Peevy is on the court, warming up for Incarnate Word

Incarnate Word forward Christian Peevy is in uniform and warming up Wednesdday night as the Cardinals prepare to host the host the McNeese State Cowboys in the Southland Conference opener for both teams.

Incarnate Word beat Trinity 82-57 on Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018, at the UIW McDermott Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Christian Peevy leads Incarnate Word in scoring with 14 points per game.

Peevy, UIW’s leading scorer, has been out for two games with an injured hand. He is turning for the McNeese game with a cast on his left (non-shooting) hand. Peevy is averaging 14 points per game.

The game matches first-year coaches at both schools, Carson Cunningham for UIW (5-8) and Heath Schroyer for McNeese (4-9).

In its sixth year in the conference, UIW is looking for its first trip to the SLC tournament.

The Cardinals were ineligible in the first four years of membership as they completed a transition from NCAA Division II to Division I.

Last year, in their first year of elibility, they didn’t make it, finishing 7-21 overall and 2-16.

The Cowboys, from Lake Charles, Louisiana, haven’t been to the tournament since 2016.

Notable

UIW will be without Bryce Davis, Des Balentine, Romello Wilbert and Keaton Hervey against McNeese.

Davis, a 6-7 freshman, is in a walking boot on his left foot. He has played in all 13 games, averaging 2.8 points in 9.5 minutes.

Cunningham says UIW is ready for the SLC regular season

Northern Colorado beat UIW 90-64 on Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018 at the UIW Convocation Center.

UIW’s Cody Graham (right) drives on Northern Colorado’s Johnatan Reyes.

Sophomore guard Cody Graham will play Wednesday night when the Incarnate Word Cardinals host the McNeese State Cowboys in a Southland Conference opener for both teams.

First-year UIW coach Carson Cunningham said Graham is a “full go” for the McNeese game after sitting out three straight with an injury.

The 5-10 sophomore from Fresno, Texas, played in UIW’s first 10 games and started nine of them before missing road losses at LSU, Illinois-Chicago and DePaul.

Incarnate Word coach Carson Cunningham gives directions to freshman guard Jordan Caruso in a 90-64 loss to Northern Colorado on Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018.

Incarnate Word coach Carson Cunningham gives directions to freshman guard Jordan Caruso in a 90-64 loss to Northern Colorado on Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018.

So, getting Graham back is a bonus for the Cardinals (5-8) as they continue preparations for SLC home games Wednesday against McNeese (4-9) and Saturday against the Nicholls State Colonels (7-6).

But as for the playing status of sophomore forward Christian Peevy, UIW’s leading scorer, Cunningham can’t say for sure.

“We’re going to find out,” Cunningham said after Monday’s workout. “We know he’s working hard to get better and as prepared as he can. We’ll know soon.”

Peevy enjoyed consecutive games of 26, 32, 23 and 16 points before sitting out UIW’s last two at Illinois-Chicago and DePaul.

Despite the uncertainty surrounding Peevy and a few others who didn’t do much in a New Year’s Eve workout, Cunningham said UIW is ready for the conference schedule to commence.

“We’re excited,” the coach said. “It’s a great time of year. We feel like we’ve had a difficult, challenging pre-conference slate, and it’s time to tip it up in conference.”

With several players not available, the Cardinals played well, all things considered, on the two-game trip to Chicago.

In a 63-57 loss at Illinois-Chicago, they clamped down defensively, holding the Flames to 18 points and 21 percent shooting in the second half.

Two nights later, in a 81-71 loss at DePaul, the Cardinals rained 14 three-point baskets on the Blue Demons.

Not bad for a banged-up SLC squad against a Big East opponent.

“I thought we did a lot of nice things,” Cunningham said. “I think we’re getting better. I’m hoping we can build off that as we start conference.”

At DePaul, UIW played well in the first half and trailed 42-38.

In the second half, the Cardinals continued to make shots. They were within eight with 11:36 remaining before the Blue Demons stepped on the gas and pumped the lead to 16.

Still, the home team couldn’t pull away, as UIW senior Charles Brown III and freshman teammate Antoine Smith both knocked down five three pointers.

“I thought we showed some real growth,” Cunningham said. “Guys were sharing the apple. We had good movement. We had some good flow. We’re just continuing to battle.”

