Nov. 4, 2003
NKU OPENS SEASON IN DISNEY CLASSIC
Norse meet Kennesaw State this Friday
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. - The Northern Kentucky University mens basketball team will open the regular season this Friday by participating in the Disney Division II Tip-Off Classic at Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
NKU will open the round-robin tournament at 8:30 p.m. Friday against Kennesaw (Ga.) State University. NKU will meet Philadelphia (Pa.) University at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, and the Norse will conclude the three-day event with a 3:30 p.m. game against South Dakota State University on Sunday.
All three NKU games this weekend will be broadcast live on WTSJ (1050 AM).
Kennesaw State finished with a 25-10 record last season, and the Owls advanced to the NCAA Division II Tournament. Philadelphia posted a 16-12 record in 2002-03, while South Dakota State compiled a 24-7 mark and advanced to the NCAA Division II Tournament.
NKU participated in the 2000 Disney Division II Tip-Off Classic and captured the tournament title by defeating Wayne (Neb.) State College, Bentley College and Rollins College.
NKU posted a 25-6 overall record last season and finished with a No. 4 national ranking in the NCAA Division II poll. The Norse won the Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament title with a 58-55 victory over Lewis University in the championship game at Evansville, Ind.
NKU advanced to the NCAA Division II Tournament at Houghton, Mich., but the Norse suffered an 80-76 upset loss to the University of Findlay in the opening round.
NKU welcomes back two starters and five letterwinners from last season. The Norse feature junior guard Mike Kelsey, who averaged 14.5 points per game a year ago. Kelsey made a team-leading 81 three-point shots last season and scored in double figures 27 times.
NKU also returns 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 season's team.
NKU IMPRESSIVE IN EXHIBITION: NKU dropped a 61-48 decision to the University of Cincinnati last Saturday in an exhibition game at the Fifth Third Arena at Shoemaker Center.
Kareem Johnson scored nine of his 11 points in the second half as UC rallied to defeat NKU. Johnson also grabbed 10 rebounds and keyed an 8-0 run to start the second half as the Bearcats turned a 22-21 halftime deficit into a 29-22 lead. Johnsons rebound basket early in the second half gave UC a 23-22 lead, and he added a tip-in on the next possession to extend the Bearcats advantage to 25-22.
Armein Kirkland capped the 8-0 run with a pair of jump shots to give UC a 29-22 advantage, and the Bearcats used a 59-42 rebounding edge to hold off NKU. UC led by as many as 19 points in the second half and defeated the Norse in front of a crowd of 9,526.
Mike Kelsey scored 10 of his game-high 15 points in the first half as NKU took a 22-21 lead at the break. Freshman guard Kevin Schappell came off the bench and added a double-double (14 points, 10 rebounds) for NKU, while teammate Jesse Rupe finished with 12 points and seven rebounds.
TOUGH TO REPLACE: NKU must replace All-American point guard Brenden Stowers, who averaged 16.2 ppg and led the team with 135 assists last season. The Norse will also have to find replacements for second team All-GLVC forward 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.
NKU lost 63 percent of its offensive production from last seasons team. The Norse must also replace 62 percent of their rebounding total from a year ago.
KELSEY MOVES UP SCORING LIST: NKU junior guard Mike Kelsey enters the 2003-04 season with 656 career points, which ranks No. 43 on the Norse all-time scoring list.
ABOUT KENNESAW STATE: The Owls, ranked No. 22 nationally in the Division II Bulletin preseason poll, return three starters from last seasons 25-10 team. Kennesaw State features 6-foot-5 senior guard Terrence Hill, who averaged 16.5 ppg last season and was named the Peach Belt Conference Player of the Year.
Kennesaw State also welcomes back 6-6 power forward Reggie McCoy, who averaged 10.2 ppg and a team-leading 10.1 rebounds per game.
NKU and Kennesaw State have never met in mens basketball.
JOHN L. GRIFFIN/LIONS CLUB CLASSIC UP NEXT: NKU will play host to the John L. Griffin/Lions Club Classic Nov. 21-22 in Regents Hall. The Norse will meet Gannon (Pa.) University at 7:45 p.m. Nov. 21 in the opening round.
Christian Brothers (Tenn.) University will meet West Virginia Wesleyan College in the other first-round contest at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 21. The consolation game is set for 5:30 p.m. Nov. 22, followed by the championship at 7:45 p.m.