The Bobcats also have 11 players averaging 10 or more minutes per game.
BAD NEWS COMES IN THREES
After suffering the first loss of the season, the Redbirds will need to get back their outside shooting stroke. ISU shot 5-for-23 (.217) from beyond the arc Sunday against Niagara. Unfortunately for the Redbirds, on the surface, the news doesn't get much better. ISU is shooting 23.5 percent on treys on the road this season and Ohio is allowing its opponents a 27.7 percent success rate on threes. Osiris Eldridge is the only Redbird with three made three-pointers to be shooting over 40 percent on the season. He's shooting 40.4 percent with a 23-for-57 effort.
IN-SEASON MEDIA CONFERENCES
ISU Athletics Media Relations will host eight in-season media conferences during the 2009-10 season. Each conference will feature head coach Tim Jankovich and a member of the ISU basketball team. The media conferences will start at 1 p.m., and be held in the Redbird Arena Media Room, which is on the east side of the lower concourse. The remaining scheduled dates are: Jan. 7, Jan. 21, Jan. 29, Feb. 8, Feb. 18 and March 2.
Teleconferences with The Valley head coaches will be conducted each Tuesday throughout the season. The first teleconference is slated for Dec. 15, followed by every Tuesday from Jan. 5 to March 2. The conferences begin at 10 a.m. CT. To participate in the conference calls, call 913.981.4900. Illinois State head coach Tim Jankovich will participate at 10:30 a.m.
TAKING THE SHOW ON THE ROAD
After a five-game homestand, the Redbirds will return to the road for their third and fourth game away from Redbird Arena this season. Tonight's game at Ohio will be the Redbirds first road game in 23 days, when Illinois State posted a 69-65 win at UIC on Nov. 23.
The Redbirds haven't had to face much adversity in the Tim Jankovich-era, but when coming off a rare loss Illinois State has responded well. The Redbirds are 14-6 (.700) in the 20 previous games when coming off a loss under the guidance of Jankovich.
MOVING ON UP
Osiris Eldridge continues to pass the greatest scorers in ISU history. The Chicago native needs only 21 points to become the eighth Redbird player in Illinois State history to score 1,500-points in his career. He currently ranks No. 8 with 1,479 career tallies.
In the first seven games of the season, the Redbirds had four different players post double-doubles. Dinma Odiakosa, Tony Lewis, Kellen Thornton and Jackie Carmichael each collected double-digit points and rebounds in one game this season. Then against Niagara, both Odiakosa and Carmichael notched double-doubles; giving the Redbirds six double-double efforts in eight games this season.
WHAT'S A UTE?
Illinois State will find out firsthand this season, when the Redbirds travel to Utah, Dec. 19, for the first-ever meeting between the two schools, as part of the inaugural Missouri Valley-Mountain West Challenge Series. The game between ISU and Utah will be one of nine match-ups between the two leagues.
A BIG MAC ATTACK
Playing a member of the Mid-American Conference is nothing new for Illinois State, especially since the Redbirds have faced at least one MAC school in each of the last 12 seasons. Tonight's game against Ohio will mark ISU's 260th contest against a current member of the MAC and its second this season. The Redbirds have had their share of success against the MAC, boasting a 154-105 (.595) record against the league membership and a 6-1 (.857) record under head coach Tim Jankovich.
Dinma Odiakosa has been on a different wavelength to start this season. The Redbird senior is shooting 71.9 percent from the field (51-for-57), which not only leads the Missouri Valley Conference, but also ranks No. 2 in the nation.
OSIRIS, THE GOD OF THE THREES
In mythology, Osiris is an Egyptian god, typically called the god of the afterlife, underworld or dead. In Redbird lore, Osiris Eldridge is now the god of the three-point shot. With three treys against Central Michigan, Eldridge became the school-record holder and has 228 career three-point field goals, surpassing the old mark by Gregg Alexander of 224. Eldridge also ranks No. 16 in Missouri Valley Conference history.
308-STRAIGHT GAMES WITH A TREY
Illinois State enters the Ohio game with at least one made three in 308-straight games. The last time ISU didn't sink a trey was an 82-43 loss at Creighton Dec. 12, 1999.
