Men's Basketball Opens with Exhibition Game Against Quincy
Nick Zeisloft

Nick Zeisloft

Nov. 1, 2013

 Illinois State vs. Quincy (Ex.) | Normal, Ill.
 Date  Sunday, November 3
 Normal, Ill.
4:35 p.m. CT
 Redbird Arena
 Radio  WJBC 1230 AM, FM 93.7 (Dick Luedke and Mike Matthews)
 Video Stream
 Live Stats  GameTracker
 Game Notes  Illinois State Notes
 Buy Tickets  Illinois State Online Ticket Office


  • For the sixth time in the last seven seasons, Illinois State will face Quincy in an exhibition game to open the season.
  • ISU is Quincy's second of two exhibition opponents. The Hawks also play at Xavier (Nov. 2).
  • Illinois State has won eight-straight exhibition games. The Redbirds' last exhibition loss was a 78-81 defeat to the EA Sports All-Stars on Nov. 10, 2003.
  • In the last five exhibition games against Quincy, ISU has averaged 84.4 points to the Hawks' 61.6 points. The Redbirds have outscored Quincy, 422-308 during the stretch.
  • In last season's 93-64 exhibition win over Quincy, Kaza Keane earned the start and scored six points on 2-for-5 shooting, with seven rebounds, four assists and one steal. Nick Zeisloft also started and dished five assists.
  • Keane and Zeisloft are the only returners with NCAA Division I experience on this year's roster. With just three returning letter winners (including walk-on Matt Stacho), ISU is the only team in the MVC without a returning starter.
  • Keane led Illinois State in assists per game (3.2) and Zeisloft amassed ISU's top three-point shooting percentage (41.8 percent) during the 2012-13 season.
  • The ISU roster consists of 10 newcomers to the team, including eight who are eligible to play this season. Five of the newcomers are junior college transfers and the other three are freshmen with high school experience.
  • Basketball Times ranked the Redbirds' 2013 recruiting class No. 29 in the nation its June edition.
  • Second-year head coach Dan Muller became the 19th basketball coach in ISU history on May 8, 2012.
  • Illinois State is in its 44th season as a NCAA Division I program, and during that time, the Redbirds have only had eight losing seasons.
  • Throughout Illinois State's program history, the Redbirds have featured 20 All-American selections, two Missouri Valley Conference Larry Bird Valley Players of the Year, Four Valley Tournament Most Outstanding Players, 66 All-Valley Selections, six NCAA Tournament appearances, 12 NIT appearances, three Valley regular-season championships and four Valley Tournament championships.


  • Quincy is located in Quincy, Ill., and has an enrollment of 1,300. The Hawks compete at the NCAA Division II level and are members of the Great Lakes Valley Conference.
  • The Hawks return two starters from a team which finished 12-15 last season and earned fifth place in the GLVC West Division. Quincy returns senior guard Chris Babbitt and sophomore guard Grant Meyer.
  • Illinois State leads the all-time series against Quincy,10-6. The Redbirds have won five-straight.
  • Quincy (86 votes) was predicted to finish fourth in the GLVC West Division Preseason Poll.

    Out of the 14 names on Illinois State's 2013-14 men's basketball roster, only four were also on the roster in 2012-13. Why so many new faces? Following the conclusion of last season, four graduated, four transferred and one was dismissed from the program. Out of the returning four, only two (Kaza Keane and Nick Zeisloft) have extensive NCAA Division I playing experience. With 10 newcomers - eight of whom are eligible to play this year - Redbird fans will be busy learning new names and numbers this season.

    Despite losing every starter from last year's team, Illinois State returns two key contributors in sophomore Kaza Keane and redshirt sophomore Nick Zeisloft. Keane led the Redbirds in assists per game (3.2) and Zeisloft amassed ISU's top three-point shooting percentage (41.8 percent) as freshmen in 2012-13. Sophomore walk-on guard Matt Stacho is also beginning his second season.

    Although he joined the Illinois State men's basketball team prior to the 2011-12 season, junior forward John Jones (nicknamed J.J. by his coaches and teammates) has never played in a game, until now. Jones was charged two seasons of eligibility by the NCAA for an amateurism issue prior to his enrollment at Illinois State. During his first year with the team, in 2011-12, Jones practiced with the team, but was not allowed to travel or play in games. During his second year, in 2012-13, Jones practiced and traveled with the team, but did not play. He is now eligible to compete for the Redbirds in 2013-14.

    With just three returning letter winners, the Redbirds are the only team in the Missouri Valley Conference without a returning starter. Illinois State also features 11 newcomers without NCAA Division I experience, which is more than any other team in the league. The ISU roster consists of five freshmen and five junior college transfers, plus John Jones, who is eligible to play his first season of collegiate basketball after two years with the Redbirds. Needless to say, it is difficult for anyone to know what the Redbirds are capable of accomplishing on the court this season.

    Illinois State's large recruiting class has garnered national recognition leading up to the season, 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.

    The Illinois State men's basketball team received 139 points and was projected to finish seventh in the 2013-14 Missouri Valley Conference standings according to the league's preseason poll, as compiled from votes by MVC head coaches, beat writers, radio play-by-play personalities and institutional communication directors (see complete poll on page 12). Pollsters have accurately predicted the league's regular-season champ only 13 times out of 28 since 1985-86.

    This is the fourth time that Illinois State has been picked to finish seventh in the Valley preseason poll, with the other three seventh-place selections occurring in 1999-2000, 2000-01 and 2003-04. After being tabbed seventh prior to the 2000-01 season, the Redbirds went on to amass a 21-9 overall record and a 12-6 MVC mark en route to a second-place league finish and a bid to the National Invitation Tournament (NIT).

    Illinois State head basketball coach Dan Muller has made it public about his desire to continue improving the Redbirds' strength of schedule, and that is evident by ISU's 2013-14 season-opening opponent, Virginia Commonwealth. ISU is scheduled to face VCU Friday, Nov. 8, at 6 p.m. CT in a game that can be watched on Comcast SportsNet Chicago PLUS. The Rams, who advanced to the NCAA Tournament Round of 32 in 2013, are ranked No. 14/No. 15 in the AP Top 25 and USA Today Coaches Poll, respectively. VCU will play ISU on Doug Collins Court at Redbird Arena in 2014-15 for the home-and-home series return.

    During the summer of 2013, ISU head coach Dan Muller added two new members to his staff. On July 19, Luke Yaklich (pronounced YAUK-lich) was announced as a new assistant coach after serving as the head boy's basketball coach at Joliet Township High School in Joliet, Ill., for the past six seasons. In total, Yaklich worked as a high school head coach and teacher for 14 years, and he was also the Illinois State men's basketball manager/student assistant from 1996-98 while Muller played his final two seasons. On July 16, Will Veasley was named the program's video coordinator. The all-time winningest player in Butler history, Veasley was a starter on the Bulldog's 2010 National Championship runner-up team.

    Redbird fans had their first chance to see the 2013-14 ISU men's and women's basketball teams in action during Hoopfest, Oct. 15. The duo of Zach Lofton and Lindsay Smith won the three-point shooting competition, combining for nine treys, while Paris Lee led all scorers in the scrimmage with eight points. Your online source for Illinois State Athletics, tickets, Weisbecker Scholarship Fund gifts, multimedia, Redbird merchandise, photos and more.