Hayford looks to build on last year’s solid campaign

Hayford looks to build on last years solid campaign

For Eastern men’s basketball coach Jim Hayford, it is all about the turnovers, both on the court and on the roster.

Despite having a worse shooting percentage and fewer rebounds than their opponents, the 2011-2012 men’s basketball team was able to achieve their best record in six years and a postseason victory, in large part due to turnovers. Hayford’s squad forced 498 turnovers and only committed 377 themselves, a positive differential of 121.

“We put a premium on taking care of the ball,” Hayford said. “We want to limit our turnovers. Certainly last year’s team was a pressure defensive team that was really good at forcing turnovers. So any time you get the opportunity to have that many more possessions than the other team it gives you a great advantage. We saw some of those same things continue when we were up in

The trip to which Hayford refers was a seven-day, six-game expedition through British Columbia that saw his team win all six games by an average margin of over 20 points. Each victory had a separate leading scorer.

Turnover also refers to the amount of newcomers on the 2012-2013 basketball team. Of the 16 players on the roster, only six are returning letterwinners. Three of the 16 players used their redshirt year at EWU during the 2011-2012 season and seven players are new to the university altogether. Of those seven, five are incoming freshman and two are junior college transfers.

With all the turnover taking place on the roster, coach Hayford was thankful for the opportunity to play a series of exhibition games before the regular season starts. NCAA Division I schools can make a preseason foreign trip every four years and play up to six games.

“We just need to get to know each other,” Hayford said. “[The trip] expedited that process and helped us gain familiarity with one another. I really think that will pay dividends once we move into the season.”

Collin Chiverton, a senior communications major and the team’s leading returning scorer, talked about the benefits of the Canada trip.

“It was wonderful,” Chiverton said. “We needed it because we’ve got a brand new team this year. Last year our four seniors left; that was big.”

Chiverton averaged 13.9 points per game last season despite playing only 22.1 minutes per game due to a broken foot.

“I’m ready to play more minutes,” Chiverton said. “Last year I played with a broken foot so it kind of limited me minutes-wise because sometimes I’d have to rest or do whatever I had to do so it wouldn’t hurt. This year I feel 100 percent. I don’t feel like I’ll have to rest or I’ll have any burdens holding me back.

“I’m just going to try to play my heart out every time I step on the court and just try to lead us to victory anyway I can.”

Also returning for his senior year is Kevin Winford, whose 2012-2013 season will be his fifth wearing the Eagles red and white after redshirting his freshman year. For the 5-foot-11-inch guard, he hopes this season will be more like his freshman and sophomore years in which he started 34 out of 58 possible combined games as opposed to his junior year when he only started one of a possible 30.

“My first couple [of] years … I shot the ball really well, setting records at Eastern and things like that,” Winford said. “Last year I kind of had a frustrating year. I really want to go back to playing solid, playing more aggressive and playing like a senior.”

Winford said coach Hayford’s philosophy on turnovers is an attitude that starts at practice.

“If we do turn it over in practice, we usually have to do pushups,” Winford said. “We do a lot of push ups throughout the course of practice. That really helps. That’s his pet peeve [turnovers].”

Martin Seiferth, a redshirt transfer from the University of Oregon and originally from Berlin, Germany, said that approach is here to stay.

“We definitely want to stay that team with a lot of forced turnovers and less turnovers on our side,” Seiferth said. “[Coach] definitely puts a lot of emphasis on that.”

After sitting out the 2011-2012 season due to NCAA rules regarding redshirt transfers within Division-I basketball, Seiferth is itching to get back out onto the court.

“[I’m] stoked, cannot wait,” Seiferth said. “Sitting out one year, it helps to improve obviously, but it’s tough.”

Eastern opens up its season with a trip to Pullman, Wash., on Nov. 10. Coach Hayford sees that game as an opportunity to announce Eastern’s presence as a team fans can be proud of.

“The neat thing about basketball is that there’s five of your guys and five of their guys on the court,” Hayford said. “I know that we could make a great statement by getting a win in our season opener down there that would make all of our Eastern fans really proud.”