Pitt State to Make Season Debut in Exhibition vs. Kansas Tuesday
Pittsburg — The Pittsburg State University men’s basketball team will make its 2013-14 season debut by traveling to Lawrence, Kan., to face NCAA Division I University of Kansas in an exhibition game Tuesday (Oct. 29).
Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. (CST) at Allen Fieldhouse.
Pitt State is coming off a n18-10 campaign during the 2012-13 season. The Gorillas reached the second round of the MIAA Postseason Tournament a year ago, falling 69-63 to second seeded Central Missouri at Kansas City’s Municipal Audotorium.
The Gorillas return two players who started 10 or more games a year ago in junior guard Sam Pugh and sophomore guard Jake Bullard.
Kansas is coming off a 31-6 record which saw the Jayhawks claim the Big 12 Championship for a ninth straight season. KU was eliminated in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament last season, falling 87-85 in overtime against Michigan.
The Jayhawks lost all five starters from their 2012-13 team.
Pittsburg State’s Kevin Muff begins his fourth 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 48-37 (.565) record in his short tenure with the Gorillas. This will be his second meeting against Kansas. He is 0-1.
Bill Self enters his 11th year as head coach at Kansas and his 21st season as a collegiate coach. Self (Oklahoma State, ’85) has guided the Jayhawks to a 300-59 (.836) record, including a 63-13 mark the past two seasons. He has a 507-164 (.756) career mark.
This will be the fifth time in the modern era that the Gorillas and the Jayhawks meet in an exhibition game. Kansas posted an 84-55 victory over Pitt State in an exhibition game the last time the squads met during the 2011-12 season.
Scouting the Gorillas
Pitt State returns two players with starting experience from the 2012-13 campaign: junior guard Sam Pugh and sophomore guard Jake Bullard.
Pugh started 10 of 28 games a year ago, ranking fourth on the team in assists and steals. The Branson, Mo., native also contributed 3.8 and 1.5 rebounds per contest.
Bullard, a Cleora, Okla. native, started 15 of 23 games played in his first season for the Gorillas. Bullard contributed seven points and 2.7 rebounds per game.
As a team, Pitt State shot 44.4 percent from the field in 2012-13 while its opponents coverted 41.7 percent of their shots. The Gorillas averaged 75.7 points per game and Pitt State was +5.5 in the rebounding department. The Gorillas averaged 13.4 offensive rebounds per game and recorded 7.4 steals per game, forcing the opposition into 15.3 turnovers per outing.
Pitt State’s 2013-14 recruiting class includes four transfers and four incoming first-year collegiate athletes. Several of the players are expected to play significant roles for the Gorillas this winter.
Junior forward Cody Gafford joins the squad after not playing collegiate sports for two seasons. The Olathe, Kan., helped Olathe East High School claim a Class 6A sub-state championship in 2009 – the last time he was on the court.
Junior guard/forward Connor Kjer joined the Gorillas from St. Edward’s University, where he averaged nine points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals per game last season.
Junior forward Lamine Dieng comes to Pitt State from Vincennes University. Dieng averaged four points and four rebounds per game while helping Vincennes to a 33-4 record and fourth-place finish in the NJCAA Division I National Tournament last year.
Junior guard Devon Branch joined the Gorillas after two seasons at Cloud County Community College. The Aberdeen, Md., native averaged 22 points per game, earning first-team All-Jayhawk Conference honors a season ago.
Junior guard Jerrod Gaston joined the Gorillas after two seasons at Vincennes University. Gaston averaged five points, 2.4 assists and 2.3 rebounds per contest for the Trailblazers.
Pitt State’s freshman class includes forwards Trevor Gregory, Hunter Leahy and guard/forward Josiah Gustafson.
Gregory averaged eight points and eight rebounds per game at Lee’s Summit West High School, earning All-Districts and All-Conference honors as a senior.
Leahy was a three-year letterman at Kingwood High School. He averaged 11.2 points, six rebounds and 1.2 assists during his senior campaign.
Gustafson was named the Gatorade Nebraska Player of the Year last season, averaging 22 points, eight rebounds and four assists per game for Omaha’s Millard North High School.
Scouting the Jayhawks
Kansas has advanced to the Sweet 16 or beyond in each of the last three years of the NCAA Tournament and the Jayhawks have won nine straight Big 12 Conference titles.
After last season’s Sweet 16 run the Jayhawks lost four All-Conference selections and six total lettermen to either the NBA Draft or graduation leaving KU with only 25.1% minutes, 20.7% points, 25.2% rebounds and 26.9% assists returning from last year’s squad.
Perry Ellis, the Jayhawks’ athletic forward, will inevitably contribute more minutes a game. Ellis averaged 5.8 points and 3.9 rebounds a game in 13.6 minutes per contest. Naadir Tharpe is the only other returning player to average over 10 minutes per game last season. The junior guard averaged 5.5 points and 3.1 assists per contest in a reserve role.
A bevy of newcomers will help Kansas immediately.
Tarik Black, a transfer from Memphis, is eligible to play immediately. Black averaged 9.3 points and 4.9 rebounds during his three seasons with the Tigers. The 6-9 forward has shot 369 of 615 (.600) from the floor in his career.
First-year high school phenom Andrew Wiggins will look to make an immediate impact in the KU backcourt. The Thornhill, Ontario native was named the Naismith High School Player of the Year, a consensus five-star recruit and ranked as the No. 1 recruit by every recruiting service. Wiggins averaged 23.6 points, 11.3 rebounds, 2.7 blocks and 2.3 steals per game his senior season.
Fellow freshman Joel Embiid is a 7-0 center who was ranked No. 6 in the ESPN 100. The Yaounde, Cameroon native averaged 13 points, 9.7 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game, leading his team to a 33-4 record and a state championship.
Wayne Selden rounds out the trio of impact freshmen for the Jayhawks. Selden was tabbed No. 14 on the ESPN 100 list after averaging 24.8 points, 10.1 rebounds and four assists during his senior season.
Pitt State Probable Starters
F 4 Josiah Gustafson, 6-6, 190, Fr., Omaha, Neb.
F 24 Terrell Eaddy, 6-5, 205, Sr., Bronx, N.Y.
F 32 Trevor Gregory, 6-7, 235, Fr., Lee’s Summit, Mo.
G 1 Jake Bullard, 6-5, 190, So., Cleora, Okla.
G 5 Devon Branch, 6-6, 180, Jr., Aberdeen, Md.