Arkansas State vs Arkansas-Monticello (Exhibition)
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An exhibition game against Arkansas-Monticello will double as a prelude to the 2016-17 season that opens Nov. 11 at North Dakota State and a lid-lifting debut game for new head basketball coach Grant McCasland.
The 2016-17 campaign marks the program's 89th season with the Red Wolves amassing a 1,163-1,115 all-time record (.511) dating back to the inaugural 1926-27 season.
Entering the 30th season at the Convocation Center, the Red Wolves have compiled a 284-115 (.712).
Head Coach Grant McCasland, who is in his first season at Arkansas State, is one win shy of 200 wins in his seven year head coaching career. McCasland has a record of 199-44 (.819) in stops at Midland College (2004-09) and Midwestern State (2009-11).
A-State is 20-1 (.952) in exhibition encounters since the 2005-06 season.
The Red Wolves have recorded double-digit scoring margins in 19 of its last 21 exhibition games.
In exhibition games since the 2005-06 season, A-State has outscored its opponent by average of 23.7 points per game.
A-State plays an exhibition game in October for the first time since hosting Central Baptist on October 29, 2011 (125-69).
Despite returning only two starters and five past letter winners, A-State returns more than half (52%) of team scoring from a year ago. Devin Carter, Donte Thomas, Connor Kern and Christian Davis combined for 1,195 of 2,282 points a year ago.
A-State lost 70 percent of the rebound total from last season, but Donte Thomas (5.8 rpg) ranked second on the squad and ninth among Sun Belt leaders in rebounding.
Donte Thomas is the only returning Division I player to have averaged at least 11 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists last season.
► EXHIBITION ENCOUNTERS
A-State is scheduled for two exhibition contests this year, facing Arkansas-Monticello (Oct. 27) and Henderson State (Nov. 5).
Dating back to the 2005-06 season, A-State has played a pair of exhibition games in 10 out of 11 seasons, with last season being the exception. In that span, A-State is 20-1 in exhibition games, the lone loss coming to Southern Arkansas (67-69) on Nov. 12, 2014.
A-State has recorded double-digit scoring margins in 19 of the last 21 exhibition games and has outscored the opposition 1,841-1,343, an average of 23.7 points per game.
Thursday's exhibition game marks the 18th-straight exhibition matchup against a team from Arkansas. The last time A-State hosted an out-of-state foe in an exhibition game was Nov. 1, 2006 when A-State defeated Missouri-Rolla 97-71. In that span, A-State has played Henderson State (8), Southern Arkansas (3), Ouachita Baptist (2), Arkansas-Monticello (1), Central Baptist (1), Lyon College (1) and Hendrix (1).
► WHAT'S BACK
A-State will open the season with five returning letter winners, including two starters, and nine newcomers. Of the nine newcomers, five are junior college transfers and four are true freshmen.
Although the Red Wolves are forced to replace three starters, A-State returns a majority of it's three-point field goals (99/180 - 55%), points (1,195/2,282 - 52%) and assists (209/381 - 55%).
A-State will be forced to replace 62 percent (477/770) of the field goals, 71 percent (913/1,243) of the rebounds, 62 percent (97/157) of the steals and 64 percent (4,044/6,300) of the minutes from last year's team.
► SCOUTING REPORT: ARKANSAS-MONTICELLO
Arkansas-Monticello finished the 2015-16 season with an 8-20 record and a 6-16 mark in Great American Conference (GAC) play.
The Boll Weevils were picked to finish 12th in the GAC preseason poll announced last week.
Third-year head coach Kyle Tolin has brought in 11 newcomers to the program to go along with returners Vicktor Arnick and Brandon England.
Arnick returns after averaging 11.1 points per game and 4.8 rebounds per game last year. He shot 50 percent from the field and was the second leading rebounder. England returns after redshirting last season.
► SERIES HISTORY
Thursday's game will mark the second time that A-State and Arkansas-Monticello meet for an exhibition game since 2013.
A-State and Arkansas-Monticello met in the regular season last year with the Red Wolves earning a 104-71 victory. Devin Carter led all scorers with 20 points, including 10-of-12 at the charity stripe. Donte Thomas posted a double-double with 19 points and a game high 10 rebounds while adding six assists.
