Bears Prepare for Senior Night Showdown With Drake on Wednesday
Missouri State Bears (18-10, 7-9) vs. Drake (13-16, 7-9)
Wednesday, Feb. 24, 7:05 p.m., JQH Arena (Mediacom)
Chevrolet Owners Ticket Special --
The Chevy Dealers of the Ozarks are offering four free tickets to Wednesday's Missouri State men's basketball game Senior Night contest against Drake. Any Bears' fan 18 years or older with proof of GM ownership -- vehicle registration, title, or insurance card -- of any Chevrolet vehicle can collect four free tickets by visiting the Chevy Pick-up Window at JQH Arena during regular office hours. The offer is limited to 2,000 tickets, and the promotion will last until tipoff at 7:05 p.m., on Wednesday, Feb. 24.
This ticket offer cannot be combined with any other promotion or ticket special. For a complete list of ticket prices and promotions, please call (417) 836-7678 or visit the promotions page at MissouriStateBears.com.
The Game: The Missouri State Bears (18-10, 7-9 MVC) wrap up their 2009-10 regular-season home schedule Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. when they host the Drake Bulldogs at JQH Arena in a key Missouri Valley Conference contest.
Cuonzo Martin's squad is coming off a thrilling 62-60 home win over Nevada on Saturday in the annual ESPN BracketBusters event. The Bears got a pair of free throws from Nafis Ricks (Jr., G, Philadelphia, Pa.) with 3.4 seconds on the clock to end the game on a 17-5 run and notch their 18th triumph of the season. Kyle Weems (So., F, Topeka, Kan.) scored a game-high 17 points and secured 11 rebounds to record his first double-double of the year and steal the spotlight from Nevada standout Luke Babbitt.
Drake comes to town with a 13-16 overall ledger and identical 7-9 record in the Valley. The Bulldogs have won two straight after snapping a four-game skid on 2/16/10 with a 79-72 home win over Southern Illinois.
The Series: The Bears lead the all-time series, 30-10. The squads split last year with the Bulldogs holding serve in Des Moines, 67-49 (12/31/08), before MSU earned a 65-44 (1/21/09) win at JQH. The teams have split the last six meetings overall with the Bears owning an 17-1 record on their home court in the series, including eight straight.
The Coaches: Missouri State head coach Cuonzo Martin (Purdue, 2000) is 29-30 (.492) overall, 6-19 on the road and 23-10 (.697) at JQH Arena in his second season at MSU and overall. He is 1-2 at Drake, including a 1-0 mark at JQH Arena. Martin is also 10-24 in MVC games, 5-10 in February, 8-6 on Wednesdays and 12-7 on Saturdays.
He spent eight seasons as an assistant coach and associate head coach at Purdue (2000-08) where he was a standout performer for coach Gene Keady from 1991-95.
Martin (38), who became MSU's 16th head basketball coach on April 1, 2008, played professional basketball for four years, including two stops with the Milwaukee Bucks and one with the Vancouver Grizzlies of the NBA. He spent most of his professional playing time in the Continental Basketball Association and in Europe, leading Grand Rapids in scoring three seasons and leading the Felize Scandone team in Avellino, Italy in 1997. Originally from East St. Louis, Ill., he scored 20 points against the Bears as a Purdue player on 12/22/92 and helped Purdue to a 4-0 mark against MSU as a player and coach.
Drake coach Mark Phelps (Old Dominion, 1996) is 30-32 (.484) in his second season with the Bulldogs and overall. He is 14-20 in MVC games, 2-1 all-time against the Bears, and 4-7 on the road this season.
The Ten Count: Ten Missouri State quick facts relating to today's game:
Dunk-O-Meter: Missouri State's season dunk total is now 43.
Last Outing: Nafis Ricks (Jr., G, Phialdelphia, Pa.) knocked down two free throws with 3.4 seconds left in the game to propel the Bears to a 62-60 home win over Nevada in the ESPN BracketBusters series at JQH Arena on Saturday.
Ricks' pair of charity shots capped a 17-5 run by the Bears (18-10) to close out the game and give Cuonzo Martin's squad its 14th home win of the season.
The comeback seemed improbable, however, just a few minutes earlier. With 6:32 to play, Armon Johnson stole an errant pass and took it the distance for a two-handed dunk to put Nevada on top 55-45. The Wolf Pack's third dunk of the afternoon drew a technical foul when Johnson hung on the rim, opening the door for the Bears.
