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OVC Men’s Basketball Report: Season opening news

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The 2012-13 season marks the 65th of competition in the OVC. Over the previous 64 years, 12 different teams have claimed an OVC regular season championship.

Canaan Named to All-Tournament Team at Charleston Classic: Murray State senior Isaiah Canaan was named to the Charleston Classic All-Tournament team after leading his team to a runner-up finish at the event. Canaan averaged 20.7 points, 3.7 assists and 3.0 rebounds/game as the Racers topped Auburn and St. John’s before falling to Colorado.

Murray State, Belmont Receiving Votes in Top 25: After the first full week of the regular season both Murray State and Belmont are receiving votes in the Top 25.  Murray State is among those receiving votes in both the Associated Press and USA Today polls, while Belmont is receiving votes for the first time this week in the USA Today poll.

Murray State, Belmont Ranked in CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Poll: Last week (this week’s rankings have not been released yet) Murray State was ranked No. 3 and Belmont No. 9 in the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major poll. Tennessee State was among the other schools receiving votes. Murray State received two of the 31 first-place votes in the poll; Creighton was ranked first and received 25 first place votes while Gonzaga received the other four first place votes. Murray State finished the 2011-12 season ranked No. 1 in the poll, holding that spot for the final 12 weeks of the season. MSU was the first OVC team to ever be ranked No. 1 in the poll. Now in its 14th season, the Mid-Major poll is made up of team’s from the following conferences: America East, Atlantic Sun, Big Sky, Big South, Big West, Colonial, Great West, Horizon, Independents, Ivy, Metro Atlantic, Mid-American, Mid-Eastern, Missouri Valley, Northeast, Ohio Valley, Patriot, Southern, Southland, Southwestern, Summit, Sun Belt, WAC and West Coast. It is voted upon by coaches from those conferences, with one coach per conference casting a vote (Eastern Kentucky’s Jeff Neubauer is the OVC representative).

OVC One of Just 9 Conferences (3 Non-BCS) to Win NCAA Tournament Games in Each of Past Four Seasons: The OVC is one of just nine (9) Division I conferences to win a NCAA Tournament game in each of the past four years and one of just three non-BCS conferences to achieve the feat. The other non-BCS leagues to win a game in each of the last three years are the Atlantic 10 and West Coast Conferences. The ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Pac-10/12 and SEC are the BCS-level conferences that have won at least one game in each of the past three years.

More on NCAA Success: The four-year winning streak in NCAA Tournament play is unprecedented in OVC history. After winning NCAA Tournament games in each 1987, 1988 and 1989, the OVC went 20 years without a NCAA victory. That changed in 2009 when Morehead State topped Alabama State 58-43 in front of a record crowd at the Opening Round game in Dayton, Ohio. A year later it was No. 13 seed Murray State who won, topping No. 4 seed Vanderbilt 66-65 when Danero Thomas nailed a buzzer-beater in San Jose. In 2011 it was Morehead State’s turn again, as the Eagles were seeded 13th and sent to Denver to battle No. 4-seed Louisville. MSU got off to a 15-2 lead nearly eight minutes into the game but trailed 61-59 with 31 seconds to play. On its final possession senior Demonte Harper nailed a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 4.3 seconds remaining to give Morehead State the lead and Kenneth Faried blocked Louisville’s last shot attempt to seal the victory. Last season it was Murray State who once again won, knocking off Colorado State 58-41 in the second round in a game played in Louisville. The Racers earned a No. 6 seed in that event, the highest seed ever for an OVC team since the tournament seeding began in 1979.

Canaan Named Preseason All-American by Associated Press: Murray State senior guard Isaiah Canaan was one of six players named to the Associated Press Preseason All-American team this season. Canaan was joined on the team by Indiana sophomore Cody Zeller, Creighton junior Doug McDermott, Lehigh senior C.J. McCollum, Ohio State junior Deshaun Thomas and Michigan sophomore Trey Burke. Canaan was named on 43 of the 65 media ballots, second only to McDermott (who was named on 62 ballots).

