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    Preseason Valley Predictions


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    1. Missouri State- Might as well start with the team that features the best overall player in Alize Johnson. Flirted with the NBA draft and with another strong campaign could find himself getting drafted next summer. That is not the only thing to like about the Bears though. They have depth across the board and are a seasoned group. Odebiah Chruch should be one of the best interior defenders in the league and I have always thought Jarred Dixon had a nice all-around game. Add in talented 5th year transfer J.T. Miller and the bears have a legit shot to win their first league championship since 2011.

    Name to watch: Ronnie Rousseau III- Someone has to be the floor general and before he suddenly stepped away from the team last January he was the man in charge. How big of an impact did that make on the team? Missouri State finished the season 6-12 after Rousseau played his final game…They need the SR point guard to turn in a full campaign in order to climb to the top.

    Potential downfall: Paul Lusk- Although he and his staff have recruited well the past few seasons, Lusk is still very much on the hot seat in his 7th season at MSU. He has had some head scratching moments in games that make you question how effective he is in that area. He also has seemed to do less with more talent compared to most of his valley counterparts. If he cannot guide this group to a top 2-3 finish then it will be interesting to see if he has a future in Springfield.

    Potential Starters: SR-Ronnie Rousseau III 5’11 170 (12 pts 3 ast)
    Grad transfer- JT Miller 6’2 190 (15 pts at Howard)
    JR- Jarred Dixon 6’4 170 (8.5 pts 2.5 rebs)
    SR-Alize Johnson 6’9 205 (15 pts 10.5 rebs)
    JR- Obediah Church 6’7 225 (6.5 pts 6.0 rebs 2.5 blk)
    __________________________________________________ _________________________________________________

    2. Loyola- The other deep team on paper is the Ramblers of Loyola. This balanced and versatile group could easily have 6 guys lead them in scoring on any given night and feature several guys who can play multiple positions. Donte Ingram, Aundre Jackson, and Ben Richardson represent a strong core of Seniors for Porter Moser to lean on.

    Name to Watch: Donte Ingram- The senior to be has improved every season and is one of the more athletic swing men in the valley. His biggest leap last year came in the way of adding a 3pt shot and Loyola fans hope that he can continue his development to help fill the shoes of departed do everything wing Milton Doyle.

    Potential Downfall: Lack of size- All of the proven talent on this team is 6’6 or shorter. If this group wants to contend they will need a strong valley season push from one of their true FR bigs. Christian Negron and Cameron Krutwig were both highly recruited big guys out of the state of Illinois and have superior size and strength compared to rest of Loyola’s solid core 6 (starting 5 plus Adarius Avery). The big question is how fast does one or both of these youngsters come along? If they are behind the learning curve by seasons end expect Loyola to finish closer to 5th than 1st.

    Potential Starters: JR- Clayton Custer 6’1 185 (11.5 pts 3 ast)
    SR-Ben Richardson 6’3 185 (8 pts 1.5 stls)
    JR- Marques Townes 6’4 210 (11.5 pts 4 rebs at Fairleigh Dickinson)
    SR- Donte Ingram 6’6 215 (13.5 pts 7 rebs)
    SR- Aundre Jackson 6’5 230 (14 pts FG-67%)
    __________________________________________________ _________________________________________________

    3. Northern Iowa- If you have the best head coach and the best (or at least most experienced) frontcourt in the league, then you have a shot at competing for a championship. Ben Jacobson has never finished worse than 9-9 in league play, so it is unwise to bet against him coming up with a competitive team post Wichita State.

    Player to watch: Tywhon Pickford- He might not start the season at the wing position. However, if UNI wants to be a contender he is more than likely going to have to finish the season there. He was a rising recruit in HS until a torn meniscus ended his junior season. He came back healthy his SR season and earned a ton of mid major offers and big ten schools like Michigan State were sniffing around him as well. He is far more explosive than your average UNI recruit and might be the only guy who can guard other athletic swing men on opposing teams.