Kyle Weems (So., F, Topeka, Kan.) had a game-high 17 points and snagged 11 rebounds to record his first double-double of the season, while holding Nevada's Luke Babbitt to just 15 points on 5-of-18 shooting.
On the Radio: All Missouri State games can be heard on KTXR, Springfield (101.3 FM), the flagship station of the Missouri State Bears Basketball Radio Network. Play-by-play man Art Hains will provide the game description.
Hains first began calling Bears action in 1977 and is in his second stint and 29th season overall as the Voice of the Bears. He called MSU games from 1977 to 1981 and returned to the mic in 1985. The Drake game will be Art's 881st Missouri State basketball broadcast.
Color commentary is provided this season by former Bears Mike Keltner (1970-74) and Drew Richards (2004-08). The Bears are 12-5 with Keltner providing color and 6-5 with Richards.
MSU basketball can also be heard on the nine-station MSU Bears Basketball Radio Network (see sidebar).
National & Conference Leaders: In Monday's NCAA statistical rankings, the Bears rank among the nation's top 50 teams in two statistical categories -- 32nd in turnovers per game (11.6), and 34th in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.22). Justin Fuehrmeyer (Sr., G, St. Charles, Mo.) ranks 24th in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.48), while Adam Leonard (Jr., G, Lee's Summit, Mo.) ranks 52nd nationally in three-point field goals per game (2.7) and 44th in three-point field goal percentage (.383). Kyle Weems (So., F, Topeka, Kan.) ranks 120th in field goal percentage (.474), 206th in three-pointers per game (2.0), and 217th in steals (1.5). Jermaine Mallett (Jr., G, Jackson, Miss.) is 44th in free throw percentage (.840).
In Monday's MVC statistics, the Bears lead the Valley in scoring (71.8) and assist-to-turnover ratio (+1.2). Among individuals ranking in the top 10 in the league, Kyle Weems ranks 5th in scoring (13.9), 9th in rebounding (5.8), 5th in steals (1.5), 9th in 3-point field goal percentage (.400), 6th in three-pointers per game (2.0), 10th in blocked shots (0.8), and 6th in defensive rebounds (4.6). Jermaine Mallett is 9th in rebounding (5.7), 6th in FT percentage (.840), and 6th in offensive rebounds (1.8), while Adam Leonard is 12 th in scoring (12.5), 2nd in 3-pointers per game (2.7), and 8th in minutes played (32.6). Justin Fuehrmeyer is 1st in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.5) and 5th in assists (3.4), and Will Creekmore (Jr., C, Tulsa, Okla.) is 2nd in FG pct. (.547).
Milestones: Justin Fuehrmeyer (Sr., G, St. Charles, Mo.) needs 12 points for 500, and 4 steals for 100 in his career and 4 points for 100 this season ... Ryan Jehle (Jr., F, Overland Park, Kan.) needs 5 points to give him 100 MVC points in his career ... Will Creekmore (Jr., C, Tulsa, Okla.) needs 1 point to give him 300 MVC points for his career ... Adam Leonard (Jr., G, Lee's Summit, Mo.) needs 6 assists for 250 career ... Leonard is also 19 three-pointers shy of the school single-season record (94) ... Jermaine Mallett (Jr., G, Jackson, Miss.) needs 3 field goals for 100 this season ... Nafis Ricks (Jr., G, Philadelphia, Pa.) needs 19 points for 200 this season ... Kyle Weems (Jr., F, Topeka, Kan.) needs 3 three-pointers for 100 career and 10 points for 400 this season ... Caleb Patterson (So., C, Ames, Okla.) needs 7 points for 200 and 13 rebounds for 100 career ... Weems and Leonard need 13 total three-pointers to break the MSU season record for treys by teammates (144).
Coors Player of the Week: Kyle Weems (So., F, Topeka, Kan.) is this week's Coors Player of the Week. He averaged 18.0 points per game on the week to lead the Bears, including a game-high 17 points in Saturday's nationally-televised win over Nevada in the ESPN BracketBusters. He drew the team's toughest defensive assignment of the weekend in guarding All-America candidate Luke Babbitt from Nevada. Weems was up to the task and played his best defensive game of the season, holding Babbitt to 5-of-18 from the field and snapping Babbitt's 15-game streak of scoring at least 19 points (including 14 20-point efforts). He also recorded 11 rebounds in the Nevada game, giving him his first double-double of the season and fourth of his career. He also notched 19 points in Wednesday's narrow loss at Illinois State, including 15 in the second half. For the week, he was 15-for-30 (.500) from the field with four three-pointers, 16 rebounds, and was 2-for-2 at the free throw line.
