WICHITA, Kan. (AP) There were many reasons Southern Illinois coach Barry Hinson could point to in trying to explain how his team, tied for second in the Missouri Valley Conference, has lost to Wichita State twice this season, each time by more than 20 points.
One stood out Wednesday night after No. 21 Wichita State’s 76-55 victory over the Salukis.
“It’s their length,” Hinson said. “We just don’t run up against anybody else in our league that has that kind of length.”
Fred VanVleet had 12 points and 11 assists to lead the Shockers (17-5, 11-0 Missouri Valley) to their 12th straight victory. Shaquille Morris had a season-high 13 points and fellow center Anton Grady added 10 points for Wichita State
Anthony Beane scored 15 of his game-high 20 point in the first half for Southern Illinois (18-6, 7-4). Bola Olaniyan had seven points and 16 rebounds for the Salukis, helping them outrebound the conference’s top rebounding team 48-31.
Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall said his team’s length showed on the defensive end.
“Our defense was phenomenal, especially in the second half,” Marshall said. “That really carried the day.”
Beane, who was 3 of 10 in the first matchup against Wichita State, was hot early. He scored 10 of Southern Illinois’ first 12 points, going 4 of 5 from the field.
Beane’s hot hand helped the Salukis stay close. Tyler Smithpeters’ steal and layup cut Wichita State’s lead to 20-19 with 8:39 remaining in the first half.
The Shockers then locked down Southern Illinois. During a stretch of more than 8 minutes, the Salukis had two baskets. One was tipped in by a Shocker going for a rebound. The other was a layup by Smithpeters when he rebounded an airball all alone.
“We wanted to take them out of their offense,” VanVleet said.
Wichita State methodically went on a 14-4 run, capped by Morris’ fade-away, banked jumper for a 34-23 lead with 2:14 remaining in the half.
Wichita State led 37-28 at halftime and quickly advanced the margin into double digits. A 3 by Evan Wessel and Morris converting an alley-oop pass made it 42-28, and Southern Illinois took a timeout just 71 seconds into the half.
The Shockers made seven free throws to make it 49-31 and four straight points from Grady gave Wichita State a 53-34 lead with 14:11 to play.
“Our guards were really pounding the ball down to Shaq and me,” Grady said. “They were dropping the ball down to us and giving us good opportunities.”
Just over 6 minutes later, 3-pointers by Wessel and VanVleet pushed the lead to 64-42 with 7:57 remaining.
“I’m not going to fault our guys at all,” Hinson said. “The first game, we didn’t compete. Tonight, we fought our butts off. We just turned it over 22 times, and that will kill you.”
MARSHALL TOPS LIST
Marshall reached 221 victories, giving him more than any coach in Wichita State history. Hall of Famer Ralph Miller went 220-133 at Wichita State from 1951-64.
Marshall is 221-81 in nine seasons with the Shockers. He won 194 games in 10 seasons at Winthrop, where he is also the career leader in victories.
“It means a lot to equal a legend like Coach Miller,” Marshall said, “a guy who made basketball important here when he came from (Wichita) East High.”
This was Wichita State’s first home game since Arizona lost to visiting Oregon on Jan. 28. That snapped the longest homecourt winning streak in the country at 49 games, giving the Shockers the current mark.
Wichita State extended it to 43 straight home victories.
Southern Illinois: The Salukis have lost eight straight games against ranked opponents. The last victory was a 64-62 decision over No. 22 Wichita State on Feb. 5, 2013. . Southern Illinois entered the game averaging 76.3 points, nearly 16 more than last season.
Wichita State: The Shockers have won 19 straight regular-season conference games. . Ron Baker had 18 points on 5-of-11 shooting Jan. 9 at Southern Illinois. On Wednesday, he had nine points on 2-of-10 shooting.
Southern Illinois hosts Loyola on Saturday.
Wichita State travels to Illinois State on Saturday
As we get closer to the start of the 2015-16 college basketball season, let’s take a look at the head coaches who need to have a good season in order to feel safe. While the list of coaches on CBT’s “hot seat” have had poor seasons and lost their jobs before, keep in mind that the last two No. 1 selections for this list kept their jobs the following season, including Maryland coach Mark Turgeon, who is currently thriving in College Park.
