Posted by & filed under Men's Basketball.

It’s not worth overanalyzing an exhibition game, but I’d like to get in the habit of these day-after posts and there are a couple of things we learned during Evansville’s romp over Wabash on Saturday.

So here are some leftover notes and quotes from the Aces’ 95-65 win. You can read my game story here.

1. Duane Gibson’s knee injury hurts the Aces, but UE has the depth to overcome it.

Jaylon Brown split minutes with Gibson last year at the point, and D.J. Balentine and Harris Brown can ably play both guard positions. Coach Marty Simmons said Christian Benzon is also a combo-type guard who can bring the ball up the court if needed.

Still, it’s hard not to feel bad for Gibson, who tore the meniscus in his knee for the second time in five months. He is expected to be out four weeks.

“He’s as tough as any player we’ve got,” Simmons said. “I feel fortunate that it’s not worse than maybe what it could’ve been and I feel bad because he’s put in a lot of time and effort through the rehab. But he’s a tough kid, he’s a team guy. I think he’ll stay sharp through the rehab and I think he’ll be able to contribute right when he gets back.”

Gibson is especially good at pushing the ball in transition, so his absence court hurt the Aces’ fast-break game the most.

2. Harris Brown looked pretty good in his debut.

The 5-foot-11 freshman didn’t get on the court until the second half but still scored eight points and handed out five assists in 13 minutes.

“I give him credit just for staying engaged and into the game because a lot of times if you don’t play that first half it’s hard to stay involved,” senior forward Adam Wing said. “He’s a pretty mature player for how young he is so just give him credit for staying locked in, and when it was his time he produced.”

3. The Aces’ interior defense looked shaky at times.

For being a blowout, it was pretty easy to pinpoint Evansville’s biggest deficiencies. The Aces allowed 34 points in the paint and gave up 14 offensive rebounds.

Simmons acknowledged those are areas the Aces need to shore up next week before their regular-season opener against Southeast Missouri State.

“As a staff, we’ve got to do a better job of recognizing the areas that we really, really need to improve in and make a commitment to that,” he said. “Too many times we’re trying to get better at everything instead of being more specific and getting better at maybe three or four areas. I think that (interior defense and rebounding) will be our focus.”

Other areas for UE to improve, according to Simmons: shot selection and extending stretches of good play.

“I thought we had good spurts, good stretches, but we don’t sustain it. I know at 32-18 we turned it over twice and give up baskets there instead of being strong and extending the lead.”

“Instead of executing our offense and getting what we want, we maybe settled too much with a perimeter shot. We can get that shot later if we’ll just work to grind it out and get an inside bucket or drive the ball.”


Posted by & filed under Men's Basketball.

D.J. Balentine scored 14 points and dished out four assists to help the University of Evansville take a 48-31 lead over Wabash College in a men’s basketball exhibition Saturday at the Ford Center.

The Aces opened the game on an 8-0 run and never trailed. Adam Wing chjipped in 10 points and Egidijus Mockevicius added nine points and six rebounds.

Evansville shot 56 percent from the floor, including 3 of 9 from 3-point range. Freshman Johnny Jager led Wabash with seven points.


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

The University of Evansville men’s basketball team has offered a scholarship to Abraham “Dalen” Traore, according to a tweet from his high school basketball program.

Traore, a 6-foot-9, 230-pound post player, is a sophomore at Miami Dade College. The Ivory Coast native averaged 4.3 points and 5.3 rebounds at MDC last season.

The Aces are set to lose three seniors after the 2015-16 season: multi-year starters D.J. Balentine, Egidijus Mockevicius and Adam Wing. Dru Smith, a local guard from Reitz High School, is UE’s only confirmed commitment for the Class of 2016.

Posted by & filed under Women's Basketball.

Former University of Evansville guard Dakota Weatherford has joined the University of Louisville women’s basketball team as a walk-on, according to a story in The Courier-Journal.

After averaging 6.8 points, 3.7 assists and 2.1 steals as a freshman starter for the Aces, Weatherford transferred to U of L but didn’t play on the basketball team.

“She’ll have a chance to compete — she sure will,” Cardinals coach Jeff Walz told The Courier-Journal.

The 5-foot-5 Weatherford, a former Indiana All-Star, will be eligible to play this season.

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

Blake Smith, a 6-foot-2 sophomore post player from Carmel High School, picked up a scholarship offer from the University of Evansville on Friday, according to her AAU team’s Twitter account.

As a freshman on Carmel’s varsity squad, Smith averaged 3.9 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game. The Greyhounds finished with a 17-8 record.

Posted by & filed under Men's Basketball.

University of Evansville senior Egidijus Mockevicius was one of 20 players named to the watch list Friday for the 2016 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award.

The 6-foot-10 Lithuanian set a UE Division-I record with 20 double-doubles last season, averaging 12.5 points and 9.9 rebounds per game. He ended his junior season with a career-high 27 points against Northern Arizona in the CIT championship game.

Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky won the inaugural Kareem Adul-Jabbar Award last year. The initial watch list will be cut in half in mid-February and then trimmed to five finalists in March.

