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Horizon League Notebook

December 17, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments



Horizon League Notebook

by Nick Dettmann

This past weekend was a very intense weekend in the Horizon League. There were three in-state rivalry games being played, two of which where the Horizon League was the visitor.

The first one featured the UW-Milwaukee Panthers and the Wisconsin Badgers from the Kohl Center in Madison. In the previous 21 meetings of these two programs, the Badgers, who are led by former UWM coach Bo Ryan, have 20 of them. The only victory by the Panthers over their rivals in red and white came back in 1992.

Current Panthers head coach Bruce Pearl felt that this was the team the school has had in order to beat the Badgers. Unfortunately for Pearl’s bunch, the Badgers probably fielded their best team in this rivalry in an 89-71 victory for Ryan’s bunch.

Five players were in double figures for the Badgers including Alando Tucker who saw his first extensive action of the season following a broken foot. Tucker would hit his first four shots en route to a 12-point effort. Mike Wilkinson led the way for the Badgers with 18 points, while Dylan Page had 16 for the Panthers.

Game number two pitted the Butler Bulldogs, no pun intended, against the Indiana Hoosiers at Assembly Hall in Bloomington. From the get-go, the Hoosiers took it out on the Bulldogs as Butler won the last meeting of these two teams two seasons ago. The Hoosiers used a 16-4 run in the first half to put them up 26-16, but the Bulldogs would not roll over and play dead as they crept back into the game and trailed 30-27 at the break.

Indiana’s Bracey Wright scored 13 of the first 15 points in the second half for the Hoosiers, en route to a 22-point effort. Butler would again be the victim of cold shooting as Indiana would charge out to a 45-36 lead with less than 10 minutes to go. Then, Butler ran back in with a 7-0 run, cutting the gap to 45-43. But that would be all she wrote as the Hoosiers pulled away, using tight defense on their way to a 62-50 win. It was, for the second time this year, Butler’s second straight loss, but Indiana’s second straight win.

Game number three featured the league-leading Illinois-Chicago Flames, at home, against Illinois State. The Flames, who have been red-hot winning six of their last seven, had no troubles with their rivals from Bloomington, Ill. on their way to an 86-74 win.

UIC’s Aaron Carr had his second 20-point game of the season and best so far as he had 23 points. 21 of those 23 came in the second half for Carr. The dynamic duo of Martell Bailey and Cedrick Banks were up to their usual magic on the court. Bailey had a double-double with 13 points and 12 assists and Banks had 22 points, 20 of which came in the second half. Bailey also wrote his name into the Flames record books as he moved into second place all-time in school history in assists with 490, passing UIC Hall-of-Famer Kenny Williams.

Player of the Week:

Martell Bailey, Illinois-Chicago.

Posted third career double-double in win over Illinois State.

Newcomer of the Week:

Patrick Tatham, Cleveland State.

In only his second career start, he scored career highs in points and rebounds with 11 in each in a win over Norfolk State.

Games of the Week:

Wright State at Youngstown State, Thursday, Dec. 18.

It is the first conference game of the season for the Horizon League; Northwestern at Illinois-Chicago, Saturday, Dec. 20. Big Ten rival Northwestern makes the 30-minute drive down to downtown to the UIC Pavilion for a non-conference battle.

Illinois-Chicago (8-2):

After a very quiet week last week due to finals, the Flames got off on the right foot in their 86-74 win over Illinois State on Saturday. Illinois-Chicago will get another week off before they welcome the Northwestern University Wildcats to the UIC Pavillion in a 6 p.m. tip-off. Then, three days later, the Flames will open the conference schedule with their hated rivals, the UW-Milwaukee Panthers from the U.S. Cellular Arena in Milwaukee. The last time the two met was in the Horizon League tournament semi-final round, a game in which UWM won 75-70.

Cleveland State (4-2):

Last year’s last place team so far early in the 2003-’04 season is playing far from it, as they have been the surprise team of the league early on. The Vikings started the season 2-0 and fell to 2-2 after impressive performance at home against North Carolina and at Penn State. Now, the winners of two in a row, has got the Vikings right in the thick of the conference lead.