1. Tom Crean, Indiana: Indiana enters the 2015-16 season with top-25 talent and high expectations, but Crean finds himself atop the hot seat list for failing to meet expectations at Indiana. Crean’s now entering his eighth season as the Indiana head coach, and only once in the previous seven seasons — the 2012-13 season — have the Hoosiers been good enough to be considered a true title contender. That’s not enough, but not only is Crean struggling to find the success the Hoosier fan base craves on the floor, but the dismissal of three more players this offseason hasn’t made life any easier off the floor. Indiana’s president isn’t pleased with the off-the-court developments and many prominent Indiana alums have been vocal about the Hoosiers falling below expectations. A big season would go a long way towards quieting Crean’s doubters.
2. Josh Pastner, Memphis:Much like Crean at Indiana, Pastner has achieved success but faltered compared to a passionate fan base’s expectations. Memphis missed the postseason altogether for the first time in 15 years with last season’s 18-14 record and the team’s best returning player, Austin Nichols, transferred to Virginia, following Nick King and Pookie Powell out the door. Pastner is going to rely heavily on the freshman Lawson brothers to make a postseason appearance immediately, but in a city that became accustomed to the success of John Calipari’s Tigers, will they be satisfied if we’ve already seen Peak Pastner?
3. Brian Gregory, Georgia Tech:After a 12-19 season and 14th place finish, Gregory is back for his fifth season at Georgia Tech. He’s never finished above ninth in the ACC. Gregory has coached one team to the NCAA tournament in his last 11 seasons and that came at Dayton in 2010. The local recruiting momentum is also limited for Georgia Tech under Gregory. The Yellow Jackets went 0-for-7 recruiting prospects from Georgia in the Rivals150 in the Class of 2015. In the Class of 2016, that number is 1-for-11.
4. Kevin Willard, Seton Hall:Entering his sixth season at Seton Hall, Willard has finished above .500 twice and owns a 30-60 mark in the Big East. Having never made the NCAA tournament as a head coach, the pressure is on Willard to produce even though experienced guards Sterling Gibbs and Jaren Sina both transferred out of the program.
5. John Groce, Illinois: Illinois missed the NCAA tournament in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1992 and that isn’t sitting well with Illini fans. Groce has never finished above seventh in the Big Ten and he hasn’t been able to reel in a lot of big-named recruits that Illinois finds itself a finalist for. Transfers like Darius Paul and Aaron Cosby haven’t lasted and proved to be harmful as replacements for those missed recruits. Illinois fans expect results and Groce needs to make the NCAAs again.
6. Barry Hinson, Southern Illinois:The once proud Southern Illinois program has had to endure Hinson’s three-year tenure. He’s thrown his own players under the bus during a postgame press conference and publicly remarked about his job security this spring. The Salukis own a 40-57 record and 19-35 mark in conference play under Hinson and he lost five transfers this offseason, three of them freshmen.
7. Donnie Jones, UCF:UCF was successful in Conference USA, but its been a rough back-to-back stretch for the program. Jones has never made the NCAA tournament and his 2010-11 wins were vacated for using ineligible players. Jones was also suspended three CUSA games and the program put on probation. Now he’s 25-36 overall and 9-27 in the American the last two seasons.
8. Travis Ford, Oklahoma State:It’s never a good sign when the team’s athletic director and biggest public booster, T. Boone Pickens, publicly have to back Travis Ford, which is precisely what happened in Stillwater this offseason. It’s a far worse sign that Ford owns no NCAA tournament wins since 2009 despite recruiting McDonald’s All-Americans like LeBryan Nash and Marcus Smart, who both played for multiple seasons.
9. Dave Rice, UNLV: Rice has proven to be a formidable force on the recruiting trail, but that success has yet to translate on the Thomas and Mack Center court, as the Rebs have missed the last two NCAA tournaments. Rice was feeling the heat a little bit this offseason when rumors of Ben Howland looking at UNLV began swirling, but Howland is now at Mississippi State and Rice landed hometown McDonald’s All-American Stephen Zimmerman. Rice still doesn’t own any NCAA tournament wins, and with yet another talented recruiting class, he needs a strong season.
10. Kim Anderson, Missouri:Anderson’s first season at Mizzou was a disaster as the team went 9-23 and 3-15 in the SEC. It’s not looking much better in the future as the Tigers lost some key pieces — namely Jonathan Williams III and Teki Gill-Cesear — to transfer.
Nevada gets commitment from transfer forward from Southern Illinois
As a freshman, Caroline was a very productive player in the Valley, averaging 25 minutes per game while averaging 9.2 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. Caroline also shot 44 percent from the field, and got to the free-throw line 153 times, making 66 percent of them.
After sitting out the 2015-16 season due to NCAA transfer restrictions, Caroline will have three seasons of eligibility remaining. He is a solid addition for new head coach Eric Musselman and gives the Wolfpack a likely rotation player and potential starter once he is done sitting out next season.
