July 13, 2003
NKU MEN TO FACE RUGGED SCHEDULE
Norse to play 11 games against NCAA Tournament teams
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. - After losing four starters from a 25-6 team that captured last seasons Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament championship, no one could blame Northern Kentucky University mens basketball coach Ken Shields if he wanted to begin the 2003-04 campaign with a few cupcakes on the schedule.
Shields, however, has instead put together one of the toughest, season-opening schedules in his 16 years as Norse head coach.
A tough schedule is always going to make you better, and three of the first four teams we will play this season made the NCAA Tournament last year, Shields said. Its a very demanding schedule, but you have to play these types of teams in order to be prepared for the NCAA Tournament.
NKU will open the season against Kennesaw (Ga.) State University on Nov. 7 at the Disney Division II Tip-Off Classic at Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Kennesaw State finished with a 25-10 record last season, and the Owls advanced to the NCAA Division II Tournament.
The Norse will also play South Dakota State University - which posted a 24-7 record and advanced to the NCAA Division II Tournament last season - on Nov. 9 in the round-robin Disney Division II Tip-Off Classic.
NKU will return home and meet Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference powerhouse Gannon (Pa.) University - which posted a 20-10 record last season and qualified for the NCAA Tournament - in the first round of the John L. Griffin/Lions Club Classic on Nov. 21 in Regents Hall.
We made the decision to play Gannon in the first round of our tournament because they are in the GLIAC, and our conference competes with their league for NCAA bids in our region, Shields said. That is a very important regional game for us even though it is played early in the season, and it is against a very good team.
NKU will begin GLVC play on Nov. 29 when the University of Missouri-Louis visits Regents Hall for a 3:15 p.m. game. The Norse will also play host to Quincy University on Dec. 1 at 7:45 p.m., before heading to Romeoville, Ill., to meet NCAA Division II Tournament participant Lewis University (23-8 last season) on Dec. 4 at 8:30 p.m.
NCAA Division II national runner-up Kentucky Wesleyan College (31-4) will visit Regents Hall on Jan. 8 for a 7:45 p.m. contest, and NKU will play host to the University of Southern Indiana - another NCAA Tournament participant last season - on Jan. 10 at 3:15 p.m.
When you have to play Kentucky Wesleyan and Southern Indiana back-to-back, thats a tough homestand, and they both will be very good again this season, Shields said. We also play Indianapolis at home in early January, and that is another team which made the NCAA Tournament last season.
The Norse will conclude the regular season by playing six of their final eight games on the road. The GLVC Tournament will be played at Roberts Stadium in Evansville, Ind., March 4-6.
Junior guard Mike Kelsey averaged 14.5 points per game and is the Norses top returning player in 2003-04. Kelsey also made a team-leading 81 three-point shots last season.
Kelsey has elevated his game to another level playing in the summer league, and he is going to be an outstanding player this season, Shields said.
NKU will also welcome back senior center Jesse Rupe (6.6 ppg), senior guard Adam Howell (5.3 ppg) and junior point guards Jordan Stowers and Sean Rowland from last seasons team.
Jesse Rupe has really worked on his game this summer, and Adam Howell is shooting the ball very well in our summer league, Shields said. Brian Lewin and Kevin Reinhardt are two redshirt freshmen I am really impressed with, and they both have a chance to be in our top seven this season.
Shields also said redshirts Steve Purdon, Kevin Schappell and Pat Cary should contribute in 2003-04.
NKU must replace All-American guard Brenden Stowers, who averaged 16.2 ppg and led the team with 135 assists. The Norse will also have to find replacements for second team All-GLVC performer Quentin Smith (13.4 ppg, 7.9 rpg), forward Bobby St-Preux (10.2 ppg), and center Chris Seabrooks (8.6 ppg, 5.7 rpg) in 2003-04.