All month long, CBT will be rolling out our 2013-2014 season preview. Check back throughout the day, as we’ll be posting three or four preview items every day.
Last season, the Ohio Valley Conference title game ended in a thriller between Murray State and Belmont. Kerron Johnson hit a game-winner to advance the Bruins to the NCAA tournament in Belmont’s first year in the conference.
This season, Murray State no longer has one of the conference’s all-time greats in Isaiah Canaan, aand Ed Daniel and Stacy Wilson graduate as well. Belmont lost the back court of Johnson and leading scorer Ian Clark. That gives several teams then chance to take over the conference in 2013-2014.
Eastern Kentucky is one of the preseason favorites, bringing back two OVC all-newcomer selections in Glenn Cosey and Corey Walden. The Colonels return three other starters besides Cosey, but one of the starters they lost was point guard and all-OVC selection Mike DiNunno.
Southeast Missouri State is coming off a 17-win season this past year, and with Murray State without three key players — as well as sophomore point guard Zay Jackson, who tore his ACL earlier this month — the Redhawks should be able to make that jump atop the West Division this season. SeMo brings back Tyler Stone and Nino Johnson, a combo that makes up the conference’s best frontline.
Eastern Illinois and Austin Peay lead the group of sleepers this season in the OVC, while Belmont can’t be counted out. Rick Byrd has created a winning culture at the Nashville school, and the Bruins will contend if J.J. Mann, Reece Chamberlain and Samford transfer Drew Windler embrace their bigger roles this season.
PRESEASON OHIO VALLEY PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Tyler Stone, Southeast Missouri State
Tyler Stone helped the Redhawks finish second in the West Division, behind Isaiah Canaan-led Murray State, last season. The 6-foot-8 Stone led the team in scoring at 15.5 points and was second in rebounding at 7.8 boards per game, which put him top-10 in the conference in both those categories.
FOUR MORE NAMES TO KNOW:
- Patrick Miller, Tennessee State: The 6-foot-1 senior guard was the best playmaker last season with 5.9 assists per game. Miller is one of two returning starters following a junior campaign averaging 14.8 points per game.
- J.J. Mann, Belmont: No more Ian Clark or Kerron Johnson or Trevor Noack. Rick Byrd will have to rely on more production from returning starter J.J. Mann. The 6-foot-6 wing is the only returner to average double figures last season.
- Glenn Cosey, Eastern Kentucky: Leading an experienced Colonels team that returns four starters as well as Corey Walden. He put in 15.2 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game.
- Chris Horton, Austin Peay: The Austin Peay sophomore has a lot of upside after a freshman campaign that saw him average 8.2 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. The Governors also return Travis Betran, who averaged 17.2 points a night.
ONE TWITTER FEED TO FOLLOW: @OVCBall
1. Eastern Kentucky
3. Morehead State
4. Tennessee State
5. Jacksonville State
6. Tennessee Tech
1. Southeast Missouri State
2. Eastern Illinois
3. Murray State
5. Austin Peay