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Horizon Notebook

March 1, 2004 Conference Notes No Comments



Horizon League Notebook

by Nick Dettmann

It is the home stretch.

The Horizon League enters the final week of the regular season with a lot of big games on the plate – in particular, the Wright State Raiders.

The Raiders have their two biggest games of the season this week. On Thursday night, they will play at Illinois-Chicago. Both teams come into the contest with a similar 10-4 league record. Wright State won the previous meeting between to the two teams. Also at 10-4 is the UW-Green Bay Phoenix – Wright State’s opponent on Saturday.

If the three teams finish with the same league record, the tiebreaker will look at the combined head-to-head match-ups of each team with the other two. Going into play on Thursday, UIC is 2-1 against UWGB and Wright State, UWGB is 1-2 against UIC and Wright State and the Raiders are 1-1 against UIC and UWGB. So right now, UIC holds the tiebreaker with Wright State in third and UWGB in fourth. The second seed gets the bye into the semifinal and the third seed gets a bye into the quarterfinal.

UW-Milwaukee has locked up the top seed, however, if they get the opportunity to host in the semifinals, they will not be able to play the game in Milwaukee. The Panthers share the U.S. Cellular Arena with the Milwaukee Wave of the Major Indoor Soccer League. The Wave has a game on Saturday, Mar. 6, the same day that the semifinal games are scheduled.

So, the league will look into the possibility of playing the games two hours north in Green Bay at the Resch Center, but UWM would remain as the designated hosts. If UWM still has hosting rights in the championship game, it will be played in Milwaukee.

Many of the remaining seeds are up in the air. Detroit, at 8-6 in the league, still has a chance to catch the three teams ahead of them, but they would need all three of them to lose. However, each team play against each other this weekend, so it is unlikely they will get a bye, but is possible.

Butler clinched at least a home game in the first round of the tournament with a win over UWM last Wednesday night. The only spot that is set is the No. 9 seed, the Cleveland State Vikings will occupy that position. The Vikings have lost 20 games in a row, which shattered the old league record of 14 set by Detroit during the 1987-’88 season.

French to assist Commissioner

The Horizon League announced on Tuesday that Cindy French, who formerly worked with USA Gymnastics, will be the Executive Assistant to the Commissioner. French joins the Horizon League after serving with USA Gymnastics, which is also based out of Indianapolis, since 1989, most recently as the Rhythmic Program Manager.

French will be in charge of the daily operations of the league office, while also providing assistance for Commissioner Jonathan B. LeCrone in the areas of meeting planning and travel. She will also assist LeCrone with his responsibilities as a member of the Division I Men’s Basketball Committee.

While with USA Gymnastics, French served as the Rhythmic Program manager from 1997-2004. She was also the Marketing Assistant from 1995-’97 and the Event Operations Manager from 1989-’95.

Most recently, she was the event coordinator for international and national competitions, coordinated and managed all team camps, workshops, and educational courses and was a liaison with three program committees and the Board of Directors.

As a Marketing Assistant, she assisted the Vice President of Marketing in a wide-array of areas, including the management of corporate sponsor receptions at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. She also organized and managed special events for athletes at the ’96 games, as well as managing sponsor signage at nationally televised event sites.

Included among her accolades of experience is work at the ’96 Olympics, the ’92, ’96 and 200 Olympic Trials and the 1991 and 2002 World Championships.

Player of the Week

Avery Sheets, Butler

Sheets scored a game-high 23 points and got five assists in Butler’s dominating win over UWM. Then, for Bracket Buster Saturday, Sheets scored 10 points, grabbed four rebounds and dished out three assists. In 76 minutes played, he had only two turnovers.

Newcomer of the Week

DaShaun Wood, Wright State

Wood tallied 19 points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals in Wright State’s win over Youngstown State last Thursday.

UW-Milwaukee (17-9 overall, 12-3 Horizon League):

The Panthers pretty much ruined their chance of earning an at-large bid to the tournament this week. On Wednesday night, they traveled to their hated rivals from Indianapolis, the Butler Bulldogs. The Panthers struggled to halt Butler’s offense, as they never led the game. Butler drilled home 15 three-pointers, the second most allowed in school history by UWM, in a 75-58 blowout at the Hinkle Fieldhouse. UWM shot a dismal 26 percent from the field in the first half and were forced to play catch-up the entire game. Dylan Page led UWM with 18 points.

In front of a nationally televised audience and in one of the most anticipated game of the second rendition of Bracket Buster Saturday, the Panthers met up with the Jaspers of Manhattan. Early on it was a back-and-forth battle, but runs of 10-0 and 10-3 by Manhattan put the game out of reach for UWM as the Panthers lost 83-76. It is the third straight loss by UWM and fourth in their last six games. UWM was trailing 76-64 with 1:59 left and made it interesting late. Page hit a three with 33 seconds to go that cut the lead to 79-76. But a set of free throws by the Jaspers extended the lead to the final margin. Page had 25 points to lead UWM and Ed McCants had 20.

