GAME 33 • Sun Belt Conference Tournament • vs. Middle Tennessee • March 4, 2012
SETTING THE SCENE
Date: March 4, 2012
Location: Hot Springs, Ark.
Tipoff: 6 p.m. (CST)
Arena: Summit Arena
Arena Capacity: 5,000
TIPPING IT OFF
After beating Florida Atlantic in the opening round of the Sun Belt Tournament, Arkansas State has advanced and now faces top-seeded Middle Tennessee Sunday at the Summit Arena. The Red Wolves fell in the only meeting between the two squads earlier this season 46-59 in Murfreesboro. Game time against the Blue Raiders is set for 6 p.m. and the game will be carried live on CSS/CST (Suddenlink Channel 119 in Jonesboro) via the Sun Belt Network.
Middle Tennessee was the regular season champion for the Sun Belt Conference and enters action today with a 25-5 overall record. The Blue Raiders have won four of their last five games but dropped their season finale to Western Kentucky 67-73 in Bowling Green, Ky. Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year LaRon Dendy leads the Blue Raiders averaging 14.8 points per game on the season and 7.0 rebounds per game. The senior forward is also connecting on 54.2% (155-286) of his shots from the floor. Junior guard Marcos Knight is second on the Blue Raiders squad averaging 11.7 points per game. Junior forward JT Sultan is third for MTSU and rounds out the players averaging in double-digits with 10.7 points per game. MTSU has 10 players on its squad averaging 10 minutes or more a game. As a team, the Blue Raiders are averaging 72.3 points per game and 35.1 rebounds while connecting on 49.8% of their shots from the floor.
ASU trails in the all-time series 10-14 against the Blue Raiders dating back to the 1948 season. ASU dropped a 46-59 loss to the Blue Raiders earlier this season. The win earlier this season snapped a two-game win streak in the series for ASU.
IN THE SUN BELT TOURNAMENT
The Red Wolves have had the most success against WKU in the Sun Belt Tournament posting a 3-1 record against the Hilltoppers in tournament play. ASU is also 2-3 against UALR after falling in the opening round to the Trojans last season. ASU is 1-0 against FIU after picking up a win in the 1999 SBC Tournament and 1-0 againt FAU after beating them yesterday. The Red Wolves are 1-1 against South Alabama in tournament play. ASU is 1-2 against both North Texas and Denver and 0-1 against MTSU, ULL and Troy. The Red Wolves have never played ULM in postseason play. Under Brady, ASU is 2-3 at the Sun Belt Tourney.
KIRKLAND - THIRD TEAM ALL SBC
After leading Arkansas State in scoring this past season, senior forward Malcoln Kirkland has been named third-team All-Sun Belt Conference announced the league office Wednesday. The awards are voted on by the league coaches and members of the media.
Kirkland averaged 12.1 points per game in all games and 13.1 points per game in conference only games this past season while ranking second on the team averaging 6.0 rebounds per game and 24 blocked shots.
Kirkland led the Red Wolves in scoring eight times throughout the season, including putting up career-high 30 against Lyon College and scoring 22 at Western Kentucky. Kirkland scored in double-digits 20 times during the season and had a double-double with 18 points and 13 rebounds at home against Seattle. His 30-point game against Lyon helped earn him Sun Belt Conference Player of the Week honors on Dec. 20.
“I’m proud of Malcoln and the progress he has made since he has been here,” said ASU head coach John Brady. “I think his selection on the third team all-conference team is deserving and I’m looking forward to him finishing his career at the Sun Belt Tournament in a positive way.”
In the league standings, Kirkland leads the league in field goal percentage connecting on 57.2% of his shots in all games and 62.5% in league only games and ranks 11th in scoring and rebounding. He is also fifth in offensive rebounding.
FINN SUN BELT PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Arkansas State junior guard Trey Finn was named the Sun Belt Conference Player of the Week after leading ASU to a 2-0 record last week.
Finn scored 20 points twice in wins over Troy (83-59) and FIU (77-67) last week. Finn shot 55.6% from three-point range on the week connecting on 6-9 against Troy and 4-9 against FIU. He was also 7-12 from the field against Troy and 5-13 against FIU while also averaging 3.5 rebounds per game, on the week.
