UNI Hosts #12 Iowa, UMKC This Week

Panthers look to extend eight-game home winning streak.

Eric Coleman leads UNI in scoring and rebounding.

Eric Coleman leads UNI in scoring and rebounding.

Dec. 6, 2005

This Week in Panther Men's Hoops
Dec. 5 - 11, 2005

Tues., Dec. 6 Iowa (Fox 28) 7:05 pm
Sat., Dec. 10 UMKC 7:05 pm

UNI Hosts #12 Iowa, UMKC This Week

The University of Northern Iowa men's basketball team (4-1) continues its season-long four game homestand this week with a pair of games in the UNI-Dome. First, the 12th-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes come to the Dome for a 7:05 p.m. tipoff on Tuesday, Dec. 6. On Saturday, Dec. 10, the UMKC Kangaroos invade the Cedar Valley, with it also being a 7:05 p.m. tipoff.

The Starting Five...

l The Panthers have won eight straight home games, with their last loss being a 65-57 setback to Wichita State on 1/24/05. UNI has won 10 consecutive non-conference home games, with its last loss being a 64-55 defeat to Furman in the 2002-03 season.
l UNI has beaten Iowa two straight times in the UNI-Dome, and three of the last four times the Hawkeyes have come to Cedar Falls.
l The Panthers allowed Loyola just 33.3 percent field goal shooting on Dec. 3, including 4-for-19 from three-point range. UNI has not allowed an opponent to score more than 70 points this season, and is holding the opposition to an average of 56.0 points per game.
l When 12th-ranked Iowa plays at the UNI-Dome on Tuesday, it will be the second-highest ranked team to ever play the Panthers at home. The highest ranked foe to ever come to the UNI-Dome was also Iowa, when the Hawks were ranked seventh in the 2001-02 season. UNI won that game, 78-76.
l The Panthers came out of their early-season shooting slump against Loyola. UNI connected on a season-best .531 (26-for-49) from the field overall, and also hit a season-high .429 (6-for-14) from three-point range.

Television Coverage

Both games this week will be televised. The UNI-Iowa game will be carried in eastern Iowa on KFXA (Fox 28), and in central Iowa on KDSM. The UNI-UMKC game will be televised live back to Kansas City on MetroSports.

Live on the Web

All UNI home games will have live stats courtesy of GameTracker on the Panthers' official athletic website at www.unipanthers.com. All of UNI's games, both home and road, will have its radio broadcasts streamed live on the Panthers' website as well.

UNI Head Coach Greg McDermott

Greg McDermott (UNI '88) is in his fifth season at the helm of his alma mater, and in his 12th season as a head coach overall. He has compiled a 71-54 mark at UNI, 38-34 in the MVC. Overall, he has a career coaching record of 202-118, including six years at Wayne State (Neb.), and one year at North Dakota State.

McDermott has overseen a renaissance of UNI basketball, guiding the Panthers to a combined record of 46-22 over the past three seasons. The Panthers have made back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances in 2004 and 2005, and posted consecutive 20-win seasons for the first time in school history. In 2004, McDermott guided the Panthers to their first-ever Missouri Valley Conference tournament title. UNI received its first-ever at-large bid to the NCAA tournament in 2005.

Prior to coming to UNI, McDermott guided Wayne State to four consecutive 20-win seasons with a conference championship and an NCAA Sweet 16 appearance. He was the 1998-99 NABC/Chevrolet North Central District Coach of the Year, and the 1999-2000 Northern Sun Coach of the Year. A native of Cascade, Iowa, McDermott played for UNI from 1984-88, scoring 1,033 points (currently 24th on the Panthers' all-time scoring list), and led the team in field goal percentage three straight seasons.

MVC Weekly Teleconference

Once again this year, the Missouri Valley Conference will hold a weekly men's basketball teleconference for each of its 10 head coaches each Tuesday. Greg McDermott is scheduled to be on the call at 10:40 a.m. The calls will begin on Tuesday, Dec. 6, and will continue weekly through the conclusion of the regular season, with a break for the Holidays. Media members wishing to participate should call 913-981-5509. Contact Mike Kern at the Missouri Valley Conference at 314-421-0339 for more information.

