Friday, October 30, 2009

Nilsson on the run

The OVC cross-country championship runs Saturday in Nashville and JSU's David Nilsson has to be one of the runners to watch.

The 22-year-old freshman from Sweden has been the Gamecocks' best runner all year and one of the best in the conference. He has won five of the six races he entered, and the race he didn't win -- the JSU Foothills Invitational in Oxford (he finished second, 10 seconds off the lead) -- was attributed to an extra-long training run he put in the day before.

Nilsson already has run -- and won -- on the Vaughn's Gap Course that's staging the conference meet, claiming the Commodore Classic (that included six OVC teams) by 30 seconds. His toughest competition is expected to be Eastern Kentucky's Stanley Mugo and Wesley Ruttoh, who have the two fastest 8K times in the conference this year, and Southeast Missouri's Jason Lumpkin.

Eastern Kentucky is the traditional favorite in both races. The EKU men have won the event 17 times and has produced the Runner of the Year the last five years in a row. The EKU women have won it 23 times, three in a row and five of the last seven.

The men's 8K race starts at 9 a.m., with the women's 5K race going off at 10. It will be the 48th men's championship and 31st for the women.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

RP makes national news

Ryan Perrilloux and the JSU football team picked up some national pub in Sports Illustrated this week.

The mag sent a writer to town to do an update on the Gamecocks' quarterback.

Here are a couple highlights off the Web:

"Ryan Perrilloux can't take his eyes off Colt McCoy. Perrilloux, the former LSU quarterback who is a senior at Division I-AA Jacksonville (Ala.) State, is sitting in a booth at Strut's, a burger joint in this sleepy town of 8,400 in the Appalachian foothills. On a mounted TV, highlights of McCoy and the Texas Longhorns are playing, which takes Perrilloux back in time. 'I almost went to Texas, and maybe my life would have turned out differently if I had,' he says. 'But now I'm here in Jacksonville, rebuilding my reputation and trying to show the NFL that I have tools to make it at that level.' "

You can't do a story about Perrilloux without talking about the way he got to JSU, and this piece touches on it, but largely focuses on where his head is now. It says most NFL scouts project him as a mid-round draft pick.

More from the Web ...

"For the first time, he wasn't surrounded by childhood friends. 'I had a lot of negative influences around me at LSU,' he says. Though it's hard to find trouble in Jacksonville, where churches outnumber bars 49 to two, Perrilloux hasn't been choirboy perfect; he was suspended for the first game of this season by Crowe for an undisclosed reason. But Perrilloux now meets with a life-management counselor (in Anniston) weekly and can usually be found in his apartment with his fiancée, Ralle Banks, whom he has been dating since he was 14, and their one-year-old daughter, Ryleigh."

The story wasn't just based on a conversation with Perrilloux and JSU coach Jack Crowe. It even includes a quote from Wellborn product/teammate Brandt Thomas.

When the train comes in, everybody rides.

Murphy staying true to team

Jacksonville State junior guard Nick Murphy is a Yankees fan and he's not giving up on his team after one loss in the World Series.

Murphy grew up in the Bronx, about 10 minutes from Yankee Stadium. While he might have been saddened by the Yankees' 6-1 loss to the Phillies in Game One of the World Series Wednesday, he remains confident the Bombers will prevail.

"The Yankees are going to win," he said Thursday, about five hours prior to Game Two. "Yesterday was a little mishap."

He may like Alex Rodriguez, but he claims shortstop Derek Jeter as his favorite player.

"He's been there for the longest," Murphy said.

Murphy averaged 10.0 points and a team-leading 5.3 rebounds last season.

OVC men's picks and preseason team

The OVC released its men's basketball projected order of finish and preseason All-OVC team this morning (Thursday), and as earlier reported in The Star, Jacksonville State was picked sixth and didn't have a player on the preseason team.

Morehead State and Murray State were tabbed co-favorites, each receiving 10 first-place votes. It's the third time since 1980-81 (when preseason polls were first available) that co-favorites have been picked in the preseason poll (1991-92 and 1994-95).

It's the 13th time in the last 21 years that Murray State has been picked the preseason favorite and second year in a row. Morehead State is tabbed first for the first time since the 1983-84 season.

The teams play for the first time Dec. 5 in Murray.

