Season Wrap: Eagles end season with 22-12 record - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Season Wrap: Eagles end season with 22-12 record

Eagles Have Advanced To Three Straight National Post Season Tournaments Eagles Have Advanced To Three Straight National Post Season Tournaments

By EWU Athletics

In both wins and postseason appearances, the Eagle men's basketball program under head coach Jim Hayford continued to cement its legacy in Eastern Washington University men's basketball history in the 2016-17 season.
 
Eastern made its third-straight national postseason appearance under Hayford when the team competed in the 2017 College Basketball Invitational. The Eagles finished with a 22-12 record in their 34th season as a member of NCAA Division I after finishing 13-5 in the league during their 30th season as a member of the Big Sky.
 
With win totals of 15, 26, 18 and 22 the past four seasons, the combined 81 victories in four seasons and 66 in the last three are the most since EWU became a member of NCAA Division I in the 1983-84 season. The Eagles set a total of five Big Sky Conference records and 14 EWU all-time marks during the course of the season.

"We'll evaluate the whole program – strengths, weaknesses and what we need to do to fulfill our big commitment of getting better each and every season," said Hayford. "This team got better than last year's team. That team lost four starters off a 26-win team, and they still got a national tournament postseason win and had a great season. This year's team improved and won 22 games to get us to another national tournament. Now we have to figure out what we can do with next year's team to make it even better."
 
Hayford's 2016-17 team won 11 of its last 16 games, and finished with a school-record 15 home victories. En route to finishing with the second-most league wins in Eastern's Division I history, its five league losses were by a combined 34 points (6, 3, 1, 9, 15). The Eagles beat Sacramento State 89-70 in the quarterfinals of the Big Sky Conference Tournament, then fell to Weber State 80-72 in the semifinals. Wyoming edged EWU 91-81 in the CBI.
 
 "Everybody needs to take two weeks and take a big, long nap every day," added Hayford after the Wyoming loss ended a season that began in July with exhibition games on a tour of Australia. "They need to get rested and refreshed during the break. In April we start the next season."
 
Eastern entered the year picked to finish seventh by the coaches and fifth by the media in the preseason polls. Eastern lost a pair of first team All-Big Sky Conference and All-District performers to graduation – including the school's all-time leading scorer – but reloaded to feature the league's MVP in senior graduate transfer Jacob Wiley and a second team All-Big Sky selection in junior Bogdan Bliznyuk. Wiley earned first team All-District 6 honors from the National Association of Basketball Coaches, while Bliznyuk was on the second team. It was the third-straight season two Eastern players have been honored by the NABC with all-district honors.
 
The Eagles finished the season with five Big Sky Conference records and 14 EWU marks, most broken as the result of EWU's 130-124 triple-overtime victory over Portland State on Feb. 4. Wiley and Bliznyuk set the most intriguing record when both scored a school-record 45 points in that game versus the Vikings. Senior Felix Von Hofe established new records for games played (127) and 3-pointers made (262) while becoming Eastern's winningest player in EWU's NCAA Division I history with 81 victories in four seasons.
 
Wiley, playing in his first and only season as an Eagle, made Big Sky Conference history by becoming just the second player in league history to score at least 639 points and have at least 303 rebounds in a single season in the league's 54-year existence. He finished with totals of 694 and 309, respectively, and no other player in league history has coupled that with at least 58 blocks (Wiley finished with 94 to come one shy of the league record) or a shooting percentage of at least .621 (Wiley finished at .643). Montana's Larry Krystkowiak (now head coach at Utah) is the other player to have at least 639/303 in the same year, and he had 709 points and 364 rebounds in the 1985-86 season. Wiley finished the season ranked sixth in NCAA Division I in field goal percentage, eighth in blocked shots (2.76 per game), 29th in scoring (20.4), 48th in rebounds (9.1) and 112th in free throw percentage (.828).
 
Bliznyuk concluded his junior season with 701 points, becoming just the fourth player in school history to hit that mark (Wiley ranks fifth in school history with 694). In 103 career games (16th in school history), Bliznyuk is the 20th Eagle to join the 1,000-point club, currently ranking seventh with 1,428 points. He'll enter his senior season in 2017-18 needing just 375 points to break EWU's all-time mark of 1,803 points set by Hayford Australian recruit Venky Jois from 2013-16.
 
Von Hofe finished his career sixth in league history for career 3-pointers with a school-record total of 262. He played in a school-record 128 games and finished with the 18th-most points in school history with 1,058, and 3-point records for both makes (262) and attempts (657)
 
Eastern entered league play with a winning record of 8-5 – only the fifth time that has happened in 30 years in the Big Sky. The impressive start for EWU equaled the NCAA Tournament team of 2014-15 (9-4) and the 1985-86 team (9-4) as the only teams to start 8-5 or better in 34 years in NCAA Division I. They were just the sixth team in 34 years to start 5-2 or better, including three under Hayford.
 
In just his sixth season at the helm, Hayford reached 100 victories as an Eastern coach to become the fastest to 100 in Eastern history. Red Reese (470-301 in 31 seasons) achieved that feat in his seventh season. Vin Eustis (108-43 in eight seasons) hit 100 in his eighth and final year at the helm, and Jerry Krause (261-197 in 17 seasons) also reached his 100th in his eighth season. That trio and Hayford are the only coaches in the school's 109-season history (17 total coaches, nine in NCAA Division I) to have more than 75 victories. Hayford currently has a 106-91 record at Eastern, and is 360-175 in 18 seasons as a collegiate head coach.
 
 
 

Postseason Tournament Notes 

 
* Besides the 2016 and 2017 College Basketball Invitational, Eastern also participated in the NCAA Tournament in 2004 and 2015, and the NIT in 2003. In 2003, Eastern fell to Wyoming 78-71 in the first round of the NIT in 2003, then lost 75-56 to Oklahoma State in the NCAA Tournament in Kansas City, Mo., a year later. In 2015, after winning the Big Sky Conference Tournament title in Missoula, Eastern fell to 22nd-ranked Georgetown 84-74.
 
* The 2017 CBI was the ninth national post-season tournament Jim Hayford has coached in. Besides the 2016 CBI and the 2015 NCAA Tournament, he coached Whitworth in six NCAA Division III Tournaments (2003, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011). He is 7-8 in national tourney games, including an Elite Eight appearance in his final season at Whitworth in 2011.
 
