For bubble teams this time of year means that they’ll spend a considerable amount of time scoreboard-watching, not just to keep tabs on other teams working to earn an NCAA tournament bid but also to watch conference tournaments where the NCAA tournament bids are essentially known.
Saturday afternoon Illinois State, a team that needs to win its league’s automatic bid to go to the NCAA tournament, made things a little more complicated for bubble teams across the country by knocking off No. 8 Wichita State 65-62 in a Missouri Valley semifinal. Daishon Knight was outstanding for the Redbirds, scoring 25 points on 10-for-15 shooting from the field, and his two free throws with 7.6 seconds remaining provided the final margin.
Knight scored 16 of his points in the second half, shooting 6-for-7 from the field as Dan Muller’s team erased and eight-point halftime deficit. Overall Illinois State shot better than 63 percent from the field in the second half, doing a good job of creating quality looks. Add in a 15-for-17 half from the foul line, and Illinois State was able to produce enough offense to beat one of the nation’s best defensive teams.
Gregg Marshall’s team shot 45 percent from the field but just 4-for-18 from three. How much of a concern should this be for Wichita State, especially with Ron Baker and Fred Van Vleet combining to shoot 2-for-12 from three Saturday? Not too much, as they entered the game shooting a respectable 36.6 percent from three on the season. The Shockers simply ran into an opponent in Illinois State that’s beginning to figure things out.
The Redbirds have now won six straight games, and the confidence they’re playing with on both ends (playing multiple zone defenses had an effect on Wichita State’s offense Saturday) makes this group a serious threat to grab the Missouri Valley’s automatic bid. And no bubble team wants to see that happen.
In mid-September the Illinois State basketball program announced that junior guard Daishon Knight was suspended indefinitely following an arrest on charges of aggravated battery in a public place and resisting arrest. With Knight having averaged 19.4 points per game at Odessa (Texas) JC last season and the Redbirds needing to replace their top five scorers, he was expected to be an impact player for Dan Muller’s squad.
On Thursday Knight’s legal case was resolved, as he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of battery and resisting arrest with the felony aggravated battery charge being dismissed as part of the agreement. Following the verdict it was announced by the school that Knight has been reinstated and will play in Illinois State’s season opener at VCU on Friday night.
“Daishon has done everything he has been asked to do within the program and on campus, and it is nice to have him back fully reinstated,” Muller said according to Jim Benson of the Bloomington (Ill.) Pantagraph.
Illinois State lost forwards Jon Ekey and Jackie Carmichael and guards Tyler Brown, Johnny Hill and Bryant Allen from last season’s 18-win squad, with Carmichael (17.4 ppg, 9.3 rpg) and Brown (18.1, 4.4) being two of the Missouri Valley Conference’s most productive players. The leading returnees for this season’s group are sophomore point guard Kaza Keane, who accounted for 2.7 points and 3.2 assists per game as a freshman, and redshirt sophomore guard Nick Zeisloft (4.5 ppg) with ten newcomers joining the program.
Illinois State head coach Dan Muller has suspended JuCo transfer Daishon Knight indefinitely for a violation of team rules, according to a report.
From the Pantagraph:
According to McLean County Circuit Court records, Knight was arraigned last Friday on one count of aggravated battery in a public place, which is a Class 3 felony, and one count of resisting a police officer, which is a misdemeanor. He did not enter a plea. A status hearing is set for Oct. 4.
Knight averaged 19.4 points for Odessa College last season and was expected to compete for time in the back court for the Redbirds this season.
“We are still getting all of the details, and we will continue to handle the situation internally moving forward,” Muller said.
Knight was the No. 52 JuCo recruit in the country, according to JuCoRecruiting.com.