    Potential Downfall: Guard play-The variable that is going to take them to the top or having them flirting with Thursday is their guard play. Last season with the best two way wing (Jeremy Morgan) and a solid frontcourt they were only able to finish .500 in league play because of subpar guard play. Juwan Mccloud was over hyped and was actually outplayed by fellow freshman Spencer Halderman. Mccould has more potential and needs to realize it for this team to be a contender.


    Potential Starters: Soph Juwan Mccloud 5’11 175 (4 pts 1 stl)
    JR-Wyatt Lohaus 6’2 180 (4.5 pts 2 rebs)
    FR- Tywhon Pickford 6’3 200 (N/A)
    SR- Klint Carlson 6’7 225 (8 pts 4 rebs)
    SR- Bennett Koch 6’10 235 (11 pts, 4 rebs)
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    4. Southern Illinois- They return 3 starters and add transfer St. Louis transfer Marcus Bartley. 4 proven solid D1 players is more than the rest of the teams behind them can say. There are also a few other options off the bench that could be starters by seasons end. Tyler Smithpeters, Kavon Pippen, Eric Mcgill, Aaron Cook, and Brendon Gooch could all snag a starting spot. I’m not sure they have a top 5-10 player in the league, but this group has a ton of guys who could be solid rotation/starting caliber players.

    Player to watch: Thik Bol- Surprised many last season by being an instant impact big man out of JC. Despite his slender frame, he provided the best rim protection in the league and found a way to clean up enough misses to score close to double digits a night. If he could develop any sort of low post game or mid-range jumper?? Could be looking at an all valley center.

    Potential downfall: Who runs the offense?? Now that point forward Sean O’Brien and 2 year starting point guard Mike Rodriguez are gone; who is going to take over the reins for SIU? I have Marcus Bartley listed as the starter and I’m not sure he is even a point guard at all. Soph. Aaron Cook or JC transfer Eric Mcgill could claim the job as well, although I don’t see either being the floor general Barry Hinson needs.

    Potential Starters: JR- Marcus Bartley 6’4 175 (6pts transfer from St. Louis)
    JR- Sean Lloyd 6’5 215 (7.5 pts 3 rebs)
    JR-Armon Fletcher 6’4 190 (11 pts 5 rebs)
    SR- Jonathan Wiley 6’6 200 (2 pts 2 rebs)
    SR- Thik Bol 6’8 200 (9 pts 7 rebs 2 blks)
    __________________________________________________ _________________________________________________

    5. Indiana State-This seems like a good place to put the hometown Sycamores. They have the most experienced and decorated player in the league in Brenton Scott. They also bring back two other players who flashed promise last season in Jordan Barnes and Emondre Rickman. Based on that alone they shouldn’t be this high on the list. The reason for optimism is the 2017 class that brought talented FR like Mr. Basketball Tyreke Key and 3 star wing Clayton Hughes, while also getting instant help where they were hurt most last season (see names to watch and potential downfall).

    Name to watch:
    Devin Thomas- The 28th ranked JC player from a season ago is expected to come in raise the bar at the 4 spot. While Matt Van Sycoc provided outside shooting, he was a one trick pony and was abused badly on the defensive end and on the glass. Thomas looks to be a solid rebounder and defender, while also providing some offensive punch of his own. If he has a newcomer of the year type season it will help the Trees climb into the top half of the valley.

    Potential downfall: Wing help- 5th year grad transfer Qiydar Davis was a late addition to the team this spring and if he comes back healthy this potential downfall could be a strength. Davis has proven to be a quality D1 player when healthy and has the frame to perfectly fill the swing man role that was vacant a season ago. IF he goes down (has had 3 knee injuries) it will be all on the shoulders of true freshman Clayton Hughes and lightly used soph. Trey Knight. Down the road I think Hughes will be a fine if not exceptional wing player for ISU. Asking him to outduel experienced and proven starting players at his position year one is a tall task.