The rest of the poll -- 3. Austin Peay (114), 4. Eastern Illinois (105), 5. Eastern Kentucky (93), 6. JSU (86), 7. Tennessee Tech (76), 8. UT Martin (55), 9. Tennessee State (44), 10. Southeast Missouri State (19).

You'll notice the teams with the new head coaches are the teams picked 8-9-10. SEMO was one vote shy of unanimously being picked last.

Morehead's Kenneth Faried headlines the 10-player preseason All-OVC team as preseason Player of the Year. He is coming off a season where he was named OVC Defensive Player of the Year and OVC Tournament MVP.

Faried ranked third nationally in rebounding (13.0/game), 52nd in blocked shots (1.9/game) and 69th in steals (1.9/game). He averaged 13.9 points per game and connected on 55.6 percent of his shots. He also had 25 double-doubles, second nationally behind only National Player of the Year Blake Griffin (29).

Morehead coach Donnie Tyndall called Faried "a great energy guy" who reminds him of Dennis Rodman and has a chance to lead the nation in rebounding this season – he is the top returning rebounder in country -- but that energy has been limited early-on by a series of injuries.

Faried missed two weeks with a bruised knee, came back and strained his shoulder that cost him a week, returned and bruised the same knee that sidelined him another week.

"He’s behind in regards to conditioning," Tyndall said. "Kenneth’s been a guy who always played extremely hard. As a freshman, he played 20 minutes, last year 30 and this year we’d like to play him 34-36, but if I had to say right now that wouldn’t be possible with the conditioning where it’s at. Those injuries have set him back, but he’s a worker."

Here's the team: Faried; Ivan Aska, Murray State; Wesley Channels, Austin Peay; Darius Cox, Tennessee State; Tyler Laser, Eastern Illinois; Romain Martin, Eastern Illinois; Isacc Miles, Murray State; Maze Stallworth, Morehead State; Justin Stommes, Eastern Kentucky; Danero Thomas, Murray State.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Women, as reported, tabbed fifth in OVC

As reported in The Star earlier this week, the JSU women's basketball team is projected fifth in the preseason OVC coaches poll and placed two players on the preseason all-conference team.

The conference announced the poll and preseason team Thursday as part of its preseason media day. It wouldn't confirm the Star's report earlier in the week although JSU officials reported the Gamecocks position at their school's board of trustees meeting Monday.

The Gamecocks picked up 84 points in the voting. They were picked fifth last year, too, but just barely made it into the OVC Tournament.

"I really feel last year for us we could've been one of those teams that was fifth and in a position to knock somebody off in the top four, but with the loss of Cierra Duhart it really just left us shorthanded in our post position," JSU women's coach Becky Geyer said. "The best thing for us this year is we filled that void and we filled our void in our point guard position, so we are a much better team and a much more well-balanced team as well."

Morehead State was made the narrow choice to win the league, one point ahead of Austin Peay. It's the fourth time in the history of the preseason poll the top two teams have been separated by one point or less -- and the first time since 1995-96 (Middle Tennessee over Tennessee Tech).

Tennessee State and Eastern Illinois were picked third and fourth, but nearly 30 points separate the four projected first-round tournament hosts and the rest of the league.

"If you look at the fact there's one returning all-conference player overall in the league, I honestly think it's really open for anybody to get in there and take it," Geyer said. "Definitely, Austin Peay and Morehead have a lot of returning players and you have to give them the respect of having those returning players, but I do really feel it's going to be who comes through in the end of February, the beginning of March, and we feel like we're going to be one of those teams. We have the ability to be one of those teams."

Jolie Efezokhae and Brittany Wiley made the 10-team preseason All-OVC team. Morehead State's Chynna Bozeman was voted preseason player of the year.

The men's poll and preseason team will be announced next Thursday. The JSU men will be sixth, their highest projection since joining the league.

Here's the women's projected order of finish

1. Morehead State (Nine first-place votes) -147
2. Austin Peay (Six first-place votes) - 146
3. Tennessee State (Four first-place votes) - 134
4. Eastern Illinois (One first-place votes) - 111
5. Jacksonville State - 84
6. Murray State - 79
7. Southeast Missouri - 67
8. Tennessee Tech - 58
9. Eastern Kentucky - 54
10. UT Martin - 18

Monday, October 19, 2009

Hoops poll

Despite losing a veteran backcourt to graduation and two key contributors in the offseason, the JSU men's basketball team is getting some love from the coaches in the Ohio Valley Conference.

