LINCOLN, Neb. - Fighting Leatherneck men’s basketball (0-1) continues its season opening road swing at Nebraska (1-0) Tuesday evening (Nov. 12). Western and Big Ten member Nebraska are slated to tip-off at 7 p.m. CT inside Pinnacle Bank Arena.
Replay on Big Ten Network Wednesday, November 13, at 12 p.m. (CT)
BTDN Broadcast Team:
Ryan Swanigan and Jon Kipper
Flagship - WRMS (94.3 FM)
Affiliate - WJEQ (102.7 FM)
UP NEXT?: Western concludes its three-game road swing in California when they visit Pacific on Sunday, November 17, for a nonconference contest. The Leathernecks and Tigers are scheduled to play at 4 p.m. CT.
A LOOK AT NEBRASKA: The Huskers are a member of the Big Ten Conference and are 1-0 on the year. Last season the Huskers went 15-18 overall and 5-13 in Big Ten action. Their season ended in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament last season versus Ohio State. Nebraska returns nine lettermen from a season ago, three of whom were starters. The Huskers opened their 2013-14 season last Friday (Nov. 8) when they defeated Florida Gulf Coast, 79-55. Shavon Shields led Nebraska with a game-high 28 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the field, and went a perfect 12-of-12 from the free throw line. Terran Petteway also finished in double figures as he recorded 17 points on 6-of-12 shooting. Five Huskers tallied four or more rebounds in the game: Shields (6), Petteway (4), Walter Pitchford (4), Mike Peltz (4), and Leslee Smith (4). Tim Miles is in his second season as the head coach of the Huskers, and Miles enters his 19th season as a head coach with a 299-238 overall record.
SERIES HISTORY: Western has faced Nebraska four times in program history... The Huskers hold the series advantage 4-0... The first-ever meeting between the two teams came on December 21, 1977 when WIU dropped a nonconference contest, 73-72, on the road... Most recently the Leathernecks fell to the Huskers 72-53 on December 5, 2001... All four games were played in Lincoln, Nebraska.
LAST TIME OUT: WIU played Idaho for the first time in program history and fell to the Vandals, 67-63. Garret Covington led Western with a game-high 22 points while logging more minutes than anyone else in the game (38).
RETURNING TO THE TEAM: Western has six players returning to the team this season in seniors Adam Link, Michael Ochereobia and Billy Molinari, junior Remy Roberts-Burnett, and sophomores Jordan Foster and Jason Hawthorne.
WELCOME TO WESTERN: Six newcomers joined the Leatherneck family prior to the 2013-14 season. Four freshmen begin their college playing careers this season in: Garret Covington, Jabari Sandifer, Mike Miklusak and Travis Barnes, while sophomore Tate Stensgaard and junior Mohamed Conde transferred to Western.
SUMMIT LEAGUE PRESEASON POLL: Western Illinois was projected to finish fourth in The Summit League this season according to the annual preseason poll of league coaches, SIDs and media. The Leathernecks, who shared the league’s regular season championship last season, recieved a total of 161 points in the poll.
PRESEASON RECOGNITION: Senior Adam Link was tabbed Preseason All-Summit League Second Team by the league’s coaches, SIDs and media. The Elbert, Colo. native finished last season third on the squad in points having averaged 9.9 per game, while also tied for second in rebounds having pulled down 4.1 per game. Link was one of two Leathernecks to start all 31 games last season. Link was also tabbed All-Summit League Second Team by College Sports Madness in September.
SEASON ENDING INJURY: Senior guard Billy Molinari, son of head coach Jim Molinari, suffered an injury practicing during the 2013-14 preseason that required season-ending surgery. It marks the fourth consecutive season Billy has suffered an injury that has ended his season. Billy redshirted his freshman season and has only been able to compete in three games during his career at WIU due to injuries.
DIFFERENT AREA CODES: Western is slated to play 12 games on Waste Management Court inside Western Hall, and 17 games away from Macomb in 11 different states.
HOKENSON PROMOTED: Head coach Jim Molinari promoted Wade Hokenson, who is entering his sixth season at Western, to Associate Head Coach during the fall of 2013. Molinari had this to say about Hokenson: “Wade is a big part of the building of last year’s championship season from the ground up. He is very efficient, he has tremendous organizational skills, and he commands great respect from our players. I think in the role of associate head coach, you want someone that has seen your philosophy be successful. He has truly earned this promotion.”
