Which Horizon League venue is the toughest place to win? (Updated w/ All Schools)

In the spirit of ESPN’s recently completed review of home court advantage in the nation’s top 10 conferences – welcome to the unofficial rankings for the Horizon League. This is not purely a facility review, but a comprehensive, fact-based (but … Continue reading

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Vashil is Back (and Here’s Why It’s Really Important)

Vashil is back. This offseason, the NCAA granted Vashil Fernandez a fourth season of eligibility after previously ruling Fernandez had only three years to play D1 basketball. This surprise decision should be sweet music to Crusader fans’ ears; I’m going to explain exactly why this ruling is more important than you probably think it is.

He Keeps Improving. He May Be Even Better Next Year.

Before I dig into the impact Vashil had on the floor last year, it’s important to look at the trajectory of Vashil these past three seasons. Sitting behind Kevin Van Wijk and Bobby Capobianco, it was hard for Vashil to find minutes in his first year of eligibility. Vashil was fairly raw; he scored almost as many points (30) as fouls committed (29). His offensive rating (points produced per 100 possessions) was only 74.3, by far the worst on the team, and the lowest rating since Cameron Witt’s 67.8 in the 2009-2010 season (min of 150 minutes played). Vashil’s second season was far more successful. As the season went on, he found playing time in front of 7’0 5th year transfer Moussa Gueye, and drastically improved his offense. Vashil scored four times as many points, improved his free throw percentage from 28.6% to 47.7%, and grabbed five times as many offense rebounds. Vashil’s defense improved as well. He created an identity as a rim protector, blocking 1.7 shots per game, and hauled in 5 times as many defensive rebounds. The following season, Vashil improved in nearly every facet of the game, and netted the Crusaders’ first Horizon League Defensive Player of the Year award. Looking at some advanced statistics, it’s clear to see how dramatically Vashil has improved on both offense and defense since his first season.

Year PER ORtg DRtg WS/40
2012 6.2 74.3 95.3 .034
2013 13.8 101.9 96.0 .109
2014 19.9 114.0 88.5 .174

Vashil’s 114.0 offensive rating was second to only Alec Peters last season, and his defensive rating was one of the best in Horizon League history (more on that later). His PER (measuring overall effectiveness using a variety of stats) improved to 19.9, only 2nd on the team behind Peters. Overall, his sharp improvement should excite Crusader fans; if he improves even further, the sky is the limit for the Crusaders… or at least, another Sweet 16 run.

His Defense Was Crazy Good Last Year

Vashil’s biggest strength is his shot blocking. Last season, Vashil was 3rd in the entire country in block percentage; he blocked 14.1% of all 2pt field goals attempted when he was on the court. The next highest block % in the Horizon was Anton Grady at 5.9%. His 97 blocks (2.9 per game) were the most in the Horizon. The next highest? Greg Mays and Tai Odiase both at 48.

Player Blks Blks PG Blks P40 BLK% DRtg
Vashil Fernandez 97 2.9 2.8 14.1 88.5
Anton Grady 45 1.4 1.8 5.9 92.0
Greg Mays 48 1.5 2.1 5.7 95.4
Tai Odiase 48 1.7 3.7 9.9 105.6

This elite shot blocking translated into some impressive defensive numbers. Vashil’s 88.5 defensive rating meant that every 100 possessions, opponents would only score 88.5 points on average. This was the best defensive rating by a Horizon League player in at least 6 years (when the stat started being available for college basketball). For comparison, Dante Williams, an Oakland University player who was also named to the Horizon League All Defense team, had a defensive rating of 115.5. Vashil’s rebounding also wasn’t bad. He was 5th in the league in rebound percentage (best on team), and 7th in rebounds per game (2nd best on team). Overall, these terrific numbers made Vashil a no-brainer for Defensive Player of the Year in the Horizon.

From Huge Question Mark to the Best Frontcourt in the Horizon

Derrik Smits may be one of Valpo’s most high profile recruits since Jay Harris (that’s not even a joke, Jay Harris was an ESPN Top 100 recruit), but handing over the reins to a freshman may have been a bit of a struggle. Derrik Smits isn’t new to basketball like Vashil was when he first came to Valparaiso, but he still needs time to grow into his 7’1 frame. Without Vashil, the Crusaders would have been forced to play much smaller than last year and rely on 6’7 Jubril Adekoya to play significant minutes at the 5. With Vashil back, Bryce Drew can play Jubril more minutes at the 4, giving Valparaiso the flexibility to play with bigger lineups. Derrik Smits has a year to learn and grow while playing against Vashil during practice. Most importantly, the lineup continuity will help the team’s chemistry both on and off the court.

Like the 2012-2013 team, the Crusaders have a chance to return pretty much all of their minutes and improve. Last time, Valpo went from a non-tournament team to a tournament team. This time?

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2013 Crusaders vs the 2015 Crusaders

The Horizon League tournament just got moved to a neutral site in Detroit for the next 5 years, Northern Kentucky looks like they were just added to the league… so now seams like a perfect time to reflect on the past.

Recently there’s been talk about a hypothetical contest between the 2013 team and 2015 team. Both teams made the NCAA tournament. Both teams finished with roughly the same record and roughly the same RPI. Which team is better statistically? Which team would win if they played each other? Luckily, I have ended this squabble through scientific methods, which should end the debate once and for all.


The 2013 team finished with the highest regular-season RPI in team history, but the 2015 team beat it two years later with a 50 RPI. The 2015 team was the most dominant defensive team in Valpo history. Opponents only scored 59.3 points per game (18th in the country). The 2013 team was great offensively, and finished with the 6th best FG% in the country at 48%. Obviously 2015 team = defense, 2013 team = offense.


Luckily, we have a scientific way of measuring which team would win if they played each other. NBA2K. I have re-created both squads as 100% accurate representations of both teams. The 2015 players excel in defense with outstanding play by E Victory Nickerson and play a slow-paced efficient offensive game headlined by Alex Peters. The 2013 players excel in 3-point shooting headlined by Ryan Broekhoff and Will Bogan, and have a great inside game with Van Wijk. While the 2013 team has a better starting 5, the 2015 team has more depth and a more physical team.


Creating the teams

Signature skills are given to each player. Details down to the tattoos are arranged on both teams. The 2013 team will wear grey jerseys (they framed these on senior night after only wearing them twice in 2011) and the 2015 team will wear gold.


The Rules

The game is measured in 4 quarters (a foreign concept, I know) instead of two halves. There are a couple of other quirks where the NBA2K game may differ from a typical college game (minor things like a 24 second shot clock). The computer will simulate everything, from lineups to substitutions.

The Game


The teams ended up fairly similar. The stats on the 2013 team ended up being better than the 2015 team, but the 2015 team had better depth. Lets play.

First Quarter


Scoring is low early on. The 2015 team jumps out to a 5-0 lead, but the 2013 team keeps it close and eventually ties it at 9-9 when coach Bryce Drew wastes an early timeout (like I said, this is super scientific).


Scoring picks up. The 2015 team takes the lead at 14-12 before the 2013 team answers with a Will Bogan three. A nice shot by Peters and a Keith Carter steal brings the 2015 team within 1 holding for the final shot, but a Walker 3-pointer is off target, giving the 2013 team a one point lead heading into the 2nd.

Second Quarter

The 2013 team jumps out to a 3-point lead after an early bucket by Van Wijk, but can’t do much defensively after a Vashil records a block. The great defensive effort pays off and Tevonn makes his first basket of the game (a three) to tie the game. Peters is the bright spot for the 2015 team, making his first 4 shots (very efficient). Tevonn starts to heat up and hits a fade-away to give his team the lead at 24-22, which causes Bryce to call another timeout. The timeout is well-served as he drew up the perfect play for Broekhoff, who drains a 3-pointer… which forces Bryce to call a timeout. The 2015 team scores a quick 6 points and has their largest lead of the game at 29-25. The 2015 team never gets behind and takes a 31-29 lead into half. The leading scorer for the 2013 team is Broekhoff, who has 8 points, but is only 3-11. Peters leads the 2015 team with 10 points on 5-6 shooting.


