The Byrd Cage

Meeting Our New Foes: Eastern Kentucky

In Game Posts on August 6, 2012 at 7:34 pm

Eastern Kentucky University

Located a short 27 miles south of the real University of Kentucky (only in Kentucky, I know) Eastern Kentucky University was originally established as Central University in 1874. I won’t bore you with the numerous name changes, financial difficulties, and school consolidations the institution has undergone since its inception (great movie btw) but they seemed to have turned out alright as they now offer 160 degree programs at the undergraduate, masters, and doctorate levels via seven locations in awesome places like Lancaster, Somerset, and Corbin! Overall it seems to be a fine academic institution boasting several of the quasi-respectable national recognitions/rankings that Belmont often tastefully emblazons on the front door of its campus. EKU also appears to be recognized nationally as super-friendly to service vets so I’ll tone down the sass so as not to further risk a pummeling when I visit their campus to see Belmont beat them this year (there I go again!). Total enrollment via all campuses is under 17,000 students (about 14,520 at their main campus in Richmond).

 


EKU seems to have taken the opposite approach Belmont took when altering the name of its mascot over the years. Up until the mid ‘60s they were referred to as the ‘Maroons’ when they switched to a far-less questionable mascot for a southern institution: ‘The Colonels’ . . .

Football seems to be their stronger collegiate sport over the years but get this – Dan Patrick and Rex Ryan – both Colonels! How bout them apples?

The Team:  A Primer

Alright – time for some stats. The Colonels have seven NCAA Tournament appearances (2007 – lost to No. 1 seed North Carolina 86-65, 2005 – lost to No.2 Seed Kentucky 72-64, 1979, 1972, 1965, 1959, 1953), six Ohio Valley Conference regular season titles (’78-’79, ’71-’72, ’64-65, ’60-’61, ’58-’59, ’52-’53), and five OVC Tournament Titles (2007, 2005, 1979, 1955, 1950).  In 2009-10 they set an OVC record with 327 three-point field goals and until Murray State’s reign of terror last year they led the OVC in three-point field goals made per game for three consecutive seasons (they finished second in this category last year).

Their Basketball program is 102 years old throughout which they have accumulated a record of 1,131-1,058. Last year, The Colonels went 16-16 overall and with a 7-9 conference record. From just a cursory review of their 2011-12 stats their strengths seem to be knocking down threes and minimizing tournovers (best turnover margin in the OVC) with weaknesses being rebounding (on both sides of the court) and defense (FGs and 3PTs).

Compare Belmont’s 2011-12 Points per game of 80.9 to their 66.3, our 3-PT FG pct of .378 to their .339, and our average home game attendance of 2,012 to their 1,911. They made it to the conference tournament last year as the bottom #8 seed and lost to #5 seed SE Missouri State 75-65 in the first round.

The Players

Jaron Jones was the man to fear from this team last year, but the NABC All-District team player has since graduated after racking up 28 pts in his final game in the conference tournament. Jones averaged 17 pts a game and had the most minutes played on the team. Along with him went the team’s leading three point shooter Jeff Algood, and the teams second best all around player Josh Jones.

This summer the team has added Orlando Williams a transfer from Miami (Ohio) who won’t be eligible until late December and two ju-co forwards Tarius Johnson and Marcus Lewis. Returning sophomore Eric Stutz from Newburgh, Indiana and big Jeff Johnson seem to be the biggest dudes on the squad at 6-8, 225 lbs and 6-7, 264 lbs respectively.

All in all after finishing a mediocre 16-16 last year then losing three key graduating starters, EKU seems likely to file under Belmont’s lesser fears as the Bruins transition into the OVC.

-Kyle Williams

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