Illinois State's First Round NIT Game Notes in PDF Format
March 18, 2008
DON'T MISS THIS!
A win over Utah State in Wednesday night's first-round National Invitation Tournament (NIT) contest would give Illinois State 25 wins, and equal the most single-season victories in school history. The 1967-68 (25-3, 12-0 IIAC) and 1997-98 (25-6, 16-2 MVC) Redbird teams each reached 25 wins.
► The Redbirds will be making their first appearance in the postseason NIT since the 2000-01 season, and are playing their first NIT home game since 1996, when ISU hosted Mount St. Mary's in the opening round en route to an eventual berth in the tournament quarterfinals.
► Tonight's game marks the fifth all-time meeting between Illinois State and Utah State, and the second in the NIT. The Redbirds edged the Aggies in overtime (93-87), March 16, 1995, at Logan, Utah, in the NIT's first round.
► Illinois State is 15-1 on Doug Collins Court at Redbird Arena this season, with its only loss being a three-point decision (73-70) versus nationally-ranked Drake Feb. 5. The Redbirds have held their visiting opponents to just 56.2 points per game.
► The Redbirds will be seeking their 12th non-conference win of the season Wednesday against Utah State. ISU is 7-0 against non-conference foes at home this season.
► Entering the postseason, Illinois State's men's and women's basketball teams have a combined 50 wins for the first time in school history. The Redbird women captured the State Farm MVC Tournament title last weekend, and were tabbed the No. 14 seed in the Oklahoma City, Okla., regional of the Division I NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament.
FAST FACTS - THE VALLEY IN THE POSTSEASON
► The Valley's three bids (Illinois State, Creighton and Southern Illinois) in the MasterCard National Invitation Tournament ties a league record for bids, previously achieved in 1990 and 1991.
► Illinois State (24-9) is the first MVC team since Missouri State in 1997 to win 24 games pre-selection Sunday and not qualify for the NCAA Tournament. The Bears were left out that season, and lost a first-round game in the NIT.
► Missouri State (34 in 2000, 21 in `06 and 36 in `07), Illinois State (33 in 2008), Bradley (38 in 2007), and Creighton (39 in 2006) are the only MVC teams in league history to have `pre-selection' RPIs better than 40 and not qualify for the NCAA Tournament.
ABOUT UTAH STATE UNIVERSITY
► Utah State University is located in Logan, Utah, and has a total enrollment of 23,908. The Aggies are a Division I NCAA affiliate, and are members of the Western Athletic Conference (WAC).
► The Aggies' home arena is 10,270-seat Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
► Head coach Stew Morrill (Gonzaga, `74) is in his 22nd year as a head coach, and his 10th campaign as the mentor at Utah State.Morrill has a 455-223 career record, and a 237-85 slate with the Aggies. Morrill is assisted by Don Verlin (associate head coach), Tim Duryea and James Ware.
► Utah State has made 17 NCAA Tournament appearances, including three in the past six seasons. The Aggies are making their second-consecutive appearance in the postseason NIT.
► The Aggies have averaged 24.6 wins per season over the last nine years.
SCOUTING THE AGGIES
Utah State, the top seed in last week's Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Tournament, enters the NIT as a No. 7 seed in ISU's bracket. The Aggies went 24-10 (12-6 WAC) in the regular and tournament season, and tied for the league championship with Boise State, Nevada and New Mexico State. In the WAC Tournament, the Aggies were defeated by BSU in the semifinals, 88-78. The Aggies defeated the Broncos twice during the regular season. Utah State is leading the nation in overall shooting at 51.5 percent, and in free throw shooting at 79.2 percent. Senior guard Jaycee Caroll (22.6 ppg, 6.0 rpg) was named the WAC's Player of the Year, while teammate Gary Wilkinson (13.4 ppg, 6.9 rpg) was named to the league's second team and the All-Newcomer squad. The Aggies have been particularly successful in the month of March under head coach Stew Morrill, compiling a 33-17 record. USU is one of just three Division I schools to win at least 23 games in each of the last nine seasons, joining Kansas and Gonzaga, two at-large selections into this year's NCAA Tournament.
