Bradley was projected to finish fifth in the Missouri Valley Conference Preseason Poll, as compiled by league coaches, media and sports information directors. Maniscalco was tabbed on the league's all-preseason team, while Brown and Andrew Warren earned honorable mention honors.
GETTING OFF THE SCHNEID
It took 34 days, but Illinois State tasted victory again by ending its eight-game losing streak with a 59-55 win over Southern Illinois on Doug Collins Court at Redbird Arena. The win was the Redbirds' first in Valley play this season and the first win in 2011. It was the latest ISU had gone into a new year without a win since the 2002-03 season (Jan. 29), which is also the longest drought in school history.
Senior Austin Hill has really stepped up his game as of late. Hill has posted double-digit scoring efforts in each of the last two games. He is averaging 14.5 points per game over his last two contests and has shot a combined 11-for-21 (.524) from the field during that span.
IT AIN'T OVER, 'TIL IT'S OVER
Against Southern Illinois Sunday, Illinois State found itself down 11 points early in the first half. However, the Redbirds rallied and posted their first Valley win of the season. The 11-point deficit was the largest Illinois State has overcome to post a win this season.
Senior Tony Lewis has taken the lead rebounding role for the Redbirds this season. He is averaging 6.9 boards per game, which ranks sixth in the Valley, but he leads the conference in offensive caroms with 2.7 per game, which is amazing since he is only averaging 18.3 minutes played per game. If he logged 40 minutes per game, Lewis would average 15.0 boards per contest, including 5.9 offensive rebounds. He has led the Redbirds in rebounding in 13 games this season.
Sophomore transfer Trey Blue might have shaken off his shooting woes in Sunday's win over Southern Illinois. Blue finished the game with 10 points, his highest scoring total since the Nov. 21 game at Arkansas-Little Rock when he tossed in a season-best 14 points. He also sank a pair of threes against SIU, ending a streak of 13-straight misses.
NOT GETTING ANY KICKS
The Illinois State campus has historic Route 66 running through it, but this season the Redbird offense has had a tough time reaching 66. In fact, ISU hasn't reached 66 points in a game for a total of 15 contests this season, including 14 of the last 16 games.
ROAD TO ABERRATION
This season is anything but normal in regards to the Tim Jankovich-era at ISU. In fact, at 9-11, it is the first time Jankovich has ever been below .500 in his three-plus seasons with the Redbirds. He had not personally been under .500 as a head coach since Jan. 16, 1997, when he was coaching at North Texas. The 11 losses also already equal his most defeats in a season, matching the Redbirds' total from last season with the team's 22-11 record.
JUST A LITTLE PATIENCE
Sitting at 1-8 in the Valley and with a roster dominated by inconsistent underclassmen, things might be feeling bleak for the Redbird faithful. However, just two short seasons ago, fellow league member Missouri State opened league play with five-straight losses and finished with a 3-15 mark while playing a number of sophomores and freshmen. Turn the clock forward, and the Bears are currently sitting on top of the MVC standings with an 8-1 mark. In addition, Wichita State, which owns a 7-2 record, started league play 1-8 two seasons ago with a core of underclassmen.
FREEDOM OF CHOICES
So far this season, Illinois State has had 10 different players post a double-digit scoring game. The Redbirds have had 46 double-figure performances to date on the campaign achieved by: Jackie Carmichael (11), Austin Hill (9), Blake Mishler (6), John Wilkins (5), Anthony Cousin (4), Tony Lewis (4), Trey Blue (3), Justin Clark (2), Jon Ekey (1) and Alex Rubin (1).
CHOICES, BUT NO CONSISTENCY
Of the 10 Illinois State players to post double-digits this season, only Jackie Carmichael (three times), Anthony Cousin (twice), Austin Hill (four times) and John Wilkins (once) have posted double-digit scoring efforts in consecutive games.
PLENTY OF PARITY TOO
Because of the lack of individual consistency within the Illinois State offense, the Redbirds have had 10 different players lead the team in scoring this season. By tying his season-high with 15 points against Southern Illinois Sunday, senior Tony Lewis became the 10th different Redbird to lead the squad in scoring this season.
