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Who's Bret Vandergard and what's he done for us lately? [DDSCB3]

Started By PointGuard, Apr 03, 2014 06:50 PM

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#1

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This dynasty report will be written from the perspective of several individuals (rather than from the perspective of the head coach). Each of these individuals will be identified at the beginning of his/her posting for this dynasty.

Initial season: 2013-2014

Initial program: Eastern Washington Eagles. Team prestige--16, Big Sky Conference prestige--28, Facilities--C, Academics--C- (Min SAT of 860), Reese Court (6,000 capacity).

Initial Recruiting level: Normal

#2

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Torbern “Swede” Olaffson, AD for Eastern Washington University:

After years and years of basketball mediocrity at Eastern Washington University, it's time for our school to stop residing at or near the bottom of the Big Sky Conference standings. I arrived here in Cheney, Washington 3 years ago. While there isn’t much pressure on me from the university’s administration, I’d like to move up to a more prestigious college and if I don’t turn things around here, that desire is unlikely to come to fruition. Therefore, immediately after the end of the 2013 season, I fired head coach Dawes Johnson who stumbled along to a 54-89 record during his 5 years of collecting a check without doing a lot of work.

The finances for Washington state colleges (other than for the University of Washington and Washington State University) are miniscule, which certainly partially accounts for our long pattern of losing records. But that just means I have more of a challenge in finding a coach who I can hire at a bare minimum salary for Division I but who will be hungry and innovative enough to turn things around for us.

I spend March researching coaches as various levels and get in touch with many of them for initial phone interviews, but eventually narrow down my search to 4 viable candidates who I interview in April:

(1) Turner Covington has been an assistant coach at Oregon State, so he has some good experience helping to make one of the Pac-12’s schools with lower budgets at least competitive. But when he visits Cheney, Washington and our college, he’s not impressed by our facilities or what we can offer for a salary. Erase one candidate.

(2) Robinson Williams has been a head coach at Johnson C. Smith College in Charlotte, NC. While his record at that Division II school has been hot and cold, his experience at a historically black college could help us get access to a wider cross-section of players. We have a couple of very good meetings and I think we have a chance, but ultimately he feels won’t fit in well in Cheney, a small town in a very rural area of eastern Washington State. Two down, two to go.

(3) Tony Carpelli has regularly had one of the best high school teams in Washington state. His teams have always been at or near the top of their league and he’s had excellent results in state basketball tournaments, winning two state championships. I’ve got no doubt he could recruit well within the state of Washington, but he wants complete independence with no interference from me, the athletic department, or the administration. Reluctantly I pass on him since that seems like a recipe for ultimate disaster. Things are getting tense.

(4) Bret Vandergard was a great player at Lyndon High School in northwest Washington State and at Pacific Lutheran University, an NAIA school in a suburb of Tacoma, Washington. After graduation, Vandergard immediately went into coaching, serving as an assistant coach at Portland State University for 2 years, at the University of Idaho for 3 years, and then the University of California San Diego for the past 2 years. He’s gained extensive experience from several very good head coaches, but has yet to prove himself on his own. Ultimately, he’s probably the least well-prepared of any of my final candidates. But Brett is ready to take on a challenge and should fit in well at the school and the community…and…he’s willing to accept a 3-year contract for an $80,000 annual salary. I hire him in late April 2013 and set 2 goals for the 2013-2014 season (finish in the Top 3 in the conference, win at least 10 games). Since we’ve already filled all of our scholarships, he just needs to become familiar with his players. Brett tells me he wants to clean house, so he fires all assistant coaches and hires 3 new ones. All three are relatively young, but he’s familiar with all three. Since their salaries are very low, the remaining budget for recruiting is $82,000.

[Aside—Background on Bret Vandergard: 28 yr old; Annual Salary $80,000 (3 year contract); Ambition: Avg; Academics: High; Discipline: High; Temper: Low; Integrity: High; Offense-26; Defense-27; Recruiting-35; Scouting-28; Player Development-34; Reputation-10.]