Antoine Smith Jr. Northern Colorado beat UIW 90-64 on Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018 at the UIW Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Freshman Antoine Smith Jr. pulls down a rebound against Northern Colorado. Smith scored 15 points on five 3-pointers at DePaul on Dec. 19.

LSU wins 91-50, as free throw streak for UIW’s Peevy ends at 24

Christian Peevy’s streak of consecutive free throws made ended at 24 on Sunday afternoon in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Peevy, a University of the Incarnate Word sophomore from Chicago, hit his first three in a game against the LSU Tigers.

But he finally missed on the second of two with 9:52 left in the opening half during LSU’s 91-50 victory in the Maravich Assembly Center.

The Peevy streak included: 14 straight at Southern Illinois-Edwardsville on Nov. 25. Seven (in seven attempts) at home last week against Trinity. Finally, three at LSU.

After his lone miss, he finished with six straight, giving him 9 of 10 for the game and 59 of 65 for the season (90.7 percent).

Before the game at LSU, Peevy vowed to try to break the NCAA record for consecutive makes held by UIW assistant coach Darnell Archey.

Archey made 85 in a row over parts of three seasons at Butler from 2001-03.

UIW’s Christian Peevy is shooting for his coach’s NCAA record

Incarnate Word's Christian Peevy is 50-of-55 (90.9 percent) on free throws through the first 10 games of the season. The Cardinals are 171-of-208 (82.2 percent) as a team through 10 games. - photo by Joe Alexander

Incarnate Word’s Christian Peevy is 50-of-55 (90.9 percent) on free throws through the first 10 games of the season. The Cardinals are 171-of-208 (82.2 percent) as a team through 10 games. – photo by Joe Alexander

If history is a teacher on the nature of basketball culture, Christian Peevy’s modest streak of consecutive free throws made likely will never hit the television highlight reels.

Not unless the sophomore forward from the University of the Incarnate Word can quadruple his current run of 21 straight, that is.

UIW assistant coach Darnell Archey, a former Butler player who owns a 15-year-old NCAA record of 85 in a row, said the art of free throw shooting never will be regarded as sexy.

Not in any way, shape or form.

Incarnate Word assistant coach Darnell Archey at the UIW McDermott Center.

Incarnate Word assistant coach Darnell Archey at the UIW McDermott Center.

Archey said nobody talked about his streak until he broke the previous record of 73 in January of 2003 as a senior at Butler University.

“The only time it becomes sexy or when it’s in the mainstream, is when it’s in the extreme,” he said. “If you’ve made a ton. Or, (if) you can’t shoot a free throw.”

As UIW prepares to tip off at LSU today, the Cardinals are hardly a hot item.

They’re 5-5, with only one victory against a Division I program.

And yet, it’s worth noting that the Cardinals have blossomed into a program that leads the 351-team Division I standings at 82.2 percent from the free throw line.

All under a new staff that includes head coach Carson Cunningham, an 82 percent free throw shooter from his college days, and Archey, who hit 95.1 percent.

“Coach Cunningham just wants us to be a team that, when we get to the line, we knock down our free throws,” Peevy said. “We don’t want to be a team where teams want to put us at the line.

“He wants us to be a team (that) others hate to put on the line, because every time … we convert.”

Usually, free throws only become a topic of conversation in professional basketball when a player can’t make them in a high- profile playoff series, and it becomes a focus of an opposing team’s strategy.

“That’s when you talk about ‘em,” Archey said.

It’s even more unusual to hear about free throws in college ball.

For instance, ESPN highlights this season have focused quite a bit on the art of the windmill dunk by Duke sensation Zion Williamson.

But, did anyone notice last year when Eastern Washington senior Bogdan Bliznyuk made a Division I, single-season record of 77 straight?

Or, that Bliznyuk he produced the first serious challenge to the overall Division I record established by Archey over parts of three seasons, from 2001-03?

It’s just something that doesn’t come up when all the hot takes on hoops, across all media platforms, are sorted out.

Nevertheless, fans at UIW can look it up in the record books.

As a player at Butler, in Indianapolis, Archey made a mind-bending 85 in a row from the charity stripe over parts of his sophomore, junior and senior seasons.

The streak started on Feb 15, 2001 at home in famed Hinkle Fieldhouse, and it spanned 57 games through Jan. 18, 2003.

It came to an end at Hinkle, as well.

Father knows best

“Looking back on it, I’m not sure how I did it,” Archey said.