A BLOCK PARTY
Through eight games, it appears that the 2009-10 Redbirds could make a run at the school's blocked shot record. Currently, ISU is averaging 4.5 blocks per game, which is just behind the school mark of 4.9 swats per contest, set by the 1976-77 team. The Redbirds also have two of the top-four shot blockers in the Valley, as Jackie Carmichael leads the league with 1.3 blocks per game and Dinma Odiakosa ranks tied for third with 1.1 blocks per game.
START ME UP
With head coach Tim Jankovich being a huge Rolling Stones fan, he has to love the starts to the Redbirds' last two seasons. Last year, ISU opened the campaign with a 14-0 mark and this season the Redbirds jumped out to a 7-0 start. ISU had never had back-to-back 7-0 season starts in the history of the program.
A RETURN TO POSTSEASON
Illinois State, which became an NCAA Division I program prior to the 1970-71 season, enjoyed postseason play for the 16th time last season. The Redbirds have qualified for the NCAA Tournament six times (1983, 1984, 1985, 1990, 1997 and 1998) and the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) 10 times (1977, 1978, 1980, 1987, 1988, 1995, 1996, 2001, 2008 and 2009).
After making the NIT each of the last two years, Illinois State posted successive postseason berths for the first time in over a decade. The last time the Redbirds had back-to-back postseason bids was during the 1996-97 and 1997-98 seasons, when ISU went to the NCAA Tournament each season.
THE LEADER OF THE PACK
As the leading scorer for ISU in six of the first eight games, senior Osiris Eldridge is averaging 19.3 points per game this season, which is the highest scoring average in the Valley. If Eldridge can maintain this kind of output, he would become the first Redbird to lead the conference in scoring since Tarise Bryson in 2001. Bryson averaged 22.8 points per game en route to being named the MVC Player of the Year.
NAW, I'M DOING JUST FINE, CLARK
Illinois State's highly-touted freshman Justin Clark might be looking forward to his Christmas vacation, but there is no need to panic. Despite starting off his college career shooting 1-for-21 from the field through six games and 1-for-16 on threes, Clark was 2-for-2 against Niagara Sunday afternoon and is showing signs of getting out of his funk. Normally that would have a coach concerned, but Redbird fans don't have to look to far back to see a similar debut. Senior Osiris Eldridge began his ISU career shooting 1-for-22 in his first five games, including a 1-for-13 effort on threes.
THE TRADITION CONTINUES
With a 24-10 overall record last year, ISU secured itself another winning season in men's basketball. In the 38 years of being an NCAA Division I program, the Redbirds have had 31 winning seasons.
Senior Osiris Eldridge became the 39th addition to Illinois State's 1,000-point club, but with a full season to be played now the question is how high will he climb. He now has 1,467 career points, but in order to become the second Redbird to score 2,000 career points, Eldridge will need to tally 675 points this season, or approximately 19.3 points per game. Currently, he is averaging 19.3 tallies per contest and has scored 154 points this season.
After being named the Valley's Preseason Player of the Year, junior Osiris Eldridge appears to have an inside track to join a select group. Eldridge won the conference's freshman of the year award in 2007. If he ends his Illinois State career with the Larry Bird MVC Player of the Year Award, which he finished runner-up for last season, Eldridge would become only the second player in league history to win both the freshman of the year and player of the year award, joining Southern Illinois' Ashraf Amaya.
TWO SIGN FOR 2010 CLASS
Illinois State head coach Tim Jankovich announced the signing of two incoming players during the early signing period. The Redbirds added Kenyon Smith (guard, 6-0, 190) from Lincoln College and Jordan Threloff (center, 6-10, 240) from DeKalb High School. Smith originally signed with ISU out of Simeon High School, but was declared academically ineligible by the NCAA. If he receives his associate's degree this school year, Smith will have three years of eligibility remaining at Illinois State, while Threloff will enter ISU as a true freshman.
STATUE OF ASPIRATIONS
In September 2009, the Redbird Athletics Department unveiled a statue which honors the nation's first African-American NCAA Division I head basketball coach, Will Robinson, and his most famous player, Doug Collins, a three-time All-American at Illinois State. The piece, which was installed at the north entrance of Redbird Arena, was sculpted by Lou Cella, a 1985 graduate of ISU. Robinson was named the Redbirds' head coach Feb. 27, 1970, and posted a 78-51 seasons in five seasons. He passed away at the age of 96, April 28, 2008.