Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Assistant Coaches make the difference: EWU Eagle Eye Podcast ep3 Coach Hayford talks Eagles Hoops

Today we've got a special edition of the EWU Eagle Eye Podcast.  Head Coach Jim Hayford joined the show today and we talked about the Eagles non-conference season, the development of key players and some of the challenges they have faced and overcome so far this season.

Coach Hayford wanted to make a special note that his Assistant Coaches: David Riley, Alex Pribble and Shantay Legans should be given special credit for how well the Eagles players have developed in their years with the team.

Click through to hear what else Coach had to say!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

EWU Eagle Eye Podcast Episode 2: Talking first 5 Conference games

Welcome to the second installment of the EWU Eagle Eye Podcast.  Click below and listen as I talk about the Eagles first 5 conference games as well as an early look at the rankings and challenges as EWU takes on the challenge of winning the Big Sky Conference.

EWU Eagle Eye Player of the Week - Weeks 6 and 7

Tyler Harvey, photo from
The EWU Eagle Eye Player of the week for Weeks 6 and 7 is the EWU record holder for career 3 pointers.

Tyler Harvey was simply too much too handle.  30 of 43 from the field including 19 of 26 from beyond the 3 point line and 12 of 14 from the free throw line.

The star Junior Guard is fourth in the country in scoring averaging 22.8 points per game.  This week he eclipsed that mark averaging 33.3 points per game his scoring represented 44% of Eastern's offense for the week.

His three game stat line: 91 pts, 7 rebounds, 5 steals and 4 assists.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

EWU Eagle Eye Links - Weekly Wrap Up

It's been a while since I shared some links, so let's take a look around the landscape and see what we can find.

Before the break let's take a look at the 2013-2014 Parker Kelly Highlight video from EWU Assistant David Riley's YouTube account.

EWU Eagle Eye Player of the Week Nominees: Week 6/7 2014-2015

Three games in six days sorely tested this Eagles squad, but they managed to close on a high note and finished with a win last night over Lewis & Clark State.  Last week Tyler Harvey hit 1000 career points in a win against USF, this week it was Venky Jois as he hit the 1000 career point mark in last night's win over Lewis & Clark State.

So who starred this week for the Eagles, click on through to find out the week 6 EWU #EagleEyePOW nominees.

***Since there were no games during week 7, this week's winner will be the #EagleEyePOW for both week 6 and week 7***

Home for the Holidays Eagles hold off Lewis & Clark State 87-81

Tyler Harvey owns EWU career 3pt record
photo from
A 6 point win over any NAIA Division I opponent does not look impressive.  Giving up 81 points in that game also does not look so impressive.  Impressions from this 10,000 foot view can be misleading.

A closer look at last night's win over Lewis & Clark State may not suddenly turn this into a "quality win," but they will tell a different and more important tale.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Flying from the Bench

Kyle Reid photo from AP
(AP photo/John F. Rhodes)
Earlier today I posted about the fabulous starting five for the Eagles, now it's time to take a look at their reserves.

Tournament play relies on quality depth, playing in multiple high intensity games over a short period of time will wear out anyone.  These 4 Eagles will need to shine when they hit the court if Eastern wants to be a serious contender for the Big Sky Conference this season.

Click through to find the who, why and how.

Eagles will soar as high as their Fab-5 will take them

Eastern has 4 players that get 30 or minutes per game, and a 5th that gets over 24 minutes and is only limited by foul trouble.

Their line up features 1 players in the top 25 in the entire nation in scoring.  They've held leads of 7 or more points in each of the last 3 games.  And yet they come home with a 3 game losing streak.

Click through to find out what is going on and how the Eagles can turn it around going forward.

Friday, December 19, 2014

In a game of 2 on 5 Eastern Washington falls short at Cal 67-78

In the game preview I said the Eagles needed big time games from their big time players.  Venky Jois and Tyler Harvey absolutely delivered.  It was everyone else that completely fell short.

