THE OPENING TIP
The Texas A&M-Corpus Christi men's basketball team returns to the friendly confines of the Dugan Wellness Center for its final pre-Christmas affair when it hosts Cal State Northridge Friday night at 7 p.m. The Islanders have just one contest remaining in 2013 after Friday's affair.
• After missing the CMU game due to injury, John Jordan has averaged 18.3 points, 5.7 assists and 5.0 rebounds in the lst three.
• Freshman forward Jeff Beverly matched his career best with 20 points against UTPB. The big man has scored in double figures seven times and is averaging 11.4 points per game.
• 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. He was the first Islanders freshman since 2001 with a double-double in his debut.
• During the team's six-game losing streak, the Islanders are allowing 76 points per game to their opposition.
• 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
Friday's game will be the first for Texas A&M-Corpus Christi against Cal State Northridge. The Islanders are slated to return to California next year to face the Matadors. A&M-Corpus Christi holds a 2-4 all-time record against teams currently in the Big West. The victories came against Cal State Fullerton in 2002 and UC Davis in 2005.
LAST TIME OUT
Anthony Dees scored 24 points and Texas-Permian Basin went 23-for-27 at the free-throw line in the second half to defeat the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi men's basketball team on Dec. 8 at the American Bank Center. John Jordan scored 25 points and Jeff Beverly matched a career-high with 20 in the loss.
Dees was joined in double figures by Phadarius Taylor (12), Dwayne Soders (11) and Thomas Feeney (11), while Keith Martin led the Falcons with 10 boards. Jordan added five rebounds and five assists for the home squad.
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.
He suffered an ankle injury earlier this year that forced him to miss the Central Michigan game. But he has returned with gusto, and is averaging 18.3 points, 5.7 assists and 5.0 rebounds over the last three contests. Against UTPB last time out, he scored 25 points with five assists, five rebounds and just one turnover in 35 minutes of action.
It's hard not to be impressed 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 344 career assists, he is 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 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.
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. He became the first Islander freshman with a double-double in his debut since Corey Lamkin had 16 points and 15 rebounds against Sul Ross State on Nov. 16, 2001.
Thomas was a McDonald's All-America nominee and was named City Player of the Year his senior year at Southeast HS.
A BRIEF RESPITE
Today's game breaks a string of 11 days without a game for A&M-Corpus Christi, as the team took time off during final exams. That was in direct contrast to the start of the season, where the Islanders played 11 games in the first 31 days of the season (one game every 2.8 days).
Over the next 31 days, A&M-Corpus Christi will play just four contests, including tonight. The next three come on the road – at Minnesota, Central Arkansas and Oral Roberts. The new 11-game stretch will span 53 days, an average pace of one game every 4.8 days.
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 Nov. 30. He went 7-for-12 from the field and posted his fourth game this season that he was perfect from the stripe.
He struggled in the contest at Oklahoma, as foul trouble kept him to 22 minutes, but came back with 20 points against Texas-Permian Basin, matching his career high. The blemish, though, came at the free-throw line, where the normally reliable Beverly went just 4-for-8. He did hit both his three-point attempts, and is now 8-for-18 from beyond the arc on the season. He is averaging 11.4 points on the year.
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.