Missouri State was tabbed to finish ninth in the Missouri Valley Conference Preseason Poll, as compiled by league coaches, media and sports information directors.
Junior college transfer Austin Hill has provided an offensive power boost for the Redbirds in the last three games off the bench. Over the last three games, all wins, Hill is third on the team in points scored with 11 per game. He is also shooting 13-for-23 (.565) from the field and a 2-for-3 effort on threes. Hill also leads the team over the three games in steals with four, while averaging four rebounds per game.
MOVING ON UP
Osiris Eldridge continues to pass the greatest scorers in ISU history. The Chicago native became only the seventh Redbird player in Illinois State history to score 1,600-points in his career. He currently ranks No. 7 with 1,732 career tallies and needs five points to surpass Tarise Bryson (1,736) for sixth place.
THE TRADITION CONTINUES
In the 39 completed years of being an NCAA Division I program, the Redbirds have had 32 winning seasons. With 18 wins this season, the Redbirds will have another winning season this year.
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 start at 1 p.m., and the remaining scheduled dates are: 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.
BRINGING OUT THE BALANCE
Five times this season, the Redbirds have had five players score in double figures in a game. In non-conference play, the Redbirds had five players reach double digits against SIU Edwardsville, Norfolk State and Southeast Missouri State (three of the Redbirds' first five games of the season). The Redbirds didn't repeat the feat until Jan. 20, at home against Creighton. Saturday, at Creighton, the Redbirds did it again.
HOME SWEET HOME
Illinois State is in its 22nd season of basketball action on Doug Collins Court at Redbird Arena. The Redbirds notched a 13-2 home record last season and a 16-2 home mark the year before. Under head coach Tim Jankovich, the Redbirds are 41-6 (.872) when playing at home. ISU owns a 225-82 (.733) all-time record on Doug Collins Court at Redbird Arena.
HE GIVETH, AND HE TAKETH AWAY
Senior Lloyd Phillips leads ISU in assists and steals this season. He has dished out 111 assists, or 4.3 per game, which ranks third in the Valley. He also leads the Valley in steals with 47, or 1.8 per game.
THE COMEBACK KIDS
After trailing by 10 points at halftime at Bradley Tuesday night, the Redbirds rallied for a 62-61 Valley win. The victory marked the sixth time this season when ISU won after trailing at half. The Redbirds are 6-7 this season when behind at the intermission. When leading at the half, ISU is 12-0.
Osiris Eldridge (15.7 ppg.) and Dinma Odiakosa (8.6 rpg.) lead the Valley in scoring and rebounding, respectively, and are looking to become the first teammates to sweep those statistical categories since 1992 (Ashraf Amaya of Southern Illinois did both that year). That statistical double has only happened eight times in the past 50 seasons (six of those eight were done by the same person, not teammates).
Dinma Odiakosa has been nothing short of dazzling as of late. Not only did he post the first 20-point games of his career, but he has scored in double-figures in eight-straight games. During that span, he is averaging a team-best 15 points and 9.4 rebounds per game, while being named Valley Player of the Week twice.
THE 700 CLUB
With a career-best 15 rebounds at Bradley Feb. 9, Dinma Odiakosa pushed his career rebounding total over the 700 plateau and now has 710 career boards. As a result, Odiakosa became only the ninth Redbird in school history to total 700 or more rebounds in a career.
It has been nearly two months since it last happened, but the Redbird basketball team enters the Missouri State game with a three-game winning streak. Illinois State defeated Drake, 71-68, on Doug Collins Court at Redbird Arena Feb. 6, and followed suit with a 62-61 win at Bradley Feb. 9 and a 67-63 win at Creighton Feb. 13. It was the first three-game winning streak by the Redbirds wins since Dec. 19 through Dec. 29.
PHILLIN' IT UP
In six of the last eight games, senior Lloyd Phillips has scored in double-figures, including a career-best 22 points at Wichita State. Against Drake on Feb. 6, Phillips sank the game-winning three-pointer with 24 seconds remaining. He is averaging 12 points per game over the last eight contests, while shooting 46.7 percent from the field and 41.9 percent on threes. He also leads the team with 14 steals during that time.
THAT 70's SHOW
ISU's success this season is pretty much based on 70 points. When the Redbirds score 70 or more points this season, Illinois State is 13-1. When ISU opponent's score less than 70 points, the Redbirds are 15-3.
CARMICHAEL FOR THE BLOCK
After 26 games, Jackie Carmichael is eyeing the school record for the most blocked shots by a freshman. On the season, Carmichael has a team-leading 31 blocks and is on pace to beat the ISU mark. Mike VandeGarde collected 36 blocked shots during his freshman campaign in 1990-91.
Senior Osiris Eldridge just hasn't been himself in the Redbirds' last eight games. The league's leading scorer is averaging 11.9 points per game during that span, while shooting 29.4 percent (30-for-102) from the field and 25 percent on threes (13-for-52). The Redbirds own a 5-3 record during that stretch.
PAINTING THE TOWN RED
The Illinois State offense has had a new focus in the last eight games - pound the ball inside. Not only has Dinma Odiakosa responded, but so have the other Redbird post players. During that time, the Redbirds are averaging 32.3 points per game in the paint, while the Redbirds, as a team, are averaging 68.5 points per game over the last eight games. As a result, 47.2 percent of ISU's offense is coming from short range.
VALUING THE ROCK
Illinois State's Alex Rubin sees the value in an offensive possession. As a result, he leads the team in assist-to-turnover ratio on the season. Rubin boasts a 4.31 assist-to-turnover ratio with 56 assists and only 13 turnovers. In the last eight games, Rubin's awareness has even peaked where he has 20 assists and only three miscues for an 6.67 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Senior Dinma Odiakosa is Illinois State's all-time leader in offensive caroms. Odiakosa now has 289 in his career, which topped Greg Dilligard, who had 260 offensive boards from 2003-07. Odiakosa also currently leads the Valley in both total rebounding (8.6 rpg.) and offensive rebounds (3.7 rpg.). This season, Odiakosa has 97 offensive rebounds, which is only four behind his school record of 101 offensive rebounds.
ONE OF THREE
With his first basket against Northern Iowa, senior Osiris Eldridge eclipsed the 1,600-point career scoring plateau. As a result, he became only the third Redbird in school history to post 1,600 career points and 600 career rebounds. Eldridge currently owns 1,732 points and 646 boards and joins Billy Lewis (1,962 points, 869 rebounds) and Fred Marberry (1,881 points, 933 rebounds).
326-STRAIGHT GAMES WITH A TREY
Illinois State enters the Missouri State game with at least one made three in 326-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 this season. The senior is shooting 62.6 percent from the field (124-for-198), which leads the Valley. He doesn't rank nationally, because the rankings are based on averaging five made field goals per game and Odiakosa is currently posting 4.77 per contest. Odiakosa's season percentage would rank fifth all-time, if the season ended today.
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 265 career three-point field goals, surpassing the old mark by Gregg Alexander of 224. Eldridge also stands in the No. 6 spot all-time in the Valley and needs two more to surpass former Missouri State guard Johnny Murdock (266).
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).
TWO SIGN FOR 2010 CLASS
Illinois State head coach Tim Jankovich announced the signing of two incoming players during the early signing period. ISU 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 ISU, while Threloff will enter 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, located at the north entrance of Redbird Arena, was sculpted by Lou Cella, a 1985 graduate of ISU. Robinson was named ISU's 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.