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Horizon League Notebook

November 28, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments

Horizon League Notebook

by Nick Dettmann

In the first full week of action, the Horizon League went 10-6, including a match-up with the second ranked team in the nation Duke.

Illinois-Chicago, who already came into the weekend having played a few games courtesy of the BCA Classic, opened a home-and-home series with Evansville. On Friday, Nov. 21, it was Evansville that played the role of hosts for the Flames. Led by 26 points from Cedrick Banks, the Flames coasted to 70-54 win, despite trailing 28-25 at the break. Sophomore forward Elliott Poole scored a double-double in his first extensive action of the season with 10 points and 10 boards.

Defending league tournament champion’s UW-Milwaukee had a relatively easy weekend. The Panthers lit up the scoreboard for 95 points against Big Sky conference favorite Montana to win the season opener 95-83 from the US Cellular Arena. Joah Tucker led the way for the Panthers with 22 points and pre-season league Newcomer of the Year Ed McCants had 21, including a perfect 4-for-4 from three-point land.

In other league action, the Mike Garland and Paul Biancardi era’s officially started at Cleveland State and Wright State respectively. Garland won his opener, while Schilling fell on the short end.

The Vikings took on Central State from the CSU Convocation Center in Cleveland on Saturday, Nov. 22. Jermaine Robinson helped the Vikings get off to a quick start and led the way with his 28 points and 13 rebounds. Walt Chavis, Omari Westley and Walt Waters all were in double figures for Cleveland State.

As for the Raiders, pre-season First-Team All-League performer Seth Doliboa had 18 points to go along with 10 rebounds. But that was not enough as Cedarville overcame a 10-point deficit to down the Raiders 68-66 from the Ervin J. Nutter Center.

Players of the Week: Joah Tucker, UW-Milwaukee, scored 22 points in the season opener for the Panthers and Jermaine Robinson, Cleveland State, 28 points and 13 rebounds in season opening win.

Newcomer of the Week: Ed McCants, UW-Milwaukee, scored 20 points in the season opener against Montana.

UW-Milwaukee (2-0):

After two easy games over the weekend against Montana and Concordia-St. Paul, the Panthers will start their true tests. First up on the syllabus are the Saluki’s of Southern Illinois. It is a re-match of the Bracket Buster game last season in Carbondale, which SIU won at the buzzer 66-64 in front of a capacity crowd. A near capacity crowd is anticipated for this match-up on Saturday, which will be one of two big match-ups in the league.

After the SIU match-up, the Panthers will pack their bags for the first of two four-game road trips this season. Up first will be Prairie View A & M in Houston on Tuesday. After that, the Panthers head east to take on North Carolina State in a nationally televised affair on Fox Sports Net next Saturday.

Cleveland State (2-0):

After an impressive start under the Mike Garland era, the Vikings will not have much time to reflect as the Vikings will host eighth ranked North Carolina on the 29th. The Vikings will need all the help they can get as they will play to a capacity crowd for the first time since the CSU Convocation Center opened a few years ago.

Next up will be a trip to Happy Valley and a showdown with the Nittany Lions of the Big Ten on Wednesday night. Only time will tell if it will be a happy feeling in the Cuyahoga Valley after that Wednesday.

Butler (2-0):

To complete his recruiting class, head coach Todd Lickliter signed prolific junior college transfer Brandon Polk from Redlands Community College.

As a senior in high school, the 6-foot-6 forward averaged nearly 23 points per game and earned all-state honors.

Polk joined a very impressive recruiting class for Lickliter. He joined Indiana High School seniors A.J. Graves and Gary Patterson.

The most dominating team from the past four seasons in the league, has not been that dominating so far in the early stages. The Bulldogs squeaked past Quincy in the home and season opener 68-54 on Sunday. And on the 25th, the Bulldogs got a buzzer-beating shot by senior Mike Monserez to snatch a 56-54 win at Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls.

The Bulldogs are still living up to their reputation as being the tightest defense in the conference. They will have to pride on that as they will host Michigan at the Conseco Fieldhouse on Sunday. Then, it will be off to the east of the state of Indiana as Butler will take on Ball State in Muncie on Wednesday night.

Illinois-Chicago (4-1):

Head coach Jimmy Collins cannot help to think a little bit about next season as he will have to replace his entire starting line-up. Collins is off to a good start. He signed the number one prospect from the state of Nebraska, Karl White, to play for the Flames next season.

The 6-foot-1 guard had very impressive numbers last season as junior. White averaged 17 points, four rebounds and three assists per game and was one of two juniors to be named to either the first team or second team All-State team in Nebraska.

After easily taking out Evansville on the road, the Flames found out that it is tougher to beat a team the second time around. On the second half of the home-and-home series with Evansville, the Flames won 77-73 at the UIC Pavilion despite trailing 46-43 at the break. The Flames were led by 15 assists by Martell Bailey, who was among the nation’s leaders in that category last season.

Up next on the schedule for UIC is an extensive road trip that will have them not returning to the UIC Pavilion until December 13. On Saturday, the Flames will travel to San Antonio to take on UT-San Antonio and will head to Charleston, Ill to play Eastern Illinois.

Detroit-Mercy (1-1):

What a way to open the season? A trip to Durham, North Carolina to take on the second best team in the country, Duke, on their floor. Despite falling to the Blue Devils 67-56 the Titans were very impressive as they jumped out to a 12-0 lead in the early going and went into the locker room at the half up 28-26. But 21 points from Duke’s Luol Deng spearheaded the comeback. The Titans shot 48 percent from the field for the game, which was 12 percentage points higher than their ranked opponent.