Finn needs just five more rebounds to become just the 23rd player in Arkansas State history to record 500 career boards. On the season, Finn is averaging 10.8 points and 5.3 rebounds per game, which is third in both categories for the Red Wolves.
LAST TIME AGAINST MTSU
Arkansas State put up quite a fight but struggled to score in the second half, ultimately falling at Middle Tennessee 59-46 in Sun Belt Conference action Thursday night at the Murphy Center.
Junior guard Marcus Hooten led all players with 15 points. The Red Wolves shot 45.5% from the floor (10-23) in the first half but fell to 5-23 (21.7%) in the second. The Red Wolves were 13-22 from the free throw line (59.1%) in the game.
A-State led the contest through most of the first half, but MTSU went on a 12-2 run to take a 24-14 advantage when James Gallman hit a three for the Blue Raiders. ASU answered with a 12-0 run of its own recapturing the lead when Trey Finn drained a three on a fast break. Hooten had nine points during that run.
The game was tied one more time before a three by MTSU’s Kerry Hammonds set the final halftime score, 31-28. Hooten led everyone at the half with nine points.
A layup by Kirkland just 3:!1 into the second half gave the Red Wolves a 35-34 lead, but just a minute and a half later MTSU answered to re-take the lead, which it never relinquished.
MTSU slowly added onto the score, taking a double-digit lead with 3:24 left in the game, 54-43. ASU would get the lead back to 10 when Hooten hit a three with 1:55 left (56-46) but were unable to get any closer.
ASU was outrebounded in the contest 29-35 and outscored in the paint 18-26. Peterson led all players on the floor with 10 rebounds. Along with Hooten’s 15, Malcoln Kirkland added 12 and Trey Finn added 11.
Kerry Hammonds came off the Bench to lead the Blue Raiders going 5-7 from the floor and 3-5 from three-point range scoring 13.
After recording his 64th steal of the season Townsel is in sole possession of fourth on the single-season leaderboard at ASU. Dereke Tipler holds the single-season record for steals at Arkansas State with 76 during the 2005-06 season. Townsel needs two more steals to move into a tie for third and four to move into a tie for second.
HITTING THE BOARDS
ASU had its most dominant rebounding game of the season at Western Kentucky, outrebounding the Hilltoppers 39-17. In fact, the Red Wolves had more offensive rebounds (19) than the Hilltoppers had total rebounds (17). ASU is averaging 33.8 rebounds per game this season, while holding opponents to 31.8 (+2.0).
GRISWOLD CAREER HIGH
Freshman forward Darion Griswold scored a career-high 15 points in 14 minutes of action at WKU. He also connected on two free throws to tie the game for ASU with just :17 remaining on the clock. Griswold is averaging 4.8 points per game this season in 13.4 minutes per game of reserve action.
Against FIU, junior guard Marcus Hooten scored a career-high 28 points connecting on 75% of his shots from the floor (9-12) and 67% from three-point range (4-6). Junior guard Trey Finn added 20, but had a career-high with six assists, along with sophomore guard Ed Townsel’s career-high eight assists.
RED WOLVES IN NATIONAL RANKINGS
Entering this week’s action, A-State continues to be ranked in several NCAA statistical categories. Sophomore guard Ed Townsel is 34th in the nation in steals per game averaging 2.1. Junior guard Trey Finn is 161st averaging 1.5. Junior forward Brandon Peterson is now ranked 94th in the nation averaging 7.9 rebounds per game and as a team ASU is 23rd in fewest fouls per game (15.6) and 81st in three-point field goal percentage (36.4).
With his first rebound of the game against ULM, junior forward Brandon Peterson became the 22nd player in Arkansas State history to record 500 career rebounds. Last game at UALR, Trey Finn reached 500 boards, making him the 23rd player in ASU history to reach that mark. Since then, Peterson has recorded 73 more rebounds and has moved into 15th place on the ASU career rebound list. John Belcher set the career mark for rebounds from 1968-72 when he amassed 1,166 rebounds for A-State.