* Eight of Eastern's opponents in the 2016-17 season advanced to postseason tournaments, including fellow College Basketball Invitational participant San Francisco. Eastern defeated the Dons in Cheney 96-90 on Nov. 27. The Eagles were 0-4 in the 2016-17 season versus opponents which advanced to the NCAA Tournament – Northwestern (86-72 on Nov. 14), Northern Kentucky (70-48 on Dec. 18), Xavier (85-56 on Dec. 20) and Big Sky champion North Dakota (95-86 on Feb. 9). Eastern lost to National Invitation Tournament participant Colorado (76-68 on Dec. 22), and was 3-2 versus Big Sky Conference teams in the College Insider Tournament. Eastern swept Idaho (69-62 on Dec. 30 and 77-67 on Feb. 17), and was 1-2 versus Weber State (70-67 loss on Jan. 14, 82-72 win on Feb. 23 and 80-72 loss on March 10).
 
 
 

Team Notes

 
Eagles Achieve Rare 20-Win Season, With Three-Straight Years of 18+
 
At 22-12 overall in the 2016-17 season, the Eastern basketball program under head coach Jim Hayford hit a threshold that has occurred just twice in Eastern's 34-year history in NCAA Division I. Since 1983-84, the only other times EWU has won 20 games came in 1985-86 (20-8) and 2014-15 (26-9). This year's team is just one of five in the school's 34-year NCAA Division I history to have at least 18, including three-straight under Hayford.
 
Eastern has been in the Big Sky Conference for 30 seasons now, with a high of 14 league wins in 2014-15. Finishing 13-5 in league play in 2016-17, only one other time has EWU exceeded 11 league wins, that coming in 1999-00 when EWU had 12 to share the regular season league title with Montana.
 
Eastern closed the regular season with a 15-1 home record, tying the single season record of 15 set by the 1985-86 team. It was also accomplished two other times in EWU's NAIA era in the 1976-77 and 1977-78 seasons during EWU's school-record 31-game home winning streak.
 
In the last four seasons, Eastern has won 15 (2014-15), 26 (2014-15), 18 (2015-16) and 22 (2016-17) game. The combined 81 victories in four seasons, 66 in three and 44 in two are also the most since EWU became a member of NCAA Division I in the 1983-84 season. The stretch of 81 victories is the third-best overall -- Eastern won 83 games from 1975-1978 and 106 from 1943-46. The Eagles have won 66 games in back-to-back-to-back seasons, which are also the third most. Eastern won 80 games from 1945 to 1947 and 66 from 1976-78. The 44 combined victories were the most overall in 39 years since EWU won a combined 45 in the 1976-77 and 1977-78 seasons as a member of the NAIA.
 
 
Jim Hayford Fastest to 100 Victories as Head Coach in Eastern History
 
Eastern head coach Jim Hayford has reached 100 victories as an Eastern coach in just his sixth season at the helm. He is the fastest to 100 in Eastern history, with Red Reese (470-301 in 31 seasons) achieving that feat in his seventh season. Vin Eustis (108-43 in eight seasons) hit 100 in his eighth and final year at the helm, and Jerry Krause (261-197 in 17 seasons) also reached his 100th in his eighth season. That trio and Hayford are the only coaches in the school's 109-season history (17 total coaches, nine in NCAA Division I) to have more than 75 victories. Hayford currently has a 106-91 record at Eastern, and is 360-175 in 18 seasons as a collegiate head coach.
 
Hayford took over an Eastern team that had been to the Big Sky Conference Tournament just once in five seasons, but in the 2013-14 through 2016-17 seasons he took the Eagles to new heights, recording win totals of 15, 26, 18 and 22. The two 20-victory seasons are the two win totals in EWU's 34-year history in NCAA Division I.
 
Eastern has had its first back-to-back national tournament postseason appearances at the Division I level with a current stretch of three-straight, including its first-ever win (79-72 over Pepperdine in the College Basketball Invitational in 2016. In six seasons with Hayford at the helm, the Eagles have been to the NCAA tournament (2015), the CBI tournament (2016, 2017), earned a Big Sky regular season co-championship (2015), and won the Big Sky Tournament title (2015). In addition, the Eagles have reached 20+ wins in two of the last three seasons (2015, 2017) and have had at least 10 Big Sky Conference wins during the past three seasons (2015, 2016, 2017).
 
 
Eagles Are Now 13-13 in the Big Sky Conference Tournament
 
Eastern made its 15th Big Sky Conference Tournament appearance in 30 years as a member of the league in 2017, and now has a record of 13-13 in its 26 games. The Eagles are 1-0 in the first round, 4-5 in the quarterfinals, 6-4 in the semifinals and 2-4 in the championship. Before winning the 2015 title, Eastern hadn't appeared since the 2011-12 and 2010-11 seasons, which were EWU's first since 2006. The Eagles qualified for each tournament from 1998-2006.
 
Eastern won Big Sky Conference Tournament championships and appeared in the NCAA Tournament in 2015 & 2004. The Eagles have also advanced to the National Invitation Tournament in 2003 and the College Basketball Invitational in 2016. Eastern registered the school's first NCAA Division I postseason win with a 79-72 victory over Pepperdine in the first round of the CBI.
 
Eastern head coach Jim Hayford has coached in nine previous Big Sky Conference Tournament games, with a record of 6-3 in four appearances (2012, 2015, 2016, 2017). His 2014-15 squad won the title and advanced to the NCAA Tournament with a trio of victories in Missoula, Montana. Included was a come-from-behind 69-65 over the host Grizzlies in the championship game.
 
 
Eagles Have Impressive Records When Winning Shooting and Rebounding Battles, as Well as in OT
 
The Eagles compiled some impressive records in several areas this season, including an 18-3 record when scoring 73 or more points and a 5-1 record in overtime games. Eastern was one of the league's top shooting teams, and finished 14-2 when they made at least 50 percent and 17-5 when making 45.0 percent or better. Eastern finished ranked first in league games only in field goal percentage (.501) and scoring margin (+7.3).
 
The Eagles were impressive rebounding the basketball in the second half of the season, with a 13-4 record when they out-rebounded opponents. Eastern had advantages in 15 of its last 20 games – including 11 of the last 13 -- but in its first 14 games, Eastern had a rebounding advantage just two times. Eastern was also 17-3 when it had 36 rebounds or more, and 17-6 when opponents had 35 or less.
 
Eastern's defense produced a 13-2 record when opponents made 44.9 percent of its shots or less, and 11-3 when opponents scored 72 or fewer. The Eagles were a perfect 12-0 when they force 12 or more turnovers.
 
