CEDAR FALLS, Iowa – The Illinois State men’s basketball team closes a two-game road swing on Wednesday night when the squad travels to Cedar Falls, Iowa, to take on the Northern Iowa Panthers in a 7 p.m. tip-off inside the McLeod Center.
• Wednesday’s game is the first series-ending match-up of the season, as the two teams met for the first time this season on December 31.
• The Redbirds are fifth in NCAA Division I in free throw percentage, making 80.1 percent of their free tries during the season.
• Illinois State senior forward Kendall Lewis is one of three players in NCAA Division I with at least 17 blocks, 26 assists, 32 steals and 200 points this season.
• ISU junior guard Malachi Poindexter has made 27 consecutive free throws to open the 2022-23 season, which is the highest total with a perfect percentage in the country this season. Since 1992-93 there have been just three players in the NCAA to remain perfect on a season in free throw percentage with at least 25 attempts and makes.
• Illinois State seventh leading scorer (Luke Kasubke) averages 6.83 points per game, which is the second-highest seventh-leading scorer in the MVC this season.
• This season the Redbirds have seven different players who have led the team in scoring, including a seven-game span in which ISU had seven different leading scorers.
• In NCAA Division I basketball this season there are 38 men’s basketball players who have attempted at least 10 free throws in conference play without a miss. Of those 38, 11 have made at least 15, including two Redbirds – Malachi Poindexter and Kendall Lewis.
• Illinois State and Southern Illinois have met 164 times, which is the longest series in Redbird basketball history, as Bradley sits in second place with 136 all-time meetings.
• When Illinois State topped Missouri State by 10 in overtime on January 11, it marked the fourth-largest scoring margin in an overtime game in Redbird history.
• This mid-week meeting between Illinois State and Northern Iowa is the 89th in the series history, which marks the ninth-longest season series in ISU basketball history.
• As Illinois State head coach Ryan Pedon adjusts his starting lineups to find the proper mix, the Redbirds have seen nine different starting lineup combinations in 18 games, which is the eighth-most different starting lineups in the country this season.
• Illinois State is 23-14 all-time on January 18.
• This season Illinois State has eight games against school with Purple as one of their school colors, the most games in a season in program history.
SCOUTING THE PANTHERS
Northern Iowa comes into the game having won six of its last eight games, including a 66-60 win against Illinois State on New Year’s Eve.
In the team’s last game, a 76-72 loss at Belmont, the Panthers were led by Trey Campbell who scored 16 points while Michael Duax scored 12 and Tytan Anderson 11 with a game-high nine rebounds and five assists.
This season the team is led by MVC leading scorer Bowen Born who averages 19.2 points per game, making 47-of-112 from long range (42.0%) and a team-best 49 assists. Anderson is the only other Northern Iowa regular to average in double-figures at 13.7 points per game, while leading the conference in rebounding, averaging 9.7 boards per contest – nearly two rebounds more than the second-highest total in the MVC.
PUTTING THE FREE IN FREE THROWS
This season, having made 266 of 332 free throws, Illinois State ranks fifth in NCAA Division I in the category. There have been just 21 schools in NCAA Division I history to finish a season with a free throw percentage at .800 or better. The school record for season free throw percentage is .775 from the 2001-02 season.
STRONG OVERALL NUMBERS
Later in the notes we talk about how last season ISU forward Kendall Lewis had one of just four total seasons in program history with 30+ blocks, steals, and assists. Lewis is back to his same tricks this season, as he is one of just three players in NCAA Division I with at least 17 blocks, 32 steals, and 26 assists this season, while scoring at least 200 points.
STRIVING FOR PERFECTION
Every season, all players strive for perfection on the basketball court. Through 19 games in the 2022-23 season, Illinois State junior guard Malachi Poindexter has accomplished that at the free throw line, as he is a perfect 27-for-27 at the charity stripe. No one in the country is perfect at the free throw line this season with as many makes as Poindexter, as the closest comes from Nebraska’s Keisei Tominaga.
