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November 4, 2009 at 5:16 AM

Scouting Central Washington

This season we’ll look at the upcoming opponents. Today: Central Washington.
Two fun facts about tonight’s 7 p.m. exhibition at Edmundson Pavilion.
— Washington and Central haven’t played since Jan. 9, 1943 when UW won 58-30 in Seattle to avenge an earlier season loss, 53-49, on Dec. 23 in Ellensburg.
— Central hasn’t played a Pac-10 school since losing 84-40 to Washington State on Nov. 5, 2006.
The Wildcats lost six of its top seven scorers, four starters and 76 percent of its scoring from a team that finished 18-7 overall, second in the nine-team GNAC with a 12-4 record and lost in the first round of the NCAA Division II Tournament last season.
Despite its retooled roster, GNAC coaches picked Central to finish third in the conference.
Senior point guard Jon Clift started 23 games and averaged 5.3 points per game last season, but he’s not starting this season. Chris Sprinker, who is a Curtis High grad, also saw extensive playing time last season. He averaged 6.6 points per game and shot 54.6 percent from the field.
The other returners are senior G/F Riley Sivak, who averaged 3.5 points, and sophomore center Ted Nelson, Central’s first 7-foot player.
The aptly named JC Cook leads a group of seven highly touted junior college transfers. Cook averaged 21.7 and 19.4 points per game in his two seasons at Clackamas Community College.
Other notable newcomers include 6-4 forward Jody Johnson, a former Franklin High standout and Yakima Valley CC and 6-4 swing Najee Ali, a freshman from Rainier Beach High.
Wildcat coach Greg Sparling is in his 15th season at Central and has a 238-156 (.604) record.
Projected starting lineup:
G – JC Cook, 6-1, 190, Jr.
G – Toussaint Tyler, 6-1, 185, Jr.
G – Humberto Perez, 6-2. 185, Jr. or Riley Sivak, 6-5, 195, Sr.
F/C – Roby Clyde, 6-5, 230, So.
F/C – Chris Sprinker, 6-9, 225, Sr.
And here’s a conversation with Wildcats beat writer Ian Abbott of The Daily Record:

(What are your expectations for the season?)
“I don’t know what to expect but I would not be surprised to see them drop off this year. … They lost most of their leading scorers. They lost two of their high profile guys both were transfers at one point Jake Beitinger and Matt Penoncello. Both of those guys struggled with injuries the set them back. They also lost defensive specialist Johnny Spevak whose with the football team. … They lost an important sixth man who came on strong late in the year Brandon Foote who was kind of a monster for them.”

(Any clue about the newcomers?)
“It’s a big mystery to me. I haven’t talked to coach about any of these guys. I don’t follow local community college guys and that’s really what all of these guys are. That’s kind of where they get a lot of these guys from. … If you look at their roster most of their roster is guys they brought in off community colleges. Nobody really caught my eye, but I don’t know if I’m the expert on that.”

(What does Central hope to gain from tonight’s game?)
“Obviously going into this game expecting to win is probably a bit much to ask against a nationally ranked team like Washington, but I think it will be a chance for them to not necessarily check out their new guys but build some chemistry and get a game plan in place with this new lineup. They only have Jon Clift back as far as their starting lineup and I’m not sure if he’ll start. . … The only problem is how well can you gauge what you got against a team like Washington and I don’t know what Washington is going to bring. How much firepower they’re going to show or how many guys they’re going to workout in and out. … Going back 2006 was the last time they had a really high profile exhibition game and they faced Washington State. They lost 84-40 on Nov. 5, 2006. I don’t remember if that was right before Washington State was becoming one of the ranked teams or they were ranked at that point. So that might be a parallel.”
(Describe Central’s style.) “They run a pretty fast-paced offense.”
(Is the basketball team being overlooked in Ellensburg because the Central and Ellensburg High football teams are undefeated?) “The interest is pretty high. I haven’t been here all that long so I won’t be able to say it’s an all-time high, but they (Ellensburg High) haven’t been ranked No. 1 (in 2A) in the state in, they couldn’t remember a time they were ranked No. 1 in the state. It’s still football season here and to be honest I knew that Central was going to play U-Dub in Seattle, but to be honest, I completely forgot about it until one of our guys e-mailed me saying are you guys going to send someone out there to cover that. We’re not going to be sending someone out there. We have a full slate of football this weekend and it’s pretty safe to say most people here are still focused on football season.’

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