Preview: Greenville Visits Wednesday For SLIAC Game of the Week

Photo courtesy of Mollie Albrecht.
Photo courtesy of Mollie Albrecht.

EUREKA, Ill. -- The 18-game St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference schedule begins Wednesday when the Eureka College men's basketball team welcomes reigning league champion Greenville for an 8 p.m. tip-off at Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena. The matchup between the Red Devils and Panthers has been designated by the SLIAC as its "Game of the Week".

PDF Version of Eureka Men's Basketball Game Notes

Sunday's win at Knox improved the Red Devils to 4-1 overall, the 11th time in EC's Division III era (1978-present) and the second consecutive season the Red Devils have won at least four of their first five games to begin the campaign. The victory was also the 121st of head coach Chip Wilde's Eureka tenure, moving Wilde into a third-place tie with Eureka Hall of Famer Ralph McKinzie (1921-37) on the Red Devils' all-time coaching wins list. Eureka has also eclipsed the 100-point mark as a team three times in the month of November for the first time in program history.
The up-tempo Red Devils are terrorizing their opponents to the tune of 99.2 points per game through their first five outings. The starting backcourt of Shea Feehan and Hank Thomas does most of the scoring -- Feehan is averaging a SLIAC-best 33.4 points per game and Thomas adds 17.8 on a nightly basis. Feehan continues to get the free throw line at a staggering rate -- nearly 10 times per game -- and Thomas has continued lights-out shooting from 3-point range, making 3.0 triples per game at a 44 percent clip.
The Red Devils are in their 40th season as a member of NCAA Division III and their 11th season as a member of the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Eureka returns three starters, all juniors, from last season's 13-win team that broke the program's single-season record for team scoring with 90.5 points per game. In all, EC returns 18 letterwinners from last season.
The accolades keep rolling in for Shea Feehan. Less than a week removed from reaching the 1,000-point plateau, Feehan broke Eureka's single-game scoring record with 49 points in the Red Devils' 103-89 victory at Knox last Sunday afternoon at Memorial Gymnasium in Galesburg, Ill. Feehan repeated as the SLIAC Player of the Week, according to a Monday announcement.
Feehan broke the previous single-game Eureka scoring record of 47 points set by Bob Strickland against Rose-Hulman on Dec. 7, 1957. Feehan was 14-for-26 from the field, 4-for-12 from 3-point range and 17-for-20 from the free throw line. His effort Sunday also surpassed his previous career high of 40 set in an 89-86 win over Monmouth on Nov. 27, 2016.
Eureka led 46-35 at halftime. The score was tied as late as the 10:31 mark of the second period on Deryk Ruple's 3-pointer, 65-65, but the Red Devils would never trail in the second half. Feehan answered Ruple's bucket with a triple of his own just 34 seconds later and Eureka would lead the rest of the way. Three Feehan free throws helped the visitors regain a double-digit cushion (90-79) with 4:16 remaining and the Prairie Fire wouldn't get any closer than six points over the remainder of regulation time.
Eureka will begin its 12th SLIAC schedule on Wednesday and owns a 6-5 record when starting the league slate since the 2006-07 campaign. 
The Red Devils are 4-4 in eight SLIAC openers at the Reagan Athletic Complex and will be hosting Greenville to begin the SLIAC schedule for the third time in the last 10 seasons.
Greenville is 2-3 this season, earning wins over Case Western Reserve on Nov. 18 and Knox on Nov. 21. The Panthers have suffered losses to Transylvania, Montclair State and Buena Vista.
Averaging 121.6 points per game, the Panthers deploy "The System," an unusual strategy made famous by NCAA Division III member Grinnell that uses full-court pressure, quick offensive sets and frequent mass substitutions. The strategic combination is done in an effort to create a frantic and unusual game tempo for the opponent.
GU also makes 18.4 3-pointers per game and the full-court pressure forces 34.0 opponent turnovers per game. The offensive numbers are eye-popping but come at a hefty price -- opponents are shooting 61 percent from the field, outrebounding the Panthers by more than 15.0 boards per game and averaging 124.4 points per game of their own.
Fiften different players have appeared in all fives games, 11 of which have made a start. No player plays more than 19.0 minutes per game. Junior Johari Dix scores 19.4 points per game, junior Rakim Murphy tacks on 18.8 points per game and a total of 11 different Panthers tally at least 5.0 points per game.
Since joining Division III nearly four decades ago, Greenville has been Eureka's most common men's basketball opponent. EC is 50-23 against the Panthers since 1974, including a 26-8 record at the Reagan Athletic Complex. The 50 wins against Greenville are the most by the Red Devils against any opponent since Dave Darnall arrived as head coach prior to the 1974-75 campaign.
Wednesday's game is the 23rd between the two schools since the Red Devils joined the SLIAC in 2006. Greenville has a 12-10 lead in the conference series. The Red Devils and Panthers played to the two highest scoring games in SLIAC history last season. GU won both contests in 2016-17, Eureka is 50-23 in its last 73 bouts with Greenville since 1974.
The owner of more than two decades of coaching experience at the collegiate level, Chip Wilde will enter his 11th season as head coach at Eureka in 2017-18. The upcoming campaign marks Wilde's 20th season as a collegiate basketball head coach.
Wilde has proved to be one of the most successful head coaches in the storied history of Eureka men's basketball, establishing the Red Devils as a steady presence in the SLIAC both on the court and in the classroom. Wilde entered the 2017-18 campaign with 117 wins, fourth-most in the 99-year history of the program.
The 2017-18 season is Dr. George Barber's 19th as head coach at Greenville. The 1986 Asbury graduate also owns coaching experience at the NCAA Division I level and was an administrative assistant on Kentucky's 1996 national championship team.
Dr. Barber, who installed "The System" prior to the 2015-16 season, earned his first SLIAC Coach of the Year award in 2016 and led GU to at least a share of the last two SLIAC regular-season championships. He is the Panthers' all-time leader in coaching victories with 236.