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It's been nearly 24 hours and I still haven't quite recovered from Horizon League Media Day. My "Horizon hangover" has nothing to do with the four Chicago Style Root Beers I consumed thanks to the wonderful catering at the Lowes Chicago O'Hare hotel.
I'm still trying to wrap my head around what happened yesterday as it pertains to two events. Well, one non-event as well as one event that I've heard was the highlight of the afternoon for everyone else. Let's get started...
The annual Horizon League Media Day festivities were supposed to begin with an announcement. There was plenty of speculation leading up to Wednesday as to what the announcement might be and what might be hiding on the easel behind the black sheet.
I even had a fun exchange with Bill Potter, the Horizon League's Assistant Commissioner for Messaging and Media when he asked me if I had peaked behind the curtain. My reply was truthful: "Bill, announcements are no fun. Speculating about announcements is where all the page clicks are at."
Little did I know that we'd be left with more speculating. The easel was removed from the press conference area when players and coaches came in to take some photos. (Where were the SID photos taken?) I didn't think anything of the absent easel at the time, thinking it would be brought back by the time we started Commissioner Jon LeCrone's State of the League address.
The Horizon League will hold its annual Media Day on Wednesday in Chicago and will release the preseason projections as well as the All-Conference teams. These rankings are voted on by the league coaches and sports information directors as well as a handful of esteemed media members that cover the league. I also get a vote.
As I've done in the past, mostly to disastrous results, I wanted to share my ballot. There is a fair amount of uncertainty in the league this season due to a high number of impact players departing the league. Just three players return from last season's All-Conference teams. Forty percent of the All-Freshman team won't take the court this season as Pat Birt transferred from UIC and Lexus Williams is likely out for the season with a torn ACL.
All that said, I think it's easy to pick the top two teams. I also think it's easy to pick the bottom two teams (which basically makes it a lock that UIC will be in the Horizon League title game this season). Trying to decide between the middle five teams seems to be a fruitless endeavor. Every team has question marks and right now we just don't have the answers. Who replaces Travis Bader in Oakland? Who scores besides Alec Peters in Valparaiso? How does Milwaukee approach the season with no hope for the postseason? Is Paris Bass the next big thing in Detroit? How good are Billy Donlon's newcomers?
Like I said, lots of questions, very few answers. So here's my early, very uninformed take on how I think the Horizon League will shake out this season.
1. Green Bay
It was really only a matter of time before Lexus Williams got hurt and there was nothing he could really do about it.
Really, we should've all seen this coming.
When it came out earlier this week that Williams suffered a torn ACL last month and is likely to miss the 2014-15 season, the Valparaiso starting point guard joined a lengthy list of recent starting point guards who have had their careers derailed momentarily.
Williams may feel like the world is against him at the moment but he is truly just fulfilling the same curse that has afflicted other Valparaiso point guards.
Before Williams was handed the keys to the offense last season, Tommy Kurth was the last freshman to start as the primary ball handler. Kurth started 23 of the last 24 games his freshman season, enduring brutal foot pain throughout the year. Kurth ultimately took a redshirt during his sophomore season and continued to battle medical issues for the rest of his career.
After spending Monday looking at Valparaiso's outgoing transfer situation over the last 11 years, I figured it would be good to look and see if the Crusaders have brought in better talent than they've lost in that same time period.
I'm using the last 11 years as the focal point as it represents a) when Homer Drew took over the program again and b) 2002-03 was the last season the Crusaders didn't lose a player to transfer.
2014 -- E. Victor Nickerson (Charlotte), Darien Walker (John A. Logan/Arizona Western),
2013 -- Keith Carter (St. Louis), David Chadwick (Rice), Moussa Gueye (Alabama)
2012 -- Bobby Capobianco (Indiana), Jordan Coleman (Southwestern Ill./Hawaii), Lavonte Dority (South Florida), Alex Rossi (California)
As the 2014-15 basketball season unofficially began on Monday morning with the start of summer workouts, I'll be spending each day this week examining a different topic related to the Valparaiso men's basketball team. Today we start with a look at transfers.
From Alex to Vincent and Bouchie to Yeo, the question surrounding the Valparaiso men's basketball team is really quite simple: Do the Crusaders have a transfer problem? The answer might not be so easy.
With the recent announcement that Clay Yeo was leaving the team for Bethel with three seasons of eligibility remaining, the Crusaders have now had 31 players leave the program early since Homer Drew took the Crusaders back over in the fall of 2003.
That number may be a bit misleading given that among the 31 are five walk-ons, three players that had major health issues and three players who never took the court for Valparaiso. That said, the Crusaders have given a premature goodbye to more than 20 scholarship players over the last 11 years. Valparaiso has had a player leave in every season since 2002-03.
2014 -- Clay Yeo (Bethel)
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Paul Oren is a beat reporter for Valparaiso University as well as various high school sports throughout the Region. He has covered NCAA tournaments in basketball, soccer, tennis and volleyball, along with numerous IHSAA state championship events.
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- Thoughts from Horizon League Media DayOctober 16, 2014 3:17 pm
- Early look at Horizon League Projections/All-ConferenceOctober 12, 2014 8:15 am
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