Since 1992-93 there have been just 10 student-athletes to not miss during a season while making at least 20 free throws. This season through 19 games, Malachi Poindexter remains perfect with 27 makes, which is the third-most on the current list, which includes former Redbird Dirk Williams who went the entire 2001-02 season without a miss, going 24-of-24 at the charity stripe.
This season Illinois State has seven different student-athletes averaging at least six and a half points per game and is one of just three schools in the conference to have their seventh scorer at 6.5 points or better (of those who have played in at least half of their team’s games).
BIG SERIES TOTALS
Illinois State has a long and storied basketball history and has faced off against eight different opponents over 100 times each. The Redbirds have faced Wednesday’s opponent – Northern Iowa – 88 times previously in each program’s history, which is the eighth-most all-time in school history.
CONFERENCE PLAY PERFECTION
Across all of NCAA Division I, there are 38 men’s basketball players who have attempted at least 10 free throws in conference play without a miss. Of those 38, 11 have made 15 or more free throws, and of those 15, two are members of the Illinois State squad, as Malachi Poindexter is 17-of-17 in MVC play while Kendall Lewis is 15-of-15.
BIG MARGIN IN THE BONUS PERIOD
In Illinois State’s win over Missouri State – the second consecutive season that the two teams have gone into overtime in Normal – the Redbirds out-scored the Bears 15-5 in overtime. The 10-point overtime win margin is the fourth-highest in an overtime game in program history.
GRABBING THE REBOUNDS
Against Indiana State on January 4, the Redbirds saw their seven-game streak of not being out-rebounded snapped. That streak is the third longest by an Illinois State squad since the 1983-84 season
FIRST-YEAR HEAD COACHES IN NCAA DIVISION I
Illinois State head coach Ryan Pedon is one of a surprisingly-large 59 head coaches that will be in their first season at their current schools – the list does not include four head coaches this season: Steve Prohm at Murray State, Thad Matta at Butler, Ed Conroy at the Citadel, and Lorenzo Romar at Pepperdine who are in their first year in their second stints at their school (as of games played on January 12)
PLAYING THE LONG GAME
After Illinois State’s season-opening loss, Illinois State’s 20 head coaches have a 13-7 combined record in their first game on the sidelines for ISU. Of the coaches that won the 13 games, none have led Illinois State to an NCAA Tournament berth. On the other side of the ledger, each of Illinois State’s last five head coaches to lose their ISU opener have taken the Redbirds to a NCAA tournament appearance in their career.
LUCKY NUMBER SEVEN
Over a seven-game stretch ending with Chicago State on December 19, Illinois State saw seven different players lead the team in scoring, starting with the Cayman Islands Classic final game against Rhode Island where Kendall Lewis led the team in scoring. Seneca Knight led the team in scoring against Murray State while Liam McChesney recorded the team scoring leader against Belmont. Against Eastern Michigan Colton Sandage paced the ‘Birds while Darius Burford led the team against SIUE, Malachi Poindexter against Ball State and Luke Kasubke against Chicago State.
There are 37 schools whose school name starts with the same letter as its mascot. Of those 37, the Redbirds face off against five different opponents, accounting for eight total games as three schools (Belmont, Bradley, and Southern Illinois) are in the MVC alongside the Redbirds (Chicago State Cougars and Eastern Michigan Eagles are the other two schools that ISU faces this season. (credit for the idea behind the note goes to ISU MBB assistant coach Andrew Dakich).
FINDING THE RIGHT MIX
Due to a number of factors, Illinois State head coach Ryan Pedon has been forced to change up his lineup nine different times, which is the eighth-highest total in the country this season.
NEWCOMER OF THE WEEK
Behind a week in which he averaged 22 points and the Redbirds won a pair of games, Illinois State fifth-year guard Colton Sandage was named the Missouri Valley Conference Newcomer of the Week. He averaged 22 points and 4.5 rebounds per game in a week in which the Redbirds went 2-0 – and 3-0 over a seven-day stretch with the team’s win over Belmont on Sunday. Made half of his 20 shots from the field, 4-of-10 from beyond the arc, and 20-of-24 (83.3%) from the charity stripe over the two games.