#3

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Christine Rozniak, City Council member and realtor:

I just met the new basketball coach at EWU and he’s agreed to have me help him find a house. With just over 10,000 residents in the town of Cheney (the population is matched by the 10,000 students who are in the area during the school year), he won’t have a lot of competition for houses that are on the market. Not only aren’t there that many people, but most are pretty much staying put in whatever living arrangement they have set up. And…the median income for a household is $22,500 in Cheney and 31% of the population is below the poverty line. While it doesn’t seem the coach has much of a bank account, his income of $80,000 certainly places him in the upper crust of this town. Since the cost of living isn't too high around here, he should qualify for a good-sized loan. I’m hoping he wants one of the nicer homes that tend to stay on the market a long time here (well, don’t all realtors want that?). :rolleyes:

I’ve had to educate Bret about the town. Cheney has long been a railroad center and is named after Northern Pacific railroad baron, Benjamin P. Cheney. Our economy is primarily based upon agriculture, education, and the railroad. Historically, just north of Cheney the Battle of Four Lakes occurred in 1858 between U.S. Army and a confederation of the Coeur d’Alene, Spokane, Palouse, and Northern Paiute tribes. The army was better armed with the latest weaponry (not an unusual happening during the period of the Indian Wars, right?) and after a 4-day battle, the Native Americans were forced to sue for peace, after which they were sent to reservations. The town is located in rolling hills about 15 miles from Spokane, Washington. The population is young and white (82%). Just 4% of the population is African American which may make recruiting a bit more difficult for our new coach. The weather is hot and dry in the summer and cold, windy and snowy in the winter. Fairchild Air Force Base is located 7 miles outside the town.

Oh, Bret just texted me that he’s ready to look at some homes. :) It’s always good to get new people coming to Cheney, especially when they are young, tall, good-looking, and making a good salary. OK, OK, now now…I’m not THAT much older than him and my divorce WAS finalized 18 months ago. ;)

#4

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Jamal Smith, 1st assistant coach:

What a surprise ta get a call from Bret Vandergard and be asked to be one a his assistants. I first met Bret when he came down to a basketball camp in New Orleans where I was workin'. He came inta camp under the radar. West coast high schoolers don’t get much publicity in the southeast U.S. But he quickly showed he was not only a very good player, but a guy who listened carefully and watched intently, learnin' from the coaches and other players, and then workin' hard ta put what he found out inta action. It was easy ta form a strong bond with such a talented and focused kid. Although mah career never went far, we continued ta communicate by phone and over the internet. But I hadn’t seen him hide nor hair of him in near on 12 years.

When he called, he said he needed a recruitin' assistant and wanted me. I had ta ask where Eastern Washington University was, but after a short conversation (and me nearly dropping the phone when he said he wanted me ta be his FIRST assistant coach), I hopped on board the “Eagle Express”, packed my bags and family, and drove us all over 2000 miles in our old car ta come ta the smallest town I’ve ever lived.

Bret had already had a realtor find a couple homes that could accommodate mah wife Jacinda, our 3 kids and myself. We opted ta rent one of those homes, knowin' that assistant coaching jobs can quickly evaporate. Fortunately mah wife was able ta get a transfer from one government job ta another and is now workin' at Fairchild Air Base, so her commute is no problem at all.

The kids were bummed ta have ta move at the end of a school year, but by the time school starts here late this August, they should feel fine 'bout things since we’ve got them inta activities here already.

But you’d probably like ta know more 'bout the basketball program than mah family.

The basketball program is definitely a work in progress. More ta the point, I think it’s been a work in decay the past several years so almost anything is up fer EWU basketball from here.

Fer one thing, we don’t have a single senior on this coming year’s squad. The team will be composed of 5 juniors, 5 sophomores, and 5 freshman. I’m not yet sure who will assume a leadership role on this team, but be damned sure that I’m going ta be pushing a few guys in that direction.

Are any of the 15 guys any good? It’s hard ta tell yet, but I think there are a few that will step ta the forefront and give us a chance to win a few games.
Coach V has assembled a pretty good group of assistants, if I do say so myself.

His 2nd assistant is Lawrence Montgomery. I had never heard of him, but again that’s because he’s from the Pacific Northwest and has primarily been in high school coachin'. He’s 43 years old and blind as a bat (he wears very thick horned rimmed glasses). I don’t think he really has any plans ta jump up in the college coachin' ranks, but from our discussions it seems he places extremely high importance on academics fer our players. He expects players ta comply with directions, but that is tempered with a very laid back approach, so I think players will like him. He knows basketball well within the state and region and how ta evaluate players, so his position as our scout is a natural.

While Coach V was an assistant at Portland State several years ago, he met the man he just hired as 3rd assistant, Kevin Gebbers. I like callin' him Kevin Goobers, but he don't like it none, so I have ta watch mahself. Kevin was assistin' at Montana at the same time. Kevin left coachin' shortly thereafter and only recently returned as head coach at a small community college in Utah. Kevin has a good feel fer all aspects of basketball and should be a key asset fer us.

