Greenville To Host 2017 SLIAC Men’s Tournament

[taken from SLIAC.org]

The Tournament
For just the second time in program history Greenville College has won the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference regular season title outright and by doing so they will host the 2017 SLIAC Tournament this weekend, welcoming Principia College, Webster University, and Westminster College to town.

Greenville wrapped up the top seed in the tournament by finishing the season with a 14-4 conference record. This marks the first time that Greenville will serve as host of the tournament, as they were not eligible for postseason play the last time they captured a SLIAC regular season title (1995-96). Greenville will face #4 seed Principia College, who is making their first postseason trip since 2005, on Friday at 8 p.m. The other semi-final game will feature last year’s tournament champion, #2 seed Westminster College, against #3 seed Webster University at 6 p.m. on Friday. The SLIAC Men’s Basketball Tournament Championship game will be played on Saturday, February 25 at 7 p.m.

Broadcast Information
The Championship Game of this year’s SLIAC Men’s Basketball Tournament will be broadcast live on College Casts by the crew of Bradford Bruns and Joel Borders. You can listen to the Championship Game HERE You can also watch all three games of the tournament on video HERE

GREENVILLE COLLEGE ‘PANTHERS’
For the second consecutive year Greenville College is the top scoring team in NCAA Division III, averaging 130.4 points per game. The Panthers rotate a lineup that has 11 players averaging at least seven minutes per game. The Panthers play fast, putting up over 100 shots per game on average including hitting on 17 three’s each outing. They have won eight of their last nine games and are 10-2 at home this season.Senior guard Kenny Greene (18.8 ppg) heads up a rotation that features six players averaging in double figures in scoring, while knocking down a conference high 96 three’s this season. Senior forward Shane Smith is averaging 18.2 points and a team high 6.2 rebounds while shooting 58-percent from the floor. Sophomore guards Johari Dix (4.3 apg) and Daniel Saeli (3.0 apg) take turns running the fast paced offense.

Overall Record: 20-5
SLIAC Record: 14-4
Tourn. Apperances: 5
Tourn. Titles: 1
Last Championship: 1998
Coaches Corner with Dr. George Barber

After having made the tournament just once in the previous 11 years, you have now made the field in back to back seasons including capturing the SLIAC regular season title. Can you talk about finding consistency in the program?
“It is a great feeling to be back in the tournament. We had a backlog of seniors with Brian Ehresman, Moe Smith, and Stevonte Young due to injuries and catching up for graduation. I am most proud of their mature decision to get the academic work done first and returning from injury, putting that above basketball last year and now focusing on the game for their super senior year. I am so proud of our seniors this year. The team has had a great spirit to them all year.
Last year you implemented “the system”, can you talk about how the team and you yourself as a coach are more comfortable with it this year?
“We decided to go to the system last year to increase participation, since we had such a large squad. I wanted to find a style that allowed me to play lots of people and keep them engaged. I knew there would be some positives and negatives and it would take a lot of unselfish guys to be able to embrace this style of play. It did not start off so well last year but it eventually it caught on and we ended up leading the nation in scoring. THe NCAA sent us a plaque and we had it put up in the hall. I never expected that to happen but the guys thought that was cool. And I only heard one question from them, ‘we are doing this again next year, right coach?’.”
PRINCIPIA COLLEGE ‘PANTHERS’
Principia comes into the tournament as the hottest team in the conference after putting together one of the more memorable finishes to a regular season just to get into the tournament, winning seven of their final eight games. The Panthers are averaging 79.1 points per game this season and ranked fourth in the league in team three-point percentage.With just eight players on the roster it is helpful that they have multiple scoring options. One of those options is senior guard Adaku Anumu, one of the more prolific scorers in SLIAC history. Anumu has scored over 1,000 points in just two years with the Panthers, with 11 games over 30 points, and is averaging 18.4 points per game this season. As explosive as he is he has benefited from the additions of sophomore guard Micah Paulson (16.4 ppg) and Trevaughn Goodman (14.0 ppg). The Panthers also feature a big man, Justin Ball (10.8 ppg), and athletic forward Parker Davidson; who is just one of two players in the conference to average a double-double this season.

Overall Record: 12-11
SLIAC Record: 11-7
Tourn. Apperances: 11
Tourn. Titles: 0
Last Championship: n/a

