Redbirds Host BIG EAST Foe Cincinnati Saturday
Emmanuel Holloway and Boo Richardson.
Emmanuel Holloway and Boo Richardson.

Dec. 7, 2007

Illinois State-Cincinnati Game Notes in PDF Format Get Acrobat Reader

Illinois State Redbirds (5-3) vs. Cincinnati Bearcats (4-3)

Normal, Ill. • Doug Collins Court at Redbird Arena
Radio: Redbird Radio Network
Dick Luedke (Play-by-play), Mike Matthews (Color) Bruce Evans (Sideline)
Flagship WJBC 1230 AM
TV: WXIX-FOX (Cincinnati)

► Following tonight's game, Illinois State will have eight days off for final exams. The Redbirds' next scheduled contest is at Bowling Green on Dec. 16.
► Saturday's game represents the second of at least three non-conference teams ISU will play from the state of Ohio this season. The Redbirds dropped a 65-59 decision against Kent State on Nov. 24, faces off against Cincinnati tonight, and will visit BGSU on Dec. 16.
► Cincinnati is the fourth member of the BIG EAST Conference to visit Redbird Arena since the facility opened in the 1988-89 season. St. John's was the last BIG EAST school to play at Normal, Ill.(Dec. 4, 2004).
► With a win over the Bearcats, Illinois State would improve to 6-0 at home for the second-consecutive season.

► The University of Cincinnati is located in Cincinnati, Ohio, and has a total enrollment of 34,244. The Bearcats are NCAA Division I affiliate and a member of the BIG EAST Conference. ► The Bearcats finished the 2006-07 campaign with a 11-19 record overall and a 2-14 record in the BIG EAST. UC finished tied for 16th place in the league standings, failing to qualify for the BIG EAST Tournament.
► Cincinnati native and UC alum Mick Cronin (Cincinnati `97) is beginning his second season at the helm of the Bearcat program. Cronin owns a 80-43 record in four years as a collegiate head coach, with his first three years at Murray State. Cronin, who also spent time as an assistant at Cincinnati and Louisville, is assisted by Larry Davis, Chris Goggin and Tony Stubblefield.
► UC returns six lettermen from last year's roster, including four starters. Sophomore guard Deonta Vaughn leads the pack, averaging 16.0 points through seven games in 2007-08.

Cincinnati will be playing just its second road game of the season when the Redbirds and Bearcats square off at Doug Collins at Redbird Arena Saturday night. UC posted home wins over Western Carolina (Nov. 10), Coastal Carolina (Nov. 16), Fairfield (Nov. 24) and USC Upstate (Nov. 26), but dropped home decisions to Belmont (Nov. 9) and Bowling Green (Nov. 11). The Bearcats are coming off last Saturday's 73-54 loss at UAB in their road opener. Center Adam Hrycaniuk scored a career-high 16 points in the game, but UAB's Reggie Huffman poured in 18 points and Walter Sharpe added 15 to lead the Blazers. UAB led 34-27 at halftime and built the margin to 26 points in the second half to break Cincinnati's four-game winning streak.

LAST TIME OUT: Host Eastern Michigan Defeats ISU, 72-63
Osiris Eldridge tallied a double-double with 18 points and 13 rebounds, but host Eastern Michigan fought off an early deficit, and coasted to a 72-63 win over Illinois State at the Convocation Center Tuesday night in the Redbirds' road opener. Dom Johnson and Emmanuel Holloway each chipped in 10 points to join Eldridge in double figures. EMU had a threesome record double-digit point efforts, led by Carlos Medlock's 18 points. The Redbirds were whistled for a season-high 32 fouls in the contest. Both Eldridge and Anthony Slack fouled out of the game.

Illinois State will hit the road for its first of four-consecutive non-conference road games on Dec. 16 at Bowling Green State. The game will mark the Redbirds' third match up against a Mid-American Conference foe early this season. The Falcons completed a three-game road trip with a 64-60, overtime loss at Northern Colorado Thursday night. Bowling Green edged Cincinnati, 69-67, on Nov. 11, at Fifth Third Arena.

Through five home games, Illinois State has had its way with opponents during the 2007-08 season. The Redbirds are posting an average margin of victory of more than 25 points (25.2), while averaging 80.6 points per game. At home, ISU is shooting 50.5 percent and is holding opponents to 28.2 percent shooting. In contrast, the Redbirds have lost three games on road and neutral court contests, averaging just 59.7 points per game while shooting 36.4 percent from the field, and allowing their opponents to shoot at a 44.4 percent clip.

With a 5-0 start this season on Doug Collins Court at Redbird Arena, Illinois State is adding to its winning record in its home facility. Since the building opened in 1989, the Redbirds own a 189-76 (.713) record at home, while boasting a 16-4 (.800) mark over the last two seasons.

