Posted by & filed under Men's Basketball.

Four scorers reached double figures for the University of Evansville men’s basketball team Saturday as the Aces routed Division III Wabash 95-50 in front of 3,936 fans in an exhibition game at the Ford Center.

Junior guard D.J. Balentine led all scorers with 22 points. He knocked down seven of 11 field-goal attempts and all six of his free throws. Adam Wing finished with 16 points, followed by Blake Simmons with 12 and Mislav Brzoja with 11.

Daniel Purvlicis paced Wabash with 13 points while Castle High School product Kyle Aiton had 11.

The Aces shot 56.6 percent from the field and assisted on 19 of their 30 baskets.

Posted by & filed under Men's Basketball.

Evansville junior Adam Wing posted 11 points and the Aces went on an extended 18-2 run late in the half to gain some separation.

Wing had eight consecutive points in less than a minute — scoring a 3-pointer, a layup and a traditional three-point play after a nifty no-look pass from D.J. Balentine.

Wabash played the Aces tough early, even leading 13-12 after Kyle Aiton hit a pull-up jump shot with 12:59 in the half. Aiton, a Castle High School product, had 11 points to pace the Little Giants.

Nine players scored in the first half for UE and the Aces had nine assists on their 12 made field goals. Balentine had eight points, while sophomore Blake Simmons and Duane Gibson had seven and six, respectively.

Posted by & filed under Women's Basketball.

After trailing by as many as 14 points in the second half, the University of Evansville women’s basketball team pulled within two during the final minutes of its exhibition game against University of Southern Indiana.

USI knew exactly where to go in response.

The Eagles got the ball to senior Anna Hackert out of a timeout, and the 6-foot-1 forward flipped in a left-handed jump hook to stave off UE’s rally. Division II USI held off Evansville by a 76-72 score behind Hackert’s 31 points and 10 rebounds.

USI guard Mariah Nimmo tallied 13 points and hit three 3-pointers. The Eagles shot 56.6 percent from the field and outrebounded UE 42-24.

Sophomore guard Sara Dickey led the Aces with 31 points and senior forward Mallory Ladd had 16 points and six rebounds.

Check our website or Sunday’s print edition of the Courier & Press for the full game recap.

 

Posted by & filed under Women's Basketball.

The University of Southern Indiana women’s basketball team shot a blistering 63 percent from the field Saturday in taking a 38-32 halftime lead over the University of Evansville.

USI forward Anna Hackert leads all scorers with 16 points on 8 of 10 shooting. Sophomore guard Sara Dickey has 11 points to lead Evansville, while senior forward Mallory Ladd has 10.

The Division II Screaming Eagles used a 10-0 run early in the half to grab a 23-11 advantage. UE later closed the gap with a 7-0 spurt, but USI’s Mariah Nimmo canned a 3-pointer with 38 seconds left to give the Eagles their six-point cushion.

Evansville is shooting 11-for-30 from the field (36.7 percent) and has missed several shots in the paint. USI has 13 assists compared to five for UE. The Eagles are routinely finding Hackert on post-ups and cuts to the basket.

Posted by & filed under Men's Basketball.

Game time: 3:05 p.m. CST, Saturday, Nov. 8

Where: Ford Center

Things to watch:

An encore for ‘Iggy’?: Egidijus Mockevicius, UE’s 6-foot-10 center, finished a block shy of a triple-double last Saturday against McKendree, and will certainly be bigger and more agile than any big men Division III Wabash is used to seeing. Look for another dominant performance from Mockevicius, who said size alone won’t ensure another good game.

“Being tall does not necessarily mean that I’m gonna have an advantage,” he said. “They can be more explosive, they can be more physical, they can be faster.”

That’s a polite sentiment, but chances are Mockevicius will have an advantage in almost every area over Wabash’s post players.

Homecoming for Aiton: Local basketball fans might be interested to see Wabash sophomore Kyle Aiton in action. The 6-foot-2 guard from Castle High School averaged 12.3 points per game last season and was named the North Coast Athletic Conference newcomer of the year.

Minutes to go around: All 12 UE players played 11 or more minutes in the Aces’ exhibition win against McKendree last Saturday, and we can expect more of the same this afternoon if the Little Giants (awesome mascot, by the way) appear to be overmatched. Evansville coach Marty Simmons said he’d like to eventually trim his rotation to eight or nine players, but he won’t need to make any important lineup decisions until the Aces play Division I opponents.

“If the opportunity would present itself, it’s good to be able to give guys (playing time) and see where we’ve come from last Saturday to this Saturday,” Simmons said.

Posted by & filed under Women's Basketball.

Game time: Saturday, Nov. 8, noon CST

Where: Ford Center

What to watch for from UE’s perspective:

Improved Ladd?: UE coach Oties Epps said the injury-prone Mallory Ladd spent her first healthy summer with the Aces improving her ballhandling. The hope is that the 6-foot-1 senior, already a skilled shooter and post player, can become an even more well-rounded offensive player. The former Memorial High School standout will have an intriguing battle inside against Memorial teammate Anna Hackert, USI’s best player and an honorable mention Division II All-American last season.