Tyler Harvey led all scorers with 31 points, Venky Jois was the game's second leading scorer with 23 points, but the Eagles only managed 13 other points.

The Eagles finished a 5 game road trip that spanned just 13 days.  Drew Brandon has been battling a bad back, Parker Kelly has a banged up shoulder.  OG Miljkovic had one of the worst shooting nights in his career and still this Eagles squad battled and refused to quit.  EWU lost by a mere 11 points in a game where Cal had a 16-2 run to close the first half and 20-5 run in the second.

I walk away from the last three games feeling just as strongly about this team as I did after the beat Indiana.  This was a brutal road trip and the Eagles battled each step of the way.  They dropped an ugly one at Sam Houston State, but they gave Washington all it could handle and managed to keep Cal sweating despite going scoreless for more than 6 minutes in the first and almost 5 minutes in the second half.

Let these teams match up on a neutral court with equal rest and the Eagles may have beaten all three of these teams.

Back to tonight's game, it was really a two man show for Eastern.  Venky Jois finished with 23 points, 6 rebounds 1 block, and 1 steal in 34 minutes while fighting off the flu or something similar.  Tyler Harvey finished with 31 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals in 39 minutes.  The pair combined to go 20 of 31 from the field.

The rest of the team provided 13 points, 14 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals while shooting 3 of 23 from the field.

The one player I thought played a fantastic game was Sir Washington the Freshman Guard finished with 5 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist and 2 steals with 0 turnovers.  More importantly on a night when Drew Brandon and OG were struggling he gave Coach Jim Hayford 23 quality minutes.  This is a good sign for his future with the team.

Up next for Eastern is a long awaited return to Cheney where they will take on Lewis & Clark State on Monday night.

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Big Sky Men's Basketball Scoring Leaders

Just a handful of games separate us from the beginning of Big Sky Conference play, and the Big Sky has played some tough games in non-conference play and has shown well.  Today I want to take a look at the scoring leaders in the Big Sky and see how they stack up.

We'll look at each teams leader in points per game and consider some of the other high scorers after the break.

But first, let's take a look at 3 points from one of the Big Sky's leading scorers Venky Jois:

Cal Men's BBall Head Coach Cuonzo Martin talks EWU Hoops

California Head Man Cuonzo Martin discusses tonight's match up with Eastern Washington, says "[They] are one of the best offensive teams in the country.

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Game Preview: Eastern Washington Eagles @ California Golden Bears

The Eagles will take on the Golden Bears tonight at Cal, tip off is at 7 p.m. PT.

The key to the game, might just be the hot shooting of EWU's star Tyler Harvey

California comes into the game 9-1 with their only loss coming to then #10 ranked Texas in the championship round of the 2k Classic in Madison Square Gardens.

The Eagles and the Golden Bears have no common opponents on their schedule so far, but the Golden Bears needed double overtime to take down visiting Montana 78-76 on December 3rd.  And of course the Eagles led host Washington for 35 minutes on December 14th.  Cal is in the middle of a 5 game stretch at home to close their non-conference schedule, while Eastern is on the tail end of a 5 game road trip that has covered 3 states and 3 top 100 RPI teams in 13 days.

Stick with me after the break for more on tonight's match-up.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

EWU Eagle Eye Player of the Week: Week 5 2014-2015

Who is your Week 5 #EagleEyePOW?  Click below to find out!
A photo posted by EWU Athletics (@ewuathletics) on

EWU Eagle Eye Hoops Podcast Season 2014-2015 episode 1

Welcome to our first podcast of the 2014-2015 season.  Click below the link to listen in as I discuss the last few games, the Eagles non-conference schedule and a look ahead to Saturday's game against Cal.

