#117 Evansville Men's Basketball 2013-2014 Preview

Evansville Aces

2013-2014 Overall Rank: #117
Conference Rank: #4 MVC

Evansville Team Page#117 Evansville Men's Basketball 2013-2014 PreviewBuy Evansville Basketball Tickets

This will be an interesting season in Evansville. Colt Ryan is gone after averaging over 20 points per game during his senior season. Also lost are two other players who averaged at least three assists per game. Coach Marty Simmons has a few decisions to make about potentially changing how this team plays. The motion offense has worked great for the Aces, but the young team may be let loose more often to get up and down the floor. We will also learn how many scorers were waiting in the wings while spending their collegiate careers getting Ryan the ball. There is potential and even depth here, but there is also no senior on the roster. Do not be surprised if Evansville gets off to a horribly slow start and turn things around by January or February.

2012-13 Record: 21-15, 10-8
2012-13 Postseason: CIT
Coach: Marty Simmons
Coach Record: 88-103 at Evansville, 88-103 overall

Who’s Out:
The backcourt foursome of Ryan, Ned Cox and Troy Taylor provided just about all the passing and scoring this team did last year. Ryan was one of the best players to ever suit up for the Aces, averaging 20.1 points, 4.0 assists, 3.6 rebounds and 1.5 steals during his senior season. Cox was a very consistent outside shooter, connecting on over 40 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc. Taylor led the team in rebounding and still managed to dish out 3.9 assists per contest. Lewis Jones started 21 games last season and averaged 6.1 points per contest. To make matters worse, Evansville also lost the services of Jordan Jahr and Jordan Nelson. Both had potential to turn into extremely important players for UE this season.

Who’s In:
Last season Evansville’s strength was taking care of the ball. That is highly unlikely to happen again with a couple of freshmen preparing to take over the point. This is also a very athletic group of newcomers who can score in bunches. Duane Gibson and Jaylon Brown will be thrown into the fire at point guard. Gibson has more size than Brown, but is also more of a true point guard. Brown is an amazing athlete who can get up and down the floor in a hurry. He can score from everywhere on the floor and that may end up being an important quality while the rest of the team adjusts to shooting more often. Tyler Ptacek, Christian Benzon and Blake Simmons are the other incoming freshmen. All three are shooting guards. Ptacek was a great scorer in high school and could provide a nice spark off of the bench with his long ball. Benzon has experience playing in Denmark and Simmons is the most complete player at this point in his career. The lone newcomer up front is redshirt freshman David Howard. The 6-8 forward has a pretty polished offensive game and has added some much needed strength while sitting out.

Who to Watch:
While guard D.J. Balentine is the new star of this team, it is the play of the frontcourt that may be the difference between another good season and a quick trip towards the bottom of the Missouri Valley Conference standings. The hope is Egidijus Mockevicius can turn into a more productive scorer. The 6-10 sophomore certainly has plenty of potential. During his freshman campaign he earned 33 starts and shot an impressive 63.3 percent from the floor. The problem is he only took 3.6 shots per game. Of course there are more shots to go around now and that should lead to much more scoring from Mockevicius. However, he does need to stay on the floor and avoid the foul trouble that often plagued him as a freshman. Ryan Sawvell is in a similar situation. Unlike Mockevicius, the power forward can step outside and knock down the mid-range jumper. Thus, he will not shoot over 60 percent from the floor, but he has shown that he has the potential to be a decent scorer. Jaylon Moore and Rokas Cesnulevicius will add depth to the frontcourt. Moore is another efficient interior scorer. He will need to work harder on the glass at times, but he will be able to give the frontcourt another scoring option. Cesnulevicius barely played during his sophomore season and it is unlikely that he will become a scoring threat any time soon, yet he is a strong rebounder and defender if he can crack the regular rotation.

Final Projection:
Balentine will join Mockevicius and Adam Wing as sophomores who played a significant role during their first year in Evansville. Balentine managed to rank third on the team with 8.1 points per game. He should be the top scorer for the Aces this season and he can get it done with the long ball or by attacking the basket. Wing did not look to score too much as a freshman, although he is a capable shooter. But even without scoring, Wing can use his 6-4 frame to help out on the glass and play quality defense. Coach Simmons does have work to do with this group, but this could be a decent season for the Aces, with even better seasons to come. Even with all of the questions about who is going to step up and score, Evansville will play good enough defense to hang around with some quality opponents in non-conference play. By January, the scorers will be found and Evansville will finish in the top half of the MVC.

Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI/CIT

Projected Starting Five:
Duane Gibson, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
D.J. Balentine, Sophomore, Guard, 8.1 points per game
Adam Wing, Sophomore, Guard, 2.7 points per game
Ryan Sawvell, Junior, Forward, 3.5 points per game
Egidijus Mockevicius, Sophomore, Center, 5.8 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 69.2 (124th in nation, 5th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 65.9 (155, 7)
Field-Goal Percentage: 43.8 (145, 7)
Field-Goal Defense: 44.7 (258, 8)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 5.8 (213, 6)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 36.6 (61, 4)
Free-Throw Percentage: 74.1 (38, 3)
Rebound Margin: -0.3 (186, 4)
Assists Per Game: 15.9 (15, 2)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.3 (33, 2)


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