NCAA Men: Jois named Big Sky player of the week with another 38 points

Damian Arsenis is back with all the latest on the Aussie men playing Division I college hoops over the past week.

Another week of big performances, late game heroics and Aussie rivalry in the NCAA...

Player of the Week

Dan Trist and Sam Rowley were in outstanding form over the past week, and in any other week one of them may have taken out the weekly honours. While they were exceptional in their own right, someone else just put in a better individual performance. They were no match for a man who racked up a second straight 38 point outburst. That man is once again Eastern Washington's star forward Venky Jois.

Venky Jois - Courtesy Eastern Washington Athletics

Last week Venky Jois exploded for a new career-high 38 points, and this week he matched it again as he helped increase Eastern Washington's winning streak to 4 straight. In defeating Seattle 87-75, the Eagles continued to create school history by recording their best start to a season in their 38-year history of being a Division I program with a Big Sky Conference best 7-1 record. He was duly named Big Sky Conference player of the week, the first Australian male to garner such an award this season.

Jois exploded right from the start against Seattle with 15 first half points. However he only got better. He piled on a further 23 points after the half time break, ending up sinking 13/18 from the field and an impressive 12/15 on free throws to belie his season average of 57.2% from the line. Along the way he pulled down 7 boards, stole the ball twice and swatted 3 shots to extend his school-record to 137 blocks.

With his second straight massive haul, Jois moved into 10th place in the nation in scoring with an average of 21.9 points, with nobody ahead of him on the list shooting any better than his amazing 68.3% rate from the field. He is also posting 8.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.5 steals and a sensational 2.8 blocks per game. The only question now is can he keep it up! We will soon find out as the Eagles taken on West Coast Conference side San Francisco next this week.

The boys on Melbourne's SEN 1116 radio show The Flag Flyers and I caught up with Jois earlier this week.

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Team of the Week

With Dan Trist leading the way, Lafayette won two games over the past week and off to their best start since 2003. It is for this reason, combined with some late game heroics from Trist, that has the Leopards as my 'Aussie' team of the week.

Another team enjoying a great start to the year is Lafayette who started the week off with a 97-84 win over Wagner. The Leopards shot a blistering 64.2% from the field in their victory, with their star forward Dan Trist leading the way. Trist piled on 26 points on a crisp 11/16 shooting alongside 3 rebounds, 1 steal and 1 block in just 23 minutes on court. While Trist was filling it up offensively, compatriot Nathaniel Musters saw just 4 minutes of action as he continues to battle to work his way into the main rotation.

The Leopards then followed up with another win, this time a nail-biting contest against Sacred Heart. Trist flew in for a final second rebound and was fouled. The result then all came down to Trist, with the senior heading to the free throw line with just 0.4 seconds remaining and the scores level. The tension mounted when he missed the first, however he would knock down the second to ensure an enthralling 82-81 win. It was fitting that Trist ended up leading all scorers with another 20 point game, this time on 7/10 shooting and 6/10 from the charity stripe. He also finished with 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal in only 22 minutes of action in leading Lafayette to their 3rd straight win and 5th across their last 6 games, their best start to a season since 2003.

Trist has been an efficient scoring machine all season, scoring 12 or more points in all but one game this season with 4 games in excess of 20 points. He is averaging an impressive 17.1 points and 6 rebounds while shooting better than 60% from the field in just 24 minutes per game. The offensive juggernaut will be hoping to boost his numbers further with the Leopards next game against Division III School Susquehanna University before facing the might of #10 ranked Kansas.

Best of the Rest

In what could have been dubbed 'the battle of the Aussies', Boise State travelled to Saint Mary's in a game that featured 6 Australians. The Gael's entered the game with an unblemished record this season and riding a 33-game non conference home winning streak, however they encountered a tough challenge with the Broncos. With Anthony Drmic contributing 12 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 1 steal, the Broncos withstood the Gael's 7 first half triples to leave with an 82-71 road win. Nick Duncan chimed in with 6 points, 3 rebounds and 1 assist, while Igor Hadziomerovic 2 points, 1 rebound and 1 assist in the big win.

For the Gael's in their only game over the past week, freshman point guard Emmett Naar was very good with 11 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal and 1 blocked shot in 32 minutes, however it was not enough to prevent what he would consider a disappointing loss. Naar has been sensational this season, and is currently 14th in the nation with 6.3 assists per game - not bad for a first year player! Dane Pineau, who is firmly entrenched in the rotation, came off the bench to provide 4 points and 2 rebounds in 12 minutes. Although the Gael's shot well in the first half, they were unable to connect at all from distance in the second.

With the 14th best RPI in the nation, the Broncos then set about maintaining their momentum by dismantling Division II school Adams State 78-49 at Taco Bell Arena. Despite missing Drmic who was battling a reported back injury, the Broncos opened up a 14-2 lead over the first 9 minutes and by 20 points with 7 minutes left in the first half. It was Hadziomerovic who lifted to help share the scoring load, with the 6'4"senior guard pitching in a season-high 12 points while dishing out 5 dimes with 1 rebound and 1 block in 25 minutes. The Broncos should be able to keep the streak going when they next host Northwest Nazarene (NAIA).

The boys from Melbourne's SEN 1116 radio show The Flag Flyers and I caught up with Drmic also earlier this week.

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After they were stunned by Southern Utah thanks to a buzzer-beating game-winner, Texas-San Antonio bounced back to record a thrilling overtime road win against Northern Arizona 88-83. Senior forward Jeromie Hill came alive after half time to score 13 points on his way to a total of 16 for the game alongside 4 rebounds. Northern Arizona missed a chance to win the game in regulation and were made to pay. In the extra period, Hill combined with team mate Keon Lewis to provide 12 of the Roadrunners 16 overtime points and leave with a much-needed win ahead of a tough game at Washington State.