The roots of his success at the line and in his career, overall, can be traced to his childhood in New Castle, Indiana.

His father, Dennis Archey, worked a night shift at the Chrysler plant.

But before he started his shift at work, Dennis would take Darnell to the local YMCA to work on all sorts of skills, shooting included.

“He’d sleep during the day, obviously,” Darnell Archey said. “Then when I’d get home from school, we’d go get our shots up. Then we would have dinner, and he’d take a nap before he went off to work.”

Talking to a reporter at UIW’s McDermott Center last week, Archey reminisced about his childhood, when he learned lessons about the game and about life.

“Those shooting machines that we have over there,” he said, pointing to a contraption on the floor at UIW’s McDermott Center. “(It’s called) ‘The Gun.’ Well, my dad was my gun. He was my shooting machine.”

Archey said his high school coach also was equally demanding.

In practices, the coach would tell his prized shooter to go to the free-throw line and make 20 in a row — or the team would run.

“You know, five or six (in a row) wasn’t enough?” Archey said.

UIW coaches haven’t divulged all their secrets on how they practice and how they prepare as the premier free-throw shooting team in the nation.

Extra incentive

But, it’s likely similar to what Cunningham and Archey both experienced as high school and college players in Indiana.

“We’re going to try to get to the line, obviously, because that’s usually beneficial, especially if you’re shooting well,” said Cunningham, who played at Oregon State and Purdue.

“We’re going to keep plugging,” the coach said. “(We’re) just trying to keep getting better every day. Every week. And see what we can have once conference really kicks in.”

Peevy, for one, gets extra incentive when he talks to Archey about the NCAA record. About the streak of 85.

About how Archey, schooled by his father, took down what had been the record of 73, set in one season in 2000-01 by Villanova’s Gary Buchanan.

A record that likely will turn 16 years old this season — unless Peevy gets it.

“Yeah,” Peevy said. “I’m gunning for that. I told him already. I told him I’m going to try to come for it. He said if I get it, he’s happy for me.”

Peevy scores 23 as UIW races to 82-57 victory over Trinity

Incarnate Word beat Trinity 82-57 on Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018, at the UIW McDermott Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Christian Peevy led Incarnate Word with 23 points against Trinity. — Photo by Joe Alexander.

Over the past three games, Christian Peevy has played the best basketball of his career for the Incarnate Word Cardinals.

But in what may come as bad news for opponents on UIW’s schedule this season, the sophomore forward from Chicago still probably hasn’t hit his peak.

First-year Cardinals coach Carson Cunningham said he’s trying to figure out how best to get Peevy in position to score.

“He’s a potent weapon,” Cunningham said, after Peevy produced 23 points and 11 rebounds in an 82-57 victory over Trinity. “He does a few things particularly well, and he’s developing an all-around game from that.

“We just got to try to keep trying to find spots and wrinkles where he can excel, because he’s a dynamic player.”

Peevy sank 8 of 13 from the field and 7 of 7 from the free-throw line to boost UIW past Division III Trinity.

He has now scored 81 points in his last three games.

“It’s really all my teammates,” Peevy said. “They trust me with the ball, and I’m just so happy to convert. I just want to keep this roll going.”

The Tigers took leads of 3-0 and 6-5 on a couple of three-point baskets but couldn’t keep up with the bigger and more athletic Cardinals, who play in the NCAA Division I Southland Conference.

UIW built a 14-point halftime lead and then boosted it to as many as 27 in the final minute.

For the game, the Cardinals shot 54 percent from the field and blew away the Tigers with a 20-2 edge in fast break points.

Early on, it wasn’t pretty, as Trinity used a zone to flummox UIW’s dribble-drive attack.

“They did a good job of jumping some passing lanes,” Cunningham said. “Then I thought we started pass faking better. They have a nice motion offense, good cutting action.

“They run a good operation at Trinity. Coach (Pat) Cunningham has been doing it for a long time, and doing a great job.”

Records

Incarnate Word (5-5)
Trinity (0-7)
(Note: The game was an exhibition for Trinity, and it did not count on the Tigers’ win-loss record.)


UIW guard Augustine Ene makes the most of a broken play when he grabs a loose ball and soars for a resounding dunk.

Coming up

The Cardinals play the LSU Tigers in Baton Rouge on Sunday at 1 p.m. They also play at Illinois-Chicago on Dec. 17 and at DePaul on Dec. 19 before taking an extended break. UIW opens Southland Conferene play Jan. 2 at home against McNeese State.