Out of their 19 losses this season, nine of those games have been decided by 10 points or fewer. Of those eight, seven of those games have been decided by five points or fewer and two have been in overtime.
STARTERS LEAD THE WAY
In the Red Wolves 31 previous outings this season, an ASU starter has led the Red Wolves in scoring in each of those contests. Hooten has led ASU a team-high 10 times on the season, followed by Kirkland who has led ASU eight times, Townsel has led ASU six times, Peterson five and Finn thee times. Adam Sterrenberg is the only reserve to lead ASU in scoring this season when he scored 18 against ULM which was tied for the lead on the team with Townsel.
Senior forward Malcoln Kirkland has become the Red Wolves most consistent scoring threat having scored in double digits 14 out of the last 18 games including scoring 15, 14, 16, 14, 11, 19, 14 and 12 in eight of the last 10 games. Kirkland is second for the Red Wolves averaging 12.2 points per game.. Kirkland is shooting 56% which leads the league, from the floor and ranks second on the team averaging 6.1 rebounds per game.
HOOTEN NAMED MID-MAJOR NATIONAL PLAYER OF THE WEEK
After his stellar performance against North Texas, Arkansas State junior guard Marcus Hooten has been named the National Mid Major Player of the Week by College Basketball Madness and was the Sun Belt Player of the Week selection by College Basketball Madness. Hooten hit the game-winning buzzer-beater to give the Red Wolves a 75-72 win over North Texas Saturday. He also led ASU with 24 points against the Mean Green and averaged 21.0 points in last week’s competition also leading ASU with 18 points against Denver.
HOOTEN STRIKES AGAIN
Junior guard Marcus Hooten was again the hero against the Mean Green when he hit the game-winning three-pointer which broke a 72-72 tie to give ASU a 75-72 win over North Texas. The play began when sophomore point guard Ed Townsel blocked Chris Jones’ shot in the lane with just under three seconds to play in regulation. Senior forward Malcoln Kirkland got the rebound and kicked the ball out to Hooten who was on a dead sprint down the floor. Hooten connected on the shot as time expired from 35-feet out.
KIRKLAND PLAYER OF THE WEEK
After leading Arkansas State last week averaging a double-double at 17.7 points and 10.7 rebounds per game, senior forward Malcoln Kirkland was named the Sun Belt Conference Player of the Week for the competition week of Dec. 13-19, announced the league office Tuesday afternoon. Kirkland led the Red Wolves to a 2-1 record including leading A-State in a pair of career performances setting new career highs of 18 and 30 points against Seattle and Lyon College, respectively. Against Seattle, Kirkland posted the first double-double of his career with then career-highs of 18 points and 13 rebounds. He then followed up that performance with 12 rebounds and five points at Murray State. Kirkland broke out against Lyon College, scoring 30 points on 9-12 shooting and went 12-12 from the free throw line leading ASU against the Scots. He also had seven rebounds in just 24 minutes of action. The 30 points was the highest single-game scoring performance of the season for A-State.
ON THE BENCH
For the second straight year, the Red Wolves will hold the distinction of being the only team currently playing in the NCAA with two former final four head coaches on the bench as assistant coach Richard Williams returns for his second season with ASU and Brady. The Red Wolves also hired Melvin Haralson as associate head coach in the offseason. Haralson was at Texas Southern last season after spending 10 years as an assistant and associate head coach at Houston. Jeff Clapacs also returns for his fourth season at Arkansas State as an assistant coach. Clapacs has been with Brady since his arrival at Arkansas State.
HEAD COACH JOHN BRADY
Now in his fourth year with the program John Brady was announced as Arkansas State’s 15th head men’s basketball coach by Director of Athletics Dr. Dean Lee at a press conference held in ASU’s Convocation Center on March 19, 2008.
In only three years at the helm of the program, Brady has turned the Red Wolves into a winner including capturing a share of the western division Sun Belt Conference Championship in 2010-11, posting double-digit Sun Belt Conference wins back-to-back for the first time in nearly 20 years and going undefeated at home with a 13-0 record.
During his first season with the Red Wolves, Brady helped lead ASU to one of the best starts in program history and achieved the No. 22 ranking on Collegeinsider.com’s Mid-Major Top 25 poll. As a team ASU greatly improved its defending and rebounding, finishing near the top of the conference in several statistical categories.
