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

Reitz High School point guard Dru Smith has reportedly received a scholarship offer from the University of Evansville. Smith’s AAU program, Pocket City Basketball, tweeted out the news Wednesday evening.

Smith also holds offers from South Alabama and Indiana State, UE’s Missouri Valley Conference rival. The 6-foot-3 Smith recently completed his junior season at Reitz, averaging 10.5 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.5 assists as the Panthers finished 29-2.

Smith tallied 13 points, six assists, three steals and two blocks in a 91-90 loss to Homstead in the Class 4A state championship game. With his long arms and knack for anticipation, Smith played at the top of Reitz’s trapping zone defenses.


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

University of Evansville men’s basketball signee Harris Brown was one of 14 players named Monday to the Indiana Senior All-Star team. The Senior All-Stars will play two-game series against the Indiana Junior All-Stars and the Kentucky All-Stars in June.

Brown, a 5-foot-11 guard, led Indianapolis Howe to its first City tournament title since 1987 while averaging 30.3 points, four assists, 3.5 rebounds and three steals this season.

Here is the rest of the Senior All-Star Team, released Monday by the Indianapolis Star:

Caleb Swanigan, Homestead

Joel Okafor, Richmond

Jaelan Sanford, Reitz

Devin Cannady, Mishawaka Marian

Ryan Cline, Carmel

Ryan Fazekas, Michigan City Marquette

K.J. Walton, Brownsburg

Sean McDermott, Pendleton Heights

Ryan Welage, Greensburg

Matt Holba, Guierin Catholic

Tahjai Teague, Pike

Derrik Smits, Zionsville

Josh Spiedel, Columbus North

Posted by & filed under Baseball.

Thursday is minor league opening day, which means several former University of Evansville baseball players are set to begin their respective seasons.

Here is where the former Aces landed:

— Right-handed pitcher Sam Johns is opening the season with the Single-A Hagerstown (Md.) Suns of the Washington Nationals organization.

— Catcher Kyle Pollock is playing for the Single-A Lexington (Ky.) Legends of the Kansas City Royals organization.

— Right-handed pitcher Kyle Lloyd is throwing for the Lake Elsinore (Calif.) Storm, a High-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres.

— Shortstop Eric Staments is playing for the Arkansas Travelers, a Double-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels.

— Left-handed pitcher Kyle Freeland, a 2014 first-round MLB draft pick to the Colorado Rockies, is working through shoulder fatigue and hasn’t received his minor-league assignment yet.

Posted by & filed under Men's Basketball.

The University of Evansville closed the first half with seven consecutive points to take a 29-21 lead over Northern Arizona in the Postseason Tournament championship game Thursday at the Ford Center.

UE junior Egidijus Mockevicius posted 13 points, six rebounds and one block — the 200th of his career. D.J. Balentine added six points for the Aces, who shot 40 percent from the floor.

Aaseem Dixon went 3 of 10 from the field to pace Northern Arizona with six points.

The physical contest featured six lead changes in the first half. Evansville is winning the rebounding battle 19-17, including 9-8 on the offensive glass.

Posted by & filed under Men's Basketball.

Basic info: CIT championship game — Northern Arizona (23-14, 13-5 Big Sky) at Evansville (23-12, 9-9 Missouri Valley), 6 p.m. Thursday at the Ford Center

Preview story: UE’s Moore gets another opportunity to play at home, this time for CIT title

TV: CBS Sports Network

Radio: WUEV 91.5 FM



Northern Arizona: Kris Yanku (6-4, So., G, 13.7 ppg, 5.0 apg); Aaseem Dixon (6-0, Sr., G, 13.0 ppg, 2.3 apg); Quinton Upshur (6-5, Sr., G, 14.6 ppg, 3.5 rpg); Len Springs (6-10, Sr., C, 2.6 ppg, 1.9 bpg); Jordyn Martin (6-7, Jr., F, 7.7 ppg, 7.7 rpg).

