TIPPING IT OFF The Red Wolves battle Missouri State in the opening round of the Dick's Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off Tuesday at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, Tenn. on the campus of the University of Tennessee. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. against The Bears
THE OPPONENT Missouri State is 1-0 after beating Oral Roberts 78-61 Friday in Springfield. The Bears return all five starters from last year's squad which was the most improved team in the Missouri Valley Conference with a 24-12 record. During their first game of the season, 1 78-61 win over Oral Roberts, all five starters for the Bears led by junior forward Kyle Weems who had 16. Will Creekmore, their 6-9 center, was second with 15 points, followed by Jermaine Mallett and Adam Leonard with 12 and Nafis Ricks with 10.0. Cuonzo Martin is in his third year at the helm of the Bears program owning a 35-32 record.
THE SERIES Missouri State leads the series 19-9 and are 1-0 against the Red Wolves at neutral sites. In the last game of the series, MSU beat ASU 75-64 at the Convocation Center. The Red Wolves and the Bears will face off again later in the season on Dec. 22 in Springfield, Mo.
SOUTH REGION Depending on the outcome of the game against Mo. State the Red Wolves will play either the winner or loser of the Tennessee/Belmont contest. No. 23 Tennessee is 1-0 after beating Chattanooga 82-62 in their opening game of the season. The Volunteers return two starters from last year's squad which went 28-9 and finished the season ranked 15/9th in the nation and made a trip to the NCAA tournament for the fifth-straight year. Freshman forward Tobias Harris led the squad with 18 points, playing 26 minutes of action. Senior forward John Fields led the squad in rebounding with 10. Bruce Pearl is 127-46 in his six years at the helm of the Volunteers. If the Red Wolves face the Vols it will be the first meeting between the two squads.
Belmont opens the season at the NIT Season Tip-Off. The Bruins return four starters from last year's squad which went 19-12 and won a share of the regular-season title in the Atlantic Sun with a 14-6 league record. Sophomore guard Ian Clark is the top returner for the Bruins after averaging 14.9 points per game as a freshman in 09-10. Junior forward/center Mick Hedgepeth is the only their returner who averaged in double-digits a year ago, averaging 11.6 points per game and leading the squad with 6.5 rebounds per game. Rick Byrd is in his 25th year at the helm of the Belmont program owning a 488-273 record. ASU is 4-0 over Belmont but has not played the Bruins since their move to Division I.
THREE SCORE IN DOUBLE-DIGITS VERSUS OLE MISS ASU had three players score in double-digits in their first game of the year at Ole Miss. Adams led the squad with 14 points and eight boards. Boone had 13 points and Allison was 5-6 from the charity stripe scoring 12. Brandon Peterson had seven rebounds and six points while Finn had seven points and five boards.
FIRST SEVEN ON THE ROAD ASU will not play in the ASU Convocation Center until Dec. 6 when they face Lyon College. The Red Wolves first seven regular-season contests are on the road beginning with Ole Miss on Nov. 12. ASU then participates in four games in the NIT Season Tip-Off, then faces SEMO on Nov. 27 and wraps up the swing at Memphis on Dec.1.
ADAMS AVERAGES DOUBLE-DOUBLE IN PRESEASON ACTION ASU junior forward and top returner Martavius Adams led ASU on the boards during preseason action averaging 10.5 rebounds a game and also ranked second on the squad in scoring averaging 12.5 ppg.
FINN LEADS IN EXHIBITION Sophomore guard Trey Finn led the Red Wolves in scoring during preseason action averaging 14.0 ppg and turned in a team-high 16 point performance against Ouachita Baptist. Finn also averaged 5.0 rebounds per game which ranked second behind Adams. Finn averaged 7.8 points per game last year and 6.5 rebounds per game.
THE SEASON The ASU men's basketball team will kick off the 84th season and third season under head coach John Brady when they open regular season action against Ole Miss on Nov. 12. ASU will host a total of 15 dates throughout the season including marquee league matchups against Western Kentucky (Jan. 1), Middle Tennessee (Jan. 13), Denver (Feb. 5), North Texas (Feb. 24) and against in-state rival UALR (Feb. 26).
NEW LOOK BENCH ASU also got a new look on the end of the bench as two new coaches will be alongside Brady for the season after joining the program earlier this summer. "New" may be a misleading term as both these coaches bring a wealth of knowledge to the program. Isaac Brown begins his tenure as associate head coach and comes to ASU after serving as an assistant coach at Arkansas for the past three seasons. Prior to his time at Arkansas; Brown was an assistant coach at South Alabama. Richard Williams joined the coaching staff late in the summer and will serve as an assistant coach. Williams is well known as the former head coach at Mississippi State. While with the Bulldogs, Williams led the squad to the NCAA Final Four in 1996. During his time at MSU, Williams led his team to five postseason appearances and was named the SEC coach of the year twice.
RETURNERS ASU returns four-of-five starters from last year including junior forward Martavius Adams who is ASU's top returner from last season. Adams averaged 11.6 ppg and 7.5 rebounds starting in all 31 games last season. Senior Rashad Allison ranked third on the team with 8.5 ppg and led the squad with 127 assists. Daniel Bryant had a shortened season due to injury but in the 22 games he did play he averaged 10.5 ppg and shot 36% from beyond the three-point line. Donald Boone also got his sixth yea of eligibility from the NCAA after he missed last season with a knee injury. In 2008-09 Boone was ASU's top scorer averaging 13.6 ppg.
SBC HONORS The Red Wolves landed two players on the Sun Belt preseason all-conference second team with senior guard Donald Boone and junior forward Martavius Adams earning preseason honors.
Boone was a preseason all-conference selection last year before injuring his knee in the first game of the season. Boone returns for his sixth year after averaging 13.6 points per game to lead the Red Wolves in 2008-09. Boone also led the squad in steals and minutes played.
Adams is ASU's top returning player from a year ago when he averaged 11.6 points per game and led the team with a rebounding average of 7.5. Adams was also one of only two players to start in all 31 contests last season.
"To have Martavius picked to the second-team is certainly an improvement for our team. Donald Boone, who created the respect two years ago by how he played in our first year here, is also second team, so that is definitely an improvement for us," said ASU head coach John Brady. "The first year we came here, we had no one picked and now we have two players picked after our second year. Hopefully that is a trend that will continue, and each year we will continue to have a player or two picked on the first or second team from here on out."
SBC PRESEASON COACHES POLL In the preseason coaches' poll, also released Tuesday, the Red Wolves were tabbed to finish second in the west, grabbing 55 points behind 2009-10 tournament champion North Texas, who garnered all 12 of the first-place votes and 72 total points.
Denver was tabbed third, picking up 51 points, followed by Louisiana-Lafayette (36), UALR (26) and Louisiana-Monroe (12).
On the east side, Western Kentucky was the overall favorite to pick up the division title, grabbing 71 points and 11 first-place votes. Florida Atlantic was second with 53 points and one first-place vote. After FAU were South Alabama (47), Middle Tennessee (42), Florida International (22) and Troy (17).
"Our pick is certainly an indication based on what we did a year ago and based on the players we have returning and the respect that the program has created. Being picked second in the west after two years here has shown that our program has gained some respect around the league and within the league and hopefully that will continue with what we do this year," said Brady.
HEAD COACH JOHN BRADY With a Final Four appearance and 281 career victories already to his credit, 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.
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.