UAB assistant coach Jeff Wulbrun was an assistant at Illinois State from 1993-97. He coached ISU head coach Dan Muller through three of Muller's four seasons. Wulbrun helped the Redbirds make two NITs and one NCAA appearance, and also claim the 1997 Missouri Valley regular season championship.
THEY SAY IT'S BETTER TO GIVE THAN TO RECEIVE
In the spirit of the holiday season, Illinois State is spreading the scoring cheer with an 81-to-46 (1.8) assist to turnover ratio through the first four games. The Redbirds have teamed up for two 20-plus assists games this year, and freshman guard Kaza Keane amassed a Redbird season-high nine assists in ISU's win over Fairleigh Dickinson, Nov. 20.
The Illinois State bench has outscored opposing benches, 145-68, through the first four games this season. ISU's bench has never been outscored by the opposition's so far. The Redbirds' most dominating bench performance occurred in the win over Fairleigh Dickinson, Nov. 20, when Illinois State finished with a 42-4 advantage over the Knights' bench.
At least three Redbirds have netted double-figures in each of ISU's four games this season. Four reached double-figures in the opener versus UC Santa Barbara, Nov. 12, five scored double-figures at Drexel, Nov. 15., three tallied double-figures against Delaware State, Nov. 18, and four reached double-figures versus Fairleigh Dickinson, Nov. 20.
By beating Fairleigh Dickinson, 91-58, Nov. 20, Illinois State tallied its fourth-straight 80-plus performance this season, a feat that hasn't been done since the 1977-78 season, when the Redbirds opened up 4-0, scoring 80 or more points in all four of those contests. ISU had not scored 80-plus points in four consecutive games at any point during a season since a four-game stretch from Dec. 17 - Dec. 31, 2000. The last time the Redbirds strung together six-straight 80-plus games was at the beginning of 1975-76. ISU has now scored 80 or more points in six consecutive games, dating back to the end of last season.
THESE BIRDS CAN FLY!
If the first four games are any indication of what's to come, the 2012-13 Redbirds will maintain a high-energy, fast-paced tempo, which can lead to explosive scoring runs. During the first half against UC Santa Barbara Nov. 12, the game was tied, 6-6, before the Redbirds went on a 21-0 run over five-plus minutes to take a 27-6 advantage. Against Delaware State Nov. 18, ISU out-scored the Hornets 27-4 off the fast-break, and the Redbirds went on a 27-4 run in the final 6:30 of the first half. Versus Fairleigh Dickinson, ISU started the second half with a 20-1 run to establish a 71-38 advantage.
CARMICHAEL NAMED VALLEY PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Redbird senior forward Jackie Carmichael is the Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Week, as announced by the league office Monday, Nov. 19. Carmichael set or tied a career high in four categories, including points (27), field goals (13), field goal attempts (20) and assists (3), in Illinois State's season-opening win against UC Santa Barbara Nov. 12, and he then led the Redbirds offensively with a 21-point performance during ISU's overtime win at Drexel Nov. 15. With Drexel leading, 75-73, Carmichael was fouled with 2.0 seconds remaining and proceeded to hit two pressure-packed free throws to send the game into overtime. The Valley Player of the Week award is the first for Illinois State since Carmichael won it Jan. 30, 2012. That was the lone player of the week honor awarded to the Redbirds last season.
HAVE YOU SEEN KEANE?
True-freshman guard Kaza Keane has started all four games for Illinois State this season, and is averaging 5.5 assists per game, with 22 assists and only seven turnovers. He is also averaging 4.0 points on 46.7 percent shooting from the field. In his first game as a college player, Keane dished a team-best five assists and scored five points versus UC Santa Barbara Nov. 12. During his first-ever road game at Drexel Nov. 15, Keane was credited with four assists, including an alley-oop to senior guard Tyler Brown, which was featured on ESPN's Top 10 Plays. He also netted four points and committed only one turnover to help the Redbirds beat the Dragons. Keane then scored a career-high with seven points to go with four assists and three steals during ISU's win over Delaware State Nov. 18. He set a career high with nine assists in ISU's win against Fairleigh Dickinson, Nov. 20.
KING OF THE HILL
Illinois State sophomore guard Johnny Hill averaged just 7.4 minutes with two points and one rebound per game last season. However, this season, Hill is proving to be a critical piece to the Redbird basketball puzzle. Hill has averaged 20.5 minutes over the first four games, and he scored a career-high 13 points in a career-best 28 minutes of play at Drexel Nov. 15. Hill's previous high was 11 versus Lipscomb Nov. 19, 2011. Not only did Hill score five key field goals against the Dragons, but he also made a key free throw late in overtime to secure the Redbird road win.
BEAT THE BEST TO BE THE BEST
The Redbirds earned a road victory against one of the highest preseason-rated mid-major programs in the nation Nov. 15, as ISU held off Drexel in overtime. The Dragons won the 2011-12 Colonial Athletic Association title and are favored to win it again this season. Drexel also received five votes in the preseason AP Top 25 Poll, and two points in the USA Today Coaches Poll. The Dragons will make the return trip to Doug Collins Court at Redbird Arena on Nov. 12, 2013. Illinois State has not received votes in either of the two polls since Jan. 2009, and the Redbirds have not been ranked since 1998.
DOUG THE JET
Doug Collins, the most decorated ISU men's basketball player in program history, cheered on the Redbirds from behind their bench at the Nov. 15 game at Drexel in Philadelphia. He has served as the head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers since 2010. During his Redbird playing days, he was a consensus All-American in 1973 and the winner of the NCAA Top Five Athletes of 1973. He averaged 29.1 points in three seasons.
THE REDBIRD QUINTET
In a balanced scoring effort, five Redbirds tallied double figures during the win over Drexel (Nov. 15). Jackie Carmichael (21), Tyler Brown (20), Johnny Hill (13) and Jon Ekey (10) became the first quintet to accomplish that feat since Dec. 2011. The Dragons also had five players with 10 or more points.