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2015-16 Horizon League men’s basketball preview

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Kari Lakes, Contributor

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Teams ranked in predicted order in Horizon League preseason poll. 

Valparaiso (Indiana)

Head Coach- Bryce Drew (5th season)

Rank- 1st

2014-15: 28-6 overall, 13-3 in the Horizon League

With the record of 28-6, the Crusaders have been picked to win the Horizon League, with four players being named preseason all league. This includes senior Vashil Fernandez. He enters the 2015-16 season being one of the nation’s most experienced players. In addition to Fernandez, Valpo is returning all five starters and ten letter winners all from last year’s squad. This group of talented young men compromised 98.8 percent of last year’s scoring and rebounding. According to valpoathletics.com, Head Coach Bryce Drew, is the 21st head coach in the program’s history. He succeeded his father Homer Drew in 2011 after his father coached 22 seasons at Valparaiso.

 

Oakland (Michigan)

Head Coach- Greg Kampe (32 seasons)

Rank- 2nd

2014-15: 16-17 overall, 11-5 in Horizon League

With a losing record of 16-17, the Grizzlies were still picked to finish second overall in the Horizon League. This is because Oakland is the home of the Horizon League preseason  player of the year  Kahlil Felder. This talented point guard also was a mid-major All American, and a Lou Henson Award finalist, given to the most outstanding mid-major player of the year. He also led the country with 212 assists. The team will be returning five letter winners. This year will be Greg Kampe’s 32nd season as head coach of the Grizzlies. In those 32 seasons, Oakland has had a total of 535 wins, according to goldengrizzlies.com. From 2009-2011, they held the nation’s best conference record at 34-2.  

 

Milwaukee (Wisconsin)

Head Coach- Rob Jeter (10th season)

Rank- 3rd

2014-15: 14-16 overall, 9-7 in Horizon League

With a record of 14-16, the Milwaukee Panthers still managed to get themselves ranked third in the Horizon League preseason poll. Returning senior Matt Tiby was named to the preseason All-Horizon League first team. He was the leading scorer and rebounder for the Panthers last season. He averaged 13.3 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. He even scored double figures for 21 consecutive games. The Panthers are also returning Akeem Springs (who was second behind Tiby in rebounds) and JJ Panoske, both starters. Rob Jeter will enter his 10th season as the Head Coach of Milwaukee, also having produced more wins than any other coach in the program’s history (164). He was named 2011 Horizon League coach of the year. According to mkepanthers.com, the 2014-15 team was named to the Horizon League’s academic honor roll.   

 

Detroit (Michigan)

Ray McCallum (8th season)

Rank- 4

2014-15: 15-8 overall, 7-9 in Horizon League

With a 15-8 record last season, Detroit has landed themselves in the fourth slot in the Horizon League preseason poll. They have one of the toughest schedules in the Horizon League, but four out of the five starters are returning for the 2015-16 season. One of these returners is sophomore Paris Bass, who was the Titans second leading scorer and leading rebounder last season. This will be Ray McCallum’s eighth season as head coach of Detroit, and his teams have improved each year since he took over as coach. They increased their conference win total every single season, and they even had an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2012.

 

Wright State (Ohio)

Head Coach- Billy Donlon (6th season)

Rank- 5

2014-15: 11-20 overall, 3-13 in Horizon League

With a record of 11-20 last season, the Wright State Raiders have found themselves ranked fifth in the Horizon League preseason poll. The team will be gaining two new athletes this season, including Biggie Minnis, a 6-3 transfer senior from Rhode Island, and incoming freshman Mark Hughes. Hughes was named to the 2015 Associated Press Division III All-Ohio team as senior in high school. Head Coach Billy Donlon will be entering his sixth season with the Raiders. In 2013, Donlon was Horizon League coach of the year. That same season, Raiders were picked last in the league, but ended up taking the three seed and finished their season with a record of 23-13.

