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Horizon Notebook

January 8, 2004 Conference Notes No Comments



Horizon League Notebook

by Nick Dettmann

Ah, welcome to the year 2004! Happy New Year! If 2003 is any indication of how 2004 is going to go for the Horizon League – look out! 2003 saw the league grow from an 8-year-old boy to almost a 30-year-old man in just 365 days.

Three teams registered 20 or more wins last season: Butler with 27, UW-Milwaukee with 24 and Illinois-Chicago with 21. All three of them reached the post-season with Butler and UWM garnering the “Big Dance” invite. UIC received the NIT bid and nearly advanced after falling to Western Michigan by one in Kalamazoo.

The Panthers traveled to the RCA Dome, home of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts, in Indianapolis. Their opponent – one of the most storied programs in college athletics – the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. In front of a crowd of 21,000-plus, the Panthers and Irish played to one of the best games of the tournament. The Irish, who had more of the home-court advantage, squeaked past UWM 70-69, as a Dylan Page lay-up could not fall when the buzzer sounded.

Butler was easily considered one of the Cinderella stories of the tournament. The glass slipper fit very well in the first two rounds for the Bulldogs. The 12th seeded Bulldogs took on 5th seeded Mississippi State in round one. Senior Brandon Miller scored a team-high 14 points, but the two most important ones came with 6.4 seconds left in the game. His running lay-up in the lane lifted Butler to the 47-46 win and advanced to the second round to play 4th seeded Louisville.

Against Rick Pitino and his squad, the Bulldogs, who got into the tournament courtesy of the at-large bid, proved why they belonged in the tournament. Compared to the impossible win of Milan High in “Hoosiers”, which helped make the Hinkle Fieldhouse famous, the Bulldogs got an 8-of-9 shooting performance from three-point range from Darnell Archey. Archey said that he felt like Michael Jordan in the 1992 NBA Finals against the Blazers, and he shot like it.

The Cinderella story ended in Albany, N.Y., as the Bulldogs meet up with top-seeded Oklahoma and lost 65-54.

So, as the teams get ready for 2004, a different team paves the way at the top of the conference, the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Phoenix. Do we have a new Cinderella team???

Loyola to host 6th Annual Misericordia Day

The Ramblers of the Loyola University of Chicago will host their Sixth Annual Misericordia Tip-Off Day on Saturday, Jan. 17 against the Wright State Raiders.

Misericordia Heart of Mercy is a service provider that cares for over 550 children and adults challenged by mental and physical disabilities. Approximately 100 individuals from the organization are expected to attend the game, which is scheduled to tip-off at 1 p.m. CDT.

Player of the Week:

Paul McMillan, Loyola-Chicago.

Had consecutive 20-point performances, including 26 points and 14 rebounds in the Ramblers win over Youngstown State.

Newcomer of the Week:

DaShaun Wood, Wright State.

Wood scored 10 points off the bench in the Raiders win over Butler.

Games of the Week:

Butler at UW-Milwaukee, Thursday, Jan. 8. It is a re-match of the championship game of last season’s league tournament.

Loyola-Chicago at Illinois-Chicago, Thursday, Jan. 8. Another re-match of a league championship game, this one is from 2002 in Cleveland, an overtime thriller won by UIC. Plus, city bragging rights are on the line.

UW-Green Bay (9-4 overall, 3-0 Horizon):

The Phoenix are rolling, now winners of seven in a row and are ready to begin a three-game home stand, where they are 6-0 already this season. The new calendar year started off with one of the games of the week, as they took on Cleveland State who was looking to snap a five-game slid. The Phoenix would lead 68-60 with 2:49 left, but then the Vikings would mount a 7-0 comeback to narrow the lead to 68-67. Each team would trade jumpers to make it 70-69. After a Mike King missed baseline three-pointer, the Vikings called a time-out with nine seconds left. Cleveland State’s Jermaine Robinson missed the potential game-winner with one second left and the Phoenix’s Javier Mendiburu grabbed the board at the horn. Cleveland State did hold onto a 42-39 lead at the break as they shot 8-of-10 from three-point land. But UW-Green Bay would open the second half on a 6-0 run and would never trail the rest of the way.

