Evansville guard Colt RyanCountdown to Oct. 15:In 10 days, MVC schools begin men’s basketball practice. There are 10 MVC schools. Starting today, Shockwaves (with help from writers around the conference) will count down with a daily look at an MVC school (in predicted order of finish). We start with the Aces:
Evansville is leaving Roberts Stadium after this season for a new downtown arena. For long-time fans, Roberts has a lot of great memories. It served as the home of the NCAA College Division (Division II) championship from 1957-77 and the Aces won five titles on their home court. The last MVC team to change an old municipal arena for a new one was Creighton. Its move to the Qwest Center works fabulously. The Aces must start to win to reap any similar benefits. Nobody does more with less in the MVC than coach Marty Simmons, who is fighting uphill battles at the MVC’s smallest school.
1. How much more can Colt Ryan do?
Ryan, as a freshman, averaged 35.5 minutes and led the Aces in scoring (14.5 ppg) and steals (33). He ranked second in assists (89) and third in rebounds (4.4). He needs Denver Holmes to continue to improve and and inside game to materialize. Unfortunately, Evansville’s best inside threat (James Haarsma) transferred after averaging 10.8 ppg and 7.1 rpg. If the Aces can’t surround Ryan with more talent, he may stagnate as defenses focus their efforts on him.
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2. Can Simmons stabilize his roster?
The Aces operate on thin margins. Guard Kaylon Williams left after a promising freshman season in 2009. Haarsma departed after his sophomore season. Evansville can’t improve if it continues to lose key players each season.
3. Can the Aces get out of the bottom of the MVC?
Evansville finished last in 2008 and 2010 and ninth in 2004, 2005 and 2007. Its best finish in that time is a tie for 5th in 2009 (with an 8-10 record). The Aces appear locked in as one of the Valley’s have-nots. The 2011 team returns four starters and three top reserves and built some momentum with wins over Northern Iowa, Wichita State and at Drake last in 2010. Simmons coached the Aces to a 17-14 record in 2009 relying heavily on three seniors. This team isn’t as experienced, so expecting a move into the upper half seems like a stretch.