ISU is expecting a banner season from Jackie Carmichael. (Photo courtesy GoRedbirds.com)
By Bryan Bloodworth
NORMAL - Illinois State's men's basketball team opens the regular season tonight as the Gauchos of California-Santa Barbara invade Redbird Arena for a 7:05 non-conference game.
Former ISU player Dan Muller makes his coaching debut against a team that returns two starters from a 20-11 season a year ago in T.J. Taylor and Alan Williams.
"They lost three great scorers from year ago, but they have some talented new guys," said Muller of the Gauchos "They have some youth."
Santa Barbara, which competes in the Big West Conference where it was projected to finish fifth, opened the season Saturday with a loss at Louisiana State.
Muller isn't as concerned about the Gauchos as much as he is his own team.
"I want us to be a team that competes on every possession," he said. "I want us to push the ball. I think we have the talent and depth to do that. I want us to play hard-nosed defense and I want us to rebound hard.
"I want fans leaving the arena knowing we competed hard and I want them to come back because of our style of play and the way we competed. I want to play a fast-paced game. It's harder to speed a team up then slow it down.
"Our only questions will be how we take care of the ball and quality of shots. I don't care if we take every shot 10 seconds into shot clock as long as they are good shots."
ISU played its only exhibition game a week ago and came away with a decisive win over Quincy.
"The only thing I was disappointed in was oue defensive intensity," said Muller. "I didn't think it stayed where we wanted it. We lost some discipline."
Bryan Bloodworth can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org