Third Quarter

Bryce must have really fired up the Crusaders at half time – the 2013 team ties it with a scrappy inside layup by Van Wijk, and then takes a 34-31 lead after a Bogan three. Skara quickly answers with a three of his own to tie the game. The 2013 team goes on a quick run and takes a 4 point lead at 40-36. They would extend the lead to 43-38 with a Kenny three pointer, who scores his first basket of the game. The 2013 team keeps pouring it on and has the largest lead of the game at 47-40. Kenny has a chance to give his team a 10 point lead, but misses a wide-open look. The 2015 team just can’t find a basket and a Kevin Van Wijk layup makes it 49-40. Dopes the 2015 team have a comeback in them? With time winding down in the 3rd Broekhoff hits a couple of free throws and Darien Walker puts in a layup after a Carter assist to cut the lead to 44-49 going into the 4th.


Fourth Quarter

Early in the 4th, Skara dunks in transition to make it a 3 point game. Broekhoff ends the 6-0 run with a pair of free throws. The 2015 keeps the pressure on and brings the score to 49-51 following a Tevonn three-pointer. Capobianco stops the bleeding and hits a fadeaway to put the 2013 team back up by 3, but Tevonn catches fire and hits another three pointer. With 8:12 to go in the 4th, Nickerson scores his first points and gives the 2015 team a lead with a circus shot on an and-1. The lead would not last long; Breokhoff drills a three pointer to give the 2013 team the lead again. The teams trade baskets as Vashil shows off his improved inside game, as 2013 Vashil gazes from the bench. A costly 2013 team turnover after a 2015 team miss gives Skara an easy layup, putting them up three. A Bogan jumper makes it 59-58, but the 2015 team scores right back on a sensational put-back dunk by Tevonn Walker.

With time winding down in the 4th, the 2015 team remains ahead. The 2013 team turns the ball over on an ill-advised Broekhoff cross-court pass, and can’t tie the game on an open Bogan 3-point attempt. With 4:07 left, Skara extends the lead to 62-58 after splitting a pair of free throws. Skara increases the lead to 7 after his second three pointer of the game. With 3:30 left, Broekhoff receives an alley-oop to cut the lead to 5, but Vashil answers down low to make it 67-60 with 2:21 left. Broekhoff keeps the game interesting with a contested three pointer to bring them within 5. A Broekhoff reach-in puts Skara to the line with 1:53 left, and he calmly hits both free throws. The 2013 team goes cold from three and a Keith Carter lay-up puts the 2015 team up by 8 with only 1:22 left. Only 6 seconds later, Bogan hits a deep 3 to bring it back to within 5. The 2015 team plays clock-management and Alec Peters air-balls a three with the shot clock expiring. With 1:00 left, the 2015 leads 71-66. Again, the 2013 team is able to score a quick lead when Kenny is left open in the corner. The lead is down to 2.

Pandemonium happens in the next few seconds. Carter tries to catch the 2013 team napping and launches a deep pass to Peters. Peters catches the pass cleanly, but instead of driving to the basket, he panics and kicks back out to Skara at the perimeter… but Skara isn’t quite there yet. The refs call over-and-back, giving the 2013 team the chance at a two-for-one.

badplay1 badplay3


The 2015 would stiffen up their defense and Buggs is forced to take a deep three with the shot clock winding down, which of course, he misses. The 2013 would quickly foul Tevonn after he secures the rebound. Walker splits his trip to the line and the 2013 has a chance to tie it with 22 seconds left. Does Bryce go for the foul?

Bryce, learning his lesson from the Maryland game decides to play it safe and go for a quick two; Bogan is given an easy layup to make it 72-71 with 0:17 left. They quickly foul Carter on the imbound.

The pressure is too much for Carter as he misses his first free-throw, but he’s able to keep it a 2-point game with 0:16 left.


With time winding down, the Crusaders run a long-developing play for Broekhoff, but the play is blown up by a double-team on Buggs. Buggs kicks the ball to Capobianco along the perimeter, but Bobby stalls and dishes it back to Broekhoff near midcourt. With only a few seconds left, Broekhoff dribbles twice and heaves a desperation three…

Not this time. The player of the game is announced as Alec Peters, which is a good selection. He finished with 15 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists, a seal, a block, and only 1 turnover. He never made a three pointer, but was an efficient 6-10 from the field and converted 3-4 free throws. Skara had a team high 17 points, Carter added 16, and Walker had 14. For the 2013 team, Ryan Broekhoff had a game high 21 points and recorded 8 rebounds and 3 assists, but only converted 4 of 14 three point attempts. Buggs finished with 8 points and a game-high 14 assists, but also recorded 4 turnovers. Van Wijk picked up a double-double with 13 points (on 6-12 shooting) and 11 rebounds. Coleman and Dority recorded DNPs for the 2013 team, while Nick Davidson did not enter for the 2015 team. Max Joseph, David Chadwick, Ben Boggs, and 2013 Vashil played limited minutes.

So the science is settled. The 2015 team is indeed better than the 2013 team.

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Horizon League: The Non-Con, 2014

Hard to believe–my third year of doing this.  Of course, I do it a little differently each time.  (For proof, or for just a fun trip down Homer Ct, er, Memory Ln, here’s 2012 and here’s 2013.)

2014!  It was better than 2013 for the HL.  Want proof?  Last year we only had 3 T100 wins OOC; this year we have 5.  That is…more wins. #analysis

But who had the best non-conference season?  Let’s go in reverse to build suspense.  All RPI numbers from RPI Forecast and valid through the end of 2014.

i’ll take it in a waffle cone with butterscotch and lox sprinkles, please

9)  UIC (4-11, 2 non D1 wins) RPI 320  Non Con Score: -38

Last year we had FLAMEOUT 2014, the quest to find if UIC could be bad, like Michael Jackson ca. 1987, or a dangerous menace, like Michael circa…I can’t do that one sorry.  Could UIC be worse this year?  Probably not.  Then again, they are loaded for squirrel.

How did they lose to Apparently there is a school called Grand Canyon, which has a basketball team (#283) besides whatever ranger program they’re probably known for.  UIC lost to them, at home.

At least they Didn’t wait ’til March to treat the home fans to a D1 win (Nov 17, WIU!).

Where is the hope for the conference season? In 2016.  They’ll Tai one on then.

What do they remind you of?  Pumpernickel sauerkraut ice cream.  Just…not a good mix.

8)  Milwaukee (5-9, 2 non-D1 wins) RPI: 302  Non-Con Score: -25 

ouch, my career

Remember how good Milwaukee was last year?  No, not how historically awful they were the year before, such that we had a PANTHERQUEST before we had a FLAMEOUT.  But they had a season to remember last year, and the first hints of it came in their non-con, where they knocked off UNI, among others.

Well, in 2012, like the credits to a Police Academy, they also gave hints that they were going to be really, really bad, really early on.  Same this year.

How did they lose to #318 SIU Edwardsville?  Is that even a 4-year institution? (EDIT: apparently)

Where is the hope for conference season?  There is none.  They have a nice inside-outside thing going in McWhorter and Tiby, but they’re not going anywhere.

What do they remind you of?  The Chicago Cubs.  Before their season even starts, they know they’re not going anywhere after it.

catch the pass before you turn upfield, er, -court, boys7)  Youngstown State (9-6, 3 non-D1 wins) RPI: 220  Non-con score: -6

And you’re like, how can a team with this good a record be this low–with a negative score?  They’ve got a sneaky-good big man in Bobby Hain, a much- or at least semi-improved DJ Cole, and Keene is a pretty excellent shooter.  Well, here’s the thing:  they haven’t beat anyone in the top 200.  If they don’t fix that in conference, they will have at least 8 if not 10 losses just as a baseline.

Plus they lost to KENNESAW STATE again, I don’t know if you saw this, but AT HOME. KSU (not THAT KSU) is #322. Worst home loss of the HL non-con.

Where is the hope for conference season?  Mostly Bo Pelini-related.

