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October 19, 2004

USI men’s basketball is ranked No. 1 in Division II Bulletin

EVANSVILLE, Ind. The University of Southern Indiana men’s basketball team is ranked NUMBER ONE in the Division II Bulletin Top 25. The Screaming Eagles, who were ranked fifth by Street & Smith’s College Basketball earlier this fall, have been ranked in the preseason each year since 1993-94 and have been a preseason fifth or better 10 times in the last 12 seasons.

The preseason number one ranking is the first for the Eagles since the 1995-96 season when the team was ranked in the top spot in five different national magazines.

“This is a great honor for the program and the players,” said fourth-year Head Coach Rick Herdes. “I am grateful to Division II Bulletin for its recognition of our program. However, it is not where you start the season, but where you finish.

“We have only started practice and have a lot work to do before our first exhibition game with (University of) Evansville,” continued Herdes. “This type of recognition makes you prepare that much harder because it puts a target on your back and teams will be gunning for you.”

Individually, senior guard Cris Brunson (Evansville, Indiana) and senior forward/center Randy Holbrook (St. Louis, Missouri) are USI’s top returning players. Brunson, who was named a preseason honorable mention All-American by Street & Smith’s College Basketball, ranked fourth on the team in scoring with 10.8 ppg a year ago, but led the team in the post-season with 16.1 ppg.

The NCAA II Great Lakes Regional Most Outstanding Player moved into the USI top 10 all-time in scoring during 2003-04, ranking ninth with 1,208 career-points, and became USI’s all-time leader in three-point field goals made with 191 during the last three seasons.

Holbrook was USI’s CBS Player of the Game during the national championship last March. He was third on the team in scoring with 11.1 ppg and rebounding with 5.2 rebounds per game (rpg). During the Elite Eight, he led the team on the boards with 6.0 rpg and posted 10 ppg.

The 2004 NCAA Division II National Finalist and Great Lakes Regional Champion Eagles return two starters and five letterwinners from a team that finished the 2003-04 campaign with a 28-7 overall record. USI also was second in the GLVC regular season with a 15-5 league record and tied for third in the GLVC Tournament.

Division II Bulletin NCAA Division II Preseason Top 25
1. Southern Indiana
2. Rollins
3. Philadelphia
4. Virginia Union
5. Washburn
6. Alaska-Fairbanks
7. Michigan Tech
8. Kennesaw State
9. Montevallo
10. Pfeiffer
11. Valdosta St.
12. Northwest Missouri
13. Kentucky Wesleyan
14. Massachusetts-Lowell
15. Clayton State
16. Northern State
17. Metropolitan State
18. Florida Southern
19. Tarleton State
20. BYU-Hawaii
21. Florida Gulf Coast
22. Cal Poly Pomona
23. Bowie State
24. Indiana (Pa.)
25. C.W. Post

Others to watch: District of Columbia Nebraska-Omaha, Tusculum, West Virginia State, Nebraska-Kearney, New Hampshire, Cal State Bakersfield, Pittsburgh-Johnstown

Ray Simmons, USI Sports Information

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