2014-15 Season Preview: How does Wichita State follow its two-year stretch?
The Missouri Valley has seen plenty of success in the NCAA Tournament over the last 10 years, but nothing like Wichita State‘s run to the Final Four followed by a 35-game winning streak to start the season.
The Shockers had a tremendous two-year run and return a lot of talent, including one of the nation’s best backcourts in juniors Fred Van Vleet and Ron Baker and senior Tekele Cotton. Gregg Marshall’s ballclub also has a deep group of newcomers and senior Darius Carter should step up inside after some flashes of strong play last season as a junior.
The team that can challenge Wichita State the most could be Northern Iowa.
Ben Jacobsen’s group returns 91 percent of the scoring and rebounding from last season’s 10-8 MVC team including all-league first team forward Seth Tuttle, a 6-foot-8 senior. Senior point guard Deon Mitchell, junior shooting guard Matt Bohannon and junior Wes Washpun are all back on the perimeter and the front court has some depth as well. This team is deep enough to contend for postseason consideration.
Illinois State had minimal experience entering last season and won 18 games. Now the Redbirds have six new players, four junior-college transfers and return the senior starting backcourt of Daishon Knight and Bobby Hunter as well as center Reggie Lynch. Paris Lee also returns at point guard and this year’s team should have more depth and athleticism.
Returning for Missouri State is 2013 Conference Freshman of the Year Marcus Marshall, who should give the Bears a huge boost. The 6-foot-3 Marshall averaged 14.3 points per game in 12 games last season before going down to injury. Sophomore shooting guard Austin Ruder can shoot from the outside and the team has some junior college forwards that should compete in the rotation.
Evansville returns all five starters from a team that finished 6-12 last season. But those starters gained valuable experience and 6-foot-2 junior guard D.J. Balentine averaged 22.8 points per game last season. Junior big man Egidijus Mockevicius averaged 10.5 points and 8.3 rebounds per game on 62 percent shooting. The team also gets more depth on the bench in recruiting and should have some scoring punch.
After making the MVC Tournament championship game, Indiana State only returns senior forward Justin Gant, but MVC Sixth Man of the Year Khristian Smith returns and will rely on a lot of inexperienced or new pieces to perform on the perimeter.
Some talent is in place at Bradley, which adds Illinois transfer Mike Shaw and top-100 forward Josh Cunningham to the roster, but the Braves are mostly unproven and Geno Ford has only one winning season in three in Peoria.
PRESEASON MISSOURI VALLEY CONFERENCE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Ron Baker, Wichita State
Baker averaged 13.1 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game last season as one of the most complete two-guards in the nation. Tremendously efficient, as a sophomore, the 6-foot-3 Baker shot 45 percent from the field, 38 percent from the three-point line and 84 percent from the free-throw line. He’s been a starter for two straight great teams.
THE REST OF THE PRESEASON ALL-MVC TEAM:
Fred Van Vleet, Wichita State – The 5-foot-11 junior is one of the best floor leaders in the country, averaging 11.6 points, 5.4 assists and 3.9 rebounds per game last season.
Seth Tuttle, Northern Iowa – The 6-foot-8 senior is coming off of a first-team all-league season in which he averaged 15.4 points and 8 rebounds per game in 2013-14.
D.J. Balentine, Evansville – The nation’s seventh leading scorer at 22.8 points returns for his junior season. The 6-foot-2 guard can fill it up.
Anthony Beane, Southern Illinois – Another 6-foot-2 junior, Beane moved to point guard and thrived last season and averaged 14.7 points per game on 47 percent shooting.
In 2013-14 6-foot-3 guard Tyler Smithpeters started 12 of the 28 games in which he played last season, posting averages of 4.8 points and 1.3 rebounds per game. Unfortunately for Smithpeters any plans of him earning more opportunities in 2014-15 were put on hold earlier this month, as he was reportedly suspended for a violation of the school’s student code of conduct policy.
Wednesday the basketball program announced that the sophomore has been reinstated by the basketball program and is now practicing, according to Todd Hefferman of The Southern Illinoisan. The basketball program issued the following statement on Smithpeters’ updated status:
“Southern Illinois University men’s basketball head coach Barry Hinson announced today that sophomore guard Tyler Smithpeters has rejoined team practices. Earlier in the week, Hinson told local media that Smithpeters was not practicing with the team while dealing with a personal matter. University privacy guidelines prohibit Hinson from making further comments related to the nature of Smithpeters’ recent absence from the team.”
