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Today is Media Day for the Ohio Valley Conference coaches. I’ll be updating here as announcements are made and coaches speak with the public. Check back throughout the day and on Twitter by following @OVCBall.

1:30 p.m.
Final one of the day, Tennessee State Coach Cooper

Cooper broke into a chuckle when I said he had the most experienced team returning in the OVC. He says his team got a taste last season of what it was like to win, but he knew they still had hurdles to climb. He is noticing that teams are starting to pay attention when they see Tennessee State on the calendar, and said that it’s great because these kids come to college wanting to be winners.

1:00 p.m.
Talked with Prohm of Murray, Miller of EIU, Forrester of SIUE, James of UTM, and Payne of Tech.

If you were to hear Prohm talk, you might get the impression that there’s a hint of concern about his team. I don’t think that’s the case, but there’s no doubt: this team is just as focused on defense as it was under Billy Kennedy. Every topic we discussed circled back around to teaching his team to play tough defense. He understands the expectations of Murray fans, and says his goal this year is to win a title. As for being excited? Coach Prohm says he’s taking it day by day, just looking at how to make his team better on a daily basis, whereas as an Assistant he was able to look 2 or 3 weeks ahead.

Mike Miller is very confident about his team. He thinks his team will compete in the conference, and clearly Jeremy Granger will be the player to help them reach that goal. He believes his team is deep at guard, despite some experience issues. The key this year, much like Murray is defense.

Forrester understands the challenges his team face, and acknowledged his team’s 0-9 record against the OVC last year. But he feels his team has grown, and that his team has a better understanding of that it will take compete in the OVC.

Jason James is excited, but cautious about his young Tennessee Martin team. He says last year’s run at the end of the season helped this team through the offseason, and they’re hoping to continue that momentum early this year. He still plans on forcing tempo, but thinks this year’s team has a better understanding of when they need to slow it down, saying his team sometimes played too fast last year for such a young team.

Steve Payne realizes the expectations upon his team, and says to take that next step, they must be tougher. He felt like in some games, especially against Murray and Morehead, his team wasn’t tough enough and that was the reason for some of his team’s losses. He also said that Jud Dillard has impressed him so far in practice, and that he thinks Dillard could be an all-conference caliber player.

Noon
Talked with Loos of Austin Peay, Tyndall of Morehead State, and Nutt of SEMO.

Loos seems excited to be the preseason pick to win the conference, said he hopes it brings people to games earlier in the season. He addressed his team’s tough schedule by first telling to ask the AD haha. He says he thinks a tough schedule hopes prepare the team, but realizes that schedules that are too hard can demoralize the team, but doesn’t think that’s the case with this year’s schedule. He also talked about the unbalanced schedules, saying he would rather have a full round robin, but understands why there isn’t.

Nutt appears to have a small chip on his shoulder, being picked sixth. I say that because his response to my question about his expectations for the team was partially that he doesn’t think everyone really knows how good they will be. (And I agree) If there’s one word that sums up his interview, it was size. He talked a lot about his team’s size, including trying to get help for Leon Powell with…more 6′ 7″ players.

Tyndall stated that other than his first season at Morehead, this season will be the biggest challenge his team has ever faced. Angelo Warner, not surprisingly, was one of the teams newest players that has really shined in practice. He said the Eagles will become more of a perimeter team this year with the absence of Kenneth Faried.

11:11 a.m.
Just spoke with Eastern Kentucky coach Jeff Neubauer. He’s excited for this year’s team, and believes he has one of the best group of shooters he’s had in years, and believes the defense is improved as well. He believes his team is focused for their road heavy schedule, and said last year they were a good team on the road, but will have to be good quick this season. As for their inconsistency last year, he said he didn’t feel his seniors closed out the year as strongly as they should, but pointed to the 9 new players last year as well as part of the reason.

10:50 a.m.
So it’s kind of hard to describe the atmosphere here for this kind of event. Chaos might be good word. There’s an area for stand up TV interviews, and an area for one-on-one interviews, which will happen together, at the same time. So yeah, organized chaos. It doesn’t help that I feel under dressed and still am not really sure what to expect as the morning goes on. Everything will happen within a 2 hour window, with the OVC commissioner giving a short speech just after noon. I’ll see what I can get. Kind of intimidated honestly.

10:30 a.m.
Made it here…on the way over, the OVC went ahead and announced the preseason poll and the all-conference teams.

Preseason Poll:
1st – Austin Peay (10) 185
2nd – Tennessee Tech (8) 181
3rd – Murray State (3) 169
4th – Tennessee State 145
5th – Morehead State (1) 128
6th – SEMO 106
7th – Eastern Kentucky 90
8th – UT Martin 73
9th – Eastern Illinois 67
10th – Jacksonville State 40
11th – SIU Edwardsville 27

Couple of quick thoughts. Mildly surprised Peay gets picked first, but agree that Peay and Tennessee Tech are very close. Morehead State got a first place vote, which is greatly surprising to me personally. Overall, a pretty solid list. 27 points for SIU Edwardsville means they didn’t get straight last place votes. (Minimum would have been 22)

All Conference Team (Alphabetical order):
Ivan Aska – Murray State
Anthony Campbell – Austin Peay
Isian Canaan – Murray State
Robert Covington – Tennessee State
TyShwan Edmondson – Austin Peay
Jermey Granger – Eastern Illinois
Kenny Moore – Tennessee State
Kevin Murphy – Tennessee Tech
Leon Powell – SEMO
Zac Swansey – Tennessee Tech

Absolutely no surprises here. None.

7:00 a.m. : Preview of the day
So I’ll be honest, not 100% sure what to expect today as I head to NashVegas in the next couple of hours. Never done the media day thing before, but it will be good to hear what the coaches have to say heading into the OVC season. (We’re just 13 days away from real games!) What I do know is that the OVC will announce it’s coaches preseason poll, and picks for preseason all conference. Not going to go so far as to say Tennessee Tech will be a lock to be the favorite, but I would be surprised if they aren’t. If not them, probably Austin Peay, given their experience and not changing head coaches. And then there’s Murray State, who are perennial threats.

On the all-OVC team, any real changes from mine on Rush The Court would surprise me. There’s a clear top tier of maybe 6 or 7 players in my view, so I expect something very similar out of the coaches.


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OVC Ball
Predicting the OVC race…in mid-December

2016-17 Basketball Standings

OVCOverall

EAST

Belmont8-014-4
Morehead State6-310-12
Tennessee Tech5-39-14
Jacksonville State5-413-11
Tennessee State4-413-8
Eastern Kentucky2-69-14

WEST

UT Martin5-315-8
Murray State5-311-11
SEMO5-310-13
Austin Peay3-57-15
Eastern Illinois1-79-12
SIUE0-85-17
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