2017-18 MTE and Neutral Site Showcase Preview Series: Men Against Breast Cancer

With the graduation of Kavin Gilder-Tilbury, look for sophomore Nijal Pearson to be the go-to guy for Texas State in 2017-18. (Source: Texas State Men’s Basketball)

CALGARY, Alta. — The 2017-18 season is just around the corner, and while there’s a debate on Twitter as to when the season actually starts, it can’t get here soon enough.

Schedules are being released with each passing weekday, and many of them feature early-season tournaments and multi-team events all throughout non-conference play. According to Chris Dobbertean and Blogging the Bracket, there are over 30 multi-team tournaments, and another handful of neutral site showcases and non-exempt events.

So, with the season coming up, we thought we would go through and preview all of the early-season tournaments, the non-exempt tournaments, and a wide array of the neutral site showcase events. In total, we will preview 75 different events over the course of the next 75 days, culminating on opening day.

We selected the events at random, and have broken some up into two pieces, like the Phil Knight Invitational, since there are two separate brackets.

Today, we take a look at the 2017 Men Against Breast Cancer Classic.

Event: Men Against Breast Cancer Showcase
Location: Colorado Springs, CO; Stockton, CA
Dates: November 12th, 14th, 21st, 24th-26th
Number of Teams: Five
2016-17 Winner: N/A

2016-17: Men vs. Cancer Showcase Results

Last season, the Men vs. Cancer Showcase was played on the campus of the Wright State Raiders. While it has a different name than this year’s challenge, and there’s no telling if it’s indeed the same event or not, the event was played to raise awareness for cancer.

Each of the four teams in last year’s field had a non-conference game against a non-Division I opponent, either prior to the event or shortly thereafter. Three games in three nights tested all four teams in the field, and provided some top-level competition throughout the six games.

The Raiders hosted the event, and welcomed the North Dakota Fighting HawksNorth Florida Ospreys, and Cal State Bakersfield Roadrunners to Dayton, OH to partake in the three day showcase from November 25th – 27th, 2016.

Below are the results from the games in last year’s showcase:

North Florida 76, North Dakota 75
Wright State 68, Cal State Bakersfield 64

Cal State Bakersfield 77, North Florida 54
Wright State 83, North Dakota 79

North Dakota 57, Cal State Bakersfield 55
Wright State 75, North Florida 67

This year’s Men Against Breast Cancer Showcase has two parts. Three of the teams in the main showcase will play a road game in Colorado Springs, CO against the Air Force Falcons before heading to Stockton, CA for the three day event at the end of November.

2017 Field

In the 2017 Men Against Breast Cancer Showcase, there are two stretches of games that will entice fans across the country. Up first, the Air Force Falcons will host a trio of non-conference games over the first week and a half of the 2017-18 season. Then, three road teams ascend on Stockton, CA for the main event, which is hosted this season by the Pacific Tigers.

The 2017-18 season is a big year for the Falcons. They have finished below the .500 mark in four straight seasons after going 18-14 in Dave Pilipovich’s first season as head coach back in 2013. Hayden Graham and Zach Kocur have graduated from the program, but the Falcons have an inside-out duo of Jacob Van (10.7 ppg, 2.8 apg) and Frank Toohey (10.6 ppg, 4.6 rpg) to lead the way this season. Van struggled down the stretch last season, but was impressive to open the season and into January.

Air Force’s hopes will also hinge on the play of Trevor Lyons, who fell off a bit last season in comparison to his sophomore season from 2015-16. The 6’3” guard averaged 7.4 points and 2.3 assists per game as a junior, down from his sophomore averages of 12.7 points and 2.8 assists per contest. If Lyons can regain his form from 2015-16, then Air Force could be a sneaky team in the Mountain West this season.

The Falcons welcome the Texas State Bobcats to town on November 12th, the Canisius Golden Griffins to town on November 14th, and the Pacific Tigers to town on November 21st. The only team in the field to not square off with the Falcons are the Arkansas Pine Bluff Golden Lions.

Last season, the Bobcats were a tough out in the post-season, as they advanced to the quarter-finals of the CIT before falling to the Saint Peter’s Peacocks.

