Friday, February 27, 2015

EWU Eagle Eye POW week 15 2014-2015 Venky Jois

Venky Jois, photo from
The Eagles star junior resumed a dominant season after missing 10 straight games with an ankle injury.  The Eagles split the road series by beating Southern Utah and dropping a heart breaker to Northern Arizona.

Venky finally looked 100% or near to it as he led all scorers against SUU with 22 points and was one of just 3 Eagles to score in double digits against NAU with 15.  His two game total: 37 points, 7 rebounds, 3 blocks, 2 steals and 1 assist.

As the Eagles prepare for the home stretch of the 2014-2015 season they will rely heavily on Jois to help them achieve their goal of a Big Sky Championship and a trip to the NCAA Tournament.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Big Sky Conference race narrows to 4 and heats way up

Venky Jois, photo from
The Big Sky Conference Race has narrowed down to 4 teams with Sacramento State currently at the top, but facing a daunting 3 game road stretch to close out the season.

Last week I wrote about the Eagles Magic Numbers to eliminate each team in the Big Sky.  Since then the Eagles split a tough road trip at Southern Utah and Northern Arizona.  Click through below for the updates and current tie-breaker scenarios as best as I can work them out so far!

*Edited 4 way tie break scenario

EWU Eagle Eye POW Nominees Week 15

Venky Jois, photo from

The Eagles took a rough road trip last week and played two teams contending for Big Sky Tournament berths to one possession games with less than a minute to go.  They won against Southern Utah and fell just short against Northern Arizona.  It took a lot of team work and some excellent play to overcome some offensive struggles.  These four players stood out among their team mates.  Click below to read a write up for each!

Eagle Eye POW Week 15

EWU Eagle Eye Podcast featuring Head Coach Jim Hayford

Drew Branon, one of 3 Eagle seniors
photo from
Coach Hayford took time out of his morning Tuesday to talk with me regarding the state of the Season, the recent offensive "struggles" as well as highlighting the Eagles three Seniors who could be playing their last games at Reese Court this week:  Parker Kelly, Drew Brandon and Garrett Moon

Click through for the audio!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

EWU Eagle Eye Podcast featuring Eagle Women's Basketball Head Coach Wendy Schuller

EWU Head Women's Basketball Coach Wendy Schuller
photo from
This morning I got the chance to speak with Eastern Washington University Head Women's Basketball Coach Wendy Schuller.

I want to thank Coach Schuller for taking the time to talk with me, and let you all know she is a great interview and more importantly knows her basketball.  She has her team just 1.5 games out of the lead with one game to play against Big Sky Conference leader Montana among the remaining 6 regular season contests.

We talked about unselfish offense, team defense, Senior stars Lexie Nelson and Melissa Williams, up and coming freshman Kiana Brown and Mariah Cunningham, the importance of team chemistry and Eastern's star sisters Haley and Delaney Hodgins as well as Jade Redmon and of course the upcoming games against Southern Utah and Northern Arizona at Reese Court.

Click below to listen to the full audio.

EWU Eagle Eye POW Week 14: Parker Kelly

Parker Kelly, photo from
The voters have spoken and though it was a close contest, Parker Kelly is the POW for Week 14.

Head Coach Jim Hayford's first 4 year senior provided some much needed accuracy in two games where the Eagles offense uncharacteristically struggled and suffered their first home loss of the season.

In back to back contests Parker totaled 10 of 18 from the field, 2 of 2 from the free throw line for 29 points and added 10 rebounds, 4 blocks and 3 assists in 76 minutes of play.

Kelly has earned Eagle Eye POW honors before, in for the second week of February 2012, his freshman season.  Then as now, Coach Hayford and the Eagles were able to look to Kelly for clutch points and a calming influence.  Parker's efforts helped the Eagles take control of the Big Sky Conference regular season title race, though they would stumble later, his contributions were critical to the team.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Eagle Women can ball too, EWU dominates PSU 77-63, secure Dam Cup Trophy

Melissa Williams earned a double double in a win at Portland State
photo from EWU Athletics on instagram
Starting with last week's win over Montana State, I'll be highlighting at least one game a week for the Eagle Women's Basketball team.  I'll be working to get more coverage for them as we go along as well.  This week I took a look at the Eagle's 77-64 victory at Portland State.

