Mijovic soaks in return to The Star

March 15, 2019

FRISCO, Texas — Before Marshall’s Thundering Herd played the Rice Owls in a Wednesday late game in the Conference USA men’s basketball tournament round, Milan Mijovic gazed around the Ford Center at the Star and smiled.

Mijovic, a graduate student manager, was back in the facility where he was part of the 2018 Marshall championship and subsequent NCAA Tournament appearance.

“It feels good to be back,” the Belgrade, Serbia, native said. “It was a special experience last year. The last chance (as a senior) and (beating Western Kentucky for the championship) 67-66, I’ll remember that.”

Mijovic appeared in only 25 games in the 2018 season, starting 22 of them, and averaged just 1.6 points and 2.1 rebounds per game.

He didn’t get to play in any of the Herd’s three C-USA tournament games, and also stayed on the bench for both NCAA Tournament games.

“But, I was there supporting my buddies,” Mijovic said.

Mijovic said he had a better idea of what to expect this year, and he was ready to go. He hoped the players he helps coach now were ready, too.

He noted Marshall entered the tournament undefeated in the Ford Center.

“Keeping it that way is the plan, “he said.“The ball keeps spinning, anything is possible. Make shots, play with each other and everything else will come.”

TWIN SWEEPS: Old Dominion University’s B.J. Stith and Jeff Jones are the C-USA men’s player and coach of the year respectively.

Stith, a 6-foot-5 senior, helped the Monarchs capture their first C-USA regular season title and the top seed for the conference tournament. He enters a Thursday game averaging 17.3 points and 7.4 rebounds while making 83.6 percent of his free throws and 37.4 percent of his 3-point shots.

Jones had to replace three starting players and other key contributors and guided ODU to a 23-8 overall record and 13-5 league mark. Stith and senior guard Ahmad Caver were all-conference first team selections.

The Monarchs rank eighth in the nation for field goal percentage defense, holding opponents to 38.9 percent.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Rice junior Erica Ogwumike was voted as the C-USA women’s Player of the Year and Tina Langley was selected as Coach of the Year.

Ogwumike, a junior guard, is the only C-USA player ranked in the top 10 for scoring (16.1), rebounds (10.8) and steals (1.7). Her 16 double-double games ranks 16th nationally.

Langley directed Rice to a No. 24 ranking and first place in the conference regular season. The Owls enter the tournament with a 25-3 record and cruised through the conference at 16-0 as just one of seven NCAA Division I teams to go undefeated in league play.