EOU men ranked No. 4 in first coaches top-25 poll

By Observer Upload November 28, 2012 02:54 pm

The Eastern Oregon University men’s basketball team is ranked No. 4 in the first regular-season NAIA Division II coaches poll released Tuesday. The Mountaineers are tied with No. 7 William Penn (Iowa) for the most wins in Division II with a 12-0 mark.

For the third straight time, Northwood (Florida) claims the No. 1 position followed by No. 2 Cardinal Stritch (Wisconsin) and No. 3 Dordt (Iowa).

Eastern Oregon is off to its best start in program history and added Puget Sound and Portland Lutheran to its list of victims this weekend. The Mountaineers are averaging 84.92 points per game while surrendering just 66.92.

The team is ranked No. 2 in the nation in total assists (211) and three-pointers made (122). Trent Roos leads EOU with 16 points per game and is ranked No. 4 in the nation in total scoring (193) and No. 6 in three-pointers made (32).

Head coach Isaac Williams has praised the team’s closeness since the start of the season and contributes that to Eastern’s fast start.

“The thing that’s impressed me is that you have people from all different backgrounds and all different places and they’re all so close,” Williams said after a recent game. “Even the redshirt freshmen. The guys love them. They all care about the team’s success over their own personal success.”

The Mountaineers will start Cascade Collegiate Conference play Friday against Concordia University (2-3) at Quinn Coliseum. EOU will then host Warner Pacific (6-1) Saturday. Warner Pacific (No. 13) and Southern Oregon (No. 16) were the only other CCC members to land in the top-25 poll, while defending national champion Oregon Tech had its streak of 90-consecutive polls snapped (dating back to Jan. 11, 2005) as the Hustlin’ Owls are in the “receiving votes” category.

The Cascade Conference is perennially one of the toughest conferences in the nation and this season looks to be no different. Last season EOU finished fourth in the regular season and lost to OIT in the semifinals of the conference tournament.

But even though the Mountaineers have a perfect start to this season up to this point, Williams knows there are areas the team can continue to improve.

“We have to get a lot better on defense. We are blessed with some people who can put it in the hoop, so I think sometimes our guys try to make up deficits on offense. So sometimes I wish we would work harder on executing the things we work on in practice in the games defensively,” Williams said. 

“Our rebound stats are good, but they’re not consistent. 

“There has been several first halves this year where we’ve been even or down in the rebound category and then have a big second half. So I’d like to be more consistent with that.”

The Mounties are set to tip off at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

But with 1/3 of the regular-season schedule down, the Mountaineers have shown they are one of the top teams in the nation. And the first coaches poll proves that.