Oct. 31, 2004
NKU TO PLAY UK THIS WEDNESDAY NIGHT
Norse hit road for Lexington to face UK in exhibition game
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. - The Northern Kentucky University mens basketball team will travel to Lexington, Ky., this Wednesday to meet the University of Kentucky in a 7 p.m. exhibition game in Rupp Arena.
The game will be televised live on Fox Sports Ohio (Channel 49 on Insight Cable), and it can be heard on the radio on WIOK (107.5 FM).
NKU finished with a 16-15 overall record last season, and the Norse posted a 9-11 mark in the Great Lakes Valley Conference. NKU placed seventh in the GLVC standings and missed the NCAA Division II Tournament for just the third time in the past 10 years.
The Norse return four starters from that squad and add an impressive recruiting class for the 2004-05 season. NKU is under the direction of first-year head coach Dave Bezold, who was hired in April. He replaces Ken Shields, who retired following the 2003-04 season after 16 years as the Norse head coach.
NKU and Kentucky have never met in mens basketball. The Wildcats, who finished with a 27-5 record in 2003-04, are ranked No. 9 nationally in the Division I coaches preseason poll. Kentucky also welcomes in one of the nations top recruiting classes for this season.
SHOOTING MACHINE: NKU senior guard Mike Kelsey enters the season with 1,130 career points, which ranks 19th in Norse history. Kelsey averaged 16.9 points per game last season and was named second team All-GLVC.
One of the top outside shooters in Norse history, Kelsey made 83 of 202 three-point attempts last season. Kelsey also set an NKU single-game scoring record last season when he poured in 50 points against the University of Indianapolis on Jan. 2, 2004.
Kelsey, a graduate of Elder High School in Cincinnati, has connected on 206 three-point shots during his career at NKU. He scored in double figures 26 times last season and had eight games of at least 20 points.
IMPACT TRANSFER: NKU has added center Tory Reed, a 6-foot-8 senior who averaged 3.6 points per game at Charlotte during the 2002-03 season. Reed scored 13 points against Cincinnati that season, and he added an 11-point, nine-rebound effort against Louisville in 2003. In three years at Charlotte, Reed played in 77 games, averaged 2.8 ppg and 2.2 rebounds while shooting 48 percent from the field.
HOMECOMING FOR MORTON: NKU freshman forward Harrison Morton, a prep standout from Lexington Catholic High School, is another newcomer who should make an impact this season. The 6-4 Morton averaged 16.1 ppg, 6.4 rebounds and 2.5 steals as a senior at Lexington Catholic, and he was named first team all-state. Morton was also selected to play in the Kentucky-Indiana all-star series this past summer.
SMITH RETURNS TO LEXINGTON: NKU junior forward Derek Smith is no stranger to Lexington, Ky. The 6-5 native of Silver Grove, Ky., played football at Kentucky from 1999-2001 and was the Wildcats' starting tight end for two years.
Smith is entering his first year on the NKU basketball team. He was an all-state forward while a prep player at Highlands High School and averaged 21 ppg as a senior. He was also named the 9th Region Player of the Year in 1999.
Smith scored 2,299 points and pulled down 974 rebounds for Highlands in four years as a varsity starter. He then chose to play football at Kentucky.
As a sophomore at Kentucky in 2000, Smith was named first team All-Southeastern Conference by The Associated Press, The Sporting News, Football News, College Sports Southeast TV Network, and CollegeFootballNews.com. He entered the National Football League draft following his junior year.
NKU AGAINST DIVISION I OPPONENTS: NKU has not played a regular-season game against a Division I opponent since the 1994-95 campaign, 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. 1, 1993, to watch Dayton rally past NKU, 99-82.
The past three years, NKU has played the University of Cincinnati in exhibition games at Cincinnati, Ohio. The Bearcats defeated NKU in each of those games, including a 61-48 decision last season.
PURDON FROM LONG RANGE: NKU senior guard Steve Purdon averaged 10.7 ppg last season, and he is one of the top three-point shooters in the GLVC. Purdon made 68 three-point shots last season and also added 50 assists.
LATE-SEASON SURGE: NKU center Pat Cary averaged 7.1 ppg and 6.0 rebounds last season, but the 6-9 senior played his best basketball late in the year. During the final six games of 2003-04, Cary averaged 12 points and scored in double figures four times. He also had two double-doubles in his last six games of last season.
Norse sophomore forward Kevin Reinhardt also finished the 2003-04 season strong, averaging 13.2 ppg during the last five games. On Feb. 19, Reinhardt scored a career-high 23 points and grabbed 10 rebounds against Saint Josephs College. He later added 14 points and 10 rebounds against Kentucky Wesleyan College on Feb. 28.
MAJOR LOSS: NKU must replace 6-10 All-GLVC center Jesse Rupe and his 15.8 ppg from last season. Rupe also led the Norse in rebounding at 7.3 rpg, and he made 51 percent of his shots from the field.
NORTHERN DISMISSED FROM TEAM: Bryant Northern, a transfer from Louisville and a senior guard, has been dismissed from the squad for violation of team rules, NKU head coach Dave Bezold announced Sunday. Northern played three years at Louisville and averaged 3.2 ppg as a junior for the Cardinals.
NKU TO PLAY UC, OHIO STATE NEXT: NKU will conclude its exhibition schedule with games at Cincinnati (Nov. 8 at 7 p.m.) and Ohio State University (Nov. 9 at 7 p.m.).
NKU BEGINS REGULAR SEASON NOV. 19: NKU begins the regular season Nov. 19 in the annual John L. Griffin/Lions Club Classic with a 7:45 p.m. game against Michigan Tech University in Regents Hall.
NKU will then play Northern Michigan University at 7:45 p.m. the following night (Nov. 20). The pairings for the event were predetermined this season, switching from the traditional tournament format. Christian Brothers (Tenn.) University, the fourth team in the event, will meet Northern Michigan at 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 19 and Michigan Tech at 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 20.
Michigan Tech is ranked No. 6 nationally in Street & Smiths preseason poll, and the Huskies are No. 7 nationally in the Division II Bulletin ratings.