MacMurray Set To Host Tournament, Cap Wild 2015-16 Season

MacMurray Set To Host Tournament, Cap Wild 2015-16 Season

The Tournament
MacMurray College will play host to the 2016 St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Men's Basketball tournament, capping off the closest regular season race in conference history. Joining them in the tournament field will be Greenville College, Spalding University, and Westminster College.

MacMurray College is the #1 seed in the tournament and will serve as tournament host for the first time in program history. The Highlanders will face #4 seed Spalding University at 8 p.m. on Thursday, February 25. The tournaments first game will be between #2 seed Greenville College and #3 seed Westminster College at 6 p.m. on Thursday. The SLIAC Championship game will be Saturday, February 27 at 1 p.m. in Jacksonville, Ill.

Broadcast Information
The Championship Game of this year's SLIAC Men's Basketball Tournament will be broadcast live on College Casts. You can listen to the Championship Game HERE

Step Into the Office (Interviews by SLIAC intern Colin Gowin)

Greenville Coach
Dr. George Barber

 

This is the first time you have been to the conference tournament since the 2010-11 season, how exciting is it to be back?
"It is extremely exciting. You play to get to the postseason. It is what our seniors wanted at the start of the season. To be able to start the season 2-10 and then turn it around and make the tournament is an utter relief. When you don't expect something to happen and then it does, it's just the greatest thing."

Your team is averaging an impressive 114 points per game and had a great second half of the season. How do you plan to carry that momentum over into the tournament?
"We lost our last game, so we lost the momentum. I don't know if this pace can be maintained over the period of the tournament. We lost to Eureka and we lost a lot of momentum there. They played very well and hats off to them."

Can you speak to how confident your team is about their chances in the tournament?
"We are elated to be here. We have no idea what to expect. This is very unfamiliar territory for us. We are trying to figure out when to leave, when to eat, how to practice. This is just so new to me. I will say this, we will be there with uniforms and ready to go but other than that I don't really know."

 
  MacMurray Coach
Todd Creal

Nothing was easy this year in the conference and it came down to the last few games. How do you think your team will benefit from that?
"I think the four teams that made it faced a very difficult time and four other teams could have made it. We are grateful we made it one of the four spots. The last few games everyone had to win and it was already a tournament setting. The benefit is that we have already been playing in a playoff atmosphere."

The conference tournament will be held on your home court, where you were 8-1 this season. How important and beneficial do you believe home court advantage will be?
"We don't know for sure because we have never hosted the tournament before. We are looking forward to not having to travel. We get a really good student turnout so we think the atmosphere will be great."

This is the third year in a row that you will be in the conference tournament. What do you need to do differently this year to come away with a championship?
"We have some offensively talented teams. Defense is what is going to win. The teams that have been playing defense have been winning. Getting some stops and turning that into offense will be critical."

 
Spalding Coach
Kevin Gray

You were the tournament champions last year. How beneficial do you think this experience is coming into this year's tournament?
"I think most of the guys who played in that aren't playing this year. I have a lot of new guys, so last season doesn't have any impact. We are basically a new team."

You finished the season with big wins over Webster and Blackburn. What does that do for your team's confidence?
"It's no question that we feel like we are playing really well. Going to a conference tournament on the road is going to be a monumental challenge. MacMurray is playing extremely well."

You are playing number one seed MacMurray, who you split your two games this season with. What happened in that win that needs to happen again in order to come out with a win?
"I don't really remember what we did to win that game. They are so good that we have to hope they don't play their best. They are going to have their fans and home court. We just need to compete."

 
Westminster Coach
Matt Mitchell

You will be playing Greenville College who is averaging 114 points per game and plays a very fast game. How do you plan on slowing them down?
"I don't know if that is possible for starters. I don't know if that is the right approach. I think the challenge is to not allow them to speed us up. We have to make plays and not let them get us so out of character which is difficult to do. Our mentality is to not let them speed us up. They are easier to deal with if you score. We need to take care of the basketball and score."

Against the other three teams in the tournament you had a 4-2 record this season. How confident is your team in their ability to win the tournament?
"I think honestly all four teams and really the top eight teams in the league were all at the same level, and I think that showed with the records and the ties. We were all very similar talent wise. All four teams are very capable of winning these two games and I don't know if past records mean anything because I think they were all close games. I anticipate close games in the tournament."

You last won the conference tournament in 2011-12. How do you plan to get back to that place?
"One possession at a time and making sure our guys are loose. The guys I've seen do well in the past are the guys who are loose and relaxed. The home court advantage has historically not meant much in the tournament. Some kid is going to have to make shots and get rebounds. All we can do is play our hardest."

 

GREENVILLE COLLEGE "PANTHERS"
It was quite a performance for Greenville in the second-half of the season. After starting the year 2-10 overall the Panthers closed out the regular season with an 11-2 record, finishing 13-12 overall. Greenville had a seven game winning streak stopped in their regular season finale, a 115-113 loss to Eureka.