UNI Picked First In Missouri Valley Conference Preseason Poll

For the first time in its men's basketball history -- dating back to 1900 -- UNI has been picked as its conference's preseason favorite. The Panthers received 23 first-place votes and 379 points, to edge out second place Creighton, who had 15 first-place votes and 372 points. Prior to this year, UNI had never received more than one first place vote in the MVC preseason poll. Its highest preseason ranking before this year was a tie for third last season.

Jacobson Named MVC Preseason Player of The Year

UNI senior guard Ben Jacobson was voted the 2005-06 MVC preseason player of the year. The 6-3, 205 pound Jacobson led the Valley in scoring as a junior (17.9 ppg), while shooting 49 percent from the field and 45 percent from three-point range. Jacobson becomes the second UNI player to earn MVC preseason POTY honors, joining Randy Blocker in 1993-94.

But Don't Forget About...

UNI returns four other starters from last year's 21-11 team, in addition to Jacobson. Erik Crawford (13.3 ppg), Grant Stout (11.7 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 2.3 bpg), Eric Coleman (10.7 ppg, 6.4 rpg) and Brooks McKowen (3.4 ppg, 2.9 apg) are all back, in addition to senior John Little (4.4 ppg), who will be UNI's first player off the bench this season.

Last Time out for the Panthers...

Cedar Falls, Iowa - Cedar Falls, Iowa - Senior guard Ben Jacobson (Sioux City, Iowa) scored a season-high 20 points to lead the University of Northern Iowa men's basketball team to a 72-56 win over Loyola-Chicago Dec. 3 at the UNI-Dome.

Jacobson also led the Panthers in rebounds (7) and assists (4), while tying for team-high honors in steals (2). Joining Jacobson in double figures were Eric Coleman (Maplewood, Minn.) with 15 and Erik Crawford (Oakdale, Minn.) with 12.

UNI (4-1) put on a stifling defensive effort against Loyola (4-1), limiting the Ramblers to just 33 percent shooting for the game (19-for-57), and just 24 percent from three-point range (4-of-17). The Panthers also blocked nine Loyola shots, three each by Coleman and Grant Stout (New Sharon, Iowa). Conversely, UNI connected on 53.1 percent of its field goal attempts, including 62 percent (16-for-26) in the second half.

The Panthers went on an 8-0 run over a two minute stretch near the end of the first half to turn a two point game into a 31-21 halftime advantage. Sophomore guard Adam Viet (Ackley, Iowa) hit a pair of three-pointers during that run to help give the Panthers its double-digit lead heading into the locker room.

UNI kept the pressure on early in the second half, going on a 14-3 run over the first five minutes, to put the game away. The 16-point margin of victory by the Panthers was as close as the Ramblers would get the rest of the way.

About Iowa

The Hawkeyes enter the game with a record of 7-1 overall and are ranked 12th nationally. The trio of Adam Haluska (14.5 ppg), Greg Brunner (13.8 ppg, 8.9 rpg) and Jeff Horner (12.3 ppg) lead Iowa offensively. Iowa has already posted wins over top 25 teams Kentucky and North Carolina State, with its lone loss being to #2 Texas.

About UMKC

The Kangaroos enter this week's play with a 3-1 record, and play at Penn State on Dec. 7. Three players stand out for UMKC - guards Quinton Day and Tim Blackwell, and forward Dee Ayuba. Day leads the team in scoring, averaging 20.8 points per game, while Blackwell averages 12.0 points per outing. Ayuba averages 18.0 points and a team-best 8.0 rebounds per contest.

Series History

Iowa holds a 30-5 lead in the all-time series with UNI, but the Panthers have won two straight and three of the last four played in the UNI-Dome. The last time the two teams played in Cedar Falls (2003-04), the Panthers posted a 77-66 win over the Hawkeyes ... UNI holds a 4-1 lead in the all-time series with UMKC. The Panthers posted an 81-58 win in Kansas City a year ago. UNI is 2-0 all-time against UMKC in games played at the UNI-Dome, with the last game played here in the 1999-2000 season.

