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Lewis trying to rediscover his winning ways at Puget Sound

Andrew Lewis of UPS has been described as a Draymond Green type of player, someone who's willing to defend, rebound and do the dirty work needed to help his team succeed.
Andrew Lewis of UPS has been described as a Draymond Green type of player, someone who's willing to defend, rebound and do the dirty work needed to help his team succeed. dperine@thenewstribune.com

Andre Lewis was part of three 20-win seasons in high school basketball at Lakes and Curtis, including a Class 4A state championship with the Vikings in 2013.

And over the past two seasons, he was a member of two Tacoma CC squads that won just nine games apiece.

Guess which feeling he likes better?

Well, he knows which one finishes a distant second.

“Learning how to lose,” Lewis said, “is a challenge.”

Lewis is hoping to rekindle that winning feeling as a first-year starter at the University of Puget Sound under longtime coach Justin Lunt.

To say he loves playing basketball in Pierce County is an understatement. This will be the fourth local team he will have played for since 2009.

“I love the area. I love the city,” Lewis said. “It is what I know, and I like to stay with what I know.”

Lewis is best known around here as one of the standouts of that 27-2 Curtis team that upended top-ranked Jackson, 60-56, to win the 4A state title in the Tacoma Dome.

One by one, key members of that team — post player Isom Brown (Highline College), wing player Dominique Jordan (Bellevue College) and point guard Dominic Robinson (Northeastern Junior College) — left the area to play college basketball.

Lewis and Jaurence Chisolm both decided to go to play at TCC for former coach Jesse Brown, and current coach TJ Caughell.

In a weird way, all the losses in junior college helped Lewis construct a bigger life plan — with basketball not being such a prominent priority. He is pursuing a business management major, with an eye in enrolling in the school’s post-graduate physical therapy program.

“I was more looking at the school (at UPS), in general,” Lewis said. “It is so good academically. And losing made me look at the whole picture, seeing that basketball wasn’t always going to be there.”

Lewis has fit right in with Lunt’s team as an undersized 6-foot-3 power forward who can do a little bit of everything.

In fact, first-year Loggers assistant coach Josh Barsh calls Lewis the Draymond Green of the squad, after the Golden State do-everything standout in the NBA.

“We needed a man of many traits,” Lunt said. “I did not know he was this kind of passer. He sees things developing … like a point guard.

“Obviously having the versatility to play multiple positions, having a winning mind frame and being able to defend — I knew he would have a role.”

So far, Lewis has started all eight games for the Loggers, averaging 11.3 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 23 minutes per outing.

“You know, I didn’t know a lot of the guys when I came here since they are from California,” Lewis said. “But I know we have a lot of shooters, and we have a lot of guys who can score.

“Coach (Lunt) told me he knows I can do anything, whether it is play big or play guard, rebound or do the little things. I just try and fit in where I can.”

Team preview capsules

PACIFIC LUTHERAN LUTES

Coach: Steve Dickerson, 10th year (87-130 record).

2014-15 season: 8-17, 6-10 in NWC (seventh place).

Preseason coaches’ pick: Tied for seventh.

Starting lineup: PG Erik Swartout, 6-1, jr.; SG Brandon Lester, 5-11, jr.; SF Dylan Foreman, 6-2, so.; PF Shane Jacob, 6-3, sr.; C Bryce Miller, 6-6, sr.

Top reserves: PG Tyson Birrer, 6-1, fr.; SF/PF Jared Christy, 6-6, fr.; SF Kyle Sawtell, 6-2, jr.

Key player: Lester (18.3 ppg) has that funky old-school game that is easy to cheer for (and he is left-handed). Dickerson has moved him off the point so he can enjoy more freedom as a scorer.

Outlook: Is this team finally transitioning from rebuilding to real playoff contenders? For the past three seasons, the Lutes have finished 8-17 playing lots of freshmen and sophomores. Lester and Foreman (17.8 ppg) — originally recruited as a defensive stopper — have formed PLU’s best scoring tandem since James Conti and Kyle MacTaggart (2011). Miller (knee) is finally healthy after a down year, and gives the Lutes a real playmaking threat in the frontcourt. And watch out for Christy, who might be the best PLU athlete Dickerson has ever coached. He provides instant offense as the sixth man. In a wide-open Northwest Conference, PLU has a real shot to reach the postseason.

NWC schedule (all games 8 p.m. unless noted): Jan. 8 at Linfield; Jan. 9 at George Fox, 6 p.m.; Jan. 15 vs. Lewis & Clark; Jan. 16 vs. Pacific, 6 p.m.; Jan. 22 at Whitworth; Jan. 23 at Whitman, 6 p.m.; Jan. 26 at Puget Sound; Jan. 29 vs. Willamette; Feb. 5 vs. George Fox; Feb. 6 vs. Linfield, 6 p.m.; Feb. 12 at Pacific; Feb. 13 at Lewis & Clark, 6 p.m.; Feb. 19 vs. Whitman; Feb. 20 vs. Whitworth, 6 p.m.

PUGET SOUND LOGGERS

Coach: Justin Lunt, 10th year (137-96 record).

2014-15 season: 12-12, 7-9 in NWC (fifth place).

Preseason coaches’ pick: Fifth.

Starting lineup: PG Kohl Meyer, 6-3, jr.; SG Carlos Mancasola, 6-2, jr.; SF Eric Rauch, 6-3, sr.; PF Andre Lewis, 6-3, jr.; C Kyle King, 6-4, jr.

Top reserves: PF Zach Miller, 6-3, jr.; PG Matt Reid, 5-11, sr.; SF/PF Keith Shattuck, 6-6, sr.

Key player: What is it that Meyer cannot do? The California product (13.1 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 5.6 apg) is a nightly triple-double threat waiting to explode. A legitimate NWC player of the year candidate.

Outlook: Every year, Lunt brings in rich talent. And every year, it seems the coach is left to piece it all together for a potential midseason run. This season is no exception. The backcourt is set with Meyer and Mancasola, a UC-Davis transfer who represents the single-best team skill upgrade in 2015-16: Perimeter shooting. Lunt wants his team to play up-tempo, and fire away on transition 3-pointers. The Loggers will stick with the pack-line defense for a third season, but after opponents shot so well last season (especially at Memorial Fieldhouse) against it, UPS will incorporate more fullcourt zone pressure to try and disrupt the flow. Overall depth will allow Lunt to mix and match lineups, also putting low-producing players on alert for playing time.

NWC schedule (all games 8 p.m. unless noted): Jan. 8 vs. Willamette; Jan. 9 vs. Lewis & Clark, 6 p.m.; Jan. 15 vs. Pacific; Jan. 16 vs. Linfield, 6 p.m.; Jan. 22 at Whitman; Jan. 23 at Whitworth, 6 p.m.; Jan. 26 vs. Pacific Lutheran; Jan. 30 vs. George Fox; Feb. 5 at Lewis & Clark; Feb. 6 at Willamette, 6 p.m.; Feb. 12 at Linfield; Feb. 13 at Pacific, 6 p.m.; Feb. 19 vs. Whitworth; Feb. 20 vs. Whitman, 6 p.m.

tmilles@thenewstribune.com

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