Saturday, April 12, 2014

News On The Horizon 4/12/2014

2014-15 Preview: Mid Majors, Part II--Basketball Predictions
Horizon League

Green Bay certainly felt like they had a case for an at-large bid this season. And considering the way that the Selection Committee thinks (rewarding tough non-conference schedules) they had to be in the mix. Instead, they somehow only got a 4 seed in the NIT, where they got rolled by a Belmont team that appeared much more motivated (Keifer Sykes being out was a factor as well). In all it wasn't a particularly successful postseason for the Horizon League. Milwaukee stole the Horizon League auto bid (including an overtime victory over Green Bay), but they could only get a 15 seed and were crushed by Villanova. Cleveland State, Valparaiso and Wright State all went to the CIT, where none got further than the second round.

Green Bay was powered by the inside-outside duo of Keifer Sykes and 7'1" Alec Brown. Brown is gone (with a real chance to be drafted by the NBA), but Horizon League Player of the Year Sykes should be back for one more season. Green Bay returns their top four minute earners after those two as well, led by the interior duo of 6'9" Greg Mays and 6'7" Jordan Fouse. One player to look for next season is 6'7" Kenneth Lowe, who was effective in limited minutes as a true freshman. They don't have any prominent transfers or recruits, though, so if Green Bay is going to get back near where they were this last season, several of their bench players will need to get significantly better.

Cleveland State finished the season strong, winning 10 of their final 11 regular season games before being stunned by Wright State in the Horizon League tournament. Their offense was awfully good, and their three-point shooting (40.2%) was third best in the nation. They only lose one regular from their rotation, Jon Harris. They return their best outside shooter (Bryan Forbes), their point guard (5'8" Charlie Lee) and their most important big man (Anton Grady). They will hope to have shooting guard Sebastian Douglas back fully healthy after he missed about half of the games in January, February and March, and who ended up having knee surgery after the season ended. They add 6'0" Andre Yates, who played sparingly as a freshman at Creighton in 2012-13. They will also get back 6'9" Aaron Scales, who didn't play much as a freshman and took a redshirt season in 2013-14 to improve his game. It's very likely that Cleveland State will be the media's preseason Horizon League favorite heading into next season.

The automatic bid, of course, was won by Milwaukee, but that run was pretty fluky. They lost four of their final five regular season games, so it's not like there was much evidence of improvement from a team that was actually 8th (out of 9) in the conference in efficiency margin. On top of that they lose two starters (their top two scorers, in fact) as well as a key bench piece. Their top returner is probably swing forward Austin Arians. Their top addition is probably transfer Akeem Springs, who averaged 7.7 points and 2.9 rebounds per game as a freshman at Northern Illinois in 2012-13. Wright State is a team hit even harder by graduation, losing five of their top six minute earners. Their only real proven returner is 5'9" point guard Reggie Arceneaux.

A team that might be down next season but has a nice core for the futre is Valparaiso. They lose four players from their ten man regular rotation, but four more were only freshmen. The two biggest losses are clearly leading-scorer Lavonte Dority and 7'0" defensive presence Moussa Gueye. Their top two rising-sophomore returners are point guard Lexus Williams and 6'8" Alec Peters, who scored 12.7 points per game with a 56.1 eFG% as a true freshman. The most important non-freshman returner is 6'10" Yashil Fernandez. Their most important addition is 6'7" E. Victor Nickerson, who averaged 5.8 points and 2.6 rebounds per game as a sophomore at Charlotte in 2012-13. And if the success Bryce Drew had with a not-particularly-highly-rated 2013 recruiting class is a sign for the future, look for a couple of these 2014 recruits to be significant factors as well.

If there's a sleeper team to finish near the top of the Horizon League next season, I think it's Detroit. They only went 6-10 in conference play, but they only lose two players from their regular rotation. Those two losses (Evan Bruinsma and Ugochukwu Njoku) were their top two rebounders, so they are going to need some size. 6'8" Patrick Onwenu is the one proven returner. They add 6'11" Patrick Ackerman, who played sparingly in two seasons at Penn State, and also add a 2014 recruit in 6'6", 250 pound Jaleel Hogan. But while the front court is a bit of a question mark, they return everybody else, led by swing forward (and leading-scorer) Juwan Howard, Jr. Their top returner aside from Howard is probably shooting guard Jarod Williams, who was one steal behind Evan Bruinsma for the team lead in significantly fewer minutes. They need a point guard, but Detroit is in the mix for a few different high school and Juco recruits who could fill the void, so you have to expect that Ray McCallum will land somebody to fill that spot.