Austin Added to Roster

UNI has added a player to its roster, in 6-6, 240 pound freshman forward Austin Howard. Howard is a member of UNI's football team and redshirted this season, and is eligible to play immediately. He began practicing with UNI's basketball team last week. Austin is a native of Davenport, Iowa, and attended Davenport Central High School.

Bracket Busting

When the Panthers won at Western Michigan Nov. 23, that made UNI a perfect 6-0 in games associated with the Bracket Buster Saturday event. The Panthers have posted wins on Bracket Buster Saturday at Louisiana Tech (76-71, 2003) and UW-Green Bay (82-75, 2004) and at home versus WMU (86-75, 2005). In addition, UNI has won each of the "return" games the next season (as part of the BBS contract).

Viet Against Loyola

Sophomore guard Adam Viet made his impact felt in UNI's 72-56 win over Loyola Dec. 3. The 6-3 sophomore guard from Ackley entered the game early in the first half and hit two three-pointers, had one assist and forced a tie-up of a loose ball during a four-minute stretch that helped propel UNI to a 10-point halftime lead. Viet, whom coach Greg McDermott has called the best pure shooter on the Panthers' team, had hit two treys in a game twice so far this season.

Defensive Intensity

The Panthers continued their stellar defensive play last week. The Panthers allowed Loyola just 33.3 percent field goal shooting, including 4-for-19 from three-point range. UNI has not allowed an opponent to score more than 70 points this season, and is holding the opposition to an average of 56.0 points per game. For the season, UNI's opponents are connecting on just 38 percent of their field goals, and just 30 percent of their three-point shots.

Iron Men

The Panthers' top six from a year ago saw the lion's share of the minutes in the Panthers' 68-61 loss at Iowa State. UNI's starting five of Ben Jacobson, Erik Crawford, Eric Coleman, Grant Stout and Brooks McKowen, along with sixth-man John Little, played 188 of the possible 200 minutes against the Cyclones.

Shooting Woes

One of UNI's strengths has become a struggle through the team's first five games. UNI, which shot 38 percent from three-point range as a team a year ago -- and made a school-record 226 treys -- has connected on just 27 percent of its shots behind the arc thus far this season. Senior Ben Jacobson and Erik Crawford, the Panthers' top two perimeter threats, are just 10-for-39 between them on threes this season. That duo combined to make 128 triples a year ago, hitting on 43 percent. The Panthers did come out of their shooting funk somewhat against Loyola Dec. 3, hitting 6-of-14 from downtown.

Coleman Delivers (Again) Against Cyclones

Sophomore Eric Coleman scored a season-high 19 points against Iowa State Nov. 29, hitting 9-of-15 shots from the field, and grabbing seven boards. That marks two years in a row that Coleman has had solid games against ISU, as he had a career-high 24 points with 10 rebounds last year in the UNI-Dome against the Cyclones.

Panthers on the Radio

UNI's men's basketball games can be heard on the UNI Sports Radio Network, with KXEL 1540-AM serving as the flagship station. Affiliates include KGLO (1300 AM, Mason City), KWKY (1150 AM, Des Moines) and KQWC (1570 AM/95.7 FM) in Webster City. Long-time Panthers announcer Gary Rima handles play-by-play duties, while former UNI assistant coach Kevin Boyle serves as analyst. All Panther games will also be streamed on UNI's official athletic website, www.unipanthers.com. Head coach Greg McDermott's weekly radio show will air each Thursday at 7:05 p.m.

Home Cooking

The Panthers went 13-2 at home last season, which tied the 2003-04 squad for the fourth-most home victories in school history. Only two other teams -- 1988-89 and 1983-84 -- posted fewer UNI-Dome losses than the Panthers did last year. So far this season, UNI is 2-0 at home, and has posted an eight-game winning streak in the Dome.

Honors, Honors Everywhere

UNI has received more preseason accolades this year than in any time in its history. Many preseason magazines have picked UNI to win the Missouri Valley Conference and advance to the NCAA tournament, with numerous individual honors for Ben Jacobson and others (see box on right).