Bracket Busting: After a thrilling 62-60 win over Nevada on Feb. 20, Missouri State improved to 4-3 all-time in the BracketBusters series, including a 2-2 mark at home, and 2-3 record in ESPN televised BracketBusters games.
On Dec. 9, 2009, the Bears defeated Tennessee-Martin, 79-51, in their BracketBusters return game from last season. MSU improved to 6-0 all-time in BracketBusters return games with the win. The new return game policy will have the Bears traveling to Reno to play the Wolf Pack during the 2011-12 season.
Mountain West-Missouri Valley Challenge Series: The Missouri Valley Conference claimed the inaugural Mountain West-Missouri Valley Conference Challenge Series this fall, winning five games to four. The Bears were victorious over Air Force, 58-48, at JQH Arena on Dec. 5 in their series game. Other MVC winners in the series were: Indiana State, Wichita State, Illinois State, and UNI, while Evansville did not participate in the inaugural challenge.
Champions Committed to Kids: Several of Missouri State University's athletics programs, including the basketball Bears, will have one more person on the sidelines on game days this season. That's because MSU is one of several area schools partnering with "Champions Committed to Kids" to give some special young people an unforgettable opportunity. Organized in January, Champions Committed to Kids was created to help children stricken with cancer and other diseases. The program offers hope and inspiration to both the kids and those helping them by pairing ill children with local-area athletes to involve them in interscholastic and intercollegiate athletics. Jeff Collins, director of the Missouri State Winter Games, is the founder of the organization.
For the remainder of the 2009-10 season, the Bears have paired up with 10-year-old Levi who will be on the team bench for the squad's remaining home games and at various practices and activities.
McFarland Dismissed Dec. 26: Missouri State men's basketball coach Cuonzo Martin announced Dec. 26 that sophomore guard Cardell McFarland (Evansville, Ind.), one of the team's three returning starters from last season, was dismissed from the squad due to an undisclosed violation of team conduct rules.
McFarland played in five of the team's first 11 games this season, scoring 25 points with 7 rebounds and 8 assists. He missed three games with a knee contusion suffered in the Tulsa game on Nov. 28 and had been in uniform for the Bears' next three games, but did not play. As a freshman last season, he started 19 of the 29 games in which he appeared, averaging 6.9 points and 1.6 rebounds with a career-high 15 points at Tennessee-Martin on Feb. 21, 2009.
Spoonhour Headlines 2010 MSU Hall of Fame Class: Former Bears' head coach Charlie Spoonhour (1983-92) was one of six former Missouri State coaches and student-athletes to be inducted into the MSU Athletics Hall of Fame during ceremonies on the Missouri State campus on Feb. 6.
Spoonhour posted a 197-81 (.709) record at Missouri State which included 20-win, postseason teams each of his final seven seasons, including five NCAA Tournament squads. Spoonhour's 1987 team finished with a school record 28 wins and took a 15-game win streak into the NCAA second round vs. Kansas.
Williams Joins SIU Hall: Missouri State men's basketball assistant coach Kent Williams joined five other former Southern Illinois University athletics standouts as 2010 inductees into the SIU Athletic Hall of Fame on January 8.
Williams (1999-2003) helped rejuvenate the men's basketball program at SIU a decade ago. As a four-year starter, his teams were 88-42 during his career and advanced to two NCAA Tournaments (2002, 2003), including a Sweet 16 appearance, and one NIT bid (2000). Williams became just the second player in school history to surpass 2,000 career points. He was a two-time, First-Team All-MVC selection (2002, 2003) and runner-up to Kyle Korver for MVC Player of the Year in 2003. He ranks among the school leaders in numerous career categories, including 3-pointers (2nd), free throws (2nd) assists (8th) and games started (1st).
On Television: Wednesday's game is the last of eight Bears' games to be telecast live on Mediacom Connections (Channel 22 locally) and the Missouri Sports Cable Network throughout the state this season. Don West is the play-by-play man for Mediacom, while KOLR-10 TV sports director Dan Lucy will provide color commentary. Corey Riggs is the executive producer. The Bears are 4-3 this season on locally-produced Mediacom games (1-0 at JQH Arena).
Preseason Valley Poll: The Bears were picked ninth in the MVC preseason poll, marking just the fourth time since joining the league in 1990-91 they have been picked outside the conference's upper division. Last year, the Bears were picked 10th and finished last at 3-15, the program's lowest-ever conference finish in any league. (see p.5 for complete MVC Preseason Poll).
