March 03, 2004
USI looks for first GLVC Tournament crown
The second-seeded University of Southern Indiana men's basketball team begins post-season action Friday, March 5, against seventh-seeded Northern Kentucky University at Roberts Stadium in search of its first GLVC Tournament crown and possibly the right to host the NCAA Division II Great Lakes Regional. USI enters the tournament with a 22-5 overall record, while NKU is 16-14 overall.
The Screaming Eagles, who finished second in the league with a 15-5 mark, has appeared in the GLVC Tournament championship game four times in six seasons. USI has reached the GLVC's final four the last two seasons.
The squad finished the regular season on a high note, by defeating Saint Joseph's College and the University of Indianapolis. Senior center John Oden (St. Louis, Missouri) led the Eagles with a double-double, averaging 16.5 ppg and 10.5 rpg.
Oden also leads the Eagles for the season with 12.8 ppg and is second on the team in rebounding with 6.2 rpg. He is followed in the scoring column by junior center Randy Holbrook (St. Louis, Missouri), who is averaging 10.9 ppg senior guard Joe Gordon (Palm Bay, Florida), 10.6 ppg and senior forward Billy Harris (Carbondale, Illinois), 10.4 ppg. Harris leads USI in rebounding with 6.9 rpg.
After a troubling 5-4 January, the Eagles were 6-1 in the month of February. USI outscored the opponents 93.0 to 70.9 last month, including three games with over 100 points. Holbrook led the Eagles last month with 11.1 ppg, while junior guard Cris Brunson (Evansville, Indiana) had his best month of the season with 10.6 ppg.
Included in the six February victories was a home win over Northern Kentucky University. The Eagles avenged one of their January defeats with a 74-66 win and were led by Brunson, who had 14 points.
In GLVC Tournament action, Harris leads the squad in experience with seven career tournament games. He has averaged 9.6 ppg and 5.0 rpg. Brunson follows Harris with four tournament games, averaging 12.5 ppg the last two years.
The Norse will enter the conference tournament with only two wins in their last eight games. NKU lost its regular season finale to Kentucky Wesleyan College, 87-66.
For the season, senior guard Mike Kelsey leads the Norse with 16.9 ppg. He is followed by senior center Jesse Rupe with 15.9 ppg and a team-high 7.3 rpg, while junior guard Steve Purdon, who led NKU against the Eagles a few weeks ago with 20 points, is averaging 10.9 ppg.
In the two match-ups this season, USI was led against the Norse by Oden with 17.0 ppg and Brunson with 15.0 ppg. The Norse were led against USI by Kelsey with 17.5 ppg and Purdon with 15.5 ppg.
USI leads the all-time series with NKU, 35-16, and has won seven of the 12 meetings since 2000.
A victory by the Eagles on Friday will pair them Saturday, March 6, against the winner of the sixth-seeded Saint Joseph's College-third-seeded Kentucky Wesleyan College match-up. USI swept the Panthers this season, while splitting with SJC.
The Pumas are led into the league's post-season by senior forward Corey Seegers with 19.4 ppg. Sophomore forward Derek Fey follows Seegers with 12.6 ppg. Saint Joseph's enters the tournament having won four of their last five.
KWC's junior guard Dontae Truitt leads the Panthers, who have won nine of their last 10, into the tournament with 19.7 ppg. Senior center Eric Freeman follows Truitt with 19.0 ppg.
The GLVC Tournament championship game is scheduled for Sunday, March 7, at 3:30 p.m.
Ray Simmons, USI Sports Information