Bears Begin Conference Play Tuesday Night at Evansville
Missouri State (10-1) at Evansville (6-4)
Tuesday, Dec. 29, 7:05 p.m.
The Game: After falling in overtime, 66-62, last Tuesaday at Arkansas, the Missouri State Bears look to get back on track as they return to action Tuesday at Evansville (6-4) in the Missouri Valley Conference opener for both teams.
Prior to the setback in Fayetteville, the Bears had won 10 straight ball games to start the 2009-10 campaign, which marked just the second time in Missouri State's Division I era (since 1982-83) that the Bears had started a season with a perfect 10-0 ledger. Kyle Weems (So., F, Topeka, Kan.) posted a career-high 24 points in the Arkansas game, going 6-for-10 from three-point range, including two game-tying treys in the final five minutes.
Evansville has won four of its last six games, but fell 71-68 at Austin Peay last Tuesday in its most-recent outing. Like the Bears, the youthful Aces have just one senior on their roster. The team's top scorers are freshman Colt Ryan (Batesville, Ind., 15.5 ppg) and sophomore James Haarsma (Kenosha, Wis., 13.8 ppg, 8.5 rpg).
The Series: MSU leads the all-time series, which dates to 3/15/59, by a 26-22 margin. The Bears have won three of the last four meetings, including a 65-62 win at JQH Arena in the most-recent matchup (2/4/09). Since Evansville joined the league in 1995-96, the Bears are 20-13 against the Aces, including a 7-9 mark at Roberts Stadium.
The Coaches: Missouri State head coach Cuonzo Martin (Purdue, 2000) is 21-21 (.500) overall, 16-8 (.667) at JQH Arena in his second season at MSU and overall. He is 1-1 against Evansville and 3-15 in MVC games. Martin is also 10-5 in December, 0-4 on Tuesdays, and 1-3 against teams from Indiana.
Martin 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. He became MSU's 16th head basketball coach on April 1, 2008.
Martin (38) 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.
Evansville head coach Marty Simmons (Evansville, 1987) is 130-112 (.537) in his ninth season as a head coach and is 32-39 (.451) in his third season in charge of the Purple Aces. He has previous head coaching stints at Wartburg (1996-97) and SIU-Edwardsville (2002-07). Simmons is 2-3 all-time against the Bears and 11-25 in Missouri Valley Conference games.
The Ten Count: Ten Missouri State quick facts relating to today's game:
Dunk-O-Meter: Missouri State's season dunk total is now 19.
Last Outing: MSU overcame an 11-point deficit in the final 10:38 of regulation to force overtime at Arkansas on Dec. 22, only to fall for the first time in 2009-10 by a final score of 66-62.
Missouri State worked to overcome a season-low shooting percentage (.319) with defensive pressure and determination. The Bears forced 20 turnovers and turned the ball over just 10 times themselves.
After trailing 29-27 at the half, the Bears found themselves down 44-33 with 11:16 left. But, the Bears went back to their bread-and-butter in sophomore Kyle Weems (F, Topeka, Kan.) who hit a jumper and a pair of threes to make it a 47-43 game with 7:30 to go. Weems' fifth trey later in the half knotted the game, 57-57, with 1:15 to go.
With the game then tied, Arkansas got a team offensive rebound with 37 seconds to go and ran it down to 4.7 seconds before Rotnei Clarke pulled up over 6-foot-11 Missouri State center Caleb Patterson (So., Ames, Okla.) to drain a short jumper and put the Razorbacks up by two. But the Bears ran a set play out of a called timeout in the final seconds, resulting in a layup by Patterson on a stellar pass from Justin Fuehrmeyer at the horn to force overtime.
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 Evansville game will be Art's 864th Missouri State basketball broadcasts.
Color commentary will be provided this season by former Bears Mike Keltner (1970-74) and Drew Richards (2004-08). The Bears are 8-0 with Keltner providing color and 2-1 with Richards.
MSU basketball can also be heard on the nine-station MSU Bears Basketball Radio Network (see sidebar), in addition to live audio streaming on www.RadioSpringfield.com.
On Television: Today's game is the fourth of eight Bears' games to be telecast live on Mediacom Connections (Channel 22 locally) and the Missouri Sports Cable Network throughout the state. 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 next MSU games on Mediacom will be January 3 at Northern Iowa.
National & Conference Leaders: In last week's NCAA statistical rankings, Adam Leonard (Jr., G, Lee's Summit, Mo.) ranks 24th nationally in three-point field goal percentage (.467), 47th in three-pointers per game (2.8), and 146th in free-throw percentage (.813). Kyle Weems (So., F, Topeka, Kan.) ranks 96th in field goal percentage (.526), and Jermaine Mallet (Jr., F, Jackson, Miss.) ranks 31st in free throw percentage (.893).