What do they remind you of?  a destitute man’s Nebraska–football school with a basketball team and they have BEAUX PELINI

on my honor as a humorist this is the 5th result for a GIS for “jennifer aniston cleveland state”

6) Cleveland State (6-8, 2 non-D1 wins) RPI: 156  Non-con score: 3

Ok, you say, I’ll give you YSU down here, but CSU?  Weren’t they supposed to be, like, good?  Or at least good-er?  Well, that was before they went on the road to Savannah State and Savannah Stunk.  That was the worst loss (#327) of the whole HL non-con.  They haven’t beaten anyone better than #142 San Francisco, either.  Don’t have a road win better than Marshall (#262).  Their RPI is high because of a tough schedule, so in the words of Bill Murray, they “got that goin’ for them, which is nice”.  Also they have Lewis and Grady, perhaps the best inside-outside combo in the HL, which is saying something.  When they’re on, anyway.

How did they lose to I told you already.  Where were you?  Distracted or something?

Where is the hope for conference season?  They can’t keep shooting 42%, can they?

What do they remind you of?  Jennifer Aniston…because neither of them seem to rebound well at all. But you probably haven’t read any of the text in this part, have you?

you don’t know they history of PSYCHOLOGYYYYYYYYYYY

t4) Oakland  (4-10, 1 non-D1 win)  RPI: 229  Non-con score: 24

Well, what good was that tough schedule when it didn’t prepare you to beat #240 W Carolina?  At home?  Yes, Oakland has 2 of the worst 9 home losses in HL non-con.  They did beat #80 Toledo.  …but their NEXT BEST win was @ #233 Morehead State.  It will be interesting to see if that tough schedule prepares them any better this year.

How did they lose to Arizona?  Oh, right, because they were PLAYING ARIZONA IN THE FIRST PLACE.

Where’s the hope for conference season?  Clay Yeo is a Bethel Pilot.

What do they remind you of?  Too obvious, right? One of the world’s oldest professions, a group of people that do inappropriate things solely for money, sometimes in public, with no qualms.  I refer of course, to “sports agents”.  (What, did you really think I would make the obvious joke after That Thing That Happened To Them Last Year?)

of course it’s the exact size. what other size is there

t4) Detroit (6-8, 2 non-D1 wins)  RPI: 206  Non-con score: 24

(I give the tie-break to Detroit, because they schedule wisely.  Also Juwan Howard Jr.  Of course this could come back to bite me tomorrow.)  Interesting that the closest two schools in the HL are also the closest by this tally sheet.  They also both beat #80 Toledo as their best win.  #MACtion

Once again, though, I don’t really trust them.  They’re always like the ancient Greeks, a “constellation of bright stars” that don’t get along all that well, which is too bad because when they do they accomplish some awesome things (see: Marathon, Thermopylae, the 2012 HL tourney) and when they don’t they implode like Doug Anderson showboating his way to another THWOMMMMMMP!bounceOWCH.  Those kinds of teams are too erratic to be trusted.  Maybe Oakland will pass them after all.

How did they lose to #251 UCF.  And #193 Oral Boberts, at home?  I blame the Romans.

Thing they remind you of After all that classical jargon I just want to post the seal to the city of my birth again.  After all, what other city has themselves on fire in their own seal?

actually, next time you’re at a party, go FIND the third-prettiest girl and hit on her. it will upset the power dynamic of the prettier girls, who will want to reassert their dominance by competing with one another in throwing themselves at you, and if you manage to screw it up, you can always count on the 3rd Prettiest to be happy with all the attention. You’re welcome.

3) Wright State (8-6, 2 non-D1 wins)  RPI: 160  Non-con score: 37

Gotta hand it to these guys.  Last year they were next to last in the non-con, with the softest schedule since Reagan in ’84, and still managed to post 3 of the worst 10 losses in the whole HL.  This year they got it together and beat #124 Belmont twice (that’s one way to start inviting them to the HL) and got FOUR of the best 10 road wins in the HL this non-con!  Last year:  they had 0 non-con road wins.  That’s impressive because winning on the road is like really hard. #expertise

This year their offense is doing better than their defense, though, somewhat surprisingly.  Yes, nothing is as it seems in Dayton this year.  It’s a strange situation.

How did they lose to #276 Cal-State Fullerton.  This isn’t even baseball, as valpotx would say.

Where’s the hope for conference? 3rd would seem to be their high-water mark, as the top 2 seem pretty clear.  JT Yoho is having a good year but taking a lot of shots to get there.  Remember how playing them they seem to come at you in waves?  9 guys in double-digit minutes and a 10th at 8.6.  That should bode well for staying healthier/fresher.

Pray tell what inanimate object they resemble unto you  The third-prettiest girl at the party.  She’s just waiting it out until you screw it up with the prettiest girl in the room and the second-prettiest sees the whole thing and leaves early too.  What, are you going to go home with Youngstown?  (No but at least there’s no danger there.)

just because it needed to be said

2) Valparaiso  (13-2, 3 non-D1 wins) RPI: 74  Non-con score: 78

I know, I know, I was hoping against hope too.  But it’s not close.

Don’t let the gaudy record fool you when we have the 3rd-worst non-con sched in the HL.  But it’s not terrible–we posted 2 of the top 10 wins, 3 of the top 9 road wins, 4 of the top 10 neutral site wins, and didn’t put any losses in the top, er, bottom 10s.  We racked up more than 2x more points than the 3rd place team.  MOREOVA:

Whereas Oakland has to wonder if they are ready for the HL, we know we are.  We’ve spent the non-con already playing these teams, like WSU (Eastern Kentucky), CSU (Murray St), and UIC (Goshen). We start to prove it tonight.

What do they remind you of The ’71 UCLA Bruins (ask the victims from the Nashville tourney, or at least drop in on their boards).

that’s ok, pooping yourself will happen

1) Green Bay (11-3, 2 non-D1 wins) RPI: 59  Non-con score:  116

They are here because they have the impressive scalps: 4 of the top 7 wins by the HL this non-con, headlined by the road win @ #55 Miami (yes that miami).  No bad losses or at least nothing worse than #162 UC Irvine, although Chicago State almost pulled the shocker.  4 of the top 8 neutral site wins, which bodes well for the NCAA if they can get there. They’re just a solid team.  But will they finish?  Can they?  It’s always something with these guys.

What do they remind you of  always thought their coach looks like this guy.


123457Ladies and gentlemen, I again present the Ray McCallum Jr Pre-Conference Champs award to UWGB!


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Recruiting: A Look at the 2015 Prospects

All the talk about recruiting this year and the year after next (ok, I started that one) got me thinking…where are we for next year?  (If you read this on the forum–the entire thing–skip to the end for the excursus on the Mac Irvin Fire.)

Happy Trails

  • Ryan Fazekas (Providence)
  • Aaron Jordan (Illinois)
  • LuWane Pipkins (UMass)

Assume recruits are 2-star on the composite rankings unless otherwise listed. I thought about listing recruits alphabetically, then by how much we want them, then by size, and then I realized those last two were the same. Thus:

Group 3: How interested are we/they?

Julian Torres: 6’8 PF from Bolingbrook
Offers from UIC, CSU, NIU, Bradley

Myles Carter:  6’7 PF from St. Rita (IL) 3 star recruit!
Offers from VCU, Providence, Bradley, Xavier, DePaul, Memphis

Max Rothschild: 6’7, 205 SF from New Hampton Prep (Chicagoan going prep route next year)
Offers from Brown, CSU, UIC, Presby, NIU

Carlos Anderson: 6’4, 215 SG from Alton, IL

Roosevelt Smart: 6’3, 170 SG from St. Viator (IL)
Offers from Creighton, WSU, NIU, LaSalle

Group 2: Are we interested enough to offer?

the spectacularly named Obediah Church: 6’7 SF from Springfield (IL)
Offers from N Dakota, Tenn St, Bradley, UIC, SIU-E, UWGB, FIU, Missouri St, S Dakota, Ohio

Weisner Perez: 6’6, 205 SF from Morton (IL)

Cortez Seales: 6’4, 180 PG from North Scott (IA)
Offers from LaSalle, Drake, WKU, N Dak, UNI

Group 1: They have offers. Will they sign them?