Court Captains: Kyle Weems (So., F, Topeka, Kan.), Justin Fuehrmeyer (Sr., G, St. Charles, Mo.), and Adam Leonard (Jr., G, Lee's Summit, Mo.) are sharing team captain duties this season for the Bears. The last MSU underclassmen to serve as captains were Danny Moore and Ryan Bettenhausen, both juniors, in 1997-98.
Non-Conference? Non-Problem: With Saturday's win over Nevada in the BracketBusters, the Bears finished non-conference play with an 11-1 record and are now 19-5 overall under head coach Cuonzo Martin against non-MVC foes. MSU secured its seventh straight winning season in non-conference games and has matched its highest non-league win total since the Bears were 11-4 in 1998-99.
Building the Program: On Nov. 11-12, 2009, Missouri State head coach Cuonzo Martin announced the receipt of National Letters of Intent from three high school prospects for the 2010-11 season.
Committing to Missouri State were:
Scheer, a student with a 3.95 GPA, was a consensus Missouri Class 4 All-State pick last season. He helped lead coach Dave Neier's St. Francis Borgia High School to a 28-3 overall record and Missouri state title last season after averaging 15.9 points and 5.0 rebounds as a junior. He also added 41 three-pointers, 60 assists and 44 steals last season. As a sophomore, Scheer led Borgia in scoring and rebounding with 17.1 points and 5.7 rebounds.
Scheer scored a career-high 36 points on 12/9/09, including seven 3-pointers, to lead Borgia to a thrilling 78-75 victory over Whitfield. The Knights have won 40 straight games and are ranked No. 1 in the state in Class 4 with a perfect 24-0 record. Scheer is averaging 22.3 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.9 assists, and is 61-for-130 from three.
Copeland helped his Fort Smith (Ark.) Northside squad to the Arkansas Class 7A quarterfinals last season, earning All-State honors and a spot on the All State Tournament Team. He averaged 15.2 points and led his team in field goal percentage. He holds a 3.4 GPA and is considered an athletic player with outstanding leaping and shooting abilities. Martin calls Copeland a slasher who can make shots and play three different positions.
His Grizzlies are 16-8 this season. He is averaging 15.1 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.9 assists. He notched a season-high 31 points on 12/30/09 against Fort Smith Southside behind 8-of-10 three-pointers.
Cooper averaged 18.0 points and 4.1 assists as a prep junior a year ago at North Pulaski (Ark.) High. He made 82-percent of his free throws and knocked down 53-percent of his three-pointers. He is a reputable defender who uses his quickness to create offense, and has a great instincts. Martin says Cooper has the potential to be a great on-ball defender and a scoring point guard. His father, Raymond, is also his high school and AAU coach.
His Falcons are 18-4 this season. Cooper is averaging 17.3 points per game with 40 three-pointers.
Bears in the Pros: Blake Ahearn (2004-07) is back in the NBA Development League with 13 games (6 starts) under his belt with the Bakersfield Jam. He is averaging 15.7 points and 3.4 assists and is 56-for-61 (.918) at the foul line. He posted 28 points behind six three-pointers in a Jan. 29 win over Idaho. Ahearn started the season in Spain and played 13 games for the MMT Estudiantes Madrid before returning to the U.S. He averaged 14.2 points, 1.1 rebounds, and 24.4 minutes per game and was 36-for-87 (.414) from three-point range. The NCAA career FT leader broke the Spanish league record by going 57-for-58 (.983) at the charity stripe.
Ahearn spent the bulk of the 2008-09 season with the Dakota Wizards of the NBA Development League where he was co-MVP of the D-League All-Star Game after claiming league's Rookie of the Year honors in 2007-08. Ahearn had stints with the NBA's Spurs and Heat during the most recent two seasons.
Deven Mitchell (2004-08) is playing for the CS Gaz Metan Medias squad in the Romanian League. He is averaging 14.8 points and 5.1 rebounds through 22 games while making 56.0 percent of his field goals. He is coming off a season-high 29 points on Feb. 13.
Other former Bears active in international basketball are: Shelton Colwell (2003-04) is active in Austria, averaging 13.2 points and 5.6 rebounds through the first 17 games of the season for the BSC Raiffeisen Fursten feld Panthers; Ales Kunc (1995-96) is in Slovenia where he is averaging 7.8 points and 3.6 rebounds in 17 games for the BC Prievidza club; Daniel Novak (2000-02) who plays for BK SPU Nitra in Slovakia, averaging 6.8 points and 3.5 rebounds through 24 games; and Robert Yanders (2000-02) who is active with the SAMG Verve Scottish Rocks, averaging 21.2 points and 4.1 rebounds through 15 games.