 
Eastern Has Big Sky's Second-Best RPI at No. 148
 
After its loss in the semifinals of the Big Sky Tournament, Eastern dropped to second among league teams with a RPI ranking of 148 compared to 144 for league-champion North Dakota. Eastern was a season high 57th on 12/13 in the official NCAA RPI ratings. Prior to beating Montana on Jan. 26, Eastern had fallen behind Weber State briefly, and had been the top Big Sky team until UND passed them on March 11. The next-best Big Sky teams were Weber State (#185), Idaho (#207), Montana (#221) and Montana State (#254). With an 8-5 mark entering Big Sky play, Eastern joined Portland State at 7-4 as the only other league team above the .500 mark prior to the start of the league season. Plus, the Eagles received 10 votes in the Collegeinsider.com Mid-Major top 25 on Dec. 12 when the Eagles were 7-2.
 
 
Eastern In Top 27 in the Nation in Field Goal and Free Throw Shooting
 
Eastern's shooting from the field and the free throw line both ranked in the top 28 in NCAA Division I and in the top four in the Big Sky Conference. Eastern's 47.9 field goal percentage was 27th in the nation and fourth in the league, led by Jacob Wiley at 64.3 percent to rank sixth individually and first in the league.
 
Eastern's clutch free throw shooting was a major reason EWU won its first six games decided by six points or less (EWU finished 11-3 in games decided by five or less and 13-7 in games decided by 10 or less). Eastern made 77.0 percent to lead the league and rank 14th in NCAA Division I. Jacob Wiley was 112th at 82.8 percent and Bogdan Bliznyuk was 132nd at 82.1 percent. They were ranked ninth and 11th, respectively, in the Big Sky. Felix Von Hofe was not ranked, but made 42-of-53 (79.2 percent) and Ty Gibson sank 25-of-29 (86.2 percent). Eastern was as high as second in the nation early in the year.
 
Eastern was also 53rd nationally in 3-point shooting at 37.9 percent to rank third in the league. The Eagles were paced by Felix Von Hofe (38.4 to rank 58th nationally), Ty Gibson (48.5 to rank second overall in the league) and Cody Benzel (44.8 to rank third overall in the Big Sky). Gibson and Benzel didn't have the minimum number of attempts to be ranked nationally.
 
 
After Hiccup, Defense Returns Stronger Than Ever Versus Bears and Vandals
 
The writing was on the wall, and the defense responded at Northern Colorado on Feb. 11 with season-best performances for points and field goal percentage allowed. The 44 points UNC scored bested the previous fewest EWU allowed in a 70-47 win over Linfield, and was the best versus a Division I opponent since giving up just 60 to Montana on Jan. 26. The 28.3 shooting percentage for the Bears bettered EWU's previous best in holding Idaho to 30.5 percent on Dec. 30.
 
Eastern then allowed Idaho to make only 36.5 percent from the field and 67 total points in a 77-67 victory on Feb. 17. Prior to the UNC victory, EWU had allowed 219 points in its previous two games, which included a triple-overtime win. Those were the two highest scoring games against the Eagles in the 2016-17 season, after defensively having their top six performances versus NCAA Division I foes -- to that point -- in their first 10 league games.
 
 
Memorable Game Yields 4 Big Sky Records and 11 School Marks
 
On a memorable afternoon for Jim Hayford as he notched his 100th victory as EWU's head coach, a total of four Big Sky Conference records and 11 school marks were tied or broken as a result of Eastern's 130-124 victory over Portland State Feb. 4 at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash. Eastern set Big Sky and EWU records with 130 points scored, and the 254 combined points were also league and school records.
 
The 90 points combined by Bogdan Bliznyuk and Jacob Wiley set league and EWU records, as they came up just two from the NCAA record of 92.  They each had 45 points, tying the school record previously set by Rodney Stuckey (now with the Indiana Pacers in the NBA). Wiley, a senior graduate transfer from Newport, Wash., broke the school record for field goals made with 18, and Bliznyuk, a junior from Lutsk, Ukraine, had a record 29 field goal attempts. They also both tied the record with 53 minutes played. Wiley, who would receive National Player of the Week honors as a result of his big weekend, also set a Big Sky record with 83 points in back-to-back league games, which is also a school record for back-to-back games overall.
 
"It was head shaking," Hayford said after browsing all the record-breaking numbers. "Just amazing." A complete list of the records is available in the statistics portion of EWU's weekly/season recap .pdf basketball news release.
 
Besides the records, there were some interesting quirks about Eastern's weekend sweep, which included a 77-72 home win over Sacramento State. Versus Sac State, EWU scored what were then its second-fewest points in a half this season in the first 20 minutes, then scored its second-most points in a half with 54 after trailing at intermission 26-23. Versus the Vikings, Eastern allowed just 26 points in the first half for the second-straight game (ninth-best this season at the time), then surrendered a season-high 60 in the second half (Sac State had 46 to rank third). After two deadlocked overtime periods versus PSU, Wiley and Bliznyuk helped EWU forge a five-point lead, with Bliznyuk scoring 12 of EWU's 20 points in the final period and 27 overall in the final 15 minutes.
 
 
Eagles Double Big Sky and School Records for Overtime Periods With 10
 
Eastern's three overtime periods against Portland State on Feb. 4 brought to 10 its total for the season, doubling the previous Big Sky and EWU records of five in a single year. Eastern was 5-1 in those contests, including a three-overtime game and two in double-overtime. The NCAA Division I season records are eight for overtime games and 14 for overtime periods.
 
Eastern defeated Seattle 80-76 in double overtime on Nov. 22 and then beat Denver in its next game in overtime by an 85-80 score. Two games later, the Eagles played at Seattle in another double-overtime thriller, winning 93-88. Eastern beat Morehead State 88-86 on Dec. 13, but then didn't have another until Jan. 28 when Montana State prevailed 91-90 in OT. On Feb. 4, Eastern needed three extra periods to beat Portland State 130-124 and set a variety of league and school records in the process. The previous EWU record for overtime periods in a single year was five in the 1998-99 season, including four extra periods in a 101-100 loss to Weber State on Jan. 16, 1993. The Eagles had no overtime games last season, two in 2014-15, one in 2013-14 and four in 2012-13
 
 
Eagles Entered League Play With 8-5 Record After Successful Pre-Conference Schedule
 
Eastern entered league play with a winning record of 8-5 – only the fifth time that has happened in 30 years in the Big Sky. The impressive start for EWU equaled the NCAA Tournament team of 2014-15 (9-4) and the 1985-86 team (9-4) as the only teams to start 8-5 or better in 34 years in NCAA Division I. The 2016-17 Eagles were just the sixth team in 34 years to start 5-2 or better, including three under Hayford.
 
