The University of Southern Indiana menís basketball team has become one of
the winningest programs in all of the NCAA the last 15 years and has done it
better than any Division II team the last six seasons. The Screaming Eagles
hope to continue to be that force in 2007-08.
USI has been the definition of the word consistent in the building of its legacy the last 15 years. The Screaming Eagles have posted 15 straight 20-win seasons, won 25 or more games six straight years, won at least 27 games four straight years, appeared in the NCAA Division II Tournament 14 of the last 15 years, and advanced to the NCAA II Great Lakes Regional Championship game nine times since 1994. The Eagles won the NCAA Division II National Championship in 1995 and reached the championship game in 1994 and 2004.
The USI squad, which won two of the last three GLVC Tournament championships, also has captured three straight GLVC regular season titles.
It will not be an easy feat for USI and Head Coach Rick Herdes to continue this trend in 2007-08. USI does not return a starter and lost over 90 percent of its scoring and rebounding off of last season's squad.
To replace last year's three guard rotation that included All-GLVC and All-Region Melvin Hall, USI has picked up senior guard Tyson Schnitker and junior guard Darren Cloud. Schnitker transferred to USI from Indiana State University after sitting out last season. He averaged 10.3 points and 5.9 rebounds per game in 2005-06 for the Sycamores.
Cloud transferred back to his native Evansville, Indiana, after a season at the University of South Alabama. He scored nine points and grabbed nine rebounds in 20 appearances for the Jaguars in 2006-07.
USI also will look for major contribution from returning sophomore guards Drew Glover and Brent Owen. Glover averaged 1.5 points in 16 games for USI in 2006-07, while Owen posted 1.3 points in 17 appearances.
To add depth, the Eagles supplemented the backcourt with a pair of first
year players in freshmen Derrick Lee and Kyle Kopatich. Lee
was an All-District and team Most Valuable Player at Seymour High School
(Seymour, Tennessee), while Kopatich was an All-Conference player for Mt.
Vernon High School (Mt. Vernon, Indiana).
In the frontcourt, the Eagles will look for continued development from sophomore center Brandon Hopf and sophomore forward George Cunningham. Hopf played in 32 games last season behind All-American Rashard Sulllivan and averaged 4.1 points and 1.7 rebounds per appearance. Cunningham played in 19 games last year, averaging 1.5 points and 1.0 rebound per contest.
The Eagles will provide experienced help in the middle with the addition of senior forward/center Norman Plummer, junior center Jimmy Allen, and sophomore forward/center Nathan Schumacher. Plummer transferred to USI from the University of Dayton after averaging 8.2 points and 4.8 rebounds per game in 28 games off the bench in 2007-08.
In his three-year career at Dayton, Plummer has averaged 9.1 points and 5.3 rebounds per game in 88 appearances for the Flyers. He posted a career-high as a freshman with 24 points against LaSalle University and as a sophomore with 13 rebounds against St. Louis University.
Allen joins the USI menís basketball program in December after two seasons at Cuesta College, which is a part of the California Community College League and the Western State Conference. He was named honorable mention All-State in 2006-07 and earned All-Conference honors each season at Cuesta.
The 6-foot-10 center led the CCCL with 151 blocks as a freshman, while finishing second with 134 blocks as a sophomore. He also averaged 17.3 points and 8.9 rebounds per game in 32 starts as a sophomore and became one of nine players to score over 900 points in two seasons at Cuesta.
Schumacher played one season for John A. Logan College before transferring to USI. He averaged 6.6 points and 6.7 rebounds in 29 games for the Volunteers. Schumacher was named first team All-SIAC, Couier and Press All-Metro, and Academic All-State at Evansville Central High School in 2005-06 after averaging 16.2 ppg and 12.4 rpg.
On the outside, the Eagles have brought in a trio of swingmen in junior forwards Anthony Pimble and Shaun Bowman, as well as freshman guard/forward Nick Duncheon.
Pimble was the Western State Conference North Division Most Outstanding Player. He also averaged 15.6 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.1 steals, and 1.8 assists per game. The Ventura Pirates finished the year 26-7 overall, advancing to the California Junior College state semifinals.
Bowman transferred to USI after playing the last two seasons at Frank Phillips College (Borger, Texas). He averaged 7.9 points and 9.5 rebounds per game in 2006-07 and 8.6 points and 6.2 rebounds per contest in 2005-06. Bowman played his prep ball at Bishop Laughlin Memorial High School (Brooklyn, New York).
Duncheon finished his high school career at Barr-Reeve High School (Montgomery, Indiana) by being named to the Indiana All-State team and helping the Vikings to the Indiana Class 1A State Championship game. He won back-to-back Washington Times Herald Outstanding Player of the Year awards as a junior and senior and averaged 17.1 points and 7.3 rebounds per game as a senior.
For first time since 2004, USI tips off the regular season at home when it hosts Harris-Stowe State University November 17. The USI-HSSU match-up tips-off a schedule that features 18 home games, including 10 GLVC games.
All eight non-conference games will be at home this season, highlighted by the new Bill Joergens Memorial Tournament November 23-24. The Thanksgiving classic-style tournament features USI, Bellarmine University, Northwest Missouri State University, and Southwest Minnesota State University.
NWMS finished the year ranked 17th nationally, appeared in the NCAA Division II Tournament, was the co-Midwestern Intercollegiate Athletic Association champion, and had a 24-7 overall record.
Sandwiched between the opener with HSSU and the Bill Joergens Memorial Tournament, the Eagles host the University of Illinois-Springfield November 20. The Prairie Stars were 23-9 last year and advanced to the NAIA Division I Tournament as the 15th seed.
The Eagles will host four Division II teams in December, beginning with Ohio Valley University December 8 and Tiffin University December 15. USI concludes the 2007-08 non-conference schedule by hosting Ferris State University December 19 and Michigan Tech University December 30.
USI begins defense of their GLVC West Division championship on the road in the "Battle for the Bridge" against Kentucky Wesleyan College December 1 in Owensboro, Kentucky. USI has won the last three regular season battles in the rivalry.
The Eagles do not open the home portion of the GLVC campaign until January 10 when the University of Wisconsin-Parkside comes to the Physical Activities Center. UW-Parkside was 19-13 a year ago and made an appearance in the NCAA II Tournament.
The GLVC West Division is loaded this season with USI, Quincy University, Drury University, and Rockhurst University all advancing to the NCAA II Tournament a year ago. USI will host Quincy January 24; Rockhurst February 14; and Drury February 16.