Seth Adelsperger: 6’11, 230 C from Peru (IN)
Visited for Murray St game; had in-home visit in April.
Analysis: http://www.news-sentinel.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20140715/SPORTS/140719785/1013
Offers from (besides us) BSU, Loyola, Ind St, Belmont

Matt Holba: 6’7, 200 SF from St. Theodora Guerin (IN) 2.5 star recruit!
Analysis: http://www.valpofanzone.com/forum/index.php?topic=1419.msg32277#msg32277
Offers from (besides us) Toledo, PSU, W&M, Ohio, Providence, Iowa (interest no offer)

Davon Dillard: 6’5, 205 SF from Bowman (IN) LaLumiere (IN) 3 star recruit; #125 in nation!
Analysis: definitely talented; where’s his head at, though? He attacked a teammate this past season; his coach, not exactly the vice-principal of disciplinarians, sat him on multiple occasions…
Offers from (besides us) Iowa, Marquette, Bradley, NIU, PU, Creighton, Providence

Nick Rogers: 6’1, 170 PG from Indy (some ‘HS’ called Elev8 Sports?) 2.3 star recruit!
Visited VU in April 2013.
Analysis: http://www.valpofanzone.com/forum/index.php?topic=1419.msg32884#msg32884
Offers from (besides us) WKU, OSU, USF, WIU, Ohio, Tennessee, Loyola, NIU, KSU, Ole Miss, Kennesaw St, Toledo, UWM, UIC, ISU, IUPUI, Nebraska, Indiana St, UNCW, LaSalle

Erick Locke: 6′, 180 PG from Chicago now prepping at SPIRE Academy in OH
Analysis: http://www.valpofanzone.com/forum/index.php?topic=1421.msg32284#msg32284
Sound familiar? Was 2014 (first post in that recruiting thread) but has reclassified. http://www.highschoolcubenews.com/news_article/show/398714-oprf-graduate-erick-locke-will-enroll-in-prep-school
Offers from (besides us) Chicago St, UIC

Devin Cannady: 6′, 170 PG from Mishawaka Marian (IN)
Offers from (besides us) a ton of people; HE’s most interested in Ohio, Akron, Toledo, IUPUI, and Cornell

Dequon Miller: 5’11, 165 PG from Motlow St. CC (juco)
In-home visit April ’14
Offers from (besides us) UT-PanAm, N Az, Ole Miss, Kennesaw St, WKU, EMU, N Tex, Tenn St, EKU, Tenn, E Tenn St, Ark St

Excursus:  The Mac Irvin Fire

You may have noticed (on purpose) three of the recruits–one in each group–wearing the same jersey.  Julian Torres, Weisner Perez, and Davon Dillard all play for the same AAU team–the Mac Irvin Fire.  Based in Chicago, this is just the third year for a program that boasted #2 pick Jabari Parker, Duke’s incoming mammoth Jahlil Okafor, and now stars the über-recruited Jalen Brunson.  (One-time target, now UMass commit Luwane Pipkins is also a teammate–so certainly this team is promising territory for all Chicagoland D1s.)

Looking at their just-concluded appearance at the 2014 {sponsor deleted} Peach Jam in Atlanta, Dillard started all 5 games; Julian Torres 3.  Perez did not start but appeared in 4 games, and actually played more than Torres, who only logged 29 minutes over 5 games.

Dillard averaged 17 mpg, 5th on the team and scored 35 pts, also 5th, with a high game of 18.  Perez scored 13 with a high of 8, and Torres managed 6 pts in 5 games.  While it may not seem like much, on a stacked team, it’s still better to be 9th man in a 9-man rotation when there are 11 on the roster.

We’ll want to keep an eye on the Fire both now and in the future.

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Horizon League: The Non-Con, 2013


2013 wasn’t the best of years, whether you were expecting to keep your plan, period, or whether you were a Horizon League team playing non-conference games.  (Although at least the HL didn’t lose 5 million people.)

Let’s see it out with a thorough look back.  After that we can make like my friend KC Peebz and I did in college, after we lost to a Super Nintendo set to Level 1 in Super Bomberman, and pretend it never ever happened.

SPECIAL FUN NUMBERS NOTE:  The RPIForecast numbers were valid through games of 12/30.  I am well aware of the fact that not only have they already changed, they will change again by the time you read this.  So.  That’s life.

colors make everything better

colors make everything better


The teams are listed in predicted order of finish, according to RPIForecast.com.  In this, as in all further tables, the bold is best and italics worst.  (Yes, annoying Milwaukee fans, I shouldn’t let this pass without pointing out that you were the only team that didn’t play more than 1 non-D1 game.  Have a cookie.)

Bill Potteresque FUN FACT #1:  The Horizon League was 19-0 against non-D1 teams!  Take that, Cincinnati Christian. [/vincentpricelaugh.mp4]

past performance is no guarantee of future results

past performance is no guarantee of future results



It’s interesting to look at where RPIForecast not only thinks we are now, but where we’ll end up.  In a couple cases last year, it was dead on.  Others…not so much.

Valpo fans are looking at this and nodding.  Of course a team this up and down will be exactly where we left them.  The Wisconsin teams are wondering why they have to dirty their hands with the rest of us.

Interestingly, you might think that the difference in the expected finish would be just about even for the conference.  If you look at the numbers, though, you’ll see that only 2 teams are predicted to end up higher–WSU & CSU.  The sum total of the differences is negative-131, or a drop of about 15 slots per team.  That’s what we’re left with, whilst we bludgeon each other.  RPIForecast says that we’re #13 in conferences, but will end up #15.  Even after we pawned off Loyola on the MVC.  Sigh.


so very wwrong

so very wwrong


Reports of Oakland’s OOC schedule were, um, maybe even underrated.  In fact, it was kind of like that part of The Hunger Games, where like a whole bunch of strong people line up to wallop them with a club–except that I’m over 15 and haven’t read it, and I’m under 40 so we haven’t had a night at the movies in forever, so I can’t make any kind of valid comparison here.  Let’s move on.

It says something about how bad WSU’s schedule was that they project to rise 90 spots in conference and still end up in the bottom 100 or so of the country.  Everybody else this side of Youngstown (ok, technically the whole HL is “this side” of Youngstucky) falls, although none as dramatically as Green Bay.  I’m still wondering why Milwaukee goes from meh to meh.  As bad as Wright’s OOC was (and if you look around any HL site you’ll read something about it), for the Panthers to end up just around the corner from them?!?  And for our conference to average dropping 30 spots each?  To paraphrase Dr. Leo Spaceman, “statistics…it’s not a science!”


woo top 100 woo

woo top 100 woo


So, we’re kind of like the Mohicans here–not a lot of scalps to our credit, and we’re about to start turning on each other until there’s only one of us left.  But there is a top-50 (um, literally) and 2 more top-100s here.  Detroit’s best win is on the road, which is interesting.  Green Bay’s win over Virginia is not looking as great as it did at the time, but Oakland’s OHIO is looking even better now.  Still, on the whole, not great, but then I didn’t go to all this trouble last year, so I can’t compare.  I’m just going to go out on a limb and say that we did better then, and let’s all feel better about ourselves.


i see you driving around town with the conference i love and i'm like, forget you

i see you driving around town with the conference i love and i’m like, forget you


It says a lot about Green Bay’s strength that their worst loss was at a top-100 school.  And EMU beat the rest of the HL they played too.  Interesting that the next two teams are both variations on history’s second-favorite saint, and let’s just gloss over how terribly terrible it is to lose to a school IN THE BOTTOM QUARTILE, YSU, UWM & WSU.  And when you’re UIC losing AT HOME to a GAWDOFFAL EIU team, well, thanks.  I’m just like…I don’t even know.

Oh, and thanks also for losing to Loyola, UIC and Milwaukee.  Way to help us send THEM a message.  It’s like somehow ending up getting a dance with your ex-girlfriend, and instead of showing her what she’s missing, you step on her toes, while simultaneously the button to your pants bursts off, hits her in the eye, your pants fall down, and she Rochambeaus you, steps over your prostrate, contorted self and walks off with the quarterback.  And also, she took your wallet.

And she’s still unattractive. And if you’re looking for predicted conference finish, this might not be a bad list to go by.


So this bad boy teaches you a few things.  Such as, UIC still hasn’t won at home.  Given that they haven’t treated the home fans to a D1 win since March 20, and they haven’t treated them to a win over a team that doesn’t rhyme with Bicago Bate since March 5, it could be almost 11 months before they reward them thusly again.  Hope you enjoyed that pasting of Purdue-Cal, Flames fans.  Both of you.

