Bears Open MVC Tournament Thursday Against Red-Hot Evansville
#7 Missouri State (19-11, 8-9) vs. #10 Evansville (9-20, 3-15)
Thursday, March 4, 2010, 8:35 p.m. (CT)
The Tourney: The Bears are the No. 7 seed for the 2010 State Farm MVC Tournament, March 4-7 at Scottrade Center in St. Louis. Missouri State will open the event against No. 10 Evansville on Thursday at 8:35 p.m. in a first-round game with the winner to play No. 2 Wichita State on Friday at 6:05 p.m.
The Coach: Missouri State head coach Cuonzo Martin (Purdue, 2000) is 30-31 (.492) overall, 24-10 at home, 6-20 on the road, and 0-1 at neutral sites in his second season at MSU and overall. He is 0-1 in the MVC Tournament.
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.
Bears Notes and Notables
National & Conference Leaders: In Monday's NCAA statistical rankings, the Bears rank among the nation's top 50 teams in two statistical categories -- 31st in turnovers per game (11.5), and 32nd in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.23). Justin Fuehrmeyer (Sr., G, St. Charles, Mo.) ranks 27th in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.46), while Adam Leonard (Jr., G, Lee's Summit, Mo.) ranks 26th nationally in three-point field goals per game (2.9) and 41st in three-point field goal percentage (.394). Kyle Weems (So., F, Topeka, Kan.) ranks 104th in field goal percentage (.480), and 207th in three-pointers per game (2.0)). Jermaine Mallett (Jr., G, Jackson, Miss.) is 41st in free throw percentage (.848).
In the pre-tournament MVC statistics, the Bears lead the Valley in scoring (71.9) and assist-to-turnover ratio (+1.2). Among individuals ranking in the top 10 in the league, Kyle Weems ranks 7th in scoring (13.9), 7th in rebounding (6.2), 10th in field goal percentage (.480), 5th in steals (1.4), 5th in 3-point field goal percentage (.412), 6th in three-pointers per game (2.0), 6th in blocked shots (0.9), and 3rd in defensive rebounds (5.0). Jermaine Mallett is 9th in rebounding (5.8), 3rd in FT percentage (.848), and 9th in offensive rebounds (1.8), and 10th in defensive rebounds (4.0), while Adam Leonard is 9th in scoring (13.1), 1st in 3-pointers per game (2.9), 9th in three-point accuracy (.394), and 8th in minutes played (33.0). Justin Fuehrmeyer is 1st in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.5) and 6th in assists (3.3), and Will Creekmore (Jr., C, Tulsa, Okla.) is 3rd in FG pct. (.535).
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 first game of the MVC tournament will be Art's 883rd 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 13-6 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).
All MVC Tournament games can also be heard on KFNS (AM 590) in St. Louis, with the finals on Westwood One.
On Television: The tournament quarterfinals and semifinals will air live on FSN Midwest, with the finals live on CBS on Sunday afternoon. Should the Bears advance to play Wichita State in the quarterfinals, Mitch Holthus and Mac McCausland will have the call. There will be no TV of the first-round games and no internet streaming of the tourney.
Dunk-O-Meter: Missouri State's season dunk total is now 43.
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).
Schedule Taking Shape: The Bears will finalize their 2010-11 non-conference schedule this summer, but several opponents and tentative dates for next season are starting to come into focus. Here are the team's tentative non-conference opponents and dates for next season: Nov. 15-16 - Preseason NIT (at Tennessee); Nov. 19 - at Tulsa; Nov. 22-23 - Preseason NIT (home); Dec. 1 - Arkansas-Little Rock (home); Dec. 11 - at Oklahoma State; Dec. 18 - Saint Louis (home); Dec. 22 - Arkansas State (home). Additional home games will also be added.
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 the team's Feb. 20 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 head into the state playoffs Wednesday having won 43 straight games and are ranked No. 1 in the state in Class 4 with a perfect 27-0 record. Scheer is averaging 22.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.7 assists, and is 66-for-143 (.462) 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 19-9 this season. He is averaging 15.9 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 19-5 this season head into Arkansas postseason play this week. 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 16 games (9 starts) under his belt with the Bakersfield Jam. He is averaging 13.8 points and 3.9 assists and is 60-for-65 (.923) 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).
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 15.1 points and 5.1 rebounds through 23 games.
Other former Bears active in international basketball are: Shelton Colwell (2003-04) is active in Austria, averaging 13.4 points and 5.7 rebounds through the first 19 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 6.5 points and 3.3 rebounds through 25 games; and Robert Yanders (2000-02) who is with the SAMG Verve Scottish Rocks, averaging 20.6 points and 4.3 rebounds through 17 games.
Home Attendance: Through the regular season, MSU has attracted 124,188 fans to JQH Arena for an average of 7,305 per game -- the best home average this decade and highest net total since 1992-93. If the Bears do not host any postseason games, their net attendance would rank fifth all-time and the home average would rank 11th.
2009-10 also marked the 18th time in the last 25 seasons, MSU has attracted more than 100,000 fans.
The 10,008 fans for the Illinois State game on Jan. 1, 2010 was the second-largest home crowd in Bears' history.
Last season, the Bears drew 121,502 total fans in the inaugural season at JQH Arena. The team's final home average of 7,147 in 17 games ranked 75th among all Division I programs, and marked the 20th most-improved home attendance average in the nation.
The Bears have been ranked between 55th and 90th among Division I programs in home attendance in 16 of the last 22 seasons, including last season's ranking of 75th.
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 15-2 at JQH Arena in 2009-10 and 24-10 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 1519-846 (.643) in 98 seasons and are 534-329 (.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).
Selection Sunday: Postseason bids for the NCAA Tournament will be announced on March 14. The National Invitation Tournament bids will be announced later that evening. Teams not selected to the NCAA or NIT events may receive invitations to the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) or CollegeInsider.com Tournament (CIT).