    Potential Starters: Soph- Jordan Barnes 5’11 160 (6.5 pts 2 ast)
    SR- Brenton Scott 6’1 195 (16 pts 5 rebs)
    Grad Transfer- Qiydar Davis 6’6 220 (injured last season)
    JR- Devin Thomas 6’8 205 (N/A)
    JR- Emondre Rickman 6’9 250 (3pts 1.2 blks)
    __________________________________________________ _________________________________________________

    6. Bradley- The positive is Bradley returns its entire rotation of players from a year ago. The negative is that core has done a whole lot of losing over the past two seasons and didn’t add any pieces that I think will help it improve for the 2017-18 season.

    Name to Watch- Darrell Brown- The Soph point guard needs to establish himself as a top 3 player at his position for the Braves to take a step up in the standings. He is the unquestioned alpha dog of this team and averaged close to 13 points a game as a FR last year. The part of his game that has to take a step up is his efficiency. He averaged more turnovers than assists a year ago and shot less than 40% from the field. Those are both huge no no’s for any successful lead guard. If he doesn’t clean that up the rest of the pieces around him will suffer.

    Potential Downfall: Darrell Brown- See above..I think this is the rare case that the player to watch is also the player who is most cause for concern. Bradley will only go as far as the Soph. guard takes them.

    Potential Starters: Soph Darrell Brown 5’10 190 (12.5 pts 3 ast)
    JR Dwayne Ogunleye 6’4 210 (6 pts 3 rebs)
    SR JoJo Mcglaston 6’5 205 (8pts 4 rebs)
    SR Donte Thomas 6’7 225 (8pts 6.5 rebs)
    Soph Koch Bar 6’11 230 (6 pts 5 rebs)
    __________________________________________________ _________________________________________________

    7. Valparaiso- One of the toughest teams to judge because they lost a ton of their core and I’m not as familiar with their reserve pieces and how they’ll come in and produce. I do know that if they are going to have any success SR combo guard Tevonn Walker needs to deliver the goods and take his game to another level. He is joined by fellow experienced combo guard Max Joseph and 7 footer Jaume Sorolla.

    Name to watch: Joe Burton- Oklahoma State transfer who was a rotation player for the Cowboys 2 seasons ago. He has the prototypical 6’6 wing frame and should slide nicely into the starting lineup.

    Potential downfall:
    The Frontcourt- The only player with any real rotation experience is Sorolla (19 min a game). Otherwise they will be relying on exclusively FR and Soph. Big men usually take a few years of seasoning to realize their potential and that could be problematic for the Crusaders.

    Potential starters: SR- Tevonn Walker 6’2 210 (12 pts 6 rebs)
    SR-Max Joesph 6’2 210 (6 pts 2 ast)
    JR- Joe Burton 6’6 215 (5 pts 40% 3 pt shooter at Oklahoma State)
    FR-Parker Hazen 6’7 210 (N/A)
    Soph- Jaume Sorolla 7’0 245 (5 pts 4.5 rebs 30 blks)
    __________________________________________________ _________________________________________________

    8. Illinois State- This might seem like a long way to fall for the co-champions in the valley a season ago. Most years I would hesitate to drop a defending champion to Thursday, but this isn’t most years for the Redbirds. Anytime you lose 5 of your top 6 players and your most impactful recruit (Zach Copeland)?!? You’re in big trouble! Muller will certainly earn that new raise he got if he can get this group to gel and finish in the top 4.

    Name to Watch: Milik Yarbrough- The 6’6 physical specimen sat out last season after starting for his first two seasons in the Atlantic 10. He will instantly be looked to create offense and put up big numbers. The numbers will be there for the JR swing man, but watch to see if he is efficient in doing so. That will help determine just how far this team can rise.

