Ryan resumes practice, hopes to play Monday

Colt Ryan

UE senior Colt Ryan is back to practicing after suffering a hip pointer injury in the first half of the Aces’ game Nov. 15 against Buffalo.

Following a couple days off and the Thanksgiving holiday at home, Ryan resumed basketball activity during Saturday’s drills.

“He looked pretty sharp,” said coach Marty Simmons.

Ryan, a preseason all-Missouri Valley Conference selection and the Aces’ leading scorer the past three season, planned to practice again Sunday before evaluating the injury further both with UE’s coaches and the team’s medical staff.

UE hosts Alabama A&M at 7:05 p.m. Monday in the Ford Center, at which point Ryan wants to play.

“It’s just depending on the circumstances and how I feel after practice today – if it gets a little worse or anything like that,” he said. “Hopefully it will stay better, and I’ll be able to suit up tomorrow.”

By missing the Yale game Nov. 16, Ryan snapped a streak of 96 straight contests played – every one during his four-year collegiate career. He led the Aces in scoring in 51 of those.

“It’s frustrating, especially since it’s my senior year. I want to be out there with the guys,” Ryan said. “It was a little easier knowing we were winning games. That would have been a lot worse (if we were losing).

“It was a different experience to be on the bench and cheer my teammates on. I felt good being able to still help them with encouragement and things I saw in the game, but I’d much rather be out on the floor.”

UE beat Yale and then, with Ryan limited to three minutes the next night against Western Illinois, knocked off the Leathernecks. The Aces made it three straight wins last Tuesday at Tennessee Tech in a game where they led by as many as 26 points.

“(Ryan’s return) isn’t going to throw the whole team chemistry off, I don’t think,” said sophomore Ryan Sawvell. “Especially the four seniors, they’ve been playing together for four years. I’ve been playing with Colt for a year now. Everybody but Egidijus (Mockevicius) from the starting lineup has been playing with him and knows what he wants to do, so it won’t throw anything off.”

Taylor will play Tuesday; Ryan’s status still day to day

Troy Taylor

UE senior Troy Taylor played 39 minutes of Saturday’s 49-44 Aces win over Western Illinois before contact to his head from another player’s knee forced him to leave the game with 17 seconds left.

“I wanted to finish out the game, but I didn’t want to be stupid,” Taylor said.

The guard was diving for a rebound — he finished with eight boards — when the incident happened, and it left him with a knot on his head. It wasn’t an injury that will keep Taylor out of Tuesday’s game at Tennessee Tech.

“I’m fine,” he said Monday. “The knot went down, but it’s still a little tender. It hurt so bad, but I’ll be fine.”

Meanwhile senior Colt Ryan’s status following a hip pointer injury suffered last Thursday remains day to day, said coach Marty Simmons. Ryan didn’t actively participate in the Aces’ practice Monday, but Simmons said the preseason all-Missouri Valley Conference selection would shoot around and try to get a feel for how the injury has progressed.

“I trust him enough that really, if the doctors clear him and it’s something he wants to do, then we’ll go with it,” Simmons said. “His health and well-being is the most important thing to us. Where there is a little bit of difference is that he’s a senior, and I know how important the season is to him. On the other hand, you’ve got to make sure you’re taking care of yourself. So there’s a fine line.”

Ryan banged hips with a Buffalo player Thursday, sat out Friday’s game against Yale and logged three minutes off the bench during the first half against Western Illinois.

“Until he starts playing again, it’s just about how he feels,” Simmons said. “We thought it really improved drastically prior to the Western Illinois game. He actually got in, and it just wasn’t ready. He continues to receive treatment. We didn’t do a lot yesterday…it’s just a day to day thing where we feel like he could be back at any time, but we’re cautious and want to make sure we’re doing our due diligence to get him healthy.”

Ryan a 2013 Senior CLASS Award candidate

Colt Ryan

UE senior Colt Ryan was named a candidate Wednesday for the 2013 Senior CLASS Award, given annually to a student-athlete who achieves in four areas: community, classroom, character and competition.

CLASS stands for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, with the award focusing on the total student-athlete experience.