Canaan Named to Wooden Award Preseason Watch List: Murray State senior guard Isaiah Canaan is one of 50 players named to the John Wooden Award Preseason Watch List. Canaan and Creighton’s Doug McDermott are the only two players who made the 10-player Wooden All-American Team last year to return to the preseason list this season. Transfers, freshmen and medical redshirts are not eligible for the Preseason Top 50. The players on the list are considered strong candidates for the midseason list and the official voting ballot, both of which are open to freshman and transfer students. The National Ballot consists of approximately 20 top players who have proven to their universities that they are also making progress toward graduation and maintaining at least a cumulative 2.0 GPA. The Wooden Award All American Team, consisting of the nation’s top 10 players, will be announced the week of the “Elite Eight” round of the NCAA Tournament. The 37th annual Wooden Award ceremony will honor the Men’s and Women’s Wooden Award winners, and will include the presentation of the Wooden Award All American Teams and the Legends of Coaching Award. The event will take place the weekend of April 12-13, 2013.

Canaan Named to Naismith Award Early Season Watch List: Murray State senior guard Isaiah Canaan is one of 50 players nationally named to the Naismith Award early season watch list and announced by the Atlanta Tipoff Club. The 50-player watch list was compiled by the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s Board of Selectors, which based its criteria on player performances from the previous year and expectations for the 2012-13 college basketball season. The Naismith Men’s College Player of the Year presented by AT&T will be awarded on April 7, 2013 in Atlanta. In late February, the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s Board of Selectors will compile a mid-season team of the top 30 players in the nation. Then in March, the Naismith Trophy voting academy will narrow the list to the four finalists.

Canaan is Candidate for Senior CLASS Award: Murray State senior guard Isaiah Canaan is one of 30 men’s basketball student-athletes who are candidates for the Senior CLASS Award. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence – community, classroom, character and competition. The complete list of candidates follows this release. An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School®, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities. The candidate classes will be narrowed to 10 men’s and 10 women’s finalists midway through the regular season, and those names will be placed on the official ballot. Ballots will be distributed through a nationwide voting system to media, coaches and fans, who will select one men’s finalist and one women’s finalist who best exemplifies excellence in the four Cs of community, classroom, character and competition.

No Freshmen: The SIUE men’s basketball team is one of six Division I teams this season to not feature a freshman (either true or redshirt) on its roster. The other teams without a freshman include Ohio, Portland State, Savannah State, UAB and Valparaiso.

OVC Tournament Once Again at Municipal Auditorium: The 2013 OVC Tournament will once again be played at Municipal Auditorium in Nashville, Tenn. (March 6-9). It marks the third-straight year the tournament has been at the venue and the eighth time the combined men’s and women’s tournaments have been held at the venue (1994, 1995, 1996, 2004, 2008, 2011, 2012); the men’s tournament was also held there in 1967. Beginning in 2011 the Championship switched to a format where the top eight men’s and women’s teams play in the merit-based format. The No. 1 and 2 seeds received two byes to the semifinals while the No. 3 and 4 seeds received one bye into the quarterfinals. The first round included the No. 5 seed against the No. 8 seed and the No. 6 seed against the No. 7 seed. As part of the deal to host the tournament at Municipal Auditorium, the Nashville City Council and Municipal Auditorium committed $200,000 to improvements at the venue, which opened in 1962. Among the major improvements included upgrades to the dressing rooms, two new scoreboards and the new OVC-branded playing surface. The floor was built by Horner Sports Flooring, whose corporate headquarters are in Dollar Bay, Mich. The company has made floors for many collegiate and National Basketball Association (NBA) teams, including building the floor for the 2010 NBA All-Star Game which was held at Texas Stadium. Last year’s event (2012) saw the largest neutral site crowds ever in Nashville and the second-largest championship game attendance ever at a neutral site. For the semifinal games last year 5,142 fans attended the Murray State/Tennessee Tech and Tennessee State/Morehead State games. A day later 6,454 fans attended the Murray State/Tennessee State Championship game. That crowd was the largest ever for a neutral site OVC Tournament game in Nashville and the second-largest neutral site championship crowd ever (trailing only the 8,145 fans who saw the 1993 Championship in Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky.).