Evansville: D.J. Balentine (6-2, Jr., G, 20.2 ppg, 3.2 apg); Duane Gibson (6-3, So., G, 5.1 ppg, 2.7 apg); Blake Simmons (6-5, So., G/F, 7.3 ppg, 2.3 apg); Adam Wing (6-4, Jr., F, 7.7 ppg, 3.9 rpg); Egidijus Mockevicius (6-10, Jr., C, 12.1 ppg, 9.8 rpg).


Noting Northern Arizona: The Lumberjacks set a program record with their 22nd win in a CIT quarterfinal win over Kent State. … NAU has won 11 of its last 13 and 15 of its last 18 games. … No Big Sky team has ever won a national postseason tournament. … The Lumberjacks outrebounded NJIT 56-40 Tuesday in their semifinal game, pulling down 23 offensive rebounds. Jordyn Martin grabbed 12 offensive boards and 17 total rebounds. … Martin is the Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year and is averaging 13.8 points and 12.8 rebounds in the CIT.

Noting Evansville: Balentine is averaging 30 points per game for the tournament, knocking down 60 percent of his field-goal attempts and 18 of 30 from 3-point range. … The Aces are shooting 54.1 percent in the CIT, while their opponents are 42.9 percent. … A win would give Evansville its most victories since 1991-92, when the Aces finished 24-6 and lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. … Wing is 21 of 29 from the field in the CIT and averaging 10.8 points.


Predictions: Evansville is favored by eight points. Ken Pomeroy’s formula predicts a 72-64 UE win and gives the Aces a 79 percent chance of victory.

Posted by & filed under Men's Basketball.

The University of Evansville men’s basketball team will travel to Fresno State on Dec. 20 for one of 10 contests in the Mountain West-Missouri Valley Challenge Series.

The series is a renewal of a four-year agreement that lasted from the 2009-10 through the 2012-13 seasons. The Mountain West has a 22-13 edge in the previous games.

Here is the complete schedule for the 2015 challenge:


Fri., Nov. 13 — Illinois State at San Diego State, San Diego, Calif.
Fri., Nov. 13 — Air Force at Southern Illinois, Carbondale, Ill.
Sat., Nov. 14 — Colorado State at UNI, Cedar Falls, Iowa
Mon., Nov. 16 — Wyoming at Indiana State, Terre Haute, Ind.
Wed., Nov. 18 — Loyola at New Mexico, Albuquerque, N.M.
Tues., Dec. 1 — Utah State at Missouri State, Springfield, Mo.
Wed., Dec. 2 — UNLV at Wichita State, Wichita, Kan.
Sat., Dec. 12 — Drake at Nevada, Reno, Nev.
Sun., Dec. 20 — Bradley at Boise State, Boise, Idaho
Sun., Dec. 20 — Evansville at Fresno State, Fresno, Calif.

The Mountain West has ranked among the Top 10 in the NCAA’s final RPI report in nine of the last 10 years, while the MVC has been among the Top 10 eight times during that span.

“The reintroduction of this Challenge Series is a positive step for both leagues,” MVC Commissioner Doug Elgin said in a release. “Tough non-conference scheduling has always been paramount in improving our league’s stature on the national scene. The series helps institutions in both leagues achieve that goal. It’s great for the fans of the Missouri Valley and the Mountain West as new rivalries are developed with nationally-recognized programs that have a strong commitment to men’s basketball.”

Evansville and Fresno State played this season, with the Aces defeating the Bulldogs 58-52 in the first round of the Gulf Coast Showcase on Nov. 24. Fresno State finished 15-17 this year, including 10-8 in the Mountain West. UE is currently 23-12 and will play for the Postseason Tournament championship Thursday night.

In future seasons, the MW-MVC Challenge will primarily be played during a nine-day window beginning the weekend after Thanksgiving.

Posted by & filed under Men's Basketball.

