Jankovich, Redbirds Host UMSL in Season Opener Sunday
Boo Richardson had three assists to just one turnover Wednesday night
Boo Richardson had three assists to just one turnover Wednesday night

Nov. 9, 2007

Illinois State-UMSL Game Notes in PDF Format Get Acrobat Reader

► Illinois State is beginning its 110th season of collegiate basketball. The Redbirds have compiled 1,393 all-time wins.
► Sunday's game is just the second regular-season meeting between Illinois State and Missouri-St. Louis. The Redbirds defeated the former Rivermen, 105-60, Jan. 15, 1979 at Horton Field House.
► Sunday's game marks the first competitive action for first-year head coach Tim Jankovich. Jankovich is beginning his third stint as a head coach, and his second at the Division I level.
► Dating back to the 2003-04 season, Illinois State has won three of its last four season-opening games. The Redbirds dropped a 57-55 decision to SMU in the opener last season.
► The Redbirds tied for seventh place last season in the Missouri Valley Conference. The Tritons finished in sixth place in the West Division of the Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC). UMSL is a Division II NCAA affiliate.

► Missouri-St. Louis is located in St. Louis, Mo., and has an enrollment of 12,000. The Tritons are members of the NCAA Division II and the Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC).
► The Tritons finished the 2006-07 campaign with a 9-18 record overall and a 4-15 record in the GLVC.
► Head coach Chris Pilz is 41-68 in four seasons at the helm of the Triton program, his only stop as a collegiate head coach. Pilz was an all-American player at UMSL from 1987-91. Pilz is assisted by Deryn Carter and Chico Jones.
► UMSL returns three key players from last season, including David Ward, who was third on the team in scoring with an average of 10.0 points per game.
► The Tritons finished in sixth place in the GLVC West Divison last season, narrowly missing a bid to the conference tournament.

(1) A New Era - Today's game officially marks a new era in Redbird men's basketball, as head coach Tim Jankovich will take the floor competitively for the first time. Jankovich was named the 18th head coach at Illinois State on March 20, 2007. Jankovich spent the past five years under current Kansas head coach Bill Self. He was an assistant under Self for one season at Illinois, before spending the last four campaigns as his top assistant at Kansas.
(2) Defense Stiffens Up on Muse - At halftime of Wednesday's exhibition game between Illinois State and Quincy, the Hawks' Andre Muse had 17 points on 5-of-8 shooting, including a 3-of-4 effort from beyond the three-point arc. But the Redbird defense held Muse scoreless in the second-half; in fact, Muse attempted just four field goals in the second frame, as ISU outscored Quincy, 40-27.
(3) Slack Still Searching for Time - Senior forward Anthony Slack was limited to just eight minutes of action in Wednesday night's exhibition game at Redbird Arena. Slack was whistled for his second foul of the game at the 17:21 mark in the first half, and did not re-enter the game until 6:43 remained. Slack fouled out of the game with 3:44 remaining in the second half. He finished with four points and four rebounds.
(4) Spreading the Wealth - Illinois State registered 22 team assists in Wednesday's exhibition win over Quincy, which was the most by the Redbirds in an exhibition game since Nov. 8, 1997, when ISU had 26 assists against the Converse All-Stars.
(5) Get That Stuff Outta' Here - Illinois State led the Missouri Valley Conference in blocked shots last season, registering 3.26 blocks-per-game (101 total). The Redbirds out-blocked their counterparts by 12 total swats, and held the blocking advantage in 10 individual contests. ISU's 101 blocks are the fifth-best single-season mark in program history.

Since the 1981-82 season, Illinois State's first campaign in the Missouri Valley Conference, the Redbirds have won 15 of the past 26 season openers. In the 109-year history of the program, Illinois State has compiled a 72-37 all-time record in season-opening games. In the Division I era, the Redbirds are 22-15 in season-openers.

Osiris Eldridge's 17 points against Quincy Wednesday topped his 13-point effort last season in the exhibition game against Missouri-St. Louis. Eldridge also posted a double-double with 10 rebounds, which he didn't do during his record-setting freshman campaign last season.

