Originally scheduled to play in a tournament that included a pair of games in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico over Thanksgiving weekend, the Illinois State basketball program needed to adjust their plans due to the tournament organizer’s inability to fill out the event. On Wednesday the school announced that they’d found a new event to play in that weekend, as the Redbirds will be one of four teams playing in the USF Battle in the Bay.
The games, which will be hosted by the University of San Francisco, will be played on November 27, 29 and 30. The event will be of the round-robin variety, with the host Dons, Illinois State and Vermont currently committed to play. The fourth team will be announced at a later date.
“After a long and frustrating process, I am thrilled about our games in San Francisco,” Illinois State head coach Muller said in the release. “The opportunity to play three quality teams in four days will be very valuable for my team.
“Trips and experiences like these can help bring teams together, and we certainly hope the Battle in the Bay can do that for us.”
Illinois State finished the 2012-13 season with an 18-15 record, going 8-10 in Missouri Valley Conference play in Muller’s debut campaign at the helm. The Redbirds lost their top four scorers from last season, including guard Tyler Brown (18.1 ppg, 4.4 rpg) and power forward Jackie Carmichael (17.4, 9.3).
Of the three teams committed to the event Vermont looks to be the one most capable of going on to win their conference title (America East) in 2013-14. Six of John Becker’s top seven scorers from last season return, including forwards Clancy Rugg (11.4 ppg, 5.7 rpg) and Luke Apfeld (10.7, 4.4). And while he isn’t much of a scorer, forward Brian Voelkel led UVM in both rebounding (8.6 rpg) and assists (4.9 apg) in 2012-13.
The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 10.3 points per game, while shooting 42 percent from three, as a freshman. He, along with Malcolm Hill and Michael Thorne Jr., is one of three returning players who averaged double figures last season.
This could prove to be a make-or-break year for John Groce, who enters his fifth season at the helm. He guided the Illini to an NCAA Tournament in his first season, but hasn’t been back since.
The key for the Illini is health. Abrams gives them experience and leadership, but it won’t be a surprise if there’s some rust in his game after spending the past two seasons on the sideline. Having a healthy Coleman-Lands will help stabilize the backcourt, while Hill, an all-conference caliber forward, and Thorne anchor the frontcourt.
Like Alkins, Jones was a sought-after scorer. The 6-foot-4 two-guard was rated No. 69 overall in the Class of 2016 by Rivals. He picked Indiana over offers from Cal, Cincinnati, Georgetown and more than a dozen other high-major programs.
Jeter, the 6-foot-10, played in a reserve role as a freshman, averaging 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds per game last season. He will be part of a loaded frontline that includes heralded freshmen Harry Giles and Marques Bolden, as well as redshirt senior Amile Jefferson, who returns to the lineup following a foot injury.
The greatest player in Auburn program history will honored with a statue outside of the team’s home arena.
The university announced that Charles Barkley, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer, will be the fourth athlete to be given a statue, joining Heisman Trophy winners Bo Jackson, Pat Sullivan and Cam Newton.
“It just means a great deal to me,” Barkley said in a statement. “Being a kid from Alabama, going to Auburn. I think everybody knows what Auburn means to me. It’s going to be pretty cool.”
Barkley, currently working as an analyst for TNT, was the SEC Player of the Year in 1984, as well as a second team All-American. He averaged 14.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game in 84 appearances for the Tigers.