Leftover notes, quotes and observations from Evansville’s win over UT Martin on Tuesday in the CIT semfinals (you can read my game story here).

1. D.J. Balentine got going early again and was dominant — again.

In each game of the CIT, Balentine has scored his first basket within the first couple of minutes and never looked back. On Tuesday, UE’s junior shooting guard sank a jump shot 16 seconds in and went on to post a game-high 28 points on 10 of 16 shooting, including 4 of 7 from long range.

UT Martin coach Heath Schroyer had plenty of praise for Balentine, who is torching CIT opponents for 30 points per game.

“I think the big thing is that he has a great IQ,” Schroyer said. “He’s stronger than people think, he has very high release so he’s able to score in midrange. He obviously can make the 3, and he’s better off the dribble, in person, than I thought.

“They do an unbelievable job in their motion of running him off all kinds of different screens but the think that I was most impressed with him, personally, is that he’s a great screener. … I think he’s a heck of a player and he’s gonna make a lot of money playing this game someday.”

2. Every Ace contributed something positive.

Let’s be clear: Evansville has played much better teams throughout the season than UT Martin. But even with that in mind, it may have been the most balanced performance I’ve seen from UE.

The only players who had subpar games by their standards were Egidijus Mockevicius (four points, seven rebounds) and Mislav Brzoja (zero points, three assists, seven rebounds, four turnovers). But Mockevicius only played 20 minutes and challenged plenty of shots at the rim while he was in. And Brzoja’s rebounding and passing helped the Aces even though he went scoreless.

Rather than me regurgitating every player’s statistics, check out the box score and take note of the assist totals from Duane Gibson and Blake Simmons and the scoring numbers of Adam Wing and, in limited minutes, Jaylon Brown and Jaylon Moore.

3. Simmons played perhaps his best half of the season.

It’s clear that Simmons, a 6-5 sophomore wing player, has put the shooting slump that hamstrung him late in the regular season behind him. In the first half Tuesday, he hit 4 of 6 field-goal attempts, including both of his 3-pointers. He also racked up five of his career-high seven assists in the opening frame, including one that drew the loudest cheer of the night from the Ford Center crowd.

On that play, Simmons leaped to meet a pass just before a UT Martin defender reached him and, before landing, whipped a no-look pass from beyond the 3-point line to Wing for a layup.

Simmons also had two of his three steals in the first half. He only went 1-for-6 from the field after the intermission, but his overall game was still solid based on the outstanding first half.

Now, some extra quotes from after Tuesday’s game and before Wednesday’s practice:

Marty Simmons, on UE’s strong play on the fast break Tuesday night: “We’ve really been emphasizing it with the 30-second shot clock even on made baskets we want to push it and put pressure on the defense. Our guys deserve the credit. I thought they got their hands on a lot of balls and knock it loose. They got out and ran well and we finished well in transition.”

Coach Simmons, on the play of his point guards (Gibson and Brown): “It’s kind of a two-headed monster there. Those guys are playing pretty darn good right now.”

Balentine, on the Aces bouncing back from a four-game losing streak entering the CIT:  “It’s more mental. We just started off the tournament really well and that’s carried us. We understand we ended the season very badly and we wanted to change our route. We didn’t want to have a poor end to the season.”

Marty Simmons, on the chance to play for the CIT title:  “It means a lot. I really think that our guys are excited just seeing people around Carson Center today buying tickets. It’s a chance to win a championship. I know both teams are really excited to be here.”


Posted by & filed under Men's Basketball.

The University of Evansville men’s basketball team surged to a 46-34 halftime lead against Tennessee Martin in the Postseason Tournament semifinals Tuesday at the Ford Center.

UE closed the half on a 13-3 run. D.J. Balentine led the Aces with 16 points on 6 of 8 shooting, and Blake Simmons added 10 points and five assists.