The finalists will be narrowed from 30 to 10 mid-season and be placed on an official ballot. A men’s Senior CLASS Award winner will be announced during the 2013 NCAA Final Four in Atlanta.

In addition to averaging 20.5 points per game last season — 11th nationally — the Batesville, Ind., native Ryan was named the Missouri Valley Conference’s Scholar Athlete of the Year and earned the State Farm Good Neighbor Award at UE.

Men’s Basketball Candidates

God’sgift Achiuwa, St. John’s (N.Y.)
O.D. Anosike, Siena
Ben Averkamp, Loyola (Chicago)
Brian Barbour, Columbia
Jared Berggren, Wisconsin
Isaiah Canaan, Murray State
Drew Crawford, Northwestern
Matthew Dellavedova, Saint Mary’s
Tim Frazier, Penn State
Mike Groselle, The Citadel
C.J. Harris, Wake Forest
Jordan Hulls, Indiana
Gabe Knutson, Lehigh
JP Kuhlman, Davidson
Andrew Lawrence, Charleston
Jonathan Lee, Northeastern
Scott Martin, Notre Dame
C.J. McCollum, Lehigh
Brock Motum, Washington State
Mike Muscala, Bucknell
Robert Olson, Loyola (Maryland)
Brandon Paul, Illinois
Mason Plumlee, Duke
Colt Ryan, Evansville
Peyton Siva, Louisville
Andrew Smith, Butler
Michael Snaer, Florida State
Marc Trasolini, Santa Clara
Jeff Withey, Kansas
Nate Wolters, South Dakota State

Colt Ryan on the MVC’s Google Hangout

UE’s Colt Ryan appeared on a Missouri Valley Conference Google Hangout this afternoon, where he took questions from a few Aces fans as well as yours truly.

The full video is embedded above. In text below, here’s most of what Ryan said.

Ryan on the Aces’ freshmen: “They’re great. They’re really talented, and they all bring their own dimension to the game. Egidijus is a big guy who  can protect the rim, rebound the basketball and help us in ways we didn’t have last year in height and size and guarding the post and stuff like that. David Howard is a really good scorer inside. He’s got good back-to-the-basket-type moves, got left shoulder/right shoulder shot fake, and he’s got a good shot fake too. Adam Wing is a tremendous leader. You see even as a freshman, the things he’s doing and the way he talks on the floor, he does stuff that coaches want done. He’s a tremendously hard worker. D.J. Balentine is an extremely talented guard who can shoot the ball really well, score, has a greet knowledge of the game. In practice he’s going against the orange squad. He makes some great passes to get guys open.”

Who’s flying under the radar? “The most under the radar would probably be Lewis Jones. He’s a senior this year for us, and we’re really asking him to step up and have a really big year. Everybody on the team knows and has seen it in practice before, and we kind of got a taste of it last year at Missouri State when he went for like 24 in 24 minutes. He was a big reason we won that game, and we feel like he can do that on almost any given night if he puts his mind to it.”

Goals other than making the NCAA Tournament: “One of the main things we’ve been talking about this year was that we took a hard look at our stats last year as a team. When you look at it, it’s no surprise, but our defense and rebounding were just horrendous. One of our coaches that just came in, Geoff Alexander, when he came in and saw those stats, he said, ‘These stats look like someone that would have won four games last year.’ … We’ve been putting a bigger emphasis on that.”

Favorite shot to take: “I don’t dislike any of them really. But obviously I’d really like getting to the basket more. A lot of people label me as a shooter, but I feel like I’m my best at my game when I’m getting to the rim and distributing the basketball.”

Follow up to that, was asked about his near-posterization of Ned Cox at Hoopfest. Laughed, then said: “I’ve been working on my athleticism. I’ve been working on adding more dimensions to my game. I’m hoping I can do that.”

Of anyone else in the league or on team, said Jordan Nelson would win a 3-point contest. “He’s a tremendous shooter, and he shows it every day in practice. I was actually trying to guard him yesterday, being a little bit more aggressive and stuff, and he hit a couple shots in my face.”