SCOUTING THE REDBIRDS
Illinois State, under the leadership of first-year head coach Tim Jankovich, has won six-of the last seven games heading into the NIT. The Redbirds garnered the No. 2 seed in the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Tournament, finishing just two games behind regular-season champion Drake, and two games ahead of Southern Illinois. Illinois State returns nine letterwinners, including four starters, from a 2006-07 team that went 15-16 overall (6-12 MVC) and tied for seventh in the league standings. Sophomore guard Osiris Eldridge was the runner-up for the Larry Bird MVC Player of the Year, and averages 16.1 points per game, including a league-leading 17.1 points per conference contest. Anthony Slack, an honorable mention all-Valley selection and all-defensive team honoree, is averaging 9.7 points to go along with 6.9 rebounds per game. Boo Richardson, who joined Slack on the All-Defensive Team, has a team-leading 124 assists. The Redbirds rank 47th in the nation in assist/turnover ratio (1.15), are 31st in field goal percentage defense (.403) and rank 11th in the nation in scoring defense (59.5).
NIT NEWS AND NOTES
Against Utah State, the Redbirds will be making their first appearance in the postseason NIT since the 2000-01 season. The game will mark the fifth meeting all-time between Illinois State and the Aggies, and the second in the NIT. The series is tied, 2-2, including the Redbirds' 93-87 overtime victory at Utah State in the 1995 NIT. Illinois State is making its ninth appearance in the postseason NIT, where the Redbirds have a 7-8 all-time record. The 1995-96 Redbirds advanced to the quarterfinal round, after defeating Mount St. Mary's (73-49) in the opening round, upending host Wisconsin (77-62) in the second round, and eventually falling to Tulane (83-72). ISU also made NIT appearances in 1977, 1978, 1980, 1987, 1988, 1995 and 2001.
FIRST-ROUND NIT NOTABLES
Illinois State has a 5-3 record in the opening round of the National Invitation Tournament ... in 1977 (ISU's first appearance in the NIT), the Redbirds defeated host Creighton, 65-58, in the first-round of the event ... the next year (1978), ISU dropped a first-round decision against Indiana State in Terre Haute, 73-71 ... the Redbirds picked up their first-ever NIT win in the first-round of the 1980 tournament, upending West Texas State, 80-63, at Normal, Ill. ... in 1987, Illinois State defeated Akron, 79-72, eventually advancing to the quarterfinals of the event ... in 1988, the Redbirds dropped an 89-83 opening-round overtime decision against Cleveland State ... seven years later (1995), Illinois State won at Utah State, 93-87 (in overtime), before falling to visiting Washington State in the second-round ... in 1996, ISU beat Mount St. Mary's (73-49), at home and then won at Wisconsin (77-62) before losing at Tulane in the quarterfinals, 83-72 ... in ISU's last NIT appearance (2001), the Redbirds suffered a 90-79 defeat at Purdue in the opening round.
AGAINST THE WAC
As mentioned, the all-time series between Illinois State and Utah State is tied, 2-2, contributing to the Redbirds' slim 11-10 advantage all-time against current members of the Western Athletic Conference. Fresno State leads the all-time series against the Redbirds 1-0; ISU leads the all-time series against Hawaii 2-1; Idaho has won both of the all-time meetings against Illinois State (0-2); the Redbirds lead the all-time series against Louisiana Tech 4-1; New Mexico State and Illinois State have split the four previous all-time meetings (2-2), while San Jose State and ISU have each won one game apiece (1-1) in the series.
VALLEY POSTSEASON NOTABLES
For the fifth-straight year, eighth time in the past 10 years, and the 14th time in the league's history, the Valley has at least four postseason bids, with Drake claiming the No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament West Regional, Illinois State, Creighton and Southern Illinois all garnering top-five seeds in the NIT, and Bradley accepting an invitation to the inaugural College Basketball Invitational (CBI) ... with Drake advancing to its first NCAA Tournament since joining the MVC, every Valley team has reached the NCAA Tournament since 1998 - only the ACC, Mountain West, Pac-10 and SEC have had every member qualify for the Big Dance in that span ... entering the tournament, MVC teams have a 3-2 record vs. MasterCard NIT foes ... since 1985, 62 Valley teams, including three this year, have posted 20 wins prior to "Selection Sunday" - 43 have reached the NCAAs, and another 18 were in the NIT ... the Valley has a combined 78-40 (.661) record in non-conference play this season - that ranks fifth-best in the last 25 years ... according to the Collegiate Basketball News, the MVC is No. 8 in the RPI among conferences ... this year, the MVC has four in the Top 100 of the RPI.