Jeromie Hill - Credit Jeff Huehn/UTSA Athletics

Against the Cougars, Hill would finish 1 rebound shy of a double-double, scoring 10 points with 9 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 steal. However Washington State would prove to strong on their home court and run out winners 91-71, thanks largely to another Aussie in Dexter Kernich-Drew. The 6'7" senior guard came off the bench to provide an impressive 12 points on 4/6 shooting to go with 2 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal in 16 minutes as the Cougars picked up their 4th win of the season. For the Roadrunners, they were reduced to a 3-4 record.

The 2014/15 season has proven to be a difficult one to date for reigning America East champions Albany; their record did not get any better over the past week despite the stellar play of senior forward Sam Rowley. Playing at home, the Great Danes were hurt from the outside as Holy Cross connected on 13/19 from beyond the arc on the way to inflicting a 57-74 loss. Sam Rowley was rock solid, delivering 14 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist and 2 steal while Peter Hooley provided some good support with 10 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists.

Heading on the road, the pain continued for Albany as they were unable to recover from a slow start and a 16-point half time deficit in falling to St. Francis (PA) 59-69. Once again Sam Rowley tried to carry his team to victory with a game-high 19 point and 12 rebound double-double with 1 assist and 1 block in 38 minutes. His Co-Captain Hooley was also in very good form as they continued to combine well as a dynamic duo, contributing 13 points and 5 rebounds also in 38 minutes of action. However despite their best efforts, they were unable to prevent another loss.

Bucknell were the Great Danes next opponent and another chance to halt the slide. With team-best 17 points with 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals and 1 block, Sam Rowley was again at his utmost best before fouling out. Despite Hooley being held to 7 points with 2 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal, the Great Danes were right there with a chance to win the game down the stretch. Hooley hoisted a prayer at the buzzer that missed and ended with Albany falling short 58-61. It was the Great Danes 5th straight loss as they look ahead to Siena and another chance to earn a much-needed win.

Sticking with the America East, Hartford dropped their league opener against Vermont 69-81 on the road despite an impressive performance by junior guard Taylor Dyson. With 19 points including 5/8 from beyond the arc, it was a season-high for Dyson and the second time this year that he had connected on 5 triples in a single game. He also contributed 5 rebounds in 27 minutes before fouling out, one of 4 starters to do so. Senior guard Corban Wroe was also very good, with 8 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal and 1 block before he fouled out in 30 minutes. 20 turnovers cost the Hawks dearly as they were converted into 24 points.

The Hawks then lost their 3rd game in a row against Central Connecticut 47-56 who earned their first win of the year despite very good performances from both Wroe and Dyson. The Aussie duo delivered almost identical stat lines, with Wroe compiling 14 points, 7 rebounds and 2 assists, while Dyson added 13 points, 7 rebounds and 1 assist. They combined with team-mate Mark Nwakamma for 43 of Hartford's season-low 47 points, and clearly did not get enough scoring output from the rest of the team.

Thankfully the Hawk's were able to immediately turn around their fortunes with a 79-61 road victory over Holy Cross. Wroe logged 38 minutes and dished out a career-high 10 assists with 7 points, 4 rebounds and 2 steals. He was a key driver to help lead the Hawks to a hard-earned win. The 6'4" Dyson nailed 6 points (2/3 3PT) with 1 rebound and 1 steal in only 19 minutes of action. Hartford only turned it over 6 times for the game and shot at a blistering 61.1% from the field and will be looking to maintain that performance against their next opponent Rider.

Hugh Greenwood - Courtesy University New Mexico Athletics

New Mexico bounced back strongly after dropping two straight games to win their next two and improve their record to 5-3. The Lobos enjoyed their best win over the season to date, rallying from a 23-10 first half deficit to earn an 62-47 win at home against in-state rivals New Mexico State. As he usually does, Hugh Greenwood played more than 38 minutes and this time added 8 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals and 1 block. He was back to his stat-stuffing best and was at the forefront of the Lobos charge.

A second straight win came on the road against Valparaiso, with the Greenwood in the thick of the action again. Although he is still struggling with his shooting stroke (3/11 FG), he was able to once again provide leadership and composure, gathering 10 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocked shots. It was another performance that highlighted the value that Greenwood provides to his team. If he finds his stroke, his next opponent Louisiana-Monroe who boast another Aussie in Majok Deng, will find the going extremely tough.

Speaking of Deng, the junior transfer played an influential role for Louisiana-Monroe in 2 straight Warhawk wins. Against Louisiana College the 6'10 forward delivered his second double-double of the season with 14 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal and 2 blocks in a 83-55 thrashing. He backed it up with another 14 points with 7 rebounds, 1 assist and 2 blocked shots as the Warhawks held off Northwestern State 82-74. He is now averaging 8.8 points, 7 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game as his team improved to a 4-3 record.

And some other news and individual efforts mentioning in closing out this week's recap;

  • Butler who feature Jackson Aldridge moved up to #15 in the national rankings during the week after wins over Indiana State (77-54), Northwestern (65-56) and Kennesaw State (93-51. Aldridge had a season-best 10 points with 1 steal in 18 minutes in the win against Kennesaw State.

  • Nicholls State's Sam McBeath had a season best 13 points with 10 rebounds and 4 assists and 2 steals in a massive 89-60 win over Loyola (NO).

  • Durrell McDonald contributed 10 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal and 1 block as DePaul won their 5th straight in beating Milwaukee 83-61 and improved to a Big East best 6-1 record.

  • In a big 96-51 win over Mars Hill, freshman Xavier Cooks chalked up 7 points, 10 rebounds and 3 blocked shots for Winthrop who broke a 2-game losing streak.