Game Time...Fourth-ranked Northwestern College takes on The California Maritime Academy in the opening round of the 2013 NAIA D-II Men's Basketball National Championship on Thursday, March 7 at 7:30pm. The 2013 championship is held at the Keeter Gymnasium on the campus of College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, Mo. Both teams own a 24-6 overall record heading into Thursday's opening round game.
All-Time...This is the first ever match-up between Northwestern and Cal Maritime.
How They Qualified...Cal Maritime earned an automatic bid into the 32-team field by winning the California Athletic Conference postseason tournament for the second straight year.
Northwestern also earned an automatic bid by winning the GPAC regular season championship.
Tournament History...The Keelhaulers are making its second overall appearance at the national tournament, also qualifying last year in 2012. They are 0-1 all-time at the championship, losing to Dordt 63-54 in the first round.
Northwestern is making its third straight and 16th overall national tournament appearance, the second most among all NAIA D-II teams (College of the Ozarks-17). The Red Raiders are 29-13 all-time at the championship, the most wins in this year's tournament field and the second most wins all-time (Oregon Tech). They won two national championships (2001, 2003) and have been to the national semifinals six times.
Scouting Cal Maritime...Located in Vallejo, approximately 30 miles northeast of San Francisco, the University of California Maritime is the lone representative from the California Pacific Conference to be the championship field. The Keelhaulers finished tied for second with California-Merced in the CPC regular season at 7-3 behind William Jessup. They defeated Cal Merced in the conference semifinals and followed with a 66-63 win over Menlo in the championship game to earn the automatic bid into the championship. Cal Maritime is 24-6 overall, earning votes in the last five coaches' polls, and setting the school record for wins in a season. They are 1-1 against teams in the tournament field, defeating Valley City State (85-80) but losing to Northwest (78-63).
Bryan Rooney is in his sixth season as the head coach at Cal Maritime and boasts an 88-65 overall record heading into the national tournament. He guided the Keelhaulers to a 14-14 record in his first season and his teams have had a better record in each of his seasons. Last year, Rooney guided CMU to a perfect 12-0 record in conference play, the first time a team went undefeated in CPC league play, and its first postseason championship and national tournament berth. They set the then-school record with a 21 wins last year, finishing 21-10. Rooney earned conference coach of the year honors. He returned eight players and one starter off last year's team.
CMU averages 69 points per game, shooting a league-best 42% from the floor. They have 173 three-pointers this season, averaging 5.8 per game, shooting 33% from beyond the arc. The Keelhaulers are the top defensive and rebounding team in the conference, giving up 63 points per game and owning a +6 advantage on the boards, 13th best in the NAIA.
Senior guard Keven Campbell leads a balanced offense, scoring 13.2 points per game. A two-time all-conference selection and lone returning starter, Campbell is second on the team with 36 three-pointers. Howie Manzo averages 10.2 points per game and leads the team with 48 three-pointers, shooting 41% from beyond the arc. Manzo, a key reserve off last year's squad, earned second team all-conference honors. Newcomer Anthony Simi, a 6'4 transfer from San Joaquin Delta College, scores 9.4 points per game and leads the team in rebounds (4.6/game). Junior point guard Jaquai Wiley, the defensive player of the year in the CPC, scores seven points per game, ranks sixth in the league with 66 assists and fourth in the league with 42 steals.
Northwestern News and Notes...The Red Raiders closed the season ranked fourth in the Feb. 27 poll and earned the #4 seed in the 32-team field. They won their eighth GPAC regular season title with a 17-3 record and are 24-6 overall, the third straight 20+-win season and 12th in the last 14 years. Of its six losses, three are to teams in the tournament field (William Penn, Dordt and Valley City State).
Kris Korver is in his 13th year as the head coach and is the all-time winningest coach in the program's history with a 325-98 overall record. He has won 77% of his games and is a four-time GPAC coach of the year.
Northwestern averages a league-best 84 points per game, 10th best in the NAIA. They rank third in the NAIA in field goal percentage (51%), second in rebounding (+12) and 11th in free throw percentage (73%). The Red Raiders also lead the GPAC in field goal percentage defense (41%) and give up 72 points per game.
Ben Miller earned GPAC player of the year and first team all-conference honors for the third time after ranking third in the GPAC in scoring (18.4) and second in rebounding (8.7). The two-time NAIA All-American also ranks second in the GPAC with 156 assists and is shooting 55% from the field. Daniel Van Kalsbeek, a two time All-American, scores 14.2 points per game and is shooting 54% from the field. He also ranks sixth in the GPAC with 28 blocked shots, earning first team all-GPAC honors for the third time. Miller (1,780) and Van Kalsbeek (1,766) rank seventh and ninth in career scoring at NWC while Miller ranks fourth in career rebounds (904). Zack Leeper puts in 12.3 points per game and leads the team with 47 three-pointers, shooting 32% from beyond the arc. The junior pulls down 4.6 boards per game and earned second team all-conference honors. Both Stu Goslinga and Josh Vander Plaats earned honorable mention all-GPAC honors after scoring 9.0 and 7.4 points per game, respectively. Goslinga has 969 career points, needing 31 points to become the 42nd member of the 1,000-point club. He needs just 22 more rebounds to become the 15th member of the 700 rebound club. Levi Ettleman scores 6.6 points per game and has 22 three-pointers while Rob Gill (5.6), Joey Habtemariam (4.7) and Bryce Moss (4.2) are the other top scorers.
Up Next...The winner advances to the second round and will play either #13 Tennessee Wesleyan or Grace (Ind.) on Friday at 5:45pm.