He Said It: MVC Media Day

imageBy Peyton Wesner

Tonight is not any ordinary night in St. Louis, Missouri. This evening is the opening round of the 2016 Missouri Valley Conference Tournament! 

Though, before the Bradley Braves and the Loyola (IL) Ramblers kicked off the four day party, the top six seeds were open to the media for questions.

Here are some of the highlights from the 90 minute interview extravaganza!

#6 14-16 (8-10) Indiana State Sycamores

“Everybody is undefeated. We’ve got a game under our belt, a win streak going. That’s what we’re going to do, have a good little practice here, shoot some shots here and go over and get a good practice in. Everyone is just focused and locked in and prepared for the task at hand.”

—Head coach Greg Lansing on his team’s rough stretch after starting 6-3 in conference play.

“Everybody is undefeated. We’ve got a game under our belt, a win streak going. That’s hay we’re going to do, have a good little practice here, shoot some shots here and go over and get a good practice in. Everyone is just focused and locked in and prepared for the task at hand.”

—All-MVC 2nd team guard Devonte Brown

“Where do you start really? They’re gifted athletically and skill-wise as anybody in the league. They have several matchups across the board that are difficult, and they’re not just difficult for us. They’re difficult for anybody. It shows they beat everybody in the league this year.”

—Greg Lansing on what is the biggest concern when facing Illinois State.

“Yeah, looking back at those games early in our conference season, beating those teams, knowing that we get another chance to play them again on out side of the bracket, it gives us a great deal of confidence, and I think we’re going to just be ready to play. We know what we have to do.”

—All-MVC 2nd team “stud sophomore” Brenton Scott on the confidence the team has considering they beat all the teams on their side of the bracket (Evansville, Illinois State, Missouri State, and Drake).

#5 22-9 (11-7) Southern Illinois Salukis

“It’s been a great, humbling experience for me today. I said at the banquet that the first person to receive that award was Mr. Iba, and I worked for Mr. Iba at Oklahoma State. That’s what makes it extremely special, as well as getting the opportunity to be around these guys on a daily basis and getting to see a program that’s been on a drought since 2008. We really feel like we’re turning the corner in Saluki Nation.”

—Head coach Barry Hinson on receiving Coach of the Year.    “I think one of the things that these guys do extremely well is everybody has a role, and they perform to their role at their best ability. Washpun sets up everybody for shots. Koch, obviously, and Carlson are playing extremely well right now.”

—Barry Hinson on the challenges of facing UNI for a third time.

“I didn’t do anything. We’ve had so many people that have had a collectives part of this process because, when we arrived at Southern — and Anthony came in with us immediately, and then Sean came in with us the next year. We were at a catastrophic situation academically. We were 342nd out of 347 teams.”

—Barry Hinson’s opinion on the job he has done coaching this season.

“I don’t remember what happened at the end, but I’m doing good. I just had a couple headaches, but no concussion symptoms” said All-MVC 1st team senior Anthony Beane on his head injury against Missouri State. “I’m going to be ready for tomorrow. I should be good.”

#4 19-12 (11-7) Northern Iowa Panthers

“We’re playing great basketball right now. It’s been a really good five-week stretch” said head coach Ben Jacobson in his opening statement. “We were spinning our tires for about 2 1/2 weeks, and these three guys just made it happen. They would not quit. They just continued to believe in who we are and what we do, how we do it, and really proud of them for doing the things that they had to do to get us going again.”

“There are good and bad reasons to transfer. I personally transferred to be closer to home. I had a good relationship with the coaching staff throughout my high school recruitment and stuff like that. So it ended up being a pretty good fit.”

—All-MVC 2nd team “human highlight reel” Wes Washpun on transferring from Tennessee.

“You can’t get ahead of yourself. This is a three-game tournament, but at the end of the day, you can’t get to the second game without winning the first game and so in.”

—All-MVC Honorable Mention selection Matt Bohannon.

“Southern (Illinois) has had a tremendous year. Being picked 9th and now having the non-conference they did, of course. But the way they have played through “The Valley,” they just had a terrific year, and I think it’s happened because the guys that have returned got better. All four of these starters are better than they were last year. The guys they added fit perfect.”

—Ben Jacobson on the current opponent’s success this season.

#3 18-13 (12-6) Illinois State Redbirds

“Last year’s experience with this team was one of my fondest memories, to be honest. Obviously, if we could have finished it, it would have been even better, but I get great joy out of seeing these guys be successful. And I do know what it feels like to win. I’m hoping this team can have that feeling Sunday.”

—Head coach Dan Muller

“I think the defense is going to determine which team wins the tournament.”

—All-MVC Honorable Mention selection Paris Lee on what the deciding factor will crown a champion.

  “Last year it was right at the beginning of the conference season, so it feels like forever ago. Any time you play a team a third time, which in this tournament, you always will. You look at adjustments, what worked, what didn’t work. You try to guess what the team that you played against is going to do differently so you’re prepared.”

—Dan Miller on how past matchups affect the game planning for a third and final grudge-match.

“Memories with Torrey, they never stop. Certainly, we have great memories from here from last year. Just his calming presence with our players, his attitude, his confidence he gave with our players. How much fun he had, how much he enjoyed every game, but especially the tournament.”

—Dan Muller on the great experience he had at Arch Madness last year with his late great friend and fellow coach Torrey Ward.

#2 23-8 (12-6) Evansville Purple Aces

“I think we’re all excited, you know. It’s that time of year. Really proud of how our guys finished the regular season. We stumbled there at home against Northern Iowa at the end, but overall, I think they did a lot of neat things, and I think this week has been a good week of practice.”

—Head coach Marty Simmons on how the team feels coming into the tournament as the two seed.

“It’s been great. I mean, any time you lead the nation in any category, it’s pretty special. To lead it in a category like rebounding, which is more effort probably than anything. It makes it even more special.”

—Marty Simmons on All-MVC 1st teamer Egidijus Mockevicius and his rebounding prowess.

“Yeah, just really excited. I’ve always been a fan of Arch Madness and St. Louis. If you ask any of the guys on the team, they can’t wait to play. We’re really antsy.”

—All-MVC 1st teamer D.J. Balentine on his feelings of getting the ball rolling for the weekend.

#1 23-7 (16-2) Wichita State Shockers

“The Shocker fans are incredible. They’ve been coming here for years. When I took the job, they talked about how many times they’d been to St. Louis and really have never had much success. We’ve had a little more success in tenure, and they just continue to come. They’re just very loyal.”

—Head coach Gregg Marshall on the always present support of Wichita State Shockers’ fans in St. Louis.

“I think me and Ron, from the moment we met, kind of connected as friends. And eventually, the more time you spend with people, the relationship grows stronger. So me and him have a great relationship since day one.”

—2016 Larry Bird MVC Player of the Year and All-MVC 1st teamer Fred VanVleet on the connection him and teammate Ron Baker has in general, not just on the court.  “As far as being the best backcourt, in my opinion, I believe we are. We like playing defense. It’s what Coach preaches to us every day.”

—All-MVC 1st teamer Ron Baker on whether he and Fred VanVleet are the best backcourt in the nation.

“It’s very special, very humble to win it again. The first time, I was caught up in the moment and didn’t really understand the value of what it was, probably because I wasn’t expecting it.

I think Cleanthony (Early) was the Player of the Year that year. He and Ton had tremendous years, and either one of those guys could have won it. I think Ron could have won it again this year.”

—Fred VanVleet on the honor it is to win Player of the Year for a second time in his career.