Bogdan Bliznyuk named Big Sky Player of the Week - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Bogdan Bliznyuk named Big Sky Player of the Week

Photo: Eastern Washington Athletics Photo: Eastern Washington Athletics

By Eastern Washington Athletics

After a 30-point effort in one game and a near triple-double in another, Eastern Washington University men's basketball player Bogdan Bliznyuk has been selected as the Big Sky Conference Men's Basketball Ready Nutrition Player of the Week announced Tuesday (Dec. 19).
It's the first time this season and third time in his career the native of Lutsk, Ukraine, has been honored. He is a 2014 graduate of Todd Beamer High School and was the league's Freshman of the Year in 2014-15 and a second-team All-District 6 and All-Big Sky selection a year ago.
In two games – including an overtime loss at Wyoming and a 28-point NCAA Division I home win, the Big Sky Player of the Year candidate averaged 23.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.5 steals per game. He made 50 percent of his shots overall (15-of-30) and from the 3-point arc (4-of-8), and also made 12-of-15 free throws for 80 percent.
"Bogdan has been the personification of what we want our EWU program to look like," said Eastern head coach Shantay Legans. "He is the perfect student-athlete and deserves all the accolades he is getting. He shows that hard work and determination pays off."
In his most recent game – an 86-58 win over CSUN – Bliznyuk nearly had the second triple-double of his career. He finished with 16 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists as the Matadors never led. Eastern improved to 4-8 on the season by taking command early, and eventually led by double digits the last 27:15 of the game. The only player in school history to have recorded a triple-double, he sank 6-of-12 field goals and all three of his free throws to finish with 16 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists. He also had a pair of steals and a blocked shot. It was his second double-double and 17th of his career, with EWU sporting a 14-3 record in those games.
One game earlier, in a 93-88 overtime loss at 9-3 Wyoming, Bliznyuk led the Eagles with 30 points. His free throw with 33 seconds left gave EWU a 75-69 lead in regulation, but he missed a 3-pointer with five seconds left that could have sent the game into a second overtime. He made 9-of-18 shots overall, 3-of-6 from the 3-point stripe and 9-of-12 free throws to finish with 30 points. He also had four rebounds and three assists.
"We talked about it before the season started that he was going to be double-teamed and he has to make sure he's making the pass," said Legans of Bliznyuk's development as a senior. "He's making the pass and that's exactly what we're looking for. He's doing a great job of leading our players, getting them in the huddle and talking to make sure we are doing everything the right way. He's a great captain."

Bliznyuk has made 44.8 percent of his field goals and 84.2 percent of his free throws (seventh in the Big Sky) thus far to average 17.3 points (eighth in the league) through 12 games. He is also averaging 5.8 rebounds (11th) and 3.1 assists (12th). He now has nine performances in his 115-game career of at least 30 points, 30 with at least 20 and 78 scoring in double figures.
Bliznyuk is now just 167 points from ending what could be a short-lived school record. In 115 career games (15th in school history), Bliznyuk has moved into third in school history in career scoring with a current total of 1,636 points – 105 from second and 167 from the school record. Next on the list is Ron Cox (1,741 from 1974-77) and another former teammate, Venky Jois (school-record 1,803 points from 2013-16). In addition, if Bliznyuk plays 13 more games he will equal the record of 128 set by his former teammate Felix Von Hofe from 2014-17.
On Nov. 8, Bliznyuk was selected to the Lou Henson Award preseason Watch List by, and was one of six players on the preseason All-Big Sky Conference team. The award is presented annually to the nation's top Division I mid-major player, and the initial watch list featured 51 players from across the country.
Bliznyuk concluded his junior season with 701 points, becoming just the fourth player in school history to hit that mark (Jake Wiley, a senior on the 2017-18 squad, ranks fifth in school history with 694). A senior, Bliznyuk was a second team All-Big Sky Conference selection a year ago, and was the league's Freshman of the Year in 2014-15. He also earned second team All-District 6 honors from the National Association of Basketball Coaches. He is formerly from Lutsk, Ukraine, and graduated from Todd Beamer High School in Federal Way, Wash., in 2014.
 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.

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