Lions Open Tourney with Portland
Men's basketball to open WCC Tournament with the Pilots for the second time in three years and fifth in 10.
March 5, 2013
|GAME:||LMU (8-22, 1-15) vs. Portland (11-20, 4-12)|
|DATE/TIME:||Mar. 6, 2013 // 6:00 p.m. (PST)|
|LOCATION:||Orleans Arena // Las Vegas, NV|
|TV:||BYUtv (Dave McCann, Steve Cleveland, Blaine Fowler)|
|RADIO:||KXLU 88.9 FM (Jesse Kass, Drew Rossi, Chase Lio)|
|MOBILE STATS:||WCC Mobile|
|RESOURCES:||WCC Tourney Central
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. -- The 2013 West Coast Conference Basketball Men's Championships will begin Wednesday, Mar. 6 when LMU takes on Portland at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nev., at 6 pm. It is the second time in three years and the fifth time in 10 years the teams will meet in the WCC tournament. The game can be seen on BYUtv.org, online through the WCC Digital Network and through the airwaves on KXLU 88.9 FM. The winner will advance to face San Francisco on Thursday at 6 pm.
INSIDE THE LIONS
In a program with a rich scoring history, junior Anthony Ireland continues to pace the Lions in 2012-13 with one of the better scoring seasons in LMU history. He leads the Lions at 20.6 points per game, ranking second in the WCC and 12th nationally (as of Mar. 4). He now has 618 points on the season, becoming the first Lion to crack the LMU season top-20 since Terrell Lowery did it with 675 points in 1991-92. Ireland is just the 12th different player in the top-20, and is just the 15th time someone has scored at least 600 points in a single season in LMU history. He is now 13th all-time thanks to 166 points the last seven games (24.8 ppg), including his second 30-point game of the season against Gonzaga, earning an ovation as he left the court in Spokane. He cracked the career top-10 at LMU with 23 and 24 points, respectively, in the final two games of the regular season, giving him 1,506 career points, ranking 10th all-time at LMU.
Ireland was named first-team All-WCC this past week, becoming the first Lion to earn back-to-back first-team All-WCC honors since Matthew Knight did it in 2005-06 and 2006-07. He is the 14th player to go back-to-back and just the second junior to do it, joining Hank Gathers as the only Lion to do so. In addition to scoring, Ireland ranks in the top-20 in eight other statistical categories in the WCC, including rebounds (18th), assists (7th) and steals (7th). Ireland has been featured in some multimedia segments the past couple weeks, check them out:
The Lions are 8-22 overall, finishing 1-15 in the WCC after falling in a pair of games last week, including a 73-70 setback to BYU. In the Lions' current 14-game skid, 10 of the setbacks have been by single digits and nine of the 10 where a single possession game with less than two minutes to play. Those 10 games have been decided by a total of 44 points, 4.4 per game. The Lions are 1-10 in games decided by less than 10 points since the start of the year (4-14 for the entire season) and 1-6 in games decided by four or less in conference play.
The 51 percent from the field against Cal Poly was a change of pace, as the Lions have shot a combined 37.6 percent (277-737) from the field during the 14-game skid. They put up 62 shots (second most in WCC play), 15 more than the Cougars, but finished shooting 38.8 percent to BYU's 44.8. They shot 33 percent against Pepperdine despite out shooting the Waves by 17 shots. The streak includes a 28.3 percent clip against USF on Jan. 19 and a 25 percent outing on Jan. 31 against the Zags (the lowest since shooting 21.2 percent at Portland on Jan. 21, 2010).
It's been even more of a struggle from long range, as the Lions where ranked fourth in the WCC in three-point shooting following the Santa Clara win on Jan. 10 at 37.5 percent. In the 14 games since, the Lions have shot just 70-for-241 from three (29 percent ) and are now ranked 7th at 33.6 percent. The Lions equalled its most three-pointers in WCC games with nine against BYU, while attempting 25 (36 percent) of them.
LMU's best offense is off their defense. Using the press to comeback from a 15-point deficit against BYU, the Lions forced the Cougars into 19 turnovers on 10 steals and turned that into a 22-3 edge in points off turnovers. The Lions have bettered their opponent in that category in 16 of the 30 games this season and nine of th 16 WCC games. They generated 19 of their 27 points off turnovers in the second half as they earased a big deficit against USF on Feb. 21, the most in WCC play. They have outscored Portland in the two meeting this season, 38-18.
The Lions are have been playing with just eight scholarship players during WCC play, and have played nine different starting line-ups this season. LMU will have just eight during the WCC tournament (they have 12 scholarship players on the roster in 2012-13). Ayodeji Egbeyemi, who after 25 games still sits fourth in the league in minutes at 33.6 per game, 24th in points (10.6 ppg) and 9th in rebounds (6.0 rpg), left the game against Pepperdine with about nine minutes to play with a groin injury. He is out the rest of the season. This coming right when the Lions looked to be getting some help, as Chase Flint (who ranked seventh in the WCC in minutes played at 32.6 mpg and eighth in assists with 4.29 apg, while averaging 6.6 points per game before the injury) returned to action against Pepperdine. It was his first minutes since the first WCC game of the season on Jan. 3 vs. BYU. He missed the previous 10 games due to a stress reaction in his left shin, which is still not 100-percent. The Lions bench is already thin due to redshirts to sophomore C.J. Blackwell (will apply for a medical redshirt), transfer Ben Dickinson (due to NCAA transfer rules) and freshman Taj Adams (coaches' decision).