Adam Wing also chipped in 10 points, running the court to get easy transition baskets on passes from Simmons and sophomore point guard Duane Gibson. Evansville tallied 14 assists compared to five turnovers.

UT Martin stayed close for most of the half thanks to a 7-for-16 performance from 3-point range. Deville Smith buried five of those treys and led the Skyhawks with 15 points.

Posted by & filed under Men's Basketball.

Basic info: CIT semifinal — UT Martin (21-12) at Evansville (22-12), Tuesday, 6 p.m. at the Ford Center

Preview story: Evansville to host ‘explosive’ UT Martin in CIT semifinal

TV: CBS Sports Network

Radio: WUEV 91.5 FM

Noting UT Martin: Senior guard Deville Smith was a finalist for an award for top Division I transfer. The former UNLV Runnin’ Rebel averages team highs of 13.7 points and 4.6 assists. … The Skyhawks are tied for the fourth-best improvement in Division I this season, increasing their win total by 13 from last season. … UT Martin’s wins in the CIT have all come on the road: 104-79 at Northwestern State, 60-49 at USC Upstate and 70-69 at Eastern Kentucky.

Noting Evansville: D.J. Balentine has scored 92 points in the CIT. Balentine’s surge has moved him to No. 17 on the national Division I scoring charts (20 points per game). … The Aces are playing later in March than ever before. … UE has scored at least 82 points in each of its three CIT games. … The Aces have played four of the same common opponents as UT Martin this season. UE lost three times to Illinois State, which beat UT Martin once. Both teams beat Eastern Illinois (UT Martin did twice) and both teams lost to Murray State (UT Martin did twice). UE beat Belmont, while the Skyhawks lost to the Bruins.

Predictions: Evansville is favored by 6 1/2 points. Pomeroy predicts a 71-65 UE win and gives the Aces a 71 percent chance of advancing.

Posted by & filed under Men's Basketball.

CHARLESTON, Ill. — D.J. Balentine scored 11 points and buried his third 3-pointer three seconds before the buzzer to lead the University of Evansville men’s basketball team to a 37-27 halftime lead over Eastern Illinois at Lantz Arena.

Egidijus Mockevicius added nine points and eight rebounds for UE, which is looking to advance to the quarterfinals of the Postseason Tournament. The 6-foot-10 Mockevicius also contested several shots inside, helping the Aces hold EIU to 2-for-18 shooting inside the arc.

But the Panthers knocked down 7 of 13 from long range to somewhat offset 29 percent field-goal shooting. Dylan Chatman drained four 3s and led EIU with 12 points.

EIU senior Reggie Smith left nine minutes into the game with an apparent leg injury.

UE led for all but 39 seconds of the half.

Posted by & filed under Men's Basketball.

Basic info: CIT second round, Evansville (20-12) at Eastern Illinois (18-14), 7 p.m. Monday at Lantz Arena in Charleston, Illinois.

Preview story: Aces to face multidimensional Eastern Illinois

Live stream: All CIT games available for streaming here.

Radio: WUEV 91.5 FM



Evansville: Jaylon Brown (6-0, So., G, 4.9 ppg, 2.4 apg); D.J. Balentine (6-2, Jr., G, 19.4 ppg, 3.2 apg); Blake Simmons (6-5, So., G/F, 7.3 ppg, 2.2 apg); Adam Wing (6-4, Jr., F, 7.2 ppg, 4.0 rpg); Egidijus Mockevicius (6-10, Jr., C, 12.2 ppg, 9.8 rpg).

Eastern Illinois: Cornell Johnston (5-7, Fr., G, 9.2 ppg, 4.7 apg); LeTrell ‘Snoop’ Viser (6-2, Jr., G, 6.2 ppg, 2.5 rpg); Dylan Chatman (6-1, Sr., G, 5.8 ppg, 3.1 rpg); Chris Olivier (6-8, Jr., F, 12.8 ppg, 5.3 rpg); Josh Piper (6-8, Sr., F, 4.1 ppg, 2.8 rpg).


