ON TAP: After playing eight straight games away from Macomb, the Fighting Leathernecks (6-3) begin a seven-game homestand Saturday (Dec. 8) against the SIU-Edwardsville Cougars (2-4) inside Western Hall...The two teams are slated to begin action at 7 p.m.
WHO: SIU-Edwardsville Cougars (2-4) at Western Illinois Leathernecks (5-3)
WHERE: Macomb, Ill. • Western Hall (5,139)
WHEN: Saturday, Dec. 8 at 7 p.m.
SERIES HISTORY: Western Illinois leads 5-2
LAST MEETING: SIU-E defeated Western, 62-50, in Edwardsville on Nov. 14, 2012
SUMMIT LEAGUE PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Western Illinois senior guard Ceola Clark III was named Summit League Men’s Basketball Player of the Week Monday (Dec. 3), helping guide the Fighting Leathernecks to a perfect start to their Summit League schedule. Western went 2-0 on the week to kick off conference action, and both victories came on the road, first at South Dakota (73-71) and then at Kansas City (68-63). Throughout the week, Clark averaged 23.5 points, 4.0 assists, 2.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game, and committed only one turnover in 72 minutes played. He made 16 of his 26 total shot attempts (61.5%), connected on 9-of-16 triples (56.3%), and sank all six of his free throws attempts.
COLLEGE SPORTS MADNESS: Western Illinois senior Ceola Clark III was named ‘Mid-Major Player of the Week’ by College Sports Madness on Monday (Dec. 3) after helping lead the Leathernecks to a 2-0 Summit League record this past week on the road.
IN THE NATION (As of 12/3/12): Western ranks in the top 10 of two national categories...10th in defensive scoring, having held its opponents to 53.5 points per game, and 10th in personal fouls per game, having committed only 13.4 per game...The Leathernecks also rank in the top 100 of three other categories...48th in turnovers per game (11.9), 59th in blocked shots per game (4.8), and 79th in field goal percentage defense (39.4).
LAST TIME OUT: Western Illinois men’s basketball used a dominant second half effort to overcome a 12-point deficit and defeat Eastern Illinois 57-45 at Lantz Arena on Wednesday night (Dec. 5).
Junior Adam Link (15 points), senior Ceola Clark III (14) and fellow senior Terell Parks (11) all scored in double figures to lead the comeback effort and push the Fighting Leathernecks’ winning streak to three games.
Parks set a career high in blocks for a second straight game, stuffing six shots after recording five blocks at Kansas City on Saturday.
Clark also matched his career high in steals (six), with four of them coming during the second half turnaround.
Trailing 24-12 late in the first half, Western Illinois ended the game on a 45-21 run, including outscoring the Panthers 37-19 in the second half.
Down 34-27 at the 12:28 mark, Parks completed an old-fashioned three-point play and Clark drained a three-pointer to spark a 13-0 run, which pushed the Leathernecks ahead, 40-34.
Senior Jack Houpt then answered a pair of Panther baskets with a trey each time to increase the margin to 46-38 with 4:35 to play.
Western sank eight free throws in the final two minutes to keep the Panthers at bay, with the score closing at 57-45.
Houpt finished with nine points and six rebounds, while Parks pulled down eight, continuing his streak of seven or more rebounds in every game this season.
The Leathernecks didn’t allow any Panthers to score in double figures, with Malcom Herron leading the way with eight.
“I think we played 35 seconds of defense almost every time [in the second half],” head coach Jim Molinari said. “That was a great win for us. I think we played extremely hard in the second half.”
Western greatly improved its shooting in the second half, going 10-of-17 (58.8%) in the second frame after shooting 6-of-15 (40%) in the first, including an increase in three-point shooting from 0-of-5 (0%) to 4-of-5 (80%)
The Leathernecks limited EIU to 19-of-47 shooting (40.4%), including just 3-of-16 (18.8%) from long distance. WIU also had the edge in rebounding, 29-24.
A LOOK AT THE COUGARS: SIU-E enters the game with a 2-4 overall record, with one of its wins coming over the Leathernecks earlier this season...The Cougars are led by Jerome Jones who is averaging 17.6 points and 4.6 rebounds per game...Kris Davis is the only other player scoring more than 10 points per game, averaging 10.8.
COACHING SIU-E: The Cougars are coached by Lennox Forrester (Evansville ‘92) who is in his sixth season at the helm, and owns a 52-96 record while coaching the Cougars.
THE SERIES: Western leads the all-time series, 5-2...Earlier this season the Leathernecks traveled to Edwardsville and lost, 62-50...It was Western’s first Division I game of the season...The first-ever meeting came on February 24, 1970 and Western won 94-81...Before this year, SIU-E’s only other victory against Western came on January 29, 1975, 71-70.
WHAT’S IN A WESTERN WIN?: A win would mark the 1,209th victory in program history...A win would mark head coach Jim Molinari’s 54th victory at Western, and his 277th victory all-time as a head coach...A win would be Western’s sixth-ever over SIU-Edwardsville...A win would mark the Leathernecks’ fourth straight.
CONFERENCE ACTIVE CAREER LEADERS (As of 12/3/12): Ceola Clark III ranks third amongst active career scoring leaders in The Summit League (1,195 points), fifth in rebounds (385), and second in assists (364).
