2012-2013 Overall Rank: #96
Conference Rank: #5 Missouri Valley
Evansville Team Page
Evansville had another solid season in 2011-2012, again going 9-9 in conference play. Coach Marty Simmons has gotten a lot out of his team, but the Aces were agonizingly close to a much better record. The ball just did not bounce their way in a handful of close losses. But as long as Colt Ryan is around, which will just be for one more year, Evansville can make some serious noise in the MVC. Ryan, a 6-5 senior, averaged 20.5 points per game and added 3.3 assists, 1.9 steals and 4.2 rebounds. Ryan will spend just about every minute on the floor and it is quite obvious why the Aces need him. Ryan is a great shooter and connected on 43.8 percent of his attempts from long range. Everybody in the Missouri Valley Conference knows they need to key in on Ryan, but they cannot stop him anyway.
2011-12 Record: 16-16, 9-9
2011-12 Postseason: CBI
Coach: Marty Simmons
Coach Record: 66-86 at Evansville, 154-145 overall
But it may be a little easier to stop Ryan without Denver Holmes and Kenny Harris. Those two were big, versatile wings who were the other main scoring threats behind Ryan. Holmes, who averaged 11.3 points during his senior campaign, was also a superb passer and a quality shooter. Harris did most of his damage attacking the basket and added a much needed 4.5 rebounds on top of his 11.2 points per game. The loss of Matt Peeler, who started six games but only made 15 appearances, is quite important. The Aces played without him for most of last season anyway, but he was one of the few big bodies on the team and this is a group that needs big bodies.
And the recruiting class did not successfully address that need. David Howard is the only big man coming to Evansville this season and he will need some time to develop. The backcourt did pick up a few more players in D.J. Balentine, Blake Simmons and Adam Wing. Ideally, Balentine will be the backup point guard this year, but on a team that returns three players who averaged over three assists per game, there are other options. However, the Aces would prefer to keep the scorers off of the ball as much as possible. Adam Wing could emerge as one of those scorers. He is a quality all-around player who could make a big impact off of the bench.
Who to Watch:
The talent surrounding Ryan in the backcourt is still very impressive. Troy Taylor is not a scorer, but the senior can do everything else. He will run the point after dishing out 3.5 assists per game last year. He is a proven playmaker and a fine creator for his teammates. For a 6-0 point guard, he is also a superb rebounder and led the team with 4.9 boards per game. Ned Cox is also a very fine point guard, but unlike Taylor, Cox can do some shooting and scoring. That will likely leave Cox starting at the two guard spot and he could stay there all of the time if Balentine is ready to see a few minutes here and there running the point. The return of Jordan Jahr, a 6-6 wing, should prove to be very important. Jahr had a solid freshman campaign in 2010-2011, especially towards the end of the year, but missed most of last season. With his size and versatility, Evansville will likely play him at the four spot. Lewis Jones is only 6-3, but the wing plays much bigger than that thanks to his ability to fly out of the gym. Due to lack of other options, he too could spend time at the four spot instead of his more natural three.
The lack of a new big man means this team will likely have no choice but to play small again. Ryan Sawvell had a fine freshman campaign, starting 22 games and averaging 6.2 points and 4.0 rebounds. A summer in the gym will help him battle better in the paint. Jaylon Moore has more girth, tilting the scales at 230 pounds, but he only played 6.3 minutes per game as a freshman. The minutes for 6-8 Lithuanian Rokas Cesnulevicius were hardly any better. But even playing small with Jahr and Jones at the power forward spot, Sawvell cannot play 40 minutes per game and getting consistent minutes, even if it is just defensively, from Moore and Cesnulevicius will be very important unless the Aces have an ace up their sleeve and bring in a more experienced big man from the junior college ranks late in the process. But even without the frontcourt depth, this is a team that went 9-9 last year and should be better this year. That may not result in an MVC title, but it should result in a trip to the NIT, CBI or CIT.
Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI/CIT
Projected Starting Five:
Troy Taylor, Senior, Guard, 5.8 points per game
Ned Cox, Senior, Guard, 9.2 points per game
Colt Ryan, Senior, Guard, 20.5 points per game
Jordan Jahr, Sophomore, Guard, 5.8 points per game
Ryan Sawvell, Sophomore, Forward, 6.2 points per game