With his three-games at the Cayman Islands Classic, Illinois State fifth-year guard Seneca Knight was named to the All-Tournament Team at the event. He averaged 13.0 points, 7.3 rebounds – both leading the team – while also grabbing three steals and dishing out five assists over the three games.
This season Illinois State has eight games scheduled against schools with purple as one of their school colors (or violet, if you’re a Roy G Biv kind of person). Those eight games represent the most such games in a season in program history, topping the previous high-water mark of seven set four different times, most recently in 2014-15 when the ‘Birds faced Weber State, and three games each against UNI and Evansville. There are 23 schools in NCAA Division I with purple/violet as one of their school colors including: Albany, Alcorn State, Central Arkansas, Clemson, East Carolina, Furman, High Point, Holy Cross, James Madison, Kansas State, Lipscomb, LSU, Niagara, Northwestern, Northwestern State, Portland, Stephen F. Austin, Tennessee Tech, TCU, Washington, Weber State, Western Carolina, and Western Illinois. (credit for the idea behind this note goes to men’s basketball graduate assistant Jack Betz).
ILLINOIS STATE VS THE HAWKEYE STATE
There are just four NCAA Division I schools within the state of Iowa, and the Redbirds are 112-84 all-time against schools within the state border, with wins over all four schools – Drake, Iowa, Iowa State, and Northern Iowa. The 65 wins that the Redbirds have over Drake are the most against the teams in the state, while the ‘Birds have topped Northern Iowa 45 times, with one win each against Iowa and Iowa State.
NON-STATE STATE SCHOOLS
There are 358 NCAA Division I schools (including the transitional schools) playing basketball this season. Of those schools, 67 have “State” in its name. Of that 67, 31 are direct state schools (ie, Illinois State), while five others have the state in their name, but with a descriptor (Central Connecticut, East Tennessee, Southeast Missouri). The remainder of the schools – 31 total – have no direct state reference in its name (Boise State, Wichita State, etc.) but use State in the name. Of that group, Illinois State will face off against four such schools in the non-conference season: Murray, Northwestern, Chicago, and Ball.
BABY BIRD AND PROUD PAPA
Illinois State Assistant Basketball Coach, Walter Offutt, and his wife Nicole are the proud parents of a healthy baby boy. We wish Coach Offutt and his family the best. Current Men’s Basketball Chief of Staff, Mike Mastroianni, will cover the assistant basketball coach role while Coach Offutt is on parental leave.
SAME ARENA, NEW NAME
Illinois State University and CEFCU (pronounced SEFF-Q) have come to terms on a naming rights and sponsorship agreement valued at approximately $3.1 million over 10 years. The agreement, which will support the funding for ongoing and ever-evolving costs associated with the student-athlete experience, was initiated by LEARFIELD’s Redbird Sports Properties, the University’s athletics multimedia rightsholder. The former Redbird Arena will be known as CEFCU Arena – Home of the Redbirds, with the University’s Board of Trustees approving the arena name change at its October 14 meeting. The CEFCU Arena naming rights and sponsorship agreement will continue to support funding of the Redbird Student-Athlete experience. Particularly in these ever-evolving times, funding is vital to maintaining and expanding upon the current NCAA, Division I student-athlete experience.
REDBIRDS SIGN THREE TO NLI’s
In his first signing class as head coach of the Illinois State Redbirds, ISU head men’s basketball coach Ryan Pedon has announced that three future Redbirds: Johnny Kinziger, Ty Pence, and Chase Walker; have signed their National Letters of Intent to play for ISU starting in the 2023-24 season.
Johnny Kinziger, a 6-0 point guard, is a two-time All-State honoree at De Pere, Wisconsin. Last season he averaged 21 points, four points, and four assists per game, and is 150 points away from becoming his school’s all-time leading scorer.
Ty Pence is a 6-6 guard from St. Joseph’s, Illinois, and is also a two-time All-State performer. The second highest nationally-rated recruit in program history, he is ranked 188th nationally after averaging 23.5 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game last season.