Athletic department officials reported to the school's board of trustees Monday that James Green's second JSU men's team is being picked sixth in the preseason OVC poll. It also mentioned that Trenton Marshall, one of the top JUCO scorers in the country last year, was tabbed as OVC Newcomer of the Year by one national publication.

The Gamecocks started the Green Era last season 6-1, which included road wins at UMass and Georgia State, but didn't make the OVC Tournament field.

The women's team, meanwhile, is being picked fifth and two players -- Jolie Efezokhae and Brittany Wiley -- were named to the presason all-conference team.

No other teams were mentioned.

The OVC office would neither confirm nor deny the report, with assistant commissioner Kyle Schwartz saying the women's predictions wouldn't be released until Thursday and the men's predictions on Oct. 29.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Moving up the polls

Jacksonville State's run of four straight lopsided FCS victories has the Gamecocks moving up the national rankings on the express elevator.

The Gamecocks (4-2) are No. 12 in this week's Sports Network media poll, jumping six spots and tying their all-time best ranking since moving to Division I. They are ranked No. 13 in the Coaches Poll.

"I have felt like we were going to be in a debatable posiiton," JSU coach Jack Crowe said Sunday. "I felt like we were creating debate at some point in time ... I think it's a little early, to be honest with you, but we're not what-iffing any more."

The Gamecocks reached their highest point in the national polls when they were No. 12 in both polls on Oct. 18, 2004. They promptly lost that weekend to Tennessee Tech on a last-second field goal.

They are idle this week before returning to the field Oct. 24 against Eastern Illinois.

Their big move in the polls this week isn't really surprising. They were expected to pass teams ranked 12 through 16 in the TSN poll that lost Saturday, but they actually passed six of the seven teams ranked ahead of them in the previous week's poll that lost Saturday. Only No. 2 Villanova lost last week and stayed ahead of the Gamecocks in the media poll.

Here's the Sports Network poll:

1. Richmond Spiders (119) 5-0 3,253 1
2. Northern Iowa Panthers (11) 5-1 3,050 3
3. Montana Grizzlies 5-0 2,936 4
4. New Hampshire Wildcats (1) 5-0 2,923 5
5. Southern Illinois Salukis 4-1 2,646 6
6. Villanova Wildcats 5-1 2,557 2
7. William & Mary Tribe 5-1 2,403 8
8. Elon Phoenix 5-1 2,292 10
9. Appalachian State Mountaineers 3-2 2,219 9
10. Central Arkansas Bears 4-1 2,129 11
11. South Carolina State Bulldogs 4-1 1,626 17
12. Jacksonville State Gamecocks 4-2 1,554 18
13. McNeese State Cowboys 3-2 1,455 7
14. South Dakota State Jackrabbits 4-1 1,345 20
15. Weber State Wildcats 3-3 1,240 21
16. James Madison Dukes 2-3; 17. Colgate Raiders 6-0; 18. Massachusetts Minutemen 3-2; 19. Cal Poly Mustangs 2-3; 20. Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks 4-1; 21. Eastern Washington Eagles 4-2; 22. Florida A&M Rattlers 4-1; 23. Delaware Blue Hens 4-2; 24. Eastern Kentucky Colonels 3-2; 25. Holy Cross Crusaders 4-1

Here's the Coaches Poll

1. Richmond (28) 5-0 700 1
2. Montana 5-0 657 3
3. Northern Iowa 5-1 645 4
4. New Hampshire 5-0 621 5
5. Southern Illinois 4-1 578 6
6. Villanova 5-1 549 2
7. William & Mary 5-1 530 8
8. Central Arkansas 4-1 501 9
9. Elon 5-1 462 11
10. Appalachian State 3-2 441 10
11. McNeese State 3-2 368 7
12. South Carolina State 4-1 359 16
13. Jacksonville State 4-2 332 18
14. South Dakota State 4-1 304 19
15. Weber State 3-3 258 21
16. James Madison 2-3; 17. Eastern Washington 4-2; 18. Colgate 6-0; 19. Cal Poly 2-3; 20. Massachusetts 3-2; 21. Stephen F. Austin 4-1; 22. Florida A&M 4-1; 23. Eastern Kentucky 3-2; 24. Holy Cross 3-1; 25. Eastern Illinois 4-2