MAC Men's Basketball Opens 54th Season Tonight.

Updated 11/19/1999
Mid-American Conference Men's Basketball

Schedule for Nov. 19-24

Friday, November 19
Bowling Green vs. Jackson St. at Hawaii Tourn., 10:00
Niagara at Buffalo, 7:30
Northern Illinois vs. Boston, 5:00 at Florida International Tourn.
George Mason at Toledo, 7:00

Saturday, November 20
Slippery Rock at Akron, 4:00
Ball State at Wisconsin, 1:00
Wisconsin-Milwaukee at Central Michgan, 7:00
Northwood at Eastern Michigan, 7:00
Marshall vs. Canisius at Hoopfest Classic (Binghamton, N.Y.), 3:45
Northern Illinois vs. FIU or Radford at Florida International Tourn./5-7
Western Michigan at Detroit, 2:05
Cleveland State at Ohio, 8:00

Sunday, November 21 Bowling Green at Hawaii Tournament/6-8
Marshall vs. SUNY Stony Brook, 3:30 at Hoopfest Classic
Cornell at Buffalo, 7:00
Miami at Temple, 2:00

Monday, November 22
Toledo at Michigan State, 7:30
Eastern Michigan at Hampton, 7:30

Tuesday, November 23
Akron at Wyoming, 7:00
Buffalo at New Hampshire, 7:00
Wright State at Central Michigan, 7:00
Youngstown State at Kent, 7:00
Loyola at Western Michigan, 8:00

Wednesday, November 24
Southern Illinois at Ball State, 7:00
Miami at IUPUI, 7:00
Northern Illinois at New Orleans, 7:30

Friday, November 26
Ohio vs. Princeton, at Nova Scotia, 8:30
Toledo vs. Southwest Missouri State, 2:00 at Hawaii Tournament

MAC AT 54: The Mid-American Conference begins its 54th season of men's basketball Friday night as four of the league's teams are in action. Eight of the league's teams play Saturday night.

INTO THE FIRE: Last year's two divisional winners, Miami (East) and Toledo (West) waste no time in getting after it this season. The RedHawks play at Temple, ranked #6 A.P. and #7 ESPN, on Sunday, November 21. The Rockets travel to Michigan State on Monday, November 22. The Spartans, a Final Four team last year, are ranked #2 in both early season polls and are the favorite to capture the Big Ten title.

MAC vs. BIG 10: The Wisconsin Badgers should be wary of Saturday afternoon's season opener against MAC foe Ball State. Last year the Cardinals opened their first season without their all-time leading scorer, MAC Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year Bonzi Wells at Michigan and topped the Wolverines 75-64. The Cardinals' success at Ann Arbor was the MAC's only road win at a Big Ten school last year. Western Michigan beat Michigan 81-74 on a neutral court in Grand Rapids, and Toledo edged Ohio State 64-63 at Savage Hall on the UT campus. The MAC was 3-6 versus Big Ten foes last year and have nine games scheduled this season plus two others (Ohio and Eastern Michigan) that may play Big Ten teams in tournaments.

COME TUESDAY: By Tuesday, November 23, every MAC team will have played at least one game. Kent, which hosts Youngstown State that night, will be the final MAC team to tip-off its season.

THE EXPERIENCE FACTOR: If returning starts are any indication, expect Central Michigan, Marshall and Northern Illinois to have good seasons. CMU and Marshall have all five starters back and NIU, due to injuries suffered early in the season, has six veteran starters on its squad. Akron and Eastern Michigan return four starters, three each for Ball State, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Kent, Ohio, Toledo, and Western Michigan, while just two starters return for defending league champion Miami.

RISING STOCK: Last year seven MAC teams surpassed their win totals from the previous season. MAC regular-season champion Miami at 24-7 (17-12 in 1998) was among those teams. Ohio, at 18-10 bettered its 5-21 mark, Central Michigan, at 10-16, bypassed its 5-21 record of 1998, Bowling Green at 18-10 (10-16 in 1998), Kent at 23-6 (13-17 in 1998), Marshall at 16-11 (11-16 in 1998) and Toledo at 19-8 (15-12 in 1998) also improved.

MIT: Most Improved Team: Ohio bettered its victory total by 13 from 1998 to 1999, but fell three games short of the league record. The MAC record for most games improved from one year to the next is 16 set by Western Michigan. After a 5-22 mark in 1991, the Broncos leaped to a 21-9 record in 1992. The only other school to approach that record is Ball State, which improved from a 1988 record of 14-14 to a 1989 record of 29-3, a jump of 15 wins

A TOUGH CROWD: How good was the crop of MAC freshman last year? Consider that Ball State's Lonnie Jones, who led the league in blocked shots (2.0), did not make the all-freshman team.

MORE YOUNG BLOOD: Freshmen led the MAC in two major statistical categories last year. Marshall's J.R. VanHoose paced the league in field goal percentage with a .594 clip (149 of 251) and Ball State's Lonnie Jones averaged a MAC- best 2.00 blocked shots per game. Yet another freshman, Central Michigan's Mike Manciel, won the league's Freshman of the Year honors. Manciel ranked fifth in the league in scoring (17.5), third in field goal percentage (.548), seventh in free throw percentage (.770) and sixth in rebounding (6.4). Manciel helped CMU to 10 wins, the most at the school since the 1991-92 season.

