These are no doubt all topics I’ll get delve into more later this offseason, but when talking to coach Marty Simmons for this notebook earlier in the week, I didn’t want to leave out a few things Simmons mentioned.
—It’s been noted often that the Aces have three incoming freshmen: Castle forward Blake Simmons, Fishers guard Jalyon Brown and Cleveland guard Duane “Boo” Gibson.
Don’t forget about David Howard, that tall guy often seen wearing a shirt and tie on game days last season rather than a UE uniform. Howard decided to take redshirt year back in November and will also, in a sense, become part of the 2013 class.
“Time will tell, but just over the course of practice we were able to tell he’s improved his body,” Simmons said. “I’d say his confidence level from when he got here to where it’s at now is much better. You’d look at him as one of our more skilled low post guys with the ability to get angles and score with either hand in there.”
Whereas 6-foot-10 center Egidijus Mockevicius is the defensive stopper of UE’s group of centers, Howard is looked at as more of an offensive threat. He measured at 6-foot-8 and 225 pounds as a true freshman.
—Just about every scholarship player on UE’s roster had his moment last season, all the way down the bench until you reach sophomore Rokas Cesnulevicius. The Lithuanian native appeared in just five games, whereas he saw action in all but six as a freshman.
“He, of course, was in that unfortunate accident,” Simmons said.
Last June, Cesnulevicius and sophomore Jaylon Moore crashed an all-terrain vehicle. Both missed time in summer workouts, but Cesnulevicius took the worse hit with a broken jaw that required surgery.
“He lost a tremendous amount of strength and just body mass through his rehabilitation,” Simmons said. “I think, just like the other guys, we’d like to see him be committed to the strength and conditioning programs and the skill work. I think he’ll benefit from that as much or more than anyone else.”
—Loyola University Chicago’s entry to the Missouri Valley Conference means a couple things for the league’s nine other men’s basketball members.
First, the round-robin schedule that sees every team play the others twice stays in tact despite Creighton’s departure from the MVC.
“Scheduling is tough, and I think being in a league where you can do that you obviously get a true champion,” Simmons said. “Everybody gets the opportunity to play at home and away. I certainly am in favor of that.”
Playing in the Chicago market — the United States’ third-largest city — also opens up recruiting opportunities.
“I don’t think it probably factors in that much, but certainly we do recruit that area,” Simmons said. “I do think knowing you’re going to go up there and play every year can only help with the recognition of your team in that market – people being able to see you and read about you.”
—Check out the story itself for info on UE’s transfer situation (none are expected), as well as what Simmons expects from the current signing period and future scheduling. The coaching staff is still searching for a spot in an MVC-mandated exempt tournament.