2000-01 Men's Basketball Outlook

For the past seven years, the road to the NCAA Division II Tournament Championship has gone through the Great Lakes Valley Conference. In 2000-01, the University of Southern Indiana menís basketball team wants the road to start in Evansville, Indiana, and end in Bakersfield, California, the site of the NCAA II Elite Eight.

The Screaming Eagles, ranked fourth in the preseason by Preview Sports College Basketball and Division II Bulletin, have been on the road to the championship more than any team in the NCAA II the last eight seasons, making it to the regional finals six times in the last eight seasons. USIís eight consecutive appearances in the national tournament is the longest current streak in the NCAA II.

The designer of the teamís success since 1992-93 is USI Head Coach Bruce Pearl. Pearl, the quickest coach at any level in NCAA history to 200 victories, has an eight-year record of 205-42 (.830 winning percentage). He also led USI to the NCAA II Championship in 1995 and the NCAA II finals in 1994.

Pearl will face a tough challenge this year, losing five important seniors, three of them starters, from last yearís team which was 25-6 overall. The team took second in the GLVC at 17-3, and second in the NCAA II Great Lakes Regional. Gone from last season are first team All-GLVC guard Brandun Hughes, who led the team in assists and was second on the team in scoring, and second team All-GLVC center Habib Ademi, who was second on the team in scoring and rebounding.

To ease the loss of the five seniors that accounted for nearly 50 percent (44 points a contest) of the Eagles scoring in 1999-2000, Pearl will look to three seniors to lead an athletic roster that appears two-deep at every position.

Seniors Derrick Lyons (Albany, Georgia), a guard, Drake Roberts (Nashville, Indiana), a guard, and Kimon Green  (East St. Louis, Illinois), a forward/ center, return for their final season in 2000-01.

Lyons, a Street & Smith Preseason All-American, led the Eagles with 14.5 ppg. The second team All-GLVC and All-Great Lakes Region guard became the most valuable offensive weapon in the final 10 contests of last season, averaging 15.6.

Green, a GLVC All-Tournament team member, was an intimidating force on the inside for the Eagles, leading the GLVC and ranked 18th nationally with 2.3 blocks a game. He also led the league with a 66.9 field goal percentage (113-169) while dropping in 9.2 ppg and grabbing 5.3 rebounds a game.

Roberts will compete to fill Hughesí shoes at the point. He averaged 2.8 points and 2.8 assists in 17 games a junior transfer.

The Eagles have four letter winners returning to support the seniors.

In the backcourt as an understudy to Lyons is junior shooting guard Matt Carter (Cannelton, Indiana). Carter missed much of 1999-2000 with knee surgery, averaged 1.8 ppg in eight games.

New to the backcourt are a native of Arkansas and three residents from the tri-state. Transferring to USI as juniors are LaJuan Christon (Hot Springs, Arkansas), Wes Attebury (Evansville, Indiana), and Cory Brunson (Evansville, Indiana). Evansville Central High School point guard Chavon Farmer (Evansville, Indiana) joins the team as a freshman.

Christon, a strong, physical point guard who will challenge for the starting spot at the point, averaged 11.6 ppg and 6.4 assists as a sophomore at Three Rivers Community College. Attebury, who also could see time at the forward position, averaged 15.0 ppg on his way to being named the Great Rivers Athletic Conference Player of the Year at Olney Central College.

Brunson redshirted last season to get stronger and improve his all around game after transferring to USI from the University Missouri-Rolla, while Farmer was second team All-Metro last year, averaging 14.6 points and 5.9 assists at Central High School.

One of the most exciting freshman players in the  GLVC a year ago will join Green in the frontcourt. Sophomore forward Diondíre Givens (Mt. Vernon, Indiana), who started 14 contests, led the Screaming Eagles with 6.1 rebounds a contest and was fifth on the team with 9.5 ppg. Givens will have to pick up void left by sophomore swingman Billy Harris (Carbondale, Indiana), who will be out for the year with a knee injury.

Harris, an Academic All-GLVC performer, played much bigger than his 6í4Ē frame as a freshman, averaging 8.6 ppg and 3.9 rpg off the bench.

The biggest additions to the team in 2000-01 may be in the Eagles frontcourt.

Junior forward/center Shirica Shy (Gordon, Georgia) will see his first action in an Eaglesí uniform after redshirting last season. Shy, who joined Lyons in transferring to USI, averaged 10.0 ppg and 13.8 rpg as a sophomore at Georgia Perimeter College and will give USI a strong physical presence on the inside.

New to the squad in 2000-01 is junior guard/forward Marlowe Currie (St. Louis, Missouri), who transferred to USI from Florissant Valley Community College, and junior center Kevin Robinson (Largo, Maryland), a transfer from Butler County Community College.

Currie, the Region XVI Player of the Year and the NJCAA Division II first team All-American, averaged 25.5 ppg, which ranked fourth nationally, and 12.8 ppg, which ranked third. He gives Pearl flexibility by having the offensive skills to be successful from the outside as well as in the paint.

At 6í10Ē, Robinson is the biggest Eagle who fans may see contribute more and more as the season progresses. He averaged just under 10 points and over six rebounds a game in two seasons at BCCC.

With the number of new faces and starters missing from last yearís squad, Pearl will have to have all the pistons firing early in 2000-01. The Eagles will open 2000-01 with an NAIA Final Four team, Huntington College on November 18, and an NCAA II final four team, Missouri Southern State College on November 25. MSSC, a ranked preseason number one by Street & Smith, will return eight players from last seasonís 30-3 team.

The non-conference schedule, whose teams were a combined 115-68 last year (.628), also will include a road contest with 2000 NCAA Tournament team Henderson State University on December 5 and a Great Lakes Region game with Ferris State on December 29.

The tough non-conference schedule is just a prelude to the GLVC 20-game schedule that starts in November. USI starts with three conference home games, beginning with Indiana University/Purdue University Ft. Wayne on November 30.

The Eagles will play archrival Kentucky Wesleyan College in a home-and-home series again this season. The Panthers, ranked second in the preseason magazines, only lost three games last season, two coming in the regular season to USI and in the NCAA Division II Championship game.

USI also will play a home-and-home series with each of the GLVC teams during the regular season except with the University of Indianapolis and preseason top 10 Northern Kentucky University. USI will travel to Indianapolis on January 3, but host NKU on January 6. NKU also was an NCAA II Tournament team in 1999-2000.

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