 
Eagles Picked as High as No. 5 in Preseason Polls
 
The Big Sky Conference men's basketball was a dogfight, and 2016-17 preseason predictions beared that out. Coming off its best back-to-back seasons in its NCAA Division I history, Eastern was picked fifth by the media and seventh by the coaches in the league's preseason basketball polls released Oct. 14.
 
While the Eagles appeared loaded and ready for another Big Sky title run, the rest of the league was as well. Weber State was picked to win the title in both polls, while the media picked Montana at No. 2, Idaho third and North Dakota to finish fourth just ahead of the Eagles and Idaho State at No. 5. After Weber State, the coaches picked the order of finish as Idaho, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho State, Montana State and then EWU.
 

Quartet Sign Letters of Intent With Eagle Basketball
 
A quartet of high school players, including 6-foot-9 forward Tanner Groves from Shadle Park High School in Spokane, Wash., signed letters of intent to play basketball and attend Eastern Washington University, EWU head coach Jim Hayford announced Nov. 9.
 
The others signed included 6-6 forward Brendan Howard, who was Montana's Gatorade Player of the Year as a junior at Great Falls High School. The third signee was Australian Jack Perry, a 6-2 guard who joins a group of five Aussies currently on EWU's roster. The fourth was 6-7 guard/forward Kim Aiken, an All-CIF selection from East Valley High School in Redlands, Calif.
 
More on the signing class, including comments from head coach Jim Hayford, is available at: http://goeags.com/news/2016/11/9/mens-basketball-quartet-sign-letters-of-intent-with-eagle-basketball.aspx?path=mbball
 
 
 

Player Notes

 
#20 - CODY BENZEL - G - 6-4 - 175 - So. - 1L* - Spokane, Wash. / Ferris HS '14
 
2016-17: For the season, Benzel averaged 4.6 points on 47-of-105 shooting from the 3-point stripe (44.8 percent to rank third in the Big Sky). In league games only, he led the league at 56.8 percent (21-of-37). Benzel came off the bench to make all four of his 3-point attempts in the first half to finish with 12 points in EWU's 130-124 victory over Portland State (2/4/17) in three overtimes. It was his fifth double figure scoring game of the season and eighth of his career, but first since scoring 11 at Seattle (12/4/16). He hit a trio of 3-pointers in EWU's Big Sky Conference Tournament game against Sacramento State (3/9/17).
 
 
#32 - BOGDAN BLIZNYUK - G/F - 6-6 - 215 - Jr. - 2L - Lutsk, Ukraine / Todd Beamer HS '14
 
Career: With 103 career games (16th in school history), Bliznyuk is the 20th Eagle to join the 1,000-point club, currently ranking seventh with 1,428 points. He'll enter his senior season in 2017-18 needing just 375 points to break EWU's all-time mark of 1,803 points set by Venky Jois from 2013-16. The only player in school history with a triple-double, when Bliznyuk registers a double-double, good things usually happen for the Eagles. He had six double-doubles in the 2016-17 season and 15 in his career. Eastern has won 10-straight games when he's had a double-double, and a record of 13-2 when he achieves that feat. The Eagles were 6-0 in the 2016-17 season when he had a double-double, and one of the 13 career victories was the first triple-double in school history with 11 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists on Jan. 16, 2016. He now has seven 30-point performances in his career (all in the 2016-17 season), with 26 of at least 20 (19 in 2016-17).
 
Triple-Double History: Bliznyuk had 11 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists against Northern Arizona on Jan. 16, 2016, for the first triple-double in school history. But five other times – including twice by Bliznyuk this season -- an Eagle has come one stat from a triple-double. All of them have occurred since Jan. 11, 2014, including three by former Eagle point guard Drew Brandon. The closest former Eagle Rodney Stuckey – now playing in the NBA for Indiana – came was 14 points, seven rebounds and 10 assists on Nov. 19, 2005, versus Pacific Lutheran.
 
2016:17 Honors: Bliznyuk earned second team All-District 6 honors from the National Association of Basketball Coaches, marking the third-straight season two Eastern players have been honored by the NABC with all-district honors (Jacob Wiley was on the first team). A second team All-Big Sky selection as chosen by the league's head coaches, Bliznyuk earned first team All-BSC honors from HoopsHD.Com. He was also honored twice as Big Sky Conference Player of the Week by the league office. He joined teammate Jacob Wiley on Dec. 30 as in being honored by HoopsHD.Com as mid-season All-Big Sky Conference selections. Bliznyuk was named that organization's "Player of the Year So Far." Prior to the start of the season, he was a first team selection on the College Sports Madness preseason All-Big Sky Conference team.
 
2016-17: Bliznyuk averaged 26.6 points, 8.4 rebounds and 3.9 assists in his last eight games of the season. Bliznyuk ranked in the top 11 in four different statistical categories in the league, ranking fifth in points (20.6 per game), seventh in rebounds (6.5), sixth in assists (4.0) and 11th in free throw percentage (.821). Southern Utah's Randy Onwuasor was the only other league player to rank in the top 11 in each of those four categories. Bliznyuk ranked 25th nationally in scoring and 149th in assists. Bliznyuk's scoring average (20.62) ranked as the seventh-best in EWU single season history, and he became just the fourth Eagle to score 700 points in a single season (he finished fourth in school history with 701). He closed the year with a 29-point performance with seven assists in a 91-81 loss to Wyoming (3/15/17) in the College Basketball Invitational.
 
 
#2 - TY GIBSON - G - 6-3 - 190 - So. - 1L - Issaquah, Wash. / Issaquah HS '15
 
2016-17: Was nominated by EWU for CoSIDA Academic All-America honors. For the season, Gibson averaged 5.2 points on 47.7 percent shooting from the field, including 48-of-99 3-pointers (47.7 percent to rank second in the Big Sky). He was also second in 3-point shooting in league games only, making 50.0 percent (28-of-56) which ranks only behind teammate Cody Benzel at 56.8 percent (21-of-37). Gibson made just his third career start – and first this season – against Northern Colorado (2/11/17) and set a new career high for points in a game with 21. His previous career high was 19 against Great Falls (12/8/16). He tied his career high for made 3-pointers, going 6-for-8 from beyond the arc. He has started in all but one game since, scoring in double figures in three of his seven games as a starter. Earlier this season, Gibson scored 13 points in a less than four minute span in the first half and finished with what was then a career-high 19 points in EWU's 103-76 victory over Great Falls (12/8/16). In helping Eastern open leads of 27-2 and 39-4, he played only 15 minutes and still nearly doubled his previous high of 10 last year versus Southern Utah and this season versus San Francisco (11/27/16). He scored 13 points in a 3:43 stretch in the first half with four three-pointers and a free throw. Gibson made 6-of-7 shots from the field – all 3-point attempts – and made all three of his free throws.
 