Here are the candidates who made the watch list:

Kaleb Tarczewski, Arizona

Mamadou Ndiaye, UC Irvine

Josh Scott, Colorado

Egidijus Mockevicius, Evansville

Przemek Karnowski, Gonzaga

Thomas Bryant, Indiana

Jameel McKay, Iowa State

Cheick Diallo, Kansas

Skal Labissiere, Kentucky

Diamond Stone, Maryland

Stephen Zimmerman, UNLV

Kennedy Meeks, North Carolina

Zach Auguste, Notre Dame

AJ Hammons, Purdue

Jakob Poeltl, Utah

Damian Jones, Vanderbilt

Daniel Ochefu, Villanova

Josh Hawkinson, Washington State

Joel Bolomboy, Weber State

Devin Williams, West Virginia

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The Moncton Miracles of NBL Canada announced on Thursday the signing of former University of Evansville point guard Troy Taylor.

Taylor is currently working out in his hometown of Anderson, Indiana, while waiting to join the Miracles before the NBL season starts in December.

The 6-foot guard played 15 games last season for the Lake Michigan Admirals of the Premier Basketball League, averaging 13.9 points, 7.7 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.3 steals per game. Lake Michigan won the Midwest Division title and Taylor was named honorable mention all-PBL.

Taylor also played on a team this summer that advanced to the finals of the Ball Up Million Dollar Summer Challenge.

Known as a strong defender and rebounder, Taylor averaged 6.9 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.9 assists as a UE senior in 2012-13.

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

I just sent my preseason selections for order of finish and all-Missouri Valley Conference players to the league office. Here are my picks, including explanations:


1. Wichita State – The Shockers will once again be the class of the league, and this time it won’t be close. Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet comprise one of the top backcourts in the country, and Cleveland State transfer Anton Grady (14.3 ppg, 7.9 rpg last season) and 6-foot-8 sophomore Shaq Morris aren’t too shabby in the post, either. A few Valley teams will be talented enough to challenge the Shockers on a given night, but none will be good enough to stick with them through the course of the 18-game conference schedule. ESPN selected the Shockers No. 9 nationally in an early preseason poll.

2. Illinois State — It’s already getting interesting, as I believe Illinois State, Evansville and Northern Iowa are interchangeable at Nos. 2-4. I considered putting Evansville here because of the transfer of big man Reggie Lynch, but 6-8 transfers Nick Banyard and Quintin Brewer should at least be serviceable inside for the Redbirds. And Lynch wasn’t the main reason Illinois State went 3-0 against the Aces last season; big, athletic wing players like DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell, Deontae Hawkins and MiKyle McIntosh were the primary matchup problems and they all return.

3. Evansville – The Aces have more depth and talent than ever under Marty Simmons. They could go 10-deep if needed and should be in better shape this year to deal with injuries. Guard D.J. Balentine and center Egidijus Mockevicius return from first-team all-conference seasons.

4. Northern Iowa – The Panthers lost a lot from a 31-4 team that pushed Wichita State for the regular-season crown last year. But UNI is always a contender and retains enough key pieces to finish as high as No. 2 this season. Wes Washpun, Paul Jesperson, Matt Bohannon and Jeremy Morgan form a nice core. At least one player from a group of unproven post players will have to emerge for the Panthers to be really good.

5. Loyola – When healthy, guard Milton Doyle is one of the best players in the MVC. Coach Porter Moser has a relatively small roster, but the Ramblers are talented, play hard and cause matchup problems with their quickness.

6. Drake — Several people around the league, including Evansville coach Marty Simmons, believe the Bulldogs could make a jump up the standings this year. Sweet-shooting lefty Reed Timmer had a strong freshman season and 7-footer Jacob Enevold is an improving post player.

7. Indiana State – It was toss-up on whether to put the Sycamores here or bump them up to No. 6 in place of Drake. Indiana State’s backcourt is loaded with reigning MVC Freshman of the Year Brenton Scott, Khristian Smith, Devonte Brown and high-scoring Citadel transfer Matt Van Scyoc. But a frighteningly thin and unproven frontcourt will be a chore to work around.

8. Southern Illinois — High-scoring guard Anthony Beane is good enough to carry the Salukis to a win or two. The other bottom-tier teams don’t have a scorer as dynamic as Beane, so that’s enough to rank Southern Illinois here.

9. Missouri State – The Bears have a few solid players (Camyn Boone, Dorrian Williams, Austin Ruder, Chris Kendrix) but no one who would truly frighten me if I were an opposing coach.

10. Bradley — With a new coach and an almost entirely new roster, I’ll pick the Braves last until they prove me wrong.


1. Fred VanVleet, Wichita State — Point guard who can handle, pass and shoot, and always seems to make the right decision.

2. Ron Baker, Wichita State — Some think he could have sneaked into the NBA Draft’s first round last season. The high-scoring guard is on several preseason All-America lists.

3. Egidijus Mockevicius, Evansville – The league’s best big man narrowly missed averaging a double-double last season. He set a UE single-season Division I record with 20 double-doubles.

