Damian Arsenis takes a look at which Aussie men have enjoying a festive season on the court since Christmas in NCAA Division I hoops.
As there is so much to catch up on this week, I have decided to take a team by team approach and then call out any additional individual efforts worthy of being called out this week. There is plenty to enjoy...
Player of the Week
It was a tough time in selecting a single player of the week (well since Christmas) this time around as Jeromie Hill has been putting up some great numbers for Texas San Antonio and Venky Jois continues to help fire Eastern Washington to a school-best start. However this week I could not overlook 6'9" senior forward Dan Trist who just collected his first Patriot League player of the week award.
Dan Trist - Courtesy Lafayette Athletics
Against NJIT, Trist helped lead a balanced Lafayette offence to a 76-71 victory. With 17 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals and 1 block in 29 minutes, Trist was again at the forefront in the Leopards latest win. A late NJIT charge was withstood thanks to the Leopards making 11/12 from the free throw line in the last-minute of the game. Against Army in their Patriot League opener, Trist collected a double-double with tidy figures of 17 points and 11 rebounds in just 24 minutes. The Leopards won comfortably 92-78 as they shot 54.1% from the field and connected on 10/17 (58.8%) from beyond the 3-point arc.
Taking on Navy however proved a little more challenging as the Leopards hot-shooting cooled somewhat as they fell 65-69. This was epitomized by Trist who went cold on an uncharacteristic 3/11 shooting for just 7 points, 7 rebounds and 1 assist. It was just the second time that Trist had failed to reached double-digit scoring this season, and it is no surprise that both outings resulted in losses.
Thankfully Trist was quick to put the game behind him as he would then go on to pour in 20 points and 5 rebounds in just 20 minutes of action. Little used compatriot Nathaniel Musters came off the bench to provide season-highs of 3 points and 4 rebounds with 1 steal and 1 block, however both Aussies were unable to prevent Lafayette from falling short 69-97 against Bucknell; the first time this season the Leopards had lost two games in a row.
Trist lifted another gear against Boston U in recording his third double-double of the season. He piled on 24 points on a blistering 12/16 shooting to go with 11 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 block in 31 minutes as the Leopards won a thriller 63-62. Team-mate Zach Rufer made the game-winning lay up with just 2 seconds left to ensure that Lafayette would improve their record to 10-5 and an even 2-2 in Patriot League play.
Trist's efficient output over the past week as duly recognized with the 6'9" senior forward named Patriot League player of the week. Trist is averaging team-bests of 16.7 points on 55.1% shooting and 6.5 rebounds per game across the season, and 26th in scoring all-time at Lafayette with 1,171 career points. Trist ranks third in the Patriot League in scoring, fourth in rebounding, and fifth in overall field-goal percentage (55.1%).
Team of the Week
Venky Jois - Courtesy Eastern Washington Athletics
My choice for team of the week was narrowed down to Saint Mary's or Eastern Washington. With Venky Jois playing a key role in the success of the Eagles and with Felix Von Hofe providing some solid cameo performances off the bench, I had to stick with the current Big Sky Conference leaders Eastern Washington.
The Eagles are enjoying the New Year, having gone undefeated across three straight Big Sky Conference games and improved their overall record to an impressive 12-4. They took on Big Sky pre-season favorite Weber State to open conference play and came away with a resounding 84-78 home win. Jois helped get the Eagles going, posting 16 of his 18 points in the first half to finish with 8 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal and a massive 5 blocked shots in 32 minutes. While his scoring dried up in the second half, Jois got it done with defense in the second as he denied two key shots in the last 2 minutes to help seal the win.
Idaho State was next to be swooped upon by the Eagles, with Jois not only scoring at one end but throwing a block party at the other. He went 5/7 from the field for 16 points and 2 assists, but once again showed his defensive prowess with 8 rebounds, 4 steals and a staggering 7 blocked shots in a 65-57 victory. Fellow Aussie Von Hofe connected on 3/5 from long-range for 9 points with 3 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 blocks of his own in 25 minutes. The Bengal's Australian senior guard Ben Wilson started and compiled 10 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists and 1 steal in a nice all-round performance.