Panthers in the Polls

In both the preseason ESPN/USA Top 25 and the Associated Press Top 25, UNI received votes. This marks the first time ever that UNI has received votes in the two major national preseason polls. The Panthers were also ranked 16th in the Athlon preseason poll, and 17th by Sports Illustrated. In addition, UNI is ranked fourth in the current CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 poll.

Jacobson On Wooden Award Watch List

Senior guard Ben Jacobson was one of 50 players named to the Wooden Award Preseason All-America Team Watch List, announced in August. Jacobson is the only MVC player on the list, and becomes the first UNI player ever to earn the national honor. Jacobson led the Valley in scoring in 2004-05 with 17.9 points per game, and was also the leading scorer on the NIT All-Star Team that toured England and Ireland in summer 2005, averaging 16.7 points per contest.

Dialing Long Distance

The Panthers had 226 three-pointers last season, which was the most in school history. Against Wisconsin in the NCAA tournament, UNI set a new record for treys -- but that's nothing new for a Greg McDermott-coached basketball team. In his first four years at the Panthers' helm, his teams have the four highest single-season totals for three-pointers made in school history. UNI had topped 200 threes made just once prior to McDermott's arrival.

Panthers win 20 in Back-to-Back Seasons for First Time Ever

With the Panthers' 81-72 win over Bradley Feb. 26, 2005, UNI claimed its 20th victory of the year. Combined with the 2003-04 season's 21-10 record, that marks the first time in school history that UNI has won 20 or more games in back-to-back seasons. In fact, last season marked just the fourth time ever that a Panther basketball team won 20 or more games. In addition to last year (21-11) and the 2004 Missouri Valley Conference championship team, UNI went 23-9 in 1989-90 and 23-4 in 1963-64 (when UNI was Division II) for its other 20+ win seasons. All four Panthers squads that have won 20 or more games have advanced to the NCAA tournament.

Stout breaks School Record for Blocked Shots; Approaching Career Lead

Sophomore forward Grant Stout had 75 blocked shots last season, which was a new UNI single-season record and ranked second in the Missouri Valley Conference. Stout set the mark Feb. 5 against Southern Illinois, breaking the record of Scott Stafford (who had 51 blocks in the 1983-84 season). Stout is already second on UNI's career blocked shots list with 100. Sean Hawkins (1995-98) is UNI's career leader with 118.

Jacobson Tops 1,000 Career Points...

UNI junior guard Ben Jacobson reached 1,000 career points against Indiana State on Jan. 9. The 6-3, 205 pound native of Sioux City, Iowa, became the 27th player in UNI history to reach that milestone, and just the 15th since the Panthers turned Division I in the 1981-82 season. In addition, Jacobson -- who currently has 1,366 points -- was just the sixth UNI player to reach the century mark in scoring in his junior campaign.

... And is Now in UNI's Top 10

Senior guard Ben Jacobson ranks seventh on UNI's career scoring chart with 1,386 points. Next for Jacobson to pass on the list is Robbie Sieverding, who had 1,402 points from 1999-2002.

Silver Anniversary

UNI is celebrating its 25th year of playing Division I basketball this season. The Panthers moved up from the Division II ranks for the 1981-82 season, and has a record of 328-432 since that point. The Panthers are 46-22 over the past three years under head coach Greg McDermott.

Turn on the Bright Lights

Maybe Ben Jacobson should consider a career in television, the way things have gone for him. Since the 2003-04 season, ESPN's cameras have televised three UNI games -- the 2004 Missouri Valley Conference championship game against Missouri State, as well as games last year at Creighton (Feb. 9) and at home against Western Michigan (Feb. 19). In those three games, Jacobson scored 26, 31 and 29 points, respectively, while connecting on 54 percent of his field goals (32-for-59), 59 percent of his three-point attempts (10-for-17) and 86 percent of his free throws (12-for-14). He also had 10 assists and just three turnovers. Jacobson was named the 2004 State Farm MVC Tournament Most Outstanding Player, leading UNI to the 79-74 double OT win over Missouri State.

