WKU 84, South Alabama 75 – final

20 01 2011

MOBILE, Ala. — For the first time in 40 days, Western Kentucky left a basketball court with a collective smile on its face.
And even though it might’ve been a little too close for comfort, Ken McDonald and company weren’t doing any complaining.

The Hilltoppers built a 24-point second-half lead before holding on late to grab an 84-75 win Thursday at South Alabama.

“The guys are working really hard to change things, and I’m just happy and proud that they were able to stay positive and try to make a difference every day,” said McDonald, whose team won for the first time since Dec. 11. “A lot of times we’ve had guys working hard and the result’s not showing it. But tonight we got that positive result, and with that, we can finally start to build some confidence and that’s what you’re excited about.”

The victory is not only WKU’s first Sun Belt win of the season, but it also snapped its six-game losing streak in the process – the first six-game slide a Hilltopper team has had since the 1997-98 season.

“It was good to finish a game,” said senior forward Sergio Kerusch, who finished with a team-high 20 points and nine rebounds. “We dominated the first half, and were able to close out. Hopefully it’s the spark we need to continue and get rolling for the rest of the season.

“It was good to see the team buckle down and just say ‘we’re not losing any more.’ We took a stand.”

 

MORE McDonald comments:

“I definitely sense that they’re coming together, you’ve got to keep building on that. You want to be playing your best basketball over this next month. After the Troy game at Troy, as a staff, we could sense that the foot was coming down with the guys. But this is one win. We haven’t stop working, though, and it’s one way to get a little confidence and momentum to hopefully a streak that we’re going to start.”

“There’s definitely a sense that guys are playing their roles right. The biggest jump is being able to manage a game and not take bad shots, be accountable for each other and pull for each other. … Everybody’s bringing it and pulling for each other and in the first half, they were talking as much as I’ve ever heard them. And that’s a good sign.”

MORE Kerusch comments

“We’re just playing and doing it for each other first and worrying about anything with the fans or whatever after that. We have too much talent to be playing bad. We just want to keep fighting for ourselves and playing for pride.

“It’s a proud thing to call yourself a Hilltopper. And we’re proud to be them and we want to keep going forward with our own style.”

“Personalities are starting to mesh and we’re becoming a family. We don’t care who scores or how we do it, as long as we have more when the final horn goes off.”

 

For more, see Friday’s Daily News

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One response

22 01 2011
Brandon Cole

While the win at USA was good to see the state of the program is not.

The Train is leaving the station… This is the wrong time not to be winning !!

This is a critical time in WKU athletics and what happens over the next year or two will seal our long term fate.

The saddest thing about our conference rank Is that WKU has to be the #1 school in the country that
has the worst correlation between all time records and the conference we play in. (even with this season’s problems)
No way we should be playing in the 26th ranked conference. We should be at the very minimum
in a conference ranked in the top 10 year in and year out.

No freaking way should we be in a conference ranked lower than the Big South or should we be losing to teams that
sound like the name of an airport or an ocean. (F_U ‘s)

These are the teams that are in that powerhouse Big South Conference that is ranked ahead of the Sun Belt by several spots:
Coastal Carolina , Liberty,Charleston Southern, North Carolina-Asheville,Winthrop
Virginia Military ,High Point,Presbyterian,Gardner-Webb and Radford.

So coach Cherry who was an asst. under Horn at WKU, now the head coach at High Point plays in a better conference
than us. Heck if you added up all the Division 1 wins of all of the members of this collection of former Division 2 teams
WKU alone probably has more total wins.

So why are we in this mess? This was caused by the inattention of past WKU administrations to act to just let us wallow in the Sun Belt
after everyone left in the early 90’s. Louisville’s Athletic Director had been lobbing the big east for many years
before the opportunity came.

The investment that should have been made after the Sun Belt was down to just 3 teams before the merger
with the American South was for WKU to hire an Athletic Director that was conneted no matter what they had
to pay them and have a plan to get us up the conference food chain.

Now our only hope is that the Big East or the Mountain West picks some CUSA schools and Then CUSA
thinks we are a worthy replacement. We want both conferences to go to 12. So maybe UCF, Houston,
and UTEP or ECU leave CUSA.

So WKU is like a Freshman like looking for a Prom Date. We have to wait until all the seniors, juniors and sophomores pick
their dates then we get whats left if any. Only problem WKU is a 5th year senior being treated like a Freshman.

There are schools that didn’t even exist when many of us went to WKU, and many schools that did not play at the highest
level of college basketball as long as WKU has, and both those categories of schools are in higher ranked conferences than
we are.

Now our current administration has done everything right facility wise to get us in the discussion of a conference upgrade.
But winning programs get you noticed. (don’t think TCU goes to the big east without their winning football program.)

We can wait a few years to get the wins up in football, heck we just upgraded that, but there is no excuse in basketball
we have been at this level since we began playing and there should be no excuse or tolerance for anything less than winning
seasons even more so given the fact we are playing in a conference ranked near the bottom of all of them.

Here is the thing once all the conferences get to the magic 12 teams there will be no slots to go to. At that point you
are stuck where you are. This is so important I would have a person assigned to just this one task. Heck Memphis has
had the former Big East Commish (Mike T) working on getting them in a BCS conference for a year now.

After the conference changes are complete all that will be left will be to win the crummy conference we are members of
and draw the 15th seed or even worse the play in game during March Maddness. And recruiting will get even tougher because the kids of today
don’t have the memories of WKU’s proud past and all schools in better conferences will have a big advantage in recruiting
the players the we need. (aka a freakin point guard)

After the train leaves the station…. The facilities, The Coach, The AD, The Prez and The Budget won’t matter there will be nothing you can do as
teams are rarely kicked out of a conference to make an opening to take

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