A-State and Arkansas-Monticello last met for an exhibition game in the 2013-14 season with A-State earning a 95-64 victory.
The Boll Weevils defeated A-State in an exhibition game on Nov. 7, 2004 by a score of 71-66.
► EARLY START
A-State plays an October game for the first time since hosting Central Baptist on Oct. 29, 2011. Dating back to the 2005-06 season, Thursday's game is the earliest game played by the Red Wolves.
The 2016-17 season officially gets underway on Friday, Nov. 11 at North Dakota State. The Nov. 11 start is tied for the second-earliest start in program history. A-State opened the season on Nov. 10 back in the 2012-13 and 2006-07 seasons while opening on Nov. 11 in 2013-14 and 2011-12 seasons.
November presents eight games for A-State, the most in November since the 2006-07 squad had nine games in November. A-State played a total of eight November games in the previous two seasons combined and has not played more than six between 2006-07 and this season.
A particularly tough stretch awaits A-State as the Red Wolves will play five games in a span of nine days from Nov. 14-22. This stretch will mark the first time A-State plays five games in a nine day span since the 2006-07 squad faced the same from Nov. 10-18.
► PRESEASON ACCOLADES
Senior guard Devin Carter was selected to the Sun Belt Conference First Team Preseason All-Conference by the league's 12 head coaches.
Carter averaged 17.3 points per game last year, second-most among returning SBC players, while shooting 45.8 percent from the floor and 41.7 percent from three-point range.
A-State was picked by the coaches to finish 10th in the preseason poll. UT Arlington was chosen preaseason No. 1 followed by Little Rock, Georgia State, Georgia Southern, league newcomer Coastal Carolina, South Alabama, Louisiana, ULM and Troy while Appalachian State and Texas State round out the poll.
► ELITE COMPANY
Senior guard Donte Thomas was among elite company last season by averaging at least 11 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists.
Only four players last season averaged those numbers - Alex Hamilton (Louisiana Tech: 19.9 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 6.2 APG), Denzel Valentine (Michigan State: 19.2 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 7.8 APG), Kyle Collinsworth (BYU: 15.3 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 7.4 APG) and Donte Thomas (Arkansas State: 11.2 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 5.6 APG) - but only Thomas returns this year.
► PROVEN WINNERS
Head Coach Grant McCasland embarks on his first season as head coach of the Red Wolves with a proven coaching staff full of winners.
McCasland compiled a record of 199-44 (.819) in stops at Midland College (NJCAA) and Midwestern State (NCAA D2) and is joined by associate head coach Ross Hodge who posted a 146-24 (.859)record at Pairs JC (NJCAA) and Midwestern State (NCAA D2). Assistant Coach James Miller produced a 77-23 (.770) record at New Mexico JC (NJCAA) and assistant Jareem Dowling was 19-11 (.633) at Scotland Performance Institute (Prep).
Combining the head coaching experience, the A-State coaching staff has produced a record of 441-102 (.812) with 16 seasons of head coaching positions at various levels.
► A-STATE'S 15TH HEAD COACH
Head Coach Grant McCasland was named the 15th head coach in program history back in March.
McCasland begins his first season with five returning letter winners on the squad, including two starters, with nine newcomers added to the roster.
McCasland is one of 50 new NCAA Division 1 coaches at their respective school this season and one of 29 in their first Division I head coaching role. Two of the 29 new head coaches in their first Division I experience have NBA head coaching experience: Terry Porter (Portland) and Mike Dunleavy Sr. (Tulane).
McCasland has a tie to one of the 29 new Division I head coaches as Northern Colorado head coach Jeff Linder was an assistant coach on McCasland's staff at Midland College for two seasons.
First year head coaches at A-State have averaged a record of 11-11. Marvin Speight (16-9), John Rauth (16-8) and Jack Dale (16-9) have the most wins among A-State first year head coaches.
The Red Wolves face four opponents this year that feature new head coaches: Army, Little Rock, TCU and UT Martin.
► 30TH SEASON AT THE CONVOCATION CENTER
The 2016-17 season marks the 30th for A-State with the Convocation Center as the home court.
A crowd of 10,766 watched the first A-State men's basketball game at the Convo on December 5, 1987 against Memphis.
A-State enters the 30th season with a home record of 284-115 (.712) and will host the 400th all-time men's game against Central Baptist on Nov. 14.