Countdown to Tip-Off: Western Illinois Men
2012-13 COUNTDOWN TO TIPOFF // thesummitleague.org // @summithoops
WESTERN ILLINOIS FIGHTING LEATHERNECKS
Overall Record: 18-15
Summit League Record (Finish): 9-9 (t-4th)
Postseason: Summit runner-up, CBI participant
2012-13 QUICK GLANCE
Head Coach (Season): Jim Molinari (5th)
Letterwinners Returning/Lost: 6/6
Starters Returning/Lost: 3/2
Ceola Clark III
- Named 2012-13 Preseason First Team All-Summit League after earning his second Summit League 'Defensive Player of the Year' last season (2010 & 2012).
- Named to the CollegeInsider.com 2012 Mid-Major Defensive All-American team and finished in the top 10 of two national categories last season, fifth in three-point field goal percentage (46.2) and 10th in assist/turnover (2.75).
- Averaged 13.3 points per game (426 total), dished out 151 assists and recorded 50 steals, all team-highs. Clark was also the only Leatherneck to earn a Player of the Week award (Jan. 9).
- Named 2012-13 Preseason First Team All-Summit League after being tabbed Summit League Honorable Mention and All-League Second Team last season.
- Finished the season with a Summit League best nine double-doubles and 10-plus rebound games.
- Ranked third on the team in scoring, having averaged 11.9 points per game, while shooting 61% from the floor. Parks also led the conference and ranked 42nd in the country in total rebounding (9.1 per game).
- Appeared in all 33 games, starting 27 of them, and averaged 6.5 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 1.3 assists per game.
- Had five games with 10-plus points, and scored a career-high 21 points at IPFW after knocking down a career-high seven three-pointers (7-of-9). 55 of his 72 field goals were three-pointers.
- Recorded a season-best seven rebounds in The Summit League Championship game against South Dakota State.
Web Page: goleathernecks.com
SUMMIT LEAGUE PRESEASON POLL
All-League Selections: Ceola Clark III (1st), Terell Parks (1st)
BLUE RIBBON COLLEGE BASKETBALL YEARBOOK
Analysis Excerpts: Western Illinois came achingly close to its first NCAA tournament berth last season. After shocking regular-season champion Oral Roberts in the Summit League tournament semifinals, the Leathernecks nearly conquered second-seeded South Dakota State (and its massive homecourt advantage) in the final.
But WIU couldn't hold on to the nine-point lead it held with 7:35 to go. It missed the last shot in regulation, which led to overtime. The Leathernecks held a one-point lead with 2:04 to go but committed two turnovers and missed a tough layup in the final minute to fall, 52-50.
While the Leathernecks were crestfallen at the time, they soon learned their loss felt much more like a win. That's the magic of national television. Western Illinois received the rare chance to appear on ESPN2 in that Summit title game.
"When I talk to recruits, it's amazing how many say, 'I watched the game,' " said fifth-year head coach Jim Molinari. "We were in the top 10 of things trending on Twitter that night. It creates more excitement on your campus. It gives you more of an identity. The sports programs at all universities are the front porch. It's going to create more exposure for the university."
With Clark and Parks leading the way, the Leathernecks ought to earn another top-four finish in the Summit. But if Western intends to relive last year's excitement, it needs to stay injury-free and needs to find a few players (Link? Roberts-Burnett?) who can provide Emegano's production and energy.
"If we can have somebody surprise us," Molinari said. "I think we can be competitive and have a chance every night."
Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook, the "bible" of preseason preview publications, is now in its 32nd printing. To see the complete version of this story, as well as 344 other profiles of Division I schools, order the 400-page 2012-13 edition at www.blueribbonyearbookonline.com or by calling 877-807-4857.
OTHER PRESEASON PROJECTIONS
Athlon Sports: 4th
Lindy's Sports: 4th
USA Today: 2nd
Yahoo! Sports: 4th
courtesy WIU Sports Information
The Leathernecks will look to take last season's success and build on it in 2012-13. Head coach Jim Molinari, who was tabbed Summit League 'Coach of the Year' by CollegeInsider.com. enters his fifth season at the helm of the Leathernecks' program after leading Western to its first winning season in over 10 years. After being picked to finish ninth out of 10 teams in the Summit League preseason poll, Western finished 2011-12 with an 18-15 overall record, went 9-9 in Summit League games, and earned the fourth-seed in the conference tournament. Western's winning record marked the first of its kind in 12 years, and the team's 18 wins was the most since the 1996-97 season when the Leathernecks went 19-10.
Western took part in the 2012 College Basketball Invitational presented by Zebra Pen, the program's first-ever Division I postseason appearance, after making an exciting run in The Summit League Tournament. The Conference tournament run included wins over fifth-seeded North Dakota State and top-seeded Oral Roberts, before a heartbreaking, overtime loss to South Dakota State in the championship game.
Under the guidance of Molinari, three Leathernecks earned Summit League honors, led by senior Ceola Clark III who was tabbed 'Defensive Player of the Year' for the second time in his career (2010 and 2012), as well as Second Team All-Conference. Clark is the only player in league history to have earned the honor twice. Junior Terell Parks was named Honorable Mention.
Compared to the rest of the nation, Western concluded the season ranked in the top-30 of four national categories, including: 11th in personal fouls per game (15.0), 12th in three-point field goal percentage (39.5), 22nd in scoring defense (60.2), and 27th in turnovers per game (11.4).
Western returns six members from last year's squad and welcome five newcomers to the Leatherneck family. The 2012-13 roster breakdown looks like this: four seniors, three juniors, one sophomore, and four freshmen.
Ceola Clark III, the 2010 and 2012 Summit League 'Defensive Player of the Year', was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and will return for the 2012-13 season. He returns after playing in and starting all but one game for the Leathernecks last season and led Western with 13.3 points per game, 151 assists, 50 steals, while averaging 37.4 minutes per game. Remy Roberts-Burnett and Billy Molinari return to the Leathernecks in 2012-13. Roberts-Burnett played in 28 games for Western, averaged 4.5 points per game, and shot 48.8% from the field in 2011-12, while Molinari suffered a season-ending leg injury in the Leathernecks' second game of the season. Rounding out the guard position are three freshmen in Jordan Foster, Jamaal Walker and Jason Hawthorne.
FORWARDS AND CENTERS
The Leathernecks return three forwards from last year's squad, all of which are seniors, in Terell Parks, Jack Houpt and Don McAvoy III. Parks played in every game for Western last year, finishing third on the team in scoring with 11.9 points per game. He also shot 61% from the field, averaged 9.1 rebounds per game, and was tabbed Summit League Honorable Mention and to the All-Newcomer Team. Houpt returns having averaged 6.5 points per game and knocking down the second most triples for Western (55). McAvoy played in every game last season, primarily coming off of the bench, and averaged 2.7 points per game while shooting 41% from the floor. Three newcomers will look to help Western in the three through five positions, including freshman John Schneider, and juniors Adam Link and Michael Ochereobia.