OFF THE COURT: The Western Illinois men’s basketball team earned a share of the 2013 Men’s Basketball Academic Achievement Award based on percentage of list-eligible student-athletes on The Summit League’s Commissioner’s List. The honor marked the first of its kind in Leatherneck men’s basketball program history.
A SEASON TO REMEMBER: The Western Illinois men’s basketball team concluded its historic season with its second-straight appearance in the College Basketball Invitational. Although The Fighting Leathernecks didn’t reach their ultimate goal of advancing to the program’s first-ever NCAA tournament appearance, the Leathernecks still made program history by winning a share of the Summit League regular season championship, and earning 22 wins, the most ever in the program’s NCAA Division I history.
IN THE NATION LAST SEASON: As a team, the Fighting Leathernecks ranked #1 in personal fouls per game, having committed only 12.6 per game, #1 total fouls with 391, and #2 in scoring defense having allowed only 53.6 points per game. Western also ranked #12 in three-point field goal percentage having connected on 39.1 percent of their attempts and #20 in fewest total turnovers with 352. Other notable team rankings: #33 in field goal percentage (46.6), #35 in turnovers per game (11.4), #46 in field goal percentage defense (40.0), #47 in win-loss percentage (71.0) and #74 in scoring margin (5.9).
2013 HUGH DURHAM AWARD FINALIST: Western Illinois head coach Jim Molinari was named a finalist for the 2013 Hugh Durham Award. The Hugh Durham Award is given annually to the nation’s top mid-major coach. The award is named in honor of Hugh Durham who had retired at the end of the 2004-05 season. Durham is one of just twelve coaches to have led two different programs to the NCAA Final Four (Florida State in 1972 and Georgia in 1983). He is the only coach among that group to have led both schools to their lone Final Four appearance.
2013 COACH OF THE YEAR: Head coach Jim Molinari was tabbed The Summit League’s ‘Coach of the Year’ for the second time in his career, and first time as the leader of the Leathernecks’ program. Molinari also earned the honor in 1991 at Northern Illinois. Molinari was also tabbed The Summit League’s ‘Coach of the Year’ by CollegeInsider.com and College Sports Madness in 2013.
NCAA RPI: The Leathernecks finished last season #137 in the NCAA’s RPI ratings after being ranked 163rd to begin the season.
MORE WINNING: Besides earning more wins than any other Leatherneck men’s basketball team in the program’s NCAA Division I history, Western finished the 2012-13 season with 13 league wins. The 13 league wins tied the most ever earned during a season in Western Illinois’ Division I era, and their win percentage stands alone as the program’s best ever.
WIN STREAK: Early in the 2012-13 season, Western had earned 11 consecutive wins, a winning streak that started with a win on November 29 at South Dakota, and ended at home versus South Dakota State on January 17. The Leathernecks had never earned 11 or more straight wins in a season during its Division I history, and the last time they did so in the program’s history was during the 1957-58 season when they put together 27 consecutive wins.
UNDEFEATED DECEMBER: The Leathernecks finished the month of December with a 6-0 record. It was the first time Western finished the month of December undefeated in its Division I history, and the first time since the Leathernecks went 8-0 in December during the 1957-58 season.
DIVISION I SINGLE-GAME ATTENDANCE: The Western Illinois men’s basketball team had its best attendance since 1987 when it played host to South Dakota on March 2, as 5,089 fans packed Western Hall and watch the Leathernecks clinch a share of the The Summit League regular season title.
A COUPLE OTHER NOTABLE ATTENDANCES: The Fighting Leathernecks had two other games last season with more than 4,000 fans. First when they played host to South Dakota State on January 17 (4,163), and then on February 23 when Cleveland State visited Western Hall (4,259). Western also had 3,973 fans pack Western Hall on January 19 versus North Dakota State.
DIVISION I HOME ATTENDANCE AVERAGE: Last season Western averaged 2,454 fans per game, which ranks eighth in the program’s NCAA Division I era, and was the best average since the 1998-99 season.