In the end, here's how I see the top half of the Horizon League playing out:

1. Cleveland State
2. Green Bay
3. Detroit
4. Valparaiso
5. Milwaukee
Ultra Early Mid-Major Rankings for the 2014-15 College Basketball Season--The Catch and Shoot
9. Cleveland State

Key losses: Jon Harris, Devon Long

Key returners: Bryn Forbes, Trey Lewis, Anton Grady, Charlie Lee, Sebastian Douglas, Marlin Mason

Key additions: None

Cleveland State finished the 2013-14 season on a tear before losing in the Horizon League Tournament. And now the Vikings return four starters from a team that won 21 games.

The Vikings won’t have the best guard in the conference because of Keifer Sykes at Green Bay, but overall they will have the best backcourt. Bryn Forbes led the team in scoring with 15.6 points per game and 81 3-pointers. Trey Lewis and Charlie Lee combined for 22.9 points and 7.5 assists per game, and both were also great 3-point shooters. Lewis shot 36.9% while Lee led the team, in terms of percentage, at 43.3% from deep.

Cleveland State will not have much depth in its frontcourt, but it has a great forward in Anton Grady and another solid one in Marlin Mason. Grady averaged 10.4 points and 6.8 rebounds last season while Mason posted 5.9 points per contest on 55.0% shooting and also grabbed 4.2 boards.
19. Green Bay

Key losses: Alec Brown, Vincent Garrett

Key returners: Keifer Sykes, Greg Mays, Carrington Love, Jordan Fouse, Kenneth Lowe, Lamin Fulton, Alfonzo McKinnie

Key additions: None

Green Bay may have some struggles with Alec Brown departing, but the Phoenix still return five of their top six players. That includes Horizon League Player of the Year Keifer Sykes.

Sykes will once again be the best player in the Horizon League, and he also has a very solid supporting cast. Carrington Love, who averaged 7.9 points and 2.5 assists, joins him in the backcourt while Greg Mays, Jordan Fouse and Kenneth Lowe will man the frontcourt.

Miami Heat takes a step back in the Eastern Conference standings with loss to Memphis Grizzlies--Miami Herald
A lean-in jumper from 20 feet by James gave the Heat a five-point lead with 20 seconds left in the third quarter, but the Grizzlies amazingly reeled off five points in the final second of the quarter to tie it. Following a layup by Gasol with one second remaining, Heat reserve point guard Norris Cole committed a turnover in the open court. Memphis guard Tony Allen inbounded the final possession to Courtney Lee, who somehow got off a running one-handed three-pointer before the buzzer. Officials initially ruled the shot came after the buzzer, but overturned the ruling after a video review. Lee finished with 18 points.
LeBron stopped at the rim as Nets stop Heat 88-87--South Florida Sun Sentinel
James started the fourth quarter on the bench, with Spoelstra going with the limited firepower of a lineup of Chris Andersen, Lewis, Mario Chalmers, Ray Allen and Norris Cole.
Winderman's view: Grizzlies 107, Heat 102--South Florida Sun Sentinel
-- In the second quarter, Norris Cole alley-oops to LeBron about five feet short of the rim. LeBron ends it with a layup.
Heat come up short against Grizzlies; Pacers showdown next--South Florida Sun Sentinel
But off a Norris Cole turnover with seven-tenths of a second left in the third period, Courtney Lee converted a running 3-pointer to tie it 80-80 heading into the fourth, with James having played 31 of 36 minutes to that point.
ESPN's Outside the Lines: "First Cinderella"--Cleveland State Hoops
Waters Named Finalist for Ben Jobe Award--Cleveland State Hoops
Cleveland State Adds Detroit Guard Kenny Carpenter--Cleveland State Hoops

Kings notes: McCallum doesn’t mind playing heavy minutes--Sacramento Bee
Kings’ effort improves but execution lags--Sacramento Bee
The Kings had a chance to win but were unable to execute their final play as drawn up, and rookie Ray McCallum missed a 21-foot jumper with 0.3 seconds to play.
McCallum said he liked his final shot.