On rebounding and Troy Taylor: “I think Troy will still be a tremendous rebounder for us. He just pursues the ball really well. He has a great vertical leap, and he’s just vicious going after the ball. With that being said, I think we’ve put a big emphasis and thrown it in the bigs faces…how many Division I teams have a 5-11 point guard as their leading rebounder? Everybody’s rebounding, so I think there will be more people who step up this year.”

Favorite place, other than the Ford Center, to play in the MVC: Wichita State. “It’s a great college basketball environment. They always fill it. Fans are always crazy loud. The time I remember was my freshman year we were up there, and Ned had gotten fouled shooting a 3-pointer. We were down two or something, and he was on the line shooting free throws. I was standing at half court next to Denver Holmes, and the floor was literally shaking. I looked over to Denver and was like, pointing at the floor because he couldn’t hear me. I just pointed at the floor and was like, ‘It’s shaking.'”

Why he decided to play at UE: “I really liked the coaching staff…I really felt like they cared about me personally, not just about basketball but about growing in life and making sure I was doing well…I grew up in a small town, so having class sizes smaller I knew I’d do better academically. Basketball-wise, it’s a great tradition here in Evansville and a great following between either USI or Evansville. High school basketball is big down here, so there’s just a great basketball atmosphere in Evansville.”

Said he’s added 6-7 pounds this offseason: “Hopefully that’ll help me with the durability and the long conference season we have ahead of us.”

On Creighton’s Doug McDermott getting national publicity: “I think it’s great for everybody in the Valley. He’s a great player, and he deserves everything he’s getting. I think it’s great for the Valley, and it’s great for us to get attention to the Valley and get a little more respect. I think the Valley doesn’t get quite as much respect as it should because it’s a tough conference to play in, and with him getting national news it could reflect back on everybody in the Valley.”

Why people should go to Arch Madness this year: “It’s just a great experience. Like my family, a lot of them go and we just have a great time. We plan to be there three nights this year, too, so that would be even more of a reason to go.”

Quotable from players, coach Simmons on USI

Coach Marty Simmons on his starting five: “I think that’ll be a work in progress, maybe for the entire year. I said last year a lot of times that we really had six starters – Ned was the sixth man. Now we’ve got enough guys that different combinations could start at any time. A lot of that’s based on performance, attitude and the way they practice. But I think to be successful, we’re going to need depth and for guys to accept roles.”

Simmons on why UE and USI don’t play every year: “One answer would be that we like to see different systems of play as we prepare for the season, because that’s really what the exhibition season does. It gives you a chance to evaluate your guys and learn from video as you prepare for the regular season. I think another thing is, if you did it every year it wouldn’t maybe mean as much. I don’t think there’s any clear-cut answer to that question, but I guess that would be mine as much as anything.”

Sophomore Jordan Jahr on taking a mindset into USI game: “I think really the only thing that’s different is the whole entire community is just really into this game. But other than that, for us, we’re just focusing on ourselves.”

Senior Colt Ryan on buzz about USI around campus: “I don’t know that I’ve heard a lot about it. We’ve been trying to get better in practice day by day, and we feel like we’ve still got a lot to improve upon before Saturday. That’s what we’ve tried to focus on.”

Freshman David Howard on the expected Ford Center atmosphere: “A couple people have said we might be let down at games after this because it’s going to be full. I’m definitely excited to see it.”

Ryan aiming for more than scoring lead

If senior Colt Ryan matches his scoring output from last season, he’ll leave UE as the program’s all-time leading scorer ahead of Larry Humes. KYLE GRANTHAM/COURIER & PRESS

Now a senior, Colt Ryan would leave as UE’s all-time leading scorer should he deliver a repeat performance of his junior season.

“Somebody mentioned that to me last year at the end of the year,” Ryan said. “That’s something that I’d like to achieve.”

But the 2011-2012 year ended short of a Missouri Valley Conference championship and NCAA tournament berth. As Ryan put it, “We have as a team a lot more goals that are more important.”

“If it happens, it happens,” he added. “Obviously I’d like to be the all-time leading scorer. That would be an incredible honor for me to have with the greats who have played here.

“To me, I’d rather have a team championship than be the all-time leading scorer.”