Coaches Corner with Todd Zimmerman
Can you talk a little about how the team has played down the stretch winning seven of eight games?
“After losing three in a row, we knew we had to come close to running the table to get into the tournament and we really came together as a unit. With only eight players, each team member has that much bigger of a role and I believe that our players started to really understand that. The ownership and togetherness of our team has increased tremendously through the mid-season losing streak we endured. Now we are playing confident and free. Everybody knows their role and what is expected of them night in and night out and that has helped our entire team be on the same page.”
You have some explosive scorers on your team with both Anumu and Goodman each topping 30 points during games this season. Can you talk about their scoring ability?
“Anumu and Goodman are dynamite scorers. Even more helpful is the fact that they complement each other well. Anumu is a knock down shooter and Goodman is an attacker. Goodman has really come on in the last month of the season to give our team an added driving threat that was not always there. When they are both on, they are tough to stop.”
WEBSTER UNIVERSITY ‘GORLOKS’
Webster returns to the SLIAC Tournament after going 14-11 overall and 11-7 in conference action this season. The Gorloks have won two straight games as they enter the tournament but will have do so without four year starter Hunter Ward, who was injured back in early January.With Ward out the Gorloks have seen the emergence of forward Evan Milligan. Milligan is averaging 15.1 points per game since Ward’s departure including leading Webster in scoring in each of the last five games. Senior CJ Moore and Xavier Dortch anchor the Gorloks guard play. Moore is a slasher, averaging 12.3 points per game while shooting 50-percent from the field and Dortch can knock down the long range shot, averaging 11.7 points per game with a team high 60 three-pointers this season.

Overall Record: 14-11
SLIAC Record: 11-7
Tourn. Apperances: 18
Tourn. Titles: 2
Last Championship: 2014

Coaches Corner with Chris Bunch
Can you talk about the loss of Hunter mid-way through the season. Your team responded immediately after the loss by winning six of seven games. How was the team able to overcome the loss?
“Hunter was tough, obviously. He was leading us in scoring, rebounding, and assists at the time of his injury. We have a lot of seniors on our team and they really pulled together and decided that they could overcome that obstacle if they all played together and blended their strengths. Many players have increased their production over that time or had a great individual performance on a particular day that helped keep us in the race. It truly has been a team effort from a bunch of experienced guys.”Can you talk about Evan Milligan’s development this season. He doubled his scoring output from last year as a freshman and is one of the top inside players in the conference.
“Evan is extremely talented; I think that after Hunter went down, he realized that he was going to have to score and rebound more, and he has done that. He could probably score even more, but he is very unselfish and often passes up scoring opportunities for himself to pass to someone else, and I have to get on him a little bit for that sometimes. But he has been one of the keys for us down the stretch.”
WESTMINSTER COLLEGE ‘BLUE JAYS’
Westminster returns in 2017 to defend last year’s tournament title. The Blue Jays were a young team last year and aren’t much older this year with just two seniors on the roster. Their leading scorer is athletic swing man Romo Tabb, a 6’5″ forward, who is averaging 15.8 points and 6.1 rebounds per game while also shooting 57-percent from the floor. Junior center Sean O’Brien gives the Blue Jays size in the middle and averages 15.5 points per game. A third scoring option is junior guard Jimmy Villalobos. Villalobos earned All-Tournament team honors last year and averaged 12.2 points per game this season as the team’s top outside threat with 54 three-pointers.The Blue Jays are a ball control team with sophomore guard Carter Wands taking on that task. Wands averages just 6.7 points per game but hands out 3.1 assists per game and ranks 4th in the conference in assist to turnover ratio. Fellow guard Tanner Cochran also helps handle the pressure and averages 6.4 points per game while leading the team with 40 steals this year.
 


Overall Record:
17-8
SLIAC Record: 13-5
Tourn. Apperances: 18
Tourn. Titles: 4
Last Championship: 2016

Coaches Corner with Matt Mitchell
You are the defending tournament champion, can you talk about how the run last year has prepared you for this year?
“The most important aspect heading into this season was the confidence that last year’s tournament run gave us. We were a young team last year and that success has obviously bred more success this year. Just simply knowing that, if you play well, you should have a chance to win.”Your team is constantly among the best at protecting the ball (fewest turnovers). Can you talk about the importance and emphasis you place on that and why it is critical to success?
“Taking care of the ball has always been a priority of ours at Westminster. We feel that taking good care of the ball provides you with an opportunity to win when other aspects are not sharp that specific night. We have never had a super fast team so controlling the ball helps keep us out of too many transition situations on defense.”

Tournament Tidbits

  • This is just the second time since joining the SLIAC that Greenville has reached the 20 win mark for the season. The only other time was in 1995-96 when they went 21-8 and was also the only other season they won an outright regular season conference title.
  • This is the 11th time Principia has made the tournament but just the second time since the conference narrowed it down to a four team field.
  • Webster is returning to the tournament after missing out on the postseason last year. This means that Webster has never missed the tournament in back to back seasons.
  • Westminster has the most tournament wins in conference history, having won 18 games over their previous 17 trips.
  • Greenville has one SLIAC Tournament title, coming in the 1998 tournament as a #5 seed.
  • Principia’s 12 wins this season are the program’s most since the 2002-03 season and two more wins would give them their most in a season since joining the SLIAC.
  • Webster is tied for the most tournament appearances in conference history with 18 trips to the postseason.
  • Westminster will be looking to become the first repeat tournament champion since Fontbonne University won three consecutive from 2007-09.
  • Did you know that the top seed of the tournament has not won the title in any of the last three seasons?

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