- Sep 9, 2015
- Reaction score
A MACOMB MOMENT
Western Illinois’ J D Gravina had his moment. Now coaching his 12th season in Macomb, Illinois, Gravina’s high point came in 2016-17. The Fighting Leathernecks posted a 26-7 record (13-3 in the Summit League) sweeping both the regular season and conference tournament titles. This earned WIU its second NCAA appearance and first since 1995. Even though Florida State sent WIU packing in the first round 66-87, Gravina and his high scoring offense (80 ppg) were touted for various head coaching openings.
The next season, while not as successful, kept the ball rolling. WIU finished 22-10 (10-4 in conference). The highlights included a win at #18 Stanford (71-64) and an offense scoring at a program record 81 ppg. The Leathernecks loved launching threes: in 2016-17 they were 314-916 (.343) and in 2017-18 they were better, hitting 338-944 (.358). It added up to a WNIT invite. Unfortunately, during the next four years, JD Gravina’s teams have drifted south of .500.
In the following years, Western’s best conference record was 9-7 (tied for 3rd) in 2019-20. Last season, WIU finished 14-15 and 5-13 in conference (7th). This season, the preseason Summit League poll has the Leathernecks pegged for 7th. Scoring has fallen 10 ppg from the glory years to 71 ppg. And threes are harder to come by 250-765 (.322). Garvina is in danger of having his 170-161 career record at WIU drop below .500. Minnesota, trying to reverse its own slide, is willing to continue his.
5’11” guard Jayda Adams also had her moment. The one-time Duke recruit played the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons for the Blue Devils appearing in 63 games. Then back-to-back ACL’s wiped out her next two years. Last season, Adams transferred to Cal State Northridge; but did not play because of injury. Looking for another chance, Adams was a September addition to the Leatherneck roster and like the Gopher’s injury afflicted Mi’Cole Cayton we have no idea how much she will play.
5’7” guard Elizebeth Lutz is a player whose moment is now. The California native was a Summit League defensive first team selection with 2.2 steals per game. She started 29 games and scored 12 points per game. Lutz went 45-145 (.297) from behind the arc.
5’9” junior guard Anna Deets was the Leathernecks best three threat going 51-132 (.386) from three.
5’9” Guard Jada Thorpe began her career at Kansas State. Thorpe averaged 11 points and 2 steals per game.
Of note is 5’10”, Monmouth transfer, sophomore forward Zareia Chevre from St. Paul (Simley).
6’1” center Alissa Dins put up some good numbers in the first exhibition games with 17 points and 5 rebounds in 26 minutes. In the second she played 16 minutes with 2 points, 7 rebounds and four fouls.
Western arrives at Williams Arena following two exhibition outings. On 24 October WIU dispatched NAIA Columbia College (Missouri) 70-57. And on 1 November they pulled away from D2 Quincy University (Illinois) 63-48. I doubt the Leathernecks three-point shooting is where Gravina wants it to be. They were 6-24 versus Columbia and 8-29 versus Quincy. And, please note, Jayda Adams did not appear in either game.
If you’re wondering, WIU and Macomb lie roughly mid-way between Peoria (think Bradley University) and the Mississippi river town of Quincy (think Lincoln-Douglas debate).
GOPHERS VERSUS LEATHERNECKS
Minnesota and Western Illinois have faced off four times. The Gophers won the first in 1994 and the last in 1997. Western took the middle two contests. This season, I’m assuming Minnesota will turn out to be WIU’s strongest non-conference opponent.
Both the Gophers and Leathernecks will play Eastern Illinois, Chicago State and, of course, North Dakota State. Western Illinois will be regular visitors to the Twin Cities as they compete against conference foe St. Thomas.
THE “ROCK” AND THE FIGHTING LEATHERNECKS NICKNAME
No, not that “Rock”; this “Rock”: WWI veteran Ray Hanson:
Western Illinois University holds the distinction of being the only non-military institution to officially have its nickname derived from a branch of the military service. The school began use of the Marine Corps’ official nickname, “The Fighting Leathernecks,” in 1927 when then-athletic director and head baseball, basketball and football coach Ray “Rock” Hanson was granted permission by the U.S. Navy, based on his status as a Marine hero, to use the Marine’s official seal and bulldog mascot along with their nickname.
Elizabeth Lutz Exhibtion Games:
Team Pts Reb Asst Min Foul Columbia 13 10 6 30 0 Quincy 19 11 3 29 1
Jada Thorpe Exhibition Games:
Team Pts Reb Asst Min Foul Columbia 16 4 1 28 1 Quincy 11 0 0 22 2
Probable Starters With Last Year’s Stats:
HGT POS YR PLAYER MIN AVG REB 5’7” G Sr Elizabeth Lutz 33.8 11.6 4.7 5’9” G RJr Jada Thorpe 29.4 11.2 3.0 6’1” C Sr Alissa Dins 10.7 2.4 2.4 5’9” G Jr Anna Deets 22.0 6.8 2.0 6’0” F RJr Kennedy Flanagan 9.1 2.5 1.0
Others With Last Years Stats:
HGT POS YR PLAYER MIN AVG REB 5’10” F So Zareia Chevre 5.6 1.0 1.1 5’8” G Jr Mallory McDermitt 12.7 4.8 1.0 5’8” G F Allie Meadows DNP 5’9” G F Addi Brownfield DNP 5’9” G Sr Carla Flores DNP