So that brings us ta the only remainin' assistant…me. I’m 37 years old and love meetin' and talkin' with folks. Mah forte has been (and will be) recruitin'. Most of mah coaching time in college basketball has been for Division II teams so this is a big step up for me. Additionally I have the added challenge of becomin' familiar with life (and customs and interests) in Washington State (where we are mostly likely ta get most of our recruits), and ta a lesser degree within the Western United States. But I'm hopin' they will find my drawl somethin' they will remember. I’d like to say I could pull in a few quality recruits from Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and Alabama, but doubt many will seriously consider coming ta a small program at a remote college so far away from home. I’d really like this position ta lead to a head coach job sometime in the future, but I know I have a lot ta learn and need to develop mah skill level in many areas of the game. As far as academics is concerned, as long as we can sign players who will meet our SAT requirements, ah’m satisfied (particularly if they’re studs).

With no recruitin' to do this first year since no scholarships will be available, I'll be workin' on developin' a good strong network up in this region and also will be workin' hard with the rest of the staff ta whip this team into shape. The staff has coalesced well so I think this is gonna be a fun ride.

Talk with ya'll later.

[Aside: Jamal Smith—(O)20; (D)20; ®39; (S)20; (PD)20; Rep)8; Lawrence Montgomery—(O)20; (D)20; ®20; (S)52; (PD)20; (Rep)9; Kevin Gebbers—(O)25; (D)25; ®25; (S)25; (S)25; (Rep)9.]

#5

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Michael Jackson, player’s parent:

I must say I’m not happy. Our son Shawn was recruited by Coach Dawes Johnson. Dawes made 3 trips to our home and promised that Shawn would be the starting SG for the Eagles this coming year if he signed. Shawn was a big star at Lewis & Clark H.S. in Spokane and had been recruited by highly regarded Gonzaga as well. We based our decision on Johnson’s promise that Shawn would start immediately and get a lot of playing time. If we’d been willing to watch Shawn ride the bench for a year or two, we would have had him accept the Zag’s scholarship offer.

Then at the end of last season, the Eagles fired Johnson. OK, Dawes Johnson certainly hadn't set the world on fire. But who did EWU hire as head coach? Some guy named Bret Vandergard, who’s never been a head coach before, so no experience, no record. Shortly after arriving on campus, Vandergard called and talked with Shawn as well as his mother and me. We pressed him to honor Johnson’s promise. While he said he looked forward to working with Shawn, he would only say that Shawn would get a fair shot at earning the starting spot, but that right now, every position in the starting lineup was up for grabs.

I was pissed and after the call, told Shawn that he should turn down EWU’s scholarship and try to latch on somewhere else. Even though Gonzaga has filled all their scholarships, there were plenty of other schools in the hunt for Shawn and some of them still have available scholarships to fill.

Shawn’s always listened to his mother and me, but this time said he didn’t want to change and that he planned on sticking with the Eagles. That led to a pretty big argument, but he wouldn’t budge.

I plan to call Vandergard and let him know we EXPECT Eastern Washington to honor Johnson’s promise, and if he doesn’t, I will be talking with both Swede Olaffson, the AD, and the university’s president, Clement Morgan. I’m vice president of Valley Bank and we contribute plenty to the university…and that can continue or can be turned off.

#6

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Meaghan Kriley, columnist Spokane Spokesman-Review:

It’s been a long time since Eastern Washington University has had a successful basketball program and even longer since the school has been able to successfully compete with nearby Gonzaga for recruits from the Northwest.

Five years ago Dawes Johnson took over the reigns for the Eagles. He promised a bright future. It seemed as though he was working hard to improve the Eagles’ plight the first couple years, but then it became apparent he was in over his head and didn’t really have a vision that he could implement. His troubles magnified when his players from the class of 2014 rebelled and left the program. Swede Olaffson, EWU’s Athletic Director, finally realized that the Eagles were not going to fly (let alone soar) under Johnson’s tutelage and fired him at the end of the 2013 season.

Surprisingly, Olaffson brought in Bret Vandergard as Johnson’s replacement. Vandergard was a very good high school and collegiate player, but only has a few limited assistant coaching stints on his short resume.

Vandergard didn’t make any promises at the press conference announcing his hiring. He also didn’t lay out a timeline for when he thought this team can regain respectability. Instead he talked about making incremental change. He began that by hiring of a whole new assistant coaching staff. Only one of those new coaches has any collegiate head coaching experience (and that at a community college). So Eastern Washington will be led by a group of relatively young coaches with little experience.

