Fresh from Cheney, Alex Pribble is eager to take a trip back to the east side.
Two of them, in fact.
The Saint Martin’s University men’s basketball coach — who was hired in April after assisting for two years at Eastern Washington University — scheduled two exhibition games this season against Division-I programs Gonzaga and Idaho.
The schedule was finalized Sept. 11.
“By the time that I got hired, it was late in the game with scheduling,” Pribble said. “So we put a lot of feelers out with DI schools we have connections with.”
Gonzaga and Idaho both bit.
The Saints will cross the state border to visit the Vandals first. They travel Oct. 30 to Moscow, Idaho, to open the season. Idaho finished seventh in the Big Sky last season at 8-10 (13-17 overall), but were 11-3 at home.
“We want to embrace a challenge,” Pribble said. “Whether it’s Idaho or GNAC opponents like Seattle Pacific or Western Washington, we don’t want to run away from a challenge.”
Pribble is clear on that.
On Dec. 14, SMU travels to Spokane to face Gonzaga in its 11th game of the season. The West Coast Conference powerhouse was 35-3 last season (17-1 WCC) and only lost one game at home against BYU.
The Bulldogs advanced to the Elite Eight for the second time in school history last March in the NCAA tournament. They lost, 66-52, to eventual national champion Duke.
“For us, that game (vs. Gonzaga) is an incredibly unique opportunity for our players to play against the best players in the nation,” Pribble said.
The Saints return four players from last year’s team, which went 6-22 (3-15 GNAC). Nine new players have been added to this season’s roster.
This is Pribble’s first head coaching job at the collegiate level, and he said he will, in many ways, try to mirror what he learned from Jim Hayford at Eastern.
In four seasons, Hayford led the Eagles to a NCAA tournament berth — the second berth in school history.
“He focused on all the details, every part of the program that might not come to mind for the average basketball coach,” Pribble said. “He put time into every decision that affected the program.”
Pribble said the Eastern program spent significant time helping players develop individually — a trend he hopes to continue.
“We’re doing those same things here at Saint Martin’s,” Pribble said. “We work a lot on team basketball, but put a lot of value in individual development.”
CAPITAL GRAD NAMED PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Two weeks into her career at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire, Dani Tabor is already turning heads.
The Capital High School graduate — and former The Olympian all-area player — was named the Little East Conference women’s volleyball player of the week on Monday.
“No one knows who I am, I’m brand new to this conference,” Tabor said.
They know now.
A 5-foot-11 outside hitter, Tabor had double-digit kills in four of Plymouth State’s five games last week. She finished the week with 54 kills, 18 digs and nine blocks.
Tabor, a junior, transferred this year from Highline Community College, where she played for two years. Prior to that, she played four years at Capital.
The Cougars reached the state tournament all four years Tabor played, and placed eighth in the Class 2A tournament her senior year.
“I can’t wait to come home for winter break and hopefully watch Capital while I’m home,” Tabor said.
Plymouth State is 7-3 to open the season.
Lauren Smith: 360-754-5473