Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Men’s basketball starts season, NWC coaches take notice

On Saturday, Nov. 6, the men’s basketball team opened its season with a 109-92 loss to the NCAA Division I San Jose State Spartans.

The Missionaries traveled to San Jose to take part in this exhibition game which, according to sophomore Drew Raher, served as a great way for the team to see how they can perform together.

“It was a good learning experience. They are bigger, stronger and faster and it tested us against adversity,” Raher said.

In the loss, the team showed great potential, particularly with regards to three-point shooting. Whitman was 18 of 35 from behind the three-point line, with sophomore Peter Clark draining seven of the three-pointers.

This season the team looks to continue its climb up the rankings in the Northwest Conference. Over the last two seasons the Missionaries have moved up from finishing last in the conference with a 1-15 record in 2007-2008, to finishing tied in fifth place with a 6-10 record last season.

And other teams are taking notice. Whitman has already been ranked fourth in the NWC Coaches Pre-Season Poll. Junior Brandon Shaw sees this ranking as a change in the way the team is viewed within the conference.

“We are on the rise in the eyes of the other coaches,” said Shaw.

To build on the team’s rising standing, the Missionaries look to their experience this year as compared to recent seasons. The team returns seven players who saw time in games last year plus sophomore Ryan Gilkey, who sat out last season due to injuries. The team also welcomes the addition of five newcomers to Whitman.

“The last two years we were young, [but] our experience this year is starting to show,” Shaw said. “We are a lot deeper than the last couple of seasons.”

Not only is the team returning a strong group, but the first-year players are also showing a lot of talent and potential already.

“They are going to have an immediate impact. We need everyone on the team contributing to be successful,” Raher said of the newcomers.

The basketball team is not simply looking to move up in the conference; they want to battle for the top spots. Whitworth, Linfield and Lewis & Clark were voted first, second and third respectively in the pre-season poll. Whitman has failed to defeat all three teams in their meetings in the last few seasons.

Despite a stacked history against the schools predicted to win the conference, Shaw feels that Whitman can compete with the best.

“Our expectations are really high,” said Shaw. “Talent wise we are up there with the top.”

Whitman sees its next action in Portland against Multnomah Bible College and Portland Bible College on November 19-20. The Missionaries open the NWC season in McMinville, Ore. on December 3 against Linfield.

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