The third and final signee is 6-9 forward Chase Walker, from Columbus, Ohio. Walker was named to the Ohio High School Athletic Association Division I Special Mention list after averaging 17.8 points and 9.5 rebounds per game, earning him Central Catholic League Player of the Year accolades.
CONSECUTIVE 10+ REBOUND GAMES TO OPEN SEASON
Kendall Lewis had reached double-figure rebounds in each of the team’s first three games, becoming one of just seven players in school history to open the season with at least two straight double-figure games, before the stretch was snapped with a seven rebound game in the team’s fourth game of the season.
REBOUNDING IN THE OPENER
With his 14 rebounds in the 2022-23 season opener against Western Illinois, Redbird forward Kendall Lewis tied for the third-most total rebounds in the opening game of the season in program history.
On a three-pointer with 12:35 to play in the first half against Western Kentucky, Illinois State fifth-year guard Seneca Knight scored his 1,000th career point between his time at San Jose State, BYU, and now at Illinois State.
SETTING RECORDS IN THE CLASSROOM
The Illinois State men’s basketball team closed its 2022 fall semester with a grade point average of 3.04, a new program record (not counting the COVID season).
Last season Illinois State senior forward Kendall Lewis has 38 steals, 32 blocked shots, and 33 assists. Since 1993-94, only 30 players in the MVC have put up at least 30 points, 30 steals, and 30 assists in a single season, and he is one of just two players – along with Cameron Krutwig – to do it since 2017-18. He is the first Redbird since 2007-08 to be a part of the 30-30-30 club, and one of four players in school history to be a part of the group. Additionally, including Lewis, there are just 16 players in the country this season with at least 32 in all three categories.
With the team having six players standing 6-8 or taller, this Illinois State squad has the fifth-tallest average height of any team in program history with an average height of 6-6, this years’ team trails the tallest two teams (1976-77 and 1987-88) by just over 1/10 of an inch per player. Below are the top-10 tallest and shortest Illinois State teams since 1962-63.
Incoming Illinois State transfer Joe Petrakis made 58 three-point baskets last season. While a big number of itself, it is especially rare with how big Petrakis is. Last season he was one of just seven players in NCAA Division I to be 6-10 or taller and make 50 three-pointers in a season. Of those seven, just four are playing collegiate basketball in 2022-23.
When new Illinois State head coach Ryan Pedon brought in Colton Sandage on scholarship, he became the first Bloomington/Normal resident to be brought in on scholarship since his brother, Brandon, in 2005-09. Lijah Donnelly, who initially came to ISU as a walk-on was given a scholarship during his second season. Since 1962-63, there have been just 11 Redbird men’s basketball players from the pair of towns.
RETURN TO HORTON
For many longtime Redbird fans, some of their fondest memories of Illinois State basketball come from games that were hosted inside historic Horton Field House. Since 1989, CEFCU Arena has served as host of Redbird basketball games but for one day only, ISU men’s basketball returned to Horton Field House with Redbird legend Doug Collins in attendance on December 10 when the Redbirds topped SIU Edwardsville 77-71 in front of 3,420 loud ISU fans.
Horton Fieldhouse – which was the home of the Redbird basketball program from its opening on December 4, 1963, through the previously last played contest on December 2, 1988. The arena played host to numerous classic ISU victories, including: a 91-81 win over ninth-ranked Tulsa during the 1984 season; an 81-76 win over fourth-ranked Indiana State – featuring future NBA Hall of Famer Larry Bird – during the 1977-78 season; and an 88-84 win over fourth-ranked UNLV in 1977.
NEW TEAM (IMPACT) TEAM MEMBER
Illinois State men’s basketball head coach Ryan Pedon has announced the signing of Benjamin Elementary School second grader Ty Andracke at a press conference held inside CEFCU Arena on Tuesday afternoon.
The Bloomington, Illinois, native signed his draft-day letter in the presence of his family and newest teammates. The group celebrated Ty’s signing with a photo shoot and dinner.
Andracke was connected with Redbird men’s basketball through Team IMPACT, a national nonprofit organization that connects children facing serious or chronic illnesses with collegiate athletic programs, forming life-long bonds and life-changing outcomes. Children in the program are drafted to a team on a special signing day planned by their teammates.