INSIDE THE GAME
LMU and Portland will meet for the fifth time in the last ten years at the WCC Basketball Championships, last meeting in 2011 when Portland was the No. 5 seed and LMU the No. 8 seed. This will be the 89th overall meeting between the two as LMU holds a 45-43 edge. The Lions, who were swept that season by the Pilots in the regular season, earned a 72-68 win to become the first eight-seed to advance to the WCC quarterfinals since 1997. This season the Pilots swept the Lions as well, earning a 68-64 win at Gersten Pavilion on Jan. 12 and then 69-60 in Portland on Feb. 7. In the two meetings, Portland shot a combined 55.3 percent from the field and 60 percent from three. In the Feb. 7 meeting, the Pilots set season-highs by shooting 56.1 percent from the field and 68.8 percent (11-for-16) from three. The 11 made three pointers was also a season-best as they had hit a combined 13 three-pointes in the four games prior. On the season, the averaged just 41.1 percent from the field and 31.3 percent from three. Rebounding was also a key as the Pilots outrebounded the Lions +24 in the Jan. 12 meeting.
THE INDIVIDUAL MATCH-UP
In the two meetings this season, Anthony Ireland has averaged 21.5 points, hitting 7-for-12 (58.3 percent) from three and 12-for-13 (92.3 percent) from the free throw line. Ashley Hamilton was the only other Lion to average double figures, going for 24 points in the two games but with just two rebounds, nearly five off his season average. On the flip side, it was the same for the Pilots. Ryan Nicholas hurt the Lions this season, going for 19.0 points per game, hitting 72.2 percent from the field (13-for-18), while going 8-for-10 from three and a perfect 4-for-4 from the charity stripe. Thomas Van der Mars was the only other Pilot in double figures, going for 12.5 points.
IN THE CLASSROOM
Senior Ashley Hamilton was named WCC All-Academic for men's basketball and was joined honorable mention honorees Taylor Walker and Ayodeji Egbeyemi on the WCC All-Academic team as announced by the WCC on March. 1. Hamilton is the first academic all-conference selection since Chris Kanne in 2008-09 and the three on this year's team is the most in program history. Hamilton graduated in May 2012 with his B.A. in Business and is currently in graduate school working toward his Masters in Education. He joins Vernon Teal and Tim Diederichs from the last several seasons to have worked on a masters while still playing. It is on schedule to happen again, as junior Alex Osborne, who had his first double-double Thursday, is on pace to graduate this May. Since Good took over, the Lions have graduated all 14 players who have completed their eligibility. Walker will earn his degree in Political Science while Egbeyemi is a Management major.
MORE TO THE POINT
Junior Anthony Ireland entered the 2012-13 season on the Lou Henson Player of the Year watch list and was named to the Lou Henson Award Preseason All-American Team. He also was named Preseason All-WCC and as a junior is one of the most experienced players on the LMU roster, not missing a game since he arrived LMU. He has lived up to those expectations. He has played every game as a Lion, totaling 96 games with 89 starts (5th all-time at LMU) entering the WCC tournament. He has 618 points, 111 assists and 45 steals to lead the Lions in 2012-13, giving him 1,506 points (ranked 10th all-time at LMU), 369 assists (8th) and 134 steals (13th) in his career. Ireland cracked the top-20 for points in a season with his 19 against Cal Poly and the career top-10 with 23 against Santa Clara. Ireland became the 33rd Lion to score 1,000 in a career in the game against North Texas and earned his fourth career double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds at SMU. He had his 29th game with at least 20 points against BYU. He was the only Lion to play every game last season and was second in the WCC in minutes played at 36.5 per game and he is averaging a league best 37.2 this season, playing 78 of the 80 minutes last week.
Walk-on Taylor Walker has provided big minutes at the point for the Lions, and with the injury to Egbeyemi, earned his first career start against SMC. He played a career-best 30 minutes with three points and four rebounds with an assist. He went for a then career-best nine points with three assists in 27 minutes on against USF, and then set a new career-high with 12 points in 25 minutes against Cal Poly. The fifth-year senior, who is in his second season with the Lions, is averaging more than 14.3 minutes a game in conference play after playing just 11 minutes total in non-conference. Walker earned his Associates Degree from Fullerton Junior College in 2010 and missed a year of basketball due to major ankle surgery on both ankles. He will graduate with a Bachelor's in Political Science this May while earning WCC All-Academic honorable mention honors.
The only scholarship senior on the Lions' roster this season is fifth-year forward Ashley Hamilton, who has been dubbed the Mayor, and for good reason. Hamilton has been a part of the current coaching staff's revival of the LMU program from the beginning. Joining the program the same season Head Coach Max Good took over, Hamilton has now played in 109 games (ranked t-19th all-time), making 90 starts (4th all-time) as he wraps-up his final campaign. Showing signs of dominance every season, Hamilton has been dealt with multiple injuries, including missing 12 games last season due to a foot injury. Completely recovered, Hamilton is a team captain and with 15 points at San Diego on Jan. 16, he became the 34th Lions to score 1,000 points in his career. He is averaging 12.9 ppg and a team-best 6.9 rpg after going for his sixth career double-double on Feb. 16 against SMC, scoring 13 points with 11 rebounds. He enters the WCC tournament game with 1,122 points and 618 rebounds and is the 14th Lion to earn 1,000 career points and 500 career rebounds. Hamilton is now ranked 25th all-time in scoring, 14th in rebounds, 13th with 324 made free throws and tied for 16th with 54 blocks.
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