Pair of double doubles leads to big win for No. 6 Trailblazers


VINCENNES, Ind. – The No. 6-ranked Vincennes University Trailblazers tipped off another big weekend of NJCAA basketball at the Physical Education Complex Friday night with the first night of the 2023 McDonald’s Classic.

The host Trailblazers got the weekend started strong with a big 100-43 victory over Richard J. Daley College, aided by a 14-point, 19-rebound double-double by sophomore Michael Osei-Bonsu (Bolingbrook, Ill.) and a 10-point, 10-rebound double-double by sophomore Karyiek Dixon (Enfield, London, UK).

VU got off to a great start and set the tone early against the Bulldogs, using a big 17-1 scoring run in the first half to take a 38-9 lead.

Vincennes would continue to add to the big lead, closing out the first half with a 45-15 advantage.

The Trailblazers continued to keep the foot on the gas early in the second half, using a 23-2 scoring run to take a 70-19 lead.

VU grabbed their largest lead of the night at 96-32, with the starting unit sitting for most of the final 14 minutes of the game.

Richard J. Daley was able to score a couple of late baskets to cut the deficit down but the Blazers still came away with the big win 100-43.

“I thought we were pretty sharpe for the most part,” VU Hall of Fame Head Coach Todd Franklin said. “I thought our guys got on the glass hard. I thought we shared the ball and moved it, whether they were in man or zone. Early on they were in man, later it became zone and I thought we did a pretty good job of moving the ball, getting it swung and we made them pay for the most part.”

“We were able to get inside, even against the zone,” Franklin added. “We were getting it inside against man. We got on the glass when we missed shots and got second shots, which is what we have to be able to do. That’s why we have guys like Bonsu and Dixon, that’s their job and they didn’t do that last Saturday. That’s why we have them as opposed to a different kind of post. You win with what is supposed to be your strength. If we are not rebounding, then somebody can beat us.”

“I thought tonight we play, obviously, much more of that,” Franklin said. “Michael would have broken every rebounding record there was. He got 19 rebounds in 19 minutes. If I had played him 30 minutes, he was going to own the record books. Karyiek was pounding it too. He had 10 rebounds in 20 minutes. They ate the offensive glass up and tomorrow night we are going to have to do that because Monroe is probably going to play a zone and it’s weird to play against that kind of zone early. So it will be a great challenge, a lot because they are good at it, but also because it’s early in the season and we don’t play that. We haven’t seen it and we don’t practice against it and we probably won’t see it again for quite a while. That always makes it a unique challenge.”

“But in that, if we move the ball correctly, it’s tough to box out in a 1-3-1 zone,” Franklin added. “It’s tough sometimes to get the shots you want against that zone but it’s also tough for them to box out. So we have to be able to be strong, solid and comfortable with the ball so we don’t get out of whack. Then we have to make them pay. Whether it’s hitting that shot or we’ve got to make them pay by getting on that glass and say to them, ‘you want to keep playing a zone, we’re going to keep rebounding’. But if you get long rebounds against them, you saw tonight how good they are at feeding the ball in that break, that’s because they do it every day. When they’ve got those long rebounds going and they are leaking out, they are excellent at it. They are as good as any team and tonight early against Logan it was like a layup drill.”

“We’ve got to be better and more solid to make sure that doesn’t happen to us,” Franklin said. “That’s easier said than done, but there’s a way of doing it and we just have to make sure that we lock into that. It should be a great game tomorrow night. It’s two top-20 teams, unique challenge. Hopefully we get a bunch of people out here and make this place exciting. If I was a basketball person, I don’t know why I wouldn’t be out here tomorrow. If I’m a player in high school or junior high, are you kidding? I’m here. If you’ve got a date, bring them. We’re done by 9 o’clock. Are you going to the movies or are you coming here? I’m coming here and it’s not even close.”

“Hopefully we get a bunch out here,” Franklin added. “We invite all of them. We always do. Everybody that plays every sport at every level at the high schools here gets into the game. Get in here, bring somebody with you, make some noise and help the home team. It’s a big game.”

Vincennes had six of the 10 active players tonight score in double figures, with all 10 scoring in the game.

VU was led by freshman Mathieu Nader-Kalombo (Longueuil, Quebec) who came off the bench to catch fire from behind the three-point arc in the second half, scoring all 18 of his points in the final period.

Nader-Kalombo also connected on four of five from three-point range and collected four rebounds on the night.

Michael Osei-Bonsu had a tremendous game on the glass for the Blazers, grabbing 13 rebounds in the first half and ending the night with an outstanding 19 rebounds, including 11 offensive rebounds Friday night. Osei-Bonsu completed the double-double with 14 points.

Freshman Damarien Yates (Somerville, Tenn.) came off the bench to add 14 points and five rebounds.

Sophomore Kent King (Washington, D.C.) entered the starting lineup for the first time this season and came away with 13 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals.