Notable

Coming into Tuesday night, UIW led 351 Division I teams with 82.1 percent free throw shooting. The Cardinals had made 156 of 190 from the line, and against Trinity, they hit 15 of 18.

In the opening month of the season, UIW struggled against Division I competition. UIW was 1-5 against Division I programs. It is now 4-0 against Division III.

Last month, the Cardinals’ defense yielded 83.1 points in six games against D-I teams. In its four games against Division III, counting the Trinity game, UIW has given up an average of 54.8 points.

Sophomore guard Keaton Hervey, a starter for most of last season, is expected to take a redshirt this season after knee surgery.


UIW forward Christian Peevy fakes out a defender on the perimeter and gets to the basket for two of his game-high 23 points.

Individuals

UIW — Forward Charles Brown III, 12 points and 6 rebounds. Guard Augustine Ene, 8 points, 5 rebounds and 2 steals. Off the bench, guard Jorden Kite, 11 points on 3 of 6 from the three-point arc; also, forward Antoine Smith Jr., 10 points on 4 of 5 shooting, including 2 of 5 from three.

Trinity — Tyler Peavy, 11 points on 4 of 9 shooting, including 3 o 7 from three. A.J. Clark, Stephen Molina and Matthew Colliflower, 7 points each. Clark, a freshman from Johnson, also had 4 rebounds, 3 assists and a steal.


The UIW Cardinals move the ball from side to side on a possession in the secocnd half before finding guard Jorden Kite, a junior from Clark, who buries a three-pointer.

Cunningham wins first game as UIW basketball coach

The University of the Incarnate Word held St. Francis, Illinois, to 28.6 percent shooting Friday night en route to a 63-49 victory, the first for Carson Cunningham as coach of the Cardinals.

With the win, UIW improved to 1-1 on the season and earned a measure of redemption after a 50-point loss at Texas Tech on Tuesday.

St. Francis remained at 0-0 as it played the game as an exhibition.

“It was nice to see the guys really working on defense,” said Cunningham, who was in his UIW home debut. “I thought they were really trying to execute the game plan on defense.

“Give St. Francis a ton of credit. They played great, and they played really hard. It’s nice to get the win. I think it’s also going to help us get better.”

UIW plays as an NCAA Division I program in the Southland Conference, and so St. Francis, an NAIA team based in Joliet, Illinois, entered the Convocation Center looking for an upset.

In the second half, the Saints put together a 15-4 run to take a 39-38 lead with 11:52 remaining. Undaunted, UIW scored 13 of the next 15 points to regain control.

After a fast break dunk by freshman guard Morgan Taylor, UIW was up, 51-41. St. Francis never got closer than eight the rest of the way.

Individual leaders

Senior forward Charles Brown III came off the bench to score 14 points to lead the Cardinals, who shot 60 percent rrom the floor.

In addition, Taylor scored 11 in a team-high 34 minutes. Sophomore forward Christian Peevy added 10, all in the first half.

St. Francis point guard Terrion Howard, only 5-feet-4, led the Fighting Saints with 20.

First half

Peevy came off the bench for 10 points, six rebounds and two assists in the half.

Notes

The game marked the home debut for Cunningham, who was hired last March to replace Ken Burmeister. Burmeister stepped down after 12 seasons as coach.

Cunningham, who worked the past five seasons at Carroll College in Montana, started four freshmen and a sophomore. He has eight freshman on his 15-man roster.

Moment of silence

A moment of silence was observed before the game for the late Simi Socks, a former UIW player who died last June.

Socks, a power forward, played in 80 games for the Cardinals over the past three seasons.

Near the end of the first half (see video above), St. Francis defenders cut off Peevy on the baseline. But Peevy dished between two men to freshman Bryce Davis for a layup.

Central Arkansas hands UIW its sixth straight loss

Senior Jordan Howard lived up to his reputation as one of the nation’s top scorers Wednesday night by pouring in a career-high 41 points in a 92-76 home victory for Central Arkansas over slumping Incarnate Word.

Howard, who ranks fifth in NCAA Division I in scoring, hit 11 of 22 from the floor, 4 of 9 on three-pointers, and 15 of 17 at the free throw line for Central Arkansas (9-9, 3-2).