In 2017-18, leading scorer Kavin Gilder-Tilbury is out of the picture, but sophomore guard Nijal Pearson is back and looking to build off a successful freshman campaign. Pearson was second on the team in scoring, averaging 13.3 points per contest, and he led the team in rebounding with an average of 5.7 boards per game. With Gilder-Tilbury out of the mix, Pearson becomes the go-to guy for Danny Kaspar’s crew.

This season, the Bobcats will have three new starters in the rotation, and three players will make the jump from the JUCO ranks. After a big year last season, the Bobcats will be in tough to meet last year’s 22-win total. One player who will see a largely expanded role is sophomore big man Nedeljko Prijovic. The 6’8” forward averaged 4.2 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 0.6 blocks per game last season.

Despite losing Ray BowlesTySean Powell, and five others on the transfer market this off-season, the Pacific Tigers have the benefit of hosting three games on their home court. Home court advantage is always a good problem to have in a multi-team event, and the Tigers will look to pull out three wins for their home fans.

In Damon Stoudamire’s second season, he will lean heavily on a pair of transfers, in Kendall Small and Miles Reynolds. After sitting out last season, both are eligible in 2017-18, and will look to have an impact right out of the gate. With the Saint Louis Billikens in 2015-16, Reynolds averaged 8.1 points and a team-high 2.5 assists per game, while shooting 43.2% from the field.

Small comes to the Tigers by way of the Oregon Ducks, where he was used in more of a reserve role.

In terms of returnees, look for red-shirt junior Jack Williams to see an increase in minutes in the front court. In his first season at Pacific after transferring from the Long Beach State 49ers, Williams averaged 8.7 points per contest, while appearing in all but one game for the team.

While they may have home court advantage, the Tigers will be in tough all season long as they look to replace a ton on both ends of the floor, especially against a talented field on their home court.

Back in 2010, the Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions advanced to the NCAA Tournament, and won their First Four game over the Winthrop Eagles, 61-44. After back-to-back single-digit win seasons, the 2010 NCAA Tournament seems so long ago.

The Golden Lions averaged just 61.8 points per game last season, and had the least efficient offense, according to the KenPom rankings. However, they have a few intriguing pieces that are back in the mix this season that should create some excitement inside the K.L. Johnson Complex at Golden Lions’ home games.

Senior forward Trent Steen is one of the better forwards in the Southwestern Athletic Conference, and Athlon Sports tabbed him as an All-SWAC Second Team member in their pre-season preview. Steen averaged a team-high 9.1 points and 4.4 rebounds per contest last season.

Just by looking at the team stats from last season, it’s hard to fathom a thought of a double-digit win season for the Golden Lions again this season. If players can elevate their games, including junior guard Charles Jackson, then anything is possible.

Arguably the team to beat in the 2017 Men Against Breast Cancer Showcase comes from the MAAC. The Canisius Golden Griffins are without stars like Kiefer DouseKassius Robertson, and Phil Valenti from last year’s team, but they have four sophomores who are set to become household names, and a power forward that finished second on the team in scoring a season ago.

Up front, Jermaine Crumpton is one of just two seniors on the roster for the Griffins this season, and he will play a significant role within the team once again. The 6’6” Crumpton averaged 15.9 points and 4.5 rebounds per game, while shooting 49.1% from the floor and a somewhat surprising 42.9% (57-of-133) from three point range. Over his career, he has gained more and more confidence in his long range shooting, and Crumpton has improved his three point shooting each season at Canisius.

On the back end, sophomore guards Isaiah Reese (7.1 ppg, 2.9 apg), Malik Johnson (3.8 ppg, 4.4 apg), and Spencer Foley (4.0 ppg, 93.3% FT) will be the immediate beneficiaries of Canisius losing their top two guards from a season ago. All three players are in for expanded roles this season, and give the Golden Griffins some extra depth at both guard spots.


Colorado Springs, CO

November 12th: Texas State Bobcats @ Air Force Falcons

November 14th: Canisius Golden Griffins @ Air Force Falcons

November 21st: Pacific Tigers @ Air Force Falcons

Stockton, CA
November 24th, 2017

Canisius Golden Griffins v. Texas State Bobcats
Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions @ Pacific Tigers

November 25th, 2017

Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions v. Canisius Golden Griffins
Texas State Bobcats @ Pacific Tigers

November 26th, 2017

Texas State Bobcats v. Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions
Canisius Golden Griffins @ Pacific Tigers

– T. Bennett