To make matters worse, they will be leading a team with no seniors on the squad. Since no scholarships will be available to be filled at the end of the 2013-2014 campaign, no new blood can be brought in by the new regime until the end of their second season at the helm.

So the question arises: Can Coach Bret Vandergard spin some magic and make the changes at Eastern Washington to make them a power in the Big Sky Conference or will they continue to be conference doormats?

#7

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Jamal Smith, 1st assistant coach:

We have a coaches’ plannin' weekend soon after all ah us are settled in Cheney. Coach V believes in developin' a battle plan as a group, so we all feel as though we have a lot ah input. This year will be focused on tryin' tah develop all ah the players on the squad, since we won’t have any new players comin' in next year. We agree tah try tah put preconceptions 'bout any ah the players aside so we can fairly evaluate the skills, weaknesses, an' potential ah each player before we make decisions about a startin' lineup or playin' time. We also will be tryin' tah create a cohesive team attitude. While we definitely want tah win games, the win-loss record won’t be a major focus this year. This will be a buildin' year (sort ah like a re-buildin' year, I guess).

We have a boatload ah recruiting money an' nothin' tah purchase with it. All 13 scholarships are locked up by freshman, sophomore an' junior players. Coach V tells me he wants tah treat 2013-2014 as a learnin' process an; has secured the concurrence ah AD Olaffson tah do just just that. That means we'll spend money on reports, goin' tah summer camps, an' takin' actions with recruits as if we were gonna make some offers. He feels that will help both him an' me tah get our feet on the ground an' learn some things 'bout recruitin' at this level plus begin tah know the area, the high school coaches, an' keep our eyes on some high school players who aren’t yet seniors. After bein' worried I would just be sittin' around this year, I’m all over it an' begin tah put together a plan.

We'll buy the Western an' National basic reports. We also will be travelin' tah all the camps we can: the Indy Elite, the Las Vegas Revue, The Houston Classic (a big easy smile from me), the Chicago Prep Revue, The Memphis Hoop Revue (another big smile from me), an' the Big Apple Showcase.

We’re gonna focus on players from the Northwest though, since that way we can more quickly build a network in what will be our primary huntin' grounds in years tah come.

My main task will be tah get tah know people who can provide us with “ins” tah high school (an' community college) programs in future years. In addition, I'm tah try out some recruitin' techniques tah see how my southern style works up here an' how I have tah tune it up some tah fit the Pacific Northwest lifestyle an' attitudes.

Coach V also wants me involved in player development an' scoutin' as the season progresses, which is good news tah me.

Meanwhile Coach V puts 2nd assistant, Lawrence “Larry” Montgomery, in charge ah academics for the team. Larry immediately gets tutors for the 5 most likely players tah have academic problems: freshmen Tim Dove an' Don Watson plus juniors Robbie Taflinger, Delawn West, an' Michael Taylor. Unlike me, Larry really believes in the “student athlete” so he’s a good choice for this task.

Coach V an' 3rd assistant Kevin “Goober” Gebbers then begin devisin' practice an' game strategies.

#8

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Kevin Gebbers, 3rd assistant coach:

Man, I like this staff! (Although I’m not really a fan of Jamal’s nickname of Goober for me). There are no prima donnas and we’re bonding and working well together. We’re all enjoying the new challenge.

After the coaching staff weekend, Coach V and I sit down to discuss offensive and defensive strategies and how we will work on these in practice (when it starts later this year).

Defense is definitely a weak point for the entire squad whereas it seems as though we may have some good board-pounders and reasonably good passing skills, although our inside players need to work on ball-handling.

The two main offenses will be “motion” and “triangle”. Motion is a completely new offense for all players whereas the returning sophomores and juniors had some experience with the triangle offense in previous years here.

Because of our defensive inadequacies, we will rely extensively on “man-to-man”. Since some of the players have experience with the “1-3-1 zone” (from last year), we will continue to work on that defense while not employing it much. We won’t press a great deal, but when we do it will be “man to man”.

We’ll start out with a “balanced” attack with 70% offense sets during games, although that may change as the year progresses depending on how our players perform.

#9

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Jamal Smith, 1st Assistant Coach:

Some notes on this year’s “recruiting” actions:

Indy Elite Camp—Just 12 players on our recruit list at this camp. We sway no one towards EWU, butthis camp has some great players, so I’m hopin’ that we can attend next year when it’ll really mean somethin’ tah us.