Smithpeters rejoining the program comes one day after he was allowed to resume attending classes on campus. Southern Illinois, which finished the 2013-14 season with a 14-19 record (9-9 Missouri Valley), returns two of its top three scorers from last season in guards Anthony Beane Jr. (14.7 ppg, 3.2 rpg) and Jalen Pendleton (9.1, 3.5).
The Salukis will have to account for the loss of Desmar Jackson, who accounted for 18.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.4 steals per contest as a redshirt senior.
The 2013-14 season was one of transition for the Missouri Valley Conference, with the league moving forward following the move of Creighton to the Big East. And while much was expected of current standard-bearer Wichita State in the aftermath of their trip to the Final Four, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who expected Gregg Marshall’s Shockers to run through their regular season schedule in the manner that they did.
Wichita State ran the table, winning all 34 of their games before the NCAA tournament. And while there were critics who questioned Wichita State’s credentials for much of the season, their 78-76 loss to eventual national runner-up Kentucky in the Round of 32 resulted in many giving the Shockers the respect they felt they deserved all season long. With Fred Van Vleet, Ron Baker and Tekele Cotton all returning, the Shockers will once again be the clear favorites to win the Valley despite the loss of Cleanthony Early.
But who will step forward to challenge Wichita State? That’s an important question for the conference to address, with regards to not just the 2014-15 season but also the campaigns that follow. As a whole the conference’s computer numbers weren’t at the level Valley fans had grown accustomed to, with non-conference play being a big reason why, and that will have to change. And there are some personnel losses that need to be addressed, most notably the aforementioned Early and Jake Odum at Indiana State. But the Valley welcomes some solid newcomers from both the high school and junior college ranks.
The one program that didn’t stock up on the recruiting trail is Northern Iowa, with head coach Ben Jacobson adding just one freshman in point guard Wyatt Lohaus. But that isn’t a major issue for the Panthers due to the fact that their top five scorers, led by forward Seth Tuttle, are back. Does that experience make UNI the biggest threat to Wichita State? That remains to be seen, and Missouri State, Illinois State and even Indiana State will factor into the equation as well.
The discussion of who makes a run at Wichita State is the “obvious” question with regards to the Valley, but it isn’t the most important one. Can the league use Wichita State’s run as the boost needed to take a step forward collectively in 2014-15? That needs to be the case.
Illinois State: Dan Muller’s Redbirds were one of three Valley teams to finish conference play with a 9-9 record, with their regular season ending with a loss to Missouri State in the quarterfinals of Arch Madness. But Illinois State did win two games in the CBI, and the return of leading scorers Daishon Knight (13.6 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 2.2 apg) and Bobby Hunter (10.5, 3.7, 2.4) will help as the Redbirds look to use that as a boost into 2014-15. In total Illinois State returns four of its top six scorers, and the addition of junior college transfer guard Devaughn Akoon-Purcell will help as well.
Evansville: A lot was placed upon the shoulders of prolific scoring guard D.J. Balentine last season and with good reason, as he averaged 22.8 points per game. But for Marty Simmons’ Purple Aces to make a move up the Valley pecking order they needed to find players capable of consistently helping Balentine with the scoring load, and the addition of junior college transfers Taylor Stafford (Eastern Arizona) and Willie Wiley (Vincennes) may be just what the doctor ordered. The 6-foot-1 Stafford averaged 25.0 points per game, and Wiley was a quality front court presence on a team that finished third in the NJCAA tournament. Add in center Egidijus Mockevicius (10.8 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 2.0 bpg), and Evansville could take a step forward in 2014-15.
Northern Iowa: The Panthers have been a formidable program throughout Ben Jacobson’s tenure as head coach, and their 10-8 conference record was good enough for a third-place finish in 2013-14. But UNI finished 16-15 overall, meaning that the Panthers didn’t perform as well as they would have hoped for in non-conference play. With their top five scorers back, led by forward Seth Tuttle (15.4 ppg, 8.0 rpg) and guard Deon Mitchell (12.1, 2.3, 3.4 apg), UNI has experience on its side and could turn out to be the biggest threat to Wichita State. But the Panthers have to perform better in non-conference play than they did a season ago if they’re to play in a postseason event.
Indiana State: In addition to Odum the Sycamores also lost wing Manny Arop (10.9 ppg, 4.6 rpg) and guard Dawon Cummings (9.9, 2.7, 2.3 apg), meaning that head coach Greg Lansing has to account for the loss of three of his top five scorers. Forward Justin Gant and guard Khristian Smith are both double-digit scorers, but the most important player could turn out to be junior college transfer Charles Bennett III. A point guard who’s also capable of scoring (20.8 ppg), Bennett will have every opportunity to grab the reins. Point guard play is the biggest question for Indiana State at this time. But it should be noted that the program has finished in the bottom half of the Valley just once during Lansing’s tenure, so while the Sycamores may fall from its second-place finish of a season ago they may not fall too far down the standings.