How does it go? Defense wins championships? So far, for the Phoenix, that could very well be the case, as they held Wright State to just 27 percent shooting in a 53-46 win in Dayton on Monday night. The Phoenix extended their win streak to seven and stand firmly atop the league standings. The Phoenix also held all-league performer Vernard Hollins scoreless in the first half. Brandon Morris led UW-Green Bay with 13 points and eight rebounds and Mike King had 12 more points. But the big contributor came from reserve center Kevin Hughes. Although he did not score a point, he pulled down nine rebounds, including six at the offensive end and would add two assists.

The streaking Phoenix returns home for three straight games. So far, they are 6-0 at the Resch Center. Up first will be a Youngstown State tomorrow night and then Butler comes to town on Saturday for a matinee performance.

UW-Milwaukee (7-5, 2-0):

The Panthers were the first team in action in 2004. After splitting their two games at the Cable Car Classic, the Panthers flew into the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. Led by Joel Gerlach’s 20 points for Air Force, the Falcons, who has the nation’s top-ranked defense, dismantled the Panthers offensive attack in a 71-49 win for Air Force. The jet-lagged Panthers were led by Dylan Page as he had 17 points, while Ed McCants, who dislocated his thumb in practice last Thursday, was held to 11 points. UWM, the league’s top offense, had 25 turnovers and shot a season-low 40 percent.

The Panthers returned home on Monday night after six days on the West Coast and in Colorado. They were greeted by the Detroit Titans, as UWM prepared themselves for two big league home games. In a game that featured comeback after comeback, the Panthers overcame a 13-0 deficit to start the game to rally to an 82-74 win at the U.S. Cellular Arena. Page had a game-high 24 points and McCants was back to his usual self as he had 22. After falling behind 13-0, UWM would outscore Detroit 65-38 over the next 25 minutes to gain a 14-point lead and hold off a late Detroit rally. Detroit closed to within 72-69 with just over two minutes remaining, but a McCants three-pointer put the Panthers up by six and held on for the win.

In one of the most anticipated match-ups of the season, the Panthers will host Butler tomorrow night in a re-match of last year’s championship game. Butler will be coming into Milwaukee struggling as they have lost four of their last six. Then, it will be off to Chicago to take on Loyola in a Saturday matinee. The Panthers will finally be able to enjoy a game against Loyola without David Bailey, as Bailey always played his best games against the Panthers.

Loyola-Chicago (6-5, 2-0):

Team leader Paul McMillan came back to his dominance he had earlier in the season, as he blew-up for 26 points and 10 rebounds in an 85-78 win over Youngstown State from the Gentile Center. Blake Schilb had 18 points and Demetrius Williams had 13 more to round the double-digit scorers for the Ramblers. After losers of three in a row, the Ramblers have stormed back, as they have won three of their last four. Youngstown State’s Andy Jahnke had 19 points for the Penguins in the losing effort. It was a see-saw battle as the game saw 16 ties and 16 lead changes. With the game knotted at 75, the Ramblers sparked a game-clinching 10-3 run.

In game two of the week, Terrance Whiters led three players that scored 20-plus for Loyola as the Ramblers defeated Cleveland State 90-83 in Cleveland on Monday night. Williams had another big night as he scored 22 points. McMillan had his second consecutive 20-point night as he had 21 points to round the 20-point scorers. Loyola held onto a commanding 32-19 lead with 10:20 left in the first half, but the Vikings rushed back with a 23-8 run to round out the half to help tie the game at 44 going into the break. But Loyola picked it up in the second frame to help lead them to victory.