Las Vegas Revue—31 players at this camp who are on our recruit list. This is the big one for us. Again I don’t think we get anyone tah jump aboard the Eagle Express, but we get tah do some quick evaluations an’ comparisons of a lot ah players who in a normal year, we MIGHT be able tah interest in EWU. This year we’re getting’ recruits with rankin’s over 500 tah show interest, but a lack ah interest from those recruits with rankin’s below 500. But the next week a recruit from nearby Idaho who is ranked #202 begins showin’ interest.

Houston Classic—It was fun going down there, because I met up with some people I know, but a waste for us in the future.

Chicago Classic—Not worth our time or money for the future.

In mid-July we get the 42nd an’ 67th nationally ranked players interested in EWU. They’re from Montana an’ Hawaii respectively.

School Visits—these go pretty well for Washington recruits, but very difficult tah entice out-ah-staters tah come to Cheney. Some recruits aren’t too excited by the town or the facilities, so hopefully we can get the administration tah upgrade our facilities sometime soon.

Our phone call campaign is goin’ no where fast…hard tah get the better recruits to give us the time ah day.

Memphis Hoops Summit—Had a great time in Memphis, but no one down here gives a damn ‘bout some college up in Washington they never heard of.

Big Apple Showcase—More of the same, no way tah get these players interested in our program an’ they hardly know where Washington state is located, let alone Cheney. Ya know you’re in trouble when a gangly kid (Wayne somebody) comes up an’ after finding out where Eastern Washington is located, asks, “Oh, was the town named after the Vice President?” A 17-yr old who knows there was a VP named Cheney an’ knows the name of a Republican VP—obviously the kid’s headed tah an Ivy League school.

Home visits in September and early October generally go well. We got a #39 ranked SG from Nevada, a #127 ranked PG from Idaho, a #196 ranked PF from California, a #363 ranked SG from Arizona, a #843 ranked SF from Washington, a #846 SG from California, and a #971 ranked PG from Washington very interested as the result ah the home visits. But of course, we couldn’t seal the deal since we had no scholarships tah offer.

With that, we end our recruiting efforts for this year…sort of a dry run for next year.

#10

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Larry Montgomery, 2nd assistant coach:

Summer tutoring progressed slowly…by mid summer there didn’t seem to be much improvement, so we continued the tutoring.

By the end of summer, just 3 players had GPA’s too close to 2.0, so tutoring was continued for Tim Dove, Robbie Taflinger, and Michael Taylor.

As we headed into practice in October, just one player had not improved his GPA and remained on tutoring: Robbie Taflinger.

#11

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Torbern “Swede” Olaffson, Athletic Director:

Coach V wasn’t happy with the schedule I was able to put together. Just 2 of 11 pre-conference games at home. But I just couldn’t find schools that were willing to come to Cheney this year. Additionally our prestige, which has been declining in recent years, didn’t help entice opponents to travel to play us here.

@ Stephen F. Austin
@ Utah St.
@ Savannah St.
@ Bethune-Cookman
@ Lafayette
TULSA
@ Citadel
@ Cal-Irvine
@ Quinnipiac
@ Cornell
CLEMSON

#12

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Kevin Gebbers, 3rd assistant coach:

Practice in October and early November has gone well. We’ve had a few minor player problems, but we’ve been able to handle them at a low level.

We decide to redshirt one player, SF Don Watson, a 6-6 freshman. He should benefit from some seasoning plus avoid getting splinters from sitting on the bench. While he’s disappointed, he’s accepted the decision as something that ultimately should benefit him.

#13

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Clement Morgan, University President:

Michael Jackson, the father of Shawn Jackson, has been continually calling and writing with complaints that “promises” by the previous coach aren’t being honored. He expects that his son should be assured of a starting position as he says Dawes Johnson promised. His complaints border on harassment at this point, and include threats that donations from his bank and others may be ended.

I’ve spoken with Bret Vandergard about it. It sounds like Shawn Jackson is really a very good player and very likely may EARN a starting role. But the coach wishes to wait until the season starts to announce the starters. I’m supportive of him so will have to endure calls from his father, at least for a while. Swede Olaffson, our AD, agrees that we can’t allow parents to begin calling the shots for our athletic programs. And at this point, we can’t reconstruct what Dawes Johnson may have said or how he may have said it...or how Michael Jackson may have interpreted what he said.

