DOWNTOWN- It’s become an annual fall tradition in the Windy City, one that has lasted for over a decade. The 2014 Chicago College Basketball Tipoff Luncheon took place at Maggiano’s Little Italy in Downtown Chicago on Monday…. It’s an event where the coaches -and occasionally players and administrators- from Northwestern, Loyola, DePaul, UIC, and Chicago State gather with the media and other dignitaries to give their thoughts on the upcoming season.
This time around every coach has the same goal, to reach the NCAA Tournament. The last Chicago teams to do so were the 2004 UIC Flames and DePaul Blue Demons. Since then, area teams have only gone to smaller tournaments. Northwestern went to four straight NIT’s between 2009 and 2012 under former coach Bill Carmody.
Loyola-Chicago hasn’t played any postseason ball since advancing to the Sweet Sixteen back in 1986. DePaul made trips to the NIT in 2005 and 2007. They were eliminated in the first round back in ’05, but advanced all the way to the quarterfinals in ’07 before falling victim to Air Force.
And Ilinois-Chicago eliminated Chicago State in the opener of the 2013 College Insider Tournament before getting knocked off by Northern Iowa. All five of these programs will have a tall task ahead of them in reaching the big dance, especially when conference play kicks in.
Here is a 2014-2015 preview of Chicago’s teams…..
Head Coach: Chris Collins (Second year as coach)
2013-2014 Record: 14-19 overall (6-12 Big Ten)
2014 Final Result: Eliminated in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament by Michigan State.
Departures: Guard/forward Drew Crawford (graduated), forward/center Nikola Cerina (graduated), center Cher Ajou (left team before the end of last season), center Aaron Liberman (transferred), forward Kale Abrahamson (transferred), and guard James Montgomery III (graduated).
2014 review: When Collins took the reigns last year he had to completely change the culture of NU basketball. Using holdovers from the Carmody era, Collins had to get his players to adapt to his motion offense (similar to what Duke ran when he was an assistant there) after 13 years of Carmody’s “Princeton Offense”. Injuries, a lack of depth, and little to no production from the bench gave this team a rude awakening.
New Arrivals: Incoming freshman consisting of guards Johnnie Vassar, Scottie Lindsey and Bryant McIntosh, along with forwards Vic Law, Nick Segura, and Gavin Skelly. Senior center Jeremiah Kreisberg transferred from Yale.
Returning Players: Guards Tre Demps (junior), JerShon Cobb (senior), and Dave Sobolewski (senior). Along with sophomore forwards Sanjay Lumpkin and Nate Traphorn, and junior center Alex Olah.
2015 preview: Collins has pulled one of the best recruiting classes in school history. Law and Lindsey are NU’s first Top-75 recruits since center Evan Eschmeyer took his talents to Evanston in the mid-90’s. All of the new recruits were major contributors in high school so depth shouldn’t be a problem this year. The Cats’ also won’t have to lean Demps as much to provide scoring off the bench. Law is expected to contribute right off the bat, and hopefully the addition of post players will push Olah to step his game up. Keeping everyone healthy however is the biggest key to success.
Projected Starting Lineup….
Point Guard: Sobolewski
Shooting Guard: Cobb
Power Forward: Law
Small Forward: Lumpkin
Coaches Quote: “The talent in this city is as good as it gets in the country. Not only do you have the five local schools, but you also have the best of the best coming here and recruiting. So it’s incredibly difficult to recruit (in) our state and our area… For the most part we’re healthy, we should be healthy and ready to go.”
Northwestern begins their season with an exhibition against McKendree on November 7th.
Head Coach: Porter Moser (32-61 record in Rogers Park)
2013-2014 Record: 10-22 overall (4-14 Missouri Valley)
2014 Final Result: Eliminated in the second round of the MVC Tournament by Indiana State.
Departures: Forward Nick Osborne (transferred), forward Matt O’Leary (transferred), center Cody Johnson (left team), guard Bill Clark (graduated), and guard Derrick Boone (graduated).