To help them stay on that track, head coach Mike Garland announced this week that he will re-instate last year’s leading scorer for the Vikings Modibo Niakate. Niakate, who led the team in scoring with 11.9 points per game a season ago, was dismissed from the team in September for violation of team rules. “I believe that the disciplinary action that I took in September regarding Modibo was the right thing to do at the time,” Garland said. “Along the same lines, I believe that letting him back into the program is the right thing to do now. I have seen a change in Modibo since the fall and I believe that he has learned from his mistakes. I think that he deserves another chance.” Niakate will be redshirted for the remainder of the season, but will practice with the team for the rest of the year.

As for the action on the floor, the Vikings traveled to Echols Hall in Norfolk, Va. for a meeting with Norfolk State. The Vikings manhandled the hosts on the glass 56-31 and played a tightfisted defense that only allowed the Spartans to shot 29 percent from the field en route to a 64-52 win. Jermaine Robinson continued his strong season so far as he led the Vikings with 21 points, 14 of which came in the second 20 minutes. It was his fourth 20-plus performance on the season, tying him with UW-Milwaukee’s Dylan Page for second most in the conference. Junior Omari Westley had a strong night as well for the Vikings. Westley had 11 points to go along with a game-high 12 rebounds, his first double digit rebounding performance of the season. Freshman Patrick Tatham had a career night for CSU. He set career highs with 11 points and 11 rebounds.

The Vikings will look to continue their hot streak as they travel to play at Kent State tonight. Following that match-up the Vikings return home for a showdown with in-state rival Akron in a 5:30 p.m. EDT tip-off.

Detroit (4-2):

Head coach Perry Watson, going into their match-up tomorrow at Bowling Green, is two wins away from number 200 during his tenure with the Titans. A very well known and respected member of the Detroit community, Watson was given a very prestigious honor by the high school he coached at before starting his tenure 10 years ago with the Titans. Detroit Southwestern High School honored Watson by naming the gymnasium after him, the “Perry Watson Athletic Complex”. In addition, the school honored two of its former students, Antoine Joubert and current Toronto Raptor Jalen Rose when their jerseys were retired. Both Joubert (“The Judge”) and Rose played for the University of Michigan.

“I’m truly honored and humbled by this recognition,” Watson said. “It’s a direct tribute to the quality young men I was afforded the opportunity to coach and the tremendous assistant coaches that I had during my career at Southwestern. They made all of this possible.”

In his 13 years at the school, Watson became the winningest coach in the history of the Detroit Public School League. He went 302-34 during his tenure, which included 10 teams in the Class A Final Four and winning consecutive State championships in 1990 and ’91. In 1991, his school was the number one ranked team in the nation and was honored as the national coach of the year. Those two State championship teams went an unprecedented 55-1 during those two seasons.

After a difficult set back against Wisconsin in Madison, the Titans got to return home to the friendly walls of Calihan Hall. On Saturday against Toledo, the Titans used an 8-0 run with less than four minutes remaining to nip past previously unbeaten Toledo 72-68. Rulon Harris scored 17 points to lead the Titans and Jimmy Twyman added 15 more.

In game two of the week, the Titans hosted Chicago State from the Mid-Continent Conference. The cellar sitting Cougars gave Detroit a rough start, but the Titans bounced back as sophomore center Ryvon Covile scored a career-high 15 points to help lead Detroit to a 64-53 win from Calihan Hall. By beating Chicago State, the Titans extended their win streak against visiting non-conference teams to 36 games. For the Cougars, it was their 27th straight loss to a Division I opponent.

After the return trip home, Detroit will head out on the road to Bowling Green of the Mid-American Conference on Thursday night. Then, on Saturday, Detroit will have to travel to Canisius, who just came off of an impressive 68-65 loss to Marquette on Monday night. To wrap-up a busy week, the Titans will return home for a match-up with another Mid-Continent Conference opponent, Western Illinois.

