Redbird Men's Basketball Tips Off Practice
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Sept. 30, 2013
NORMAL, Ill. - With 39 days remaining before Illinois State tips off the regular season at Virginia Commonwealth, the ISU men's basketball team gathered for its first official practice of the 2013-14 season, Monday at 7 a.m., on Doug Collins Court at Redbird Arena. The Redbirds will practice again Monday afternoon.
Second-year ISU head coach Dan Muller and his staff are in charge of a team that features 10 newcomers, plus John Jones, who is allowed to play for the first time, after missing the last two seasons because of an amateur issue prior to his enrollment at Illinois State in 2011-12.
ISU's returners who saw action last season include sophomore point guard Kaza Keane (2.7 points, 2.1 rebounds, 3.2 assists per game) and redshirt sophomore guard Nick Zeisloft (4.5 points, 1.4 rebounds per game), along with sophomore walk-on guard Matt Stacho.
Muller said he was pleased with what he saw out of the entire team during ISU's opening practice.
"What you want is concentration and effort," Muller said. "You want guys with great body language as we try to become a team, and this morning we had that. If we continue to do that every day, we will keep getting better."
Muller and the Redbirds have nearly two more weeks to prepare this season compared to last. Practice in 2012-13 officially started Oct. 12; however, the NCAA is now allowing teams 30 countable athletically-related activities, such as practices and exhibition games, up to 42 days before their first regular-season game this year.
"It allows us to start teaching earlier," Muller said. "We will be smart about not wearing them down, which every coach in the country is worried about. But, to get out here and really be able to implement all of our stuff, so that I don't feel like we're rushed getting ready for the first game with so many new guys, it is certainly an advantage."
While the Redbirds do not have a starter back from last year's team, ISU does feature last season's assist-leader in Keane (3.2) and the top three-point shooter based on percentage in Zeisloft (41.8 percent). Illinois State has also received national recognition for its recruits, with Basketball Times ranking the Redbirds' 2013 class No. 29 in its June edition. Additionally, four Redbirds were selected by the Lindy's 2013-14 preview as Top-100 junior college transfers.
ISU fans will have their first chance to see the 2013-14 Redbirds in action Nov. 3, versus exhibition-opponent Quincy at 4:35 p.m. After tipping off the regular season Nov. 8, at VCU, Illinois State will begin its regular-season home schedule Nov. 12, at 7:05 p.m., versus Drexel. Season tickets are on sale now by calling the Redbird Arena ticket office at (309) 438-8000 or by clicking here.
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