No. 5 Seed Gorillas Head to K.C. for MIAA Tournament
Press Release PSU:
The Pittsburg State University men’s basketball team will travel to Kansas City, Mo., to take part in the 2015 MIAA Post-Season Tournament Thursday (Mar. 5).
The fifth-seeded Gorillas will meet No. 4 seed Lindenwood University at 2:15 p.m. (CST) at Municipal Auditorium.
Pitt State defeated 12th-seeded Northeastern State University, 69-54, in first-round action of the MIAA Tournament Monday (Mar. 2) in Pittsburg.
The winner of the Pitt State – LWU match-up will advance to face the winner of a Thursday match-up between No. 1 seed Northwest Missouri State University and No. 8 seed Washburn University on Saturday (Mar. 7) at 2:15 p.m.
The men’s MIAA Tournament Championship Game is scheduled for 1 p.m. Sunday (Mar. 8).
Pitt State brings a 17-11 overall record into the MIAA Tournament action. The Gorillas posted a 12-7 mark in MIAA play during the regular season, finishing in a five-way tie for third place in the conference standings.
The Gorillas shared the lead in the MIAA standings with three games to go in the regular season schedule, but Pitt State dropped all three of those contests to slip from contention for the regular season crown.
Gorillas in the MIAA Tournament
Pitt State is making its 19 appearance in the MIAA Postseason Tournament. The Gorillas have compiled a 15-18 (.455) record in 33 MIAA Tournament games and reached the Finals of the tournament three times.
Pitt State has compiled a 5-8 (.385) record in MIAA Tournament games played at Municipal Auditorium.
Head Coach Kevin Muff
Pittsburg State’s Kevin Muff is in his fifth season leading the Gorillas. Muff (Kansas State, ’86) became the Gorillas’ 14th all-time head coach on Apr. 5, 2010, after spending 12 seasons at Cloud County Community College, where he helped the Thunderbirds to an average of 21 wins in each of the last five seasons.
He has a 73-66 (.525) record in his tenure with the Gorillas.
Muff was named the MIAA Co-Coach of the Year Monday (Mar. 2) after leading the Gorillas to a 16-11 regular season record and a tie for third-place in the MIAA standings. Pitt State was picked to finish 10th in the 14-team league in the MIAA Preseason Coaches Poll after posting an 8-18 (4-15 MIAA) mark a year ago.
Scouting the Gorillas
Pitt State has three players scoring in double figures on the season: sophomore guard Josiah Gustafson (16.2 ppg), senior guard Devon Branch (14.7 ppg) and junior guard Trey Starks (10.8 ppg).
Gustafson (6-6, 190) is shooting 45.9 percent from the field (144 of 314), including 45 of 105 (.429) from 3-point range. The Omaha, Neb., native also has made 120 of 144 (.833) free throw attempts – ranking fourth in the MIAA in free throw percentage. Gustafson, who ranks sixth in the MIAA in scoring, has scored 20 or more points 10 times this season.
Branch (6-6, 180) is shooting 53.8 percent from the floor. The Aberdeen, Md., native also is contributing 3.5 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.6 steals per game.
Starks (6-0, 190) made his Pitt State debut against Central Oklahoma on Feb. 7. The Springfield, Mo., native scored 13 points in his debut vs. UCO and added a season-high 18 points vs. Northeastern State on Feb. 18. He is shooting 54.0 percent from the field (27 of 50), including a 73.5 percent clip (25 of 34) from inside the 3-point line.
Junior forward Lamine Dieng (6-8, 240) has averaged 8.3 points and a team-leading 4.8 rebounds in 22 games played. The Thies, Segegal native redshirted in 2013-14 and missed the Gorillas’ first four games this season. Dieng has missed three of Pitt State’s last nine games due to injury and averaged jus 14.5 minutes of action in the six games he’s played.
Freshman guard Dakota Jones (5-10, 165) contributes 7.2 points per game, while sophomore forward Trevor Gregory (6-7, 235) chips in with 6.4 points and 4.0 rebounds per game. Junior guard Javis Flynn (5-10, 170) adds 6.3 points and a team-leading 5.3 assists and 2.2 steals per game. Flynn dished out a PSU record 12 assists in the Gorillas’ 59-58 win over Emporia State on Jan. 14. He leads the MIAA in assists and ranks second in the conference in steals.
As a team, Pitt State has averaged 71.0 points per game, shooting 47.9 percent from the floor (668 of 1394), 37.7 percent from 3-point range (142 of 327) and 72.6 percent from the free throw line (510 of 702).
The Gorillas have generated 18.2 points per game from the free throw line.
Pitt State’s opposition has averaged 66.5 points per game and shot 44.7 percent from the field (610 of 1366).
Three Pitt State players – sophomore guard Josiah Gustafson, senior guard Devon Branch and junior guard Javis Flynn — received All-MIAA recognition following a vote of the conference coaches.
Gustafson received first-team All-MIAA honors, while Branch garnered third-team All-MIAA recognition for a second straight year. Flynn was named to the five-man MIAA All-Defensive Team.
Gustafson is the first Pitt State player to earn first-team All-MIAA honors since the 2007-08 season (Cory Abercrombie).
PSU Record Watch
Junior guard Javis Flynn currently ranks fifth all-time at PSU in single-season assists. He needs two more helpers to pass Brandon Pate (2001) for fourth place on the list. Oscar Gonzalez (1998) is third on the list with 158.
Flynn also ranks fourth all-time in single-season steals (62). Tony Fleming, who ranks third, snared 66 steals in 1988.
Sophomore guard Josiah Gustafson has scored 453 points on the season. He needs 25 more points to break into PSU’s top 20 list for single-season scoring. Dan Stanley, who ranks 20th on the list, scored 478 points in 2001.
Pitt State Probable Starters
F 24 Trevor Gregory, 6-7, 235, So., Lee’s Summit, Mo.
F 33 Connor Kjer, 6-6, 218, Sr., La Habra, Calif.
G 3 Javis Flynn, 5-10, 170, Jr., Watonga, Okla.
G 4 Josiah Gustafson, 6-6, 190, So., Omaha, Neb.
G 5 Devon Branch, 6-6, 180, Sr., Aberdeen, Md.