Home Attendance: In 2008-09, the Bears eclipsed 100,000 fans (121,502) for the 17th time in the last 24 seasons. The team's final home average of 7,147 in 17 games at JQH Arena was the second-best home average for Missouri State this decade and 15th best all-time. The team's 2008-09 net attendance ranked No. 6 all-time at MSU.
The Bears also improved to fourth in the Missouri Valley Conference in home attendance average after finishing sixth in 2007-08, and were Division I basketball's 20th most-improved program in home attendance in 2008-09.
The Bears have been ranked between 55th and 90th among Division I programs in home attendance in 16 of the last 22 seasons, including a national ranking of 75th in 2008-09.
Through 16 of 17 home games, MSU has drawn 116,237 fans and averages 7,265 spectators per game, the best home average this decade. If the Bears can attract at least 8,532 for the Drake game, they will have netted their highest home attendance since the 1990-91 season, their first year in the Valley, and fourth-best all-time.
Debut of the Q: With a $30-million gift from Missouri State alumnus and Springfield-based hotel developer John Q. Hammons, the long-time dream of a new home for the Missouri State Bears and Lady Bears and an iconic tribute to MSU intercollegiate athletics became a reality last season. JQH Arena features a seating capacity of 11,000, including 50 courtside seats, 24 suites, PRIME Overtime Club, Hall of Fame and Legacy of Competition exhibits, 114 loge seats, 1,363 reserved student bleacher seats and 9,637 chairback seats.
The Bears defeated Arkansas, 62-57, before a sellout crowd of 10,881 on November 22, 2008 in the inaugural game at JQH Arena. The first opponent to beat MSU in the facility was Utah, 71-58, on November 26, 2008. MSU is 14-2 at JQH Arena in 2009-10 and 23-10 all-time (The Bears were 9-8 at home in 2008-09)
The Program: Missouri State entered the 2009-10 season with the 28th-best all-time win total in NCAA Division I men's basketball and the 17th-best by winning percentage (.642). Currently, the Bears have an all-time record of 1518-845 (.642) in 98 seasons and are 533-328 (.619) since making the move to Division I in 1982-83.
During its Division I era, MSU has made NCAA Tournament appearances in 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1992, and 1999. With Tournament wins over Wisconsin and Tennessee, the 1999 Bears advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16. The Bears have also appeared in the National Invitation Tournament eight times -- 1986, 1991, 1993, 1997, 2000, 2005, 2006, and 2007. The 1986, 1993 and 2006 squads all reached the NIT quarterfinals.
The Bears won NAIA national championship titles in 1952 and 1953, while making six NAIA national tournament appearances from 1939-1954. MSU also appeared in the NCAA Division II Tournament 10 times, finishing as national runners-up on three occassions -- 1959, 1967, and 1969.
Missouri State has won 23 conference titles, not including a 1992 Missouri Valley Conference Tournament title.
Missouri State University: Missouri State University is a public, comprehensive university system with a mission in public affairs, whose purpose is to develop educated persons while achieving five goals: democratizing society, incubating new ideas, imagining Missouri's future, making Missouri's future, and modeling ethical and effective behavior.
With a record enrollment of 22,938 in 2009-10, MSU is the second-largest institution for higher learning in Missouri, and its identity is distinguished by its statewide mission in public affairs. This mission requires a campus-wide commitment to foster competence and responsibility in the common vocation of citizenship. Missouri State University-Springfield is a selective admissions, graduate level teaching and research institution.
Missouri State competes at the NCAA Division I level and is a member of the Missouri Valley Conference with affiliate membership in the Mid-American Conference for field hockey and men's swimming and diving.
Notable Missouri State alums include: Ryan Howard (2009 NLCS MVP, first baseman, Philadelphia Phillies), John Goodman (actor), Kathleen Turner (actress), David Glass (owner, Kansas City Royals), John Q. Hammons (businessman, hotel developer), Bob Holden (43rd governor of Missouri), Bill Mueller (2003 American League batting champ), Jackie Stiles (Division I career scoring leader), and Blake Ahearn (NBA D-League MVP and All-Star Game co-MVP).
Up Next: The Bears will finish up the regular season next Saturday at Indiana State at 1:05 p.m. in what may prove to be a critical game in the final MVC Tournament seedings. The State Farm MVC Tournament takes place March 4-7 at Scottrade Center in St. Louis.