Tag Archives: Western Illinois

Eleven Under-the-Radar Freshmen That Every Fan Should Know About

Taylor, Terry
The play of freshman Terry Taylor is a big reason for the 5-3 start in conference play for Austin Peay. (Source: Austin Peay Athletics) (Header: HBCU Gameday)

LONDON, Ont. — To say the least, the 2017-18 college basketball season has been an exciting one, and we still have over two months of action left before another dreaded off-season.

Conference play is in full swing for every league across the NCAA, and the contenders are starting to separate themselves from the rest of the pack. There have been several surprise teams, both for the better and for the worse, that have caused some shakeups in leagues that many thought were locks for particular teams this season.

With the excitement comes the plethora of emerging young talents from coast to coast. Freshmen from all across the country have emerged as potential stars with their respective programs, and have taken on starring roles in their first seasons in the NCAA.

For whatever reason, the majority of freshmen outside of the Big Seven conferences (B1G, B12, Pac-12, ACC, SEC, AAC, BEast) don’t get their fair share of attention on a national scale. Most media outlets will only focus on the biggest names and the top programs, all while turning a blind eye to players who are just as deserving. One player, in particular, ranks sixth in the nation in scoring, yet many fans don’t know his name.

That needs to change, and in a hurry.

Here are 11 freshmen that fans from coast to coast need to become familiar with, as they are poised  for big things over their collegiate careers, including one of the nation’s elite scorers who just so happens to play in the nation’s capital.
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January 3rd Game of the Day: Western Illinois Leathernecks at South Dakota Coyotes

Gilbeck, Brandon (4)
Junior forward Brandon Gilbeck (52) is averaging 3.1 blocks per game this season, which is tied for the 11th-best mark in the country. (Header: South Dakota Athletics)

VERMILLION, SD — Wednesday’s Game of the Day features a pair of teams who don’t care for your preseason predictions in the Summit League.

Last season, the South Dakota Coyotes were picked to finish seventh in the Summit League standings. Instead, they went 12-4 in conference play to take home the regular season crown. It was their first regular season conference title in school history. With that, they also made their first-ever appearance in the National Invitational Tournament.

Fast forward to this season, and seemingly everyone wrote off the Western Illinois Leathernecks before the season started, picking them to finish eighth in the eight team league. All the Leathernecks did during non-conference play is put together an 8-4 record, matching their win total from all of last season.

Now, the Leathernecks have their sights set on climbing in the Summit League standings and proving everyone wrong, much like the Coyotes did last season. While they may not win the conference title, they have a young nucleus that will only get better with each passing year.

On Wednesday, Western Illinois opens up their conference slate with a road game against the Coyotes. South Dakota is 1-0 in Summit League play, having picked up an 82-71 win over the Denver Pioneers to close out 2017.

Here’s everything you need to know in advance of Wednesday’s match-up between the Leathernecks and Coyotes. Continue reading January 3rd Game of the Day: Western Illinois Leathernecks at South Dakota Coyotes

College Court Report Freshman of the Week: Kobe Webster, Western Illinois Leathernecks

Freshman guard Kobe Webster is emerging as a star for Western Illinois in 2017-18. (Source: Western Courier)

CANMORE, Alta. — After finishing in eighth place in the Summit League standings last season, many people were picking against the Western Illinois Leathernecks heading into 2017-18.

In the preseason Summit League poll, they were picked to finish eighth once more. With the departure of the IUPUI Jaguars to the Horizon League, that meant the Leathernecks were projected to finish last. They received 60 points in the poll, whereas the seventh place team received 104.

Based on their start to 2017-18, it’s safe to say that the Leathernecks have used that as motivation early on. Despite the loss of guard Garret Covington, among others, the Leathernecks are 5-2 this season, with a win over the aforementioned Jaguars to boot.

Leading the way is Dalan Ancrum, who is among the nation’s leading scorers with an average of 21.8 points per contest. A player we were high on during the preseason, Brandon Gilbeck, is among the nation’s leading shot blockers once again, averaging 3.2 per game.

However, with Ancrum being a senior, the Leathernecks needed their guard of the future to step up early on in 2017-18. They may have found their next star, in freshman guard Kobe Webster.

The native of Indianapolis, IN opened his collegiate career with a stat line of 19 points, eight assists, five rebounds, and four steals to lead Western Illinois to a season opening win. He sits second on the team in scoring, and has been a big factor in their strong start to the season.

