Posted: Nov 08, 2017
DENTON, Texas -- The Eureka College men's basketball team will play its first of two exhibition games against NCAA Division I opponents in a 48-hour window when the Red Devils visit North Texas Friday for a 5 p.m. tip-off in Denton, Texas.
Less than 12 months removed from putting up a winning overall record for the first time since the 2012-13 season, Eureka will turn to its experienced backcourt in junior guards Shea Feehan and Hank Thomas for offensive production in 2017-18.
Feehan, who became just the fourth player in program history to score 600 points in a season in 2016-17, will enter his third collegiate season ranked 21st on Eureka's modern-era scoring list with 928 career points. He'll likely become Eureka's 20th 1,000-point scorer since 1978 and the first since Jordan Kindred and Mark Lessen eclipsed the mark in 2013. Feehan was an All-SLIAC First Team choice, an All-Region pick by D3hoops.com and set new single-season Division-III era school records last season with a 26.7 scoring average, 173 free throws made and a .930 free throw percentage.
Thomas gives the Red Devils another efficient perimeter scorer. The third-year guard had a pair of 40-point games as a sophomore last winter, including a 44-point night at Greenville on Jan. 11 that fell three points shy of the Red Devils' single-game record. Thomas was the SLIAC's most accurate 3-point shooter as a sophomore, connecting on 44 percent (62-for-141) of his attempts from beyond the arc. He also distributed 73 assists and boasted a 1.6 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Junior forward and two-year starter Alex Wiegand will anchor Eureka's interior efforts. Wiegand has appeared in all 50 games since his arrival on campus in 2015, 49 of which have been starts. He is a career 53 percent shooter, averaging 7.2 points and 5.6 rebounds per contest. His 281 career rebounds already rank 37th on Eureka's modern-era list.
ADDITIONAL VALUABLE EXPERIENCE
Senior guards Ryan McElmurry and Brady Sanders also return to bolster Eureka's guard rotation. McElmurry played in all 25 games last season as one of EC's top defenders, leading all Red Devils with 29 steals. Sanders emerged as another dependable option, earning four starting assignments in the second half of the season, all against SLIAC opponents. He played 12 minutes or more in 12 of the final 17 games last season.
Sophomore Jordan Dehm also returns for EC. The 6-foot-5 forward made 18 appearances as a freshman, including eight starts. He broke out for a 15-point, 11-rebound double-double versus Greenville on Feb. 11.
EUREKA VS. DIVISION I
Eureka will visit an NCAA Division I opponent for the 14th time of the Chip Wilde coaching era on Friday. Eureka, which will also visit Loyola (Ill.) for an exhibition game on Sunday and travel to Central Michigan for a regular-season contest on Nov. 18, has yet to break through for a victory against its scholarship opposition.
Eastern Illinois has been the Red Devils' most frequent Division I opponent. EC has played EIU four times since Nov. 21, 2009. The Red Devils have also played Western Illinois (three times), Texas-Rio Grande Valley, SIUE, Bradley and Northern Illinois. The closest call for Eureka was a 77-74 defeat at Ohio Valley Conference member SIUE on Dec. 18, 2012.
PRESEASON SLIAC POLL
Eureka was picked to finish fourth in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in 2017-18, according to a preseason poll conducted by league head coaches last month. Defending SLIAC Tournament champion Westminster was voted by the coaches as preseason favorite.
Westminster received half of the 10 first-place votes to secure 72 total points in the poll. MacMurray, less than a year removed from a ninth-place finish, moved up the ladder to be picked second with 67 points and received four first-place votes. Greenville, which won the regular-season SLIAC crown a year ago, was voted third with 56 points. The Red Devils followed in fourth with 54 points, narrowly missing the third spot.
Spalding garnered the final first-place vote to be slotted fifth in the poll. Webster, Principia, Iowa Wesleyan, Blackburn and Fontbonne filled out the bottom half of the ballot.
ABOUT NORTH TEXAS
North Texas went 8-22 overall and 2-16 in Conference USA action last season. The Mean Green lost 17 of its final 19 games of the campaign.
A.J. Lawson, a sophomore guard from Bryan, Texas and a C-USA All-Freshman Team selection last season, returns as the team's leading scorer from a year ago at 11.4 points per game. He led the team with 343 points scored, fifth-best as a freshman in school history and first among freshman in the C-USA. Ryan Woolridge returns as the team's best rebounder at 4.9 boards per contest last winter. The Mean Green have one senior in forward Shane Temara, who played in 30 games last season.
The University of North Texas is located in Denton, Texas, approximately 40 miles northwest of Dallas. The institution was established in 1890 and the undergraduate enrollment is approximately 30,000 students. North Texas plays its home games at the 10,500-seat North Texas Coliseum, better known as The Super Pit.
MEET THE HEAD COACHES
The owner of more than two decades of coaching experience at the collegiate level, Chip Wilde will enter his 11th season as head coach at Eureka in 2017-18. The upcoming campaign marks Wilde's 20th season as a collegiate basketball head coach.
Wilde has proved to be one of the most successful head coaches in the storied history of Eureka men's basketball, establishing the Red Devils as a steady presence in the SLIAC both on the court and in the classroom. Wilde entered the 2017-18 campaign with 117 wins, fourth-most in the 99-year history of the program.
Grant McCasland will make his North Texas coaching debut Friday night. The former Arkansas State head coach was hired to direct the Mean Green on March 13, 2007.
The 1999 Baylor graduate was a three-year letterwinner for the Bears and earned Academic All-Big 12 honorable-mention honors as a senior. He owns other coaching experience at Arkansas State, Baylor, Midwestern State, Midland College, Northeastern Junior College and Texas Tech.
FOLLOW THE ACTION ONLINE
A live video broadcast will be available on CUSA.TV. Live statistics will be available at MeanGreenStats.com. Direct links to both services will be available at EurekaRedDevils.com.