When you look through the halls of UAA’s men’s basketball program from recent years, one team in particular stands out. That team is the 2007-08 men’s basketball team. Coached by current head coach Rusty Osborne and led by seniors Carl Arts, Chris Bryant, Luke Cooper and McCade Olsen, the Seawolves won a school record of 29 games, and advanced to the NCAA Division II semi-finals for the first time since 1988.
The ’07 Seawolves were defensive juggernauts, only allowing 60.1 points per game, and were the top ranked scoring defense in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference. Their solid defense helped make up for their low scoring offense, which averaged 73.1 points per game, ranking in the bottom-half of the GNAC, above Alaska-Fairbanks and MSU-Billings.
Senior and Seawolves legend Carl Arts led the team with an average of 18.1 points, 7.9 rebounds, 0.5 blocks and 1.7 steals per game. In addition, GNAC All-American Luke Cooper led the team in assists with an average of 8.9 per game.
McCade Olsen: 2006-2008
McCade Olsen was the team’s second leading scorer and re-bounder at the end of the ’07 season. He was also the hero in the Seawolves Sweet 16 win against Seattle Pacific University.
“Hitting game-winning free-throws to beat SPU [Seattle Pacific University] in the second round of the western conference tournament…is a memorable moment,” Olsen said.
Teammate and fellow starter Luke Cooper was also very fond of this particular game.
“I still refer to this game as the McCade Olsen game,” Cooper said, “down one [point] on the last possession, [Olsen] got fouled with about two seconds left, calmly went to the free-throw line and knocked both in. We won by [one] point.”
Olsen still resides in Anchorage with his wife and two kids. He is now a supervisor at the McLaughlin Youth Center.
Luke Cooper: 2005-2008
Cooper finished his college career at UAA, ranking fourth on the all-time NCAA Division II assists list with 880 total, and was a two time GNAC first team selection.
Cooper still has fond memories of his time in Alaska.
‘We ended up meeting the team that started our streak, BYU Hawaii, in the elite eight and ended up winning by six or so [points] to send us to Springfield. Having my parents fly over from Australia to witness it was the most special part of it all,” Cooper said.
Now that he is gone, Cooper has fond memories of the state.
“I still regularly think about my college days,” Cooper said. “[I] am so thankful I chose such a beautiful place like Alaska to go to college. I met some of the most amazing people there who I still keep in touch with to this day.”
Cooper now plays professional basketball in his home country of Australia for the Sydney Kings. In his free time, he takes the opportunity to coach youth basketball.
“I’m really driven by trying to create a pathway for kids with college aspirations, to get the chance that I got, hopefully they get to experience it somewhere as beautiful as I did,” Cooper said.
Kevin White: 2007-2010
White was the team’s top backcourt reserve player in 2007, and led the freshman in three point field goal percentage (3FG%). Although White didn’t have a major impact on the team his freshman season, he was pivotal in the success of the Seawolves later in his career.
Before the team went on their 16-game hot streak there was tension early on in the season.
“It was the start of a very jam packed season and we were training. Karl Arts who is no doubt known around UAA as one of the greats, missed a box out, and gave up an offensive rebound and [the starters] lost to the bench squad,” White said. “Coop’s gave his team a spray that I’ll remember for my life, it ended with Karl and Coop arguing about it for a solid 30 seconds to the outcome of if we ever give up an offensive rebound and we lose Coops ‘I’ll punch you straight in the mouth and knock your head off.’ These two were our leaders, our captains!”
“We went on to win about 16 games straight from that moment and really established a mentality that was tougher than any team I’ve ever played on,” White said.
White now plays basketball in his home country of Australia for the Illawarra Hawks. White has been playing professionally for the NBL since he left UAA in 2010.
Chris Bryant: 2007-2008
Bryant was the team’s third leading scorer in 2007 and was the Bob Zundel Memorial Trophy winner for exemplary qualities towards teammates, coaches, media, fans and referees.
Bryant scored a career high 26 points against BYU-Hawaii on their home court, which he describes as a standout moment to him and a testament to all the hard work his team put in.
“Playing and winning an exciting overtime against BYU-Hawaii was amazing,” Bryant said. “It was a career high for me, and really validated that I can really contribute to our team.”
Bryant is now a health coach/fitness entrepreneur for Southcentral Foundation, an innovative health services company in Anchorage.
Many of the players from the ’07 season team still try to keep in touch with each other, but not as much as some of them would like.
Cooper frequently stays in contact with his former teammates and even helps out the coaches with their recruiting efforts.
“I’m still best mates with Kevin White, and also his brother Steven who went to UAA after I left,” Cooper said. “We all live in Sydney right now, I still keep in contact with Chris Bryant, Cam Burney, and talk regularly with Coach Rinner and Weakley and help them when they’re recruiting kids from Australia. [I] also talk regularly with Jane Brown who still works in the athletic department, she was my favorite.”
Bryant and Olsen have busy lives, but still try to keep in touch with their former teammates as much as they can. Both men still live in Anchorage and try their best to make it to basketball games.