Unlike Utah State, none of the 13 players on Ilinois State's active roster have played a postseason NIT or NCAA contest. In fact, of ISU's five seniors (only Levi Dyer is a four-year senior), the most combined wins any had experienced in their career prior to this season was 17 (the Redbirds went 17-13 in 2004-05).
ISU'S NIT RECORD HOLDERS
Tarise Bryson's 38 points against host Purdue (March 14, 2001) are the most for an ISU player in an NIT game ... Derrick Sanders (March 18, 1987 at LaSalle) and Jeff Wilkins (March 14, 1977) hold the all-time NIT made field goals record with 12 ... On March 16, 1987 at Cleveland State, Sanders converted 11-of-13 field goals for an all-time best 84.6 field goal percentage ... Bryson's 12 made free throws against the Boilermakers are an ISU-best mark in an NIT contest ... Maurice Trotter went 11-of-11 from the free throw line against Utah State (March 16, 1995), capturing ISU's highest free throw percentage in a NIT game ... Dan Muller (March 13, 1996 vs. Mount St. Mary's) and Del Yarbrough (March 5, 1980 vs. West Texas A&M) share the Redbirds' single NIT-game rebounding record with 13 caroms ... Derrick Mayes dished out an ISU NIT record 13 assists against Houston on March 14, 1977 ... Wilkins (March 14, 1977 vs. Houston) and Raynard Malaine (March 5, 1980 vs. West Texas A&M) share the 28-year old blocked shots record with four terminations apiece ... Ron Jones' five steals on March 5, 1980 vs. West Texas A&M are an ISU NIT single-game record.
LAST GAME RECAP
Illinois State saw its 2007-08 regular season end with a 79-49 loss against top-seeded Drake in the State Farm MVC Championship game at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis March 9. Illinois State jumped out to an early 5-0 lead and trailed just 18-17 with 7:35 remaining in the first half, but saw the Bulldogs finish the stanza on a dominating 22-2 run, and take a convincing 40-19 lead into the locker room at halftime. Drake's lead grew to as many as 33 points in the second half, as the Bulldogs wrapped up the Valley's first regular season and tournament title sweep since 1998. Osiris Eldridge was the lone Redbird in double-figures with 14 points. Drake shot a blistering 55.6 percent from the field, handing ISU its largest margin of defeat this season, and just its second double-digit loss of the campaign.
Illinois State, the 33rd-ranked Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) team according to RPIRatings.com, enters the NIT with two wins against the current top-50 RPI teams, and has five total wins versus the top-100. The Redbirds' 70th-ranked schedule included seven games against teams in the top-50, and 10 tilts versus the top-100 RPI teams. ISU also has five wins against teams that were in the 2007 NCAA Tournament field.
RPI: 40, AND MAKE NCAA
Since 1990-91, 685 out of a total 713 eligible teams between No. 1 through No. 40 have made the NCAA Tournament. Only 14 eligible teams (six from The Valley) ranked 40 and better in the past nine years have not made the NCAA tournament, including Dayton and Illinois State in 2008. Missouri State (at No. 21 in 2006) was the first team 29 or better not selected.
60 THE BAROMETER?
llinois State has held an opponent under 60 points in six of the last seven games. The Redbirds have held their opponent to less than 60 points 17 times this season, and are 17-0 in those contests. Notably, 11 of ISU's wins have come when holding the opposition to less than 50 points.
JANKOVICH NOT ALONE
Tim Jankovich is part of a Missouri Valley Conference single-season upheaval that has five new head coaches, the most since five new MVC head coaches took over for the 1978-79 season. Jankovich is joined by first-year head coaches Keno Davis (Drake), Kevin McKenna (Indiana State), Marty Simmons (Evansville) and Greg Marshall (Wichita State).
JANKOVICH IN ELITE COMPANY
Illinois State secured its 24th win of the season in the State Farm MVC Tournament semifinals against sixth-seeded Northern Iowa, defeating the Panthers for the second time this season. Tim Jankovich's 24 wins this season mark the most single-season wins for a first-year coach in program history. Gene Smithson (1975-76) and Bob Donewald (1978-79) each won 20 games in their respective first seasons at the helm of the Redbirds.