Freshman Lebron Thomas (Bishopville, S.C.) ended with 13 points, three rebounds, three assists and two steals.

Karyiek Dixon was the final VU scorer in double figures, ending with 10 points and 10 rebounds on the night.

Sophomore Victor Lado (Louisville, Ky.) came off the bench to add nine points and seven rebounds, while fellow sophomore Kris King (Washington, D.C.) had a big all-around game, finishing with five points, four rebounds and a team-high six assists.

“I thought most of the players did good things tonight,” Franklin said. “And if they didn’t do good things at certain points, they rallied and did good things later. Most people left here tonight with some quality and most people left here with some things that they need to learn. Mathieu was that way. He has not been shooting with a rhythm when he shoots, he’s kind of quick shooting it and just trying to get it out of his hand. He did that on the very first shot tonight. We addressed it again and from then on, he really didn’t and you saw the difference in what happened.”

“He can be big tomorrow night,” Franklin added. “He’s going to have to hold up his end on the defensive side, on the glass. Handling the ball, no turnovers. But there are going to be shots when that thing moves. Guys can hurt them in that zone if it’s done correctly, but we have to have somebody to punish them. Mathieu could be big tomorrow night. Can he do it when the lights are bright? That’s part of being a freshman, we find out. We’ve only got 10 healthy right now and if you are seeing somebody that plays zone a lot. But to play him, he’s got to hold up on the defensive end and then he’s got to know when to shoot it and when not to. When he does, he needs to hit the net. If he does that, he could play a big role for us tomorrow.”

The Trailblazers will look to continue to ride this hot start into another big game tomorrow, Saturday, Nov. 11, when VU hosts No. 25 Monroe College from New Rochelle, N.Y. in the final game of the 2023 McDonald’s Classic. Tip-off time for the Trailblazers will be 7 p.m. eastern.

Reminder that in honor of Veteran’s Day tomorrow, all Veterans will receive free admission to tomorrow’s games, including the first game of the night, No. 4 John A. Logan vs. Richard J. Daley at 5 p.m. eastern.

Other scores from tonight’s McDonald’s Classic include No. 25 Monroe College winning over No. 4 John A. Logan 64-56.

“Our guys have played against a couple of these top-25 teams in the preseason,” Franklin said. “A lot of our guys went to the Elite Eight last year. This game tomorrow should be big in terms of getting you excited because you are a competitor. But our sophomores especially, have got to act like, ‘we’ve been here’. We’ve seen the best of the best and have been in the biggest of the big, so we are going to act like it tomorrow night. And they need to if we are going to win. Play well, we need our sophomores to act like that and we need to have our freshman say, ‘hey, I’m good enough to be here and to do this and I’m going to prove it to you’. That’s what I hope to see.”

“I’ve talked all week about attitude,” Franklin added. “I just want guys to come out here ready to play and excited about playing. It ain’t that hard. The key to being really good or as good as you can be is, I’m going to excitedly do the smart thing on the floor confidently. And it’s not that hard to do something that’s smart and it’s not that hard to avoid something stupid. It really isn’t. We overanalyze it and we make it too much. You are out here in practice every day, you know what the smart play is. The whole game tonight, especially the second half was discussing better angles and what would be better.”

“You know what is a solid thing to do and do the heck out of it,” Franklin said. “Do it confidently. Do it to show you’re good and I thought we did a better job of that but I still think we’ve got a lot of room to grow there. That’s one of those individual things. If each individual embraces that more, we get better. Tomorrow night I hope we have all of the individuals come out here. They just play strong, confident, excited, smart basketball. Again, you don’t have to be a genius to play smart basketball. I think if we do that, we let the chips fall where they may, we’ll be alright. If we don’t, then we need to learn from it. But I’d rather learn from winning. That’s always better.”


VINCENNES (100) – Kris King 2-7 0-1 5, Michael Osei-Bonsu 7-11 0-0 14, Karyiek Dixon 5-8 0-1 10, Kent King 6-13 0-0 13, Lebron Thomas 4-8 2-2 13, Damarien Yates 5-6 4-6 14, Gerard Thomas 0-3 2-2 2, Mathieu Nader-Kalombo 7-11 0-0 18, Ryan Oliver 1-5 0-0 2, Victor Lado 3-6 2-4 9, Team 40-78 10-16 100.

Richard J. Daley – 15   28 – 43

VU (3-0) – 45   55 – 100

Three-point goals: VU 10 (Nader-Kalombo 4, L. Thomas 3, Kr. King, Ke. King, Lado). Rebounds: VU 62 (Osei-Bonsu 19). Assists: VU 27 (Kr. King 6). Steals: VU 8 (Ke. King 3). Blocked Shots: VU 8 (L. Thomas 2, Yates 2, Oliver 2). Turnovers: VU 14. Personal Fouls: VU 17. Fouled out: None.