UW-Milwaukee (4-3):

The week started off right for the Panthers as they got a strong victory in Valparaiso, 86-82 over the Crusaders. The Panthers, trailing by eight with less than five minutes remaining, erased that lead in less than three minutes to claim the big non-conference victory. It was UW-Milwaukee’s first win of the season over a team that went to the post-season a year ago. Dylan Page had a game-high 20 points in the contest as he continues to tear up opponents left and right. Ed McCants had 19 of his own and Joah Tucker had 14 points in just 12 minutes of work. Valpo center Joaquim Gomes had 19 points, 10 rebounds and a career-high five blocks.

Looking to build on confidence, the Panthers headed to Wisconsin to meet with the Badgers. Wisconsin, who was playing their third straight Horizon League team, had some early worries as UWM hung tight for most of the contest. But turnovers proved to be a factor as the Badgers only lost the ball nine times en route to the easy 89-71 win.

Head coach Bruce Pearl announced this week, that the Panthers will be without the services of Ronald “Boo” Wade has he was placed on the injured list. Wade is complaining of a sore knee and his return is not yet known, but look to get him back into the line-up by the end of the month or into the early next calendar year.

In probably the feature game of the week, the Panthers will get to open their conference schedule with a very tough opponent and one they know very well, Illinois-Chicago. UWM has won the last two meetings between these two bitter rivals, both on UWM’s home floor.

Loyola-Chicago (2-2):

The Ramblers finally got to play more than one game in a 10-day stretch. Things got off on the right foot for head coach Larry Farmer as his Ramblers took a 76-69 decision from the Valparaiso Crusaders, giving Valpo their fourth loss on a five-game home stand. The victory marked the first time since the 1997-’98 season that they had won consecutive non-conference road games. Loyola used a zone defense and would prove to be pivotal as the young Crusaders could not mount any offense as they shot 37 percent from the field, including just 10 percent from deep range. Paul McMillan fell one point short of his career-high with 23 points and pulled down seven boards. Terrance Whiters finally made his first appearance of the season tallied 15 points and DaJuan Gouard scored a career-high 12.

Two days later, the Ramblers finally opened the doors to another season at the Gentile Center. They probably wish they could have kept it closed, given their recent road success, as the Ramblers dropped an 80-78 decision to Oral Roberts, their third straight game against a team from the Mid-Continent Conference. McMillan got his career-high this time around as he scored 25 points, including 15 in the first half. Tied at 78 in the last possession, Ken Tutt got an offensive rebound with 20 seconds left and put it back up for the go-ahead score. The loss at home was Loyola-Chicago’s first home-opener loss since 2000.

The Ramblers will look to extend their road-winning streak to three games, as they will travel to Peoria to face Bradley. Bradley is coming off an impressive 59-55 win over Butler last week Wednesday. Then, Loyola-Chicago will return home for two games against teams from Michigan. On Saturday, the will entertain Western and on Tuesday, they will host Central.

UW-Green Bay (3-4):

Playing in their second consecutive Big Ten road game, the Phoenix gave the Badgers all they had as they came back from a 40-25 halftime deficit to make it 62-54 with 3:17 left in the game. But the gritty Badgers pulled out with an 11-3 run to polish off the game, 73-57. The Phoenix shot a blazing 55 percent from the field. Brandon Morris led the way for Green Bay with 11 points, while Matt Rhode and Terry Parker, Jr. added nine each.

In game two of the week, the Phoenix traveled to Macomb to play Western Illinois, who the Phoenix beat in the home opener 70-55 on November 29. The Phoenix completed the sweep as they shot a blistering 67 percent from the field en route to an 86-69 win. It was head coach Tod Kowalczyk’s first win on the road for the Phoenix, snapping a 17-game skid. “There are nothing better than road wins,” Kowalcyzk said after the game. “We had 22 assists tonight, that to me is very good offense.” The Phoenix blew an early eight point lead in the first half, but rebounded with a 12-0 run in the last 3:18 to take a 42-32 halftime lead. From there it was all Green Bay as Kevin Hughes went a perfect 6-of-6 en route to a career-high 17 points.

Upcoming for the Phoenix, they will return to the Resch Center for a match-up with Minnesota-Duluth on Saturday night. Then they will begin the conference schedule as they will travel to Indianapolis to take on Butler.

