MAC Men's Basketball Notes

Updated 12/7/1999
This Week's Schedule

Tuesday, December 7
Bowling Green at Oakland, 7:00 pm
West Virginia State at Marshall, 7:00
North Carolina at Buffalo, 7:30/Empire Sports Network
Akron at Cleveland State, 7:35

Wednesday, December 8
*Ohio at Eastern Michigan, 7:00
Xavier at Miami, 7:00 pm
Kent at Michigan, 7:30
Detroit at Central Michigan, 8:00 pm

Thursday, December 9
Toledo at Oakland, 7:05

Friday, December 10
Buffalo vs. Indiana at Indiana Classic, 7:00/Empire Sports Network

Saturday, December 11
Notre Dame at Miami, noon/WKRC-TV
Butler at Ball State, 1:00 pm
Xavier at Central Michigan, 2:00
Wisconsin-Green Bay at Kent, 2:00
Bowling Green at Northern Iowa, 7:00
Ohio vs. West Virginia, 7:00, at Charleston/Ohio Sports Network
Western Michigan at Oakland, 7:00
*Northern Illinois at Akron, 8:00
Buffalo at Indiana Classic, tba

CHANGES AT BUFFALO: University at Buffalo head coach Tim Cohane resigned on Dec. 3 and was replaced by interim head coach Reggie Witherspoon. Cohane had compiled a record of 80-93 in his six full seasons and a 2-3 mark this season. Witherspoon, who has 16 years of collegiate and high school coaching experience in Western New York, has taken a leave of absence from his coaching position at Erie Community College. In his two-plus seasons at ECC, Witherspoon had a 44-23 record, and last season he was honored as Region III Division I Coach of the Year after leading the Kats to a 24-5 record and Region III title. Witherspoon steps into the UB hot spot immediately preceding the biggest game in school history, a Dec. 7 home date against #7 ranked University of North Carolina. The Bulls then are scheduled to face #15 Indiana Dec. 10 at the Indiana Classic.

EL PERFECTO: Three MAC teams have unblemished records in the early season. Bowling Green tops the list with a 5-0 mark, Marshall is at 4-0 and Kent is 3-0. BG is at Oakland and Marshall hosts West Virginia State Tuesday night while Kent's next game is Wednesday at Michigan. All three teams have a ways to go to match Toledo's start last year. The Rockets bolted to a 10-0 start, which included wins against Ohio State, Dayton and Xavier.

GOT LUX? Northern Illinois senior-center T.J. Lux has returned from last season's injury (shin splints) to lead the Huskies to an early season mark of 4-1. To gage his value to the team, NIU was 3-2 last year prior to Lux's season-ending injury and 3-18 after he was sidelined. In the three previous seasons of Lux's full-time availability, NIU posted a 42-41 record. This year's team needs just three more wins to surpass last year's total of six. NIU's next challenge is in its league opener Saturday night at Akron, the preseason choice to win the East Division.

LEAGUE LIDLIFTERS: The MAC season gets underway with two games this week. Tuesday night's lineup features the Ohio Bobcats (4-1) at Eastern Michigan (4-2). Saturday's showcard highlights the Northern Illinois Huskies (4-1) at Akron (3-2 going into Tuesday's game at Cleveland State).

ZIPS ZAPPED: The Akron Zips proved tough in their loss at #19 Purdue on Dec. 4. UA fought the Boilermakers to a 64-64 draw with 1:47 left before falling 75-66. Akron's Jimmal Ball led all scorers with 24 points. Ball also pumped in 20 points in UA's 75-62 win against Western Kentucky.

FRESHMAN FINDS: Last year Ball State freshman Lonnie Jones led the MAC in blocked shots at 2.0 per game. This year another Cardinal freshman, Theron Smith, is among the league's rebound leaders as he is tied for third with 10.0 per game. Smith already has a Pepsi MAC Defensive Player of the Week Award to his credit. Smith stands 6-8 and is from Auburndale (Fla.) High School.

