The Independent Student Newspaper of Northern Kentucky University.

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2016-2017 Horizon League men’s basketball preview

Teams ranked in predicted order in Horizon League preseason poll. NKU is ranked 7th.

Valparaiso (Indiana)

Head Coach- Matt Lottich (1st season)

Rank- 1st

2015-16: 30-7 overall, 16-2 in Horizon League

The Crusaders finished the 2015-2016 season with a 30-7 record but lost in the Horizon League Tournament to the eventual champion Green Bay. This loss landed the Crusaders a spot in the 2016 National Invitation Tournament, where they finished second. Valpo is the favorite to win the Horizon League tournament for the second consecutive season. The team will be led by senior forward Alec Peters, who was selected as the preseason player of the year and senior Shane Hammink, who was a preseason All-League selection, according to The Crusaders will be led by head coach Matt Lottich in his first year overseeing the program, replacing previous head coach Bryce Drew who accepted the job of head coach at Vanderbilt.

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Oakland (Michigan)

Head Coach- Greg Kampe (33rd season)

Rank- 2nd

2015-16: 23-12 overall, 13-5 in Horizon League

After a much improved 2015-2016 campaign, the Golden Grizzlies are looking to compete for a Horizon League title in the 2016-2017 season. Receiving two first place votes in the Horizon League preseason coaches poll, Oakland was ranked second in the conference. Offense is the strength of their team, as they averaged 86 points per game last season. Junior forward Jalen Hayes was selected to the preseason All-League First Team. Hayes averaged 13.1 points per game, and 8.6 rebounds per game, according to Head coach Greg Kampe enters his 33rd season with the Golden Grizzlies, where he’s amassed 558 wins in his career.

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Green Bay (Wisconsin)

Head Coach- Linc Darner (2nd season)

Rank- 3rd

2015-16: 23-13 overall, 11-7 in Horizon League

Coming off a 2016 Horizon League Tournament championship, the Phoenix are looking to become regular season champions in the 2016-2017 season and advance further in the NCAA tournament. Senior Charles Cooper was selected to the preseason All-League First Team. Cooper averaged 13.6 points per game in his junior year, good enough for second on the team according to Green Bay’s strength comes at the defensive end of the floor, where the Phoenix led the NCAA in steals last season. With 2016 Horizon League All Defensive-Team members Jordan Fouse and Carrington Love graduating, the Phoenix will lean on a the veteran presence of Kenneth Lowe and Jamar Hurdle.

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UIC (Chicago)

Head Coach- Steve McClain (2nd season)

Rank- 4th

2015-16: 5-25 overall, 3-15 in Horizon League

No team in the Horizon League is expected to improve more than the UIC Flames in the 2016-2017 season. Coming off a 5-25 season that saw the Flames finish in last place in the Horizon League, they are ranked 4th in the conference’s preseason poll. Sophomore Dikembe Dixson was named to the preseason All League First team, while junior Tai Odiase was named to the Second Team. The combination of Dixson and Odiase in the paint for the Flames will be a test for opponents all season long. Dixson set a Horizon League record last season, racking up nine Freshman of the Week awards for his outstanding play. Dixson averaged 19.8 points per game, and 7.8 rebounds per game last season. According to, Odiase recorded 97 blocks last year, the second-best single season total in school history.

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Wright State

Head Coach- Scott Nagy (1st season)

Rank- 5th

2015-16: 22-13 overall, 13-5 in Horizon League

Following a third place finish last season, the Wright State Raiders look to improve this season under first year head coach Scott Nagy, who comes to the Horizon League after coaching South Dakota State for 21 seasons, where he was 410-240. On the floor, the Raiders are led by junior guard Mark Alstork who was named preseason All-League Second Team. Alstork led the team in points last season with 434 points and averaged 12.4 points per game, according to Aside from Alstork, the Raiders return starters Mark Hughes and three point threat Grant Benzinger.

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Detroit Mercy

Bacari Alexander (1st season)

Rank- 6th

2015-16: 16-15 overall, 9-9 in Horizon League

The Detroit Mercy Titans are also led by a first year head coach in Bacari Alexander, a former standout basketball player at Detroit in the late 1990’s. Prior to coming home to coach the Titans, Alexander was an assistant coach at the University of Michigan. Alexander has a good young team to work with that will be led by senior Chris Jenkins. According to, Jenkins recorded six 20-point games last season, including three double-doubles. Jenkins was named to the preseason All-League Second Team, the first Horizon League honor of his career.

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Cleveland State

Head Coach- Gary Waters (8th season)

Rank- 8th

2015-16: 9-23 overall, 4-14 in Horizon League

After a disappointing 9-23 season last year that saw Cleveland State finish ninth in the Horizon League, the Vikings were picked eighth in the preseason poll this season. Head coach Gary Waters has turned the program around in his 10 seasons posting a .581 winning percentage, good enough for second all time in school history. Sophomore guard Rob Edwards was selected to the preseason All-League Second Team, and is expected to lead the Vikings this season. According to, Edwards averaged 12.4 points, and 3.9 rebounds per game in the 2015-2016 season.

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Youngstown State (Ohio)

Head Coach- Jerry Slocum (11th season)

Rank- 9th

2015-16: 11-21 overall, 6-12 Horizon League

Coming off an 11-21 season, head coach Jerry Slocum and the Penguins were picked to finish ninth in the Horizon League in the 2016-2017 season. Junior guard Cameron Morse, who was selected to the preseason All-League First Team, will lead the Penguins in the 2016-2017 season. Morse averaged 20.3 points per game last season, and led the conference in points per game in Horizon League games with 23.3, according to Youngstown State returns two other starters alongside Morse, senior Matt Donlan and junior Francisco Santiago.

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Milwaukee (Wisconsin)

Head Coach- LaVall Jordan (1st season)

Rank- 10th

2015-16: 20-13 overall, 10-8 in Horizon League

Milwaukee head coach LaVall Jordan is the fourth Horizon League coach who will be a first-year head coach in the Horizon League in the 2016-2017 season. The Panthers finished 20-13 last season and finished fifth in the Horizon League. Like Detroit head coach Bacari Alexander, Jordan spent the last six seasons as an assistant coach at the University of Michigan. The Panthers lost all five starters from last season, and will be led by senior guard Cody Wichmann, who averaged 4.8 points per game off the bench last season. Wichmann played in all 33 games in 2015-2016, according to

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Preseason Poll

  1. Valparaiso
  2. Oakland
  3. Green Bay
  4. UIC
  5. Wright State
  6. Detroit Mercy
  7. Northern Kentucky
  8. Cleveland State
  9. Youngstown State
  10. Milwaukee

Preseason Player of the Year: Alec Peters, Valparaiso

Preseason All-League First Team

Alec Peters, Valparaiso (Sr., F)

Jalen Hayes, Oakland (Jr., F)

Cameron Morse, Youngstown State (Jr., G)

Dikembe Dixson, UIC (So., F)

Charles Cooper, Green Bay (Sr., G)

Preseason All-League Second Team

Mark Alstork, Wright State (Jr., G)

Chris Jenkins, Detroit Mercy (Sr., G/F)

Tai Odiase, UIC (Jr., F/C)

Rob Edwards, Cleveland State (So., G)

Shane Hammink, Valparaiso (Sr., G)

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