As a team, MSU ranks among the nation's top 50 teams in seven categories (see graph above), including tied No. 1 in winning percentage (1.000) and No. 26 in turnover margin (-4.3).
In the updated MVC stats this week, the Bears lead the Valley in turnover margin (-4.8). Among individuals ranking in the top 10 in the league statistics, Kyle Weems ranks 4th in scoring (15.3), 9th in field goal percentage (.531), tied for 5th in steals (1.6), 5th in 3-pt FG Pct. (.472), and 6th in three-pointers (2.3). Jermaine Mallett is 2nd in FT percentage (.871), and 8th in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.5), while Adam Leonard is 10th in FT percentage (.824), 5th in three-point percentage (.417), 2nd in three-pointers per game (2.7) and 6th in minutes per game (32.0). Caleb Patterson (So., C, Ames, Okla.) is 7th in FG Pct. (.544).
Milestones: Ryan Jehle (Jr., F, Overland Park, Kan.) needs 29 points for 200 career ... Jermaine Mallett (Jr., F, Jackson, Miss.) needs 5 points for 100 this season ... Kyle Weems (So., F, Topeka, Kan.) needs 16 points for 500 career ... Weems also needs 1 three-point attempt for 200 and 2 steals for 50 career ... Justin Fuehrmeyer needs 4 games for 100 career, 79 points for 500, and 16 steals for 100 ... Adam Leonard needs 98 points for 1,000 career, 2 steals for 100 career and 6 points for 150 this season ... Caleb Patterson needs 2 FGA for 100 career.
Coors Player of the Week: Sophomore Kyle Weems (F, Topeka, Kan.) is this week's Coors Player of the Week after posting a career-high 24 points in the team's narrow overtime loss at Arkansas. Weems fired a career-high 6 three-pointers at the Razorbacks, including two game-tying treys and a break-away dunk in the final 5:32 of regulation and a go-ahead three that nearly held up in overtime. He also had 3 steals and a career high 9 field goals in the game overall, making 9-of-16 shots overall. Weems is now 16 points shy of 500 in his career.
Non-Conference? Non-Problem: The Bears finished non-conference play (save the BracketBusters game in February) with a 10-1 record and are now 18-5 overall under head coach Cuonzo Martin against non-MVC foes. MSU has assured itself of its seventh straight winning record in non-conference games and has matched its highest win total since the Bears were 11-4 in 1998-99.
Building the Program: On Wednesday, Nov. 11, Missouri State head coach Cuonzo Martin announced the receipt of National Letters of Intent from two high school prospects for the 2010-11 season. A third player committed to play for the Bears on Nov. 12.
Committing to Missouri State were:
Scheer, a student with a 3.95 grade-point average, 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 per game as a prep junior. He also led Borgia in scoring and rebounding as a sophomore with a 17.1 scoring average to go with 5.7 rebounds. An inside/outside threat, he showed good range with 41 three-pointers last season, while posting 60 assists and 44 steals and making good on 53-percent of his field goal attempts.
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. Through 9 games, he is averaging 24.7 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.2 assists, with 31 threes.
Copeland helped his Fort Smith (Ark.) Northside squad to the Arkansas Class 7A quarterfinals last season, earning All-State honors and earning a spot on the State All-Tournament Team. He averaged 15.2 points per game and led his team in field goal percentage. He holds a 3.4 grade-point average 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 4-4 so far this season, but statistics are not available at this time.
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-point field goal attempts. He is a reputable defender who uses his quickness to create offense, and has a great instinct for the game. Martin says Cooper has the potential to be a great on-ball defender which complements his skills as a scoring point guard. His father, Raymond, is also Cooper's high school and AAU coach.
His Falcons are off to a 8-2 start this season. He is averaging 16.8 points per game with a .470 field goal percentage and 15-for-38 from three-point range.
Bears in the Pros: Blake Ahearn (2004-07) is playing in Spain for MMT Estudiantes Madrid. Through 13 games with the club, he is averaging 14.2 points, 1.1 rebounds, and 24.4 minutes per game. He is 36-for-87 (.414) from three-point range. The NCAA all-time free throw leader is 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 NBA D-League All-Star Game after claiming league's Rookie of the Year honors in 2007-08. Ahearn had stints with the NBA's San Antonio Spurs and Miami 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 13.2 points and 4.6 rebounds per game through 13 games while making 55.6 percent of his field goal attempts.
Shelton Colwell (2003-04) is active in Austria, averaging 15.6 points and 6.1 rebounds through the first 8 games of the season for the BSC Raiffeisen Fursten feld Panthers.