Head Coach Wendy Schuller's team now sits in third place in the Big Sky standings, just 1.5 games behind leader Montana who they will face off against in Montana on February 28th.  The Eagle's secured this year's Dam Cup trophy with the win as well.

Melissa Williams led the Eagles with 20 points and 10 rebounds for her 4th double double of conference play and 8th of the season.  She added 2 assists, 1 steal and 1 block in 26 minutes.

Monday, February 16, 2015

2014-2015 State of Eagles Hoops: Eagles close in on eliminating all contenders

Last Thursday, the Eagles took over control of first place in the Big Sky Conference in an effort to secure the right to host the Big Sky Conference tournament.

EWU Men's Basketball Battle for the Number One Spot from EWU Athletics on Vimeo.

After a roller coaster Saturday Eastern has a 1/2 game lead over Sacramento State and Montana with 6 games to go, Both Montana and Sac State have just 5 games left.  So how many games does Eastern have to win, in order to secure a tournament berth and lock up the right to host the tournament?  Click through to see:

EWU Eagle Eye Player of the Week nominees Week 14

Spokane, North Idaho News

This was a bit of a roller coaster of a week for the Eagles.  They opened the week by knocking off their primary rival for this year's regular season title, Sacramento State.  They followed that by getting their leading scorer back, losing their second leading scorer and dropping a hard fought game to Dam Cup rival Portland State.  They got great news when their new Big Sky travel partner and rival Idaho knocked off Sacramento State to put them back in the driver's seat for the right to host this year's Big Sky Conference Tournament.

With all of that, which Eagle players were instrumental to their two games?  Click through to find out!

Jois-less in Cheney, Eagles squander early lead to fall 68-66 to visiting Portland State

Parker Kelly, photo from
On January 15th the Eagles defeated Portland State in Portland 92-85, but lost Star Junior Forward Venky Jois to an ankle sprain early in the first half, including that contest, Eastern has played 9 games and have had both Tyler Harvey and Jois for only 1 game, a 98-95 over time win against Idaho.

Prior to the tip against Portland State, Venky reported to Coach Hayford that he just couldn't go and wouldn't be able to help the team because he had re-aggravated that same ankle sprain. "Even in practice yesterday we thought he was going to play -- he just came up really sore after Thursday.  The week before in Montana, he was just in crazy pain against Montana State and he just felt like it kind of set him back.  He gave everything he had against Sacramento State Thursday and then he felt worse than he had since the Idaho game -- the first game he played.  He had tears in his eyes when he came up to me before warm-ups 15 minutes before the game and said, 'I just can't do it, it just hurts, I won't be able to help the team.'"

Eagles defense steps up, EWU takes sole possession of 1st place with 64-61 win over Sac State

Photo from EWU Athletics instagram
In a rare defensive battler, the Eagles, still missing their leading scorer, took down Sacramento State at Reese Court on Thursday night 64-61 and took over sole control of the lead in the Big Sky Conference.

Tyler Harvey, the Eagle's and the Nation's leading scorer, was unable to go still nursing a deep thigh contusion suffered in the first half against Idaho on January 31st.  Despite his absence Eastern did not lack offensive fireworks as Parker Kelly and Ognjen "OG" Miljkovic were near automatic from deep all night. The Eagles drained 12 of 23 from beyond the arc, including 9 of 13 from OG and Kelly.  The Eagles were held under 70 points for the second time in as many games and the sixth time all season.  A tremendous defensive effort combined with slow patient offense improved their record to 3-3 in those games.

Friday, February 13, 2015

EWU Basketball Links for Friday Morning

The Eagle's started off the week with a big time win to take the lead in the Big Sky Conference from Sacramento State.  I started the week with a lot of homework and a pair of tests, so while I catch up on the blog today take a look at these Eagle links to revel in a big victory and get ready for Portland State tomorrow afternoon.  First though watch Bogdan "The Blizzard" Bliznyuk #Posterize

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Eagle Eye Player of the Week 13 2014-2015

Drew Brandon, photo from
This week's #EagleEyePOW wasn't tough to figure out.  Senior Point Guard Drew Brandon was stellar in two games scoring 42 points and adding 18 rebounds, 8 steals and 5 assists with just 2 turnovers.