The Panthers led all of NCAA Division III in scoring this season, averaging 114 points per game. The up-tempo style is based around the fast break and three point shot, as the Panthers averaged 45.4 attempted three's per game. Their fast play also created turnover opportunities, as Greenville led the conference in steals. The multi-line rotation is led by senior forward Tim Daniel, 19.4 points per game, who led the nation with 124 three-point field goals. Fellow guard Michael Hohm (15.3 ppg) and DeAndre Brown (15.2 ppg) are also dangerous scorers while forward Andrew Scott serves as their inside player; averaging 7.8 points and 6.0 rebounds per game.

MacMURRAY COLLEGE "HIGHLANDERS"
MacMurray was a consistent force throughout the 2015-16 season, only once losing back to back games and finishing with a 15-10 overall record. The Highlanders claimed a share of the SLIAC regular season title by winning their final regular season game and have won three of their last four.

The Highlanders averaged 82.3 points per game, second in the SLIAC, thanks in part to their outstanding 47.9 percent shooting from the field as a team. With one of the bigger lineups in the league the Highlanders were able to lead the conference in rebounding margin. Heading up that size inside is sophomore Brent Long. Long led the team in scoring at 20.7 points per game while shooting 64-percent from the field and grabbing 7.1 rebounds per game. Senior forward Deavis Johnson is one of the more explosive players in the league, averaging 16.2 points and 10.6 rebounds per game; one of just two players in the league to average a double-double this season. Guards Mike Cameron (9.5 ppg) and Kollin Keltner (8.6 ppg) help run the show and can offer a threat from outside.

SPALDING UNIVERSITY "GOLDEN EAGLES"
As with any team full of newcomers it took Spalding awhile to figure out how to play together. The Golden Eagles notched just three wins in the first-half of the season. However They hit their stride come January, putting together a three game winning streak early on and finishing the regular season with a 12-13 record.

The Golden Eagles finished 9th in the league in scoring at 72.0 points per game but also held opponents to a league low 70.5 points per game thanks to limiting them to a 42.4 percent shooting percentage. Senior guard Brandon Goeing led the team in scoring at 16.7 points per game and is one of the top sharp shooters in the league, ranking third in three point field goals made. James Turner averaged 12.9 points per game while also dishing out 3.2 assists per game. Nick Trisko, a former Greenville Panther, now serves as the big man in the middle for Spalding; averaging 12.6 points and a league high 11.4 rebounds per game.

WESTMINSTER COLLEGE "BLUE JAYS"
Maybe no team in the league has had more of an up and down season than the Blue Jays. Westminster has had four multi-game winning streaks this year but also had five multi-game losing streaks. The Blue Jays come into the tournament having lost three of their last four including a narrow 65-62 loss to Principia in their regular season finale.

The Blue Jays averaged 71.8 points per game this season, 10th in the SLIAC, but also had the third best defense. The Blue Jays young offense, its top five scorers are sophomores or younger, is led by a pair of sophomores in Nick Carlos and Romo Tabb. Carlos, a 6'7" forward provides the Blue Jays with a unique size mismatch, averaged 13.3 points per game while connecting on 39-percent of his three-point shots. Tabb, an athletic forward, averaged 12.0 points and a team high 5.0 rebounds per game while shooting 51-percent from the field. Despite being a freshman, guard Carter Wands ranked third in the league in assist-to-turnover ratio while also averaging 6.3 points per game.

Tournament Tidbits

  • Greenville's share of the 2015-16 SLIAC regular season title is just the second time the program has claimed a regular season title, joining the 1995-96 team.
  • This is the second consecutive year MacMurray has won a share of the SLIAC regular season title.
  • Spalding has advanced to the SLIAC Championship game in all three previous appearances, with their only loss coming in 2014 to Webster.
  • Westminster's 10 regular season wins are the lowest win total by a team to make the SLIAC Tournament since Maryville finished 10-16 in the regular season in the 2004-05 season.
  • Greenville is making their fourth tournament trip, and their first since 2011, with a 3-2 all-time record.
  • MacMurray is appearing for the 15th time in the SLIAC Tournament and have a 14-12 all-time record.
  • Spalding is making their fourth consecutive tournament appearance and hold a 3-1 all-time record in tournament play.
  • Westminster is making their 17th tournament trip, holding a 16-13 all-time record in the tournament.
  • All four programs have won a SLIAC Tournament title. Westminster has won three titles (1995, 2010, 2012), MacMurray (1993 and 1999) and Spalding (2013 and 2015) have each won two, and Greenville won one in 1998.
  • Greenville was 3-3 against teams in this year's tournament.
  • MacMurray went 3-3 versus this year's teams in the tournament.
  • Spalding finished 2-4 against the tournament teams.
  • Westminster was 4-2 against this year's tournament field.
In the first round you are playing Westminster, who has won their past 14 games. What

is your game plan to slow them down and come away with a win?

 “They are playing very well with a tremendous senior leadership. They are the

o You’ve made the tournament the past 5 years, which are the only 5 years Eureka College

has ever made the tournament. What do you need to do to come up with the first

tournament championship in the history of the program?

 “We need to show up and build our confidence. At the end of the day we are all

o You were 2-7 to start the season and are clicking at the right time. How do you carry

that momentum over into the post-season?

 “We need so things to break our way early to build some confidence. That’s

number one seed for a reason and we need to get it going early.”

0-0 coming into the tournament.”

what helped us turn it around this year. We’ve been knocked back a little bit

and if we can get it started early, we can get something going.”
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