Former Bear Rodney Perry (1991-93) is coaching the 4-0 Kansas City Stars of the American Basketball Association where Dale Lamberth (2006-08) is now a team member.
Preseason Valley Poll: The Bears were picked ninth in the MVC preseason poll, marking just the fourth time since the Bears joined the league in 1990-91 that they have been picked to finish in the lower division of the 10-team conference.
Last season, the Bears were picked 10th in the league and finished 3-15 in the MVC.
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 7 of 17 home games, the Bears have drawn 42,129 fans and are averaging 6,018 fans per game.
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 7-0 at JQH Arena in 2009-10 and 16-8 all-time.
MSU finished its inaugural campaign at JQH Arena with a 9-8 home record and an average home attendance of 7,147, ranking 75th among all Division I programs and 20th most-improved from the previous season.
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 1510-836 (.644) in 97 seasons and are 525-319 (.622) 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 return to JQH Arena on January 1 (7:05 p.m.) to take on Illinois State in their first home game since December 9. The Bears trail Illinois State in the all-time series by a count of 31-22. MSU then takes on league preseason favorite Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls on Sunday, Jan. 3 at 1:05 p.m.
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 Northern Iowa, while Evansville did not participate in the inaugural challenge.
Overall, Missouri Valley teams completed the pre-Christmas non-conference season with an overall 75-32 record.
McFarland Dismissed on Dec. 26: Missouri State men's basketball coach Cuonzo Martin announced on Dec. 26 that sophomore guard Cardell McFarland, 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 while in his hometown of Evansville, Ind., during the team's scheduled holiday break.
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' last 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 Leads 2010 MSU Hall of Fame Class: Former Bears' head coach Charlie Spoonhour (1983-92) is one of six former Missouri State coaches and student-athletes to be inducted into the MSU Athletics Hall of Fame during ceremonies on campus, Feb. 5-6.
Spoonhour posted a 197-81 (.709) record at Missouri State which included 20-win, postseason teams each of his final seven seasons. That stretch included Mid-Continent Conference regular season championships four years in a row from 1987 through 1990. The Bears' 1986 NIT club was Missouri State's first Division I postseason team and knocked off Pitt and Marquette before a one-point loss to Florida in the quarterfinals. The Bears reached the NCAA for the first time in 1987 and had a first-round win over Clemson before losing to Kansas. MSU returned to the NCAA meet in 1988, 1989 and 1990 from the Mid-Continent Conference, and in 1992 from the Missouri Valley Conference. The 1992 Bears won what remains the school's only men's MVC basketball championship. 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.
The six new inductees will bring the total membership in the Missouri State Athletics Hall of Fame to 326.
The rest of the shrine class features football player Jeremy Hoog (1994-1997), track and field athlete Verneta Lesforis (1997-1999), basketball player Roshonda Reed (1995-1999) and volleyball player Amy Russell McNew (1990-1993).
The new inductees will go into the shrine at an induction ceremony to be held Feb. 6, in a 12 noon luncheon in the Plaster Student Union Ballroom. Inductees will also be recognized in halftime ceremonies in the first two of that weekend's Missouri State basketball games in JQH Arena. The Lady Bears will host Creighton University on Friday, Feb. 5, at 7:35 p.m., and the Bears will host Creighton Saturday, Feb. 6, at 7:05 p.m.
The 2010 Missouri State Athletics Hall of Fame induction lunch is open to the public and reservations may be made through Monday, Feb. 1, by calling Missouri State Athletics Development (417) 836-4143. Tickets are $25 per person.
Assistant Coach Kent Williams Will Join SIU Hall: Missouri State men's basketball assistant coach Kent Williams will join five other former Southern Illinois University athletics standouts to be inducted into the SIU Athletic Hall of Fame on January 8.
The esteemed, six-person class features Williams and fellow basketball standout Jerry Jones, plus inductees Tom Koutsos (football), Al Levine (baseball), Dana Olden (volleyball) and Cheryl Venorsky (softball).
Williams (1999-2003) helped rejuvenate the men's basketball program 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).
Williams came to Missouri State, along with head coach Cuonzo Martin, from Purdue in the spring of 2008.
Bracket Busting: After posting a 10-1 record in non-conference play this season, the Bears now await news of their 2010 BracketBusters opponent for their final non-MVC foe of the season. The 2010 BracketBusters pairings will be announced on Feb. 1. The Bears will be one of 49 home teams in this year's series.
Missouri State is 3-3 all-time in the BracketBusters series and is 1-2 at home. This year's game will be the first-ever BracketBusters game at JQH Arena.
On Dec. 9, 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.