Illinois State may be playing its best basketball of the season as it enters the 2008 MasterCard NIT. The Redbirds have won eight of their last 10 games, and won six games in the month of February for the first time since the 2000-01 season. ISU is 3-1 in the month of March.
THREE REDBIRDS GARNER ALL-MVC PLAUDITS
One year after being tabbed the league's Freshman of the Year, sophomore guard Osiris Eldridge chalked up another honor, as he was named to the All-Missouri Valley Conference First-Team by the league coaches, media and sports information directors. Eldridge, who led the second-seeded Redbirds to their best finish in the Valley standings since the 1997-98 season, received 61 Larry Bird MVC Player of the Year votes, 26 tallies behind Drake's Adam Emmenecker, who earned the league's top individual honor. In addition to Eldridge earning first-team plaudits, senior forward Anthony Slack was named to the honorable mention and all-defensive teams. Senior classmate and former junior college teammate Boo Richardson was also named to the all-defensive squad.
HOLLOWAY NAMED TO VALLEY'S ALL-BENCH TEAM
One day after three of his teammates garnered All-Missouri Valley Conference recognition, junior guard Emmanuel Holloway secured another individual honor for the Illinois State men's basketball team, as he was named to the league's "All-Bench Team," as announced by the conference office. The team was voted on by the league's newspaper beat writers. Holloway has appeared in all 33 games this season, recording 10 starts, including all three games in the MVC Tournament.
AN IMPRESSIVE TURNAROUND
Illinois State's 24 wins are nine more than it tallied in the entire 2006-07 season (15), and the Redbirds' 13 wins in Valley play eclipses their league victory total from last season by eight (6). The plus-nine improvement is the 26th-best turnaround in the nation this season, and the best by a Missouri Valley Conference team. ISU equaled both its 15th win of the season, and its seventh Valley victory Jan. 27 against Indiana State. Illinois State's final three games in the non-conference slate, and the first six games in Valley play, was also an impressive stretch, when the Redbirds rolled off nine-consecutive wins, their longest winning streak since the 1982-83 season.
20-WIN CAMPAIGNS AT ISU
Illinois State picked up its 20th win of the season against Wright State (54-46) in the O'Reilly ESPNU BracketBusters game Feb. 21. The Redbirds' last 20-win campaign came in the 2000-01 season, when ISU went 21-9 (12-6 MVC) and advanced to the NIT. Dating back to the 1979-80 season, the Redbirds have tallied 20 or more wins nine times, and reached the postseason in each season. Those campaigns have included five trips to the NCAA Tournament, and four NIT appearances.
BRING OUT THE BROOMS
For the first time since the 2000-01 campaign, Illinois State tallied regular-season sweeps over five Missouri Valley Conference opponents this season, recording two wins over Creighton, Wichita State, Southern Illinois, Evansville and Missouri State. The 2000-01 Redbirds, who advanced to the postseason NIT, swept MSU, SIU, Evansville, WSU and Northern Iowa.
Illinois State went 7-5 on the road this season, including a 5-4 record in Valley road contests, its best record away from home since the 2000-01 campaign, when the Redbirds also went 7-5 on the road. Prior to this season, ISU had just eight combined road wins in the past three campaigns, including an 0-12 road record in the 2005-06 season.
HOME SWEET HOME
Illinois State is 15-1 on Doug Collins Court at Redbird Arena this season, marking the most single-season wins for the Redbirds at the facility since its opening in 1989. ISU has completed a one-loss home campaign three times in the history of Redbird Arena (1993-94, 1997-98 and 2001-02), but went 11-1 in each of those seasons. The Redbirds' 16 regular season home games was the most since the 1998-99 team played 16 contests at Redbird Arena. ISU has completed three recorded undefeated home slates in its history (1970-71, 1974-75 and 1977-78), but all occured at Horton Field House.
HOW DO YOU WANT TO WIN?
Illinois State has proven that it can win in many ways through its 24 victories this season. The Redbirds have captured wins when scoring in the 40s (at Wichita State and at Evansville), 50s (twice against Southern Illinois, versus Wright State and against UNI in the MVC semifinals), 60s (Cincinnati, Bowling Green, Ball State, Indiana State, three times against Missouri State and versus Creighton), 70s (Missouri-St. Louis, Illinois-Chicago, Evansville, versus Wichita State and Bradley), 80s (UNC-Wilmington, Chicago State and at Creighton) and 90s (Southeast Missouri State).