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Around the MVC this summer

Bradley

The Braves went 3-1 in an August tour of the Bahamas. Coach Geno Ford spread minutes liberally among his 12 players.  Senior guard Walt Lemon led the Braves by scoring 14.8 ppg. Transfer guard Omari Grier averaged 12.3, although he shot 32 percent from the floor. The Braves shot miserably (14-68) from three-point range, although that is misleading. Games were played with the international arc of 22 feet, 1 inch (deeper than the college arc of 20-9) and it’s possible the officials missed a few of Bradley’s threes, according to Bradley’s Bobby Parker. Freshman Jordan Swopshire made 5 of 12. Freshman guard Stefan Zecevic contributed 15 points and eight rebounds in a game in which Lemon played little. For the four games, Zecevic shot poorly (14-38), but did average 6.5 rebounds. All disclaimers about island officiating, opponents, travel, etc. apply.The Braves play eight non-conference home games, most notably against Central Michigan (and former Drake coach Keno Davis) and South Florida (no longer a Big East member). Its road schedule includes games at Illinois and Arizona State. There are numerous potential RPI-killers (Chicago State, IUPUI, Texas-Pan American) on the list.The play of Zecevic impressed Ford as one of the trip’s biggest benefits.

Drake

New coach Ray Giacoletti has commitments from four players from the class of 2014.Drake guard Jordan Daniels rode out the coaching change after transferring from Boston College.

Evansville

The Aces are loading up on Lithuanians.Junior Ryan Sawvell went to Europe hoping to learn how to play alongside Evansville center Egidijus Mockevicius.

Illinois State

Redbirds coach Dan Muller has nine newcomers to work with for his second season. ISU’s off-season hit the low point in late June when Muller kicked guard Bryant Allen, his lone returning starter, off the team in late June. Guard Johnny Hill and forward Jon Ekey, both of whom started, transferred earlier in the spring.Muller hired Luke Yaklich as an assistant coach, replacing Rob Judson.The best news for Redbirds fans (and the MVC) is that Muller is doing a nice job upgrading the schedule. They will play VCU and DePaul in home-and-home series.

Indiana State

The Sycamores will play at Notre Dame, Belmont and Saint Louis. At home, they get a return from Belmont and open the Great Alaska Shootout against Tulsa.Indiana State will honor Larry Bird this fall to start the season with a dinner and statue dedication.

Loyola

Coach Porter Moser rebuilt his coaching staff with new assistants Daniyal Robinson, Matt Gordon and Emanuel Dildy. He hired former Southern Illinois guard Bryan Mullins as director of operations.

Missouri State

Junior forward Christian Kirk is glad to see more big bodies on the roster.The Bears play Texas A&M in the Corpus Christi Challenge, then either SMU or Virginia.

Northern Iowa

The Panthers play VCU (which should be the A-10 favorite) in a BracketBusters return game (who misses that much-maligned series?) on Dec. 14 in Cedar Falls on ESPNU.In June, guard Paul Jesperson transferred to UNI from Virginia. He will sit out this season and play two seasons. Jesperson (6-foot-6) started 33 games in two seasons at Virginia and averaged 4.7 points.

Southern Illinois

Illinois center Ibby Djimde transferred to SIU and will have two seasons of eligibility beginning in 2014-15.Guard Josh Swan’s career is over because of a knee injury. He will work as a student coach at SIU.SIU’s non-conference schedule is expected to include Saint Louis, Missouri and Western KentuckyWith APR worries behind him, Salukis coach Barry Hinson can focus on rebuilding his program.

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