Butler (3-4):

Butler is at the lowest point in the standings than it has been in quite sometime. The Bulldogs have already withstood something they are not too familiar with, two losing streaks. The second one started with a visit to Bradley last week Wednesday. In front of 8,892 tomahawk chopping Braves fans in Peoria, Bradley outscored the Bulldogs 39-24 in the second half on their way to a 59-55 win. Butler had a comfortable 31-20 lead going into the locker room, but that would not be enough. For what has been haunting head coach Todd Lickliter’s group all season, caught up with them again. Despite shooting 42 percent from the field, the three-point shooting was just 23 percent. Three players hit double figures for the Bulldogs, led by Bruce Horan’s 15. Duane Lightfoot and Avery Sheets had 13 and 11 respectively.

Butler, trying to avoid going below .500, had to go to humble grounds in Bloomington for a match-up with the Hoosiers. Two years ago at the Hoosier Classic in Indianapolis. The Bulldogs continued their tear through the non-conference schedule en route to a 13-0 start, included was a win over Indiana. The Hoosiers had some revenge in mind and wasted no time in doing so. Indiana jumped up quickly on Butler. But, Butler clawed their way back into the game as they trailed only by two with seven minutes and change left over. But the Hoosiers closed down the Bulldog attack with a 10-0 run and a 62-50 victory.

The Bulldogs hope to get back on their winning ways and they will need to do it quick. For a team that is 1-3 already this season away from their home surface. The Bulldogs will need these two home games they got coming up. On Saturday, nearby Indiana State will come to Indianapolis for a matinee affair. On Monday, Butler will open their conference schedule with the red-hot shooting UW-Green Bay Phoenix, who are fresh off their first road win in 17 games. After that, Butler will embark on a four-game road trip, which will include a trip to Milwaukee on Jan. 8.

Youngstown State (2-5):

Despite their early losing record, do not let that deceive you. The Penguins have been very impressive so far. Their task on Saturday was not going to be an easy one. Then ranked No. 22 Pittsburgh hosted the Penguins at the Petersen Events Center. No visiting team has beaten the Panthers in their home facility. That streak continued, but not without a courageous fight from the Penguins as they pushed the defending Big East Champions as far as they could before falling 57-42. Adam Baumann had a game-high 16 points and eight rebounds for YSU.

Head coach John Robic and his team can finally put their suitcases away as they will play the next three at home. First up will be conference rival Wright State tomorrow night. Then the Penguins will play Mid-Continent Conference favorite Oakland on Saturday and UMKC on Monday, wrapping up their schedule for the 2003 calendar year.

Wright State (1-5):

After getting head coach Paul Biancardi’s first win of his coaching career, the Raiders had to continue one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the conference with games at Miami-Ohio and home against Southern Illinois. On Thursday in Oxford, the Raiders fell victim to a 14-0 run in the second half by the Red Hawks as the Mid-American Conference foe cruised to a 75-61 win at Millett Hall. Wright State held onto a 30-25 lead with 17:06 remaining in the second half before the Red Hawks took off. Wright State would creep back into the game as they trailed by seven with about 5:40 to go, but that would be as close as they would get as Miami-Ohio went 19-of-22 from the charity stripe for the rest of the game. Vernard Hollins collected 17 points for Wright State and Seth Doliboa had 15.

In front of nearly 4,000 fans, the Raiders welcomed Southern Illinois on Monday night. The undefeated Salukis withstood numerous runs by Wright State to try and pull out the huge upset, but SIU would not have anything to do with it. Both teams put on a shooting display as SIU converted on 58 percent of their shots from the field and Wright State knocked down 55 percent of theirs. Doliboa had 22 points and six rebounds in the losing end and Hollins had 14 points and nine boards SIU’s Darren Brooks led four players in double figures for the Salukis, who improved to 6-0 on the year, with 20.

The Raiders will be breaking out their suitcase and will be living out of them for the next two weeks as Wright State starts a four-game road trip. First up will be the conference opener in Youngstown, Ohio on Thursday night. Then the Raiders will play two of their next three against in-state foes, Toledo on Monday and Akron on Dec. 30. Sandwiched in-between those two will be a visit to Brown on Dec. 28.

     

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