Eagles Basketball Goes National This Weekend - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Eagles Basketball Goes National This Weekend

Posted:

by EWU Athletics Media Relations

Big Sky Conference play is around the corner, and so is an East Coast swing to wrap-up the non-conference portion of the Eastern Washington University men’s basketball schedule.

The Eagles play at Seton Hall and Connecticut before opening Big Sky Conference play on Jan. 2. On Sunday, Dec. 22, the Eagles play the Pirates, then spend Christmas in New England before taking on Connecticut on Dec. 28. Tipoff Sunday at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., is 2 p.m. Pacific time. The game will be televised live nationally on Fox Sports 1, and may also be heard on ESPN 700-AM.

Seton Hall is 7-4 on the season following an 83-80 loss in overtime to Saint Peter’s, which snapped a three-game winning streak for the Pirates. Eastern is 5-4 on the season following last Sunday’s 70-61 loss to UC Irvine.

Eastern head coach Jim Hayford said his team’s goal is to get to six victories before conference play begins. Right now, only Northern Colorado with six victories has more overall wins in the league than EWU. Eastern opens league play on the road at Weber State, Jan. 2, and Idaho State, Jan. 4, before hosting Montana, Jan. 9, and Montana State, Jan. 11.

“This game will make us better,” Hayford said of the loss to the Anteaters, who also defeated EWU in November. “We will use it as coaches to teach and to make us better. One of our goals is to have a winning conference season. That means we have to win one of these next two road games if we are going to get to six wins. Last year only one other team had that (heading into league play).”

Connecticut finished 20-10 overall and 10-8 in the Big East Conference last season, while Seton Hall was 15-18 overall and 3-15 in the league. However, Seton Hall and six other teams in the so-called “Catholic 7” broke off from the league, but will retain the Big East tag. The remaining Big East teams, plus others in the expanded conference, will now be named the American Athletic Conference.

Seton Hall has four players averaging in double figures, led by 6-foot-2 senior guard Sterling Gibbs with an average of 16.1 points and 4.0 assists per game. A fifth player, 6-foot-9 senior center Eugene Teague, averages 9.6 points and 9.3 rebounds.

Connecticut is currently 9-0, and has games against Stanford and Washington prior to hosting the Eagles. Hayford’s team will do everything it can to use the two challenging contests to prepare the Eagles for the rigors of the Big Sky Conference. Two of Eastern’s first three games are against pre-season favorite Weber State, as well as Montana, which is picked to finish second by the media and third by the coaches.

“As we enter Big Sky play it is going to be tough,” he said. “We just need to keep getting better. It is a long season. This team has the potential, especially because we have no seniors, to be playing as good as anybody in the Big Sky in March. We need to make sure we get enough wins.

Eastern will be trying for its third Big Sky Conference Tournament berth in the last four years in 2013-14, and its 13th in 27 years as a member of the league. The Big Sky Conference Tournament will take place March 13-15 at the site of the regular season champion. For the second-straight year, it will now include seven teams, with the regular season champion receiving a first-round bye. The tournament will include a quarterfinal round with six of the teams playing, followed by semifinals and the championship game.

“Last year we needed one more win to be a part of that tournament,” added Hayford. “That is where all of our focus has to be for coaches and players. We have to keep getting better every week.”

  • College

    • Eagles lose big to No. 10 Oregon, 81-40

      Eastern struggled from field goal range, only shooting 30.2% on the night while the Ducks shot 58%.

    • Alex Grinch named Broyles Award semifinalist

      Grinch, in his third year as the Cougars defensive coordinator, has taken the WSU defense into elite status. WSU enters the week No. 11 in the country in total defense (303.8).

    • Cougars to face Huskies in 2017 Apple Cup Saturday

      Washington State is 9-2 for the first time since 2003 and is looking for its fifth 10-win season in program history (1997, 2001, 2002, 2003).

    • EWU Athletic Director Bill Chaves joins SWX Tonight after playoff snub

      Despite being ranked 19th in the STATS FCS rankings, Eastern Washington fell short of and FCS Tournament berth. On Monday, just over 24 hours after the snub, Eagle Athletic Director Bill Chaves joined SWX Tonight to talk about missing the playoffs, recap Aaron Best's first year at the helm and take a look at the university's basketball programs.

    • Press Pass Pullman: Apple Cup Week

      In this week's episode of Press Pass Pullman, Mike Leach tackles important topics like how to win your family Thanksgiving football game. Before that, he talks about preparing for the Huskies with a bye week, Jake Browning, and playoffs. In the (extended) 'Fan Question of the Week,' he touches on holiday traditions, turducken, and which states are his favorite and least favorite. Theo Lawson also joins the show to discuss this year's UW squad and last year's Apple Cup.

    • Super 8 Plays of the Week 11/20

      Check out the football championship edition of our Super 8 Plays of the Week.

    • Eags fall short against Georgia State in MGM Resorts Main Event opener

      Eagle head coach Shantay Legans knew the Panthers were going to be a handful for his road-weary team, and a valiant defensive effort in the first half and game-ending 11-1 run by EWU wasn't enough.

    • Eags denied playoff spot as Sblendorio picks up final weekly honor

      By EWU Athletics A near record-breaking performance by wide receiver Nic Sblendorio earned him an honor on Sunday (Nov. 19), but earlier in the day the Eastern Washington University football team was dealt a shocking blow when it was not selected to play in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs.   Eastern wrapped up a 7-4 finish overall and 6-2 record in league play with a 59-33 romp over Portland State on Saturday, a game in which the senior caught nine ...
    • Gonzaga uses huge 2nd half to beat Utah State 79-66

      The 3-point shooting of Utah State gave No. 17 Gonzaga fits in the first half on Saturday night. The Aggies threw a scare into Gonzaga before the Bulldogs woke up in the second half and rolled to a 79-66 victory.

    • Eagles win big over Portland State 59-33

      After receiving first-round byes in the previous five appearances in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs, the Eagles are in a wait-and-see mode following a dominant 59-33 Big Sky Conference victory over Portland State.

    More
HD DOPPLER 6i
/