UWM’s only game this week is against one of the worst teams in league history, the Cleveland State Vikings, on Saturday. The game will be played at the on-campus facility Klotsche Center. After that, UWM will not play again until Mar. 6 for the Horizon League semifinal game.

Illinois-Chicago (20-7, 10-4):

The hottest team in the Horizon League is starting to look like the team many pre-season predictors thought they would be. The Flames extended their win streak to eight and are 9-1 in their last 10. They also locked up their third straight season of 20-plus wins, giving UIC a 61-30 record over that span. It is the first time in school history that they have accomplished that feat. Last Wednesday night, UIC completed the very important season sweep of UW-Green Bay with a 63-55 win in Green Bay. The Flames held UWGB to just 29 percent shooting for the game, but it stayed close due to UWGB going 17-of-22 from the free throw line. Cedrick Banks had 18 points and eight rebounds on the night. Martell Bailey and Joe Scott added 14 and 10 points respectively.

In Bracket Buster Saturday, the Flames hosted UNC-Wilmington and cruised to a 77-52 win. Armond Williams led all scorers with 12 points, Banks had 11 and Scott had 10. UIC shot 61 percent from the field for the game, giving them a 28-0 record since the 2000-’01 season when they shoot better than 50 percent. They are also now 14-0 this season when they score at least 70 points.

UW-Green Bay (16-9, 10-4):

With UWM losing at Butler on the same night, the Phoenix looked to use that as an opportunity to gain ground on UWM for the league title. However, UIC had other things in mind as the Flames defeated UWGB 63-55, giving UIC the season sweep over the Phoenix and UWM at least a share of the regular season championship. UWGB kept the game close by hitting 77 percent of their free throws (17-of-22), despite shooting 29 percent from the field. Javier Mendiburu, the reigning player of the week, allowing with Kevin Hughes each scored 11 points to lead the Phoenix.

For Bracket Buster Saturday, the Phoenix hosted Northern Iowa of the Missouri Valley. Green Bay came into the contest having only lost twice this season at the Resch Center. But, they were not able to defend the home turf as the Panthers defeated UWGB 82-75. UNI got out to an 11-point lead in the first half, but UWGB narrowed it to a two-point deficit at halftime, 33-31. In the second half, the Phoenix got out to a 56-49 lead with 11:59 to go. But, UNI went on a 7-0 run in the next 1:36 to tie the game. The teams’ were tied for the eighth time of the half at 71 in the waning moments. UNI’s Erik Crawford hit 8-of-8 free throws late to put the game out of reach. Mendiburu and Brandon Morris each had 20 points for UWGB to lead the Phoenix.

To finish out the regular season, the Phoenix will travel to Detroit on Thursday night. Then, they will have a huge game against Wright State on Saturday, which very well may determine who gets a bye in the league tournament.

Wright State (14-11, 10-4):

The Raiders stayed in the hunt for a bye into the semifinals with a big 81-61 win over Youngstown State in their only action of the week. It was senior night for Wright State as they acknowledged departing seniors Vernard Hollins and Seth Doliboa in front of 7,085 fans at the Ervin J. Nutter Center. Hollins led WSU with 24 points in his final regular season home game. Doliboa had 11 points and seven rebounds, while Newcomer of the Year candidate DaShaun Wood had 19 points, six rebounds and five assists. The Raiders led the entire contest and took onto a 39-25 lead at halftime. WSU got out to a 28 point lead with 13:24 remaining in the second half and it was never close from there. The win tied the Raiders’ record for most conference wins in a season, set during the 1992-’93 season as a member of the Mid-Continent Conference.

The Raiders have the biggest two-game stretch any team in the league has had this season. Tournament seeds are on the line and they have to solidify their positions on the road. Up first is UIC on Thursday night, Wright State won the meeting earlier this season. Then, on Saturday, they will head up to Green Bay for the season finale. Green Bay won the first meeting.

Detroit (15-10, 8-6):

The Titans really picked up momentum this week as they extended their win streak to six games after defeating Loyola-Chicago 69-62 last Wednesday and obliterating Ball State for Bracket Buster Saturday. It is the longest win streak for Detroit since 1999 when they won nine in a row, on their way to an appearance in the semifinal game of the NIT. Against Loyola, the Titans shot 50 percent in the second half and hit 16-of-20 free throws to open up a 28-28 halftime score. Rulon Harris led Detroit with 17 points, while Jimmy Twyman and Willie Wallace had 11 and 10 respectively. The Titans out-rebounded the Ramblers 34-24.

Elijah Warren went 7-of-9 from the field and scored 17 points, his best game, production wise, in the last nine games in a 70-49 route of Ball State for Bracket Buster Saturday. Twyman scored 12 points as well for the Titans. Detroit shot 59 percent from the field in the game and held the host Cardinals to just 36 percent.