BG BLAST: The Bowling Green Falcons are off the best start in the MAC at 5-0, which is also the school's fastest start since the 1974-75 team began with five consecutive wins. This year's squad will try and become the first Falcon team since the 1947-48 squad to start 6-0 when it plays at Oakland Tuesday night. BG has won 12 of its last 14 overall dating back to last season.

BULLISH ON OPPONENTS: During last year's 5-24 season, just four times did a Buffalo player score 20 or more points. With Damien Foster's 28 points versus Manhattan, five times already this season a UB player has reached the 20-point plateau.

MANCIEL ON THE MEND: Off-season foot surgery has sidelined the 1999 MAC Freshman of the Year, Central Michigan's Mike Manciel, but he is on the road to recovery. Manciel was cleared to start practice on a halftime basis Nov. 29. His anticipated return date has not been determined. Manciel averaged 17.5 points and 6.4 rebounds a game last year for the Chippewas, both team highs.

HERD TRACKS: Marshall's Thundering Herd is off to a 4-0 start, the best at the school since the 1996-97 team was 5-0. In the 66-55 win at UMass, Tamar Slay exploded for a game-high 24 points and MAC Offensive Player of the Week, J.R. VanHoose, had a double-double - by halftime with 11 points and 11 rebounds, VanHoose finished the game with 19 points and 16 rebounds. Marshall will attempt to go 6-0 at home Tuesday night versus West Virginia State.

THREE 20s: Ohio's Sanjay Adell bettered the 20-point mark in all three of the Bobcats games last week to take over as the MAC scoring leader with 22.0 ppg. Adell dropped 28 points against George Washington, pumped in 24 versus Houston and posted 20 versus Iowa. Adell made 6-of-7 field goal attempts versus GWU, resulting in a second-best in school history performance of .857 percent from the field. He was also named to the Gazette Hawkeye Challenge All-Tournament team and needs 41 points to become the 25th player in school history to reach 1,000 for his career.

QUICK AS A CAT: Ohio's Anthony Jones tied a school record with eight steals in a game in the 'Cats 73-65 win against Houston. Jones, who has won MAC Defensive Player of the Week twice in the first three weeks of the season, leads the MAC with 23 steals in five games, an average of 4.6 per outing. The MAC single season record for steals is 103 set during the 1997-98 season by Ball State's Bonzi Wells.

HOSIER IS HANDY: Ball State guard Mickey Hosier has had a big hand in the 4-1 start by the Cardinals. The 5-11 Hosier has dished out 17 assists and committed just five turnovers for a MAC-leading 3.40 assist-turnover ratio. Last year Hosier had a 2.50 assist-turnover ratio (75 assists, 30 turnovers). In the last 14 games, dating back to last year, Hosier has 50 assists and 11 turnovers, a 4.50 ratio.

CLEMENS IS CROWNED: Ball State's Duane Clemens was tabbed as the MVP of the First Merchants Classic after leading the Cardinals to the championship with wins over Cornell, 73-65, and Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 71-58. Clemens became the 20th player in BSU history to reach 1,000 career points. BSU has won four in a row since a season-opening 60-50, loss at Wisconsin.

EYE ON THE RECORD BOOK:
Akron's Jimmal Ball needs eight steals to break the school mark of 189 ... Bowling Green's Anthony Stacey has 1,538 career points and is only 296 away from the school record of 1,834 held by Howard Komives ... Ohio's Sanjay Adell needs 41 points to reach 1,000 for his career ... the Bobcats' Anthony Jones tied a school record with eight steals versus Houston ... Ohio's Larry Hunter could tie former Bowling Green head coach Jim Larranaga for sixth place all-time among MAC coaches with 170 wins if the Bobcats can top Eastern Michigan Tuesday night.

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).

MAC AT 54: The Mid-American Conference is in its 54th season of men's basketball and third with a divisional format. The MAC Tournament will move to Cleveland for the first time ever in the year 2000. Following first round games on campus sites (March 1), Gund Arena will host quartfinals (March 5), semifinals (March 6) and the championship game (March 8). Previous MAC Tournaments have been staged in Toledo, Detroit, Columbus, Rockford and Ann Arbor.