ROSEMONT | Billy Donlon had something to get off his chest and the Wright State men’s basketball coach used his time at the podium during the Horizon League Media Day to do so.
Donlon railed against local media in Dayton, national media, the coaches in the conference and even the Horizon League overall in not doing a better job of promoting the conference in the wake of Butler’s departure last spring.
“We haven’t been as outspoken as we need to be about how great this league is,” Donlon said. “What happened was that Butler went to two national championship games, but we haven’t done our job selling the overall league.”
Donlon ranted for several minutes, albeit with a smile on his face the entire time, and talked about the current strength of the league, even with Butler now in the Atlantic-10.
“All people see is that Butler left and what that will do to the Horizon League,” Donlon said. “Everybody is talking about Butler leaving, they finished fifth. They finished fifth!”
Butler leaving has no doubt changed the culture of the league. Instead of the Bulldogs being the media darlings, Valparaiso and Detroit were at the forefront of most conversations. Despite Valparaiso’s overwhelming first-place projection in the preseason poll, there was a sense among every team that a place in the national spotlight is up for grabs as far as the Horizon League is concerned.
“There isn’t a coach in this room that doesn’t think they can’t be the next national program (for the Horizon League),” Commissioner Jon LeCrone said while addressing the entire audience. “I don’t think anything happens overnight. If you consider the evolution, we have a number of programs in the room that are close to breaking through.”
One manner in which Butler’s departure has affected the league has been scheduling. Gone are the traditions of travel partners and Thursday-Saturday conference games. With nine teams, conference games will be spread throughout the week and travel has been changed considerably.
“Change is good, but I don’t know because we’ve never done it,” Green Bay coach Brian Wardle said. “The one thing we’ll have is a little more preparation time in between games.”
Crisman important to Ramblers: Loyola coach Porter Moser will lean heavily on newcomers this season, which makes the role of sophomore Joe Crisman all the more important.
The Munster product is one of just four returners for Loyola this season and Moser is expecting a lot out of his now-healthy guard.
“Joe should’ve probably gotten our trainer a raise with all the work he did last season,” Moser said. “I think Joe had eight different injuries, but he’s healthy now and he’s what I call a ‘culture guy.’ He’s going to run through a wall for you and he’s a guy you love having on your roster because he’s all-in.”