LEATHERNECKS SIGN THREE: Head coach Jim Molinari and the men’s basketball program signed three players during the early signing period this fall in: Jabari Sandifer (Naperville, Ill./Neuqua Valley), Garret Covington (Edwardsville, Ill./Edwardsville) and Tate Stensfaard (Rapid City, S.D./Stevens).
TV GAMES: The men’s basketball team will play four games on television during the 2012-13 season, not including The Summit League Tournament...All four of the games will air on Fox College Sports...A complete list of men’s basketball TV games is below:
DATE OPPONENT TELEVISION STATION/RESULT
November 29 at South Dakota W, 73-71
January 26 at Oakland Fox College Sports Atlantic / Fox Sports Detroit
February 2 at IUPUI Fox College Sports Atlantic / HomeTown Sports
February 16 at South Dakota State Fox College Sports Pacific / Midco Sports Net
SCORING IN THE FIRST: Terell Parks has had two games this season with 15 or more points in the first half of a game, both of which came in the team’s first two losses...The first came at SIU-E (15 points), and the other was at Evansville (16 points)...Ceola Clark III tallied 18 in the first half at Kansas City, the most he has ever tallied in a first half during his career.
1,000 POINT CLUB: Ceola Clark III ranks 14th overall in points scored in program history with 1,228 career points.
ALL-TIME STEALS LEADER: Ceola Clark III became the Western Illinois career steals leader last season, picking up his 168th swipe at Kansas City on January 19th, 2012...Clark passed Bill Heisler who finished his playing career with 167 steals.
STEALS (DIVISION I) Year
1. 206 Ceola Clark III 2009-pr
2. 167 Bill Heisler 1997-01
3. 138 Andre Humphrey 1993-95
#CC3: Ceola Clark III sits second in career triples made at Western with 202, and fourth in career three-pointers attempted with 457...Clark is 21 threes away from moving into first on Western’s all-time three pointers list (Bill Heisler - 216).
3-POINT FG (DIVISION I) Year
1. 216 Bill Heisler 1997-01
2. 202 Ceola Clark III 2009-pr
3. 181 Brandon Creason 1995-99
DISHIN’ THE ROCK: Ceola Clark III makes everyone else on the court around him better because of his ability to make great passes...Clark has amassed 370 career assists while at Western, which ranks 2nd all-time (1. Dwayne Banks - 506).
1. 506 Dwayne Banks 1977-80
2. 370 Ceola Clark III 2009-pr
3. 361 Daryl Reed 1982-86
PRESEASON POLL: The Western Illinois men’s basketball team was picked to finish fourth in The Summit League’s annual preseason poll of league coaches, SIDs and media after receiving 274 points. The Fighting Leathernecks had a league-high two players selected to Preseason All-League First Team in seniors Ceola Clark III and Terell Parks. The fourth-place prediction is the highest for Western since the 2005-06 season when the Leathernecks were picked to finish fourth.
MORE PRESEASON RECOGNITION: After being tabbed Preseason All-Summit League First Team by the league’s coaches, media and SIDs (Oct. 17), Ceola Clark III and Terell Parks were again honored, this time by College Sports Madness. Both Clark and Parks were named Preseason All-Summit League First Team by the staff at College Sports Madness.
AT THE HELM: Jim Molinari took over the Western Illinois program at the start of the 2008-09 season, and during his fourth season at the helm of the Leatherneck men’s basketball program, Molinari put Western Illinois basketball back on the map...He was tabbed Summit League ‘Coach of the Year’ by CollegeInsider.com after leading the Leathernecks to a 18-15 overall record, a fourth-place finish in the The Summit League with a 9-9 league record, and the programs first-ever Division I postseason berth (2012 College Basketball Invitational).
GRANTED A SIXTH YEAR: Senior guard Ceola Clark III was granted a 6th year of eligibility in April, 2012, by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)...Clark had this to say about another year at Western” “It feels great,” said Clark. “Getting the opportunity to play the game I love for another year. I’m coming back with more determination than ever. Being able to play with a group of guys that took the men’s basketball program to where it hasn’t been in years, and being so close to making the NCAA Tournament, I’m excited to get one more shot with my team.”
2012-13 SENIOR CLASS: Led by Ceola Clark III who enters his sixth year at Western Illinois, the Leathernecks have four total seniors this year...Jack Houpt is in his third year at Western, while Terell Parks and Don McAvoy III are each in their second season as Leathernecks.
RETURNERS: This season the Fighting Leathernecks have six returners, seniors Ceola Clark III, Terell Parks, Jack Houpt and Don McAvoy III, junior Billy Molinari and sophomore Remy Roberts-Burnett.
NEWCOMERS: This past offseason coach Molinari and the men’s basketball program brought in seven newcomers including two JUCO transfers in Adam Link and Michael Ochereobia...Western also has five freshmen this season in: Jordan Foster, Jamaal Walker, Jason Hawthorne, Isaiah Duncan and John Schneider.
WHAT IS A LEATHERNECK?: Western Illinois holds the distinction of being the only non-military institution to officially have its nickname derived from a branch of the military service. The school began use of the Marine Corps’ official nickname, “The Fighting Leathernecks,” in 1927 when then-athletic director and head baseball, basketball and football coach Ray “Rock” Hanson was granted permission by the U.S. Navy, based on his status as a Marine hero, to use the Marine’s official seal, bulldog mascot and nickname.
UP NEXT: Western takes a week off from play before playing host to UIC inside Western Hall on Tuesday, December 18th.