St. Martin's guard Julia Eisentrout scores 21 in victory over Evergreen

November 14, 2002

by Gail Wood

It will be rivalry, primer and final exam all rolled in to one tonight when the Saint Martin's and Evergreen State men's and women's basketball teams crank up their season.

While it is early, it is not so early that it deflates a series that began six years ago when Evergreen added basketball to its athletic program.

Men's matchup

"You'll always have the competition nature to the ballgame because you have two teams and two coaches who are going to toss it up," Saint Martin's men coach Bob Grisham said.

For the first time, Saint Martin's is calling the game an exhibition and won't count it in won-lost records. For Evergreen, an NAIA school, it remains a counting game.

Saint Martin's, an NCAA Division II school feeling pressure from its Greater Northwest Athletic Conference, reduced the rivalry game to an exhibition because of the power ratings that determine who reaches the playoffs.

A win against NAIA opponents counts the same as a lost against an NCAA Division II team.

But the winner tonight has bragging rights and perhaps a recruiting boost.

"We see the game like we're playing our bigger brother," Evergreen men's coach John Barbee said of the rival from Lacey.

Evergreen, with 11 new players - all transfers - could use validation. Mike Parker, a 6-foot-6 forward who can pop jumpers form the top of the key, is the lone returning starter from a team that finished 26-7 last season and qualified for the NAIA national tournament.

"It's going to take a little while for this team to jell," Barbee said. "They want to be good. They work hard. We're potentially as good a defensive team as we've had."

Parker, who averaged 16 points per game last season, will be the focus of an offense that lacks a dominate inside player and that will rely on outside shooting and a fast pace. Gibbs. And if Evergreen collapses on Gibbs with a sagging zone defense, Saint Martin's hopes to counter with outside shooting.

"We're a better shooting team than we have been in the last couple of years," Grisham said. "But we're definitely not going to be a team that lives and dies by the three. Nick gives us that inside threat."

Instead, the offense will funnel through Gibbs, a senior who has started for three years.

Adam Laneer, while only 6-5, will play center for Evergreen. His outside shooting and ability to drive to the basket will be a hard matchup for the Saints.

Parker, with the departure of All-Americans Quincy Wilder and Andre Stewart, will be asked to score more.

Saint Martin's, with four returning starters, won't rely on one player to carry the scoring. In an exhibition win against the Son's Blue Angels, five players finished in double figures.

In the women's game, Evergreen will need to contain the outside shooting of Saint Martin's, which sank 6-of-14 3-point shots in an exhibition game Monday.

Guards Alan Erickson and Lisa Bocock have the green light to shoo the three for the Saints.

"We're a better shooting team," Saints coach Tim Healy said. "We've changed our offense to feature the three."

Evergreen will counter with a pair of community college transfers from California - TySheanna Alewine, a 5-8 all-league player at Merced Community College, and DoKesha Meacham, a 5-9 forward from Foothill Community College.

"Ty brings athleticism to our team," Evergreen coach Monica Heuer said. "She can drive to the basket or pull up for the jumper. Most of all she's tenacious on defense."

Saint Martin's has the quickness to push the ball and play a pressing defense.

"We'd like to fast break more," Healy said. "I think we're more athletic this season. We have the talent to be more up-tempo."

But with Parker as Evergreen's tallest player, the Geoducks will need a company effort to contain 6-foot-10 Nick