2014 Review: The Ramblers could have easily been an 18 to 20 win team had it not been for an ungodly 427 turnovers, and the inability to sustain second half leads (6-10 when leading or tied at halftime). Besides that LU was efficient on offense and fundamentally sound on defense.
New Arrivals: Coach Moser has a ton of freshman talent this year in guards Cal Kennedy, Eric Porter, and Ben Richardson along with forwards Donte Ingram, Jay Knuth, and Finland native Julius Rajala. They also have two junior transfers in guard Earl Peterson and forward Montel James.
Returning Players: The Ramblers only return six players from last year’s squad…… Senior forward Christian Thomas along with guards Milton Doyle (sophomore), Jeff White (junior), London Dokubo (senior), Joe Crisman (senior) and Devon Turk (junior).
2015 Preview: Losing Osborne, O’Leary (both 6-foot-8) and Johnson (6-foot-10) take away most of this teams size, length, rebounding abilities, and post presence. Not good for a team playing in a conference full of front court talent. They’ll need to drastically and significantally reduce their turnovers, and be a flawless shooting team to be successful. There’s also a major concern with Doyle. He’s been dealing with a torn labrum in his right shoulder, and he’s been practicing and rehabbing through the pain.
If last years MVC Freshman and Newcomer of The Year isn’t ready to go on opening night (November 14th against Rockhurst) he may need surgery.
Projected Starting Lineup:
Guard: Doyle (if healthy)
Coaches Quote: “I think they (the players) learned that (The Valley is) a great basketball league. You’re playing in front of rich, basketball tradition schools… It’s a great league and it’s going to bode well for our future.”
Lets hope the Ramblers have the talent to make that future a reality.
DePaul Blue Demons:
Head Coach: Oliver Purnell (fifth year)
2013-2014 Record: 12-21 overall (3-15 Big East)
2014 Final Result: Eliminated in the second round of the Big East Tournament by Creighton.
Departures: Guard Brandon Young (graduated), guard/forward DeJuan Marrero (transferred), forward Cleveland Melvin (dismissed from team and school in February), guard Charles McKinney (dismissed from team in September), guard Edwind McGhee (graduated), and forward/center Sandi Marcius (graduated). Also not available are junior forwards Peter Ryckbosch (tore his ACL in preseason practice), and transfer Rashaun Stimage (out 10 weeks with a foot fracture).
2014 Review: For four consecutive seasons the Demons have thrived in non-conference play (32-18 under Purnell), while underachieving in the Big East (10-69 under Purnell). The reasons for DePaul’s misfortunes are fundamental lapses, poor execution, and an occasional lack of talent and depth. DePaul struggles when going up the nations best. So far Purnell has not lived up to his reputation of turning program’s around like he did at Clemson, Dayton and Old Dominion.
New Arrivals: The Blue Demons added two walk-on’s in the form of junior guard David Molinari and freshman forward Joe Hanel. Also making his debut is junior forward Mike Henry who sat out last season after transferring from Illinois. Sophomore guard Darrick Wood and junior guard Aaron Simpson are junior college transfers.
Returning Players: Guards: Sophomores R.J. Curington, and Billy Garrett Jr., and juniors Cory Dolins and Durell McDonald. Forwards: Seniors Jamee Crockett and Greg Sequele. Centers: Sophomore Tommy Hamilton IV and senior Forrest Robinson.
2015 Preview: If coach Purnell isn’t on the hot seat now (he was given a vote of confidence by athletic director Jean Lenti-Ponsetto back in March), he definitely should be if DePaul can’t crack the 20 win mark for the first time since 2007. Purnell must also bring chemistry to a team that’s undergone numerous changes over the summer. Two things that will help this process are the progression of last year’s Big East Freshman of The Year Billy Garrett, and the development of big man Tommy Hamilton.
Projected Starting Lineup:
Coaches Quote: “Some programs turn around quicker than others. I was at Dayton for nine years, Clemson for seven years, Radford for three and Old Dominion for three, so sometimes it’s quicker than the others depending on the circumstances.”