 
#14 - MASON PEATLING - F - 6-8 - 220 - Fr. - HS - Melbourne, Australia / Beaconhills College HS '16
 
2016-17: Peatling made his starting debut versus 17th-ranked Xavier on Dec. 20 and started 17 total games. He averaged 4.0 points and 3.0 rebounds, with a high of 13 points at Montana (1/26/17) and highs of nine rebounds and three blocked shots versus Idaho (12/30/16). He also had seven points versus the Vandals and made 54.4 percent of his shots from the field for the season (56-of-103) and 36.7 percent of his 3-pointers (11-of-30). He was in the starting lineup from Dec. 20 to Feb. 9, helping Eastern go 8-6 in those 14 games. He made his 16th start of the season in the quarterfinals of the Big Sky Tournament against Sacramento State (3/9/17) and had eight points and six rebounds on 3-of-4 shooting from the field and 2-of-3 from the free throw line. He had scored only four total points in his previous seven games. He closed the season by scoring four points against Wyoming (3/15/17) in the College Basketball Invitational.
 
 
#44 - FELIX VON HOFE - F - 6-5 - 200 - Sr. - 3L - Melbourne, Australia / Wesley Col. '12 / Australian Inst. of Sport
 
Career: Von Hofe finished as the winningest player in the school's NCAA Division I history, set the school record for games played and broke EWU's 3-pointers made record in the final game of his career. Eastern won 81 games during his time at Eastern, and his 128 games played was two ahead of the previous record of 126 set by his former EWU teammate Parker Kelly (2012-15). Von Hofe was the 21st Eagle to join the 1,000-point club, finished his career ranked 18th with 1,058 career points. Von Hofe moved up to sixth in career 3-pointers in the Big Sky Conference with 262, and broke the previous school record of 260 set by his former teammate Tyler Harvey from 2013-15. He had five in a 17-point effort in the final game of his career versus Wyoming (3/15/17) in the College Basketball Invitational. Von Hofe also holds the school record with 657 attempts (breaking Harvey's record of 602), and his percentage of .399 was 12th. Von Hofe had 13 performances of at least 20 points in his Eastern career, including five in the 2016-16 season and seven as a junior in 2015-16 when he had the fourth-most 3-pointers in school history with 105. He has scored in double figures 16 times as a senior (42 times in his career), and led EWU in scoring twice in 2016-17 (11 in his career).
 
2016-17: Entering the season, he was a fourth team selection on the College Sports Madness preseason All-Big Sky Conference squad. Von Hofe had a team-leading 96 3-pointers this season to rank sixth in single season school history. He finished 43rd in NCAA Division I with an average of 2.82 per game, helping EWU rank 95th as a team in makes per game (8.3) and 53rd in percentage (37.9). In helping Eastern moved into a first-place tie in the Big Sky with a 91-75 win over Southern Utah (3/2/17), he scored 20 points to become the 21st player in school history go over the 1,000-point mark in his career. His scoring performance was his best since getting 22 in a league-opening win at Idaho (12/30/16), and his 6-of-11 3-point performance was also his most since that game. He had five 3-pointers and 19 total points in an 82-64 win over Montana State (1/5/17).  One game earlier, Von Hofe had a 22-point performance in a 69-67 victory over Idaho (12/30/16) that included six 3-pointers. During EWU's seven-game winning streak earlier this season, he averaged 16.1 points and made 25-of-63 3-pointers and 20-of-24 free throws. He had a pair of 20-point performances in that stretch – 23 with six 3-pointers against Denver and 21 with five more treys versus San Francisco – then had 19 in EWU's double-overtime win at Seattle.

 
#4 - SIR WASHINGTON - G - 6-3 - 180 - Jr. - 2L* - Las Vegas, Nevada / Clark HS '13
 
2016-17: Washington scored in double figures in four of EWU's last 10 games after having just four in the first 24 outings for the Eagles. Washington made 12-of-24 (50.0 percent) of his 3-point attempts in Big Sky games, compared to 5-of-21 (23.8 percent) in non-conference outings and 1-of-6 (16.7 percent) in the postseason. For the season, he is averaged 6.7 points per game, with eight double-figure performances (15 in his career). His most recent double figure performance was against Sacramento State (3/9/17) in the Big Sky Tournament when he had 11 on 5-of-8 shooting. He scored 16 points on 4-of-9 shooting from the field and 8-of-8 from the free throw line in EWU's 82-72 win over Weber State (2/23/17) for second place in the league standings. He scored 10 of them in the second half, and he also had five rebounds and five assists before fouling out with 3:09 to play. In his previous game he scored 17 points versus Idaho (2/17/17), the second-best performance in his career only behind the 21 he scored earlier this season versus San Francisco (11/27/16). He also had a 14-point effort at North Dakota (2/9/17).
 
 
#24 - JACOB WILEY - F - 6-7 - 220 - Sr. - TR* - Newport, Wash. / Newport HS '12 / Montana / Lewis-Clark State
 
Career: Having attended nearby Newport (Wash.) High School, the 2016-17 season was Wiley's first and only year in an Eastern uniform after transferring from Lewis-Clark State and having begun his collegiate career at Montana. He finished his career with 11 total games worth of experience in national and conference postseason tournaments, including a pair in the 2017 Big Sky Conference Tournament when he earned All-Tournament honors. He ended his career by scoring 26 points versus Wyoming (3/15/17) in the College Basketball Invitational. He played two games in the Frontier Conference playoffs in each of his two seasons at Lewis-Clark State, then played in one NAIA Tournament game in 2015 and two in 2016. Although he didn't play in the Big Sky Tournament as a freshman at Montana in 2013, he played versus Syracuse in the NCAA Tournament. His 94 blocked shots in the 2016-17 season ranked fourth on the EWU career list.
 
Making Big Sky History: Wiley compiled some of the top statistics in NCAA Division I and the history of the Big Sky Conference. He is only the second player in Big Sky Conference history to score at least 639 points and have at least 303 rebounds in the league's 54-year existence, with totals of 694 and 309, respectively. Montana's Larry Krystokowiak (now head coach at Utah) is the other player to accomplish that feat, and he had 709 points and 364 rebounds in the 1985-86 season. Wiley is the first to finish a season with at least 639 points/303 rebounds, plus at least 58 blocks (he finished with 94 to rank second all-time in the league). Likewise, no previous player that has had 639/303 has also had at least a .621 field goal percentage (Wiley finished at .643). No Eastern player has had at least 600 points and 300 rebounds, with Ron Cox having 554/328 in the 1975-76 season and 485/356 the following year as a senior. Former Eagle Venky Jois had 525/278/56/.679 as a senior in 2015-16, and 518/238/69/.610 as a junior.
 