#14

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Potato-Pickin’-Paul in his blog, “Eagle Flight”:

Hey folks, Eastern Washington is hoping to turn over a new leaf with Coach Bret Vandergard at the helm. Earlier today, Coach Vandergard named his starters to kick off the 2013-2014 season. It’s a very young team, so there’s no way to know just how this team will do this year.

Here’s the players who will take the court for the season tip-off against Stephen F. Austin:

At PG: TIM DOVE, 6-1 freshman from Odessa, Washington (3.5/4.0)
At SG: SHAWN JACKSON, 6-4 freshman from Spokane, Washington (3.0/4.5)
At SF: TERRENCE HILLIER, 6-7 sophomore from Zilah, Washington (3.0/4.0)
At PF: CORY DAVIS, 6-9 freshman from Tonasket, Washington (3.0/3.5)
At C: JOSEPH PALMER, 6-8 junior from Pullman, Washington (3.0/3.5)

Coming off the bench will be:

PG ROBBIE TAFLINGER, 6-5 junior from Tacoma, Washington (2.0/3.0)
SG BRIAN ROBISCH, 6-4 junior from Eatonville, Washington (1.5/3.0)
SG WILL DAVIS, 6-1 freshman from from Mabton, Washington (1.0/4.0)
SF JOE BLACKWELL, 6-3 sophomore from Vancouver, Washington (2.5/4.0)
SF TRAVIS DAWSON,6-8 sophomore from Port Orchard, Washington (3.0/2.5)
SF DELAWN WEST, 6-6 junior from Washougal, Washington (2.0/3.5)
PF BRIAN DEARMAN, 6-8 sophomore from Kennewick, Washington (2.5/2.5)
C ODIE JOSEPH, 6-9 sophomore from Spokane, Washington (2.0/3.0)
C MICHAEL TAYLOR, 6-10 junior from Ocean Shores, Washington (2.0/2.0)

Redshirting this year:

SF DON WATSON, 6-6 freshman from Renton, Washington (1.0/4.0)

It’s surprising that Coach Vandergard has opted to start 3 freshman. He says that all positions were open at the beginning of practice and all positions were hotly contested, but that those named as starters won those battles. Now they just have to produce to keep their starting roles.

[Note: numbers in parentheses were not actually part of the Eagle Flight blog, but were added solely for those familiar with DDSCB3 who are reading this dynasty thread.]

#15

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Meaghan Kriley, Spokane Spokesman-Review Columnist:

The Big Sky Conference media association released the results of the polling of its members predicting the final Big Sky standings this season. Here’s the results of the poll:

1. North Dakota Fightin’ Sioux
2. Southern Utah Thunderbirds
3. Northern Colorado Bears
4. Northern Arizona Lumberjacks
5. Idaho Vandals
6. Sacramento State Hornets
7. Montana State Bobcats
8. Portland State Vikings
9. Eastern Washington Eagles
10. Idaho State Bengals
11. Weber State Wildcats
12. Montana Grizzlies

Coach Bret Vandergard said he wasn’t surprised that his team was expected to finish near the bottom of the pack, but he hoped that the Eagles would provide some surprises. “The guys had practiced well this fall and have to coalesce as a team. They’re excited to begin play. Since we’ve got a very young team, they have a lot to learn. But we’ll work on eliminating mistakes and improving individual skills and teamwork.”

Vandergard expects to use a deep bench. His team will be tested early as they play 9 of their 11 pre-conference games on the road plus their first conference game is against Big Sky favorite, North Dakota.

Center Joseph Palmer has been named team captain. Palmer said, “Practices were tough this year and since no one was assured of a starting position, the competition was intense.”

#16

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Jamal Smith, 1st assistant coach:

Game #1, Nov. 15, 2013: Eastern Washington Eagles (0-0) at Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks (0-0)

The Lumberjacks run a slow-paced offense. While their primary offense set is the 5-out, they play with a lot of offensive freedom and try to work the ball inside. Defensively they primarily employ a man-to-man defense. SG Kevin Bryant and C Charlie Turner are their go-to guys.

The first half was a disaster for us, as the Lumberjacks built a 51-29 halftime lead. So much for them running a slow-down offense. I chewed out the team during the intermission since they were out-rebounded 21-5 and gave up 11 offensive rebounds to Stephen F. Austin resulting in 19 second chance points and 28 points in the paint. We hit 54% of our shots, but the Lumberjacks dropped in 57% of theirs. Michael Taylor came off the bench to lead our scoring with 8 points.