But are the Blue Demon faithful running out of patience? DePaul begins their season with an exhibition tilt against Lewis on November 6th.
Head Coach: Howard Moore (39-87 record at UIC)
2013-2014 Record: 6-25 (1-15 Horizon League)
2014 Final Result: Eliminated in the opening round of the Horizon League Tournament by Valparaiso.
Departures: Guards Pat Birt and Kelsey Barlow have both graduated. As did forwards Jordan Harks and Hayden Humes. Guard Joey Miller departed for unknown reasons as did dependable forward Will Simonton. Junior center Kaylen Shane initially transferred to UIC over the summer, but reversed his decision a few weeks later.
2014 Review: Missed opportunities defined the Flames season last year. Missed shots, missed free throws, no help from the bench, leaving points on the court, turnovers, getting out rebounded and outplayed on both ends of the floor derailed a team that was in the postseason the previous year.
New Arrivals: Coach Moore has always been aggressive when it comes bringing in talent and this summer was no different. Here are this year’s new editions….. Transfers: Junior guards Paris Burns (Vincennes University) and D’Juan Miller (Eastern Arizona College), fifth-year senior guard Jay Harris (Wagner College), and junior forward Jason McClellan (Eastern Wyoming College). They also have two new freshman with forwards David Ramon from Spain and Homewood-Flossmoor product Tai Odaise.
Returning Players: The Flames will be looking to a handful of players for leadership. Those players are forwards Jake Wiegand (junior), Ahman Fells (senior), and Hans-Christian Lauer (sophomore), as well as guards Markese McGuire (sophomore), Jay Parker (senior), Marc Brown (senior), Lance Whitaker (sophomore), Gabe Snider (junior), and Marcus White (sophomore).
2015 Preview: The Flames can’t afford to repeat last year’s mistakes. They also need better production from their bench, more production from their guards, and the aforementioned Wiegand needs to take the next step now that he’s an upperclassman. Put all of that together and UIC could find themselves back in the postseason.
Projected Starting Lineup:
Coaches Quote: “We can’t be any happier about the fact that there is no clear cut leader in the Horizon League. We’re ready to put our best foot forward.”
The Flames can do just that when they take on Beloit College on November 6th.
Chicago State Cougars:
Head Coach: Tracy Dildy (34-93 career record)
2013-2014 Record: 13-19 (8-8 Western Athletic)
2014 Final Result: Eliminated in the first round of the WAC Tournament by California-State Bakersfield.
Departures: CSU hoops graduated a school record eight seniors in 2014.
2014 Review: Thanks to coach Dildy’s tireless efforts, CSU has become a respectable program.
New Arrivals: Freshman guards Anthony Glover, Sharieff Medlock, and Montana Byrd, with forwards Joshua Meier and Elijah Robertson. Along with the following transfers… Senior guard Sean Hill, sophomore guard Trayvon Palmer, junior forward Jawad Adekoya, senior forward Michael Johnson, and junior forward Jesse Tesmer.
Returning Players: Guards Clarke Rosenberg (senior), Joshua Batson (junior), Rahjan Muhammad (senior), and Kurt Karis (sophomore). Forwards Quron Davis (sophomore), Michael Johnson (senior), Aaron Williams (senior), Jared Dimakos (junior), and Johnny Griffin (sophomore).
2015 Preview: The Cougars are headed in the right direction, they just need a few more conference victories to solidify themselves as contenders. They have another difficult non-conference schedule which includes teams from Pac-12, Big East and ACC, but that’s just how the coach likes it.
Projected Starting Lineup:
Coaches Quote: “Since I came to Chicago State we’ve experienced a lot of firsts in a short amount of time. Now those firsts have turned into expectations….. Losing eight seniors has not changed the way we schedule games.”
Dildy’s words will be tested as CSU starts their season with a trip to Arizona State on November 14th.
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