OVC Teams to Compete Once Again in ESPN Sears BracketBusters Series: OVC teams will once again compete in the Sears BracketBusters series this season. This marks the eighth-straight season the every OVC teams has competed in the event. Now it its 11th year, BracketBusters is an ESPN television property that has been tremendously successful with its nine events. The event has allowed Division I conferences to participate in a cutting-edge format that involves “wild card” pairings from the pool of participating teams, with half of the ESPN BracketBusters teams pre-designated as “home” and the remaining half as “road” teams. This year there are 122 teams from 15 conferences in the pool of teams that will be selected for one of 13 nationally-televised games (5 on ESPN2, 4 on ESPNU and 4 on ESPN3).

OVC at 12 Schools for First Time With Addition of Belmont; League Begins First Year of Divisional Play: The addition of Belmont University on July 1, 2012 gave the OVC 12 member institutions, the largest the Conference has been since it was formed in 1948 (the OVC is currently the nation’s eighth-oldest Division I conference). The 2012-13 also marks the first year that SIUE, who finished its reclassification process to Division I in August, is eligible for the postseason. The East Division includes Belmont, Eastern Kentucky, Jacksonville State, Morehead State, Tennessee State and Tennessee Tech. The West Division includes Austin Peay, Eastern Illinois, Murray State, Southeast Missouri State, SIUE and UT Martin. The team who finishes first in each division will be guaranteed either the No. 1 or No. 2 seed for the OVC Tournament (and get a double bye into the semifinals); Seeds 3-8 in the tournament will be based on best Conference record, regardless of which division the team is from.

Loos is All-Time Winningest Coach in OVC History: With a 68-66 victory at Ohio on Dec. 9, 2009, Austin Peay head coach Dave Loos recorded his 320th career victory while in the OVC, a mark that ranks first all-time. Loos passed Cal Luther (319 wins at Murray State and UT Martin) for the all-time mark. Loos, the Dean of OVC coaches, is now in his 23rd year at Austin Peay where he also serves as the Athletics Director, making him the only Division I head men’s basketball coach to hold that distinction. Loos is one of just 11 active Division I coaches to have coached at the same school for 20 or more years. Loos now has 364 victories in his tenure at Austin Peay and 446 for his career (which ranks him 27th among Division I head coaches). Although he is in his first year in the OVC, Belmont head coach Rick Byrd has 640 career victories, which ranks seventh among active Division I head coaches.

The OVC Welcomes Four New Head Coaches: The OVC has four new head coaches this season. Tennessee State promoted head coach Travis Williams to its top shot after former coach John Cooper left for Miami (Ohio). Eastern Illinois is under the direction of Jay Spoonhour while Morehead State hired former Mississippi Valley State head coach Sean Woods. Although not new to his team, Belmont’s Rick Byrd is new to the league as the Bruins are playing its first year in the league in 2012-13.

Former OVC Players in the NBA: Entering the 2012-13 season there are two former OVC players on NBA rosters. Former Morehead State All-American Kenneth Faried was the No. 22 overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft and is in his second season with the Denver Nuggets. Faried was a two-time OVC Player of the Year, three-time OVC Defensive Player of the Year and set the NCAA Modern Era (since 1973) Rebounding record during his career. Faried was named to the NBA All-Rookie Team in 2012 after averaging 10.2 points and 7.7 rebounds/game in 46 contests. Former Tennessee Tech star Kevin Murphy, who scored 50 points in a game last season, was picked by the Utah Jazz with the 47th overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft and begins his rookie season with the team.