“I thought I got a good look,” he said. “It’s just a shot that I’ve got to make and knock it down.”

The Kings dropped to 3-32 when scoring fewer than 100 points.

“It’s an area that we’ve got to improve on, being able to close out games,” McCallum said. “… It’s just something for me to build on and learn from, learning how to close a game out. And as a team we’ve got to get some stops and execute down at the end.”

Said Malone: “We didn’t have great execution on that last play but great opportunity for Ray to try and make a play at the end. But it was a little bit short.”

Cousins finished with a game-high 30 points with 12 rebounds. McCallum had 23 points and eight assists.
Kings notes: Malone wants Williams on the attack--Sacramento Bee
Tough assignments – Kings rookie Ray McCallum is learning there are no easy nights playing point guard in the NBA.

In the final three games, the Kings play perhaps the NBA’s best point guard (Chris Paul of the Clippers), one of the league’s best passing guards (Ricky Rubio of the Timberwolves) and Phoenix’s dual attack of Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe.

McCallum held his own against Portland All-Star Damian Lillard with 23 points, eight assists and no turnovers.

“I love the opportunity to play against the best,” McCallum said. “It’s going to be a huge challenge for myself, but I’m up to it. Go out there and compete and kind of see where I stack up and all the things in my game that I need to work on.”
Detroit Titans Men's Basketball Year-End Banquet Set for April
11 Titans Named to Horizon League Winter All-Academic

Shearer To Attend Pro Combine At 2014 Final
Women's Basketball Announces Team Shootout

Bader garners more national accolades--Oakland Post
Sporting blitz week of 4/9--Oakland Post
Men’s Basketball-

Senior Oakland University basketball star Travis Bader finished in second place in the Quicken Loans college 3-point competition Thursday. The event was held at SMU’s Moody Coliseum. Bader was only edged out by Brady Heslip of Baylor, who managed to outscore Bader 18-14 in the final round. Erik Kangas also finished second in this event in 2009 at the Palace of Auburn Hills.
Felder named to Kyle Macy Freshman All-American Team--Oakland Post

Watterworth reflects on illustrious women's basketball career--Oakland Post

Howard Moore in National Spotlight via His UW Recruit Frank

Story and Hannemann Named to WBI All-Tournament
Dates Announced for 2014 Regina Miller Basketball
UIC Has Strong Showing in Final NCAA Statistical

Ultra Early Mid-Major All-America Teams for the 2014-15 College Basketball Season--The Catch and Shoot
First Team
Keifer Sykes, Green Bay

Sykes, the reigning Horizon League Player of the Year, averaged 20.3 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4.9 assists. He may be small at 5’11″, but he’s got some amazing hops.
Men's basketball: UWGB will play at Miami on Dec. 6--Green Bay Press Gazette

Six Phoenix Student-Athletes Earn Winter Academic All-League

APR sanctions result in postseason ban next season for Milwaukee--CollegeBasketballTalk
Wisconsin-Milwaukee banned from 2015 postseason due to APR--Eye On College Basketball
Milwaukee Loses Appeal, Will Be Banned From Postseason Due to Low APR Score--Mid-Major Madness
Milwaukee banned from 2014-15 postseason play--The Catch and Shoot
UWM men's basketball banned from postseason play--Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
UWM men's basketball program banned from postseason play--On Milwaukee
UWM Men’s Basketball Banned from 2014-2015 Postseason (Updated 4/10/13 4:30 PM)--UWM Post
Panthers banned from basketball postseason--PantherU
Appeal Of Milwaukee Men's Basketball Postseason Ban

Women's Basketball Golf Outing Set For June

Milwaukee banned, Drew bouncing?--The NWI Times

Former Raider Receives Presidential Early Career
Eight Student-Athletes Named Winter HL

Ryan Weber to transfer from Youngstown State--CollegeBasketballTalk
Ryan Weber will transfer from Youngstown State--The Catch and Shoot

2013-14 YSU Women’s Basketball Season

Milwaukee to Miss 2015 Men's Basketball Postseason--Horizon League Network

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