Winners of four of their last five, the Ramblers look to continue their winning ways, as they will return to Chicago for their city-rivalry game with UIC at the UIC Pavilion tomorrow night. Then, on Saturday, the Ramblers will host the Panthers of UW-Milwaukee in a Saturday matinee.

Wright State (4-8, 2-1):

After a slow start to the season, first-year head coach Paul Biancardi has his squad victorious in three of their last five after his team defeated Butler 51-39 on Saturday. After Butler got the opening points of the game, the Raiders never trailed after gaining the lead themselves. Wright State just dominated in every aspect of the game. They outshoot the Bulldogs 42 to 33 percent, out-rebounded them 44-26, including 13-4 on the offensive glass and out-scored them in the paint, 38-22. Butler’s Nick Brooks had 10 points and six rebounds off the bench. Seth Doliboa had 17 points and 12 rebounds and Vernard Hollins had six points, seven rebounds and six assists for the Raiders.

The Raiders, playing their second straight home game, could not rally enough as they feel to the UW-Green Bay Phoenix 53-46 on Monday night. Wright State would trail 49-46 with 32 seconds left in the game, but the Raiders were forced to foul and Green Bay would hit four straight free throws to seal the deal. Hollins was held scoreless in the first half and would finish the game with five points. Doliboa had his usual 14 points and 11 rebounds. Freshman Alex Kock had 10 points.

The Raiders will play their next two on the road, starting with Cleveland State on Thursday night. It is a battle of the first year head coaches, Biancardi vs. Garland. Then, the Vikings will make the two-hour journey along I-80 into Detroit for a Saturday afternoon meeting with Detroit.

Detroit (7-5, 1-1):

The first game of the New Year was a very historical one for the Titans. Detroit visited the Windy City to take on the Illinois-Chicago Flames and would come away with a 56-48 win. It is the 1200th win in the school’s basketball history. Season-long leading scorer Elijah Warren was kept in check in the first half. But Warren woke up in the second half and scored nine points to help erase a three-point UIC lead at halftime. Rulon Harris led the way with 11 points and Ryvan Covile nearly had a double-double, as he had 10 rebounds to go along with eight points. Warren and James Thues each registered career-highs in steals with five each. Big difference of the game was the free-throw shooting, as Detroit shot 81 percent (17-of-21), while UIC shot 66 percent (19-of-29).

The Titans looked to get win number 1,201 on Monday night in Milwaukee against the Panthers. That will have to wait until their upcoming two-game home stand, as the Panthers overcame a 13-0 deficit to defeat the Titans 82-74. Harris and Jimmy Twyman combined for 31 points, but could not overcome a 14-point second half deficit. Harris scored 16-points – just two shy of his career-high – and would have a career-high eight assists. Twyman scored 15 points, all from the outside. The Titans closed to within 68-65 after trailing by 14, but could not get over the hump to upset the Panthers at home.

The Titans split their brief two-game road trip to Chicago and Milwaukee, now they will return for two at home. First up will be Wright State on Saturday afternoon. Then, a re-match with UIC next Thursday.

Illinois-Chicago (10-5, 1-2):

The Flames were not too happy with the way 2003 ended, so they hoped 2004 meant a new start. Unfortunately, that would not be the case as the Flames dropped a 56-48 decision to Detroit in a very sub-par offensive game. The Flames shot 31 percent, while the Titans shot 38 percent. But the difference came at the charity stripe. UIC would shoot 66 percent (19-of-29), while Detroit was 81 percent (17-of-21). It is the first three-game losing streak for UIC since the 2000-’01 season. The three-some of Armond Williams, Martell Bailey and Cedrick Banks had only one-third of it in full throttle. Williams had a game-high 19 points. Bailey had his usual eight assists. But, Bailey and Banks combined for 1-of-18 shooting for just seven points. The Williams, Bailey and Banks trio average 38 points per game. They only got 26 against Detroit.