    Potential Downfall: Lack of chemistry- The number one reason for success in Normal last year was not only were the Redbirds talented, they all bought into a defensive first nasty approach that propelled them to a 17-1 valley season. That type of team unity is not something that can just be thrown together in a few months. Paris Lee, Tony Willis, Mikyle Mcintosh, and Deontae Hawkins built that chemistry over 4 years under Muller and the rest of the pieces fell in line. This year’s group is a mix of a couple one year rotation players, transfers from other mid majors, and first year D1 players.

    Potential Starters: JR Keyshawn Evans 6’0 180 ( 6pts 2 ast)
    JR William Tinsley 6’6 185 (N/A)
    JR Milik Yarbrough 6’6 230 (8 pts 4.5 rebs transfer from St. Louis)
    JR Phil Fayne 6’9 200 ( 9 pts 6 rebs)
    Soph Christian Romine 6’9 230 (transfer from UTEP, almost no stats accumulated there)
    __________________________________________________ _________________________________________________

    9. Drake- The most experienced group of guards in the valley will hope elevate this perennial bottom feeder out of Thursday (or as the locals call it…Drake night). Reed Timmer seems like he has been around forever and Ore Arogundade has slowly worked his way into a solid two-way player. The bottom line is no amount of experience can overcome the lack of size/athleticism on this team. That is why I have them slotted here and see little chance of that changing.

    Player to watch: De'Antae McMurray- Another experienced guard who came on strong a season ago out of junior college. He has good size for the point guard position and can be an explosive scorer when he is feeling it. Look for him to have a solid season while most defenses focus on Reed Timmer.

    Potential Downfall: The frontcourt- The stable of guards in Des Moines is top 3-4 in the Valley. The frontcourt is a different story... I would argue that only maybe Evansville has less to work with in that department for next season. Nick Mcglynn, Casey Schlatter, and Kory Kuenstling all have adequate size, but lack bulk and speed/agility. The other major issue is they have NOBODY to guard athletic 3/4 men. The valley has always been full of 6’5’-6’6 wings who can score off the bounce and Drake has had and continues have no answer for teams with that type of player. Recruiting for next season looks better, but that won’t help them on the floor this upcoming season. Long live Drake Night!!

    Potential Starters: SR De’Antae McMurray 6’2 170 ( 9pts 3 ast)
    SR Reed Timmer 6’1 185 (15 pts 3 reb)
    SR Ore Arogundade 6’3 185 (8 pts 3.5 rebs)
    SR CJ Rivers 6’2 185 (3.5 pts 2 rebs)
    JR Nick Mcgylnn 6’8 235 (5 pts 4 rebs)
    __________________________________________________ _________________________________________________

    10. Evansville- Oh Marty…Oh Marty. This could quite possibly be one of the worst D1 teams in recent valley history. Hell, they still have scholarships open at this point and basically gave one away a few months ago to the closest warm body over 6’7 they could find. Their recruiting class features no impact players and they lost their best player (Jaylen Brown) along with their new starting center to transfer (Silas Adheke).

    Player to Watch: Dru Smith- The Soph. to be impressed last season and sadly his talent will be wasted during his time in Evansville. He has a good feel for the game and can play both ends of the floor at a high level.
    Potential Downfall: Everyone not named Dru Smith and Ryan Taylor…Seriously this roster is bad. Enough said

    Potential Starters: -SR Boo Gibson 6’3 195(7 pts 4 rebs)
    Soph Dru Smith 6’3 190 ( 6 pts 3 asts)
    JR Ryan Taylor 6’6 195 (14 pts 3 rebs)
    SR Blake Simmons 6’5 215 (out last season)
    SR Dalen Traore 6’9 230 (2 pts 2 rebs)
    Last edited by Southgrad07; 09-21-2017 at 09:59 AM.

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    Just something I have been slowly putting together for awhile now...Feel free to disagree/comment/ or share with other boards...Anything to get some conversation about the upcoming hoops season!