***Revised audio file for noise reduction

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

BBall 101: Understanding The Eagles Positions in a "Position-less Game"

Picture from
Bonsor, Kevin.  How Basketball Works: Who's Who. HowStuffWorks.Retrieved on January 11, 2006
I caught an interesting article today while scrolling through my twitter feed and it prompted some thoughts regarding the basics of basketball in the modern age.  Famed Duke Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski is among the head men interviewed for the article.

"Our game doesn't have a position," Krzyzewski said. "You have five guys working together trying to stop the other five guys from creating a shot. The fact that a big guy is going to play closer — what if you didn't have a big guy?" 

Stick with me after the break to read my thoughts on how the Eagles break down on offense.

Quick Preview of EWU Hoops at Sam Houston State

Tonight the Eagles take on the Bearkats of Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX.  Tip off is set for 4:30 p.m. PT.

Now that I'm done lamenting the fact that this game is being played 3 hours (one way) from my home in Cedar Park, TX on a Tuesday night (thus I can't quite make the trip!), let's take a quick look at the game.

The Eagles are fresh off a very hard fought loss to now 16th ranked University of Washington in Seattle in which Head Coach Jim Hayford's squad lead for 35 minutes and had a pair of 3 point shots in the final 10 seconds that could have changed the outcome.

The Bearkats are fresh off a very had fought loss at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.  Sam Houston led much of the first half and hung around until the Tigers hit 7 of 8 FT's in the final minute to widen the gap to 9 points.

The Eagles are 6-2 against DI opponents this season, the Bearkats are 3-4 with wins against South Dakota, Fairfield and UT Pan American and losses to UNLV, Wofford, Texas A&M and LSU.  The Bearkats are 3-0 at home this season (including two wins against lower division teams) and the Eagles are 3-2 on the road.  Eastern lost to Washington and to SMU earlier this season.

Sam Houston State features a deep rotation with 11 players getting 10 or more minutes per game, compared to Eastern Washington with just 7 players getting more than 10 minutes per game.  The Bearkats run with a lot of guards, 5 players with more than 20 minutes per game and all are guards.

Kareem Ransom (#15), 6'1" 180lb Senior Guard, leads Sam Houston in points per game (11.1), assists (4.3), steals (1.9) and minutes (30).  Demarcus Gatlin (#11), 6'4" 200lb Senior Guard, is second in points (10.1).

Michael Holyfield (#35), 6'11" 270lb Senior Center, leads the Bearkats in rebounds (7.8) and blocks (2.2) in 16.4 minutes per game.  Along with Holyfield, Aurimas Majauskas (#34) 6'7" 245lb Sophomore Forward, makes up the front court, he averages 8.4 points and 4.6 rebounds in 15.4 minutes per contest.

Last time these two teams met was February 23rd, 2013 at Reese Court in Cheney.  The Eagles won 81-76 off a 20 pt performance from Collin Chiverton and 8 blocks from Martin Seiferth.  Jeffrey Forbes added 11 points, and Thomas Reuter threw in 7 points as well.  Venky Jois finished that game with 11 pts, 8 rebounds, 6 assists and 4 blocks.  Tyler Harvey had 7 pts, 8 rebounds 4 assists and 3 blocks, Parker Kelly ahd 17 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists.

Sam Houston returns only three players from that team, Holyfield, Paul Baxter (#21), 6'1" 180lb Junior Guard, and Marquel McKinney (#2), 6'3" 215lb Senior Guard.  Holyfield was held to 2 points, McKinney scored 10 off the bench and added 2 rebounds and 2 assists.  Baxter led the Bearkats with 19 points and added 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and 1 block.

The bottom line for tonight, is that the Eagles starting line up is superior in nearly every way to the 2012-2013 team.  Drew Brandon is a true point guard and is a really good rebounding guard.  Parker Kelly has taken over as the tenacious perimeter defender from Jeffrey Forbes and is a really good shooter from beyond the arc.  Tyler Harvey is two years better, Venky Jois is two years better and "OG" Miljkovich is a better shooter, defender and ball handler than Reuter.  That team won just 10 games all season.  This one has a very good chance to win 10 games before conference play even starts.