Looking to re-gain their winning edge, the Flames took care of business against Youngstown State as they defeated YSU 66-47. The starting front line of Williams, Joe Scott and Justin Bowen combined for 40 points. Williams had a game-high 15 points, Bowen had 13 and Scott had 12. Bowen’s 13 points are a career-high. Bailey had five points to go along with 12 assists. Banks had 11. The Flames also improved their record over YSU to 10-0 all-time.

The Flames will get to host cross-town rival Loyola on Thursday night in one of the featured games of the week in the Horizon League. Then, the Flames will have a week off to prepare for Detroit on the 15th.

Butler (4-7, 0-2):

The struggles continue for the Bulldogs, after falling 51-39 to Wright State on Saturday. Butler shot just 33 percent from the field and just a dismal 4-of-22 from three-point range. Nick Brooks scored 10 points to be the only Bulldogs in double figures. Wright State’s DaShaun Wood scored six of his 10 points in the opening 6:10 of the second half to help spear a 15-5 run to give the Raiders a 37-20 lead. Butler would not get any closer than 11 points the rest of the way and trailed by as many as 17 on three other occasions during the half. Butler’s only lead of the night came on the first two points of the game, but Brian Ligon.

Cleveland State (4-9, 0-2):

After a promising 4-2 start, Mike Garland and the Vikings are struggling as they have now lost seven straight contests. Last week, they lost the services of one of their team leaders, Pape Badiane, to a broken hand. Not exactly what the Vikings needed. To try and withstand Badiane’s absence, the Vikings traveled to Green Bay to take on the red-hot first-place Phoenix. Another bad sign to try and snap a losing streak. UW-Green Bay’s Mike King hit a jumper with 58.4 seconds remaining to give the Phoenix a 70-69 win, fending off a CSU comeback. The Vikings trailed 68-60 with 2:49 left, but a 7-0 run got them back into contention, but just could not come away with the win. Omari Westley led the way with 16 points for CSU. The Vikings did also re-gain the services of Walt Waters as he missed the last two games to attend a relative’s funeral. Waters had nine points and seven rebounds in his return.

Playing to a narrow defeat on Saturday, the Vikings looked to get onto the winning trail as they made the journey back home to Cleveland to take on Loyola-Chicago. Westley scored a career-high 30 points, the highest output of the season by any player in the conference, but it would not be enough as Loyola used a late 13-3 run to capture a 90-83 win from the CSU Convocation Center. Westley would also add 13 rebounds in the losing cause. Robinson scored 21 points and reserve Percell Coles scored 18, 15 of which came off of three-point shooting.

The Vikings will look to snap their losing streak tomorrow as they host Wright State to close out a brief two-game home stand. Then, they will be out onto the road for the next two, starting with Youngstown State on Saturday.

Youngstown State (3-9, 0-3):

Four players were in double figures on Saturday, Jan. 3, but that would not be enough as the Penguins dropped their sixth game in their last eight, 85-78 to Loyola-Chicago in Chicago. Adam Jahnke scored a career-high 19 points off the bench, including 14 in the first half. Adam Baumann had 14 points and TeJay Anderson and Doug Underwood each had 12. Tied at 77 with 2:08 left, the Ramblers would score eight of the final nine points to seal the victory. The contest featured 16 ties and 16 lead changes.

In game two of their three-game road trip, the Penguins made the 20-minute drive from the north side to the loop as they took on UIC on Monday night. The Penguins would fall behind 8-0 right out the gate and could not recover as the Penguins lose 66-47 to UIC. Four players were in double figures for UIC, including their starting front three. YSU would get back into the game, as they trailed 18-6 by scoring 10 straight points to cut the lead to 18-16. But that would be all she wrote, as YSU could not stop the post play of UIC. Khari McQueen led YSU with 11 points off the bench, one shy of career-high.

The Penguins will get to round out their three-game road trip on Thursday night as they head to league-leading Green Bay for a showdown with the Phoenix. Then, they will finally return home after the week away from home to play Cleveland State on Saturday.

     

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