10-Game Scoring Totals Tops in EWU History; Back-to-Back Performances Tops in Big Sky: Even higher than the likes of Rodney Stuckey, Austin McBroom and Tyler Harvey, Wiley averaged 28.5 points in a 10-game stretch from Jan. 12 to Feb. 11 for a total of 285 points. Stuckey's best 10-game totals were 284 (28.4) as a freshman and 282 points (28.2 per game) during his sophomore season in 2006-07, prior to heading off to the NBA where he now plays for the Indiana Pacers. McBroom's top 10-game stretch was 261 points (26.1) in the 2015-16 season, while Harvey had a stretch of 274 (27.4) as a junior in 2014-15 and 247 (24.7) the year before. Wiley's 83 points against Sacramento State (38 on 2/2/17) and Portland State (45 on 2/4/17) are the most in back-to-back games overall and in conference play in school history, and also a record in the Big Sky. The Big Sky record was previously set by Damian Lillard (now of the Portland Trailblazers), who had 75 in two games in Feb. of 2012 (40 vs. Portland State 2/2 and 35 vs. Northern Colorado 2/4).
 
Selected for Portsmouth Invitational: Putting himself on a stage to become better noticed for a future professional career, Wiley was selected to play in the 65th-Annual Portsmouth Invitational Tournament in Virginia in April. The PIT features 64 of the nation's top college seniors competing in a four-day, 12-game event in front of team representatives throughout the National Basketball Association. This year's tournament will take place April 12-15 at Churchland High School in Portsmouth, Va. "This is a great honor and achievement for Jacob and our program," said Eagle head coach Jim Hayford.

2016-17 Honors: Wiley earned first team All-District 6 honors from the National Association of Basketball Coaches, marking the third-straight season two Eastern players have been honored by the NABC with all-district honors (Bogdan Bliznyuk was on the second team). Wiley was selected by the league's head coaches as the Big Sky Conference MVP and a first team all-league choice, then earned Big Sky All-Tournament honors. He is EWU's third player in 30 years in the Big Sky to earn MVP honors, joining Alvin Snow (2004) and Rodney Stuckey (2006). He also earned All-Big Sky Tournament honors, and HoopsHD.Com selected him as its Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year and a first team all-league choice. Wiley earned Big Sky Player of the Week honors in four different weeks, was honored once as Mid-Major Player of the Week, won a tournament MVP honor, and garnered a variety of National Player of the Week accolades for his record-breaking efforts earlier this season in a home sweep of Sacramento State (2/2/17) and Portland State (2/4/17).
 
2016-17: For the season, Wiley averaged 20.4 points per game overall to rank 29th in NCAA Division I and sixth in the Big Sky on 64.3 percent shooting to rank sixth in the nation and first in the league. His scoring average is 10th in EWU single season history, and he is just the seventh Eagle to score 600 points in a single season (he finished fifth with 694). He also averaged 2.76 blocked shots (first in the league and eighth nationally), with a school-record total of 94 to break the previous record of 69 set by Venky Jois in 2015. He finished ranked second all-time in the league, just one from the record (95, Brian Qvale, Montana, 2010-11). His field goal percentage of .643 ranks as the 16th best in league history. Wiley made 82.8 percent from the free throw line (ninth in the league and 112th nationally). In addition, he averaged 9.1 rebounds on the season (first in the league and 48th nationally) and 2.4 assists per game.
 
In league-only statistics, Wiley led the Big Sky in four different categories during what will be a one-year career at EWU. He led in scoring (24.6), rebounding (10.3), blocked shots (2.5) and field goal percentage (.659). He was also 10th in free throw percentage (81.7 percent), and averaged 2.6 assists and 0.6 steals in 18 league games.
 
Wiley had seven 30-point performances and 18 with at least 20, and he had at least 24 points in 12 of his last 20 games. He had at least 20 in 13 of EWU's 18 league outings. For the season, he scored in double figures in all but four of EWU's 34 games and had 11 double-doubles, with a total of 13 double-figure rebounding performances.
 
En route to earning Big Sky All-Tournament honors, he had 48 points, 18 rebounds and seven blocked shots in two games, while making 19-of-27 shots from the field (70.4 percent) and 10-of-13 free throws (76.9 percent). He had a 9-of-9 performance against Sacramento State to equal the second-best shooting performance in Big Sky Tournament and school history. Only Jermaine Boyette's 10-of-10 performance against Idaho State in 2001 was better at the tournament, and Chris White holds EWU's record with a 10-of-10 performance earlier that same season against Montana State on Feb. 1, 2001.
 
Wiley had a total of 58 points, 28 rebounds, five assists and four blocked shots in EWU's home sweep of Weber State (2/23/17) and Idaho State (2/25/17) to earn College Sports Madness Big Sky Conference Player of the Week honors. Wiley scored 20 points and had 13 rebounds versus Weber State to help Eastern tie the Wildcats for second in the Big Sky standings. He then had a 38-point effort on Senior Day versus Idaho State on Feb. 25 – equaling his second-best performance of the season. His 15 rebounds in that game was also his second-best effort of the season. For the weekend he made 22-of-33 shots for 66.7 percent and also sank 14-of-16 free throws for 87.5 percent.
 
Wiley was honored by NCAA.com on Feb. 6 as the National Player of the Week in NCAA Division I for his epic performances in victories over Sacramento State 77-72 and Portland State 130-124 in three overtimes. In addition, ESPN analyst Dick Vitale named him as his National Player of the Week as well. Plus, Wiley was the Mid-Major Player of the Week for the second time this season as selected by College Sports Madness, and was Big Sky Conference Player of the Week for the third time. He was also named the league's POW by College Sports Madness. The next day (Feb. 7), Wiley earned prestigious Oscar Robertson Player of the Week honors from the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, and honor won the previous two seasons by McBroom (2016) and Harvey (2015). No other school in the nation has had three winners of that award. He scored 83 points in those victories to set one of the 11 school records and four Big Sky Conference marks he and his team were involved with. In two games he made 32-of-46 shots from the field (70 percent) and 19-of-25 free throws (76 percent), and averaged 14.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 2.0 blocks. His 45 points against Portland State in EWU's 130-124 triple-overtime victory equaled a school record, which was equaled again in the final seconds when Bogdan Bliznyuk finished with 45. Wiley's 17 rebounds versus PSU equaled the eighth-most in school history. Wiley had double-doubles in both games. Against Portland State, Wiley made 18-of-23 shots from the floor and 9-of-12 from the line to finish with 45 points and 17 rebounds. Against Sac State, Wiley scored 38, which ranked as the eighth-most in school history (now ninth). He made 14-of-23 from the field and 10-of-13 free throws, and also had 12 rebounds, four blocked shots and three assists.
 
