Wednesday, October 10, 2007

OVC basketball Media Day

Samford basketball coach Jimmy Tillette wandered over to Mike LaPlante's table during Wednesday's OVC Media Day and asked the Jacksonville State coach about the possibility of moving the teams' Jan. 7 game to another date.

Jan. 7 is the date of the BCS national championship football game, and -- discounting the fact he's a fan of potential game participant LSU -- Tillette recognizes how the conflict in a football crazy state like Alabama would impact the crowd in what typically is one of Jax State's biggest draws of the basketball season.

Since it's JSU's home game, it would be the Gamecocks' call. A move to Jan. 8 would give JSU home games on Jan. 8, 10 and 12. Samford would have the JSU road game on Jan. 8 and home games Jan. 10 and 12.

"I'd play it on the eighth, probably," Tillette said. "I can't believe our league puts games on the national championship date. I just can't believe our league does that. It doesn't make any sense."

LaPlante told Tillette he'd look at it, but not only their game is affected. The JSU and Samford women play the first part of that doubleheader at 5:30 p.m., with the men to follow approximately 30 minutes after its conclusion.

"I don't know," LaPlante said. "If they said we want to make sure we draw some fans, I'd think you'd just flip-flop the men's and women's game to have people do both. The championship game doesn't come on until like 8 o'clock. If we play at 5, everybody's gonna be where they gotta be for the 8 o'clock start. Then you say that's not fair to the women.

"I don't think we'll move the date. I think we'd probably adjust (the time). To me, I think it ends up being more of an administrative decision. Whatever makes the best sense."

YOUNG GUNS: The JSU women will be one of the youngest teams in the nation. The Gamecocks enter the season with a total of 38 starts among their players, making them the third youngest team in Division I behind Louisiana Tech (4) and Hofstra (22). Sophomore Jolie Efezokhae is the grizzled veteran, with 24 starts.

"You know, we're OK with that," JSU women's coach Becky Geyer said. "I'm really looking forward to getting started with these ladies because they're strengths are all very different. We have a lot of talent, young talent, but a lot of talent.

"We may be a team that starts different people throughout the year, some of it might depend on the matchups and what we feel like we need to run. In the bigger picture, I think it's not necessarily who starts, but who's in that rotation of 10, and that could change as well."

The Gamecocks were picked 11th in the preseason poll with 22 points, virtually unanimous for last.

"I'm OK with that, because we haven't proven yet what we have the ability to do after our first year here," Geyer said. "On the other hand, how many teams that are picked first really ever win? It's who's peaking at the end, so I don't put a lot of stock in that.

"But I do think the 22 points kind of fires you up a little bit. I know it'll fire our group up as well."

QUIPS AND QUIRKS: Among the best lines of the day from the women's segment ...

Murray State first-year coach Jody Adams on her background as point guard on Tennessee's 1991 national championship team: "They think they have Pat Summitt Jr. in town, but they don't."

Eastern Illinois coach Brady Sallee, offering some advice to Geyer on what to expect from a roster of so many young players: "When I started, my hairline looked like coach (Mike) Morris'," the follically challenged Sallee said, pointing to the well-coiffed Samford coach.

The best, however, was reserved for second-year Southeast Missouri coach Josh Ishee, whose team is overwhelmingly picked to win the women's title.

He alluded to Adams' notion that Murray was wearing 62-60 on its shirts, a motivator from last year's OVC Tournament final loss to SEMO. Then, in front of the room, the Redhawks' coach pulled off his red overshirt to reveal a white T-shirt with a bull's eye on the front.

"We know what's squarely on our chest," Ishee said.

From the men's side, program moderator Kyle Schwartz noted this was the sixth time in the last 30 years all 11 men's coaches in the league were the same as the year before. The first two coaches to speak made mention of keeping it that way, but Tillette nipped that.

"I don't have any plans on being back here next year," he said. He wasn't being mean. The Bulldogs go to the Southern Conference next year.

LaPlante joked Austin Peay coach Dave Loos was preparing to drop his trousers to reveal a bull's eye on his behind, but said Ishee stole his thunder. With all five starters back, defending regular-season champion Peay is the favorite in the men's race.

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