Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Aces - Finally - Look Ahead ; Coach Marty Simmons Starts Work on 2014 Team, Schedule

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Aces - Finally - Look Ahead ; Coach Marty Simmons Starts Work on 2014 Team, Schedule

Article excerpt

As the University of Evansville's men's basketball team completed its semifinals run in last month's CollegeInsider.com Tournament, the Aces found themselves one of fewer than 35 Division I squads still playing. A lengthy postseason run lessened the load placed on players during recent spring workouts, which were more about shooting drills and playing pickup than intense weights and cardio.

Still, coach Marty Simmons knows what he's up against: replacing Colt Ryan, the program's all-time leading scorer, as well as three other seniors who were all mainstays in the Aces' rotation.

"I think all the years I've been here, this is probably going to be the most important summer for our basketball team we've had," said Simmons, who enters his seventh season this fall. "Losing the experience from the guys who graduated, it's just about to our ability to try and find our identity as a group."

Off a 21-15 season, Evansville returns third-leading scorer D. J. Balentine (8.1 points per game) and second-leading rebounder Egidijus Mockevicius (5.0 boards per game), both of whom will be sophomores.

In fact, Simmons expects each of his underclassmen to return for next season thanks to that CIT run.

"A lot was made of Colt and the rest, but I think as a team, it drew us closer together," he said.

Most Missouri Valley Conference programs were already two weeks into the offseason while Evansville was still playing. The transfer lists only grew with defections from Illinois State, Indiana State, Bradley and Southern Illinois.

Simmons, asked if he'd have any transfers, knocked on his wooden desk.

"I don't think so," he said. "You never know. We've got pretty good rapport with our guys."

The NCAA's regular signing period starts today and runs through May 15. Because Evansville doesn't have high school players committed and ready to sign binding letters of intent, the search to complete the Aces' roster continues. …

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