14 Regional Contests On Opening Weekend Men's Hoop Slate
WWU's Jeffrey Parker is one of four pre-season all-conference selections for WWU.
WWU's Jeffrey Parker is one of four pre-season all-conference selections for WWU.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

PORTLAND, Ore. – Sometimes the most important games are the ones you play in November.

For most GNAC teams the 2014-15 Great Northwest Athletic Conference basketball season tips off Friday with nine of the 10 schools playing official contests.

The schedule includes six tournaments and 14 games against other NCAA Division II West Region teams. 

Contests against West Region opponents are one of the main criteria the NCAA Regional Advisory Committee uses when determining which teams are awarded at-large berths for the regional tournament in March.

Games in November are as important as games in February.

Western Washington, which is ranked nationally in three different pre-season polls, begins its season at home hosting the 13th WWU Chuck Randall Classic.  WWU has a 16-game winning streak in the tournament which hasn't been held since 2012.

The GNAC pre-season favorite Vikings will play Notre Dame de Namur Friday and Hawaii Hilo Saturday.  Northwest Nazarene will be the fourth team in the tournament.  Hawaii Hilo is coached by former CWU assistant G.E. Coleman, who is in his second season in Hilo.

WWU earned a No. 11 rank in the NABC pre-season poll and was ranked ninth by D2Bulletin and 14th by Basketball Times.

Seattle Pacific received a No. 22 pre-season national rank in the NABC poll.  The defending conference champions will play Academy of Art Friday and Minnesota Crookston Saturday in the Sodexo Tip-Off Classic at Brougham Pavilion.  The fourth team in the tournament is Central Washington.

Alaska Anchorage got a jump start opening its season last week under the NCAA exemption granting schools in Alaska the right to play prior to the official opening. 

The Seawolves lost twice to Concordia (Ore). 79-74 and 75-73.  Those games count in UAA’s overall record but won’t count in its regional record.

UAA is in Rohnert Park this weekend to participate in the Sonona State Invitational.  The Seawolves will play Sonoma Thursday and defending regional champion Chico State Saturday.  Chico is ranked 19th in the NABC poll.

Montana State  Billings, Saint Martin’s and Western Oregon also head to California for GNAC/PacWest Challenge tournaments.

The Yellowjackes will play Cal State East Bay and Cal State Stanislaus at San Rafael.

The Saints and Wolves will match up against Fresno Pacific and Point Loma Nazarene in San Diego.

Meanwhile, Simon Fraser and Alaska will be home for two-game series against Northwest Indian  and Trinity International, respectively. 

The Nanook games will be exhibitions.  UAF will open its official season the following week against Black Hills State, West Alabama and Minnesota Moorhead in the GCI Alaska Invitational in Fairbanks.

GNAC Teams 6-9 in Exhibitions

GNAC teams posted  a combined 6-9 record in exhibition games, including 4-9 against collegiate teams.

Seven of the games were against Division I opponents.

Western Oregon earned the lone D1 win defeating Pac 12 Oregon State 57-47 before losing to Oregon 104-55.  Andy Avgi led the Wolves in the victory with 21 points.

Saint Martin’s lost to Washington 88-65 and Montana 104-70 and Seattle Pacific fell 75-44 at Brigham Young. 

Simon Fraser lost a pair of high-scoring shootouts, losing 139-115 at Idaho after leading 70-64 at halftime and to UC Irvine 128-92. 

In UAA’s two counting games against Concordia, Brian McGill paced the Seawolves with 30 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds.  UAA shot just 34.9 percent (15 of 43) from the 3-point line in the two narrow losses.