monday night downright painful to watch. For everyone.

With sophomore Glen Dean, last year’s starting point guard, sidelined indefinitely with a stress fracture in his foot, and first-year junior college transfer Cliff Colimon unable to play because of an ankle sprain he sustained in practice Sunday, EWU found itself without a point guard against the NCAA Division II Yellowjackets.

As a result, coach Kirk Earlywine juggled things in an attempt to find some offensive consistency.

None was uncovered. Eastern shot a miserable 25 percent (15 of 60) from the floor and missed 13 of 40 free throw attempts in dropping its second, and final, exhibition game prior to Friday night’s regular-season and home opener against San Jose State.

“Offensively tonight, it was very obvious that we were playing without a point guard,” Earlywine said, after watching his team get only four assists. “And that was painful.”

Eastern’s three front-line starters were a combined 7 of 30.

“And how many of those were from point-blank?” Earlywine asked. “A lot of those shots were at the front of rim, but I thought they hurried a little bit and pressed a little bit.”

The Eagles made only two of their first 16 basket tries and trailed 30-23 at halftime. But they put together a nice 14-3 run comng out of intermission and took a 37-33 lead before suffering through a field-goal drought that lasted nearly 7½ minutes."

Here is the game writeup of the earlier loss to Seattle Pacific (a team that beat Nevada in Reno):

Playing without two returning starting guards, Eastern Washington University opened its 2010-11 season with an 87-82 exhibition loss to Seattle Pacific Tuesday (Nov. 2) at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash.

Junior college transfer Tremayne Johnson led the Eagles with 22 points as EWU rallied from a 17-point deficit early in the second half. Eastern pulled to within three on several occasions late in the game.

Seattle Pacific made 62 percent of their shots from the floor, including 16-of-24 in the first half when it took a 40-30 halftime lead. The lead ballooned to 17 when the Falcons scored the first seven points of the second half.

"It we would have came out and played really, really hard defensively in the first half and run out of gas, I could have lived with that," said Eastern head coach Kirk Earlywine, who played eight players in the game. "I knew fatigue was going to be a factor. But they shot 62 percent -- 66 percent in the first half. I don't know if up to this point I've impressed upon the new players how hard you have to play and how much of a focus you have to have every day in practice. That's why you play these games."

"We have to play better and we have to defend better," he added.

Eastern played without sophomore guards Glen Dean and Jeffrey Forbes, who are both out with injuries. Dean is out indefinitely with a stress fracture in his foot after averaging 12.2 points and 4.4 assists a year ago. Forbes sat out with a knee strain and averaged 11.0 points in his debut season.

Johnson made 7-of-11 shots from the field and 8-of-9 free throws, and also had three assists, four rebounds and a pair of steals in his Eagle debut. Another newcomer, guard Cliff Colimon contributed 19 points, four rebounds, three steals and a pair of assists.

Both newcomers played 37 minutes, and another newcomer, Cliff Ederaine, played 26 minutes and had nine points and a game-high 14 rebounds.

Dean and Coliman are apparently still unable to play, at least according to EWU -- "Earlywine isn’t counting on either player being available for the opener against the Spartans..."

Here's the EWU roster (by position and alphabetized)

Glen Dean G 5-10 170 So. Seattle, Wash. / Laurinburg Institute Prep
Cliff Colimon G 6-0 170 Jr. Brooklyn, N.Y. / Eastern Utah JC
Sean Fischer G 6-0 170 Fr. Spokane, Wash. / Gonzaga Prep '09
Willie Hankins G 6-3 190 Fr. Van Nuys, Calif. / The College Preparatory School '10
Jeffrey Forbes G 5-10 170 So. Federal Way, Wash. / Federal Way HS '09
Kevin Winford G 5-11 170 So. Anchorage, Alaska / Bartlett HS '08

Geoffrey Allen G/F 6-5 170 Fr. Los Angeles, Calif. / Pacific Hills HS '10

Rocky Brown F 6-6 200 Fr. HS Fresno, Calif. / Central HS '10
Cliff Ederaine F 6-7 205 Jr. JC Moreno Valley, Calif. / College of the Sequoias
Laron Griffin F 6-8 220 Jr. Los Angeles, Calif. / L.A. Southwest College
Jaylen Henry F 6-7 230 Fr. Las Vegas, Nev. / Cheyenne HS '10
Morgan Hyslop F 6-7 200 Jr. Spokane, Wash. / Columbus Basin CC
Tremayne Johnson F 6-7 200 Jr. Los Angeles, Calif. / L.A. Southwest College
Rashano McRae F 6-7 230 Jr. Bronx, N.Y. / Highland JC, Kan.
Carter Warnock F 6-9 220 Fr. Chandler, Ariz. / Seton Catholic HS '10

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