Nov. 5, 2001
NKU PLAYS AT UC THIS SATURDAY
Norse meet Bearcats in exhibition game at 1 p.m.
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. - The Northern Kentucky University mens basketball team will travel across the Ohio River to meet the University of Cincinnati at 1 p.m. this Saturday afternoon in an exhibition game in the Shoemaker Center.
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.
SCORING MACHINE: NKU features senior guard/forward Craig Sanders, who averaged 17.6 points per game last season. 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).
SKEET SHOOTER: Carl Skeet Mitchell averaged 12.3 points and a team-leading 6.1 rebounds last season, and the 6-foot-9 center/forward returns for his second year with the Norse.
Mitchell, who played at Gulf Coast (Fla.) Community College before transferring to NKU last season, also led NKU with 48 blocked shots a year ago. Mitchell, a natural forward, will also play center this season.
IMPACT RECRUITS: The NKU lineup will feature a pair of junior college transfers in 6-8 forward Darnell Fields and 6-5 forward/guard Bobby St-Preux. Fields comes to NKU from Chaffey (Calif.) College, and St-Preux - who sat out as a redshirt last season - played at Palm Beach (Fla.) Community College two years ago.
As a prep standout at Zion-Benton (Ill.) High School, Fields averaged 21 points and 10 rebounds and earned All-North Suburban Conference honors as a junior and senior. St-Preux averaged 19 points and six rebounds at Palm Beach two seasons ago.
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.
Brenden is the son of Jeff Stowers, who played at NKU from 1972-76 and scored 1,410 career points (No. 10 in NKU history). Jeff Stowers is a member of the NKU Athletics Hall of Fame. Brendens brother, Jordan, is a freshman point guard with the Norse this season.
NKU AGAINST DIVISION I OPPONENTS: NKU has not played a Division I opponent since the 1994-95 season, when the Norse dropped an 85-63 decision at the University of Toledo.
In 1993-94, NKU played back-to-back road games at Morehead State University and the University of Dayton. A crowd of 10,836 - the largest to ever see a Norse athletic event - was on hand at UD Arena on Dec. 2, 1993, to watch Dayton rally past NKU, 99-82.
THE SERIES AGAINST UC: NKU and UC met seven times in regular-season contests from 1981-1988, and the Bearcats hold a 7-0 lead against the Norse in the all-time series.
After the 1988-89 season, however, UC dropped the series against NKU to boost its strength of schedule. The Bearcats do not play non-Division I opponents in the regular season because of the RPI ratings that help determine NCAA Tournament berths.
Ken Shields was in his first season as head coach at NKU the last time the Norse played UC on Nov. 27, 1988. The Bearcats were coached by Tony Yates that season and pulled out a 75-63 win over the Norse in the Cincinnati Gardens.
ELDER POWER: Freshmen guards Mike Kelsey and Sean Rowland - both 2000 graduates of Elder High School in Cincinnati - will play significant roles for NKU this season. Both players sat out as redshirts last season after enjoying outstanding basketball careers at Elder.
Kelsey, whose sister Katie is the NKU womens basketball programs all-time leader in career assists with 514, will play the off-guard or small forward this season. Rowland can play either the point, off-guard or small forward.
REGULAR-SEASON OPENER ON NOV. 16: NKU will open the regular season on Nov. 16 in Regents Hall against Ferris State University in the first round of the John L. Griffin/Lions Club Classic.
Central State University will take on Christian Brothers (Tenn.) University in the other first-round matchup at 5:30 p.m. The championship game is scheduled for 7:45 p.m. on Nov. 17, and the consolation game will be played at 5:30 p.m.