We shot well and cut the lead to 7 points at 67-60 with 7 minutes to play. With 1:39 to play the score was 80-75. But we turned the ball over twice from that point and were unable to score again.

Final Score: Stephen F. Austin (1-0)—80, Eastern Washington (0-1)—75.

Team stats:

FG %: 67% (29-45) vs 47% (29-62) in favor of EWU
FT %: 88% (15-17) vs 76% (19-25) in favor of EWU
3 pt %: 43% (3-7) vs 40% (2-5) in favor of SFA
Reb: 30 (including 16 offensive reb) vs 19 in favor of SFA [ouch!]
Turnovers: 9 vs 14 in favor of SFA [Argh!]
Blocks: 3 vs 2 in favor of EWU
Steals: 5 vs 2 in favor of SFA
Assists: 11 vs 10 in favor of EWU
Fouls: 19 vs 24 in favor of SFA
Pts in paint: 42 vs36 in favor of SFA
2nd chance pts: 25 vs 3 in favor of SFA [Ouch!!]
Fast break pts: 16 vs 4 in favor of SFA [Ouch!!]
Biggest lead: 24 vs 2 in favor of SFA [Ouch!!!]
Lead changes: 4
Times tied: 3

Leading Eagles’ players: C Michael Taylor—15 points, 5 rebounds; PG Robbie Taflinger—10 points; PF Cory Davis—9 points; and PG Tim Dove—4 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists.

Stephen F. Austin’s SG Kevin Bryant was the player of the game with 18 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 assists.

#17

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Kevin Gebbers, 3rd Asst Coach:

The entire coaching staff was disappointed about being completely dominated on the boards and the advantages it gave to the Lumberjacks. Coach V was incensed and ranting. He pulled me aside to say he wanted complete focus in the coming week’s practices on gaining and maintaining position, boxing out, anticipating, and aggressively attacking the boards. He wants a “take no prisoners” attitude with respect to rebounding.

The only player whose stock rose tonight was Michael Taylor. He attacked the boards and didn't hesitate to put he ball up and into the hoop. But that was somewhat tempered by his turning the ball over 4 times. He's a big guy (6-10) but needs to protect the ball.

#18

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Article in Easterner Online (student newspaper):

Game #2, Nov. 18, 2013: Eastern Washington Eagles (0-1) at Utah State Aggies (1-0)

The Eagles traveled to Logan, Utah to play their second straight game on the road at the start of their 2013-2014 campaign. The Eagles had to contend with LaVall Cleaver, Utah State’s power forward, who had scored 26 points in the Aggies season opening win plus had their first look at playing against a 1-2-2 zone defense.

After falling behind by 6 points early in the game due to frequent turnovers, the Eagles rallied to take a small lead. But then the turnover bug returned (14 in the half) and Utah State ran away to take a 46-27 lead at the break.

Shawn Jackson hit 5 of 6 shots to lead the Eagles’ scoring with 10 points, but picked up 3 fouls.

Utah State’s shooting sizzled in the 2nd half and the Aggies pulled steadily away to come away with a 91-59 victory.

Even though the Eagles’ rebounding improved from their weak performance in their first game, the Aggies still controlled the boards to the tune of 30-21. And while EWU took better care of the ball in the 2nd half, they still finished with 21 turnovers while the Aggies made just 12.

Freshman SG Shawn Jackson topped the Eagles’ scoring with 14 points. He said, “I felt a lot more confident than in my first game, and my shots were going down tonight. I got into foul trouble in the first half, but Coach gave me some hints and I was able to get through the 2nd half without fouling. But even though I had a better game, it all was negated by our getting trounced so badly.”

Coach Vandergard attributed the loss to a porous defense, saying, “We’ve got a lot of aspects of the game to work on and the Aggies took advantage of our inexperience to dominate all aspects of the game. Our big guys are going to have to step it up a notch. In both losses our opponents’ big men have scored nearly at will and totally dominated the boards plus we’ve been unable to cut off drives down the lane and along the baseline. But it also shows how difficult it is to play on the road.”

PG Robbie Taflinger twisted an ankle in the 2nd half and sat out the rest of the game as a precaution, but is expected to be back at 100% for the Eagles next game.

Final Score: Utah State (2-0)—91, Eastern Washington (0-2)—59.

