March 10, 2010
Cullowhee, N.C. -
With the second wave of conference championships across the country being crowned this weekend and "Selection Sunday" for the four post-season tournaments less than five days away, the Western Carolina Catamount men's basketball team continues to await a possible post-season berth, which could include an additional home date in the Ramsey Center.
Fans are encouraged to keep tabs on the Catamounts through its official website, CatamountSports.com, as the various selection committees fill their fields from deserving teams from across the country.
Western Carolina, which won 22 games this season - the most since becoming a NCAA Division I program - will discover this weekend if its collective body of work will warrant a post-season nod. WCU put three on the All-Southern Conference teams, including coaches and media selection senior Brandon Giles, with classmates Jake Robinson and Brigham Waginger each garnering the media tally. Waginger was additionally tabbed as the league's co-Defensive Player of the Year by the media.
Most recently, Harouna Mutombo was named to the SoCon All-tournament team for his play in Charlotte in the nation's oldest post-season conference tournament.
This season, the Catamounts played four team inside the top 50 in national RPI, including Texas and Clemson - ranked 26th and 27th, respectively, with a win over Louisville, which is 31st this week, and a close, two-point loss to a Kent State team which ranks 43rd and is the top seed in the Mid-American Conference tournament.
Combined, Western Carolina, which is ranked 118th in the latest NCAA RPI, faced nine teams ranked ahead of it in the ratings including seven inside the top 100 with Bradley (101) and Duquesne (111) just outside.
Here are some additional notes about the Catamounts from the 2009-10 season:
Story Lines from the Season:
* Western Carolina posted its second-straight winning season giving the Catamounts consecutive winning records for the first-time since 1995-96 and 1996-97;
* The 22 wins from the season are the most under fifth-year head coach Larry Hunter;
* Average attendance figures in the Ramsey Center more than doubled during the 2009-10 season ... WCU averaged 2,427 fans this season over the 1,204 from a season ago ... WCU posted two of the top three attendances in Ramsey Center history this year (6,024 vs. Appalachian State on Feb. 6 and 4,765 vs. Charleston on Jan. 25);
* Western Carolina had a nine-game winning streak that ran from November 23 through December 12 and included winning the Cullowhee sub-regional round of the O'Reilly Auto Parts CBE Classic;
* Western Carolina was ranked in the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 for 12-straight weeks including six-straight weeks of being in the top 10 ... the Catamounts added a 13th week when including "others receiving votes" ... WCU advanced to a program-best ranking of sixth in mid-December;
* Additionally, the Catamounts were received votes in both the USA Today/ESPN Coaches' Poll (47th) and Associated Press (51st) Top 25 polls that were released on Dec. 14;
* Including 12-straight wins at home this season, Western Carolina all told compiled a 15-game home winning streak in the Ramsey Center over the past two years ... the Catamounts won a Ramsey Center record 15 home games this year ... All told, WCU has won 27 of its last 31 games overall at home, and 18 of its last 21 SoCon match-ups ... Under Larry Hunter, WCU is 49-20 at home, a 71-percent winning percentage;
* WCU set a school-record for 3-pointers made in a single-season, currently with 263 to break the previous benchmark of 237 in 2007-08 ... It is the fourth-time under head coach Larry Hunter that the Catamounts have re-written that record ... the Catamounts have also smashed the previous 3-pointers per game average of 7.65 by averaging 7.97 three's per game this year;
* Senior Jake Robinson re-wrote the school's career record with 271 career treys and is tied for third on the individual single-season ledger with a career-high 77 3-pointers made this season ... Robinson additionally eclipsed the 1,000-point score plateau and became the fourth Academic All-America selection at WCU all-time and the first since 1990;
* Senior Brigham Waginger broke both his own single-season steals record, currently with 89 - and the school's career thefts record previously held by former Catamount great, Henry Logan ... Waginger has 284 steals to hold the school career record and is third in SoCon history, just nine steals shy of second-place;
* Western Carolina snapped a three-game losing skid in the SoCon tournament this year, and advanced to the semifinals for the first time since 1999;
Best Catamount Victories of the Season:
Western Carolina 83, Duquesne 77 - (Nov. 23, Cullowhee) - the Dukes, which were undefeated at the time of the game, finished with a 16-15 overall record, battled nationally-ranked Pittsburgh through double-overtime this season before falling;
Western Carolina 72, Wofford 67 - (Dec. 2, Cullowhee) - Eventual SoCon Champion, Wofford, won 25 games this season, only suffering eight defeats including a five-point setback at the Ramsey Center ... Wofford additionally scored wins over SEC-members, Georgia and South Carolina (which beat then-#1 Kentucky); the College of Charleston (21-11), and Appalachian State (22-12);
Western Carolina 75, Bradley 67 - (Dec. 7, Peoria, Ill.) - Perennial power out of the Missouri Valley Conference, the Bradley Braves (16-15) scored wins over nationally-ranked Illinois (18-13) and Northern Iowa (28-4) this season ... Bradley boasted a 82-percent winning percentage against non-conference foes at Carver Arena all-time entering the match-up;
Western Carolina 66, Campbell 59 - (Dec. 10, Cullowhee) - the Camels finished 19-11 on the season in the Atlantic-Sun Conference with wins over East Carolina and Appalachian State (22-12);
Western Carolina 91, Louisville 83 - (Dec. 12, Cullowhee) - Ending a three-game week for WCU, the Catamounts knocked off the Rick Pitino-led Cardinals in Freedom Hall, a building in which Louisville had won 83-percent of its games in 54 seasons ... the Cardinals twice beat Syracuse (28-3) when the Orange were ranked No. 1 and No. 3;
Western Carolina 100, College of Charleston 90 - (Jan. 25, Cullowhee) - In a battle of the two preseason SoCon favorites, WCU downed the Cougars in one of the most exciting games in the conference this season ... Charleston, which also won 20 games this year at 21-11, also scored wins over North Carolina when the Tar Heels were ranked ninth in the country, and also earned wins over other 20-win teams, Wofford (26-8) and Appalachian State (22-12) and at George Mason (17-14) in the ESPN BracketBuster.