Preview: Old Rivals Collide Saturday in St. Louis

Photo courtesy of Michael Hammerstrand.
Photo courtesy of Michael Hammerstrand.

ST. LOUIS, Mo. -- Following a 10-day break from game competition, the Eureka College men's basketball team will resume its 2017-18 season Saturday in a 3 p.m. non-conference tip-off at NCAA Division II Maryville in St. Louis, Mo. The Red Devils and Saints played six times as St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference rivals from 2006 until MU's departure for Division II in 2009.

PDF Version of Eureka Men's Basketball Game Notes

ABOUT EUREKA
Eureka is 8-2 overall, its best start to a season through 10 games since the 1993-94 Red Devils opened 9-1 en route to the NAIA Division II national title. 
 
This season's Red Devils are on pace to break the single-season team scoring record for the second consecutive season, pouring in 92.3 points per game to rank 12th among 415 Division III programs. Junior sharpshooter Shea Feehan ranks second nationally and is on pace to shatter his own single-season Eureka record for scoring average with 32.4 points per game. The Peoria native has 1,220 career points and can break into Eureka's all-time top 10 as early as Saturday, trailing Hughley Blanton (1976-80) by just 21 points for 10th place on the program's career scoring list.
 
Junior Hank Thomas also provides a potent offensive punch and joined Feehan as the subjects of a feature story on WMBD-TV last week. Thomas ranks fourth in the league and 77th nationally with 19.9 points per game. With 768 career points, his current scoring pace projects Thomas to join Feehan in the Red Devils' 1,000-point club as early as this February.
 
Alex Wiegand and Jordan Dehm have been steady on the glass this season. Both players collect 7.5 boards per contest, tied for third-most among league players. The 15.0 rebounds per game make them the second-ranked rebounding duo in the conference behind Principia's Parker Davidson and Trevaughn Goodman (15.7).
 
The Red Devils won't return to St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference action until Jan. 3, but EC owns a share of first place in the current league standings with a 3-1 record. Eureka shares the top spot with Blackburn, Greenville and Westminster and already owns a November victory over GU, a 131-109 triumph at the Reagan Athletic Complex.
 
The Red Devils are in their 40th season as a member of NCAA Division III and their 12th season as a member of the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Eureka returns three starters, all juniors, from last season's 13-win team that broke the program's single-season record for team scoring with 90.5 points per game. In all, EC returns 18 letterwinners from last season.
 
RED DEVILS PUT AWAY DOMINICAN ON DEC. 19
Playing at home against a non-conference opponent for the final time this season, Eureka secured a 72-64 victory over Dominican (Ill.) on Dec. 19 at Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena. 
 
Eureka led by as many as 13 in the first half and had a 33-30 cushion at halftime. The final 20 minutes featured six lead changes, the first coming when DU's Isaac Moore hit a triple for Dominican's first lead of the night, 44-43, with 13:05 to go. Eureka regained the lead less than four minutes later, but DU answered by taking its biggest advantage of the game, 58-54, on another Moore 3-pointer at the 6:09 mark.
 
Dominican took its final lead on Dennis Handy's layup for a 60-59 edge with 3:53 left. Hank Thomas responded with a basket on EC's next possession and the Red Devils wouldn't trail again. Eureka scored its final 11 points from the free throw line – all without a miss – to put the game away in the final three minutes.
 
Thomas scored 27 points, made nine field goals and was a perfect 7-for-7 from the foul line in a game-high 37 minutes. Shea Feehan added 17 points. Alex Wiegand narrowly missed a career high with 13 rebounds and Jordan Dehm gathered 10 boards. Eureka outrebounded the visitors, 41-33.
 
ABOUT MARYVILLE
Like the Red Devils, Maryville has roared out of the gate in 2017-18 with a 9-2 record through its first 11 contests. The Saints are in the midst of their longest win streak since the 2003-04 campaign, securing their sixth consecutive victory in a 79-62 triumph over Oklahoma Christian in St. Louis on Dec. 19. MU is also 2-1 in Great Lakes Valley Conference action.
 
Nolan Berry nearly averages a double-double for the Saints, putting up 19.7 points and 9.4 rebounds per game in a team-high 27.2 minutes per contest. The 6-foot-10 transfer from Division I UC Davis ranks sixth in Division II with a 69.4 field goal percentage. In all, four Saints score at least 11.0 points per game, including 13.3 from junior forward Robin Thompson. Jimmy Barton, who has primarily appeared off the bench, leads MU with 53 assists and has committed just 14 turnovers.
 
The Saints are a force on the glass, leading the 15-team GLVC and ranking sixth nationally with 31.2 defensive rebounds per game. MU's rebounding margin of plus-10.3 is the 11th-best margin in Division II.
 
Maryville University was a charter member of the SLIAC and competed in the league for 20 seasons before moving to NCAA Division II prior to the 2009-10 season. MU won or shared four SLIAC men's basketball regular-season championships and claimed the league's tournament crown in 1997 and 2006. The Saints currently compete in the West Division of the GLVC. The institution has an undergraduate enrollment of approximately 3,000 and was founded in 1872.
 
THE SERIES VERSUS MARYVILLE
Eureka has won 17 of 20 meetings with Maryville since the Saints began intracollegiate competition in 1976. The Red Devils won 13 of 14 non-conference games in the series through 1989 under Hall of Fame head coach Dave Darnall 
 
The Red Devils also won four of six bouts from MU in three seasons in the SLIAC from 2007 through 2009. Eleventh-year head coach Chip Wilde is 2-2 against Maryville, but dropped both contests in MU's Moloney Arena.
 
MEET THE HEAD COACHES
The owner of more than two decades of coaching experience at the collegiate level, Chip Wilde is in his 11th season as head coach at Eureka. The current 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 has 125 wins, third-most in the 99-year history of the program.
 
St. Louis native Marc Stricker is in his first season directing the Saints. Stricker was appointed head coach last April and came to MU after previously serving the Saints as an assistant from 2011 through 2013. He also owns experience as a collegiate assistant at Eastern Illinois and Oral Roberts.
 
A 2002 graduate of UMKC in Kansas City, Stricker finished his playing career with the Kangaroos ranked 10th in program history with 226 assists and 110 made 3-pointers.