Luke Cooper’s Anchorage Alaska Seawolves have advanced to the Final 4 of the NCAA Division II championships in Springfield, Massachussettes after defeating California of Pennsylvania in a cliffhanger this morning, 55-52.
Cooper, a senior and the team’s captain, shot 3-8 from the field with 6-8 free throws to finish with 10 points and a game high 4 assists in a full forty minutes on court.
Another Aussie, Kevin White (Manly, NSW) came off the Seawolves’ bench and added 2 points and 2 rebounds.
The 4th-ranked Seawolves (29-5) now advance to Thursday’s semifinals against 10th-ranked Augusta State (26-6) at 2 p.m. (American Daylight Time). The Georgia school moved on with a 106-104 double-overtime thriller over Central Oklahoma in the day’s first quarterfinal.
Junior Ben Magden (Adelaide) had 18 points, eight rebounds and five steals for Augusta State (25-6) while Tom Wright (Sydney) did not see court time.
Thursday’s game will be shown live nationally in America on CBS College Sports Television.
It is the Seawolve’s first Final 4 appearance since advancing to the national title game in 1988, also in Springfield.
The University of North Alabama and Phil Collins (Sydney) take on Bentley College at 11:30am Sydney time.
Cooper leads Seawolves to Elite 8
19 March 2008
Melbourne’s Luke Cooper has steered his US college team Alaksa Anchorage to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Division Two tournament for the first time in 20 years following the Seawolves 73-67 win over Brigham Young-Hawaii in the title game of the West Region Championships.
The senior point guard has played like an all-star this season and on Monday he was officially inducted into the club, earning second-team All-America honors by Basketball Times magazine.
"First team, second team, it doesn't matter. He's one of the top 10 players in the country," UAA coach Rusty Osborne said by cell phone from Springfield, Mass., where the fourth-ranked Seawolves are for the NCAA Division II Elite Eight.
The Seawolves (28-5), the No. 1 seed, got 11 assists and four points in 39 minutes on court from senior point guard Cooper (pictured right with arm raised) as well as 19 points from McCade Olsen and a double-double from senior Carl Arts.
UAA, ranked No. 4 nationally, now advances to Springfield, Massachusetts. for the Division II ‘Elite 8’ quarterfinals to be played between March 26 and 29 with the Seawolves to face the winner of Tuesday’s East Region final between top-seeded California (Pa.) and 6th-seeded Millersville.
Cooper is having an outstanding senior year with the Seawolves. The 6-foot, 165-pound point guard, was named the GNAC Player of the Year and leads the NCAA Division II with 9.1 assists per game and ranks among the nation’s top 10 in assist-to-turnover ratio at 3.75-to-1.
He is also averaging a career-best 7.8 points per game.
He is No. 4 all-time assist leader in Division II history with 844, and has had 14 games with double-digit assists this season, including a school- and GNAC-record 18 against Saint Martin’s and 17 against Montana State Billings. He is also No. 3 on UAA’s and No. 9 on the GNAC’s career steals list with 153.
As a result, he was a finalist in the prestigious Bob Cousy Award as the nation’s top collegiate point guard. When voting concluded Cooper finished in fifth position, an amazing achievement.
The Bob Cousy Award is given to the top collegiate male basketball point guard annually spanning across all divisions within the game by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
The selection criteria emphasize leadership, team work, success, and fundamentals as being critical parts for the game of basketball as a point guard. Nominations are solicited from across the country from head coaches and the winner is selected by a Blue Ribbon Selection Committee made up of the biggest names in college basketball.
He was also named to the Daktronics NCAA Division II All-West Region First Team for men’s basketball, recognizing him among the top six players in the 28-team region.
2008 NCAA Div. II West Regional All-Tournament Team
Devin Peal (Humboldt State) - Player of the Year
Carl Arts (Alaska Anchorage)
Lucas Alves (BYU-Hawaii)
Marko Kolaric (Chaminade)
Luke Cooper (Alaska Anchorage)
Larry Gordon (Cal Poly Pomona)
Click here for more information on Luke and the Bob Cousy Award.
Congratulations and good luck Luke.
In related news, Manly’s Kevin White is a freshman at Alaska Anchorage. He was the captain of the Gold Medal winning NSW side at the 2006 National U20 Championships under West Sydney Razorbacks head coach Rob Beveridge.