Illinois State boasts 10 all-time wins over current members of the BIG EAST Conference, but foes from the 16-team league have certainly had their way with the Redbirds through the years. In 40 all-time meetings against Cincinnati, Connecticut, DePaul, Louisville, Marquette, Pittsburgh, Providence, St. John's, Syracuse and West Virginia, ISU has compiled just a .250 winning percentage against those teams.

Starting senior forward Anthony Slack was limited to just 14 minutes of action at Eastern Michigan Tuesday night, and did not record a rebound for the first time in his two-plus year career. Slack, the Missouri Valley Conference `s ninth-leading rebounder (6.6 rpg), has five career double-digit carom efforts, and has led ISU in rebounding in four of its seven contests this season.

Illinois State head men's basketball coach Tim Jankovich added a fourth and final piece to his 2008-09 recruiting class Wednesday, bolstering his frontcourt depth with the signing of 6-foot-7, 205-pound forward Ty Modupe. Modupe, a native of Topeka, Kan., attends Highland Park High School, where he helped lead the Scots to an undefeated (25-0) Kansas Class 5A State Championship campaign as a junior. He will enroll at ISU in the fall, and begin his eligibility next season. Modupe joins 2008-09 recruits Bobby Hill, Jeremy Robinson and Kenyon Smith, who all signed National Letters of Intent to continue their education and basketball careers at Illinois State on Nov. 14.

Sophomore guard Osiris Eldridge had his first career double-double with 18 points and 13 rebounds in Tuesday night's 72-63 setback at Eastern Michigan. Eldridge, the Valley Player of the Week for the period ending Nov. 18, went 6-for-14 from the field, including 3-of-8 from three-point range, and pulled down 11 defensive caroms. He also added three steals. Eldridge joins Anthony Slack and Levi Dyer as the only ISU players to complile a double-double this season.

Senior center Levi Dyer said following last Saturday's 73-47 win over Illinois-Chicago that he was coming off "one of those nights," in which his shot just kept falling. Dyer's season-high 25 points (his second-straight double-figure outing and the fourth this season) came on 9-of-11 shooting, including a 7-for-8 effort from beyond the three-point arc, the best shooting percentage by an ISU player in Redbird Arena history. Dyer now has seven 20-point games in his career. His seven made three-pointers tied Dyer for fifth-place all-time in ISU history for a single-game.

Illinois State has consistently showed its ability to finish strong this season, registering three second-half comebacks to post wins. The Redbirds trailed heading to the locker room against Southeast Missouri State (Nov. 14) and UNC-Wilmington (Nov. 18), and were tied with UIC at halftime last Saturday. In those three contests, the Redbirds outscored the Red Hawks, Seahawks and Flames by a combined score of 143-75 in the second half. ISU has outscored six of its eight opponents in the second half this season.

Through eight games, senior point guard Boo Richardson has 35 assists and only six turnovers. Last season, after eight games, Richardson had more assists (46), but also had 39 turnovers. Richardson has also stepped up his defense; after holding Chicago State's David Holston (who came into the game averaging 27.0 ppg) to 12 points, Richardson limited UIC's Josh Mayo to 10 points, all in the first half. Mayo was averaging 16.6 points per game as the Flames' leading scorer.

Senior backcourt mates Dom Johnson and Boo Richardson haven't given their opponents much room to capitalize on unforced errors this season. Johnson and Richardson have a combined 3.67 assist-to-turnover ratio this season. Richardson (5.0) and Johnson (2.58) rank among the league's leaders in assist-to-turnover ratio, as Richardson leads the Redbirds with 35 assists and Johnson closely follows with 31.

Illinois State has committed 15 or fewer turnovers in five of its last six games, including a season-low 11 turnovers against Chicago State. The Redbirds are only averaging 15.1 turnovers per game.

Anthony Slack's blocked shot at the 15:23 mark of the second half against UIC last Saturday was the 50th block of his two-plus year career. He became the 14th player in Illinois State history to post 50 or more blocked shots in a career.

While the Redbird starting five has accounted for nearly two-thirds (74 percent) of ISU's scoring output this season, the bench has also proven its value early this season. ISU's bench players have outscored their opponents' reserves by a score of 223-140.

For Levi Dyer, "a century of treys" lasts about 73 games. That's how long it took for the Redbird center to sink the 100th three-point field goal of his career. By reaching the milestone, Dyer became the 13th Redbird to achieve the feat. He now has 109 triples in his career, which ranks No. 13 in school history, and needs two more makes to surpass former Redbird Kyle Cartmill (112).

Well, it is the season, and the Redbirds were feeling extra generous against UIC last Saturday. Illinois State made 30 field goals in the 73-47 non-conference victory, and 23 came way by of an assist. As a result, 77 percent of the Redbird shots made were the result of an extra pass. The performance followed Tuesday night's win over Chicago State, in which the Redbirds had 22 assists on 28 field goals. ISU has recorded 20 or more assists in four of its eight games this season.

