Evansville was tabbed to finish last in the Missouri Valley Conference Preseason Poll, as compiled by league coaches, media and sports information directors.
DROPPING ANOTHER 20
With a career-best 21 points against Southern Illinois Sunday night, Lloyd Phillips tallied his first career 20-point game at Illinois State. Another significance is that Phillips became only the second player on the Illinois State roster to post a 20-point scoring game in his Redbird career. Prior to Phillips' big night, Osiris Eldridge had been the only Redbird to score 20 points or more in a game. Eldridge has scored 20 or more points five times this season and 20 times in his career.
With nine rebounds against Southern Illinois Sunday night, Dinma Odiakosa became the 16th Redbird in school history to eclipse the rebounding mark of 600 career boards. He now has 603 caroms for his career and Osiris Eldridge could join the group at Evansville as well. Eldridge enters the game with 598 career rebounds.
IN-SEASON MEDIA CONFERENCES
ISU Athletics Media Relations will host eight in-season media conferences during the 2009-10 season. Each conference will feature head coach Tim Jankovich and a member of the ISU basketball team. The media conferences will start at 1 p.m., and be held in the Redbird Arena Media Room. The remaining scheduled dates are: Jan. 7, Jan. 21, Jan. 29, Feb. 8, Feb. 18 and March 2.
Teleconferences with The Valley head coaches will be conducted each Tuesday throughout the season. The first teleconference is slated for Dec. 15, followed by every Tuesday from Jan. 5 to March 2. The conferences begin at 10 a.m. CT. To participate in the conference calls, call 913.981.4900. Illinois State head coach Tim Jankovich will participate at 10:30 a.m.
IT AIN'T OVER, 'TIL IT'S OVER
After trailing by five points in Sunday's game against Southern Illinois, the Redbirds rallied for a 68-61 Valley win. The victory marked the third time this season when ISU won after trailing at half. The Redbirds are 3-3 this season when behind at the intermission. When leading at the half, ISU is 8-0.
NINE IS FINE
Freshman Jackie Carmichael sank all six of his field goal attempts at Missouri State to finish with a team-best 14 points. Sunday, against Southern Illinois, Carmichael made his first three field goal attempts and extended his streak of nine-straight made field goals.
When Missouri State sank 10 three-pointers against the Redbirds in the ISU loss last Friday, it marked the fourth time this season, where the Redbird opponent posted double-digit threes in a contest. Last season, in 34 games, the Redbirds had only three games where the opponent made double-figure treys.
HE GIVETH, AND HE TAKETH AWAY
Senior Lloyd Phillips leads the Redbirds in both assists and steals this season. He has dished out 56 assists, or four per game, which ranks third in the Valley. He also leads the team, and the conference, in steals with 28, or two per game.
CARMICHAEL FOR THE BLOCK
After 14 games into his collegiate career, Jackie Carmichael is eyeing the school record for the most blocked shots by a freshman. On the season, Carmichael has 21 blocks and is on pace to beat the ISU mark. Mike VandeGarde collected 36 blocked shots during his freshman campaign in 1990-91.
THAT 70's SHOW
So far, Illinois State's success this season is pretty much based on 70 points. When the Redbirds score 70 or more points this season, Illinois State is 9-0. When ISU opponent's score less than 70 points, the Redbirds are 10-1.
MOVING ON UP
Osiris Eldridge continues to pass the greatest scorers in ISU history. The Chicago native became only the eighth Redbird player in Illinois State history to score 1,500-points in his career. He currently ranks No. 7 with 1,581 career tallies.
In the inaugural Mountain West-Missouri Valley Conference Challenge Series only one road team walked away with the win. ISU claimed a 73-63 win at Utah and became the only road team to win the newly-created challenge between the two conferences, as the Valley posted a 5-4 win in the series. Overall this season, Illinois State is 3-2 on the road.
IN THE MOOD FOR A RUBIN
With 12-straight starting assignments, the Redbirds have been adding a Rubin to their diets - Alex Rubin. In the last eight games, Rubin is really starting to show some offensive pop, as he's shooting 12-for-26 (.462) from three-point range. He also boasts 28 assists this season with only nine turnovers, for a team-best 3.1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
THORNTON WITH THE THREE
Those words were never uttered last season, because Kellen Thornton was 0-for-2 from three-point range a year ago. However this season, Thornton is shooting 7-for-17 from beyond the arc, while shooting 41.2 percent from three-point land.