As a member of the ISU men’s basketball family, Ty will attend Redbird practices, games, team dinners, events and more.
Since 2011, Team IMPACT has matched more than 1,700 children with more than 500 colleges and universities in 49 states, reaching over 50,000 participating student-athletes. The child joins the athletic team, and the student-athletes join the child’s support team. Throughout the journey, the child gains strength, camaraderie, and support while the student-athletes experience lessons of courage, resiliency, and perspective they can’t learn in a classroom.
STARTED FROM THE BOTTOM NOW WE’RE HERE
There are 57 NCAA Division I head men’s basketball coaches who played at the NCAA Division III level (the lowest of the NCAA’s three divisions). Among those is Illinois State first-year head coach Ryan Pedon who played at the College of Wooster, the same school as first-year South Carolina head coach Lamont Paris. Additionally, Marquette head coach Shaka Smart (Kenyon) and Clemson head coach Brad Brownell (DePauw) played in the same conference (North Coast Athletic Conference) as the Wooster pair.
The remaining coaches with a Division III background are Alabama’s Nate Oats (Marantha Baptist), Arizona’s Tommy Lloyd (Whitman), Boston U’s Joe Jones (SUNY-Oswego), Bucknell’s Nathan Davis (Randolph-Macon), Buffalo’s Jim Whitesell (Luther), Campbell’s Kevin McGeehan (Gettysburg), Charlotte’s Ron Sanchez (SUNY-Oneonta), Columbia’s Jim Engles (Dickinson), Dartmouth’s David McLaughlin (Colby), Drexel’s Zach Spiker (Ithaca), Eastern Washington’s David Riley (Whitworth), Fairleigh Dickinson’s Tobin Anderson (Wesleyan), George Washington’s Chris Caputo (Westfield State), Hawai’i’s Eran Ganot (Swarthmore), Iowa State’s T.J. Otzelberger (UW-Whitewater), Longwood’s Griff Aldrich (Hampden-Sydney), Marist’s John Dunne (Ithaca), McNeese’s John Aiken (Southern Maine), Mississippi State’s Chris Jans (Loras), Mount St. Mary’s Dan Engelstad (St. Mary’s), New Orleans’ Mark Slessinger (Aurora), Nicholls’ Austin Claunch (Emory), Norfolk State’s Robert Jones (New Paltz), North Florida’s Matthew Driscoll (Greensboro), Northeastern’s Bill Coen (Hamilton), Penn’s Steve Donahue (Ursinus), Penn State’s Micah Shrewsberry (Hanover), Purdue Fort Wayne’s Jon Coffman (Washington & Lee), Rice’s Scott Pera (PSU-Harrisburg), Sacred Heart’s Anthony Latina (Brandeis), Saint Joseph’s Billy Lange (Rowan), St. Thomas’ John Tauer (St. Thomas), San Diego’s Steve Lavin (Chapman), San Francisco’s Chris Gerlufsen (Randolph-Macon), Santa Clara’s Herb Sendek (Carnegie Mellon), South Dakota’s Eric Peterson (UW-LaCrosse), Texas A&M Corpus Christi’s Steve Lutz (Texas Lutheran), Texas-Arlington’s Greg Young (Howard Payne), Towson’s Pat Skerry (Tufts), Tulsa’s Eric Konkol (UW-Eau Claire), UC Irvine’s Russell Turner (Hampden-Sydney), UMass Lowell’s Pat Duquette (Williams), UMBC’s Jim Ferry (Keene State), USC’s Andy Enfield (Johns Hopkins), Utah State’s Ryan Odom (Hampden-Sydney), VCU’s Mike Rhoades (Lebanon Valley), Vermont’s John Becker (Catholic Univ.), Virginia Tech’s Mike Young (Emory and Henry), Washington State’s Kyle Smith (Hamilton), Western Illinois’ Rob Jeter (UW-Platteville), William & Mary’s Dane Fischer (Ithaca), and Wisconsin’s Greg Gard (UW-Platteville)