GAME PREVIEW
North Dakota State
BISON
0-0 (0-0 Summit)
NOV 11 | 7:00 PM
Scheels Center
Fargo, N.D.
Arkansas State
RED WOLVES
0-0 (0-0 SBC)
Website | Game Notes Watch Live
107.9 KFIN
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► STORYLINES
 
A new era in Arkansas State men's basketball begins Friday. Led by first-year head coach Grant McCasland, the Red Wolves open their 2016-17 season at North Dakota State with a 7 p.m. tip time at the newly-remodeled Scheels Center in Fargo, N.D. Fans can watch the game via the North Dakota State All-Access channel linked above and the play-by-play will be available on the EAB Red Wolves Sports Network and flagship station 107.9 KFIN. 

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.

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 43-45 all-time in season openers and opens on the road for the seventh time in the last nine seasons. 

The Red Wolves are 4-13 in season opening games on the road dating back to the 1962 season. 

Dating back to the 1991-92 season, 14 of the last 25 season openers have been decided by 10 or fewer points. A-State is 7-7 in those games. 

The previous 14 head coaches for Arkansas State have a combined record of 7-7 in their head coaching debut at A-State. Dating back to 1944, coach Grant McCasland becomes the third to open his A-State tenure on the road.  

Following the season opener Friday night, A-State begins a stretch of five games in nine days with the home opener Monday against Central Baptist. The five games in nine days is a first for A-State since 2006.  

► EXHIBITION TAKEAWAYS
A-State came away with a pair of exhibition game victories to prep for the season opener. The Red Wolves defeated Arkansas-Monticello 76-59 and followed that effort with a 71-49 victory over Henderson State.

Defense stood out for A-State in both games as the Red Wolves 49 points allowed to Henderson State were the fewest in an exhibition game since 2008 (46 vs Henderson State).  

The Red Wolves had seven players average seven or more points over the pair of exhibition games with Devin Carter leading the way at 12.5 points per game.  

Jahmiah Simmons paced A-State on the boards, averaging 10.0 per game and he is among four players to have posted at least 5.0 rebounds per game. A-State finished plus-20 per game on the glass and averaged 19 offensive rebounds. 

A-State collected 38 offensive rebounds in the two games to post a combined 42 second-chance points. The Red Wolves had 19 second chance points against Henderson State and 23 against Arkansas-Monticello. The last time A-State had more than 23 second chance points was the four-overtime victory against Little Rock (24) on March 14, 2014. The last time A-State combined for 40 or more second chance points in back-to-back games was the 2012-13 season against Lamar (20) and at FIU (20). 

► 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: NORTH DAKOTA STATE
North Dakota State returns four starters and eight total lettermen from the 2015-16 team that posted a 20-13 record and finished fifth in the Summit League (8-8).  

Ranked No. 19 in the College Insider Mid-Major top-25 poll, the Bison were picked third in the Summit League preseason poll with junior guard Paul Miller (first team) and senior forward Dexter Werner (second team) earning preseason all-conference honors.     

North Dakota State returns six of their seven leading scorers from a season ago led by Miller who averaged 15.3 points per game. 

The Bison cruised to a 90-53 win over Concorida in exhibition action as nine different players scored five or more points. Sophomore guard Khy Kabellis led with 16 points while redshirt freshman forward Deng Geu scored 13 points and Werner nearly posted a double-double of nine points and 10 rebounds. 

David Richman is in his third season as head coach and NDSU has a record of 213-127 in 11 years as a full-time member of the coaching staff.  

► SERIES HISTORY
Friday's game will be the back end of a home-and-home series with the Bison that began last year.    

A-State and North Dakota State meet for the second time after the Bison edged the Red Wolves 74-73 on December 4 last year at the Convocation Center. Paul Miller paced the Bison with 23 points while A.J. Jacobsen had 18 points and Malik Clements added 15. 

A-State shot 48.5 percent from the floor and led by 11 with six minutes left, but North Dakota State closed on an 18-6 run to pull out the victory. Among returning players from that outing, Devin Carter had six points and 10 rebounds while Donte Thomas had 6 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds.  

The Red Wolves have an 18-21 all-time record against the current membership of the Summit League. 

► A-STATE IN SEASON OPENERS
The Red Wolves carry a 43-45 all-time record in season openers. A-State opens on the road for the seventh time in the last nine seasons. 

A-State is 4-13 all-time in season openers on the road having lost five of the last six. The last time the Red Wolves opened on the road with a win was Nov. 11, 2013 at Jackson State (65-61). 

Dating back to the 1991-92 season opener, 14 of the last 25 season openers have been decided by 10 or fewer points. A-State is 7-7 in those games, dropping the opener last year 79-70 at SIU-Edwardsville. 

► A-STATE HEAD COACHES IN DEBUT
Head Coach Grant McCasland makes his official debut for the Red Wolves on Friday. He becomes the third A-State head coach since 1944 to have his debut come in a road game. 

The 14 previous A-State head coaches have combined to post a 7-7 record in their respective debuts. 

John Brady (2008-16) and Marvin Speight (1963-69) each opened their respective stints away from Jonesboro. 

A-State's most points (82) in a coaching debut came under Dickey Nutt (1995-2008) against Abilene Christian on November 25, 1995. 

► 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.

 NUMBER CHANGES
Donte Thomas, C.J. Foster and Connor Kern have each changed numbers since last season.

Donte Thomas has switched from No. 24 to No. 0 while C.J. Foster swapped No. 13 to No. 5. Connor Kern traded No. 2 for No. 12. 

► 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.  

► EARLY START
A-State played an October game for the first time since hosting Central Baptist on Oct. 29, 2011. Dating back to the 2005-06 season, the exhibition game against Arkansas-Monticello was the earliest game played by the Red Wolves. 

The 2016-17 season officially gets underway Friday at North Dakota State and ties 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 the month since the 2006-07 squad had nine games. 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 the Red Wolves as they 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.