The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


February 21, 2014

Henry: Lion fans select strong Silver Anniversary Team

Kudos to Missouri Southern basketball fans on their voting for Robert Corn’s Silver Anniversary Team.

The 12-player team, determined by online voting for players who played for Corn during his 25-year career at the Lions coach, includes six of the school’s top-10 career scorers — No. 2 Jason Adams, No. 5 Skyler Bowlin, No. 6 Chris Tucker, No. 7 Keane Thomann, No. 8 Marquis Addison and No. 10 Terry Shumpert.

There are the top three players from the Puerto Rico connection — Eddin Santiago, the Lions’ career record holder in both assists and steals; Carlos Escalera, the leading scorer on the Lions’ 2000 NCAA Tournament semifinal team; and Osiris Ricardo, the leading rebounder and shot blocker on the 2000 team.

Completing the team are Kenny Simpson, one of the best two-year players in school history; Jordan Talbert, one of the school’s best shot blockers who’s approaching 1,000 points; and Dan Jones, a fan favorite who prepped at Sarcoxie.

Nine of the dozen played either on the 2000 team or during the current successful seven-year run. Corn had many good players during his first 10 years who didn’t receive many votes simply because they were not as fresh in the fans’ minds.

So as a reminder, here is an all-Robert Ellis Young Gymnasium team of players who played at least two seasons for Corn in the former home of the Lions.

Simpson and Tucker are the team captains. Simpson (1990-92) scored 1,097 points in his two seasons, and his 19.2 career scoring average ranks third in school history. Tucker (1990-94) scored 1,520 points and also ranks first in blocked shots (179) and second in rebounds (952).

Ron Joyner and Demarko McCullough were teammates with Tucker on the Lions’ 1993 NCAA Tournament team. Joyner (1991-93) led the Lions in assists and steals in his two years and was one of the Lions’ best defensive point guards ever. He also is fourth in 3-point shooting (39.5 percent). McCullough (1991-93) made 126 3-point goals in his two years and was the unofficial most valuable player for the Lions in their victories over Emporia State, Missouri Western and Washburn in the 1993 MIAA Postseason Tournament.

Need more 3-point shooters? Keith Allen (1989-93), part of Corn’s first recruiting class, made 178 treys, third most in school history. Dirk Price (1992-94) is the most accurate 3-point shooter in school history (40.7 percent), and he shares the single-game record with eight treys.

After Joyner, Kyle Hardin (1993-95) and Eddie Reece (1994-96) were the Lions’ point guards. Hardin totaled 284 assists in his two seasons, and Reece led the Lions in scoring, assists and steals his senior season. Reece ranks third in career 3-point shooting (39.9 percent) and fourth in free-throw shooting (82.0 percent).

There are more scorers on the all-REY team.

Terrance Sisson (1993-95) was dismissed from the team with five games left in his junior season, but after he and the coach mended fences, Sisson averaged 24.5 points as a senior —the second highest single-season mark behind Greg Garton’s 24.54 in 1984-85. Sisson’s 20.9 career scoring average is best in school history.

Matt Olson (1995-99), a Neosho product, led the Lions in scoring his last three seasons and is ninth on the career list with 1,404 points. His 63.0 percent shooting from the field in 1997-98 ranks second in MSSU single-season history.

Mario Phillips (1995-99) and Carlos Newberry (1996-2000) helped close the old gym. Phillips was an athletic 6-foot guard who could dunk with ease and is 14th on the scoring list (1,109 points) and fifth in steals (162). Newberry was the conference freshman of the year in 1996-97 who developed into a good 3-point shooting forward and a senior leader on the 2000 semifinal team.

That 2000 team also has three of the five players on the Corn-era all-transfer team – Brad Mann (transfer from UMKC), Blake Bard (Pittsburg State) and Adam Babcock (Saint Mary, Kan.). They are joined by two transfers from South Alabama – Reece and current Lion Slim Magee.

An all-freshmen team under Corn is easy to select as Newberry, Escalera, Bowlin, Adams and Addison were all named MIAA Freshman of the Year.

The Silver Anniversary Team will be recognized Saturday afternoon during the Lions’ regular-season home finale against Pittsburg State. But certainly, there are many more Lions who created memories for Corn and the Lion fans.

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