Preview: Red Devils Ring in New Season Saturday With Monmouth

Photo courtesy of Michelle Curl.
Photo courtesy of Michelle Curl.
EUREKA -- Eureka will tip-off the 2018-19 regular season Saturday night when the Red Devils host Monmouth in a 7:30 p.m. start at Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena and Convocation Center.
 
 
Saturday's game kicks off the 12th season of the Chip Wilde coaching era as well as the Red Devils' 41st season as a member of NCAA Division III. EC is in search of its third consecutive season-opening win and its fifth straight home-opening win.
 
ABOUT EUREKA
Eureka returns 10 letterwinners and four players that started at least five games from last season's team that went 18-8 overall and finished as the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference runner-up with a 13-5 league record.
 
Senior Hank Thomas and juniors Dakota Bennington and Jordan Dehm return for the Red Devils after combining to score more than 40 points per game last season. Thomas became the 24th player in program history to reach 1,000 career points after a 12-point effort in the SLIAC Tournament semifinal versus Blackburn on Feb. 22. Alex Wiegand is also back as the Red Devils' active leader with 428 career rebounds in 76 career appearances.
 
Donald Hardaway, Jr., Austin Juergens and Koby White also return for the Red Devils after bolstering the team's backcourt rotation last season. Hardaway was a solid option off the bench in the second half of the season, Juergens appeared in all 26 games off the bench to average 5.7 points per contest and White shot 44 percent (14-for-32) from beyond the arc.
 
The Red Devils will welcome nearly a dozen newcomers to the 2018-19 roster, seven of which will have freshman eligibility.
 
RED DEVILS DROP EXHIBITION AT EASTERN ILLINOIS
Dakota Bennington scored 17 points and Austin Juergens followed with 12, but Eureka came up short in a 79-44 exhibition decision at NCAA Division I Eastern Illinois on Nov. 2 at Lantz Arena in Charleston, Ill.
 
Alex Wiegand hauled down eight rebounds and Hank Thomas distributed six assists. Bennington tallied four of the Red Devils' eight steals. 
 
SLIAC PRESEASON POLL
A preseason poll conducted by SLIAC men's basketball head coaches in October has tabbed Eureka fifth in the league in 2018-19. Greenville, the three-time defending regular-season champion and 2018 SLIAC Tournament winner, was picked to repeat as conference champion.
 
Five of the 10 first-place votes went to the Panthers, who edged runner-up Westminster. The Blue Jays received three first-place votes. Third-place Webster and fourth-place Blackburn also earned a first-place vote. Eureka was fifth.
 
Spalding, Principia, Fontbonne, MacMurray and Iowa Wesleyan round out the bottom half of the ballot.
 
ABOUT MONMOUTH
Monmouth is less than a year removed from a breakthrough season that included a school-record 20 wins, sweeping the Midwest Conference regular-season and tournament championships and its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1990.
 
The Scots were picked fourth in a preseason Midwest Conference poll. MC will try to return to the NCAA postseason despite losing both of its All-MWC performers including Player of the Year Will Jones. Instead, the Scots will look to returning starters D.J. Swift and Justin Batterton to lead them in their title defense. Swift 9.7 points per game and led the team with 58 made three-point field goals. Batterton contributed 8.3 and is the team's returning rebounder after grabbing 104 last season.
 
THE ALL-TIME SERIES
Eureka and Monmouth have played 15 times since December 1974, a series the Scots lead 11-4. The Red Devils have beaten the Scots in each of the previous two Novembers and will be aiming for their first three-game win streak in the series with MC.
 
Last season, Shea Feehan tallied a game-high 36 points, including a pair of free throws with four seconds to play that proved to be the game-winning points, to lift the Red Devils to a 97-96 non-conference victory on Nov. 25, 2017. Unofficial archived records show the decision marked EC's first win over the Scots in Monmouth since at least the 1949-50 season.
 
MEET THE HEAD COACHES
The owner of nearly three decades of coaching experience at the collegiate level, Chip Wilde is in his 12th season as head coach of the Eureka College men's basketball team in 2018-19. The current campaign marks Wilde's 21st 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 St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference both on the court and in the classroom. Wilde entered the 2018-19 campaign with 135 wins, fourth-most in the century-long history of the program.
 
Todd Skrivseth is in his eighth season directing the Fighting Scots. The 1996 Coe graduate owns a 75-92 overall record. He was named Midwest Conference Coach of the Year last winter after leading the Scots to their first conference title since 1990.
 
FOLLOW THE ACTION ONLINE
Eureka will provide a live online video broadcast and live real-time statistics of Saturday's game. Links will be available at EurekaRedDevils.com, SLIAC.org and D3hoops.com.