Noting Evansville: UE reached the 20-win mark for the second time since 1999 with a first-round win over IPFW. Balentine scored a season-high 35 points in that game, burying his first nine field-goal attempts. … The Aces rank 22nd in the nation in free-throw percentage (74.5). … Mockevicius and Balentine were both named to the all-Missouri Valley Conference first team and Mockevicius was also named to the all-defensive team. … Eastern Illinois leads the all-time series 11-8 and is 6-2 at home against Evansville.

Noting Eastern Illinois: Ten EIU players play more than 10 minutes per game, and nine have started this season. … Trae Anderson, the Panthers’ leading scorer at 13.3 points per game, has come off the bench in 14 of 29 games. … Johnston is EIU’s leading 3-point shooter, knocking down 53 of 101 (52.5 percent) from long range. … The Panthers finished 9-7 in the Ohio Valley Conference, losing to NCAA tournament qualifier Belmont in the OVC tournament.


Predictions:  Evansville is favored by three points. Ken Pomeroy predicts a 66-65 Eastern Illinois win and gives each team a 50 percent chance of victory.

Posted by & filed under Men's Basketball.

Finally getting around to posting some leftover notes, quotes and observations from Evansville’s victory over IPFW in the first round of the Postseason Tournament (you can read my game story here).

Here we go…

1. The 30-second shot clock was a nonfactor.

The game was played with a quick pace throughout, especially early. The Aces had one shot-clock violation in the second half, but that was because a scramble for a loose ball led to an out-of-bounds play with three seconds on the shot clock and then a forced airball as the time expired.

But both teams largely avoided shooting near the end of the clock, even though it is five seconds shorter in this tournament than the regular season.

“(Tuesday) in practice, I really got concerned (about the shorter clock),” Evansville coach Marty Simmons said. “For the most part, I thought we had pretty good rhythm. We were getting it out of the net (quickly) when they scored and we’ve been pretty good all year at when we force a missed shot, getting out in transition.”

2. Balentine put on his best shooting display of the season.

The guy hit 11 of his first 12 shots, including six 3-pointers. It was pretty incredible.

“Every game I try to come out with that mindset to kill, and today went OK,” said Balentine, chuckling after he was called out for his understatement.

Said Simmons: “He’s one of those guys when he gets in that zone, he’s had several games where he’s been able to fill it up. What I think pleased me the most was the variety of ways that he scored his baskets.”

When asked if Balentine was difficult to prepare for with his quick release, IPFW coach Jon Coffman said, “It’s tough to simulate. I wish we had a guy that could do that.”

3. IPFW successfully collapsed UE’s defense in the second half, forcing the Aces into scramble mode.

Whether by driving and kicking or playing through post player Steve Forbes, IPFW was able to get into the teeth of UE’s defense and then find open shooters. The Mastodons canned 8 of 14 3-pointers in the second half to get back into the game.

“They play four guards similar to us so with the pick-and-roll we obviously have to help on the big guy rolling,” Balentine said. “They caught fire down the stretch. Coach was getting on us for not getting stops, but I tried to tell him they were hitting tough shots.”

“We dropped 50 on a really good defensive team in the second half,” Coffman said.

Said Simmons: “They’re a difficult team to defend. In their last five (games) they’re shooting 43 percent from 3. … They run the pick-and-roll and replace as well as anyone. We had some breakdowns and they had some really good execution.”

4. It was another underwhelming finish to a game for UE.

The Aces won by five points, moving their record in games decided by five points or less to 5-8. But it was hardly an emphatic way to seal a victory after UE led by 23 points four minutes into the second half.

“Give Fort Wayne credit,” Simmons said. “They never quit, they kept battling, but we’ve got to turn the screws. We’ve got to do a better job. We’ve got to finish at the basket better and we’ve got to get more stops; we didn’t get many stops in the second half.”