NOT SO FRESH
Freshmen guards Terry Johnson and Justin Clark were expected to play big roles in their first season at Illinois State. However, both have come out of the gate slow in regards to shooting. Combined, the freshmen duo are 11-for-65 (.169) from the field to open the season and 3-for-35 (.086) from three-point range.
314-STRAIGHT GAMES WITH A TREY
Illinois State enters the Evansville game with at least one made three in 314-straight games. The last time ISU didn't sink a trey was an 82-43 loss at Creighton Dec. 12, 1999.
Dinma Odiakosa has been on a different wavelength to start this season. The Redbird senior is shooting 67.0 percent from the field (69-for-103), which not only leads the Missouri Valley Conference, but also ranks No. 3 in the nation, according to the NCAA stats dated Dec. 20.
So far this season, the Redbirds had four different players post double-doubles. Dinma Odiakosa, Tony Lewis, Kellen Thornton and Jackie Carmichael have each collected double-digit points and rebounds in at least one game this season. Against Niagara, both Odiakosa and Carmichael notched double-doubles; while Odiakosa leads the team with four double-doubles this season.
OSIRIS, THE GOD OF THE THREES
In mythology, Osiris is an Egyptian god, typically called the god of the afterlife, underworld or dead. In Redbird lore, Osiris Eldridge is now the god of the three-point shot. With three treys against Central Michigan, Eldridge became the school-record holder and has 243 career three-point field goals, surpassing the old mark by Gregg Alexander of 224. Eldridge also stands in the No. 13 spot all-time in the Valley.
A RETURN TO POSTSEASON
Illinois State, which became an NCAA Division I program prior to the 1970-71 season, enjoyed postseason play for the 16th time last season. The Redbirds have qualified for the NCAA Tournament six times (1983, 1984, 1985, 1990, 1997 and 1998) and the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) 10 times (1977, 1978, 1980, 1987, 1988, 1995, 1996, 2001, 2008 and 2009).
After making the NIT each of the last two years, Illinois State posted successive postseason berths for the first time in over a decade. The last time the Redbirds had back-to-back postseason bids was during the 1996-97 and 1997-98 seasons, when ISU went to the NCAA Tournament each season.
THE LEADER OF THE PACK
Senior Osiris Eldridge is averaging 18.3 points per game this season, which is the highest scoring average in the Valley. If Eldridge can maintain this kind of output, he would become the first Redbird to lead the conference in scoring since Tarise Bryson in 2001. Bryson averaged 22.8 points per game en route to being named the MVC Player of the Year.
THE TRADITION CONTINUES
With a 24-10 overall record last year, ISU secured itself another winning season in men's basketball. In the 39 completed years of being an NCAA Division I program, the Redbirds have had 32 winning seasons.
After being named the Valley's Preseason Player of the Year, junior Osiris Eldridge appears to have an inside track to join a select group. Eldridge won the conference's freshman of the year award in 2007. If he ends his Illinois State career with the Larry Bird MVC Player of the Year Award, which he finished runner-up for last season, Eldridge would become only the second player in league history to win both the freshman of the year and player of the year award, joining Southern Illinois' Ashraf Amaya.
TWO SIGN FOR 2010 CLASS
Illinois State head coach Tim Jankovich announced the signing of two incoming players during the early signing period. The Redbirds added Kenyon Smith (guard, 6-0, 190) from Lincoln College and Jordan Threloff (center, 6-10, 240) from DeKalb High School. Smith originally signed with ISU out of Simeon High School, but was declared academically ineligible by the NCAA. If he receives his associate's degree this school year, Smith will have three years of eligibility remaining at Illinois State, while Threloff will enter ISU as a true freshman.
STATUE OF ASPIRATIONS
In September 2009, the Redbird Athletics Department unveiled a statue which honors the nation's first African-American NCAA Division I head basketball coach, Will Robinson, and his most famous player, Doug Collins, a three-time All-American at Illinois State. The piece, which was installed at the north entrance of Redbird Arena, was sculpted by Lou Cella, a 1985 graduate of ISU. Robinson was named the Redbirds' head coach Feb. 27, 1970, and posted a 78-51 seasons in five seasons. He passed away at the age of 96, April 28, 2008.