Also, this shows that Milwaukee is having a pretty good year, and that Davidson will never play them again.  Cleveland State’s pretty respectable across the board.

Now let’s look at some KENPOM numbers.  I feel that KenPom is pretty reliable, once you understand that his numbers are biased toward UWM (that’s the University of Wisconsin @ Madison).


valpo fans: kind of surprised by this one

valpo fans: kind of surprised by this one












woo top #300 woo

woo top #300 woo

let's vote UIC off the island

let’s vote UIC off the island right away








the Switzerland of the HL

the Switzerland of the HL


Now the part everyone’s been waiting for, the If Your OOC Schedule Were a Movie

  • Valpo:  Oceans Eleven, because they have all these good players and they haven’t figured out what to do with them yet
  • DetroitThe Hunger Games, because I didn’t care to see any of it
  • Milwaukee:  Sharknado, because you thought that it would be as bad as the prequel (Snakes On A Plane), and it was actually surprisingly enjoyable, if you were a shark
  • UIC:  Anchorman 2, because the previous edition was so much better you wonder why they even got the team back together in the first place
  • Cleveland State:  Mystic River, because it’s nothing spectacular, but trés solid
  • Wright State:  Hoosiers, the only other team with as many white dudes on it, except for them it would have to be Hoosiers 2:  Back to the NAIA
  • Youngstown State: Anything by Quentin Tarantino (too many bad shots)
  • Oakland:  Stalingrad (a movie about losing on the road in hazardous conditions)
  • Green Bay:  Crossroads, the Britney Spears movie, because it can’t possibly be as good as all the hype–or can it?

So, let’s pretend like this were some kind of comprehensive points-type system and crown the 2013 HORIZON LEAGUE (NON) CONFERENCE CHAMPIONS.  Giving points from 9-1 or 10-1 depending on category–and taking them away when it’s not a category to be in.  Like so:

Screen shot 2014-01-01 at 10.57.08 PM

Ladies and gentlemen, your (NON) CONFERENCE STANDINGS, in order of the Phoenix:

Screen shot 2014-01-01 at 10.57.38 PM

Yes, UIC, this really sums it up.  You did set the Barlow. /tooeasy.gif

I’m not saying this is going to be the conference standings, because I don’t think Milwaukee’s for real yet.  Otherwise…this looks fairly plausible.


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And Then There Were Nine

Maybe King LeCrone and all of his horses and all of his men CAN actually put the Mid-Con back together again. With Tuesday’s less-than-stunning announcement that Oakland University has joined the Horizon League, the conference took one step closer to the golden era of 1993. The addition of the Grizzlies brings the Horizon League membership ledger to nine. Just nine? Don’t forget that before Loyola left the league high and dry, the Butler did it. (Thank you very much everyone, I’ll be here all week.)

So, what’s the next move for the Horizon League? Can they somehow, someway finally replace Butler and pick up that elusive tenth member? If so, who? When? Why? (Ok, well the why is obvious.) Do not fear Saders’ fans. I have relatively good hearing, and that noise I’m picking up whistling through the ARC is no janitor—it’s the winds of change blowing. My guy close to the program tells me that there are several options on the short list and that one will be added in the relatively near future. Here’s the skinny.

Chicago State- Word is, many of the former Mid-Conners had a great working relationship with Chicago State and miss them as part of the league. They always had the best jokes in the league-wide meetings. CSU offers a great neutral site location for Chicago-area HL alums to see their favorite teams play. (40:6 odds)

Missouri-Kansas City- With Michael Jackson no longer on the roster, the animostiy between the Horizon League schools and UMKC is all but over. From what I understand, there is mutual interest from both parties. As one AD remarked, “They are a great program in a jewel of a city…and we like the marketing opportunities with, say, a Kangaroos-Penguins matchup, for instance.” (31:7 odds)

Gary Steelheads- Now, before any of you shoot this idea down, I KNOW they are now-defunct semi-pro team. Yet, this hasn’t stopped LeCrone and his “cronies” from exploring the option. From what I can piece together, the Steelheads would have to go through the accreditation process to become licensed as a college (or university, as it were) and all players would have to be NCAA eligible. The HL is looking for a travel partner for VU and they love how the Steelheads fit into the geographic footprint. This rumor has legs. (30:10 odds)

Butler- Surprised? You shouldn’t be. The professors at Butler have roundly criticized the athletic department and administration for leaving the academic bastion that is the HL. They now join schools like Georgetown who, quite frankly, couldn’t carry Valpo’s books to class. This is a move that is very likely to happen. (84:4 odds)

Purdue North Central- Again, this move should be no surprise. The geography alone is too good for the Horizoniers to pass on. The travel just makes too much sense. One factor to consider, however, is that PNC’s arena is not up to par. Speculation is that they would share the ARC for day-night doubleheaders (rotation with VU for the night spot). The concessions windfall would be massive for Valpo, so it is a strong possibility that PNC makes the move. (2:1 odds)

Notre Dame- This is the name no one saw coming (unless you have friends close to the program, and I know many of you do not). Notre Dame is considering that the ACC travel may be too damaging to the pocket book. They are also concerned about their ability to win championships in mens’ basketball in the ACC. Enter the Horizon League. Notre Dame gets some much-needed financial relief and Mike Brey finally gets his chance to dominant a league. Before you laugh this off, ya think Notre Dame would have traded spots with Butler a few years back? Thought so. NOTE: Notre Dame would NOT join the Pioneer League in football, although they would possibly agree to play one Pioneer League team a year at Notre Dame Stadium. (71:1 odds)

There you have it, folks. I can’t wait to see what the next move is for the league, but the addition of any of these programs would give the HL a boost. Hats off to Czar LeCrone for the hard work behind the scenes to make these conversations happen. Now, we sit and we wait. The times they are a changin’.

(On a personal note, I want to pass on my best wishes to all of the members of the message board who I consider friends. I miss you all greatly, and the lack of humor and the preponderance of bickering (I’m looking at you 78Crusader) tells me ya kinda miss me too. 😉 Proud of you all, though, and where the board has been going. Maybe one day I will return if Goldstein and O’Brien will allow me to be me. That’s a story for another day though, and as I have always said, the mods are tough but fair. Congrats to Classof2014 on becoming the new valporun. LaporteAve, did you get my text? Either way, I’ll call you later. HC- love ya like a brother. Peace, love and crabs everyone.)

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Offer: ON–Tai Odiase (2014)

The second offer to go out, as reported earlier, is Tai Odiase.


6’8, 205 lb Pf/C from Homewood-Flossmoor (Illinois, just in case.  This is the Internet.  One can hardly assume anything any more.)

AAU Meanstreets, um, yeah, the one Derrick Rose and Eric Gordon used to play for–not to mention #1 pick Anthony Davis.  Jubril Adekoya played for them last year, everyone cool etc.  Lake Central’s Tyler Wideman is a current teammate, as is Marian Catholic’s amazing PG Tyler Ulis.  And we already mentioned Matt Holba (a 2015 playing up) and perhaps still football star Drake Harris (the next Tai Streets, about whom more shortly) if he hasn’t given up basketball entirely.

Look, there are a lot of good AAU teams in Chicago.  These guys are the best (currently ranked #4 in the country).  Why are they called Meanstreets?  Because they are coached by the great UM / NFL receiver Tai Streets, that’s why. (He also played some b-ball for the Wolverines too, in addition to winning a national title in football.  Just sayin’.)

Played “limited minutes” as a junior behind two H-F senior forwards, per chicagohoops, but at least the team was one of the best in Illinois (ranked in top 25).  WAS, until being stunned by Sandburg in the regional semi (remember, Illinois is backwards too) to finish at 21-6.

sensing a theme here?

Scouting:  From Scott Burgess at ChicagoHoops.com:

When looking at the breakout candidates this spring in the class of 2014 one of the guys that jumps to mind is Homewood-Flossmoor power forward Tai Odiase. The long and angular four-man stood out in limited minutes for HF as a junior. He runs the floor great in transition. The 2014 prospect is efficient with his touches and finishes around the hoop with both power and touch.  Odiase rebounds at a good clip. His length and athleticism play well on the defensive end.


