Mighty Mouse is a cartoon character that appeared in 80 films between 1942 and 1961.
He is also the 1996 NBA Rookie of the Year and head coach of the Pacific Tigers.
Damon Stoudamire has already coached three seasons in Stockton, only finishing .500 once. Early in January, he clinched the most wins in any of his four tenures so far.
Pacific has roared out to a 19-8 start to the season. Although only five of those victories have been against top 150 KenPom opponents, they have put the league on notice. They’re 5-5 against those teams including a victory at UNLV and against last year’s WCC Tournament Champion Saint Mary’s at home.
The top three teams are always a given in the West Coast Conference: Gonzaga followed by Saint Mary’s and BYU. It’s like clockwork, they have all finished in the top three since BYU joined the conference in 2011-12. One thing that has not been a given is the fourth-best team. Every year it has been one of four squads: Loyola Marymount, Santa Clara, San Francisco or San Diego, just not Portland or Pacific. The Tigers will try and change that this year.
They’re doing it completely different from most teams in the country: through their bench. The Tigers use their bench 47.1% of the time, second in the country behind Saint Peter’s. Only one other team in the top ten in bench usage has single-digit losses, and that’s Bob Huggins’ West Virginia Mountaineers.
Leading the Tigers are their three guards Gary Chivichyan, Justin Moore and Jahlil Tripp. Those three don’t do it the normal way though, as Pacific is 28th in the country with 56.8% of their points coming from 2-point range.
Gary Chivichyan has quietly been one of the best transfers of 2019-20. The Idaho State transfer made some waves in Pocatello, ranking 114th nationally in turnover rate and 270th in 3-point percentage. This season, he was the major key to beat Saint Mary’s, hitting the shot to send into both the third and fourth overtime. He also hit the two-game winning free throws in that game.
Pacific's Armenian Sniper brings his sharpshooting and culture to the court @UOPacific @PacificTigers @PacificMensBB @Iambiggie503 @GaryChivichyan pic.twitter.com/NdAtWQ8xpP— Michelle Dapper (@KCRAdapper) January 10, 2020
Although not starting any games this year, he averages 18.1 minutes per game including 13 games logging 20+ minutes. He takes a team high 28.1% of its shots, good for 184th in the nation. The transfer only averages 8.1 points per game but is 99th nationally in turnover rate and 256th in 3-point percentage.
Pacific’s leader is Jahlil Tripp. He is one of the team’s two major contributor’s, ranking in the top 100 nationally in three categories, leading the team in points per game with 15.2 ppg.
Tripp is 31st nationally in defensive rebound %, 63rd in FD/40, and 73rd in FT rate. During the Saint Mary’s game, he scored a team high 39 points which was 36.44% of the teams’ points.
His fellow major contributor is Justin Moore. The Georgia Tech transfer has been the key piece taking the Tigers to the next step this season. During his one year in Atlanta, he helped take the Jackets to the NIT championship, started 18 games and ranked 206th nationally in assist rate and averaged 4.4 points per game. This season, Moore ranks 189th in the country in assist rate.
Pacific has a lot of work to do to make the top three in the WCC, but this season is showing good signs in Stockton. With a win on Thursday against Portland, Pacific will clinch their first 20-win season in the West Coast Conference and the first since 2012-13.