Whitworth men: Talent-rich Pirates ready for the nation’s best
Whitworth head coach Matt Logie has often produced one of the most offensively sound teams in the country.
The 2018-19 edition of the Pirates, who return all five starters from last year’s Northwest Conference tournament championship team, could be the best yet.
“Offensively, we’re deeper than we’ve ever been,” said Logie, whose team checked in at No. 6 in the D3Hoops.com national preseason poll.
Reigning conference MVP Kyle Roach spearheads an experienced Whitworth squad that put up 85 points a game last season, and is looking to atone for a upset loss to Claremont-Mudd-Scripps in the first round of the NCAA Division III Tournament.
But first it will have to get through fourth-ranked conference rival Whitman, the defending NWC regular season champion and national quarterfinalist.
A nonconference slate that includes three top-25 programs – St. Olaf, Johns Hopkins and Emory & Henry – will also help prepare Whitworth for a deep tournament run.
“Everybody knows what the other does, and how that benefits the team,” Logie said of his team’s chemistry. “There’s definitely a sense of urgency.”
Roach, who averaged 18.7 points, 5.2 rebounds and four assists, cemented his spot among the Whitworth greats when he drilled a buzzer-beating 3-pointer last season that took down Whitman in the conference tournament title game.
The Marinwood, California, product has talented company in the backcourt in Ben College (16.5 ppg), who shot a scorching 44 percent from 3-point range, and Garrett Hull (10 ppg), who led the Pirates in steals with 63.
College and Hull both earned All-NWC distinction last season.
“Arguably, we now have five all-conference-level players,” said Logie. “But we have a lot of room for growth, defensively.”
One of them is Jordan Lester, who started the first nine games last season before going down with a season-ending knee injury. The transfer from Division I Robert Morris averaged 15.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.6 assists.
Former Ferris High star Jared Christy (12.8 ppg, 9 rpg) is a proven big man, twice earning second-team All-NWC honors.
He’s joined inside by fellow returning starter Ben Bishop, a 6-foot-8 Olympia native whose length has boosted the Pirates on the defensive end.
Former Lewis and Clark guard Isaiah Hernandez, guard Sam Lees and forward Kevin Crosno, all of whom averaged more than 12 minutes a game last season, will continue to provide depth.
Logie also likes what he sees so far in freshman guards Garrett Paxton and Rowan Anderson.
Logie, 37, has posted an impressive 173-29 record in seven seasons at Whitworth, a winning percentage (.856) which ranks No. 1 among active NCAA Division III head coaches who’ve coached at least five years.