“I think this season was better than I expected. I didn’t expect to make all-conference. I used my minutes well. I played my role and did what I had to do. My explosiveness really improved. I feel myself getting a little stronger. I am running the floor better and my IQ is getting better.”

Playing behind two talented seniors in the frontcourt in Maurius Hill and Lamar Wofford-Humphrey gave Odiase a chance to learn the game and what it takes to be the best he can be. What did he pick up from them?

“That killer mindset that they have. Especially Maurius. I tried to adapt that into my game.”

(Sidenote:  It’s always good for recruits to have googlable names. I think H-F has that as a prereq for their roster.)

Interest:  Reported before the VU offer:

“UIC, SIU, Western Illinois, Southern Illinois, Northern Kentucky, and Tennessee has [sic] talked to me.”

Odiase recently took an unofficial visit to UIC to learn more about them.

“The campus is nice. I talked to the coach a little more about the program. They take their education seriously. They don’t see you as a player. They see you as a young man and try to give you the tools for later in life.”

We are his first offer, as that interview is about 2-3 weeks before the offer.  He unfortunately did not tweet about said offer or anything about VU, and he tweets about, uh, let’s just say, a lot of things. As far as “the campus is nice”, well, tell that to the visiting MVC committee, why don’t you.

Just got an offer from Ball State, btw, his second (per the twitterz, link below).

Highlights (watch for 32 in the red/white H-F jerseys; 24 in the AAU games):

Athletic much? Luckily his teammates seem to miss so many layups that he has the chance to be right there for CLEAN-UP ON AISLE SEVEN. But positioning is good, and ball instincts are there. Nice basic post move at 1:11ff. Notice that he’s blocking shots, but not trying to send souvenirs into seats; he’s trying to retain possession, which is both humble, and helpful.

Check out the jumper top of the key at 2:32ff! Though on one hand you hate to see a shot like that–low percentage without the reward of the 3 pointer–it’s nice to see an easy touch and comfortable range. THEN COMES THE BLOCK PARTAY. I especially enjoy the “lather rinse repeat” of 3:45 to 4 (notice it’s the same possession it keeps happening. what did Einstein say about insanity?) Somewhere Mo Smith is smiling and nodding. He’s so athletic that even when he’s out of position, he’s not (Tai, but Mo too, or so I’m told).

Mo Smith today at the thought of Odiase in Brown & Gold (time is not kind)

Obviously the trick will be whether he can pull that off when everyone down low is his height but larger. When I was 6’8″, I could shoot over 6’3 punx all day too.

Any teammate of Holba’s has to have a dunk video (same final clip of highlights above):

Like a shark, he’s just waiting, just lying in the weeds a-mixing his metaphors, until LOOK OUT RICHARD DREYFUSS AAAAAUUUUUGGGHHHHHH THE HORROR THE HORROR

Very old but hence slightly amusing highlight tape (almost 4 years) with his brother, Ken!

Twitter “Kobe Abdul-Jordan”, which … okay.

definitely a theme here.


Plus-plus athleticism, defense (rebounding, shot-blocking).  “Upside” is a frequently used word, which is nice, but it is also a euphemism for “project” as well.  Like an American Vashil, though not that raw.  Let’s call that “worst-case scenario”, and “best-case” would be Georgetown / NBA Jerome Williams-type player, and “realistic-case”…halfway between? 🙂


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Offer: ON–Erick Locke (2014)

According to VerbalCommits, the first known offer to this class is Erick Locke.

6’0, 180 lb PG from Oak Park-River Forest  (transferred back after soph years at Brooks College Prep.)

AAU:  Illinois Wolves (“one of the best programs in the Midwest for close to the last decade” featuring OSU commit Keita Bates-Diop), currently ranked #11 in the country by 5-Star basketball (his 17U squad, that is).

Last year with Oak Park, he helped take them to heights they hadn’t seen for a long time.  In the sectional semifinal, scored 15 in a 43-39 nail-biter over York to get them to the final, Oak Park’s first in 20 years. 11 of those were in the decisive fourth quarter.  He’s as confident as he is good, which is a potent mix:

“I know I was getting to the basket pretty well but the shots weren’t falling,” Locke said of the first half. “Shots fell down the stretch, and that’s exactly what I knew was going to happen.” …

Locke converted three layups early in the fourth for a 37-32 lead and was 5-for-7 from the line in the quarter.

Team lost to perennial power Proviso East 67-48 in the Schaumburg sectional final, where he had a game-high 21 to go with 5 boards and 6 steals. 16 of the 21 were in the 2nd half, so clearly, he’s a battler, although you’d rather see those stats in a close game, as above, than in a 19-point loss.  They finished 20-10.

Jr year honors: All-conference; honorable mention All-State.

On the transfer:

Last month [May 2012], Bobby Locke was fired from the head coaching position at Brooks, and the Chicago Tribune recently reported it was due to residency issues that involved his son. The Lockes apparently live in Oak Park, but listed the Chicago address of a relative so Erick could be eligible to attend Brooks, according to the Tribune report.

…so…how many people LIVE in Oak Park but fibricate stuff (yeah, I just made up a word admit it it works) to attend school in Chicago? Isn’t that supposed to be happening the other way around?  And why isn’t there some kind of exception made so that kids can play for their dads?  TAKE OUR SONS TO COURT WORK DAY!

His dad works at Evanston High School, where he is also the former basketball coach as well.  While at Evanston, Coach Bobby Locke took them to the 4A final in 2008 (coming in 3rd overall) and in 2011, Erick’s freshman year, took Brooks to the 3A final (again coming in 3rd).  He’s also a 4-time IBCA Coach of the Year award winner, by his own admission.  Coaches’ sons = almost always a good thing.

OK, except for Todd Marinovich.

Freshman year stats (all I could find, and that’s just for 7 games; he played 2 with the JV and the rest of the season with the sophomores at OPRF): 24.3 ppg, 6.1 apg, 3.9 rpg, 3.4 spg

can’t stop us now


Per Brad Spencer, sports editor at OakPark.com:

Incoming junior transfer Erick Locke, a 6-foot guard who played at Brooks College Prep in Chicago under his father, Bobby, last season, already has several Division I offers on the table, including from Valparaiso, UIC, and Chicago State. Other schools that have shown interest in Locke are Santa Clara, Western Michigan, Northern Illinois and Wright State.

Add Tulsa and every other DI Chicago school to that interest list (DePaul, Loyola, etc. Bradley too.)  It should be noted, with some trepidation, that his father, Coach Bobby, is a UIC basketball alum.

What he’s looking for in a college / team OK, we’re talking over a year and a half ago, which is FOR-EV-ER (you’re killin‘ me, Smalls) in HSBY (high school boy years), but in October 2011 he had this to say on the subject to Scott Burgess of ChicagoHoops:

“I don’t want to fall in love with going to the biggest school so I can just say I went to the biggest school. I want to go somewhere that I can play right away as a freshman and have a coaching staff that can trust me as well as pushing me everyday. I want them to get on me and not let me slack off. I’m looking for great facilities and a great atmosphere. I really want a school that I can play immediately and have a chance to make the tournament.”

Everything else:  check.  Facilities?  nicht so gut.  … Hey, maybe he meant “faculties“, in which case, BINGO!!!  Elsewhere in same article says that “Valparaiso has been to our open gyms numerous times.”  This was pre-offer, and at that time Chicago State was the only school to offer; he mentioned us second.  Take it for what it’s worth…

Why a combo guard? Let’s let him tell you why (same article):

At [Brooks, under his father sophomore year] they are having Locke play at the point guard position rather than the off guard spot which he played this past AAU season. This is also helping him transition in to the role he will be playing during the high school season.
“I have to get used to playing the point for Brooks. I haven’t had a lot of run at point before. People already know I can score. Now I have to show I can get other people on my team involved. I think that is what wins games when everyone is in rhythm.”
College coaches and evaluators are trying to evaluate what position the sophomore will play at the next level. It doesn’t matter to him as long as his team gets the W!
“I have been used to playing the two my whole life, but I have always had point guard instincts. I think that has helped me be an effective shooting guard. I got some of pressure off me by delivering the ball when people didn’t think I would which made it easier to score. It doesn’t really matter to me which I play between the one or the two. At my size a lot of college coaches are looking for me to play the one instead of the two. If a college coach doesn’t mind me playing the two I wouldn’t mind because it is what I am used to. I am definitely as comfortable playing the one as the two.”



Basically an ‘LVD Jr’: from the city (Sweet Home), to the build (STRONG LIKE BULL), to the confidence (extant), through the game (primarily driving to the hoop like it’s a bank about to close). A bit of an unconventional shot (ok a big bit), but, as they say, don’t knock it as long as it goes in. He is so strong that even though he’s not tall, he can take it to the rack, absorb contact, and still score.

Recent AAU highlights (even better!):

Look, the guy gets to the rack, ok?  Gets. To. The Rack. In fact, he reminds me of Westley when he’s duelling Inigo Montoya: he can finish you off in all kinds of ways–left-handed, right-handed, while falling off a cliff, etc.. But I really enjoy the passes he makes (ca. 1:20 to the end).  A very businesslike baller.

It will be interesting to see whether the (assumed) emergence of Keith Carter (and Lexus Williams?) deters him at all. Certainly there are a number of guards they are looking at; though he is the shortest, he is probably the strongest.  Then again, speaking of LVD, perhaps he ends up as an offense-creator rather than initiator (note the ability to draw contact and finish in the video above), and so finally, like LVD, I bet he ends up a Vinnie Johnson-style 2 rather than a Chauncey Billups-style 1. No fibricating.

Scouting Report from recent AAU play (Jayhawk Invite, 4/26/2013, by the omnipresent Scott Burgess of Chicago Hoops):

Locke played one of the best games I have seen out of him on Friday.  He was looking to set everybody up.  The Oak Park River Forest star did a great job of drawing defenders and finding open shooters.  He got the ball to his hot hand in Arogundade setting him up consistently.  Locke pushed it in transition both dishing it and finishing around the hoop.  He picked his spots to score and was effective getting to the basket.  Locke had 10 points and 9 assists in the win.

Self-Scouting Report (again, before he had started his sophomore year at Brooks):

“The last couple years I have been labeled as a scorer inside and outside. I have been working on my shot effectively. My tight handles and getting to basket is the specialty in my game. That is where I am at my best. I don’t turn the ball over. I play tough defense and keep my man out of the lane. I score whenever I am needed too. I can knock down an open shot and if we need a bucket I can go get it.”
“The person next to me is not going to play as hard as me. In practice some people look good, but if he looked like an All-American in practice he will not look like anything when I play against him. I am not going to let anyone ranked out play me. I play best in the big games and I want the ball in my hands and making the plays. That is where I am making my name right now under the big lights.”

under the bright lights, and also, this dude’s hand


Twitter (“PointGodLocke“, which…um…okay). Trust me, you’d enjoy following his dad more.

Speaking of:  two interesting tweets from Coach Locke relevant to our current situation:

1)  on April 2, retweeting Scott Brooks of ESPN quoting new NW coach Chris Collins saying “Chicago is the best basketball city in the country. I argue that all the time. I want kids to stay home.

2) on March 21, he retweeted the CBSSports Gary Parrish article:  “Valpo has bright future with Drew — for as long as it can keep him” after retweeting earlier that day Coach Diebler’s tweet about ValpoGameDay! (…but he follows a lot of coaches, especially assistants, like UM’s LaVell Blanchard, UIC’s Al Biancalana, etc.)

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Horizon League: The Con (in Prose), 2013

9) Milwaukee (8-23 overall)

Numbers in parentheses are first, before conference play began and second, where RPIForecast predicted them; stats courtesy rpi-forecast.com

RPI:  304 (330 midseason / 331 predicted)

SOS: 170 (269 / 216)

W/L: 3-13 (4-10 / 2-14)

Best case / worst case:  3-13 / 0-16

What happened:  Was best case, although you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone actually claiming that any part of this season other than upsetting Davidson was “best case scenario”.

Best conference win: An 18-point thumping of Loyola in Milwaukee.

Worst loss: So many to choose from; straight up: on the road @ VU, 40-71.

Their conference season was like:  Pearl Harbor, with the HL as the Japanese and UWM as the harbor  

Science Again!  RPIForecast underestimated this squad (330 RPI / 216 SOS) vs. reality (304 / 170).  Let that be a lesson to all those who would doubt PANTHERPOWER

Chance of winning the conference tournament: 0.01%

 Wait ’til next year?  In this sense: only if you’re a Cubs fan and it’s 1946.




8) Cleveland State (14-17 overall)

RPI:  193 (midseason: 139 / predicted finish: 185)

SOS: 132 (181 / 130)

W/L: 5-11 (8-5 / 6-10)

Best case / worst case:  7-9 / 2-14

What happened:  Was pretty much forecast by RPI, er, Forecast.  Unlike Milwaukee, youth is an excuse. Also “uncontested layups”, apparently.

Best conference win: A 12-point slap-down of Detroit.  Ah, early January, when early wins and losses of the day seem so much more important than they do in March.  Kind of like a newspaper vs. the same newspaper three days from now.

Worst loss: How about that 27-point run-for-the-bus at Loyola this weekend?  Thought so.

Their conference season was like:
 The presidency of Gerald Ford.  Nobody expected all
that much, so nobody could claim to be too disappointed.  (Except maybe the editorial page at the Washington Post sports page at the Plain Dealer.)

Science Again!  RPIForecast pegged this squad (193 RPI / 132 SOS) vs. reality (185 / 130).  So all those excuses for why they lost when they were destined to end up there anyway are just Waters under the bus bridge.

Chance of winning the conference tournament: 0.08%

Wait ’til next year? They won’t be here next year, that’s for sure.  (And not because they’re getting invited to the A-10 any time soon either.  I meant 8th in the HL.)






7) Loyola (15-15 overall)

RPI:  219 (midseason: 122 / predicted finish: 185)

SOS: 270 (294 / 130)

W/L: 5-11 (9-4 / 8-8)

Best case / worst case:  12-4 / 5-11

What happened:  The Worst-Case Scenario Handbook.  Everyone pretty much had their doubts that this team was really good, and past the first couple games, they were largely confirmed, then etched into stone when Averkamp went down.

Best conference win: A 9-point punch-in-the-neck of Valpo at the ARC.  The worst home loss since…since I still don’t want to talk about it.

Worst loss: You lost by 18 to Milwaukee.  That’s embarrassing, even on the road.

Their conference season was like:  The Jesuits themselves, ironically. Surprisingly came out of nowhere to a successful start, a fast rise, then a series of mishaps resutling in suppression, and finally, going right off the ding-dang rails.

Science Again!  RPIForecast was not alone in being skeptical; however, not skeptical enough.  Then again, anything coming off a 1-17 conference season is going to seem like gangbusters improvement.

Chance of winning the conference tournament: 0.61%

Wait ’til next year? They got a taste of what playing without Averkamp would be like, and it wasn’t pretty, and not just because things don’t ever taste ‘pretty’.  Still, Moser has them on the right path.


6)  Youngstown State (16-14)

RPI:  189 (midseason: 191 / predicted finish: 170)

SOS: 196 (252 / 223)

W/L: 7-9 (8-5 / 9-7)

Best case / worst case:  14-2 / 6-10

What happened:  That is just a bit closer to Worst-Case…which is non-coincidentally where you find “an injury to Kendrick Perry” in the YSU game plan. Also their defense was ridiculously bad for having the HL DPOY.

Best conference win: A 12-point win over the conference champ?  I’d say that qualifies.

Worst loss: The HL POY playing the 2nd most (out of 23 players in the game) minutes in a 41-point blowout in front of several dozen dejected Peng-fans.

Their conference season was like:  The Avengers, because pretty early on it looked bad for the home team (see above) but then the team came together, but instead of the movie ending at the point where the Avengers take on the evil Defending Champs at the climax, just before it Captain America blows out his knee in practice trying to defend the Hulk coming off the pick-and-roll.  Except the Penguins were not coached by Joss Whedon, and DJ Cole would have to be Hawkeye, the hero without any super powers.

Science Again!  Everybody thought that they would build upon last year, and then they went right back to muddling again.  They were 191 at midseason; they’re 189 now.

Chance of winning the conference tournament: 0.39%

Wait ’til next year?  As long as Kendrick Perry has eligibility, don’t count them out.  Plus hometown boy and DPOY Damien–what?  He’s…he’s done?  …eargle beargle.  Put them down for 7-9 again.


5)  UIC (16-14)

RPI:  164 (midseason: 70 / predicted finish: 70)

SOS: 147 (134 / 123)

W/L: 7-9 (9-4 / 10-6)

Best case / worst case:  14-2 / 9-7

What happened:  Wow…I just…we were so, so wrong about them.  But it’s not our fault.  They are the THIRD MOST INCONSISTENT team in D1 this year (behind Northwestern and Columbia; most consistent? #1 Indiana and #347 Gramblin’).  They were two games worse than worst-case.  Just…wow.  FLAMES OUT.

Best conference win: A 5-point win? When it took 3 OTs on the road, even @ YSU, that’s what takes the cake.

Worst loss: See what I wrote above for YSU, except instead of “home” put “road”; instead of “41-point loss” put “51-point loss”; and instead of “2nd most minutes out of 23 players” put “2nd most out of 24”.  Everything else is the same.

Their conference season was like:  Police Academys IV, V, and VI.  Their great start was PA I, of course, and they caught fire.  Halfway through the year they were still pretty good (PA II: Their First Assignment) even though they stumbled late (PA III: Back In Training).  Which team would show up in conference play?  Why, PA IV: Citizens On Patrol, with Valpo playing the part of Captain Harris.  Sandwiched around the Debacle In Detroit were 4 wins in 5 games (PA V:  Assignment Miami Beach had some good moments.  Heck, debuted at #1 in March 1988).  But then for some reason they decided to play the rest of the season make PA VI: City Under Siege, which must be mentioned if for no other reason than it was directed by someone allegedly named “Peter Bonerz”, who finagled a PG rating in spite of his own name, then promptly led the Flames to 6 losses in their last 8 games.

Science Again!  RPI Forecast declined repeated requests to comment on their UIC midseason projections.  I was going to file a FOIA request but I accidentally wrote a FOIE gras request instead.

Chance of winning the conference tournament: 0.39%

Wait ’til next year?  For some reason, both Police Academy and UIC Basketball are both coming back next year.  For serious.

4)  Wisconsin-Green Bay (16-14)

RPI:  165 (midseason: 220 / predicted finish: 189)

SOS: 155 (209 / 142)

W/L: 10-6 (6-7 / 7-9)

Best case / worst case:  11-5 / 3-13

What happened:  Well, these guys were wronged by the computers, but in the good way:  under-, rather than overestimated.

Best conference win: A 9-point home win over the Titans.  POY: 19 shots, 2 assists (half the team points)

Worst loss: A 19-point drubbing at the hands of a team with comparatively nothing to play for.  Now it’ll be four the hard way if they want to do something meaningful.

Their conference season was like:  Kenneth Branagh’s Much Ado About Nothing, because WH was all worried about them, and lumped them in with UWM, but that turned out to be much ado about, well, nothing because it was a delightful, sun-drenched romp with Keifer Sykes taking a regal turn as Denzel Washington, Brendan Cougill stealing scenes with comedy as Michael Keaton, and Alec Brown as Keanu Reeves, you know, because everybody figured he had to do something worthwhile at some point given all his hype, and then all he did was fight a losing battle with an English accent.

Science Again!  RPI Forecast projected that they weren’t as bad as their non-con showed, and they were borne out, largely.

Chance of winning the conference tournament: 4.99%

Wait ’til next year?  They’ve been gunning for 2014 like we have for 2013:  FO(U)R YEARS.  They lose only Cougill (although that’s like losing two players.  Maybe 2.5)


3)  Wright State (19-11)

RPI:  162 (midseason: 220 / predicted finish: 189)

SOS: 246 (337 / 209)

W/L: 10-6 (9-4 / 8-8)

Best case / worst case:  12-4 / 4-12

What happened:  Not to quote myself, but “They could be the best of all the mediocre schools in the league, wright?”  Wright I are.  They overcome the loss of Mays in a manner second only to VU overcoming BWood’s defection last year, and, I don’t mind saying, in a manner that their pathetic non-con totally didn’t prepare them for.

Best conference win: Knocking off Detroit at Detroit.

Worst loss: Losing to UIC.  Twice.  Which means they lost at home. Que embarazada.

Their conference season was like:  The Office without Steve Carell.  Yeah, it didn’t disintegrate and die when their star walked out the door, but cameos from JT Yoho, Cole Darling, and Jim Carrey weren’t quite enough to carry it in his absence.  Plus they never quite recovered from the horrific injury sustained on the dunk attempt by Will Ferrell Reggie Arceneaux.

Science Again!  RPI Forecast projected that they weren’t as bad as their non-con showed, and they were borne out, largely.  Yes, I copied and pasted this from Green Bay above because it also worked.  The major difference is even the #12 HL couldn’t drag their SOS where it was projected to be (where it needed to be).

Chance of winning the conference tournament: 3.55%

Wait ’til next year?  Until Darling or Pacher pull the grad year transfer to Louisville or something.

2)  Detroit (20-11)

RPI:  57 (midseason: 98 / predicted finish: 65)

SOS: 96 (89 / 78)

W/L: 12-4 (6-5 / 10-6)

Best case / worst case:  14-2 / 8-8

What happened:  Detroit, being Detroit, always drops games you didn’t plan on them dropping (losing at home to WSU), but since this happens every year (especially @ CSU), maybe we should plan on the drops after all.  Except that maybe that would make them stop drops and roll.

Best conference win: Knocking off Valpo at Valpo, despite only playing 10 good minutes out of 40.

Worst loss: Losing to CSU for the third straight year, even though this year CSU was more like CSI: Lame.

Their conference season was like:  Married With Children:  moments of unparalleled brilliance amidst longer periods of absolute dysfunction, but always less absolute dysfunction than the previous season, and so not as many moments of unparalleled brilliance.

Science Again!  They were pretty much pegged for where they ended up, but they won 2 more games and so were a little higher.  T100 SOS is a-vera nahce (in Strong Bad voice).

Chance of winning the conference tournament: 29.93%

Wait ’til next year?  Even if McCallum goes pro, they can plug Brundidge in, and Bruinsma for Mini-wrath, and almost be right back where they were.  If he comes back… 404’d


1)  Valpo (24-7)

RPI:  60 (midseason: 110 / predicted finish: 97)

SOS: 179 (278 / 179)

W/L: 13-3 (9-4 / 10-6)

Best case / worst case:  16-0 / 9-7

What happened:  Two long streaks, one of six wins that put VU from behind where they started to ahead; and the other, eight of nine, that kept them there to stay.

Best conference win: Coming back from ginormous deficit to embarrass Detroit on their home floor.

Worst loss: No, not the inverse of the above, but coming out in the conference home opener and sucking it up against Loyola, who turned out to be not nearly that good.

Their conference season was like:  Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.  Why?  Because everyone had such high hopes for it after the orignal, but instead of the sequel it was a prequel.  Hear me out: last season was the surprise hit of 2012, so we expected, against all known evidence outside of Empire Strikes Back, that the sequel would be better than the original.  Instead it was more like 2011–a lil more disappointing than the first–not because of results!–but because of expectations.  With HL POY Harrison Ford returning, and an in-his-prime George Lucas coaching–how could anything go wrong?  And then Son of MiniWrath tore a beating heart out right on our screen.

Well, Detroit always was a little bit Thuggee.

…all of a sudden, remembers “Saders of the Lost Ark” and … uh oh.  This isn’t any good for the ole “i’m not Sader” idea.  (trying vainly to think of a better metaphor)  Anyway…it’s a good year when 24-7 is a little disappointing, and when you feel you should have won at least four of the seven.

Science Again!  Take a look at where RPI Forecast predicted our SOS would end up.  Then look at where it did.  Yeah, that’s right.

Chance of winning the conference tournament: 59.48%

Wait ’til next year?  No one expects the freshman class (nickname needed!) to come in and dominate the HL, though they could.  Still, they don’t need to, not when the starting lineup could be all returners:  Capo & Vashil up front; Rossi at 3, LVD at 2, Keith Carter at 1, with Coleman in there too somewhere.  That’s not nothing.  And neither is the incoming class.  But wherever they end up it will be exciting, because there aren’t really expectations.


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