To rebound, the Titans opened up the 51st season at Calihan Hall in Detroit with an easy 64-43 win, including an 11-0 run to start the game. Syracuse transfer James Thues and Elijah Warren each had 12 points to lead the Titan attack.

The tough non-conference schedule continues for the Titans after the holiday weekend. On Wednesday night, the Titans will host Mid-Continent Conference favorite Oakland. Then, it will be on to the cheese state to take on the Wisconsin Badgers from the Kohl Center in Madison.

Wright State (0-1):

Head coach Paul Biancardi is still very much putting together the kind of program that he wants at Wright State. So far so good.

Biancardi added walk-on Joe Bozeman, a 2003 graduate of nearby Fairborn (Ohio) High School, and will begin play immediately.

Bozeman, a 6-foot-2 guard, averaged 16.9 points, 10.3 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game during his senior season.

For Biancardi, he had to wait a few extra days to get his season started. On Tuesday night, the Raiders opened the Ervin J. Nutter Center against Cedarville of the NAIA’s American Mideast Conference. The Yellow Jackets moved to 6-1 after nipping past Wright State 68-66. Seth Doliboa and Vernard Hollins’ 18 points each were not enough for Wright State to pull out the victory.

Much like the rest of the teams in the conference, the Raiders will continue a very demanding non-conference schedule. To make matters worse, three of the next five games are away starting with a trip to South Florida on Saturday. Afterwards, the Raiders will head slightly north to take on Morehead State in Kentucky on Wednesday, before returning home against Mid-American Conference opponent Ball State on Saturday.

Loyola-Chicago (0-1):

Shortly before his match-up against city rival DePaul, head coach Larry Farmer was able to sign Chris Fuller to a National Letter of Intent. Fuller choose the Ramblers over Pac-10 favorites Arizona State and Oregon State.

Fuller averaged 13.3 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals per game as a junior at Cheyenne High School in Las Vegas. He helped the Desert Shields to an unbelievable 31-1 record and a Class 4A state title. He was named to the All-State team and was the 2003 Las Vegas Sun player of the year.

Farmer firmly believes that his squad has one of the toughest non-conference schedules around. Early on, that is the case as the Ramblers had a hard time with Conference USA inner-city rival DePaul from the Allstate Arena. DePaul used three players in double figures, including a game-high 19 from Andre Brown, who also pulled down 13 boards to win 73-61.

The Ramblers get an extensive break from action. They will next take to the floor against UMKC of the Mid-Continent Conference on Tuesday. The Ramblers will not open up the home floor until Dec. 15 against another Mid-Continent team, Oral Roberts.

Youngstown State (0-2):

The Penguins are improving day-by-day and will soon be a sleeper team in the conference. They opened the season with two losses, but were by a total of 13 points against two good programs, including at Toledo. On Saturday the 22nd, the Penguins traveled to Niagara at the Gallagher Center to open up their third season in the Horizon League. Andy Jahnke led Youngstown State scored 15 points to lead the Penguins and TeJay Anderson and Bill Mallernee each scored 14 to round out the double-digit scorers in the 89-80 loss.

Four days later in Toledo, the Penguins shot just below 50 percent on the game, but that was not enough as Toledo used an 11-0 run midway through the first half to open up the game. Youngstown could not get any closer in the 78-74 loss.

Coming up for head coach John Robic’s squad is their home opener against St. Francis (Pa.) on Saturday. The Penguins will be busy that following week with three games in six days, two of which will be on the road.

UW-Green Bay (0-2):

According to head coach Tod Kowalczyk, recruiting in-state players in a major priority for the rebuilding of the program. Kowalczyk is sticking to that promise as he snagged two prolific players from Wisconsin.

Kowalczyk signed DaMarcus Bell (Racine, Wisc./St. Catherine’s) and Robby Springborn (Fond du Lac, Wisc./Fond du Lac) to play for UW-Green Bay next season.

Bell is a very energetic and athletic 6-foot-6 forward that will need to add some muscle in order to hang with the big bodies of the Horizon League. But the coaching staff feels that will not be a problem. Bell averaged 10.6 points and 5.5 rebounds per game for a very deep and talented team in Racine.

Springborn is a quick point guard that has the athletic ability and talent to lead a team as soon as he gets accustomed to the system. Springborn has very good leadership at Fond du Lac High School as he coached by legendary Dick Diener, who is the uncle to Marquette star Travis Diener. Springborn averaged 14.1 points per game en route to leading his team to an appearance in the state semi-finals last season.

In the season opener on Friday, Nov. 21, the Phoenix swooped into Southeast Missouri State University to begin the second year of the Kowalczyk era. The Phoenix fell behind by double-digits twice in the second half, came back, but still fell short in a 63-62 thriller.

In game number two, UW-Green Bay went into the locker room up 36-29 over NCAA participant from a season ago IUPUI. But they were unable to hold on as the Jaguars lit up for a 37-19 edge in the second half en route to the 66-55 win for IUPUI.

The Phoenix will open up the second season of the state-of-the-art Resch Center with a match-up against another Mid-Continent conference opponent in Western Illinois on Saturday. It is the first game of a home-and-home series with Western Illinois as the two will next meet in Macomb on Sunday, Dec. 14. But before that, the Phoenix will have to worry about another Mid-Con team, Chicago State, and two Big Ten teams in Iowa and Wisconsin, both on the road.


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