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    Really well done and thorough review. I'll have to go thorough it again and put some of my own thoughts together, but for the most part I don't have any arguments. MSU and Loyola are at the top with Drake ane Evansville bringing up the bottom. Take the other 6 teams, and pretty much all could finish anywhere from 3rd to 7th.

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    Sixth Man
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    Quote Originally Posted by Southgrad07 View Post
    Just something I have been slowly putting together for awhile now...Feel free to disagree/comment/ or share with other boards...Anything to get some conversation about the upcoming hoops season!
    That is a good post but I look for Tyreke Key to make.a lot more talk as this season gets started.I think he will be a starter before this season is over I said this from the first day he got there but it is only my opinion.I think he can play wing or point I am anxious to see how he looks on his speed at this level.

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    Sixth Man
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    Quote Originally Posted by Huntr1970 View Post
    That is a good post but I look for Tyreke Key to make.a lot more talk as this season gets started.I think he will be a starter before this season is over I said this from the first day he got there but it is only my opinion.I think he can play wing or point I am anxious to see how he looks on his speed at this level.
    As good as he was in HS I do not see him starting. Unless injury happens. Who is he going to start over? Barnes at PG, Scott at SG, Most likely Davis at SF. I can see Tyreke as 6th man. With Paige gone, Key will see more minutes that's for sure.

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    Sixth Man
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    Quote Originally Posted by jturner38 View Post
    As good as he was in HS I do not see him starting. Unless injury happens. Who is he going to start over? Barnes at PG, Scott at SG, Most likely Davis at SF. I can see Tyreke as 6th man. With Paige gone, Key will see more minutes that's for sure.
    He is bigger and more athletic than Barnes he might not start in the beginning but I think they will figure it out after a few games .Tyreke has an ability to flat out score the basketball He will find a way to get to the basket.Like I said just my opinion we will see soon.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Huntr1970 View Post
    He is bigger and more athletic than Barnes he might not start in the beginning but I think they will figure it out after a few games .Tyreke has an ability to flat out score the basketball He will find a way to get to the basket.Like I said just my opinion we will see soon.
    I get that I'm not attacking your opinion I'm just saying that Barnes has the experience over him plus getting to the basket has never been a problem for us but shooting has. Key if I'm not mistaking scored most of his points off the dribble so not really sure how his shooting is. It's not what Key can do, I think it would have to be more of what Barnes isn't doing I believe in order for Tyreke to start. Season is approaching soon. 6 weeks until Exhibition.

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    I'm going to make the normal post I make every year... when you're relying on freshman to start or be key pieces on teams at the mid-major level, you've got serious talent or roster problems. Feel free to debate it all you wish, I will not waiver from that belief.

    Since we're talking about PGs and Key playing at that spot, the best two PGs the Valley has seen in the last decade are Fred Van Vleet and Jake Odum. Jake, as we know, redshirted his freshman year and Van Vleet didn't start a single game but played 15mpg and averaged 4ppg and 2apg. I think people continue to underestimate the level of competition at our level... like it's some sort of junior varsity or something.
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    I simply do not care who starts. That's one of the most overrated roles in basketball. What really makes a difference is who is no the floor at the end of a close game. That is where every movement counts. I want my best combination of payers on the floor at that time. And yes, that lineup may very well change from home to game. I'm not saying a good start is not important. I'm simply saying that the guys at the finish are going to decide the W/L of games.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sycamore Proud View Post
    I simply do not care who starts. That's one of the most overrated roles in basketball. What really makes a difference is who is no the floor at the end of a close game. That is where every movement counts. I want my best combination of payers on the floor at that time. And yes, that lineup may very well change from home to game. I'm not saying a good start is not important. I'm simply saying that the guys at the finish are going to decide the W/L of games.
    Finally getting some people to talk a little.Has anyone been to the summer practices and see how these guys work togeather.To answer about Tyrekes shooting yes he is a very good shooter,yes he scored mostly in high school off the dribble because he could.


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