Illinois State scored 42 points in the first-half against Quincy Wednesday night, the most scored by the Redbirds in an exhibition game since Nov. 16, 2003, when ISU scored 44 in the first half against Global Sports. Last season, ISU only scored 42 or more points in the first half of action once during the regular season.

Dating back to the last season, for the second-straight exhibition game, Illinois State saw four players (Levi Dyer, Osiris Eldridge, Brandon Sampay and Boo Richardson) reach double figures in scoring. The Redbirds put four in double figures eight times during the 2006-07 regular-season.

Despite having just one freshman on the roster, Illinois State will welcome four newcomers to the mix this season, as first-year head coach Tim Jankovich signed junior college transfers Emmanuel Holloway and Brandon Sampay to the program; sophomore transfer Sead Odzic will be eligible in mid-December and freshman guard Alex Rubin was the lone member of ISU's 2007 recruiting class.

Along with Holloway, Sampay, Odzic and Rubin, two other Division I transfers joined the Redbird basketball program during the offseason, as 6-foot-5 Oregon guard Chamberlain Oguchi and six-foot Austin Peay State guard Landon Shipley both transferred to ISU. Each sit out the 2007-08 season, and begin their eligibility at Illinois State in the 2008-09 campaign. Both Oguchi and Shipley are currently practicing with the Redbirds.

Jankovich hired three assistant coaches that boast a combined 40 years of college coaching experience. He hired 18-year state of Illinois coaching veteran Rob Judson, who had spent the past six years as the head coach at Northern Illinois. Prior to his stint with the Huskies, Judson spent the previous 12 years as an assistant coach at Northern Illinois (1989-91), Bradley (1991-96) and his alma mater, Illinois (1996-2001). Anthony Beane, who was an assistant coach under former Redbird head coach Tom Richardson (2000-02) was also hired after a four-year stint at Saint Louis. Jankovich bolstered his Chicago recruiting ties with the hiring of Paris Parham, a well-respected high school coach in Chicago's Public League. Parham, who was ISU sophomore Osiris Eldridge's high school coach at Morgan Park, also boasts 10 years of college coaching experience.

Tim Jankovich is part of a Missouri Valley Conference single-season upheaval that has five new head coaches, the most since five new MVC head coaches took over for the 1978-79 season. Jankovich is joined by first-year head coaches Keno Davis (Drake), Marty Simmons (Evansville) Kevin McKenna (Indiana State) and Gregg Marshall (Wichita State).

During its 109-year history Illinois State has compiled a 51-31 (.622) record in the month of November. The Redbirds have played just two games against ISU's six scheduled November opponents this season. Indiana defeated Illinois State in the first-round of the 1988 preseason NIT, and the `Birds tallied an 88-46 win over Chicago State in the 2000-01 season opener at Redbird Arena.

Shooting percentage was a key factor for ISU in terms of wins and losses last season. When ISU shot better than its opponent, the `Birds were 14-7. But when they were outshot, the Redbirds were 1-9.

Illinois State welcomes nine returning letterwinners to the fold in 2007-08, including five of its top-six scorers. Senior center Levi Dyer, an honorable mention All-Missouri Valley Conference selection last season, returns after averaging a team-best 12.1 points-per-game, including a sizzling .480 three-point field goal percentage. Senior guard Boo Richardson, who was named to the Valley All-Newcomer team, was the 2006-07 team leader in minutes played (1,035), and assists (153). Senior Anthony Slack joined Richardson on the MVC All-Newcomer squad, and is the Redbirds' top-returning rebounder. He averaged 5.7 caroms-per-contest last season to go along with 9.4 points-per-game. Reigning Valley Freshman of the Year Osiris Eldridge returns for his sophomore campaign in 2007-08. Eldridge averaged a team third-best 9.5 points-per-game, and scored in double figures in six of the final 10 games last season.

Last season, Illinois State's junior class (now seniors) was a key figure in the team's statistical success. The Redbirds' contingent of Levi Dyer, Boo Richardson, Anthony Slack, Dom Johnson and Julius Moor scored 1,227 of ISU's 2,068 total points (39.5 points-per-game) and accounted for nearly 60 percent (.593) of its scoring. The five players averaged 14.0 rebounds per game (434 total caroms) and 9.8 assists-per-contest (268 assists), making up 59 percent of the team assist total. In addition, the fivesome shot a combined 42 percent from the floor.