“It’s going to be fun to see because Mallory’s game is at a different point than it’s ever been at,” Epps said. “In our scrimmage against (Southeast Missouri State), what she was able to do in terms of scoring around the basket, shooting the ball and putting the ball on the floor was very impressive. She had like five and-ones because you have to respect her ability to shoot.”

Fatigue factor: The Aces have eight players dressed for the exhibition game, and one of them (Khristian Hart) was considered day-to-day this week with a hamstring strain. On the other hand, USI played an exhibition Friday night against Indiana State, so both teams could be on a level playing field. Still, it’s worth mentioning that these are college athletes, so they should be able to get through a 40-minute game without too much fatigue.

Aces freshmen: Two freshmen will be in the starting lineup for UE — point guard Taloni Reese and small forward Peyton Langston. Another, guard Kenyia Johnson, figures to get plenty of action off the bench. The Aces’ other freshman, forward Asia Petitte, is recovering from an ankle injury.

How will Hart look?: Hart, another UE player who has battled injuries throughout her career, said she felt like she was in top form after working out with her brother, a college basketball coach, this summer. However, she’s had a nagging hamstring strain, so it will be interesting to see how her game looks if she gets significant minutes today against the Screaming Eagles.

“I’m still kind of battling with my hamstring but it’s getting better each and every day,” Hart said on Thursday. “I’m just trying to stay positive, keep my head up and look at the bigger picture and just be there for my teammates and that kind of thing.

“I’ve always had some type of obstacle and struggle, so this is just one more I have to leap over and move past. Eventually, I’ll be fine.”

Posted by & filed under Men's Basketball, Women's Basketball.

We’ve decided to try something slightly different for University of Evansville basketball in-game updates.

At the very least I’ll post pregame notes, a halftime update and a quick game recap on this blog and then the full game story will show up later on our website and in the next day’s Courier & Press. I may post short updates during timeouts as well.

Please check back before the UE basketball doubleheader on Saturday (the women tip off at noon against Southern Indiana, while the men play Wabash at 3:05 p.m.) for pregame notes and follow along throughout the day for updates. I’ll also be live-tweeting the action from my @ECP_Allar account.

Posted by & filed under Men's Basketball.

The only player on the University of Evansville men’s basketball team who can’t play this season is already gaining some notice.

Then again, it’s easy for a 7-foot-1 man to turn heads.

Sergej Vucetic, the mountainous transfer from Nebraska, has recovered from strained ligaments in his right elbow to give the Aces another (huge) body in practice. In particular, his presence has helped 6-10 junior Egidijus Mockevicius learn to battle a rare larger player.

“I mean, he’s 7-1,” Mockevicius said. “We don’t have any guys in the league that are that tall, so of course he gives me confidence. But he also gives me something to think about because the shots I usually make do not work against him, so I need to figure another way out. … He basically is making me better.”

UE coach Marty Simmons said Vucetic is more than just a big body — but that fact is typically included in any description of the Serbian.

“He’s got great hands, is real smart, knows how to play,” Simmons said. “Obviously, he’s huge. He’s definitely a presence inside, not only to the guys that he’s guarding but on rotations.”

Vucetic will have two seasons of eligibility remaining beginning next fall. Before that, he said he wants to work on footwork, boxing out and improving his defense. The Aces are also trying to put weight on the lanky 238-pounder.

“I’d like to see him get some extra work with some agility and foot speed, upper-body strength,” Simmons said. “His skill is unlimited. … With our terminology, he’s learning a little bit every day but he certainly has a great touch and the ability to stretch a little bit with the shooting range.”

Posted by & filed under Recruiting, Women's Basketball.

The University of Evansville women’s basketball team played with seven players in its closed scrimmage Sunday at Southeast Missouri State, and will likely have that many available for Saturday’s exhibition game against Division II University of Southern Indiana.

Kat Taylor, a senior who started at point guard last season, tore her Achilles tendon this summer but is expected to return sometime this season. Senior guard Khristian Hart is day-to-day with a hamstring strain, while freshman forward Asia Petitte is recovering from an ankle injury.

UE coach Oties Epps said Taylor was told she wouldn’t play again this season — and was supposed to be in a protective boot until the end of January — but is well ahead of schedule. Taylor is already on a daily routine of running, defensive slides and shooting.

“I guess she was supposed to never play again, but that’s not gonna be the case,” Epps said. “She’ll be back playing. She’s so far advanced in terms of where she should be, so we’ll get her back at some point.”

