Wednesday, March 11, 2015

2014-2015 Week 16 and 17 Eagle Hoops Wrap up

EWU 2014-2015 Big Sky Conference Champions
& Head Coach Jim Hayford's soon to be legendary Red Blazer
photo from
I want to start by saying thank you to all that have read the blog throughout the season.  I've tried to provide good content and interesting takes on this team.  The blog's following has grown by leaps and bounds this season, as it should be when the Eagles have had a season of nearly unprecedented success.  They've won more games than ever before as a Division I program and have secured a share of the Big Sky Conference regular season title for just the 3rd time since joining the Big Sky in the 1987-1988 season.  Coach Hayford's 63 wins rank him second behind only Ray Giacoletti's 69 over that same time period.  His 14 conference wins are the most any Eagle squad has ever achieved in the Big Sky.  The 4 Big Sky losses are tied for the second fewest in the schools Big Sky history as well, behind the 2003-2004 NCAA tournament team and tied with the 1999-2000 squad and the 2001-2002 squad.  As we prepare for tomorrow's tip off in the Big Sky Conference Tournament against Idaho, take a moment to ponder this team, because it marks one of the highest points in Eastern Washington Basketball history.  They are not done yet and if Coach Hayford and the Eagles can find a way to beat Idaho for just the third time ever when both schools have been members of the Big Sky Conference, they will have a chance to continue their climb up the ranks of program history.

Now the bad news, unfortunately the past couple weeks have been extremely busy for me as I prepare for to embark on orders for the military that will have me out of the country for the next few weeks. This has involved a lot of logistical concerns, like booking flights and ensuring that the members of my Navy Reserve Unit are prepared for travel, as well as getting caught up and ahead in my own studies at Austin Community College.  With their Spring Break coming up I've had to get ahead in all of my classes and complete the requirements which would otherwise be due prior to my return.  I write all of this, so you know why I will be simply providing a quick summary of the Eagles last two weeks of conference play on the way to their well earned Big Sky Conference Championship and how they let the right to host the Big Sky Conference Tournament slip away.

Click through for more:

Week 16 was the third week in a row that saw the Eagles win on Thursday only to lose in heartbreaking fashion on Saturday.  The Eagles hosted both Montana schools that week, Montana State on Thursday and Montana on Saturday.

On Thursday February 26th, no Eagle played more than 30 minutes as they defeated the Bobcats in convincing fashion 92-68.  The game was never in doubt and midway through the second half Head Coach Jim Hayford reached deep into the bench to close out the game.

The Eagles were led by Venky Jois with 27 pts, 11 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block and 1 steal, his then 4th double-double of the season.  Tyler Harvey poured in 20 points with 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 1 steal.  Ognjen "OG" Miljkovic was perfect from the field hitting all 6 attempts including 3 from beyond the arc for 15 points and added 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 block. Drew Brandon led all players with 12 rebounds and added 6 assists, 6 points and 2 steals.  Parker Kelly added 7 points, 2 assists and 1 steal.

The Eagles also took the opportunity to play everyone on their bench on a night when not much went wrong for them.  Bogdan "The Blizzard" Bliznyuk was a perfect 2-2 from the field and 1-1 from the FT line earning 5 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 block.  Kyle Reid went 2-2 from the field and 2-3 from the FT line to lead all Eagle bench players with 6 points and added 1 rebound in 7 minutes. Big Fred Jorg played 4 minutes earning 3 points, 2 rebounds and 2 assists.  Daniel Hill earned his only 2 points of Big Sky Conference play with a perfect 2-2 trip the free throw line.  Felix Von Hofe had just 1 point and 1 assist on a night he went 0-5 from the field to complete the Eagles 92 points.

On Saturday February 28th, the Eagles hosted Montana in a game that was simply a must win for EWU to win an outright Big Sky Conference Championship.  Eastern Washington trailed most of the game and had to use a 5-0 run to close the game ti 42-39 at the half and a 6-2 run to get the game within a point in the closing seconds. Parker Kelly had a look from the baseline, just inside the three point line with 4 seconds to go, but he couldn't get it to fall.  In four years of watching Kelly, all I can say is that a shot he'd make the next 50 times he took it.

In the end the Eagles were undone by an uncharacteristically bad night from the free throw line.  the Eagles finished a paltry 12-20 from the charity stripe, with usual stalwarts Tyler Harvey, Parker Kelly and Bogdan Bliznyuk combining to miss 5 of 13 attempts.  Harvey led all scorers with 27 points and added 3 rebounds and 2 assists.  Venky Jois earned his second double-double of the week (5th of the season) with 10 points, 11 rebounds and added 5 assists, 5 blocks and 2 steals.  Drew Brandon was again stellar with 15 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals and 1 block.  Kelly finished the night 9 points.  OG couldn't find his shot finishing with just 5 points on 1 of 6 shooting, and added 3 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 block.  Bliznyuk had 7 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 1 steal and 1 block.  Felix Von Hofe earned 3 points, and added a rebound to close out the Eagles scoring.  Garrett Moon also saw time but did not accrue any stats.

Week 17 saw the Eagles take a long road trip to Idaho State and Weber State, a place they had only won 4 times in 33 previous tries.

March 5th saw the Eagles in Pocatello, ID to take on a Bengals team that was already eliminated from post season contention.  Give Idaho State credit, the team had no quit and over came a 19 point second half deficit to turn the game into a thriller, that required a Felix Von Hofe 3 and a pair of Drew Brandon free throws for the Eagles to win 85-81.

Tyler Harvey finally looked like he found his shot as he led all scorers with 24 points going 5 of 12 from beyond the arc.  He also added 3 assists, 2 rebounds and a steal.  Venky Jois earned his third double-double in a row (6th of the season) with 21 points, 10 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal and 1 block. Drew Brandon earned his 7th double-double of the season with 11 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists and 1 steal.  Parker Kelly had 8 points, 4 assists and 1 block.  OG had another rough night, going just 1 of 8 from the field and finished with 5 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 block.  Bliznyuk added 10 points and 5 rebounds from the bench.  Felix von Hofe was 2-3 from the field for 6 points and a block.  Garrett Moon got on the court briefly and snagged a rebound as well.

On Saturday March 7th, the Eagles season nearly came off the rails as the Eagles trailed by 19 points late in the first half and didn't hold a lead in the game until The Blizzard drained a 3 pointer with 1:46 left in overtime.  The only word for this game is resilience.  The Eagles struggled early, but then slowly and methodically chipped their way back into the contest, eventually winning in overtime and securing the team's 3rd Big Sky Conference championship.

Eastern was led by Tyler Harvey with 24 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 assists.  Venky Jois closed the regular season on a 4 game double-double streak (7th of the season) with 22 points and 16 rebounds.  He added 1 assist, 1 steal and 1 block.  Parker Kelly was held to just 12 minutes as he was hit with 4 early fouls, he didn't score but got 1 steal and 1 block in that time.  Drew Brandon netted 7 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals.  OG got the start but struggled again going 1 of 4 from the field for 2 points and added 2 steals, 1 rebound and 1 assist in 14 minutes.

The Blizzard led all bench players for either team in points (14), rebounds (7) and blocks (2).  He also had a pair of assists and 1 steal in 31 minutes.  Felix Von Hofe played 33 minutes off the bench.  He finished with 10 points, 2 rebounds, 2 steals and 1 assist.  Garrett Moon played 8 minutes and finished with 3 rebounds and 1 assist, Daniel Hill and Kyle Reid both got on the court, but did not accrue any statistics.

Please follow us on Twitter and Like us on Facebook: