#74 Illinois State Men's Basketball 2014-2015 Preview

Illinois State Redbirds

2014-2015 Overall Rank: #74
Conference Rank: #3 Missouri Valley

Illinois State Team Page#74 Illinois State Men's Basketball 2014-2015 PreviewBuy Illinois State Basketball Tickets

The expectations were pretty low for Illinois State during the 2013-2014 campaign. Coach Dan Muller had to replace all five starters from a team that went 8-10 in MVC play the year before. But the Redbirds came together very nicely and were practically unbeatable at home. Their only home loss in conference play came against Wichita State. Unfortunately, Illinois State won just one conference game on the road and ended up with a 9-9 record. With more experience and the third year under Coach Muller, this is a Redbirds team that can make some serious noise in the Missouri Valley.

2013-14 Record: 18-16, 9-9
2013-14 Postseason: CBI
Coach: Dan Muller
Coach Record: 36-31 at Illinois State, 36-31 overall

Who’s Out:
Technically, the only starter lost is Nick Zeisloft. The 6-4 wing was the team’s most prolific and efficient outside shooter and averaged 6.9 points per game. But Zach Lofton is an even bigger loss. He was normally used as the team’s sixth man and was a quality scorer despite his terribly inconsistent shooting. When Coach Muller wanted to go nine or ten deep, he called Jamaal Samuel and Kaza Keane. Both averaged about a dozen minutes per game. With a handful of experienced newcomers on the way to Normal, the Redbirds will have no problem going nine or ten deep again this year.

Who’s In:
The Redbirds are bringing in four junior college transfers and three of them will battle for playing time in the backcourt. DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell figures to make the biggest impact. The long 6-5 guard was an NJCAA Division I All-America Honorable Mention and should be one of this team’s best slashers. Akoon-Purcell is not going to do much shooting, but he can still score in bunches. Mark Hall spent one year at Eastern Wyoming College and is a good outsider shooter. However, Justin McCloud is an even better shooter. He knocked down 45.6 percent of his three-point attempts at Bismarck State College. The experienced newcomer up front is Will Ransom, a 6-8, 240 pound junior from Daytona State College. The hopes are higher for freshmen MiKyle McIntosh and Deontae Hawkins. McIntosh is a versatile 6-7 forward who can play on the wing when Illinois State wants to play big and at the power forward spot when the team wants to run small. Hawkins is a more traditional interior player who will hit the glass effectively and swat away a few shots.

Who to Watch:
Suddenly the Illinois State backcourt is really crowded. Daishon Knight, Bobby Hunter and Paris Lee were all regular starters in 2013-2014. Knight averaged a team high 13.2 points per game and added 2.2 assists. Knight is not a true point guard and could spend most of his time off of the ball again, but he is an experienced senior who knows the offense. As long as he can take care of the ball effectively, the Redbirds will be better off with him and Hunter on the floor at the same time. Hunter, also a senior, averaged 10.5 points per game and is another capable ball handler. More importantly, he is an efficient scorer both inside and out. Lee will fight for the starting point guard spot, but Knight is a much better scorer. Tony Wills will once again provide depth on the perimeter, yet the competition from the newcomers will be tough.

Final Projection:
This will be an interesting year for Illinois State. They no longer will be forced to play small with McIntosh, Hawkins and Ransom on the roster. Reggie Lynch is one of the few returning big men. He averaged 8.3 points and a team high 4.8 rebounds, while also tallying an impressive 96 blocks on the year. John Jones, a 6-9 senior, will probably spend most of his minutes backing up Lynch. Jones is a decent interior scorer, but is not the defensive presence that Lynch is. Coming off of a run to the semifinals in the CBI, the Redbirds have the talent and depth to look towards a run in a better tournament this time around.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NIT

Projected Starting Five:
Daishon Knight, Senior, Guard, 13.2 points per game
Bobby Hunter, Senior, Guard, 10.5 points per game
DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
MiKyle McIntosh, Freshman, Forward, DNP last season
Reggie Lynch, Sophomore, Center, 8.3 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 68.3 (245th in nation, 6th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 68.5 (132, 7)
Field-Goal Percentage: 40.7 (320, 10)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.0 (95, 2)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.2 (81, 3)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 31.2 (278, 7)
Free-Throw Percentage: 70.4 (158, 7)
Rebound Margin: -2.6 (273, 10)
Assists Per Game: 12.0 (224, 8)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.4 (182, 8)


See All Top 144 Basketball Previews