Covering the Land of Lincoln

Redbirds Travel to Evansville to Face Aces

Story Links

  • Illinois State Game Notes (PDF)
  • Evansville Game Notes (PDF)

EVANSVILLE, Ind. – The Illinois State men’s basketball team will look to snap out of its current three-game losing skid on Saturday afternoon, when the squad travels to southwest Indiana to take on the Evansville Aces in a 1 p.m. tip-off inside the Ford Center..

QUICK HITTERS

• Illinois State head coach Ryan Pedon and Evansville head coach Dave Ragland are two of 59 head coaches in NCAA Division I basketball this season in their first years at the helm of their programs.
• Illinois State stands ninth in the country in team free throw percentage, and is if the current percentage of .789 holds, it will break the previous school record of .775 from the 2001-02 season.
• Kendall Lewis is one of just three players in the country this season to have a season stat line of at least 26 steals, 22 assists, 16 blocked shots and 180 points.
• Through the first 16 games of the season, Malachi Poindexter is a perfect 17-of-17 from the charity stripe, and he has the third-most makes in the country this season without seeing a miss.
• Illinois State seventh leading scorer (Luke Kasubke) averages 7.1 points per game. The Redbirds are one of just two schools in the MVC this season to have seven different players averaging at least seven points per game.
• This season the Redbirds have seven different players who have led the team in scoring. That total is the third-highest in the country near the halfway point of the season.
• Illinois State closed the fall semester with a 3.04 grade point average, a new program record for a season (excluding the COVID year where the majority of classes were conducted pass/fail).
• Against Indiana State, the Redbirds saw their seven-game streak of not being out-rebounded snapped. That streak was the third-longest by a Redbird team since the 1983-84 season.
• This season Illinois State has eight games scheduled against schools with purple as one of their school colors, and those eight games are the most in a season in program history.
• 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, December 21 afternoon. The signing was done through the group Team IMPACT which has matched more than 1,700 children with more than 500 colleges and universities in 49 states, reaching over 50,000 participating student-athletes. 
• Illinois State University and CEFCU (SEFF-cue) 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.

SCOUTING THE ACES

Evansville, under the leadership of first-year head coach David Ragland, come into the Saturday afternoon game with a 4-12 overall record, having dropped all five contests in the MVC this season.

In the team’s last game, an 85-62 loss at Missouri State on Wednesday, Marvin Coleman scored a game-high 22 points, making 9-of-15 shots from the field and 3-of-4 from long range while Kenny Strawbridbge added 18 points, making 7-of-9 free throws on the game. Coleman also led the team with eight rebounds, four assists, and was second on the team with three steals.

For the year Strawbridge leads the team in scoring, averaging 16.2 points per game, while Yacine Toumi averages 10.4. Coleman leads the team in rebounds (93), assists {(47), and steals (20) on the year while averaging 9.0 points per game. Preston Phillips has a team-best 10 blocked shots this year,

PUTTING THE FREE IN FREE THROWS

This season, having made 209 of 265 free throws, Illinois State ranks ninth 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 16 blocks, 26 steals, and 22 assists this season, while scoring at least 180 points.

STRIVING FOR PERFECTION

Every season, all players strive for perfection on the basketball court. Through 16 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 17-for-17 at the charity stripe. That represents the third-highest make total this season in NCAA Division I without a miss.

SEVENTH HEAVEN

This season Illinois State has seven different student-athletes averaging at least seven points per game, and is one of just two schools in the conference to have their seventh scorer at seven points or better (of those who have played in at least half of their team’s games).

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. 

LOTS OF SCORERS

This season seven different Redbirds have led the team in scoring – including seven in a row. The seven different leading scorers is the third-highest total in the country, behind only James Madison and UT Arlington who each have eight different leading scorers.

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 – Indiana State – 129 times previously in each program’s history, which is the third-highest total in Redbird history.

FRIENDLY FACES

Illinois State junior forward Liam McChesney and new Evansville head coach David Ragland were at Utah State together during the 2020-21 season.

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 4)

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. 

ALLITERATIVE ADVANTAGE

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).

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. 

PURPLE REIGN

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 HOOSIER STATE

There are 10 NCAA Division I schools inside of the state border of Indiana, including three within the Missouri Valley Conference. The program is 142-124 all-time against teams from the Hoosier State, including a 67-62 mark against Indiana State and 45-21 against Evansville.

ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM

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.

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.  

MILESTONE REACHED

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.

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.

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.

RARE 30-30-30

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.

TALL TEAM

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.

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.

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. 

BIG MAKES

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.

LOCAL FLAIR

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)

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