Ryan enters his senior season with 1,594 career points at UE, 642 points shy of Larry Humes’ 2,236. The Batesville, Ind., native averaged 20.5 points per game last season — 11th in the nation — and totaled 656 points.

Ryan, one of UE’s 44 1,000-point scorers, has led the Aces in points per game in each of his three collegiate seasons. He also started every game last season and led the MVC in minutes played.

“He’s been an integral part of everything we’ve done the last three years,” said coach Marty Simmons.

The Aces have Ryan, of course, but their optimism heading into this season is due to the pieces with which they’ve surrounded him. Look for more on that in the coming weeks.

UE’s All-Time Scoring List
1. Larry Humes (1964-1966) — 2,236
2. Marcus Wilson (1996-1999) — 2,053
3. Ed Smallwood  (1958-1960) — 1,898
4. Andy Elkins (1992-1995) –1,761
5. Scott Haffner (1987-1989) — 1,686
6. Brad Leaf (1979-1982) — 1,605
7. Colt Ryan (2009-) — 1,594
8. Parrish Casebier (1991-1993) — 1,535
9. Craig Snow (1998-2001) — 1,530
10. John Harrawood (1954-1957) — 1,479

Some UE basketball facts entering 2012-2013 season

Click the screenshot to download a copy of UE’s 2012-2013 men’s basketball prospectus.

UE sent out its 2012-2013 preseason men’s basketball prospectus yesterday. Here are some tidbits from it:

–The Aces return three starters and 11 players total who composed 69.3 percent of the team’s scoring, 77.9 percent of its rebound, 68.4 percent of assists and more than 70 percent of UE’s overall minutes last season.

–If Colt Ryan matches his scoring output last year, he’ll leave UE as the program’s all-time leader. He enters with 1,594 career points, 642 shy of Larry Humes’ 2,236. Ryan is currently seventh on the Aces’ scoring list.

–The prospectus says Ryan Sawvell’s 22 starts in 29 games played last season “will prove to be extremely beneficial as a sophomore when he is also expected to see time at the No. 4 spot.”

–Much has been made of the Aces’ follies last season in scoring defense (294th nationally), field goal percentage defense (333rd), 3-point percentage defense (322nd), rebound margin (313th) and blocked shots (329th). But UE did excel in certain areas while posting a 16-16 record: fourth nationally with a +4.5 turnover margin, 10th in free throw percentage at 76.4 percent, 12th in assists per game at 15.9 and 18th in 3-point percentage at 39.1 percent.

–The prospectus doesn’t contain any information about Egidijus Mockevicius and won’t until he’s cleared by the NCAA. It does acknowledge freshman walk-on Mike Leazer.

–Heights and weights remained the same from last year’s roster to this season’s. That will be something I’ll ask about at media day.

UE News and Notes for Sept. 25, 2012

*Look for News and Notes, a compilation of relevant daily links, as a regular UExtra feature.

—I’m writing a story in tomorrow’s paper updating progress on the Fifth Third Practice Facility. The new building has side goals installed but not the main end goals, and the courts will be sealed over the next week or so. It’s complete other than that, and signage started going up on the exterior today. The facility will be ready in time for the men’s team’s first official practice.

—Senior Colt Ryan came in 95th on SBNation.com college hoops editor Mike Rutherford’s list of top 100 players for the 2012-2013 season. The Aces will face two top-five players, Creighton’s Doug McDermott and Murray State’s Isaiah Canaan.

—A judge dismissed a lawsuit Tuesday that would seek to stop demolition of Roberts Stadium.

—Voters at Missouri Valley website MVCFans.com tabbed Evansville to finish fifth in the league this season.

—Southern Illinois coach Barry Hinson has suspended junior guard Diamond Taylor indefinitely after he was charged Saturday for driving under the influence.

—After the UE women’s soccer team beat Illinois State 4-1 on Sunday behind Abby Springer’s hat trick, the freshman forward earned Offensive Player of the Week honors from the Missouri Valley conference and was named a Primetime Performer by CollegeSoccer360.com. The MVC also recognized sophomore Taylor Brand as its Defensive Player of the Week.

—The UE women’s golf team finished fifth at the SIUE Intercollegiate in Edwardsville, Ill.