Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

January 31, 2013

AARON SNYDER: EKU answers Knipp's knock

Aaron Snyder
The Independent

ASHLAND — While at Elliott County, Timmy Knipp wowed crowds on a regular basis with his 3-point shooting prowess.

He’s beginning to turn some heads at Eastern Kentucky University.

In a span of 10 days, the Colonels sophomore averaged 24 minutes, 8.8 points and 1.3 blocks per game in four contests. He was 9 of 20 from beyond the arc during the stint.

Two solid performances came against Ohio Valley Conference leader Belmont, perhaps EKU’s biggest obstacle to an NCAA Tournament berth.

In just his second game back following a 10-game absence due to injury, Knipp poured in a career-high 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting off the bench against the Bruins on Jan. 17.

On Saturday, Knipp earned his fifth career start. He buried a pair of 3-pointers, but wrestled with foul trouble (four total) as he played 22 minutes.

In just his brief time back, though, one of Sandy Hook’s basketball legends has proven to be a huge positive for the Colonels (16-5). If he continues to play well on both sides of the ball, he may just solidify that starting spot with coach Jeff Neubauer.

Overall, Knipp is averaging 4.9 points and 13.7 minutes per game. He is shooting 36.4 percent from 3-point range.

Knipp returns close to home on Feb. 9, when Eastern Kentucky travels to Morehead State.

Winging It

Evansville and Rowan County product Adam Wing have a chance to shock some people in the Missouri Valley Conference.

The Purple Aces are 13-9, including a stunning win over then-nationally ranked Wichita State on Jan. 13. Unfortunately, what followed was three losses in five games.

Wing, though, has been fairly consistent in earning playing time, especially considering he is a freshman.

His averages: 10.9 minutes, 2.6 points and 2.1 rebounds. His best game came back in December — a nine-point effort against Miami (Ohio).

Jackson Live

Newly Division I Northern Kentucky garnered some additional attention thanks to a former local player on Saturday night.

Chad Jackson, who went to Rose Hill Christian before transferring to and graduating from Scott County, cracked into Sportscenter’s Top 10 plays for his putback slam dunk during Saturday night’s Norse win over Kennesaw State. Jackson burst into the paint, leaped up and threw down a missed 3-pointer with authority.

Jackson is the team’s second-leading scorer at nine points per game. He’s third in rebounds at 5.2.

Ethan Faulkner, an Elliott County graduate, is second for the Norse in minutes (31.6) and first in assists (3.3).

Northern Kentucky is 6-11 in its first season as a D-I basketball program. It is 4-5 in Atlantic Sun play.

According to the school, NKU men’s hoops is leading the conference in attendance at 3,056 per game in conference contests.

O’Bryan to G’town

Ashland standout defensive end Cade O’Bryan, a 2012 second-team All-Stater and All-Area Large School Player of the Year, has made his college choice.

Earlier this week, O’Bryan made a verbal commitment to Georgetown College.

The Tigers are routinely an NAIA contender and they went 10-1 last season.

O’Bryan said he will officially sign with the school soon.

Coaching searches

Ashland and Boyd County are getting closer to finalizing their choice for head football coach.

In early January, both spots became vacant after the Tomcats’ Leon Hart announced retirement and the Lions’ Ray Brooks resigned.

Neither school could divulge much information, but Boyd County Athletic Director Dave Trimble, for one, is excited about the Lions’ options.

“We have had a tremendous amount of interest and feel that we have a very strong pool of applicants,” he said. He said the school hasn’t set a firm date regarding when it will make the hire.

Nickel Pays Off

Former Greenup County boys basketball coach Jeff Nickel has served as the interim head coach for Shawnee State University’s women.

The Lady Bears beat St. Catharine, 75-63, on Saturday in Nickel’s debut. They are 16-6 overall.

Nickel spent one season as the head coach of his alma mater, Greenup County, before rejoining Shawnee State’s staff. He went 17-10 with the Musketeers in 2010-11.

He took over day-to-day head coaching duties on Jan. 25 while head coach Robin Hagen-Smith is on a leave of absence.

Noel’s pace

Kentucky freshman Nerlens Noel is squarely in the running to become the Wildcats’ second straight NCAA Defensive Player of the Year.

On the heels of a school-record 12 blocks against Ole Miss on Tuesday, Noel is now on an Anthony Davis-like pace.

Davis accumulated an NCAA record 186 blocks a year ago. Through 20 games, Noel is at 94 blocks. At his current rate, which is rapidly increasing with every game, Noel needs 20 more games to break Davis’ mark — 20 more games would put Kentucky in the national championship game.

Reds countdown

Spring training is quickly approaching and another Cincinnati Reds season is in sight.

Pitchers and catchers report to Goodyear, Ariz., on Feb. 12. The Reds play the Indians on Feb. 22.

Opening Day is April 1 against the Los Angeles Angels at Great American Ball Park.

AARON SNYDER can be reached at asnyder@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2664.