The Falcons begin their second season under coach Grant Leep with an exhibition Friday. They return some veteran players along with GNAC Freshman of the Year Tony Miller.
The second season of the Grant Leep era begins this week for Seattle Pacific men’s basketball. The Falcons host Capilano University at 7 p.m. Friday against the Blues who hail from North Vancouver, B.C. That will be the only exhibition game for the Falcons.
The regular season starts on the road as SPU plays two games at the Pioneer Challenge in Hayward, Calif. The Falcons meet Sonoma State on Nov. 10 at noon before clashing with host Cal State East Bay on Nov. 11 at 2 p.m.
A challenging combination of injuries and youth hampered the SPU men in their first season under Leep. Key veterans Sam Simpson and Gabe Colosimo were sidelined with injuries along with North Dakota State transfer Trey Miller. That trio is healthy now and joins a young core that features three returning starters, including the top two scorers.
Tony Miller was honored as the 2017 GNAC Freshman of the Year after ranking 11th nationally with 15 double-doubles. The 6-foot-6 sophomore forward averaged 19.0 points and 9.7 rebounds last season. Coleman Wooten is a 6-5 junior forward who was an All-GNAC honorable-mention selection. He averaged 17.0 points and 8.8 rebounds in 2017, ranking second on the team in both categories. Wooten led the Falcons with 72 assists.
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Sophomore guard Gavin Long averaged 10.7 points while leading the team in field-goal (60.1) and three-point (45.8) percentage. The cast of remaining returnees is headlined by sharpshooters Sharif Khan and Hunter Eisenhower, along with junior post man Nathan Streufert. A pair of transfers will vie for immediate playing time: Nikhil Lizotte, who averaged 13.8 points last year at Humboldt State, and 6-11 Christian Russell from Oregon State.
SPU returns six players that started at least one game last season. Five of the 15 players on the roster have never played a game in a Falcons uniform, including Miller, a transfer from Division I North Dakota State who sat out last season at SPU with an injury. He hopes to play alongside his brother, Tony, for the first time.
• Seattle Reign FC announced that five players will be competing with Melbourne City FC of Australia’s W-League during the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) offseason. Midfielder Jessica Fishlock, defenders Rebekah Stott and Lauren Barnes, forward Larissa Crummer and goalkeeper Lydia Williams return to the team that won the W-League Grand Final last season.