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Date Posted: 16:59:16 06/08/04 Tue
Author: Leatherhead
Subject: WIU recruiting class 21st

Here's some optimistic news:

Western Illinois University men’s basketball coach Derek Thomas and other NCAA Division I men’s basketball coaches were granted new life as the NCAA passed legislation on April 29 rescinding the “5/8 rule”. Thomas, in his first complete recruiting class, was able to turn Western’s 2004 recruiting class into a Top 25 class, according to HoopScoop recruiting service and a “Sleeper to Watch” in 2004-05 by ESPN.com.

The “5/8 rule” limited the number of initial grants that may be awarded to men’s basketball players to eight in a consecutive two-year period, with no more than five initial grants in one of those two years. Western signed four players before the “5/8 rule” fell and another four during the spring.

“The demise of the 5/8 rule helps any new coach at a school,” said Thomas. “When a new coach entered in the past, you just didn’t have the scholarships to improve immediately. This has helped us tremendously and all mid-major schools have benefited. In a couple years, the field will be leveled for all schools. One negative is schools may place student-athletes in ‘soft’ majors to keep players eligible.”

The four players the Leathernecks originally had signed for 2004-05 were: David Jackson (Memphis, Tenn./Westside), Navonta Kentle (Pine Bluff, Ark./Pine Bluff), Kyle Lasek (Moline, Ill./Moline) and Fred Oguns (Lagos, Nigeria/Sheridan (CC) Wyo.). The four players Thomas and his staff added after April 29 were: Eliz Cepeda (Loiza, Puerto Rico/ Southeastern (CC) Iowa), Nathan Koster (Lewistown, Ill./Illinois Central), Allen McFarland (Las Vegas, Nev./Durango) and Troy Okeson (Weskan, Kan./Dodge City (CC) Kan.).

“You never know how a class will gel,” remarked Thomas. “We have definitely raised our talent level and many national organizations and recruiting services have taken notice. I think we have caught up with most of the teams in the Mid-Con as far as talent.”

Such national recruiting services that took notice were HoopScoop and ESPN.com’s “Recruiting Insider.” HoopScoop slotted the Leathernecks with the 21st best class, just behind Kansas and Alabama (tie-18th) and Iowa (20th) and ahead of Florida State (22nd), Purdue (23rd) and defending national champion Connecticut (25th). ESPN.com’s Bill Hodge marked Western as a “Sleeper to Watch” noting the “large and talented class after hitting the junior colleges for talent.” Western was the only Mid-Continent Conference school on either list.

Returning to the Leatherneck roster next season are five letterwinners: seniors Will Lewis and Anthony Lenoir and sophmores David Genslinger, Brian Schmit and All-Mid-Con Newcomer Team member T.J. Gray. Also taking the court in 2004-05 will be redshirt senior Eulis Baez.

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Replies:

[> Re: WIU recruiting class 21st -- Neckfansince71, 09:51:47 06/09/04 Wed

I was curious about who was and was not coming back from the 03/04 team. Cole and Archie are the only two individuals that were on scholarship from what I can see. Stalling and Haywood were not in the mix throughout the season.

So what exactly does this all mean? Of course this is good pub and a major step, but hoopscoop ratings are based on a mathematical formula which includes the number of athletes times their ranking! Kansas could have recruited three players with higher rankings then our 8. But still, the turnaround is underway and I really think that the team's record and attendance will move swiftly in the right direction. Van Alstine's vision helped to break the football mark with marketing and ticket strategies, not to mention scheduling. I think the same thing will happen in basketball.

jc


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[> [> Re: WIU recruiting class 21st -- RockyBDog, 18:59:07 06/10/04 Thu

Perhaps I should have explained my post earlier. I meant that maybe Coach P. will step up the effort. Are his players bad: no. It would be nice, however, to see a nationally ranked player go to WIU. This would be in order to provide EVEN MORE recognition. As far as BB, I certainly agree WIU needs better oppenents. I think some of the oppenents this year are: Iowa, UCLA, Drake, and Loyola, plus the TBD and conference teams. I would hope Bradley and/or ISU are wlling to put us back on the schedule


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[> [> Re: WIU recruiting class 21st -- RockyBDog, 19:00:25 06/10/04 Thu

Perhaps I should have explained my post earlier. I meant that maybe Coach P. will step up the effort. Are his players bad: no. It would be nice, however, to see a nationally ranked player go to WIU. This would be in order to provide EVEN MORE recognition. As far as BB, I certainly agree WIU needs better oppenents. I think some of the oppenents this year are: Iowa, UCLA, Drake, and Loyola, plus the TBD and conference teams. I would hope Bradley and/or ISU are wlling to put us back on the schedule.


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[> Re: WIU recruiting class 21st -- RockyBDog, 16:00:58 06/09/04 Wed

Here are the players that are returning:
Gray
Archie
Lenoir
Lewis
Genslinger
Schmit

Cole left the team (violation of team policy). Perhaps this step up in basketball may push Coach Patterson to recruit even better players than he currently does.