Records Fall in 3-Overtime Win: Against PSU (2/4/17), Eastern set Big Sky and EWU records with 130 points scored, as well as the 90 points combined by Wiley and Bliznyuk (they each scored a school record 45). They came just two points from the NCAA record for combined points of 92. Wiley also broke the school record for field goals made with 18, and he and Bliznyuk equaled the EWU record with 53 minutes played each. The 254 combined points by the Vikings and Eagles were also league and school records.
 
 
 

Recent Game Recaps

 
Eagles Eliminated in CBI After Falling to Wyoming 91-81
 
Junior Bogdan Blizynuk scored 29 points to lead the Eagles in scoring, but opened play in the College Basketball Invitational with a 91-81 loss against Wyoming on March 15 in Laramie, Wyo. Senior Felix Von Hofe had 17 points with five 3-pointers versus the Cowboys, giving him a career total of 262 to break the school record of 260 set by his former Eastern teammate Tyler Harvey from 2013-15. The MVP of the Big Sky Conference, Jacob Wiley had 26 points against Wyoming, and came up just short to break the league's record for blocked shots in a single season. He finished with 94, one away from tying the record of 95 in the league after previously shattering EWU's school record of 69. Eastern took a 20-18 lead with 11:04 left in the first half on a basket by Bogdan Bliznyuk. But the Cowboys scored 22 of the next 28 points over a seven-minute stretch to take command. A 10-0 run gave Wyoming its biggest lead of the night at 41-26 with 4:05 remaining. Eastern scored six of the last nine points and trailed 44-32 at halftime. The Eagles came within one point in the second half after Wiley was fouled on a made dunk with 13:45 left in the second half. After Wiley made the free throw, Wyoming went on a 9-0 run in the next three minutes with EWU coming no closer than five the rest of the game. Wyoming sank 11-of-18 3-pointers for 61.1 percent. The Cowboys also made 58.3 percent from the field, going 35-of-60. The Cowboys entered the game averaging 9.6 3-pointers made per game to rank 20th in NCAA Division I, and their 898 total attempts (28.1 per game) ranked seventh. Eastern shot 49.2 percent from the field, going 29-of-59. In three pointers, the Eagles went 11-of-26 for 42.3 percent.
 
 
After Hard-Fought Second Half, Weber State Pulls Away Late for 80-72 Win
 
Weber State scored 20 points off of 13 EWU miscues and used a late 13-2 run to beat the second-seeded Eagles 80-72 in the semifinals of the Big Sky Conference Tournament March 10 at the Reno Events Center in Reno, Nevada.  Eastern's dynamic duo of junior Bogdan Bliznyuk and senior graduate transfer Jacob Wiley combined for 56 points in the loss to the third-seeded Wildcats. After EWU led most of the first half, the second half featured eight ties and seven lead changes. Eastern took its last lead of the game at the 5:54 mark, then Weber State scored five points off a pair of Eagle turnovers during the game-deciding 13-2 run. The Wildcats opened their biggest lead of the night at 74-65, then led by no less than five the rest of the way. After shooting at a 57 percent clip in the game midway through the second half, Eastern made only six of its last 21 shots, missing its last five. Four Eastern players combined for a 1-of-12 shooting performance from 3-point range, as EWU finished just 5-of-18 (28 percent) from beyond the arc. The Eagles finished the game at 47 percent overall, compared to 50 percent for the Wildcats.
 
Eastern Survives Foul Trouble to Beat Sac State 89-70 in Big Sky Tournament Quarterfinals
 
With six players scoring at least eight points, Eastern rolled to an 89-70 victory over Sacramento State in the quarterfinals of the Big Sky Conference Tournament March 9 at the Reno Events Center in Reno, Nev. The Eagles held the Hornets without a field goal for a stretch of 7:45 in the first half and 10:08 in the second half, on their way to a 55 percent to 42 percent advantage in shooting from the field. Runs of 12-1 and 9-0 were the catalyst in helping EWU improve its season record to 22-10 with 11 victories in their last 14 games. Senior graduate transfer Jacob Wiley scored 18 of his game-high 24 points in the second half and had 10 rebounds, with junior Bogdan Bliznyuk adding 18 points, nine rebounds, six assists and a pair of steals. Four other players also scored at least eight, including 11 by junior Sir Washington, nine each by Cody Benzel and Felix Von Hofe and eight by freshman Mason Peatling. Matching Sac State's physicality, Eastern was whistled for 30 fouls and sent Sac State to the line 36 times, but no Eagle fouled out. After the Hornets cut Eastern's 13-point halftime lead to six on a pair of occasions early in the second half, Eastern used a 9-0 run to regain command. Washington had a driving layin and a 3-pointer to start the run, then baskets by Benzel and Peatling gave EWU a 55-40 advantage. Later, 3-pointers by Benzel and Bliznyuk opened a 64-45 Eagle lead during a stretch in which Sac State missed eight-straight shots and went without a field goal for 10:08.
 
 

Jim Hayford Comments

 
On Eagles in 2017: "We were different than every other Big Sky team. How many driving layups and post-up baskets and other two-pointers did Jake and Bogdan make? If you did a shot chart of all our baskets during the year, it would be a giant mass of baskets eight feet from the basket. The fact opponents knew it was coming and they couldn't stop them shows how outstanding Jake and Bogdan are. What a fun year. From day one this team was always headed into the same direction. These guys are amazing students – Jake and Bogdan are both 3.4, 3.5 students, and the whole team is everything good about getting to be a college basketball coach. I've been able to live a dream with this team this year."
 
On 3-Point Record for Felix Von Hofe: "What made him a great player is that he was fueled on emotion. Our first goal was to win the (Wyoming) game, but our second goal was to get him the all-time 3-point shooting record. But he had to make them and he did. For the last four years, he represented his family, friends and country, and every game he gave every single thing he had to this program to change the culture and establish us as a winner. He did that and I love him for it. Off the court there are 500 people running around Cheney thinking they are Felix's best friend – how cool is that?  He's been a great representative of our program in the classroom and around town, and I'm glad people got to feel his heart."
 