The Titans have a pair of games this week that may have significant importance to where they end up seeded. On Thursday night, they will host UW-Green Bay for Senior Night. Then, they will play at Youngstown State to close the season on Saturday.

Butler (13-12, 7-7):

Converting on 15-of-29 three-point shots gave Butler a redemption 75-58 win over UW-Milwaukee last Wednesday night after UWM shelled Butler in Milwaukee last time around. The win by Butler prevented UWM from clinching the outright championship. The Bulldogs played stifling defense that allowed UWM to shot only 26 percent in the first half. That helped them build up a 30-21 lead at the break. Avery Sheets took over from there en route to a game-high 23 points. Sheets hit 9-of-18 field goal attempts and went 5-of-9 from beyond the arc. Mike Monserez had 16 points, eight rebounds and four assists. Freshman center Jamie Smalligan had 15 points and eight rebounds for Butler.

In the closest game of the weekend, the Bulldogs narrowly defeated Ohio for Bracket Buster Saturday, 64-63, in overtime. It is the Bulldogs’ ninth win in their last 12 games, including three straight at home. Ohio looked to have the game in hand, but a ferocious comeback in the final 20 seconds of the regulation to send the game to the extra frame. Monserez hit a three with 15 seconds remaining to cut the lead to two. He would then tie the game on a tip-in with two seconds remaining in regulation. Butler had a 32-23 lead at halftime, but failed to score for the first 6:30 of the half, allowing Ohio to get back into the game. Duane Lightfoot and Bruce Horan led Butler with 14 points each. Monserez had 10 points, six rebounds and five assists.

Butler will close out the 2003-’04 regular season with a home game against Youngstown State on Wednesday night. They will finish the year at UIC. Butler has won 10 of the last 11 meetings, with UIC winning the battle earlier this year.

Youngstown State (8-17, 4-10):

The Penguins, who were fresh off their upset victory over UWM on Feb. 14, looked to make it two upset wins in a row, but came up empty in an 81-61 loss to Wright State last Thursday night. The Penguins never led in the game and were trailing by 28 with 13:24 to go in the second half. Khari McQueen led YSU with 13 points in a game that was never close.

For their Bracket Buster contest, the Penguins traveled to nearby Bowling Green to play the Falcons. Bowling Green hit four straight three-pointers that sprung the contest open en route to a 76-64 win for the host Falcons. BGSU’s John Reimold hit three three-pointers to start the game and finished with a game-high 26 points. Bowling Green 10-of-13 shots from the three-point line in the first half. YSU trailed 61-51 in the second half, but that was as close the Penguins would get. McQueen led YSU in scoring for the second straight game with 11 points. Adam Baumann and Doug Underwood each had 10 points to round out double-digit scorers for Youngstown State.

The Penguins will, much like the rest of the league, will finish out with two games to close out the regular season. The Penguins know that they will be playing a road game for their league tournament game, but do not know who. They start the week on Wednesday night at Butler. Then, will finish off the week by hosting Detroit for Senior Night.

Loyola-Chicago (7-19, 3-12):

The Ramblers continued their struggling season with a pair of losses this week. The Ramblers have now suffered 14 losses in their last 15 games. In Detroit last Thursday night, the Ramblers fell victim to Detroit shooting 50 percent in the second half en route to a 69-62 win for the Titans. The Titans also shot 16-of-20 from the free throw line to break a 28-28 halftime score open. Blake Schilb led four Ramblers in double figures with 16 points.

Playing in-state rival Illinois State for Bracket Buster Saturday, the Ramblers lost another close game, 77-71, to the Redbirds in Bloomington, Ill. It is the fifth straight loss by Loyola in which the final margin was under 10 points. With 11:16 remaining, the Redbirds held a commanding 54-31 lead, but Loyola, who has played catch-up all season long, made it close late. Loyola cut the deficit to 69-67 with 1:08 left in the game. But ISU hit 8-of-8 free throws after that to preserve the win. DaJuan Gouard scored 19 of his team-high 22 points in the second half. Paul McMillan had 21 points as well for the Ramblers.

Loyola will finish their regular season this Thursday night when the Cleveland State Vikings come to town on Senior Night.

Cleveland State (4-22, 0-14):

In their only game of the week, the Vikings hosted Eastern Michigan for Bracket Buster Saturday. Much like how the rest of the season has gone, the Vikings struggled to get anything going as EMU went onto an 87-66 win, giving CSU its record 20th straight loss. James Jackson had 14 points and 12 rebounds for EMU and scored seven points during a 16-2 run that ended the first half. CSU was out-rebounded on the glass 50-30. Jermaine Robinson scored 27 points, Pape Badiane had 18 and Victor Morris scored 12 points and nine assists for CSU.

The Vikings will finish the regular season with two road games. Up first on Thursday night will be Loyola-Chicago and on Saturday will be first-place UWM.

     

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