BACK FROM INJURY: Two key MAC players redshirted the 1998-99 season, per early December announcements, and both return for the 1999-2000 campaign. Northern Illinois' T.J. Lux (6-9, C/F), the nation's leading returning rebounder (11.1) from 1997-98, applied for a medical redshift due to severe shin splints, which had hampered him since the start of the academic year. Lux was the team's leading scorer (13.8) and rebounder (9.4) while logging 145 minutes through five games. Akron Zips' senior George Phillips (6-6, F) also took a medical redshirt for the 1998-99 season following surgery on his right knee on Dec. 4. Phillips suffered a meniscus tear during the Nov. 25 game at Western Kentucky. In 1997-98, Phillips led the MAC in blocked shots at 1.55 per game and averaged 12.4 points and 6.4 rebounds per game.

AKRON'S ACES: The combination of Jami Bosley and Jimmal Ball combined for 971 points, 198 assists and 1,787 minutes played last year and are regarded by several national magazines as the top backcourt in the MAC. But could Akron's secret weapon lie in 6-7 forward Ryan Andrick? With Andrick in the lineup last year the Zips were 17-5. Without him the Zips were 1-4. Andrick averaged 14.0 points and 6.1 rebounds per game.

MAC PRE SEASON ALL-LEAGUE TEAM As chosen by the MAC News Media Association, to follow is the 1999 preseason All-MAC team: Jami Bosley, Akron, 6-1, Sr., G Anthony Stacey, Bowling Green, 6-4, Sr., G/F John Whorton, Kent, 6-8, Sr., C/F T.J. Lux, Northern Illinois, 6-9, Sr., C/F Greg Stempin, Toledo, 6-8, Jr., F

LUX EARNS EARLY HONOR: Northern Illinois senior T.J. Lux garnered early season honors from Playboy magazine as the Huskie was honored as the recipient of this year's Anson Mount Scholar Athlete Award. Lux carries a 3.41 cumulative grade point average on a 4.00 scale. In addition, Lux was named to the magazine's All-America team along with Matt Santangelo (Gonzaga), Eduardo Najera (Oklahoma), Mateen Cleaves (Michigan State), Scoonie Penn (Ohio State), Chris Mims (Texas), Khalid El-Amin (Connecticut), Quentin Richardson (DePaul), Eric Chenworth (Kansas), A.J. Guyton (Indiana) and Hanno Mottola (Utah).

EMBRY JOINS ELITE: Former MAC player Wayne Embry, most recently associated with the longtime success of the Cleveland Cavaliers, was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in September. Embry lettered three years at Miami (1956-58) and earned a B.S. in Education there in 1958. Embry went on to play with Cincinnati, Boston and Milwaukee in the N.B.A. and was a member of the 1968 World Champion Boston Celtics. Embry took over as general manager of the Milwaukee Bucks in 1972 and in 1986 he became the vice president and general manager of the Cavaliers. Embry now serves in the role of president/chief executive officer team division for the Cavs. In 1957 he led the MAC in scoring (23.0), rebounding (17.4) and field goal percentage (.511). No one has led the league in those three categories in the same season since Embry's accomplishment.

KING OF KENT: Golden Flash center/forward John Whorton won last year's MAC Tournament MVP Award for leading his team to the tournament title over regular-season champion Miami. Whorton scored 18 points in Kent's 49-43 title win over the RedHawks. He also shot .636 percent from the field (14-of-22) during the Flashes' run to the title. Whorton is a preseason All-MAC selection this year as Kent is predicted to defend its MAC Tournament title in the preseason poll conducted by the MAC News Media Association. Kent also returns starters Andrew Mitchell and Kyreem Massey and All-Freshman team member Trevor Huffman, all three of whom are guards.

WHO'S THE LEADER: With the departure of the league's leading scorer and Player of the Year last year in Miami's Wally Szczerbiak (24.2 ppg), the league's scoring title is up for grabs. However, all other major statistical categories will be defended by those who took home honors last season, including a couple of freshmen. Marshall's J.R. Van Hoose won last year's field goal percentage category with a .594 rate (149-of-251) while fellow freshman Lonnie Jones of Ball State blocked a league-high 2.0 shots per game. Akron's Jami Bosley, who is the top returning scorer at 18.6 ppg, also paced the MAC in free throw accuracy last season with a .861 clip (155-of-180). Marshall's Cornelius Jackson was a dual winner with best marks in assists per game (5.37) and assist/turnover ratio (1.91). Ohio's Shaun Stonerook returns to defend his rebounding title (9.1).

1998-99 Records
East			MAC	Overall
Miami			15-3	24-8
Kent			13-5	23-7
Akron			12-6	18-9
Ohio			12-6	18-10
Bowling Green		12-6	18-10
Marshall		11-7	16-11
Buffalo			1-17	5-24

West			MAC	Overall
Toledo			11-7	19-9
Ball State		10-8	16-11
Central Michigan	7-11	10-16
Western Michigan	6-12	11-15
Eastern Michigan	5-13	5-20
Northern Illinois	2-16	6-20