1998-99 Season Outlook
The Warriors hope to improve on their strong finish last year as they came up one game shy of playing in their fifth conference championship game in seven years. Seven returning players join five new recruits. Head coach George Pfeifer, starting his ninth year at Lewis-Clark State, is hoping the solid nucleus of veteran players will mesh with the fresh, yet experienced, incoming players.
Of the seven returning starters, all but one started at one time or another last year. Combined, they totaled playing in 164 games. Two of the returning players were selected to the all-conference team. Three of the seven players scored at least 25 points or more during a game last year.
The positive is the amount of quality minutes each of this years veteran Warriors received. What must happen this year is that those same players, need to perform with more consistency. That lack of consistency in '97-98 could be attributed to the fact six of these seven players were new to the program last year.
The front line for the Warriors should be as solid as any. That says a lot. Since Coach Pfeifer has been the helm, the Warrior front line has had at least one, if not two, players selected All-Conference and/or All-American every year. Keeping that string alive was Jon George. Eleven times, he scored 20 or more points in a game last year and led the conference in rebounding (7.4 rpg ) while connecting on 58.2% of his FGs. In his last five games last season, he averaged 28 ppg.
"The Twins," Josh Wilson (610 #255) and Zach (69 #245) saw action in every game except one. Zach started all but two games, missing one due to injury. Not bad when you consider both are sophomores this year. Obviously, Josh and Zach give the Warriors size in the paint. New to the front line for the Warriors is NCAA Division I transfer Chris Harrison. Two years ago, Chris played up the street at North Idaho College and helped lead his team to a conference championship and a fourth-place finish in the National Junior College Tournament in Hutchinson, Kansas. Last year, Harrison played at the University of Iona, which won its conference and finished in the top 20 in NCAA Division I basketball. Harrison will give the Warriors another talented scorer inside and has the ability to trail on the break and shoot the ball from the 3-point range.
The perimeter will be interesting to watch develop. Last year, point guard Zac Olson had to take a medical redshirt year. In the one full game he played in he scored 30 points and handed out six assists. Having him back healthy should be a huge plus. Travis Homer was second in the conference in 3-point baskets scored with 65 behind graduated teammate Jared Mercer, who made 71. What is interesting about Homers statistics is he ranked in the top 10 in ppg, 3-point percent, free-throw percent, assists and steals per game. Six times he scored 20 plus points per game, and eight times he led the Warriors in scoring. Blue collar types Scott Hoover and Todd Phillips saw time in all but two games last season. Hoover started 4 games and Phillips started the last three games of the year. In one game, Phillips, who stands at only 63, grabbed a season-high 13 rebounds. The Warriors are counting on new back court faces to give them more than quality minutes. Versatile and athletic Justin Brager can play and has played all three positions during junior college. Brager, who signed with the University of Portland out of Wenatchee Community College where he was voted the MVP of the NWAACC League his freshman year, should give added scoring and defensive punch.
Boise State University redshirt transfer Brian Gardner is explosive to say the least. Coming off a two year LDS mission, Gardner is currently a 20-year-old freshman. During his senior year at Fruitland High School, Gardner was selected the Idaho A-3 Player of the Year. Zac Olsons fellow teammate at Chemeketa Community College in Salem, Oregon, Matt Haman, was an All-South Region selection NWAACC his sophomore year there. Hamans attributes are his overall court sense and competitive drive.
The schedule for the Warriors is once again a rugged one. Starting off with the Clearwater River Casino/KOZE Radio Tournament at home, the Warriors will venture out to play nine of their next 10 games on the road. Regional location is all part of this very challenging experience. Trips to Southern California, Northern California, Western Oregon, Western Washington and Eastern Montana make up the menu of this nin-game travel adventure. The key to the Warriors' season will obviously be their ability to survive this grueling segment of the season. However, it does not get easier the second half of the year. A trip to the Hawaiian Island to play Chaminade and Hawaii-Hilo and hosting BYU-Hawaii and Hawaii Pacific are still waiting for them. Counting their own Warrior Tournament, LCSC will play in three tournaments this season. New opponents to Warrior Gymnasium will be Seattle Pacific and Humbolt State. Long-time rivals Central Washington, Western Washington, Simon Fraser and St. Martin's are still on the docket. NCAA Division I California State-Northridge also is part of this configuration of games. If tough schedules get a team ready for post-season play, the Warriors will not have any trouble with this aspect of their preparation.
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