4. D.J. Balentine, Evansville — He could lead the league in scoring for the third straight year. His shooting percentages last season (43.5 FG, 39.2 3-pt) are impressive for a “volume shooter” and Balentine led the Aces with 3.2 assists per game.

5. DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell, Illinois State — Last season’s MVC Newcomer of the Year apparently was dominant during the Redbirds’ summer trip to Spain. If he stays healthy this entire season, he could really turn some heads.

Player of the Year: Fred VanVleet, Wichita State. I wouldn’t be surprised if Baker is the more popular pick here, but I love the way VanVleet controls the game.

Posted by & filed under Men's Basketball.

The Missouri Valley Conference has released which men’s basketball games will appear on its three television packages this season, and it’s clear the University of Evansville is one of the programs the MVC plans to showcase.

Here is an updated list of all UE regular-season games that could appear on TV.

(NOTES: All UE home games, plus all conference games not on TV, will stream online on ESPN3. … Games listed as MVC TV Network will air on Fox Sports Indiana/Fox Sports Midwest but will be shown on ESPN3 outside of those markets. … Games listed as ESPNU/ESPN3 are considered “netflex” games; ESPN will choose which game to put on ESPNU and leave others on ESPN3).


Date, Opponent, TV coverage

11/26 — vs. Providence in Wooden Legacy first round, ESPNU

11/27 — vs. Arizona/Santa Clara at Wooden Legacy, ESPN2/ESPN3

11/29 — vs. TBA at Wooden Legacy, ESPN2/ESPNU/ESPN3

12/8 — at Arkansas, SEC Network

1/2 — at Missouri State, MVC TV Network (Fox Sports Midwest)

1/15 — at Illinois State, ESPN2

1/19 — vs. Loyola, CBS Sports Network

1/24 — at Indiana State, ESPNU/ESPN3 netflex

1/31 — vs. Wichita State, ESPNU/ESPN3 netflex

2/3 — at Northern Iowa, MVC TV Network (Fox Sports Midwest)

2/6 — vs. Missouri State, MVC TV Network (Fox Sports Midwest)

2/11 — vs. Illinois State, CBS Sports Network

2/14 — at Loyola, ESPNU/ESPN3 netflex

2/17 — at Drake, MVC TV Network (Fox Sports Midwest)

2/20 — vs. Southern Illinois, MVC TV Network (Fox Sports Midwest)

2/23 — at Bradley, MVC TV Network (Fox Sports Midwest)

2/27 — vs. Northern Iowa, ESPN/ESPN2/CBS Sports Network*

* — There will be five MVC games on the final day of the regular season. The TV networks will choose which three to air.


To recap, as many of 17 of Evansville’s regular-season games could be televised, including all eight of the Aces’ contests in February. After looking at the other “netflex” alternatives, there is a chance UE gets picked up each time if the teams perform as they’ll be projected in the preseason. All other UE home games and Valley contests will be broadcast on ESPN3, giving the Aces more national exposure than ever before.






Posted by & filed under Men's Basketball.


JASON CLARK / COURIER & PRESS — D.J. Balentine drives to the hoop during the first half of Evansville’s win over Northern Arizona in the CIT championship game.

D.J. Balentine is always looking to expand his game.

Already comfortable with the pull-up jump shot while driving to his left, the University of Evansville senior guard has worked this summer to mirror that move to his right. The two-time Missouri Valley Conference scoring leader also looked to improve his ball handling and overall explosiveness.

“Me and (strength) coach Jordan (Stanley) have done so many things to help my athleticism out,” Balentine said. “I’ve gotten a lot quicker, I jump a lot higher now so it’s just a lot of things I’ve been working on.”

Balentine was named the Postseason Tournament MVP after averaging 27.2 points during the Aces’ championship run.

Evansville has loftier goals for 2015-16. The biggest one: making its first NCAA tournament appearance since 1999.

“It wasn’t just being in the tournament; we want to make some noise in the tournament,” Balentine said. “We don’t just want to say we got there and did nothing.

“This offseason, everybody’s been working extremely hard. This is probably the hardest we’ve worked as a team since I’ve been here. It just makes us really excited for it.”

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

Crown Point High School junior Sasha Stefanovic tweeted this week that the University of Evansville became the first school to offer him a basketball scholarship.

Stefanovic, a 6-foot-3 shooting guard, is the son of Lou Stefanovic — a star at Illinois State who was drafted in the 1985 NBA Draft before playing professionally in Europe for 10 years.

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

Ryan Stipanovich, a junior small forward from DeSmet Jesuit High School in St. Louis, tweeted Tuesday night that the University of Evansville had offered him a scholarship.

Stipanovich is listed by various websites anywhere from 6-foot-5 to 6-7. He averaged 16.6 points and 4.1 rebounds as a sophomore and already holds a half-dozen Division I scholarship offers. According to his VerbalCommits page, Stipanovich has been offered by Wyoming, IUPUI, Eastern Illinois, Vermont and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

Links to a pair of highlight videos can be found on Stipanovich’s Hudl page.

Stipanovich is the fourth known recruit in the Class of 2017 to draw an offer from Evansville. The Aces have three seniors and eight juniors on their roster this season.