Nov. 13, 2001
NKU TO HOST FERRIS STATE ON FRIDAY
Norse meet Bulldogs in John L. Griffin/Lions Club Classic
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. - The Northern Kentucky University mens basketball team will begin the 2001-02 regular season at 7:45 p.m. this Friday night (Nov. 16) in Regents Hall against Ferris State University in the first round of the John L. Griffin/Lions Club Classic.
Central State University (18-13 a year ago) will take on Christian Brothers (Tenn.) University (11-15 last season) in the other first-round matchup at 5:30 p.m. The championship game is scheduled for 7:45 p.m. on Saturday, and the consolation game will be played at 5:30 p.m.
Central State won the 1998 John L. Griffin/Lions Club Classic title with an 86-82 victory over NKU in the championship game. Christian Brothers and Ferris State are both making their first appearance in the tournament.
NKU posted a 27-7 record last season and advanced to the championship game of the NCAA Division II Great Lakes Region Tournament, where the Norse dropped a 59-57 decision to eventual national champion Kentucky Wesleyan. NKU returns two starters and four letterwinners from that team.
NKU enters the 2001-02 season ranked No. 25 nationally in the Division II Bulletin preseason poll. The Norse were picked third in the Great Lakes Valley Conference preseason poll.
Last Saturday afternoon, NKU dropped an 81-53 decision to the University of Cincinnati in an exhibition game at UCs Shoemaker Center. A crowd of 10,768 - the second-largest to ever see a Norse athletic event - watched the Bearcats limit NKU to just 31.7 percent shooting from the field and roll to the win.
GRIFFIN/LIONS CLUB FIRST-ROUND STREAK: NKU has never lost (19-0) in the first round of the John L. Griffin/Lions Club Classic. NKU has won the tournament 11 times in its 19-year history.
A YEAR AGO IN THE GRIFFIN/LIONS CLUB CLASSIC: Craig Conley scored 22 points and dished out six assists as NKU defeated California (Pa.) University, 77-65, in the championship game of the John L. Griffin/Lions Club Classic.
Conley, who was named the tournaments most valuable player, made 8 of 10 shots from the field. Carl Mitchell and Brian Lawhon both added 10 points for NKU, which made 54.7 percent of its shots from the field.
NKU jumped out to a 43-27 halftime lead by shooting 57.1 percent from the field. The Norse made 8 of 20 three-point attempts in the game and committed just nine turnovers. NKUs Brenden Stowers was named the tournaments best defensive player.
In the first round last year, Craig Sanders scored 23 points and made all six of his three-point attempts as NKU defeated Indiana University-Southeast, 108-60.
Sanders made all eight of his field goal attempts for NKU - which scored the games first 22 points. The Norse made 17 of 30 three-point attempts and shot 65.1 percent from the field. NKU shot 72.4 percent from the field in the second half of that game.
RUPE SHOWS POTENTIAL AGAINST UC: NKU sophomore center Jesse Rupe scored six points, grabbed seven rebounds and blocked two shots against UC last Saturday in 21 minutes of action. He also helped to limit 6-foot-11 UC center Donald Little to five points.
SCORING MACHINE: NKUs Craig Sanders averaged 17.6 points per game last season and is the Norses top returning player. Sanders, a graduate of McNicholas High School in Cincinnati, was named first team All-GLVC last season after making a school-record 114 three-point shots. Sanders also scored in double figures during the Norses final 20 games, and he enters his senior year with 1,459 career points (No. 9 in NKU history).
Sanders scored a game-high 18 points - including NKUs first 11 of the game - against UC last week. Junior forward Bobby St-Preux added 15 points for the Norse, who committed 24 turnovers against UC.
GETTING TO THE POINT: NKU must replace Craig Conley - the schools all-time career assists leader (530) - at point guard this season. The Norse will look to junior Brenden Stowers to handle some of the point guard duties. Stowers, a graduate of Simon Kenton High School, averaged 8.2 ppg last season playing the off-guard position.
ABOUT FERRIS STATE: The Bulldogs, members of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, posted an 8-18 record last season. Ferris State returns three starters from that team.
The Bulldogs feature 6-10 center Adam Anderson, who averaged 21.3 points - No. 1 in the GLIAC a year ago - and 6.7 rebounds last season. Anderson also made 53.4 percent of his shots from the field. Also returning for the Bulldogs is sophomore guard Marcus Wallace, who averaged 10.1 points a year ago.