 

Green Bay (Wisconsin)

Head Coach- Linc Darner (1st season)

Rank- 6

2014-15: 24-9 overall, 12-4 in Horizon League

With a record of 24-9 in the 2014-15 season, Green Bay has been ranked sixth in the Horizon League this preseason. New Head Coach Linc Darner will be coming from Florida Southern College, where his team went 36-1 in the 2014-15 season. He is the seventh head coach of Green Bay’s program. Jordan Fouse, a returning senior, led the team in rebounds last season, and had the second most assists of the team. The only other returning senior will be Carrington Love, who averaged about 10 points a game. Green Bay will also be welcoming two freshmen, a set of twins by the names of Avery and Anthony Brown. Both earned all-state honors in high school, while Anthony was named Class A player of the year by Florida Association of Basketball Coaches.

 

Cleveland State (Ohio)

Head Coach- Gary Waters (7th season)

Rank- 7

2014-15: 19-15 overall, 11-5 in Horizon League

With a record of 19-15 last season, Cleveland State have been ranked seventh in the Horizon League for the 2015-16 season. With the transfer of two seniors, the Vikings will be a very young team – six freshman, four sophomores, five juniors and two seniors. Together, the two players who transferred from Cleveland State led the team in points and rebounds. Gary Waters will be entering his seventh season as head coach of the Vikings. In 2011, The Cleveland State Vikings won the Horizon League regular season title, the first in school history.

 

UIC (Chicago)

Head Coach- Steve McClain (1st season)

Rank-8

2014-15: 10-24 overall, 4-12 in Horizon League

With a record of 10-24, the University of Illinois-Chicago have been ranked eighth in the Horizon League. Returning senior Darius Burns averaged the second most points per game with 10.4 during the 2014-15 season. Juilian Torres, a 6-9 incoming freshman who was ranked third in the state of Illinois joins the Flames roster along with Michael Kolawole, who received scholarship offers from Fresno State and George Mason before signing with UIC. Head Coach Steve McClain will be coaching the Flames for the first time this season. He has coached 33 years collegiately. He spent five years under Tom Crean at Indiana, and helped the Hoosiers reach back to back NCAA Sweet Sixteens.

 

Youngstown State (Ohio)

Head Coach- Jerry Slocum (11th season)

Rank- 9

2014-15: 11-21 overall, 2-14 in Horizon League

With a record of 11-21 in the 2014-15 season, Youngstown State is ranked ninth in the Horizon League. Returning senior Bobby Hain shot 51.4 percent from the floor last season, which was higher than anyone else on the team. Returning sophomore Vitas Sulskis set the YSU freshman record for number of three pointers made in a season at 43. He was also name to the collegeinsider.com mid-major freshman All-American team, and Horizon League’s all-newcomer team. Jerry Slocum will be entering his 11th season as head coach of the Penguins. He has won a total of 699 games over his collegiate coaching career.

 

Preseason Poll

  1. Valparaiso (36) – 418
  2. Oakland (6) – 368
  3. Milwaukee – 344
  4. Detroit (1) – 289
  5. Wright State – 253
  6. Green Bay – 215
  7. Cleveland State – 173
  8. UIC – 125
  9. Youngstown State – 93
  10. Northern Kentucky – 87

Preseason Player of the Year: Kahlil Felder, Oakland

 

Preseason All-League First Team

Kahlil Felder, Oakland (Jr., G)

Alec Peters, Valparaiso (Jr., F)

Matt Tiby, Milwaukee (Sr., F)

Paris Bass, Detroit (So., G/F)

Jordan Fouse, Green Bay (Sr., F)

 

Preseason All-League Second Team

Bobby Hain, Youngstown State (Sr., C)

JT Yoho, Wright State (Sr., F)

Vashil Fernandez, Valparaiso (Sr., C)

Tevonn Walker, Valparaiso (So., G)

Darien Walker, Valparaiso (Sr., G)

 

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2015-16 Horizon League men’s basketball preview