Jordan Howard is the older brother of Marquette sophomore Markus Howard, who scored an NCAA season-best 52 points in an overtime victory at Providence last week.

Redshirt freshman Christian Peevy and junior Charles Brown III scored 24 points apiece for the Cardinals (5-9, 0-4), who lost their sixth straight game.

Trailing by 23 points at intermission, UIW out-scored Central Arkansas 25-9 in the first seven minutes of the second half to pull within 62-55.

But the Cardinals couldn’t sustain the run and got hit with an 18-7 run from the Bears to fall behind by 15, effectively putting the game out of reach.

UIW plays next on Saturday at Stephen F. Austin in Nacogdoches. Tipoff is at 6 p.m. on ESPN3.

Reasons to believe in the Incarnate Word Cardinals

It’s back to the film room for UIW coaches a day after an 85-74 home loss to the Sam Houston State Bearkats.

Clearly, the Cardinals will need to figure some things out before this week’s Southland Conference road trip to Central Arkansas and Stephen F. Austin.

Yes, UIW has lost five in a row. And, yes, senior point guard Jalin Hart says he expects to be out two weeks getting some academic issues resolved.

But that doesn’t mean the Cardinals (5-8, 0-3 SLC) can’t get some momentum going during a stretch of four-of-five games on the road over the next three weeks.

Here are a few reasons to hold out hope for the Cardinals in their quest to reach the SLC tournament.

No. 1, power forward Charles Brown III (jersey No. 13 in your program) is playing well. See video below.

As mentioned, UIW faces a tough stretch in the schedule — at Central Arkansas and at Stephen F. Austin. Then home against Lamar and back on the road again to New Orleans and Houston Baptist.

But the presence of Brown on the floor may command a double team, even on the road, if he can keep hitting shots like this:

Another intriguing talent at UIW is redshirt freshman Christian Peevy.

In the second half against Sam Houston when the Bearkats made their big run, Peevy seemed to lose some confidence, not unusual for a young player.

But in the first half he showed some grit on the defensive end, taking a charge, and then displayed nice touch on a mid-range jumper.

See below:

Senior Sam Burmeister, the coach’s son, played a solid all-around game against the Bearkats, scoring 16 off the bench on 6 of 10 shooting.

Burmeister is a tenacious competitor and can hurt an opposing team with his long-range accuracy.

We have the evidence:

With Hart out of the lineup, Cody Graham will start. And, if you missed it, that was Graham getting into the paint and kicking out a pass to Burmeister in the video clip above.

Other players will need to step up. Forward Simi Socks didn’t seem comfortable in the offense against the Bearkats. Socks can score and is just in a funk right now.

I also think 7-foot Konstantin Kulikov will be OK. But Kulikov played only one minute against Sam Houston. Coaches just seemed hesitant to put him on the floor.

A key to any long-range aspirations for the Cardinals is true freshman Keaton Hervey, who has been erratic, while also showing flashes of talent.

Here’s a clip of Hervey, dunking in the first half:

Of course, after Hervey’s dunk, UIW coaches took him off the floor because of some sort of strained muscle.

Which, when you think about it, is the story of the Cardinals’ season thus far.

McNeese State routs Incarnate Word in SLC opener

Junior forward Quatarrius Wilson produced 20 points and 10 rebounds Thursday night for his third-straight double double, leading the McNeese State Cowboys to an easy victory over the University of the Incarnate Word, 85-62.

Playing at home in Lake Charles, La., the Cowboys (4-7) poured in 44 points in the first half and led by 18 at intermmission.

The Cardinals (5-6) retaliated with a run early in the second half, pulling to within 13 when freshman Christian Peevy completed a three-point play with 12:46 remaining.

But UIW couldn’t sustain the momentum and allowed McNeese to take charge again, hiking the spread to as many as 29 points down the stretch.

UIW will try to break out of a three-game losing streak when it plays the back end of a two-game SLC road trip Saturday afternoon at Nicholls State.

On a night when starters for the Cardinals struggled to score, Peevy scored 18 and Sam Burmeister added 10 to lead the bench. Starting forward Charles Brown III scored 11 but was held to 5 of 14 shooting.

Forward Simi Socks, the team’s leading scorer, did not make a field goal (0-for-3). He finished with two points.

McNeese’s defense held UIW to a season-low 32.3 percent shooting from the field. The Cardinals hit only 4 of 22 on 3-point attempts.