The Bearkats are not the same team, but they play a small quick line up and shoot under 30% as a team from beyond the arc, and only 42% from the floor.  That could spell disaster for them against this Eagles squad.  Eastern is hitting 41% from 3 point range and over 50% from the floor.

I look for the Eagles to challenge the interior against Holyfield and Majauskas to test their athleticism and endurance.  The recipe for the Eagles could be found in the second half of the game at Indiana where the Eagles led by Brandon brutally attacked the paint to take down the smaller Hoosier squad.

Be sure to listen to Larry Weir call the game tonight on 700espn.

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EWU Eagle Eye Player of the Week Nominees Week 5 2014-2015

The only thing that would have made this week better is if the Eagles had found a way to hold off Washington in the waning minutes of Sunday night's game.  As it was, it took very tough, very unlikely 3 point shots in the final minutes for the 17th ranked Huskies to beat an Eastern Hoops team that is now the 16th ranked mid-major program in the country.  The nation saw what these Eagles did to the Huskies, and as a result... the Huskies have been moved up to be ranked 16th in the nation.

Just a couple days before that the Eagles went to San Francisco and beat a Dons team that had 21 wins a year ago and lost the West Coast Conference semi's in overtime to BYU.

So how did the Eagles get through this week?  On the backs of their stars, click below to check out the nominees for this week's #EAGLEEYEPOW

Monday, December 15, 2014

Why not us? Do these Eagles share any traits with previous NCAA "Cinderella" Teams?

***I am re-posting this one, in light of EWU rising to 41st in the RPI ratings after last night's thrilling loss to then #17 ranked Washington (The Huskies are now ranked #16).  If the Eagles can win at Sam Houston State tomorrow and pull off a surprise at California, these discussions will be even more relevant.***

Recent posts and national attention have brought a feeling of success to this young season.  They will also bring out the doubters, the disparagers and even those who will mask their doubt with off handed compliments:
Their points seem valid, but this team shares some commonalities with teams that have shocked the nation before.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Eastern Washington @ San Francisco

Eastern is set to tip off in about 30 minutes against San Francisco.

As always you can hear Larry Weir on the call at and you can catch the live video stream on

I'll be watching, so follow along on twitter!
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EWU Eagle Eye Player of the Week: Week 4 2014-2015

Good morning Eagle Fans!  I'm wrapping up my classes for the semester this week, thank goodness the Eagles break in the schedule matched up.  Tonight the Eagles will visit San Francisco and look to continue the best start in their NCAA DI history.

Before I get onto that game however, it is time for the Week 4 EWU Eagle Eye Player of the Week.  Click through the break to read more.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

EWU Eagle Eye Player of the Week Nominations Week 4

With just one game this week, Saturday's win over Seattle University, I'm going to post this week's nominees for #EagleEyePOW earlier, click through to find out and be sure to cast your vote on face book or twitter with #EagleEyePOW and the player's name!

A photo posted by EWU Athletics (@ewuathletics) on
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EWU Eagle Eye Player of the Week for Week 3 2014-2015

Good morning Eagle Fans!  I've just returned from a week long trip on Navy Reserve orders, which included the celebration of my wife's birthday.  The trip was great, but now I've fallen behind on some posts and will try to catch up over the next couple days.

First thing is the week 3 EWU Eagle Eye Player of the Week.  Click through the break to read more.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

EWU Hoops wins shootout over Eastern Oregon 104-87

EWU Head Coach Jim Hayford earned his 300th win Sunday night
photo from ewuathletics
Sunday night's game was the definition of a shoot out, both teams shot very well most of the night.  The Eagles hit 56.2% of their shots, including 46.2% from beyond the arc, while the Mountaineers hit 46% of their shots and 50% from long range.