In a back and fourth game it came down to one untimed down and Freshmen kicker Corey Munson’s right leg. Munson would nail a 52 yard field goal to give WKU their 9th win on the season and a victory in the Servpro First Responder Bowl.
Here’s how Hilltopper Nation and the internet reacted to the kick.
Here’s a view from inside the stadium as the kick goes through.
Following an exciting overtime win over Arkansas see where the Hilltoppers rank among the college basketball hierarchy.
WKU comes in at number 88 in today’s Kenpom ratings. They currently sit with the nations #40 offense. Defensively, the Hilltoppers have struggled to close out games, registering the #151 ranked defense in the country.
WKU comes in at #81 in the Sagarin Ratings
Upcoming Opponents (Kenpom)
KWC: Division II, NR
Rhode Island: 78
This next stretch features winnable games heading into and to begin conference play. Without Bassey, it will be interesting to see how the Hilltoppers fare against a few quality teams, needing to win both non conference games to increase its resume.
Point guard Kenny Cooper, who transferred from Lipscomb University last spring, was denied his request at immediate eligibility this season per Elliot Pratt. Cooper averaged 9.8 ppg, 3.5 rpg and 4.5 apg last season before transferring this offseason. This will force the Hilltoppers to rely on both Taveion Hollingsworth and Jordan Rawls to run the offense for the rest of the season. Cooper will be eligible at the start of next season, which will be his senior season.
Curiously, it took until midway through December before this decision was announced. Better known players such as Jemarl Baker (Kentucky->Arizona) and Quade Green (Kentucky-> Washington) were granted immediate eligibility before the season started despite their transfers coming due to playing time and Cooper’s coming due to a coaching change. Through both football and basketball the NCAA has shown its preference to Power 5 programs over mid-majors, and this is yet another example. This news comes one day after WKU learned it lost its star player Charles Bassey due to injury for the remainder of the season.
What was supposed to be a celebration of defeating an undefeated Arkansas team Saturday night turned to shock for Hilltopper Nation Monday afternoon when it was announced star sophomore Charles Bassey, an NBA talent, would be sidelined for the remainder of the 2019-2020 season. After landing awkwardly on his left leg nearing the end or regulation (Video posted to our Twitter feed), a sold out Diddle Arena went silent as its star player stayed down. The Hilltoppers were able to erase a 5 point deficit and force overtime before walking away with a win, giving hope to the Hilltopper faithful that they can continue on with their season in hopes of reaching the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 2013 season. The question now is who will step into Bassey’s starting role as the Tops inch closer to conference play.
The old saying “you can’t teach size” comes to mind when talking about replacing the 6’11 Center. Averaging 15.3 ppg and 9.2 rpg Bassey was the focal point on offense and proved to be the only real rim protector on the roster. Matt Horton, 6’11, now stands as the lone player over 6’7 on the roster. Offseason transfers by Horton and Tolu Smith left the Tops with virtually no backups to the star big man if this situation were to happen, but luckily Horton ended up coming back to the Hill for his senior season where he will now be forced to provide valuable minutes either off the bench or via a starting role. He has averaged just 5 minutes-per-game this season and will see an instant spike in that number. Obviously we cannot expect him to step in a fill Bassey’s role, but the big man from Tuscaloosa, Alabama will need to be active on the boards and provide spacing for a guard-dominated offense, as well as handling opposing teams inside on defense. Freshman Isaiah Cozart will also see an increase in minutes much sooner than expected, as he is seen as more of a project for Stansbury and his coaching staff. In minimal appearances I have liked what I have seen from Cozart on both sides of the ball, showing a high motor and physicality. He will be invaluable as a rim protector for the Tops after blocking 716 shots in high school, a Kentucky state record. While I’m not sure how these two players would be used, they are all the height left on the bench. Carson Williams, who is putting together a nice season, will be relied on for rebounds and interior play even more in Bassey’s absence.
Even with Bassey on the court WKU was primarily a guard based offense. Last season they struggled to get the ball inside, opting for contested jumpers or penetration, and much of the same carried over to this year, so its not as if Bassey was touching the ball every play. What he did do was space the floor, as well as the defense, which allowed driving lanes and open shots as he absorbed most of the double teams. This proved valuable for the likes of Josh Anderson and Taveion Hollingsworth who are at their best when they can attack the rim. The key here is ball movement which will open up lanes as well as open shots for Jared Savage and Camron Justice.
With no true post presence the Hilltoppers will most likely revert to small-ball as it did at the end of the Arkansas game. This lineup consisted of Hollingsworth-Justice-Savage- Williams-Anderson. Anderson will probably slide into the center position despite only standing 6’6. After beginning this season on the bench Anderson is deserving of a starting role, proving most valuable getting to the rim and getting fouled as well as running fast breaks. The key to this is forcing turnovers like they did against Arkansas, shooting the gaps and converting on the offensive end. What I see to be the main problem with this lineup is the lack of a true point guard. Hollingsworth will be the focal point of the offense now, but has struggled throughout his career when he runs the offense. Barring Kenny Cooper becoming eligible Hollingsworth will play the point guard position with Jordan Rawls to back him up.
The best part of this injury is when it happened. WKU doesn’t play for almost 2 weeks before it faces Kentucky Wesleyan, a Division II program from Owensboro, Kentucky. This will provide an opportunity to test out each lineup variation before a tough stretch leading to conference play. Being a down year in the C-USA the Hilltoppers still look to be the favorite in conference play, but it will will need to be Coach Stansbury’s best job to date if they want to return to March Madness. All hope is not lost and collectively WKU will work to replace Bassey’s workload, which is not an easy task. It may take a few games, but the way this team fought in overtime against Arkansas proved to me they can compete with anyone. Go Tops!
Previewing Saturday’s match-up with undefeated Arkansas Rick Stansbury had this to say during his opening statement,
“I think the most important thing is we’ve got a bigger volleyball game than we do basketball game, don’t we? What an amazing job Coach Hudson and that staff and those players have done.”
Stansbury even mentioned that he was cancelling a recruiting visit tonight to be in attendance. Coach Stansbury likely was scheduled to make the trip to Marshall County to watch 5 star recruit Zion Harmon, who the Hilltoppers have had on their radar since the spring.
Hilltopper Guards Josh Anderson and Camron Justice also spoke to the media following Stansbury’s press conference.
After a 3-0 set sweep of Kennesaw State last night in the opening round of the NCAA tournament Western Kentucky Volleyball will look to advance to the sweet 16 with a victory tonight against the University of Louisville.
Western Kentucky (32-1) suffered their lone loss of the season to Louisville, they will look to avenge that loss tonight in Diddle Arena at 7:00 PM. Tickets can be purchased here.
Last night Western Kentucky set the record for a Volleyball match inside Diddle Arena (And i’d say that record will be broke again tonight).
Louisville also had this comment made following their win vs. Samford Thursday night.
After back to back wins over Southern Miss and Arkansas both on the road, WKU now has 7 wins looking for number 8 against Middle Tennessee. After not making a bowl game last year it is nice to see this team make one in Coach Helton first season.
Here is a list of projected bowls and teams might see in them.
ESPN – Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl vs Miami (Ohio) or R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl vs Appalachian State
Stadium – New Mexico Bowl vs Nevada
247 Sports – Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl vs Western Michigan
Bleacher Report – Bahamas Bowl vs Miami-Ohio
CBS Sports – Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl vs Western Michigan