Proving once again he plays both ends of the court, Jois would help lead the Eagles to a narrow 89-86 win over Idaho on the road. He scored 16 points on an efficient 8/11 shooting to go with 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 6 more blocked shots to further extend his school record. Von Hofe provided some good support off the bench with 5 points and 1 block in a key 9 minutes off the bench. Behind the stellar play of Jois (18.9 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 3.0 blocks per game) and his team-mate Tyler Harvey (23.4 points per game), they have led the Eagles to the best record in the Big Sky.
Best of the Rest
Texas San Antonio | Hill & Ringholt
Jeromie Hill - Credit Jeff Huehn/UTSA Athletics
In averaging 18.6 points across 5 games since Christmas, senior forward Hill is a big reason why the Roadrunners open conference play with a 50% winning record. He impressed with a 21 point and 11 rebound double-double with 3 assists in guiding the Roadrunners to a 79-68 win against Division II school Cameron. However in their opening conference outing against Rice, Hill's amazing all-round outing of 15 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 5 steals and 2 blocks in 32 minutes were not enough to earn a win. The Roadrunners were unable to maintain the pace and fell away to lose 52-67 but not without Hill doing his best to try to get them over the line.
Hill maintained his outstanding individual play in a solid 71-61 win against Northern Texas. He fired in a game-high 23 points on 9/13 shooting that included 4/5 from downtown. He also posted 6 rebounds, 1 assist and 2 blocks in 37 minutes. Southern Mississippi was the next team to fall victim to the Roadrunners courtesy of a 77-57 pounding. In UTSA's 500th Division I victory, Hill only played 27 minutes and was able to collect 10 points and 2 rebounds as Texas-San Antonio earned an easy win with James Ringholt playing 9 minutes for 3 points, 1 rebound and 1 bock.
In a tight game, a Roadrunners lapse in the second half allowed Louisiana Tech to creep out to a double-digit lead from which they would never relinquish in falling short 72-84 despite a vintage performance by Hill. The senior forward delivered a season-high 24 points on 10/22 shooting to go with 7 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals and 1 block in 37 minutes. He is leading the Roadrunners with 15.7 points and 7.1 rebounds per game and a 7-7 overall record after missing all of last season through injury. He has moved into 5th place in both scoring and rebounding in his school's history and has scored 10 points or more in 21 of his past 22 games.
Saint Mary's | Pineau, Naar & Landale
Saint Mary's opened West Coast Conference (WCC) play just after Christmas and now find themselves on a 6-game winning streak and unbeaten in conference play and the New Year. First was a grinding 73-60 win over Santa Clara. Freshman point guard Emmett Naar poured in a new career-high 14 points on 5/7 shooting with 2/3 from long-range. He also collected 1 rebound, 4 assists and 1 steal in 26 minutes while team-mate Dane Pineau 4 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists and 1 steal in 31 minutes.
The Gael's would then go on to account for San Francisco 69-56 at McKeon Pavilion, with Naar again producing. This time Naar would deliver 10 points including 2/3 from beyond the arc for the second straight game, with 4 assists and 1 block in 21 minutes. Pineau was uncharacteristically quiet, going scoreless with 1 rebound, 1 assist and 1 steal in 15 minutes.
Next up for Saint Mary's was a 69-59 victory over Pepperdine. Naar played 26 minutes for 2 points and 2 assists, while Pineau only saw 8 minutes for 4 rebounds and 2 assists. The Gael's would then go on to account for Loyola Marymount 72-63. Naar and Pineau combined for 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal and 1 block in 20 minutes as both players found themselves with reduced minutes. Fellow Australian David Humphries was able to shoot well in this game for the Lions, going a perfect 4/4 from the field including 2/2 from downtown to finish with 10 points and 2 rebounds in 22 minutes.
An out of conference game against Morgan State resulted in another win, this time 78-58 with Naar posting just 3 points, 1 rebound and 5 assists in 19 minutes, while Pineau managed 7 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocked shots in just 14 minutes. Freshman big man Jock Landale saw a valuable 13 minutes on court and chimed in with 4 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 block.
Pacific was the Gael's latest victim, prevailing 54-47 in a defensive struggle. Naar was solid in providing 9 points on 3/4 triples with 1 rebound, 3 assists and 1 steal in 28 minutes while Pineau chipped in 4 points, 3 rebounds and 1 block in just 14 minutes. The Gael's are now 13-3 overall on the season and tied with No. 6 ranked Gonzaga for first place in the WCC with Naar leading the team with 5.1 assists per game (46th in the country).
