Prior to last season Eastern Washington had just one NCAA tournament appearance to its credit, back in 2004. Head coach Jim Hayford’s team changed that, winning 26 games and the Big Sky’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament with players such as Tyler Harvey, Venky Jois and Ognjen Miljkovic leading the way. As a result of that success, the school has decided to reward Hayford with a new contract.
Thursday it was announced by the school that the two sides have agreed on a contract extension that will run through the 2019-20 campaign.
Hayford’s Eagles put together the program’s most successful season as a Division I member, not only winning 26 games (which included a win at Indiana) but also winning 14 conference games. Now comes the tough part for Eastern Washington: accounting for the loss of three of their top four scorers (Harvey, Miljkovic and Drew Brandon) with Jois being their most productive returnee.
Among Eastern Washington’s additions are grad student Austin McBroom, who played his last two seasons at Saint Louis. The Eagles also add 6-foot-8 junior college transfer Rico Nuno and four freshmen to the program. Forwards Bogdan Bliznyuk, who averaged 8.7 points and 4.0 rebounds per game as a freshman in 2014-15, and Felix Von Hofe (5.1 ppg) should figure more prominently in the rotation as the Eagles look to earn the Big Sky’s NCAA bid for a second consecutive year.