During their three games in The Bahamas last weekend the Xavier Musketeers were shorthanded in the front court, as senior forward Erik Stenger was unable to participate due to an illness. The issues began shortly before the Musketeers left the States, as Stenger underwent medical testing (including bloodwork) after being “unusually lethargic” during practices.
On Thursday it was reported that Stenger could miss the next 2-3 weeks due to a stomach ailment.
“Anytime you hear the word ‘bloodwork,’ you get a little nervous. But Erik’s fine,” Mack said. “I don’t know the technical term for it but he’s got a very aggravated stomach. He’s on medication now. He’s going to be fine. But he’s also going to be out until his blood gets to where it needs to be.”
Stenger played an average of 16 mpg in Xavier’s first four games of the season, posting averages of 5.5 points and 3.5 rebounds per game. His season highs in points (nine) and blocks (two) came in the Musketeers’ season-opening win over Gardner-Webb, and he grabbed a season-high seven rebounds in a win over Tennessee.
In their three losses in The Bahamas the Musketeers had some issues in regards to defensive efficiency, with Iowa, Tennessee and USC each scoring at least one point per possession. In no game prior did Xavier allow the opposition to do so. Stenger will help defensively and on the boards, but until he returns the current big men at coach Mack’s disposal will need to step up.
Matt Stainbrook (7.9 rpg) and James Farr (6.2) are the team’s leading rebounders with redshirt freshman Jalen Reynolds adding four rebounds per contest in just over 14 minutes of action per game.
With an 11-member setup the Sun Belt Conference has played a 20-game conference schedule the last couple of years, which may be seen as a positive when it comes to determining the regular season champion (home-and-home between every team). But for a conference that spans from North Carolina (Appalachian State) to Texas (UT-Arlington, Texas State) travel was far from easy in that setup.
And with Coastal Carolina joining next season, it was clear that the league needed to do something with its scheduling.
Thursday the Sun Belt members approved an 18-game conference schedule, which will begin with the 2016-17 season when the league consists of 12 members. Included in the agreement is the assignment of travel partners (similar to setups in the Pac-12 and Ivy League), and teams playing no more than three consecutive conference games on the road.
Schools will also be guaranteed at least five weekend home games during conference play, and there will be no more weekends in which teams play conference games both home and away (thus cutting down on travel). Obviously with the addition of Coastal Carolina the Sun Belt needed to make some changes in their scheduling, and this week the conference made the moves they needed to make.
Prior to a one-year stint as the head coach coach at Bowling Green that came to an end in early April as a result of an incident at a Bowling Green restaurant, Chris Jans was a member of Gregg Marshall’s coaching staff at Wichita State from 2007-14. During those seven seasons Jans was a key figure as the Shockers made the progression to a respected national power.
Jans is back in Wichita, with Paul Suellentrop of the Wichita Eagle reporting Thursday that he’s serving as a consultant to the program. Jans’ consulting agreement runs for 45 days, which the school can renew, and he’ll be paid $10,000 for the work. While Jans isn’t allowed to do any coaching, he can watch practices and provide Marshall and the coaching staff with his observations.
“He will be able to consult with the coaching staff, only on what he observes in practice,” said Darron Boatright, WSU deputy athletics director. “By NCAA rule, a consultant is not allowed to have communication with student-athletes … not about basketball-related activities or performance.”
While Jans (who according to the story has served in a similar role for another school) can’t do any coaching in this role, his return does give Marshall another trusted voice to call upon when needed. Wichita State bid farewell to an assistant coach this spring with Steve Forbes being hired as the head coach at East Tennessee State, with his position being filled by former Sunrise Christian Academy coach Kyle Lindsted.