ISLANDERS (3-7) VS. TEXAS-PERMIAN BASIN (5-2)
SUNDAY, DEC. 8 • 4:30 P.M.
CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS • AMERICAN BANK CENTER (8,100)
RADIO: NEWSRADIO 1360 KKTX (YANNIS KOUTROUPIS)
THE OPENING TIP
Back home for its final game before an 11-day respite, the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi men's basketball team will play host to Texas-Permian Basin on Sunday at the American Bank Center. The Islanders are looking to halt a five-game losing streak over the last two weeks.
• Having missed the first nine games with an injury, Rashawn Thomas made his debut in a big way, posting a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds at Oklahoma.
• After missing the CMU game due to injury, John Jordan has averaged 15 points, six assists and five rebounds the last two games.
• Freshman forward Jeff Beverly scored a career-best 20 points against Houston. The big man has scored in double figures six times and is averaging 10.3 points per game.
• Senior Joy Williamson busted out of a slump at Houston on Saturday, scoring a career-best 18 points on 5-of-6 shooting, knocking down both his three-pointers in the contest.
• The Islanders took part in a 10-day, four-game tour of Italy in August, a trip that allowed them 10 extra days of practice prior to the tour.
• Though Coach Wilson has his most experienced team with the Islanders, only five players have more than one year of Division I playing experience (Ali, Knowles, Jordan, Douvier, King).
THE ALL-TIME SERIES
Sunday's game will be the first for Texas A&M-Corpus Christi against Texas-Permian Basin. The Falcons are a Division II school based out of Odessa in the western part of the state and compete in the Heartland Conference.
LAST TIME OUT
Buddy Hield led all scorers with 18 points, as Oklahoma used heavy pressure to down the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi men's basketball team 78-56. Rashawn Thomas posted a double-double in his first career game in the loss for the Islanders.
Thomas, who missed the team's first nine games due to injury, had a monster game in his college debut with a double-double. He scored 12 points to go along with 10 rebounds, two steals and three blocks in a losing effort. John Jordan added 11 points to go with six assists and five rebounds.
The Sooners forced the Islanders into a season-high 20 turnovers and converted those into 22 points. OU got 12 points from Isaiah Cousins as well as Hield's 18.
THE GREAT DISTRIBUTOR
John Jordan is only a junior for the Islanders basketball team, but he's the most experienced player on the roster and one of the favorites for Southland Conference Player of the Year. The Houston native was named Preseason First Team All-Southland Conference by the league's coaches.
He showed his worthiness for that selection in the opening game of the Holiday Inn Downtown Marina Islanders Basketball Tournament. Jordan went off for a career-high 28 points, going 10-for-16 from the field. His final basket gave the Islanders a one-point lead with 4.2 seconds remaining en route to a 72-71 win. He added 18 points and nine boards against Tennessee Tech, then wrapped the weekend with just seven points, but dished out seven assists and snared six rebounds.
He suffered an ankle injury earlier this year that forced him to miss the Central Michigan game. But he bounced back in a big way at Houston with 19 points, six assists and five rebounds and added 11, six and five at Oklahoma on Thursday.
The honor is no surprise when looking at the numbers that the 5-foot-10 Jordan put up last season. Jordan was second in the league in assists (5.5 per game) and 12th in the league with 12.8 points per game. His 5.5 assists per game were 39th in Division I.
Jordan broke the school record with 138 assists as a freshman, then bested his own mark with 159 as a sophomore. With 339 career assists, he over halfway to the school record of 493, held by Brian Evans.
A RESOUNDING DEBUT
Freshman Rashawn Thomas was one of the most electrifying players for the Islanders over the summer. During the team's trip to Italy, he had a double-double in each of the team's four games and became known for his ability to block shots and throw down thunderous dunks. He was expected to make an immediate impact from the season opener on.
But the fates turned another direction for Thomas. The Oklahoma City native fractured his jaw on Nov. 7, the day before the Islanders' first game of the year against Huston-Tillotson. He missed the first nine games of the season.
On Dec. 3, Thomas was cleared by the doctor to return to the court, and the freshman had just one practice to get back up to speed before heading to Oklahoma to play in front of his friends and family from nearby Oklahoma City. Thomas showed no ill effects, though, coming off the bench at the 15:23 mark of the first half.
