Muller on the Mississippi Win
(St. Louis, MO) – “Illinois State Stuns SEC Team”. Does that headline sound familiar? It should. For the second time this season, the Redbirds took out an SEC foe. Earlier this year they took the measure of South Carolina. As good as that is for ILS and the Missouri Valley Conference, it’s the way the Redbirds defeated Mississippi that was most encouraging to head coach Dan Muller.
The 101-97 overtime win was surprising for many reasons. Even with the victory Illinois State (5-6) is under .500, they are still playing without 7′ center Daouda N’diaye and valued freshman wing Elijah Clarance has just rejoined the active roster and played seven minutes on Saturday. Three players fouled out, and yet Illinois State came up with the victory over the Rebels.
Before the game the classy Ole Miss program honored the late Torrey Ward. ‘T-Ward’ who was an assistant at both programs lost his life in a 2015 plane crash. Here is at tribute.
— Ole Miss Basketball (@OleMissMBB) December 16, 2017
Three players, Milik Yarbrough, Phil Fayne and Taylor Burninga fouled out, but Illinois State’s bench came up big and Muller talks about the huge contributions from Isaac Gasman and Matt Hein.
In a difficult season, where like several other Valley schools, the Redbirds have been beset with injuries, transfers and transition, Muller says this ‘signature win’ only matters if his team continues to grow, mature and work hard at practice.
Muller, like most coaches believe ‘you play the way you practice‘, and he says he’s been seeing his team come around on the practice floor, and he is excited that Clarance will be rounding into form and that N’diaye should be back soon.
The Redbirds look to even their non-conference record to 6-6 when they host UIC Tuesday night and open their Valley schedule Saturday at Evansville (10-2).
In Part Two of this interview, Muller talks about the ‘Big 3’ on this year’s ILS squad.