Team stats:

FG %: 62% (40-65) vs 48% (28-58) in favor of Utah St.
FT %: 100% (7-7) vs 100% (3-3) in favor of Utah St.
3 pt %: 57% (4-7) vs 0% (0-4) in favor of Utah St.
Reb: 30 (including 9 offensive reb) vs 21 (including 8 offensive reb) in favor of Utah St.
Turnovers: 12 vs 21 in favor of Utah St.
Blocks: 5 vs 0 in favor of Utah St.
Steals: 8 vs 6 in favor of Utah St.
Assists: 19 vs 16 in favor of Utah St.
Fouls: 11 vs 13 in favor of Utah St.
Pts in paint: 56 vs 42 in favor of Utah St.
2nd chance pts: 16 vs 14 in favor of Utah St.
Fast break pts: 22 vs 16 in favor of EWU
Biggest lead: 44 vs 3 in favor of Utah St.
Lead changes: 7
Times tied: 2

Leading Eagles’ players: SG Shawn Jackson-14 pts, 1 reb, 4 assists, 2 steals; C Odie Joseph-9 pts, 2 reb; SF Cory Davis-6 pts, 3 reb, 2 assists, 1 steal.

Utah State’s PF LaVall Cleaver was the player of the game with 22 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal.

#19

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Christine Rozniak, City Council member and realtor:

*DIALS*

B: “Hello.”
C: “Hi Bret. This is Christine. We haven’t talked since your house purchase closed escrow, so I thought I’d better check to see how things were going with your home.”
B: “Ohhh, uh yeah Christine, nice of you to check on it. I still need to buy some more furniture and decorating isn’t my thing, so the walls are still rather bare. But I DO like the house and it’s feeling comfortable.”
C: “I’m glad to hear that Bret. It’s a great house. I really think you made the best choice. And sometimes bare is better than over-dressing…the walls. You know, this week has just been horrendous. I had 2 house deals fall through and there’s this big fight going on in the city council, so I have 2 council members accusing me of all kinds of things.”
B: “I’m really sorry to hear that. My week didn’t go so well either with us dropping both of our games.”
C: “Yes, I’ve been following your team, Bret. I’m sure you will get them playing well soon though. But I imagine the beginning of the season has been a little disappointing for you. With the kind of week we both have had, maybe we should go out and get a good dinner or something to lift our spirits.”
B: “Umm, well, uhhh…………….hmmm…well, yeah I guess we could.”
C: “There’s this nice restaurant I’ve been to a couple times in Spokane. Do you like Thai? (laughs)”
B: “Uhhh, Christine, isn’t that pronounced Thai rather than Thigh? But if you like it, I’m sure it’s good. I’ve sort of tried everything in Cheney, and the variety is rather limited. So maybe expanding my tastes and exploring what Spokane has to offer would be a good idea. When would you like to get together?”
C: “Oh, the sooner the better, Bret…how about tomorrow night at 7 pm?”
B: “Sure Christine. Practice will be over by then so that’ll work for me.”
C: “Great! Since I know where you live and where the restaurant is located, I’ll pick you up.”
B: “Well yeah, that would probably be best…plus you have a much nicer car.”
C: “It is nice, isn’t it! I just love how it looks and drives and the seats are so comfy.”
B: “I’m sort of in the middle of watching some game films right now and I better get back to it. So Christine, I’ll see you tomorrow night then.”
C: “Great! I look forward to showing you more…of Spokane.”

#20

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Sunan, waiter at Bangkok Garden Restaurant:

Ms Rozniak is back at our restaurant. She’s been here several times. She’s a good customer, so we give her the table she likes in the back corner. She’s always been a good tipper, so I’m happy to be able to wait on her table.

Tonight she’s with some tall guy, and she’s really dressed sexy…a slinky dress with lots of cleavage. She seems to be making most of the decisions about drinks and food. But I guess that is because she’s been here fairly often, and he seems not to know anything about the restaurant or our menu.

The guy hasn’t said much to me at all and he seems sort of ill at ease, but she’s particularly bubbly. Maybe that’s because she’s downed several drinks. Towards the end of the dinner, she introduces me to him (Bret Van-something) and says he is the new basketball coach at Eastern Washington. He gives me a business card and writes on the back of it, telling me “If you want to see our team play, just bring this card to the ticket office and they’ll provide you with tickets for two good seats.”

As they get up to leave, she wobbles slightly and giggles, then takes his arm to steady herself while saying, “Bret, I really have had too much to drink so I think you better take control…of the car and drive us back to Cheney.”

She leaves a VERY nice tip. The valet later tells me he also got a good tip and a nice view. We get better tips than the valets, but there are other benefits to being a valet.




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