For Saturday’s game against USI, Evansville’s lineup will look like this:

Point guard — Taloni Reese (5-8, Fr.); Shooting guard — Sara Dickey (5-11, So.); Small forward — Peyton Langston (6-0, Fr.); Power forward — Mallory Ladd (6-1, Sr.); Center — Sasha Robinson (6-1, So.); Bench — Kenyia Johnson (5-8, Fr.), Laura Friday (5-6, Jr.) and (possibly) Khristian Hart (5-8, Sr.).

While that leaves the Aces fairly thin, Epps was pleased with the way his seven players performed against Southeast Missouri State. Although he wasn’t allowed to report the score of the scrimmage, he said, “We walked away in terms of the score really liking the results.”

Epps was most pleased with the team’s defense in the scrimmage. He said the Aces kept up the defensive pressure for the entire 40 minutes despite their short bench.

And while the offensive execution was spotty, Epps said multiple players were able to improvise and make positive plays. Langston, in particular, stood out with 13 points and 12 rebounds.

“It was really hard for SEMO to find a way to guard her because she’s (6-foot), but yet she’s got guard skills,” Epps said. “When you had the post on her, she was driving her. Then you put the little guard on her, she would take them to the block. We have a lot going on that we’re pretty excited about. If we stay healthy – we’re gonna get some kids back pretty soon — we’re gonna be a team that you have to deal with in the Missouri Valley Conference.”

On Thursday, the Aces picked up a verbal commitment from Erin Sinnott, a 5-foot-11 senior forward from Oswego (Illinois) High School. Sinnott averaged 14 points and eight rebounds during her junior season.

Sinnott’s high school and AAU teammate, Jordan Campbell, is also a Class of 2015 commitment for the Aces along with Ohio guard Kerri Gasper.

For a full story on Sinnott’s commitment to Evansville, check our website on Friday evening or pick up a copy of Saturday’s newspaper.

Posted by & filed under Men's Basketball, Missouri Valley.

The University of Evansville men’s basketball team was chosen fourth in the Missouri Valley Conference preseason poll released last week, but where do the Aces stack up in other preseason projections?

Ken Pomeroy, who maintains a respected website that archives advanced statistics and projects results based on those numbers, slotted UE to finish sixth in the MVC and 159th nationally. Pomeroy projects the Aces to finish 15-13 overall and 8-10 in the Valley during the regular season. However, those projections are only for known opponents, so Evansville will actually play two more games against unknown teams at the Gulf Coast Showcase during Thanksgiving week.

The entire MVC’s preseason national rankings according to Pomeroy: Wichita State (10), Northern Iowa (70), Illinois State (109), Indiana State (132), Missouri State (143), Evansville (159), Loyola (170), Southern Illinois (171), Bradley (211) and Drake (229).

In Sports Illustrated’s online rankings — using another supposedly scientific model developed by economist Dan Hanner —  UE is projected as the 124th-best team in the nation and No. 4 in the MVC. Conference teams ranked ahead of UE are Wichita State (top 25 hasn’t been released yet), Northern Iowa (70) and Illinois State (86).

Hanner’s simulations list UE juniors Egidijus Mockevicius and D.J. Balentine among the country’s top rebounders and scorers, respectively, which I detailed in this blog post.

In an SBnation ranking of the nation’s top 100 players, Balentine is No. 97. Three other preseason all-MVC players made the list as well: Wichita State guards Fred VanVleet (6) and Ron Baker (19) and Northern Iowa forward Seth Tuttle (91). The reigning conference player of the year, VanVleet was named a preseason All-American on Monday by the Associated Press.

Posted by & filed under Recruiting, Women's Basketball.

Plainfield High School sophomore forward Riley Blackwell picked up a scholarship offer this month from the University of Evansville women’s basketball program. Her AAU program, and others, tweeted the news:

Blackwell is listed in various places as 5-foot-11 or 6-foot.

Posted by & filed under Men's Basketball.

The University of Evansville men’s basketball team will compete in a major Thanksgiving week tournament in 2015.

Bloggingthebracket.com reported that the Aces will play in the Wooden Legacy, which features powerhouse programs Michigan State and Arizona. The Wooden Legacy will be played Nov. 26 and 27 in Fullerton, California, and Nov. 29 in Anaheim, California.

The entire 2015 tournament field — which was also reported on the San Jose State athletics website as part of a two-year ticket package — is listed below.

The Wooden Legacy Campus sites: TBA
Fullerton, CA: Nov. 26 and 27
Anaheim, CA: Nov. 29
Teams (8) Quarterfinalists
Arizona Wildcats (Pac-12)
Boise State Broncos (MW)
Boston College Eagles (ACC)
Evansville Aces (MVC)
Michigan State Spartans (Big Ten)
Providence Friars (Big East)
Santa Clara Broncos (WCC)
UC Irvine Anteaters (Big West)

In addition to providing the Aces with some strong nonconference matchups, the 2015 Wooden Legacy will give UE’s program television exposure via its ESPN broadcasts. All of the Wooden Legacy games this year will air on ESPN2, ESPNU or ESPN3.