Men’s basketball garners GNAC Team of the Week Award

Photo by Paul McCarthy
Andrew Kelly (left) blocks a CCU shot and Zach Ngawaka (right) brings the ball up court after a rebound.

Jamie Foland

Following a 3-0 week and the team title at the GCI Alaska Invitational, the Alaska men’s basketball team has been named Great Northwest Athletic Conference Team of the Week, the league office announced Monday.

The Nanooks (4-1) downed Cal State Monterey Bay (80-73), Oklahoma Panhandle State (77-54) and Colorado Christian (85-72) in consecutive days to win the Invitational for the first time in its four-year history. It also marked the first time since the 2002 BP Top of the World Classic that Alaska won a home basketball tournament.

“We’re trying to use these games to get better, so I think we made some strides from our first weekend in Anchorage to this past week in Fairbanks,” head coach Mick Durham said. “Obviously you can evaluate with the Colorado Christian game, losing one week and winning the next.”

Alaska averaged 80.7 points per game and won the three games by an average of 14.3 points, including a 23-point victory Friday over OPSU. As a team, it shot 47.4-percent from the floor and won the rebounding war by an average of four boards per game. The Nanooks also dished out a combined 71 assists in the wins, to their opponents’ 30, and made 12 blocks and 40 steals.

Junior guard Pat Voeut (Bellingham, Wash./Communications) was named tournament MVP and earlier Monday was honored as the GNAC Red Lion Player of the Week while junior center Sergej Pucar (Belgrade, Serbia/Business Administration) and junior forward Stefan Tica (Belgrade, Serbia/Business and Finance) were tabbed to the All-Tournament Team.

The team accolade comes after a very successful week for GNAC men’s basketball as all 10 teams combined to go 17-3 against non-conference opponents.

“It’s important this time of year to get better each week and that’s going to be the case this week,” Durham said. “Our guys are feeling pretty good about their performances but you still have to get better with GNAC play about a week away.”

The Nanooks travel to Bellingham, Wash., this week to compete in a pair of neutral site games at the WWU Chuck Randall Thanksgiving Classic, hosted by Western Washington. Alaska takes on Southwest Baptist Friday and Concordia (Minn.) Saturday.