Men's Basketball

State Notebook: Mid-March Q & A

Questions and answers. Kinda.

■ Who has done the best coaching job at Western Kentucky? Darrin Horn for last year's 29-7 record and trip to the NCAA round of 16? Or first-year successor Ken McDonald, whose Hilltoppers lost Courtney Lee, yet are 24-8, Sun Belt Conference Tournament champs and awaiting their invitation to The Dance?

■ Who would I want at the line trailing by two, needing a pair of free throws and facing no time on the clock? Transylvania's Joey Verax, that's who. He delivered against Guilford in the NCAA Division III Tournament. Unfortunately for the Pioneers, they lost in overtime.

■ Who would you want drawing up a late-game play that includes a bold lob pass to a figure emerging from the rafters to slam it through? Morehead State's Donnie Tyndall, that's who. Who would you want pulling it off? Brandon Shingles, the launcher, and Kenneth Faried, the finisher.

■ What would be the ideal scenario for hosting a conference tournament? Have two teams like the Transy men and women. They win (or share) the Heartland Conference regular-season titles, get the top seed and host site, and win two games to advance to their national tournaments.

■ What about the first-round Ohio Vallecy Conference Tournament matchup between Morehead and Eastern Kentucky? Their three games this season were doozies. I could watch the Eagles and Colonels play every day if you put 'em on a neutral floor. They'd probably break even against each other.

■ Who can say they defeated the defending national champions? The Transylvania women, who upended Howard Payne 65-52 in the first round of the DIII tourney.

■ Which Division III team in Kentucky made it to the sectionals? The Thomas More women who played host to second-ranked Hope on Friday night. The Saints won the Presidents' Athletic Conference regular season and tournament and their first two games in the DIII tourney. Nicole Dickman and Jayme Thiem are their leading scorers.

■ Can we forget the much-discussed post-season matchup of Western Kentucky versus Kentucky in the NIT? Maybe even in Diddle Arena? The Toppers took care of that by winning the Sun Belt tourney and returning to the NCAA field. Had they lost, they were guaranteed a place in the NIT.

■ Will Cumberlands and Georgetown meet again in the NAIA Tournament? The Tigers won the two regular-season games, the Patriots won the Mid-South Conference title game.

■ Could the Mid-South put two teams in the national semifinals as it did last year with the two Tigers, Georgetown and Campbellsville? With Georgetown and Cumberlands in opposite brackets we'll see what happens. Don't forget Lindsey Wilson.

■ Can Mid-South women's teams — Cumberlands, Campbellsville and Lindsey Wilson — win some games in their national tournament? That hasn't happened much. Current Mid-South members have a composite 21-40 record with no team reaching the semifinals. Brescia, an independent, reached the semis in 2004. Kentucky State won the first tournament (in 1981) in its only appearance.

■ What do we do until Selection Sunday? Wait and worry if you're so inclined!

A Storm in Mid-South

The addition of Rio Grande should ramp up the Mid-South Conference beginning this fall.

In basketball, the Red Storm will move their men's and women's teams from NAIA Division II to Division I. Basketball is the only NAIA sport with divisions.

Rio Grande belonged to the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in the 1960s. "This will rekindle old rivals for Rio," said Jeff Lanham, the athletic director. His father, Art, was coaching Rio during that time.

Talk about a ring

Spalding won the U.S. Collegiate Athletic Association, defeating Southern Virginia 70-49. The Golden Eagles had winning margins of 35, 22 and 21 points.

Kristen Pendleton, who played at Tates Creek, won titles in middle school, high school and college.

After the title game, boyfriend Justin Parsons proposed to her at center court. She said yes.

EKU on the links

Eastern's golfers had an interesting tournament in the Samford Invitational this week.

Senior Jesse Massie made a hole-in-one during the second round. The ace was on the 148-yard seventh hole, a par-3. Senior Trey Bowling had the low score of the tournament with a 64 in the third round. He was 3-under for the tournament and finished fifth. The Colonels wound up third.

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