PORT ANGELES — This year, the Pirates’ Davien Harris-Williams has help.
Harris-Williams was the Pirates’ leading scorer last year at 16.8 points per game. But he got to that average by shooting over 400 shots for the season and shooting 36.6 percent from the floor.
This year, the Pirates have more shooters and Harris-Williams, who is back and already has one 30-point game in his pocket for the 2019-2020 season, will not have to carry so much of the scoring load.
Another change for the Pirates this season is coach Donald Rollman has the interim removed from his title after leading the Pirates to the postseason last year. Rollman took over a few weeks before the beginning of the season after previous coach Mitch Freeman took a head coaching position in Oregon. He guided the Pirates to a 7-7 record in the North Division (10-19 overall) and a berth in the NWAC tournament.
The one thing the Pirates won’t have is a lot of size. Their two biggest players are newcomer O’Nuer Gatlauk (Salt Lake City) and returning sophomore Malik Moore (Las Vegas), both of whom are 6-foot-6. For college basketball, that’s a small team.
But, Rollman said this year’s edition of the Pirates will be exciting. And they will be shooters.
“Their work ethic is off the charts. We’re a bit on the smaller side, but it’s already a close group,” Rollman said.
The coach said he expects the Pirates to run a lot and put pressure on the basketball to create turnovers.
“We’re going to play a little faster than we have in past years. [On defense], they’re ready to battle and get after it,” Rollman said.
“Last year, we struggled to score. We’ll be able to score [this year] no problem,” he said. “Last year, Davien had to do a little bit of everything. We’re going to make his life a lot easier. We’re going to spread teams out, they’re going to have to respect guys on the perimeter. I know [Davien’] excited.”
The Pirates have gotten off to a 78.5 scoring average per game at the Tritons/Pirates Classic in Edmonds this weekend, scoring 71 in a win over Grays Harbor and scoring 86 in a 103-86 loss to an unbeaten Clackamas team.
Harris-Williams and his scoring prowess are back this year. Moore, despite being a bit undersized as a power forward, is a rebounding machine. He averaged 7.7 rebounds a game last season and he already has a 15-rebound game this season.
“Malik is big and strong. He’s a workhorse,” Rollman said.
Harris-Williams and Moore are joined by Samuel Kahapea, a solid all-around 6-5 forward from Hilo, Hawaii, who was the Pirates’ second-leading scorer last year at 12.7 points per game.
“Sam is very versatile, he can do a lot of things for us,” Rollman said.
Harris-Williams, Moore and Kahapea are a solid core to build around, providing scoring and rebounding. But that’s it for returning players for the Pirates. Everyone else is new.
“There’s a lot of new guys this year. We see it as an opportunity to create our own culture. I told the guys ‘this is an awesome opportunity to create something for yourselves,’ ” Rollman said. “We’re wiping a clean slate and building something for ourselves.”
One of the newcomers Rollman said fans should keep an eye on is Jaylin Reed, a 6-5 guard from Lodi, Calif. Reed has already showed his scoring ability, averaging 16.0 points a game at the Tritons/Pirates Classic.
Two newcomers are local kids, and they are already contributing. One is an all-league performer from Sequim, Nate Despain and the other is a former Port Angeles Roughrider, Gabe Long. Despain has contributed 7.5 points and 3 assists a game so far, while Long hit a 3-pointer and had four assists in the Pirates’ win over Grays Harbor.
“They’re both such good kids. They’ll run through a wall for you,” Rollman said. “They’re such refreshing kids. I’m proud to have them.”
Another newcomer is Everett Torres-Kahapea, a cousin of Kahapea from Waimanaio, Hawaii. He is a 5-11 guard.
The newcomers are rounded out by Andrew Thomas (6-0, guard, Dallas), Jannik Rothrock (5-6 guard, Switzerland and Spokane), Marquise Gurske (6-3, guard, Bremerton) and KeAndre Hunter-Holiday, (6-4, forward, Battle Ground).
The Pirates, off to a 1-1 start on the season, play in the Skagit Valley Turkey Tournament over the Thanksgiving weekend and play their first home games at Peninsula College on Dec. 7 against British Columbia Christian Prep.