Road Play Ends In Toughest of Places
Men's basketball to play final regular season road game when they face league-leaders on Senior Day.
Feb. 14, 2014
SPOKANE, Wash. -- LMU men's basketball will head to the Pacific Northwest for their final regular season road trip of 2014, starting with the University of Portland on Thursday, Feb. 13 at 7 pm. The Pilots (13-11, 5-7) have not played since Wednesday, Feb. 5 where they fell to Gonzaga in Spokane, while the Lions (11-14, 3-10) are coming off the homestand last weekend. The game can be seen on TheW.tv and heard on KXLU 88.9 FM.
INSIDE THE LIONS
Senior Anthony Ireland continues to pace the Lions in all areas of the floor, putting the final marks on his record-setting career, putting himself in even more elite company in the LMU record book. He has not missed a game in his career, playing in his school record 126th against Portland while earning his 119th start, also a record. With his 15 points, five rebounds and six assists on Thursday, Ireland became the only Lion in LMU history with at least 2,000 career points, 500 career rebounds, 500 career assists and 150 career steals. He is the only active player in the NCAA to have hit those milestones and there are only three active players in Division I basketball (Kendall Williams - New Mexico; Chaz Williams - UMass; Shabazz Napier - UConn) to have 1,500 points, 500 assists and 150 steals. As of Feb. 13 he is second in the league at 18.4 ppg (71st nationally), second in assists at 5.46 (39th nationally) and second in steals at 1.65. With 478 points (ranked 35th in the NCAA as of Feb. 9), 142 assists (ranked 25th) and 43 steals (ranked 66th) in 2013-14, Ireland now ranks fourth in points with 2,054 (needing just six to tie Forrest McKenzie for third), third in assists with 526 and second in steals at 190.
While Ireland has been a mainstay in the Lions' line-up the last four seasons, playing short-handed is nothing new for the Lions in the six seasons under Head Coach Max Good. Freshman Nino Jackson, who has been out after a severe ankle sprain prior to the game against UC Riverside on Dec. 2, has withdrawn from the University and is no longer with the program due to personal reasons. Sophomore transfer Ben Dickinson missed the game on Jan. 18 against Gonzaga and also remains out indefinitely for personal reasons. Junior Chase Flint, who had played in 42 games as a Lion with 24 starts, suffered a broken elbow against Portland on Jan. 16 and will be out the rest of the season. He is the third former starter to be lost for the season in 2013-14 due to injury. Combined with freshman Patson Siame's year of residency, the Lions will play this weekend with just seven scholarship players. Entering the Gonzaga game, key players have missed 53 games this season due to injury, including Flint's seven games, Godwin Okonji (leg suffered in car accident prior to practice on Oct. 20, see LMULions.com for more) for the entire season (26 games) and senior Ayodeji Egbeyemi (hip) the last 18 games. The two seniors will look to apply for a medical redshirt and the end of the season. Freshman Gabe Levin also missed two games with a shoulder injury. The Lions have had nine starting line-ups this year, second only to Good's first season in 2008-09 for fewest line-ups. A year ago the Lions had 10 different starting line-ups as key players missed 30 games. In 2011-12 when they won 21 games, the Lions featured 11 starting line-ups but had key players miss just 25 games, the fewest in Good's tenure. In 2010-11 they had 15 line-ups with players missing 63 games. In 2009-10 in which the Lions had 18 wins, they had 10 line-ups with the second fewest missed games, 26. And in his first season, the Lions were down to six scholarship players at one point and key players missed 68 games.
Freshman Evan Payne led the Lions with 21 points against Portland, his fifth 20-point game and 20th double-digit scoring game of the season. The program mark for 20-point games for a freshman is six while the record for double-digit games is 21 held by Luther Philyaw (1972-73). He scored 25 points against Pacific in the first meeting on Jan. 23, second only to his 27 points against BYU in the first meeting. The 27 points is tied for the fourth best by a freshman in LMU History and his 25 is tied for eighth. The BYU game was the first of conference, making the point total the most ever by an LMU freshman in his first WCC game and the third-most by an LMU player in his conference debut. Payne now has 390 points on the season and is second all-time for freshman scoring in a season. He can become just the second Lion in LMU history to score 400 points in his opening season. His 15.0 ppg is ranked ninth in the WCC and would set the LMU freshman record for ppg in a season.
Freshman Gabe Levin went for his freshman record fifth double-double against Pacific on Jan. 23 with 12 points and 10 rebounds. He is one of just five freshman to have multiple double-doubles in their debut season at LMU. He has grabbed 14 rebounds in a single game three times already this season. Heading into the game against Gonzaga, Levin has 175 rebounds and is ranked second all-time for a freshman. In addition, he has 30 blocks on the year, ranking 13th in LMU history for blocks in a season by any player, and his 1.25 bpg is ranked 6th within the WCC this season. His rebound average of 7.3 is ranked seventh in the WCC and would also set the LMU freshman record of rpg in a season.
The Lions enter the week second behind Pacific in the WCC and 7th in the NCAA (as of Feb. 9) hitting 75.8 percent on the season from the free throw line. Evan Payne was a perfect 8-for-8 against Portland, raising his average to 83.6 percent on the season, ranked 11th in the WCC. The Lions hit season-high 31-for-37 effort against Pacific (the most since going 32-for-40 against CS Fullerton in the CIT on Mar. 14, 2012).
The Lions have had more turnovers than their opponents just six times in 26 games this season, giving it away just seven times to open WCC play against the Cougars and then a season-low six in the win over Pacific on Jan. 23 (the fewest since five against Portland Jan. 12, 2013). The Lions are averaging just 12.54 turnovers per game this season while leading the league in steals at 7.27 per game. LMU ranks third in the WCC in turnover margin at +1.15. The Lions have averaged under 13 turnovers a game just twice in program history. They averaged just 12.97 in 2009-10 and set the record in 1983-84 at 11.98 per game.
LMU has stayed aggressive despite the depleted roster, heading into the week the Lions are one of the best in the WCC in getting And-1 opportunities. Freshman Evan Payne is tied for the league lead with Saint Mary's Brad Waldow in completing 13 And-1 chances (basket and made free throw). Anthony Ireland is fourth on that list with 11. As a team, the Lions have hit 41 heading into the weekend.
A Grand Finale: Senior Anthony Ireland enters his final season all over the record books at LMU with the projection to do even more. He enters the season as a Preseason All-WCC selection and is:
The Next Step - LA Times
2014 Senior CLASS Award Candidate
Watch-list for the Bob Cousy Award
Preseason Lou Henson Award All-American
WCC Best Player Selection (sbnation and College Hoops Journal)
One of nation's most unknow top players (CBS)
LMU Magazine: "Ice Man"
College Hoops Daily