New Mexico | Greenwood
Hugh Greenwood showed signs of breaking out of his shooting slump in a 76-62 win over Fresno State to open Mountain West Conference play. The 6'4" senior guard powered the Lobos behind 16 points (3/5 3PT), 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 1 steal in 34 minutes. However he would follow-up with a 1/10 shooting performance against No. 24 ranked Colorado State. In still managing to gather 4 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists, the Lobos upset their more highly ranked opponents.
The Lobos will rue the opportunity to back up the great win with a tough 42-56 loss to rivals San Diego State. Greenwood's stroke deserted him again as he managed just 2/9 from the field on his way to just 5 points but with 6 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal in 32 minutes. After going a combined 3/19 from the field across his previous two games, the Greenwood we know is there came out to connect on 6/11 from beyond the arc on his way to an equal game-high 22 points. In providing some much-needed perimeter scoring, Greenwood also delivered 2 rebounds, 3 assists and 1 steal as he helped guide the Lobos to a 66-60 win over Utah State and a 3-1 record in the Mountain West. Greenwood is now averaging a career-best 11 points and 3.6 assists per game, however he is also shooting a career-low 31.3% from the field.
Boise State | Drmic, Hadziomerovic & Duncan
After winning 6 games in a row, Boise State now finds themselves in the midst of a 4-game losing streak and without their primary scoring option Anthony Drmic who is red-shirting the remainder of this season thanks to ankle surgery. In their opening Mountain West Confernece outing against No. 24 ranked Colorado State, the Broncos were admirable in going down 65-71. In the starting lineup, Igor Hadziomerovic provided 2 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 1 block, while Nick Duncan chipped in 10 points, 3 rebounds and 1 steal in 24 minutes off the bench.
Next was a heart-breaking 61-62 loss to Utah State who nailed a triple at the buzzer to steal the win. After a quiet first half, Duncan scored all 11 of his points after the main break to also finish with 1 assist in 33 minutes on court. Hadziomerovic was solid with his all-round game on display, collating 7 points. 3 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals in 27 minutes. The Broncos then lost their third Mountain West contest against Wyoming in Laramie 54-65 in a low-scoring affair. Hadziomerovic was good again for 7 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal and 1 block in 30 minutes, while Duncan was quiet with just 3 points, 2 rebounds and 2 assists in 37 minutes. Boise State is now 0-3 in conference play with games against UNLV and New Mexico to follow.
Albany | S Rowley, Hooley, M Rowley & McKay
Missing star sophomore guard Peter Hooley to illness did not help as Albany lost to Niagara 47-65 loss to Niagara to end the year and bringing an end to their winning streak at 3. Sam Rowley was quiet by his standards with just 8 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 steal, while brother Mike Rowley provided 5 points, 3 rebounds, 1 steal and 1 block in 20 minutes off the bench.
With Hooley back in the line-up, he combined with S Rowley to help power the Great Danes to a commanding 80-56 America East opening win against Maine. Hooley had 14 points and 5 assists in 28 minutes while S Rowley also fired in 14 points with 3 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal in only 14 minutes! Senior forward S Rowley then played the hero in a 64-62 win against New Hampshire on the road. He connected on the game-winning lay up to cap a 8 point, 4 rebound, 2 assist, 1 steal and 1 block performance. Sharpshooting Hooley delivered an impressive 17 points including 6/7 from the line with 1 rebound and 2 assists in playing 36 minutes. While he only had 1 point, M Rowley contributed 6 rebounds and 3 steals in his 27 minutes of action.
Still on the road, the Great Danes then took care of business against Umass Lowell 64-51 to move to 3-0 in the America East Conference. Once again Hooley was able to notch 14 points with 3 assists, while S Rowley collected 11 points, 6 rebounds and 1 assist in a tough outing. After an indifferent start to the season, Albany appears to be finding its stride in conference play behind 14.4 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.9 assists from Hooley and 12.7 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game from S Rowley.