THAT 70's SHOW
ISU's success during the Tim Jankovich-era has been pretty much based on 70 points. When the Redbirds score 70 or more points, Illinois State owns a 44-10 record (.815) in his four seasons. When ISU opponent's score less than 70 points, the Redbirds are 71-20 (.780) during that span.
353-STRAIGHT GAMES WITH A TREY
Illinois State enters the game at Bradley with at least one made three in 353-straight games. The last time ISU didn't sink a trey was an 82-43 loss at Creighton, Dec. 12, 1999.
THE POWER OF THREES
The most obvious explanation for Illinois State's inconsistent start this season can be found with the team's shooting percentage. On the season, ISU is shooting 29.4 percent from three-point range, which would rank as the lowest single-season effort in school history, undercutting the 30.4 percentage during the 1990-91 campaign.
After the first two games of the season, Illinois State appeared to have a strong perimeter team with a combined 14-for-33 (.424) effort on threes. However, in the last 18 games, shooting from beyond the arc has dried up for the Redbirds. Illinois State has shot 82-for-293 (.280) and does not have a single player shooting over 40 percent during that span.
FINDING THE RIGHT COMBO
Already this season, the Redbirds have had more players earn a spot in the starting lineup than the team did all of last season. The Redbirds have had nine different players start for seven different starting five combinations. Illinois State has started the same five in each of the last five games: Anthony Cousin, Austin Hill, John Wilkins, Jon Ekey and Jackie Carmichael.
Illinois State's Jon Ekey (32) and Jackie Carmichael (24) are the top two shot blockers in the Missouri Valley Conference this season. With the two top shot blockers in the conference, it is no surprise that the Redbirds rank econd-place in the conference with 3.8 blocks per game. At this pace, the Redbirds would have the third-best blocks per game average in school history.
THESE 'BIRDS ARE YOUNG
As the most inexperienced team in the Valley entering the season, the Illinois State roster had combined to play a total of 3,257 minutes for the Redbirds. Opening the season, the Redbirds had combined to play 10 Division I seasons, which ranked ISU No. 23, as one of the most inexperienced teams in the nation.
With Anthony Cousin's 23-point effort at Missouri State, ISU now has five players on their roster who have scored at least 20 points in an NCAA Division I game, including four this season. Jackie Carmichael has three 20-point efforts in his career and two this season, while Cousin, Justin Clark and Jon Ekey have each posted one 20-point game this season. Trey Blue had a 20-point effort with Fordham.
CARMICHAEL FOR THE BLOCK
Sophomore Jackie Carmichael ended his first season with the Redbirds as the most-prolific freshman shot blocker in Illinois State history. Carmichael swatted away 46 shots during the 2009-10 season, crushing the old mark of 36 set by Mike VandeGarde during his freshman campaign in 1990-91. With 70 career blocks, Carmichael is ninth in career blocked shots at ISU and needs five more to surpass Jarod Coleman (74) for eighth place.
ERR, EKEY FOR THE BLOCK?
Jackie Carmichael's ISU freshman shot block record might be short lived, as freshman Jon Ekey has collected 32 blocked shots this season. The Valley leader in blocks per game (1.5) is on pace to finish with approximately 50 blocked shots on the season, which would not only be the freshman record, but would mark the third-best, single-season blocked shot total in Illinois State history. Ekey only needs six more blocked shots to tie Greg Dilligard for 10th place for single-season blocks in ISU history.
A GO-GO GOPHER
Both the Illinois State men's basketball and football programs were benefactors by the transfer of Bryant Allen from Minnesota. Allen, who is an ISU football scholarship student-athlete, will be eligible immediately for the Redbirds on the gridiron, but won't be able to play until the completion of the 2011 fall semester due to NCAA residency rules. With the Gophers, Allen, a six-foot, 170-pound guard, played in nine games during the 2009-10 season, all as a reserve. He scored seven points over 22 minutes played.
THREE GUARDS INK WITH ISU FOR 2011-12
Illinois State head basketball coach Tim Jankovich solidified the Redbird backcourt for years to come as guards Johnny Hill (Glenbard East), Nic Moore (Warsaw, Ind.) and Nick Zeisloft (Lyons Township) each signed National Letters of Intent (NLIs) to continue their education and basketball careers at Illinois State, during the early signing period on Nov. 10.