Balanced Attack

Much has been made about UNI's returning all five starters from last year's team. But in the Panthers season opener Nov. 20 against Western Carolina, UNI showed its depth off the bench. Twelve players played in the game, and a total of 10 players scored. Eric Coleman led the way with 17 points and Ben Jacobson added 12. Grant Stout and Travis Brown each added eight, while John Little and Jared Josten posted six apiece. That balanced continued again Nov. 27 in the win over Upper Iowa as 11 different Panthers found the scoring column. UNI has six players averaging better than 4.8 points per game this season.

UNI on Television

The Panthers will appear numerous times on television again this season. Local affiliate KFXA (Fox 28) will broadcast at least three UNI games, Dec. 6 against Iowa, Jan. 11 against Creighton and Jan. 28 at Drake. In addition, Fox 28 also will produce Greg McDermott's weekly coaches show, which airs each Saturday at 11:00 a.m. starting in December. The Panthers will appear three times on the Missouri Valley Conference's television package -- Jan 21 against Drake, Feb. 4 against Indiana State, and Feb. 11 against Missouri State. In addition, UNI will make at least three appearances on national cable -- Jan. 5 at Wichita State and Jan. 31 at Creighton, both on ESPNU, and Feb. 25 at Southern Illinois on ESPN2. The Panthers also might appear on ESPN or ESPN2 as part of Bracket Buster Saturday IV on Feb. 18, with its opponent to be determined in early February.

Panthers Sign Four Early

UNI has signed four players to national letters of intent, UNI head coach Greg McDemott announced Nov. 9. Inking to play with the Panthers beginning in the 2006-07 campaign are guard Kwadzo Ahelegbe (Oakdale, Minn./Tartan), guard Kerwin Dunham (Bondurant, Iowa/Bondurant-Farrar), center Jordan Eglseder (Bellevue, Iowa/Marquette) and forward Adam Koch (Ashwaubenon, Wis./Ashwaubenon).

Ahelegbe (pronounced Ka-JOE Ah-LEG-bay), a 6-2, 195-pound point guard, has been a four-year starter for Tartan. He averaged 10.4 points and 4.2 assists per game as a junior, and was a first-team all-conference player, as well as being honorable mention all-state. He has helped lead Tartan to a combined record of 74-19 the last three years. Ahelegbe becomes the third Tartan player to join UNI's program in recent years, as both Erik Crawford and Eric Coleman are Tartan alums.

Dunham has been a three-year starter for Bondurant-Farrar, during which his team has a cumulative record of 69-8 and is undefeated at home. The 6-4, 170-pound shooting guard averaged 26.8 points and 5.6 rebounds per game as a junior, shooting 54 percent from the field and 41 percent from three-point range. He was a first-team all-state selection and was named the IBCA Class 2A State Player of the Year.

The 7-0, 265-pound Eglseder (pronounced EGG-el-seed-er) becomes the first true seven foot player to ever sign with the Panthers. He averaged 25.9 points, 14.0 rebounds and 5.0 blocks per game as a junior for Bellevue-Marquette, and has been a first-team all-state selection in both 2004 and 2005. With Eglseder in the lineup the past two seasons, Bellevue-Marquette has posted a record of 50-5.

Koch (pronounced COOK) is a 6-8, 210-pound power forward and becomes the first Wisconsin high school prep to sign with the Panthers in McDermott's five-year coaching tenure. The native of Ashwaubenon, Wis., (pronounced Ash-WAH-ben-on) averaged 15.0 points and 6.3 rebounds per game as a junior, while shooting 54 percent from the field and 73 percent from the free throw line. He was a second-team All-Bay Conference selection.

First at Wells Fargo

When the Panthers played in the Nov. 20 doubleheader at Wells Fargo Arena -- the Mediacom Two Rivers Shootout -- that marked the first college basketball games played in the new building in Des Moines. UNI's women's team will play in the first women's basketball game played in the arena, when it travels face Iowa State Dec. 17.

Press Luncheon

Each Monday, UNI's in-season coaches will speak at Noon in the back room of Pepper's Sports Bar and Grill, located on 18th street in Cedar Falls. The public and media are invited to attend and hear what Greg McDermott and the other coaches have to say about their teams. KXEL (1540-AM), the radio home of UNI men's basketball, will air the coaches comments at 5:00 p.m. each Monday afternoon.

 

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