Brady took a step further in his second season with The Red Wolves, improving their record to 17-14 and the team advanced to the semifinals of the Sun Belt Tournament finishing second in the west. Brady was named Sun Belt Coach of the Year and the District VII Coach of the Year by the USBWA. ASU led the league in three-point FG defense, rebounding offense and defensive rebounding.
ASU also posted an 11-7 SBC record this season which was its best league mark since the 2006-07 season when ASU achieved the same record. Its 11-wins was the seventh-time since ASU joined the Sun Belt that they have posted double-digit league wins.
Brady spent the last 10-plus seasons serving as LSU’s head coach, leading the Tigers to six postseason berths, two SEC championships and three SEC Western Division titles. Twice named the SEC Coach of the Year, Brady is a proven winner who has a well-documented record of success and a long list of accomplishments.
Brady’s 16-year tenure as a head coach at both LSU and Samford in Birmingham, Alabama, has been decorated with achievements. He has coached a combined 25 All-TAAC and SEC selections, 48 academic all-conference choices, posted 11 winning seasons and collected five division championships. Brady piled up the third most wins in LSU history with 192 and left Samford after the 1996-97 season as the Bulldog’s all-time leader in coaching victories (89) as well.
He quickly turned around an LSU’s men’s basketball program that had suffered four consecutive losing seasons prior to his arrival, leading the Tigers to a 28-6 record, an SEC championship and an NCAA Sweet 16 appearance in just his third season (1999-00) at the helm. Under Brady’s direction, the Tigers recorded six consecutive winning seasons from 2001-02 to 2006-07 while making three trips to the NCAA Tournament and two more to the NIT. The 2005-06 campaign saw LSU post a 27-9 record and advance to the Final Four for the first time in 20 years.
Not only did Brady coach the Tigers to 23 wins versus ranked opponents, he also led them to victories over two teams ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press Poll (Arizona in 2002-03 and Duke in 2005-06). Additionally, he orchestrated a 19-game home winning streak over SEC opponents, the third longest stretch in LSU history.
While at LSU, Brady coached two NBA Lottery picks and six current NBA players. The Tigers signed nine Parade All-Americans and four McDonald All-Americans under Brady, who also coached three SEC Players of the Year, four players named SEC Freshman of the Year, one SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year and 17 All-SEC selections.
Prior to taking over the reigns at LSU, Brady served as Samford’s head coach from 1991-92 through 1996-97. It didn’t take long for him to turn around a Samford program coming off six straight losing seasons, either, guiding the Bulldogs to a 17-10 record in his second season. He led Samford to three straight winning seasons (1995-97) for the first time since 1982-84, all leading up to a 19-9 record and division title in 1997. Samford won the TAAC West Division each of Brady’s final two seasons at the school for the first time in school history.
His four winning campaigns at Samford were the first for any coach at the school, and he led the Bulldogs to an 89-77 record after they went 27-83 the four seasons prior to his initial year. He coached eight All-TAAC and 14 Academic All-TAAC players over six seasons.
The McComb, Miss., native earned his bachelor’s degree in 1976 from Belhaven College, where he was three-year starter and scored over 1,000 points during his college playing career. Brady was a two-time All-Southern States Conference selection and was later inducted into his alma mater’s Hall of Fame.
He got his coaching start as a graduate assistant with the Mississippi State men’s basketball program while earning his master’s degree from 1976-77. Brady took his first head coaching position in Louisiana at Crowley High School in 1977 and led the basketball squad to a 129-49 (.725) record in five seasons. He was named the 1981 Louisiana Sports Writers Association Class 3-A Coach of the Year.
Brady returned to the college coaching ranks in 1982 as an assistant coach at Mississippi State. He spent the next eight years with the Bulldogs, the first four seasons under coach Bob Hoyt and the next four as a chief recruiter for coach Richard Williams. Following his tenure in Starkville, Brady returned to Louisiana for the second time, this time to serve as an assistant coach at the University of New Orleans. Brady helped lead UNO to the NCAA Tournament during his only season with the Privateers.