Knock one down against Cincinnati and Illinois State will extend its streak to 240-straight games with at least one made three-point field goal. The last time ISU failed to convert a three was in an 82-43 loss at Creighton Dec. 12, 1999.

Anthony Slack, the league leader in blocked shots, isn't cutting ISU's opponents any slack so far this season. Through eight games, Slack has posted a team-best 21 blocked shots. He is averaging 2.62 blocks per game, which would rank as the second-highest blocked shots average in a single-season at ISU.

Illinois State has tallied more fastbreak points than six of its eight opponents this season (and tied with Kent State on Nov. 24). When the Redbirds have been successful running in transition, it has translated to substantial runs and large victory margins. In ISU's three wins in which it has scored 20 or more fastbreak points, the Redbirds have defeated those foes (Missouri-St. Louis, Southeast Missouri State and Illinois-Chicago) by nearly 25 (24.3) points per contest.

Of course, starting the fastbreak usually happens when a turnover is forced on the other end of the court. The Redbirds have forced 152 turnovers this season, and have scored 173 points off those mishaps (21.71 ppg). In the past three games, Illinois State has scored a combined 61 points off turnovers.

Sophomore Osiris Eldridge scored 13 points against Illinois-Chicago last Saturday, eclipsing the 100-point plateau for the season. It is rare to reach 100 points in less than seven games. The last Redbird to accomplish this feat was Tarise Bryson, who had 100 points after five games, to start the 2000-01 season.

O' NO!
That's the sentiment of opposing ball-handlers when being guarded by Illinois State's Osiris Eldridge. Through eight games, Eldridge has already amassed 22 steals, or 2.75 per game. He is on pace to finish the year with 83 thefts, which would shatter the school record held by Todd Starks (1986-87) by more than 20 steals.

It seems to be a recent trend in Redbird basketball - a higher field goal percentage equals wins. So far this season, the Redbirds have outshot their opponent in five games and all five resulted in ISU victories. The three games that the Redbirds had the lower field goal percentage ended up being defeats.

Against UNC-Wilmington (Nov. 18), sophomore guard Osiris Eldridge became the first Redbird to score 30 or more points in a game since current backcourt teammate Dom Johnson tossed in 32 points at Florida State last season. Before Johnson, the last Illinois State player to score 30 points was Trey Guidry, who scored 30 points at Creighton Jan. 22, 2005.

The accomplishments of Anthony Slack's start to his senior season have been well documented. But one area left untouched has been his accuracy from the field. Slack is shooting 69.1 percent from the field this season, converting 38 of his 55 field goal attempts. It's early, but the school record for single-season field goal percentage is 64.8 percent by Tony Holifield during the 1987-88 season.

At this point, Illinois State has three players averaging double-digit points per game. Osiris Eldridge is pouring in 16.1 points per contest, Anthony Slack is averaging 11.5 points per game and Levi Dyer is tossing in 11.4 tallies per game. The last time Illinois State had three players averaging double-figures was during the 2002-03 season with Gregg Alexander (11.1 ppg.), Vince Greene (12.3 ppg.) and Trey Guidry (11.1 ppg.).

In the 2007-08 MVC Preseason Poll, senior center Levi Dyer (12.1 ppg) and sophomore guard Osiris Eldridge (9.5 ppg) were each named honorable mention All-Valley selections. The league appointed five preseason all-MVC players, and recognized five honorable mention players. Dyer was voted captain of the Valley's "Most Improved Team" last season, and Eldridge earned the league's Freshman of the Year honor.

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), Marty Simmons (Evansville) Kevin McKenna (Indiana State) and Gregg Marshall (Wichita State).

USC transfer Sead Odzic will be ready to make his Illinois State debut Dec. 29. It just so happens that will be when Illinois State head coach Tim Jankovich will make his Missouri Valley Conference debut, as the Redbirds travel to Creighton. Odzic joined the team last season, but has been forced to sit out to meet NCAA resident requirements.

Last season, Illinois State's junior class (now seniors) was a key figure in the team's statistical success. The Redbirds' contingent of Levi Dyer, Boo Richardson, Anthony Slack, Dom Johnson and Julius Moor scored 1,227 of ISU's 2,068 total points (39.5 points-per-game) and accounted for nearly 60 percent (.593) of its scoring. The five players averaged 14.0 rebounds per game (434 total caroms) and 9.8 assists-per-contest (268 assists), making up 59 percent of the team assist total. This season, Dyer, Richardson, Slack and Johnson have combined for 48 percent of ISU's scoring, 44 percent of its rebounding and 61 percent of the Redbirds' assist total. Moor has appeared in just one game for ISU this season.