Any doubts about the 6-foot-7 forward being tentative were instantly alleviated. Thomas missed his first two shots, but converted his first career points at the 8:25 mark. By the time the dust had settled in the game, the freshman had 12 points, 10 rebounds, three blocks and two steals.
Thomas was a McDonald's All-America nominee and was named City Player of the Year his senior year at Southeast HS.
Today's game marks the Islanders' 11th on just the 31st day of the season (one game every 2.8 days). Over the next 31 days, A&M-Corpus Christi will play just four contests – one at home against Cal State Northridge, and three on the road – at Minnesota, Central Arkansas and Oral Roberts. The next 11-game stretch will span 53 days, an average pace of one game every 4.8 days. Six of the next 11 will be on the road, however.
Thomas' classmate, fellow freshman Jeff Beverly, joined the Islanders as a highly-touted prospect out of the Houston area known for his scoring ability. Though he had a slow start to his career with a pedestrian seven points and four rebounds against Huston-Tillotson, he made his presence known in the game against Iowa State.
Beverly went 5-for-11 from the field with eight rebounds – four offensive - one block, one steal and one assist, all with just one turnover in a career-high 31 minutes. But what was more of a shock to the Cyclones was likely Beverly's range. The 6-foot-6, 245 pounder stepped back and drilled 3-of-5 shots from beyond the arc.
He showed more of the same for his home fans at the Holiday Inn Downtown Marina Tournament. He set a new career high before halftime against Tennessee Tech, going 5-for-6 with 15 points in the opening stanza, finishing with 18.
He has had issues with foul trouble, and was limited to just 10 minutes at UTSA to go scoreless. But he bounced back with 10 against CMU, then exploded for a career-high 20 in his return to his hometown of Houston on Saturday. He went 7-for-12 from the field and upped his season free-throw percentage to .794.
Beverly averaged 22.3 points and 11 boards at Clear Springs High School, and was named first team all-state.
Redshirt sophomore Jake Kocher was recently named a nominee for the 2014 Allstate National Association of Basketball Coaches Good Works Team. The award recognizes a select group of college basketball student-athletes who have made significant contributions to the greater good of their communities through volunteerism and civic service. A total of 118 players were nominated for the award, including 75 student-athletes from NCAA Division I.
Kocher has been extremely active in the community, both in Corpus Christi and his hometown of Austin. He has worked mainly with youngsters, volunteering with such organizations as the Boys & Girls Club, Boy Scouts, Ronald McDonald House and the Miracle League, and has spoken at several elementary and middle schools, serving as a role model for the youth of Corpus Christi.
PRIDE AND JOY
After being one of just five upperclassmen on the roster a year ago, Joy Williamson enters his second year as an Islander as one of just two seniors on the squad in 2013-14. The Oklahoma City native finished third on the Islanders in scoring a year ago, netting 8.3 points per game. He sat out the season opener, but returned to the floor at ISU with a mixed bag, scoring three points and pulling in four rebounds.
Though he was overshadowed by Jordan's stellar play, Williamson had an outstanding game against IPFW. The senior went 5-for-9 from the floor, scored 12 points and grabbed eight rebounds, four on the offensive end. He struggled to score the remainder of the weekend, but had a strong all-around game against Texas-Pan American, dishing out five assists and nabbing five rebounds.Still, his scoring had slackened, and he didn't even record an official shot against CMU.
Then, at Houston, he got off the schneid with a shot that was called for a goaltend, awarding him a bucket. Later in the first half, he knocked down a three pointer that banked off the glass and in. These two shots seemed to boost the senior's confidence, though, as he continued his strong play into the second half. He finished with a career-high 18 points on 5-of-6 shooting to go along with a 6-of-7 performance at the free-throw line.
The native of Oklahoma City played two years at Redlands Community College under current Islanders assistant coach Yaphett King.
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi has been surprisingly efficient in converting three-point plays this year. The Islanders are 11-for-13 (.846) at the line after being awarded a basket and a foul, far better than their overall mark at the stripe (.690). Both John Jordan (5-for-5) and Joy Williamson (4-for-4) have seen multiple instances of perfection when finishing a three-point play. Only Hameed Ali (0-for-2) has failed to convert when given that opportunity this season.