Murray State’s Canaan Tabbed as Preseason Player of the Year: The 2012-13 All-OVC Preseason Men’s Basketball team was headlined by Murray State senior Isaiah Canaan who is the defending OVC Player of the Year and a preseason All-American selection. Overall six different schools were represented on the team with Belmont, Murray State, Southeast Missouri and Tennessee State having two selections apiece while SIUE and Tennessee Tech each had one selection to round out the team. The squad features three players who were All-OVC first-team selections last season, two players who were second-team selections and one player who was selected to the All-Newcomer squad. The team is comprised of eight seniors and two juniors. Last season Canaan was named the 2012 OVC Player of the Year and 2011-12 OVC Male Athlete of the Year after ranking 24th nationally in scoring (19.0), sixth in 3-point percentage (45.6%) and 13th in 3-pointers made/game (2.97). In addition to Canaan, Tennessee State senior forward Robert Covington and Tennessee Tech senior guard Jud Dillard were each first-team selections last year and are on the preseason team this year. The second-team selections from last year appearing on the preseason team this year are Southeast Missouri junior forward Tyler Stone and SIUE senior forward Mark Yelovich. The Preseason All-OVC team was rounded out by the Belmont senior backcourt duo of Kerron Johnson and Ian Clark, Murray State senior forward Ed Daniel, Tennessee State junior guard Patrick Miller and Southeast Missouri senior guard Marland Smith.

Murray State, Belmont Picked as OVC Preseason Favorites: In a vote of Ohio Valley Conference head men’s basketball coaches and sports information directors defending champion Murray State was picked the favorite in the West Division while newcomer Belmont was picked as the East Division favorite in the OVC for 2012-13. This year marks the first for divisional play in the OVC, which now includes 12 teams for the first time in Conference history. Murray State led the West Division voting, picking up 22 of a possible 24 first-place votes (schools were not allowed to vote for themselves) and 132 total points. Southeast Missouri State was tabbed second and picked up the remaining two first-place votes and 108 points. The West was rounded out by Austin Peay (92), SIUE (73), Eastern Illinois (49) and UT Martin (38). Belmont picked up 21 of the 24 first-place votes and 131 points to be picked the East Division favorites. Tennessee State was tabbed second and received the other three first-place votes and 109 points. The East was rounded out by Tennessee Tech (87), Morehead State (77) and Eastern Kentucky (56). Due to a NCAA APR penalty, Jacksonville State is ineligible for the OVC and NCAA Tournaments this season and was not included in the preseason voting.

Westwood One to Broadcast OVC Championship Game: For the fourth consecutive season, the 2013 Men’s Basketball Championship game will be broadcast by the Westwood One radio network, the largest provider of audio content in America. Westwood One is one of the nation’s largest providers of network radio programming and one of the largest domestic providers of traffic information in the U.S. Westwood One serves more than 5,000 radio and 170 TV stations in the U.S. Westwood One provides over 150 news, sports, music, talk and entertainment programs, features and live events to numerous media partners. Westwood One is home of the most prestigious sports broadcasts on radio. Westwood One’s lineup includes regular season NFL football, the Playoffs and the Super Bowl; NCAA Football and Basketball including the Final Four; College World Series; Frozen Four; the Olympics; the Masters and more. Through its Metro Traffic division, Westwood One provides traffic reporting and local news, sports and weather to approximately 2,300 radio and TV stations. Westwood One also provides digital and other cross-platform delivery of its network and Metro content.

Replay Systems for OVC Basketball Venues Enter Year six: On Dec. 21, 2007, the Ohio Valley Conference mandated the use of courtside replay systems at all OVC basketball venues. The systems were put into place in January 2008 and have been used since. The systems are used in situations that are outlined by NCAA rules.

OVC Digital Network: The OVC launched the OVC Digital Network (OVCDN) in August 2012. The OVCDN is the exclusive home for live web streamed athletic contests involving OVC schools. This marks the seventh year the OVC has streamed live events, but first time the events will be offered free of charge and in an HD format and will feature improved quality thanks to an investment in new equipment conference-wide. Fans will also find it easier to log onto OVCDigitalNetwork.com and access the streams and can do so without any registration. The events will be available on any computer, tablet or smart phone without needing any special downloads or apps thanks new streaming technology.

