Having Funn the key to winning

Seamus Boxley may be the face of the Vikings and the Big Sky MVP, but Will Funn is the Vikings’ motor. Or as third-year head coach Heath Schroyer puts it, Funn is the straw that stirs the Vikings’ drink.

Literary allusions and quirky metaphors aside, Will Funn is quite simply the difference maker and the key ingredient for a Vikings team that has gone from the bottom of the pack to Big Sky regular season champions in just one year.

Last year Funn was solid but hardly outstanding, averaging 7.7 points and four assists a game while shooting 40 percent from the floor. He had 104 assists on the year, but committed 101 turnovers along the way. Schroyer was concerned enough to bring in transfer Josh Neeley from Salt Lake CC in the off-season to push Funn and compete for the starting job.

What a difference a year makes. Funn fought for his starting job and has upped his assists to eight a game, second most in the nation. During conference play, Funn absolutely locked in and dished 9.8 assists per game in 14 regular season conference games.

His scoring is down slightly from last year to 7.4 points a contest, but he is hitting at a 46 percent clip and has learned to score more opportunistically instead of forcing up bad shots. "I’m just the guy that’s able to get the ball to my teammates," Funn said of his big numbers.

The change from middle-of-the-pack point guard to national assist stud didn’t happen overnight. Funn, a Rialto, Calif. native, spent two years at San Bernardino Valley JC before garnering attention from Portland State. "I signed early to PSU," Funn said. "They just gave me a chance and I’m blessed with the opportunity."

Determined to put his chance at PSU to good use and build off of a promising first year, Funn put in some serious hours last summer, honing his game and working to prove he could compete at the highest level. "I had to adapt to Division 1 competition and learn to bring it every night," Funn said. "I needed to make better decisions in the open court."

To do this, he played in the LA Pro Am league last summer. "It was a real college atmosphere," Funn said of his experience there. Funn played with Pac-10 players such as Jordan Farmer of UCLA and a bevy of other top talent from around the nation during his stint in Los Angeles.

Besides playing on the Pro City league, Funn also worked heavily with Vikings assistant coach Senque Carey, a former D-1 point guard at Washington and New Mexico. "What I tried to help Will with was his mental approach," Carey said. "He was trying to make the spectacular play last year. We want him just to make the good play, the right play."

Carey describes Funn as somewhat of a throwback point guard, perhaps one of the few guards left who thrives off of his passing game. "Will gains confidence from his passing," Carey said. "His offense rests on his ability to pass the ball."

As important as Funn’s ability to pass the ball are the teammates he is passing to. "We only got to have one year last year but over the spring and the summer we were able to really come together," Funn said of his senior cohorts, the core of the potent Vikings offense. "I just try and feed them, get them going."

Funn noted that newcomers like Jake Schroeder have made life easier for him and have made the team deeper. However for a familiar face and a comfort zone on the court, Funn has to look no further than to Blake Walker. He has been playing with Walker since the ninth grade. "Every year it gets easier and easier to play with him," Funn said.

Walker isn’t fazed by Funn’s transformation into the upper echelon of point guards. "I’ve always seen this part of him," Walker said. "He just brings everything: energy, focus, leadership. He gets us in scoring position by being so unselfish."

"I’m his biggest fan," Walker said with a sly smile.

Coach Schroyer has become a Will Funn fan and has backed off and let the senior laden team find its own way on the court this year. "He understands we’re serious," Funn said. "He’s given us more freedom, and its paying off for the team."

Schroyer should have no worries letting Funn and the Vikings find their own way. "I’m feeling in the best shape I’ve ever been in," Funn said. "I’m ready to do something this school has never done."