One day in the not to distant future, the Northern Kentucky men’s (and women’s) basketball team is going to win the Atlantic Sun Conference and make a mid-major run in the NCAA tournament. It is going to be a surprise to you because you will not have been following them. Part of that is your fault because you drive by that beautiful arena that sits just a few hundred yards off of U.S. 27 and still haven’t thought about looking inside and part of it is the local media dropping the ball when it comes to reporting on NKU athletics. You will be caught off guard when it happens. You will be running to the local sports shop buying up NKU gear so you can run down to the local pub and not look like a fool in your UK hoodie you wear 93% of the time.
It is going to happen. Maybe not this season, maybe not even next season; but it is for sure going to happen. Frankfort didn’t allow NKU to build an arena so it can host mediocrity like some of the other regional universities. Northern Kentucky is not afforded very many luxuries from Frankfort. They love our tax dollars down there but they sure don’t like sending much back. Hell, we probably wouldn’t even have paved roads up here if it hadn’t been for the great Gene Snyder.
After the Bank of Kentucky arena was completed, the Ohio Valley Conference wanted nothing to do with NKU. Also, this television market is one of the top 20 to 30 in the country depending on how you measure it. You think the folks down in Murray, Kentucky or over in Morehead want to deal with that kind of pressure put on their already struggling programs? Nope. That is how NKU ended up in the Atlantic Sun to begin with. Pure fear from other regional schools.
Lets look at the Atlantic Sun Conference for a moment. The conference now includes schools from the following metropolitan areas: Cincinnati, Jacksonville, Atlanta, Nashville, Spartansburg, Fort Myers/Naples, and Central Florida. Do you think there might be a few athletes in those markets? NKU joining the A-Sun is a coup for the conference in the long run, as Belmont and Mercer depart. It also allows NKU to expand the brand from the Ohio River to the very southern tip of Florida.
The NKU men’s roster looks like this:
|0||Chad Jackson||G||6-4||200||R-Sr.||Lexington, Ky. / Scott County||James Madison|
|2||Tayler Persons||G||6-3||230||Fr.||Kokomo, Ind. / Kokomo|
|3||Tyler White||G||6-3||190||Jr.||Lima, Ohio / Lima Senior|
|4||Deontae Cole||F||6-6||200||So.||Toledo, Ohio / Central Catholic|
|5||Jordan Garnett||F||6-6||215||Fr.||Indianapolis, Ind. / Warren Central|
|11||Jordan Jackson||G||6-2||185||Sr.||St. Paul, Minn. / Henry Sibley||Williston (N.D.) State|
|13||Daniel Camps||F||6-5||225||So.||Fayetteville, N.C. / Jack Britt|
|20||Jake Giesler||F||6-7||230||R-Jr.||Ft. Thomas, Ky. / Newport Central Catholic||Jacksonville|
|21||Jalen Billups||F/C||6-6||240||R-Jr.||Cincinnati, Ohio / Shroder|
|22||Matt Rosenwinkel||G||6-2||230||So.||Rochelle, Ill. / Rochelle Township|
|23||Todd Johnson||G||5-9||170||Jr.||Elkhart, Ind. / Memorial|
|25||Cole Murray||G||6-7||200||So.||Delphi, Ind. / Delphi|
|32||Jared Bryant||F/C||6-7||255||R-Jr.||Cincinnati, Ohio / Roger Bacon||Chattanooga|
|33||Anthony Monaco||G||6-4||180||R-Jr.||Dover, Ohio / Dover|
|44||Dean Danos||G||5-11||175||So.||Oak Lawn, Ill. / Bishop|
The Norse have 11 players that average at least 12 minutes per game, including former 9th Region Player of the Year, Jake Giesler (12.1 min/g) from NCC. Senior Chad Jackson was All-State at Scott County High School. Jackson transferred to NKU from James Madison who went 21-12. Junior Jalen Billups, who plays much bigger than 6’6, was All-City in Cincinnati in 2011. Billups does a lot of different things for the Norse. He poured in 25 against Tulane back in November and is and excellent rebounder and shot blocker for his size; leading the Norse with 19 blocks this season. The Norse have a young 6’3 freshman starting point guard in Tayler Persons. Persons is from Kokomo, Indiana where he was a member of the Indiana All-Star team.
The Norse also have three players who are shooting 35% or better from 3-point range: Tyler White, Deontae Cole, and Anthony Monaco. Todd Johnson and Daniel Camps provide spark for the Norse. Both are very versatile players who are very athletic, exciting players that can run baseline to baseline with anyone. Camps is a 6’5 sophomore who can play above the rim.
The Norse are not where they want to be but they will be someday soon. You should see where your tax payers went and visit BOK arena. You can get in the gate for $7, you can practically sit in Head Coach Dave Bezold’s lap for $12. Have I mentioned on this site before that they have beer at Norse games?
The Norse host Kennesaw State tonight at 7:00 pm in their A-Sun home opener.
Bandwagon jumpers will be welcome but its always more enjoyable to catch a star before it rises.