For his efforts this past week, a stretch that saw the Leathernecks split a pair of games to open a four-game home stand, Western Illinois freshman guard Kobe Webster is the College Court Report Freshman of the Week for November 27 – December 3, 2017!
Continue reading College Court Report Freshman of the Week: Kobe Webster, Western Illinois Leathernecks

Non-Power Five Forwards who will be Household Names in 2017-18: Juniors

Jordon Varnado (23) helped to lead the Troy Trojans to the NCAA Tournament last season, and will look to make it back-to-back appearances in 2017-18. (Header Source: Zane Najdawl on Twitter)

CANMORE, Alta. –With over 5,200 players slated to play collegiate basketball in Division I this season, there are talented players from coast to coast. Some of them are household names, while there are plenty of players who people haven’t heard of, but are demanding of your attention.

The majority of fans tend to focus on the power five conferences, turning a blind eye to the smaller programs. When you dig deeper, you’ll see that the non-power five schools have players who could just as easily play for a power conference program.

When it comes to junior forwards in the NCAA, the list of talented players goes on and on. With so many players, it was nearly impossible to cut the list down to just 10 players without leaving star-caliber players off the list. But, we did our best, as we felt that there some players that fans should already know about.

Take a look below at ten junior forwards who we feel will become a household name in 2017-18.

*Note: The likes of Mike Daum, Jarrell Brantley, Devontae Cacok, Evan Boudreaux and Wyatt Walker didn’t make the list, as we feel that people should already know who they are by this point in their respective careers.*

Continue reading Non-Power Five Forwards who will be Household Names in 2017-18: Juniors

Assembling a Mid-Major Dream Team for the 2017-18 Season

Jock Landale emerged as one of the nation’s top big men as a junior in 2016-17, increasing his scoring average from 7.9 points per game to 16.9.

CANMORE, Alta. — The level of parity in college basketball in recent years is at an all-time high.

Still, on a nightly basis, mid-major teams are often the underdogs against power conference teams. The likes of the Kentucky WildcatsDuke Blue Devils, and other blue-blood programs land the top high school recruits each season, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a ton of talent elsewhere in the country.

Smaller programs have just as much talent on their roster, but their names don’t come with the same pedigree as the ones in the ESPN Top 100. So, we thought we would filter through all of the mid-major schools and assemble our own Dream Team for the 2017-18 season.

We assembled a 14-man roster that we would want to see play together. The team is open to interpretation, and can be assembled in an endless number of ways. But, this is a team we think would contend with the best of the best in the NCAA.
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RECAP: Denver Pioneers improve to .500 in Summit League play with 84-70 victory over Western Illinois

Joe Rosga paced the Pioneers with a game-high 25 points, and Denver improved to 2-2 in Summit League play with an 84-70 win over Western Illinois. (Source: Lacey Den Hartog - Denver Men's Basketball)
Joe Rosga paced the Pioneers with a game-high 25 points, and Denver improved to 2-2 in Summit League play with an 84-70 win over Western Illinois. (Source: Lacey Den Hartog – Denver Men’s Basketball)

DENVER, CO. — After an 87-83 loss on the road at the hands of the Fort Wayne Mastodons in their last outing. the Denver Pioneers were happy to be back on their home court on Wednesday night.

The loss against the Mastodons was their second straight defeat, and it put them at 1-2 in Summit League play, and in the bottom half of the standings for the time being. A win on Wednesday would build some positive momentum as they head into a stretch of tough games.

Denver’s tough stretch began on Wednesday, as they welcomed the upstart Western Illinois Leathernecks to town to open up a two-game homestand. Despite a loss in their last outing, the Leathernecks came into Wednesday’s tilt at 3-1 in conference play, and were looking to keep pace atop the standings.

While Denver would take a six-point lead at halftime, the Leathernecks continued to fight in the second.

With 12:57 to play in the game, Garret Covington completed a three-point play to give the Leathernecks a 51-49 lead. Joe Rosga responded with a three pointer to give Denver the lead right back, and the lead for good.

The Pioneers pulled away down the stretch, and came away with the 84-70 victory over the Leathernecks. Continue reading RECAP: Denver Pioneers improve to .500 in Summit League play with 84-70 victory over Western Illinois