Men's Basketball picked fourth in MVC preseason poll




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    Oct. 27, 2009

    Courtesy of the MVC

    ST. LOUIS, Mo. - The Southern Illinois University men's basketball team was picked to finish fourth in the Missouri Valley Conference in a poll conducted by league coaches, media, and sports information directors, the league announced Tuesday at its annual media day.

    UNI, which returns all five starters and nine of 10 players from last year's regular-season co-champ and State Farm MVC Tournament winner, was picked to win the title in 2009-10.

    The Panthers are hoping the pollsters are correct, although recent history could suggest otherwise, as only once in the past four years has the pre-season poll correctly picked the regular-season champ (last year Creighton was picked to win and shared the regular-season title with UNI, which was picked to finish sixth.)

    The Panthers - also picked to win by The Sporting News College Basketball Preview, Lindy's College Basketball Preview, and Athlon Sports College Basketball Preview - join a small group of defending Missouri Valley men's basketball champs to return all five starters.

    Since The Valley began conducting a pre-season poll (1985-86), there have been four defending regular-season champions, including UNI this year, that have returned all five starters for the next season:
    • 1991-92 (SIU shared regular-season title with ILS). The Salukis returned all 5 starters and were picked No. 1 for 1992-93 and finished 2nd (1 game behind ILS).
    • 1996-97 (ILS won the regular-season title). ILS returned all 5 starters and was picked No. 1 for 1997-98 and won the league (by 4 games over second-place CU).
    • 2001-02 (Creighton shared the regular-season title with Southern Illinois). Creighton returned all 5 starters and was picked No. 1 for 2002-03 and finished second behind first-place SIU (by 1 game).

    The Panthers are a near unanimous pick to win this year, receiving 38 of 39 first-place votes.

    A pair of Panthers highlight the six-person pre-season all-conference squad, including senior Adam Koch and junior Kwadzo Ahelegbe. Koch averaged 12.1 points and 5.1 rebounds last year and was a first-team all-MVC choice in 2008-09, while Ahelegbe was a second-team all-conference selection and a member of the league's all-Defensive Team.

     

     

    They are joined on the unit by Illinois State's Osiris Eldridge, Southern Illinois' Tony Freeman, Drake's Josh Young, and Creighton's P'Allen Stinnett. Eldridge, a first-team all-MVC pick a year ago and the State Farm MVC Tournament Most Outstanding Player, was chosen as the league's Preseason Player of the Year.

    Stinnett is one of three returning Bluejay starters and was a member of the league's all-conference second team last season after averaging 12.5 points while adding 48 steals. Creighton has won 20+ games for a league-record 11-straight seasons and also owns a league record with 12-straight post-season appearances.

    Eldridge is the most-high profile player on Illinois State's 2009-10 squad, but the Redbirds also return starters Dinma Odiakosa and Lloyd Phillips and they hope to stretch their post-season streak to three-straight years for coach Tim Jankovich, who has won 49 games in his first two seasons at ISU. Eldridge averaged 14.0 points and 6.2 rebounds last year as the Redbirds reached the NIT.

    Southern Illinois' streak of post-season appearances (7) ended last year, but the young Salukis are primed to make a return trip this year and have the services of veteran guard Tony Freeman, an Iowa transfer who was a Third Team all-Big Ten pick in his final season with the Hawkeyes (2007-08).

    1. UNI (38)........................................................389
    2. Creighton (1).................................................336
    3. Illinois State..................................................299
    4. Southern Illinois............................................272
    5. Wichita State................................................216
    6. Bradley.........................................................208
    7. Indiana State................................................173
    8. Drake............................................................105
    9. Missouri State.................................................92
    10. Evansville.......................................................55

    Preseason All-Conference Team:
    Kwadzo Ahelegbe, UNI, G, 6-2, 200, Jr., Oakdale (Minn.) Tartan High
    Osiris Eldridge, Illinois State, G, 6-3, 215, Sr., Chicago (Ill.) Phillips Academy
    Tony Freeman, Southern Illinois, G, 6-1, 195, Sr., Maywood (Ill.) St. Joseph's / Iowa transfer
    Adam Koch, UNI, F, 6-8, 255, Sr., Ashawubenon (Wis.) High
    P'Allen Stinnett, Creighton, G, 6-3, 180, Jr., Las Vegas (Nev.) Brewster Academy [N.H.]
    Josh Young, Drake, G, 6-1, 174, Sr., Lawton (Okla.) Lawton Christian High
    Honorable Mention: Kevin Dillard, Southern Illinois; Clevin Hannah, Wichita State; Jake Kelly, Indiana State; Sam Maniscalco, Bradley; Harry Marshall, Indiana State; Toure' Murry,

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