Hartford | Wroe, Dyson & Weir
Playing against No. 14 ranked Notre Dame to welcome in the New Year, Hartford opened strongly to hit seven of its first 9 shots and lead 10-3 early. From there on, Notre Dame then proved too strong and outgunned the Hawks who eventually fell 60-87. Senior guard and team Captain Corban Wroe managed to compile 6 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists and 1 steal despite having his hands full with the Fighting Irish's talented back court. Sophomore swingman Taylor Dyson played 22 minutes for 5 points, 2 rebounds and 2 assists in battling it out. Center Dougal Weir was given an opportunity and in 3 minutes off the bench pulled in 2 rebounds in a good experience.
In a defensive struggle, Hartford were not able to capitalize on Texas A&M missing all 13 of their three-point attempts to fall short 49-58. Wroe was good again, providing 10 points with 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 1 steal while Dyson chipped in 9 points on 3/10 from long-range with 7 rebounds and 2 assists. Thankfully the Hawk's would bounce back to account for Binghamton and improve their America East record to 1-1 thanks to a 69-59 win. Scoring 10 points on a perfect 4/4 shooting in the first half, Wroe went on to finish with an equal game-high 18 points (4/6 3PT) with 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals. Dyson was quiet with 5 points and 1 rebound in 26 minutes.
South Dakota | Hunter
Washington State transfer James Hunter has been quietly impressing for the South Dakota Coyotes since Christmas. In 16 minutes of action in the Coyote's 84-60 demolition of Milwaukee the 6'10" senior center gathered a new career-high 15 points on 7/10 shooting with 5 rebounds. Making the most of his opportunities, he would then back up to contribute 7 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 block in a narrow 77-86 loss to Omaha.
South Dakota were back in their winning ways courtesy of a 74-69 win over Denver with their Aussie big man continuing to emerge. This time Hunter would collect 12 points in 12 minutes (5/7 FG) with 5 rebounds and 2 steals. He continued to prove his worth by recording his third double-digit scoring output in 4 games by compiling 10 points, 6 rebounds and 1 assist in playing 27 minutes as the Coyotes won a thrilling 62-60 match against IPFW. Hunter now appears to have worked his way into the starting lineup and looks set to make it his own as South Dakota improved to a 2-1 record in the Summit League.
And some other news and individual efforts mentioning in closing out this week's update;
Durrell McDonald collected 10 points (3/5 3PT), 1 rebound, 1 assist and 2 steals for DePaul in their 69-72 loss to Loyola Marymount to finish 8th in the Diamond Head Classic on Christmas Day.
Chudier Pal has opened the New Year strongly, delivering 17 points, 9 rebounds, 1 assist and 3 blocks in North Carolina-Asheville's 80-55 win over Gardner-Webb, and then a 10 point and 11 rebound double-double with 2 assist, 1 steal and 2 blocks in a 71-54 victory over Liberty.
Ben Wilson backed up his 10 point effort in the loss to Eastern Washington with another 10 points, 1 rebound, 3 assists and 1 steal in Idaho State's 70-61 win over Montana State.
Louisiana Monroe has won 3 straight games thanks largely to the play of Majok Deng. He had 10 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal in a 70-61 win over Arkansas State and then 15 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 blocks in a nail-biting 76-73 overtime win against Texas Arlington. With a 62-59 win versus Texas State, the Warhawks improved to 3-1 in the Sun Belt Conference with Deng chipping in 7 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and 3 blocks.
Sam McBeath has 10 points, 4 rebounds and 1 block as Nicholls State lost to Lamar 62-75 in the Southland Conference.
In back-to-back games requiring extra time, freshman forward Xavier Cooks continued to emerge for Winthrop and was duly recognised by being named Big South Freshman Player of the Week. He had 13 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists and 4 blocks in a 82-72 overtime win against Longwood and then a 16 point and 10 rebound double-double alongside 2 assists, 2 steals and 1 block in an 87-90 double overtime loss to High Point in the Big South Conference.
Freshman guard Jamie Batish grabbed a new career-high 15 points on 5/7 shooting with 3 rebounds, 3 assists and 1 steal in Western Illinois' 80-78 victory against Omaha. He also collected 14 points, 1 rebound and 1 block in 31 minutes as the Leathernecks lost to Oral Roberts 57-66. Western Illinois is now 2-2 in the Summit League.