Last year, three Redbirds (Boo Richardson, Osiris Eldridge and Anthony Slack) represented ISU on the MVC's All-Newcomer Team, marking the first time since 1988-89 that three players from the same team made the unit.

Head coach Tim Jankovich said at ISU's annual media day that he would like to narrow his regular rotation down to eight or nine players, assuming he has a full healthy team. Narrowing down that total may be easier said than done, as ISU returns seven players that logged at least 8.0 minutes-per-game, and welcomes three newcomers to the mix that are all expected to make significant contibutions early in their respective careers.

With nine returning lettermen, including four starters, and nearly 80 percent of its scoring and 63 percent of its rebounding returning from last season, the Illinois State men's basketball team enters the 2007-08 campaign as one of the league's most experienced teams. As a result, the Redbirds were picked to finish fifth in the Missouri Valley Conference Preseason Poll, conducted by the league coaches, media and sports information directors. ISU's fifth-place tally is its highest preseason prognostication since the 2002-03 season, when the Redbirds were picked fourth overall.

In the 2007-08 MVC Preseason Poll, senior center Levi Dyer (12.1 ppg) and sophomore guard Osiris Eldridge (9.5 ppg) were each named honorable mention All-Valley selections. The league appointed five preseason all-MVC players, and recognized five honorable mention players. Dyer was voted captain of the Valley's "Most Improved Team" last season, and Eldridge earned the league's Freshman of the Year honor.

If Illinois State's Levi Dyer continues to fill it up like he did at the conclusion of 2007 league play, at 6-foot-11, he might be dubbed as "Big Valley." Dyer led the conference in three-point field goal percentage in league games shooting at a 51.7 percent clip, more than six percent higher than his closest competitor. He was also fourth in scoring for Valley contests with 15.4 points per game. For his three-year career, Dyer has a 42.5 three-point field goal percentage, which is the fifth-best mark in the ISU annals.

Despite his atypical 6-foot-11 frame, Levi Dyer has proven to be lethal from beyond the three-point arc. Heading into the 2007-08 campaign, Dyer has now made a triple in 20-consecutive games. It is the longest streak by a Redbird since Trey Guidry went 21 straight games with a three-pointer to end the 2002-03 season and open the 2003-04 campaign.

It wasn't the Philadelphia Experiment, but at 6-foot-3, freshman Osiris Eldridge must have been teleporting himself into rebounding position during Illinois State's 2007 league games. In fact, Eldridge led the Redbirds with 5.7 caroms per game during ISU's 18 conference match-ups.

Osiris Eldridge figures to be a catalyst in Jankovich's up-tempo, attack-style offense in his sophomore campaign. He ran away with 2007 MVC Newcomer of the Year honors after averaging 10.8 points-per-game in the second-half of the season, compared to just 8.1 points-per-contest in the first 15 games.

Junior Anthony Slack was the 2006-07 Redbird team leader in steals with 43. Slack is only the third non-guard position player to lead ISU in steals over the last 20 seasons. He joined Dan Muller, who had 39 steals during the 1997-98 season, and Tony Holifield, who finished with 44 steals during the 1987-88 campaign.

While he has been in the league for just one season, forward Anthony Slack returns for his senior season representing the Valley in a very significant category. Slack is the MVC's active career leader in field goal percentage, as he shot at nearly a 59 percent clip (.584) from the field in 2006-07. Slack's next closest competitor is Wichita State's Phillip Thomasson, who connected on nearly 57 percent (.569) of his field goals last season.

Point guard Boo Richardson ended last season averaging 4.9 assists-per-game, which is the highest average by a Redbird since Jamar Smiley dropped 6.4 assists-per-game during the 1997-98 season.

Boo Richardson averaged 33.4 minutes-per-game last season (1,035 total minutes), which is the second-most minutes averaged in a career for an ISU player. Only Tarise Bryson's (1998-2002) 34.1 minutes-per-contest have topped Richardson's 2006-07 mark. Richardson played at least 38 minutes in five games last season. Richardson was also just the 14th player in Redbird history to start at least 31 games in the same season.