Missing their top scorer, Tyler Harvey, the Eagles needed someone to step up.  Drew Brandon answered the call by more than double his season average (9.8) in scoring 21 points per game while taking care of the ball and attacking the boards.

After back to back strong rebounding performances, Brandon now leads the team in rebounding per game (7.3 to Venky Jois' 7.2).  For the 4th time this season and 2nd time in a row Drew has proven to be the most important player for his team and has been recognized as the #EagleEyePOW.
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Eastern Women run away from Montana State to complete first ever 4 game sweep of Montana schools

This week, at the prompting of my sister, Spokane Police Officer Erin Blessing, to watch the most recent game of the Eastern Washington Women's Basketball team.  I got a chance to watch their game against Montana State and have to say it was a lot of fun.  I decided to write up a game review for you all and hope that you also take advantage of the opportunity to go out and watch these young Eagle women play some great basketball.

Led by an outstanding performance from Sophomore Point Guard Jade Redmon, the Eagle women absolutely ran away from Montana State in the second half to complete the schools first ever 4 game sweep of Montana and Montana State in men and women's basketball.

The game was a brutal back and forth battle in the first half, featuring 9 lead changes and several ties. Montana State hit 50% of their 22 first half shots to give them a 28-27 lead at the break.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

EWU Eagle Eye Player of the Week 12

Drew Brandon, photo from
Last week the Eagles played just one game.  That one game was the second in a renewed rivalry with the University of Idaho Vandals.

This season Eastern Washington won its first two conference games against the Vandals both were barn burners and both teams were separated by just 3 points.  This week's 3 point victory in overtime was impressive for a number of reasons, including the limited play of Eastern's two leading scorers, Venky Jois and Tyler Harvey.

Bogdan "The Blizzard" Bliznyuk led the Eagles in points and rebounds, 21 and 15 respectively, but the #EagleEyePOW for week 12 led the Eagles in every other category and was second in points and rebounds.

Drew Brandon was second in scoring for the Eagles with 18 points.  He was second in rebounding with 9.  He led the team in assists, steals and blocks with 10, 1, 2 respectively.  If you are keeping track that means that for the 2nd time this season Drew finished one stat away from the elusive first triple-double in EWU history.  He's earned 5 double-doubles so far this season and in each case he was within two plays of making the triple-double mark.

What makes this week's effort so special is that his efforts showed a will and leadership when his team was in desperate need.  Many teams missing the leading scorer in the nation and arguably the best post player in the conference would have folded.  Drew refused to allow his team to give up.  He willed his team to contention and ultimately victory.  He scored the teams final points in regulation on a drive and lay in with so much pressure it could have resulted in multiple fouls called on the defense.  His two assists in overtime led to 5 Eagle points.

For his valiant efforts Drew was recognized as the Big Sky Conference Co-Player of the week and he has also earned the fan vote and EWU Eagle Eye Player of the week recognition for week 12 of the 2014-2015 season.

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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

EWU Eagle Eye Player of the Week 12 - nominees: The Blizzard and Triple Double Threat

Drew Brandon, Co-Big Sky Player of the Week
photo from
The Eagles stormed from behind to win their only game this week 98-95 in overtime.  As Coach Hayford has said, he wants his team to be the team of the week.  That was certainly true this week.  So without further ado, please check out this week's #EagleEyePOW nominees.

Down 11 with 1:27 to go EWU surged back to win in OT against Idaho, without Tyler Harvey

Bogdan "The Blizzard" Bliznyuk; photo from
Head Coach Jim Hayford's Eagles had one of their worst nights shooting but played tough down the stretch to win 98-95 in overtime over the visiting Vandals.

Eastern star Guard Tyler Harvey injured his knee in the first half and it affected his shot.  The Eagles second leading scorer star Forward Venky Jois played despite a still recovering ankle sprain.  The two average 42 points, 11 rebounds and 5 assists per game.  Saturday they combined for 20 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists.

Earlier I decried the Eagles lack of production from anyone beyond those two and begged for them to somehow get some bench production.  Saturday the Eagles needed both and got both.