Media day kicks off MVC basketball

Media day kicks off MVC basketball

By Tyler Dixon

Missouri Valley Conference media day is the unofficial start to the basketball season, and all eyes are on the Wichita State Shockers, who made a trip to last season’s final four in Atlanta.

There are the usual suspects that fans will know in the Valley this season but with the influx of young talent, any team could shine. The MVC has been compared to the Big 10 because any team can win on any night.

Southern Illinois University Salukis: Overall 14-17 Conference 6-12

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The Salukis lost three starters from last year’s team and key players off the bench in T.J. Lindsay and Josh Swan. Coach Barry Hinson has his hands full with 10 new players to work into the rotation this season. All eyes will be on MVC Preseason All-Conference team member senior Desmar Jackson. Jackson averaged 15.1 points and 5.4 rebounds per game last season. Sophomore guard Anthony Beane is the only starter from last season other than Jackson on the roster. Beane averaged just below 10 points per game and will have the task of leading the offense.

Coach Barry Hinson said the main thing his team worked on during the summer was getting players to reach their potential.

“The biggest thing we did was skill development, everything was skill development,” Hinson said.

Junior guard Mike Balogun said he and the team have been ready for the season to start for a while now.

“I’m ready to get the show on the road,” Balogun said. “We’ve been anticipating our first exhibition game and things like that so we’re just ready to go.”

The Salukis will start conference play Jan. 2 at SIU Arena against the Shockers.

Bradley University Braves: 

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Overall 18-17 Conference 7-11

Bradley will be led by three standout seniors. Guard Walt Lemon Jr. is on the watch list for the 2014 Bob Cousy Collegiate Point Guard of the Year award. Lemons and forward Tyshon Pickett each averaged double-digit points last season, with Lemons at 15.6 points per game and Pickett at 11 points per game. Center Jordan Prosser will add size and hope to improve on his 3.5 rebounds per game average last season.

Loyola University Ramblers: 

Overall 15-16

Conference newcomer Loyola lost three starters from last year’s team. Ben Averkamp who led the Ramblers in points and was tied for the team lead in rebounds has graduated. Junior Christian Thomas was second in points last season and will look to lead the team into a new era of Loyola basketball. Sophomore guard Devon Turk only started six games last season, but will pair with junior Joe Crisman in helping the Ramblers at the guard position.

Wichita State University Shockers: 

Overall 30-9 Conference 12-6

The Shockers are all the talk in the MVC so far, but this season could be a different story. Wichita State will be without two pieces of last year’s team that made a trip to the NCAA Final Four, Carl Hall and Malcolm Armstead. Preseason MVC Player of the Year senior forward Cleanthony Early averaged 13.9 points per game last season. Sophomore guard Ron Baker did not play in an MVC conference game last season but was a vital part of the Shockers’ tournament run, along with junior guard Tekele Cotton and sophomore guard Fred VanVleet.

University of Northern Iowa Panthers: Overall 21-15 Conference: 11-7

The Panthers were picked third in the MVC Preseason Poll released Wednesday. Junior forward Seth Tuttle will look to lead the team, he averaged 11.4 points and 6.6 rebounds per game last season. Junior guard Deon Mitchell is the only other starter on the team from last season. Northern Iowa will look to get production from last season’s sixth man Matt Bohannon, who played about 21 minutes per game.

Indiana State University Sycamores: Overall 18-15 Conference 9-9

Indiana State returns with the two players that led them in points, rebounds and assists last season. A Bob Cousy Award Finalist and MVC Preseason All-Conference Team member, Jake Odum, will look to better the Sycamores fifth place finish from a year ago. Senior Manny Arop averaged 5.1 rebounds per game last season.

Missouri State University Bears: 

Overall 11-22 Conference 7-11

Missouri State lost its leading scorer, Anthony Downing, from last season but will be led by sophomore guard Marcus Marshall. Marshall was named to the MVC Preseason All-Conference Team and averaged 11.5 points per game last season. A pair of forwards will help the Bears on the wings and in the paint. Junior Christian Kirk averaged 8.7 points per game and 4.2 rebounds per game and sophomore Gavin Thurman averaged only 2.8 rebounds per game.

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