Junior Mike Vandello was the recipient of the Doug Collins Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year award at the State Farm Student-Athlete Academic Excellence banquet in Redbird Arena on Oct. 21. Vandello was a member of the AFNI Honor Roll and the Dean's List both semesters last year with identical 4.0 GPAs. He appeared in 27 games during his sophomore season and recorded career-highs of eight points and eight rebounds against Sacramento State. The junior from Bettendorf, Iowa, has a 4.0 cumulative GPA in biological sciences.

If Illinois State's won-loss record in recent years translates over to this season, the Redbirds could be in for some early success in the 2007-08 campaign. ISU has a combined 30-13 record at Redbird Arena over the past three seasons. The `Birds have five of their first seven games at home.

After being eliminated by Indiana State in the first-round of the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Tournament last March, the Redbirds missed out on a bid to secure a .500 or better overall record that would have ended a string of losing campaigns in four of the previous five years. In the previous 36 years of being a Division I program, ISU has had just seven losing seasons.

When Illinois State won games last season, it was generally a close-game, and a stellar defensive effort by the Redbirds. In ISU's 15 wins, it held the opposition to 59.6 points-per-game. In the Redbirds' 16 losses, they allowed 68.8 points-per-game for the opposition.

In the past four years, Illinois State has limited its foes to 70 points or fewer in 79 of its 118 games (66.9 percent). There is also some significance when the `Birds reach 70 points. Dating back to the 2002-03 season, ISU has held its opponent to 70 points or less 50 times, and the Redbirds have won 36 of those games.

One thing is obvious when examining ISU head coach Tim Jankovich's offseason procedures: his teams will be physically prepared to play and in shape when practice begins each October. Jankovich implemented what he dubs "Boot Camp" in the first week of October (during individual workouts), putting his team through a 45-minute set of nonstop wind sprints, defensive slides and jumping drills. The camouflage T-shirts the players wore during the process read "ISU Boot Camp 2007." The program was something that Kansas head coach Bill Self implemented on an annual basis during Jankovich's tenure with the Jayhawks.

Illinois State had six players with 200 or more points last season. Levi Dyer (375), Boo Richardson (304), Anthony Slack (292), Greg Dilligard (291), Osiris Eldridge (295) and Dom Johnson (249) all reached the plateau. The last time the Redbirds had six players score 200 or more points in a season was during the 1997-98 campaign.

Illinois State ranked second in the Valley in three-point field goals made (7.52 pg) last season. The Redbirds connected on eight or more three-point field goals in 15 games, including a season-best 14 treys against Texas-Arlington on Dec. 2. Illinois State's 233 three-point field goals set a single-season record, and were the most since the 1997-98 squad recorded 220 threes.

Illinois State head coach Tim Jankovich brings nearly 25 years of college coaching experience to Normal, and many of those campaigns have extended well into the postseason. In the last five years alone, Jankovich has coached in 12 NCAA Tournament games, and two of those teams made trips to the Elite Eight. Last season, Jankovich helped Kansas within one-game of the Final Four.

In order to compete for the Missouri Valley Conference championship, Illinois state will need to win some games away from Redbird Arena - something the Redbirds haven't done in a while. ISU has dropped 26 of its last 29 games away from Redbird Arena. The Redbirds were 3-10 on the road last season, and broke their previous 16-game road losing streak with a 78-65 win at St. John's on Nov. 25, 2006.

ISU enters this season with at least one made three in 229 straight games. The last time ISU didn't sink a trey was an 82-43 loss at Creighton on Dec. 12, 1999.

In Illinois State's 85-66 win over Lewis (Dec. 19, 2006), juniors Boo Richardson scored 20 points, and Anthony Slack poured in 22 points. It was the first time that two Illinois State players had scored at least 20 points in the same game since Feb. 5, 2005, when Trey Guidry (24 points) and Vince Greene (20) reached the plateau in a 69-62 win over rival Bradley at Redbird Arena.

Senior guard Dom Johnson became the first Redbird to score 30 or more points in a game since Trey Guidry tossed in 30 points at Creighton on Jan. 22, 2005. Johnson torched Florida State for 32 points on 12-for-23 shooting. It was the most points by a Redbird since Tarise Bryson scored 38 in the 2001 National Invitational Tournament game at Purdue.