Thursday, November 22
Belmont at Alaska Anchorage, 1:00 a.m. (CBS Sports Network)

Friday, November 23
Jacksonville State vs. Northern Arizona, 2:30 p.m. (Las Vegas, Nev.)
Belmont vs. UC Riverside/Northeastern, TBD (Anchorage, Alaska)

Saturday, November 24
UT Martin
at Bradley, 1:00 p.m.
Houston Baptist at Eastern Illinois, 2:00 p.m. (OVC Digital Network)
SIUE at Texas-Pan American, 2:00 p.m.
Southeast Missouri
at Illinois-Chicago, 3:00 p.m.
Norfolk State at Eastern Kentucky, 6:00 p.m. (OVC Digital Network)
Old Dominion at Murray State, 7:00 p.m. (ESPN3)
Belmont
vs. TBD, TBD (Anchorage, Alaska) (CBS Sports Network)
Jacksonville Statevs. Campbell/N.C. A&T, TBA (Las Vegas, Nev.)

adidas® OVC Players of the Week

PLAYER

Jud Dillard, G • Sr., 6-5, 200 • Atlanta, Ga. • Tennessee Tech

Dillard averaged 29.5 points, 11.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists/game last week as Tennessee Tech beat Coastal Carolina at home and went on the road to top East Tennessee State. Dillard had a double-double in each game, going for 34 points and grabbing 12 rebounds against Coastal Carolina and adding 25 points, 10 boards and six assists against ETSU. Dillard hit 61.5 percent (24-of-39) from the field, 55.6 percent (5-of-9) from 3-point range and 66.7 percent (6-of-9) from the free throw line for the week. Dillard currently ranks second nationally in scoring (28.0 points/game) as the Golden Eagles are off to a perfect 3-0 start.

Others Nominated: Ian Clark, Belmont; Josh Piper, Eastern Illinois; Mike DiNunno, Eastern Kentucky; Ronnie Boggs, Jacksonville State; Milton Chavis, Morehead State; Isaiah Canaan, Murray State; Tyler Stone, Southeast Missouri; Jerome Jones, SIUE; Robert Covington, Tennessee State; Myles Taylor, UT Martin.

 

NEWCOMER

Glenn Cosey, G • Jr., 6-0, 182 • Flint, Mich. • Eastern Kentucky

Cosey, the transfer from Columbus State Community College, averaged 18.3 points, 3.0 assists, 2.7 steals and 2.0 rebounds/game in leading Eastern Kentucky to a 3-0 record and the championship of the Comfort Suites Invitational. Cosey earned MVP honors in helping the Colonels to wins over Kennesaw State, Towson and Radford in three days. Cosey hit 17-of-35 (48.6%) from the field, 6-of-17 (35.3%) from 3-point range and 15-of-19 (78.9%) from the free throw line during the week. The junior scored 21 points, had four assists and four steals in the win over Kennesaw State, added 14 points, four assists and three steals in the overtime victory over Towson and finished the week with 20 points in the come-from-behind win over Radford. Cosey currently ranks third in the OVC in scoring (18.8 points/game) and fourth in 3-pointers made/game (3.0). His play has EKU off to a 4-0 start, the best for the program since the 2004-05 season.

Others Nominated: Sherman Blanford, Eastern Illinois; Chad Posthumus, Morehead State; Dexter Fields, Murray State; Bobby Jones, UT Martin.

FRESHMAN

Chris Horton, C • Fr., 6-8, 195 • Decatur, Ga. • Austin Peay

Horton averaged 7.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.0 blocks and 1.5 steals/game in a pair of Austin Peay road games last week. The freshman recorded his first double-double of the season at Western Kentucky, scoring 12 points on 5-of-10 shooting and grabbing 10 rebounds. He also blocked two Hilltopper shots in the game. Against DePaul Horton had two points, four rebounds, three steals and two blocks.

Others Nominated: Craig Bradshaw, Belmont; Chris Deanes, Jacksonville State; Dee Oldham, UT Martin.