Drake: With leading scorers Richard Carter (guard) and Aaron Hawley (guard/forward) out of eligibility, Ray Giacoletti will need to account for the 26.9 points per game those two combined to average in 2013-14. The good news for Drake is that guard Jordan Daniels (10.2 ppg) will be back, and the same can be said for redshirt senior guard Gary Ricks Jr. Ricks played in just eight games before breaking a bone in his foot, and he was averaging 12.2 ppg at the time of the injury. The concern for Drake is their inexperience/lack of depth in the front court, meaning that of their five incoming freshmen power forwards Casey Schlatter and Kory Kuenstling will be important additions. That may lead to lowered expectations from the outside, but Drake finished in a tie for eighth after being picked to finish last in the Valley in the preseason poll.
Southern Illinois: Barry Hinson’s Salukis may have finished the season with an overall record of 14-19, but they managed to finish 9-9 in conference play with wing Desmar Jackson (18.6 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 2.1 apg) leading the way. Now that Jackson’s gone even more will be asked of guard Anthony Beane Jr., who averaged 14.7 points per game last season. But with Beane being SIU’s lone returning double-digit scorer, who steps forward? The Salukis add a five-member freshman class led by high-scoring guard Deion Lavender, and Illinois transfer Ibby Djimde gives them some size inside. But SIU doesn’t have much depth in the post, and the question regarding scoring options could be a big one if they struggle to address it.
FIVE NEW FACES
Josh Cunningham, Bradley: There were some raised eyebrows when the Morgan Park HS (Chicago, Ill.) product announced his decision to join Geno Ford’s program in late-April, picking Bradley while holding offers from programs such as Creighton, Indiana and St. John’s. A very athletic four-star prospect, Cunningham was also a member of the Mac Irvin Fire grassroots program, playing with the likes of Jahlil Okafor and Cliff Alexander. And with leading rebounder Tyshon Pickett having departed, the opportunity to earn significant playing time will be there for Cunningham.
Tevin Glass, Wichita State: Wichita State’s success with junior college prospects is well-documented, with front court players such as Carl Hall and Cleanthony Early enjoying success during Gregg Marshall’s tenure. And with Early having moved on, the arrival of Tevin Glass is an important one for the Shockers. At Northwest Florida State the 6-foot-7 forward averaged 12.0 points and 5.8 rebounds per game in 2013-14, shooting 55.1% from the field.
Marcus Marshall, Missouri State*: No Marshall isn’t a new face, as he played in 12 games (11 starts) last season. But the 2013 MVC Freshman of the Year was lost in January to a torn meniscus in his right knee, and Marshall’s return is big for Missouri State given the fact that leading scorer Jamar Gulley is out of eligibility. In those 12 games Marshall averaged 14.3 points per game, shooting 42.6% from the field and 39.6% from three. He’ll likely be asked to lead the way for a team that finished the 2013-14 with a 20-13 record (9-9 MVC).
Charles Bennett III, Indiana State: The now-departed Jake Odum was a first-team All-MVC selection in each of his final two seasons at Indiana State, and he left the school ranked in the top five all-time in scoring (fifth), assists (second), steals (fourth), made free throws (first) and free throw attempts (first). So how will the Sycamores go about accounting for the loss of their outstanding point guard? Enter Bennett, who was an NJCAA Honorable Mention All-American at Lamar State College-Port Arthur last season. Bennett averaged 20.8 points and 2.6 assists per game, and with the Sycamores losing three of their top five scores he’ll need to display that scoring ability as well.
Devaughn Akoon-Purcell, Illinois State: Bennett isn’t the only NJCAA Honorable Mention All-American joining the Valley, with Akoon-Purcell making the trek from Eastern Oklahoma State CC to Illinois State. Last season the 6-foot-4 Akoon-Purcell posted averages of 20.9 points and 5.5 rebounds per game, shooting 55.5% from the field and 40.6% from three. The Redbirds return two of their top three scorers in guards Daishon Knight and Bobby Hunter, and the arrival of Akoon-Purcell gives Muller another offensive option to work with on the perimeter.
Way Too Early Power Rankings
1. Wichita State
2. Northern Iowa
3. Illinois State
4. Missouri State
5. Indiana State
8. Southern Illinois