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[> [> Re: WIU recruiting class 21st -- wiutsuoru, 18:25:36 06/09/04 Wed

Good to see WIU win the Mid-Con Commissioner's trophy. Congrats to the men for winning the Men's All Sport,and, the women who finished second in the Women's All Sport Awards.


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[> [> [> Re: WIU recruiting class 21st -- wiuato, 09:20:23 06/10/04 Thu

I think Coach P. is doing fine in recruiting. The FB program is not lacking, it is the BBall program that has been terrible and maybe with a few wins, people will come. Maybe the the Athletic dept. could do more promotional gigs as they did back in the day such as: Halftime entertainment, concert post-game, free food items with special coupon, giveaways etc. There is no reason that this school should not get atleast 3000 fans at games, the students get in free for god sakes. More Macombites would attend with lower ticket prices because 8-9.00 is alot for a program of this caliber.

Something is wrong here that needs fixing and it is not necessarily the teams fault(W's & L's), there needs to be some creative thinking going on in the Athletic dept. to right the ship or it will sink beyond belief. I have it! Get out of the un-interesting Mid-Con! No natural rivals or regular regional battles outside of Valpo. Fact is, nobody cares about seeing anyone in the Mid-Con except for maybe Valpo so if a conference move is not a possibility, then schedule more home nc games with close MVC, and Horizon schools. Many of these schools are former Mid-Con and rival schools so this may help in attendance. I honestly do not believe that lets say WIU goes 26-0 during the season that anymore than 2500 average will attend games because of lack of interest in who is playing the NECKS.

If the FB program jumped ship to say the OVC or the GWFC for example do you think our attendance would stay above 8,000? No, why? Because in the GFC, there are natural rivals along with regional ones. at one time there was ISU, EIU and SIU for state bragging rights then UNI for king-of-the-hill rights. These games are big, EIU opted out because they could not take the heat and we now have a top 1-aa school in YSU and recently a good WKU program. Quality conference opponents + decent non-conf + Wins = SUCCESS!


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[> [> [> [> Re: WIU recruiting class 21st -- wiutsuoru, 14:04:58 06/10/04 Thu

I totally agree. I've said as much on earlier posts.


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[> [> Re: WIU recruiting class 21st -- Smack, 14:32:26 06/14/04 Mon

I don't think Keith Archie is coming back because of grade problems. As far as the attendance problem is concerned, I'm not sure that changing conferences is the solution. I understand about regional rivalries, but when Centenary out draws us on the season average, I think that the problem is deeper. Look at it this way, what conference would accept a school that draws less than 1500 to a game? USA? Valley? Horizon? I realize that playing those type of teams would help with bringing people to a game but you have to have a solid base to start with. I agree that marketing and entertainment is a step in the right direction. Student and community support are the keys and must somehow be enticed to come out and support the program. Maybe getting to the NCAA tournament would help. Nothing builds tradition like winning.
On a side note, From what I hear the whole team, new recruits and returnees, are all going to summer classes and working out. Hmmm..... could be an interesting year.


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[> [> [> Re: WIU recruiting class 21st -- wiuato, 11:07:07 06/15/04 Tue

If WIU was in the 3 conferences you mentioned they would be drawing around 3000 atleast. And there are teams in 2 of those conf.'s that draw arounf what WIU does. Believe me, there is definite interest in playing teams like SIU, ILST, Bradley, UIC, Loyola and the old Mid-Con schools who now play in other conf.'s.

If WIU could bring in a big name school once a year to play in Macomb and wrap a special promo around it, you would easily see 5-6000+ squeeze into Western Hall. Butttttt, on the attendance thing how many actually show up since students get in free and there is no actual turnstyles to calculate numbers only ticket sales. Same goes for football, how do they calculate this? I have wondered for a long time.


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[> Re: WIU recruiting class 21st -- Stlrebfan, 20:19:28 07/01/04 Thu

This is a great class IMO. Baez could contend for league player-of-the-year, and Jackson is a STUD. He will be a starter from day one. I've heard you all talk about switching conferences, and I do see where more natural geographic rivals would boost attendence. It's hard to get juiced over a WIU-S. Utah rivalry. Maybe the AD has that in mind as well. I am really excited about the direction this basketball program is headed.


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[> [> Re: WIU recruiting class 21st -- wiutsuoru, 08:07:43 07/02/04 Fri

I hope your insight is correct. We who follow WIU Basketball have heard these comments before, only to see them sink. I agree, things do look very bright.


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[> Re: WIU recruiting class 21st -- RockyBDog, 12:51:58 07/05/04 Mon

I was wondering if any one has seen any of the WIU players work out and what they bring to the team.


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[> [> Re: WIU recruiting class 21st -- Smack, 18:10:37 07/30/04 Fri

The roster has been posted on the Basketball site. Looks like we will be alot taller that in the past. Hope they can play.


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