On Semifinal Loss to Weber State: "It's a tough one. You have to put the ball in the basket – that's the game of basketball. We just didn't get enough support around Jake and Bogdan. You win as a team and you lose as a team. We're 22-11 and had a second-place finish in a really tough conference. Anybody watching these games realizes just how strong the Big Sky was this year. Every game was a war. Two years ago we won 26 games, and that's the only year an Eastern team won more games than this (in NCAA Division I). I'm extremely proud of our team."
 
On Eagle-Wildcat Matchup: "I'm really proud of our team and be a part of a game like that. There was outstanding sportsmanship and respect between the two teams. We have tremendous respect for Weber's program. When our staff took over six years ago, Weber State was the standard and what we wanted to be like. The last six games against them we've each won three, and they won the one that mattered today. We are trying to get there with them, and if we can do that, we're in a classy neighborhood because Weber is a classy program."
 
On Win Over Sac State: "A 19-point win – wow. I was still looking at the clock (with concern) with 40 seconds to go. We made enough 3-pointers to keep them honest, and our studs were studs. Bogdan came one rebound from a double-double and Jake with limited time had a double-double. When we got in foul trouble, we just told Jesse (Hunt) to go collect the fouls. Felix came out hot and then he got in foul trouble. Fortunately Bogdan didn't get in foul trouble and we were able to finish the game without anybody fouling out."
 
On Last Year for Wiley: "A year ago we were wondering how we were going to replace Venky Jois – arguably the best post player who ever came through Eastern Washington. At Senior Day last season, there was a guy sitting up in the stands saying this is where he wanted to go and this is what he wanted to do. He came and worked his tail off all summer, and then went on our foreign tour to Australia, and Jake said 'I like this offense, it works for me.' And then his coach says, "I like this post player, this works for me.' It was like love at first sight. He just keeps getting better each week and he's a big part of why we have such great chemistry. Imagine somebody getting these types of numbers with an ego thinking about himself. It just shows you he's a mature man to have this kind of success. It was a match made in heaven – if there was a guy sitting in the stands today watching Jake, I have a scholarship for him if he can come do what Jake did."
 
On Bliznyuk: "Bogdan is an amazing young man – he's a great student, a great member of his family and a great teammate. He was very honored when we made him a team captain this year, and he's taken that extremely serious. He leads by example and is one of our hardest workers. What he says is really meaningful, and all of his teammates have a genuine love and appreciation for him. He has multiple skills – he can shoot it better than he has this year but he has a great drive game and post-up game. He's kind of a bully. Idaho is a really physical team, for him to come up with 13 rebounds shows he has some strength."
 
On Wiley's National Player of the Week Honors on Feb. 6 & 7: "Jacob is playing at an amazing level. He is working well with his teammates, and most importantly, leading us to wins. Jacob is deserving of this recognition when you consider all he has overcome and how hard he works. He is very humble and seeks out coaching daily."
 
In Team Victory Over PSU: "In the last 35 minutes of that game – second half and three overtimes – I don't remember an offensive execution that any guy on our team missed. If it was isolation for Bogdan or post-up to Jake, other players had to have proper spacing or get the ball to them with good timing. All of our players did exactly what they were supposed to do – it was a great team win, highlighted by two amazing individual performances."
 
On Wildness of Portland State Win: "It was a classic – that was something else. It was two teams just going at it. There were some amazing individual performances and some amazing clutch baskets. There were some pressure free throws. You got back through and you start forgetting all the different, just amazing plays that took place. I've never coached a game where two guys each had 45 points, and they both had double-doubles. We just kept going to them because they were doing so well, and Portland State didn't have an answer for them. It's amazing and it's really neat to have it happen in a win. It's the kind of stat you don't want to have happen in a loss."
 
On 100th Win at Eastern: "I've coached over 500 games, and at the end of year two here I was just hoping to be around for year four. We hoped all of our younger players would develop, and they did develop into a NCAA Tournament team. This year's team has a chance for the third year in a row to have one of Eastern's top four NCAA Division I records. I don't know how hard it was for the others who won 100 games, but I'll tell you it is hard to get Division I wins. I'm very grateful for our players. Coaches put players in a position to win games, but players win games."
 
 

Jacob Wiley Comments

 
On 2016-17 Season: "This team has fought so hard all season, so to lose our last two games was tough. But it's a blessing to play in the postseason, to win 22 games and play with this great group of guys. This season has meant the world to me to come here and be able to contribute toward the second-best season in Eastern history. It was a special season."
 
On Development in One Year: "Trying to come in and replace somebody like Venky Jois is not an easy task. But I had a feeling I could come in and contribute, but not to the magnitude that I was able to. Our coaching staff did a great job working with me tirelessly and believing in me. The constantly instilled confidence in my game and to play aggressive. The success was the manifestation of that."
 
On Just Missing Big Sky Blocked Shots Record: "Brian Qvale holds the record and played with Montana, and I used to play in open gyms with him. He's a great guy and I'm sure he's happy I didn't break his record. It was a special thing to chase. All year coach called it the 'magnet' – get your butt to rim is what he says. Protecting the rim was my goal, and the blocked shots were the result."
 
On Future: "My goal the last three years is to play professionally, and that was part of the reason I came to Eastern Washington. What happens with that happens, but for now it's about spending time with my family and resting. It's been a long year. I've been avoiding helping with the planning (of his wedding on April 8) with all our team travel, but now it's full bore toward that."
 
 

 
Felix Von Hofe Comments

 
On His Eastern Experience: "Basketball is such a minute part of what we do as people here. As I look back on four years and everything I've experienced, basketball and the records are going to be a little side piece of it. We'll try not to mention it took Tyler a little over two years to set the 3-point record, and it took me four – and I just scraped in there to get it. Winning games and the sport of basketball is fun, but the relationships we create with one another and the community involvement is what I'm going to miss. It's not an emotion where it's potentially the last basketball game I've played, but it's that the next team event I'll be attending is Jake Wiley's wedding and that is a little bit away. That's what I'm going to be miss. I'll be with them this spring and we'll be lifelong friends. Just being a part of college sports is an amazing experience and I'm not going to forget anything about it."
 
On Emotions of How Community Embraced Him: "It's tough, it really is . . . it's not very often you catch me at a loss for words. I love everybody in this town and the way they embraced me. I talk a lot, kid around and socialize with as many people as I can, but the community wrapped its arms around that and allowed me to be myself for four years. I can never repay what they gave me. Coach Hayford is a big part of that – he never tried to change any part of me whether it be good or bad, he just let me be me."

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