Countdown to Tip-Off: Western Illinois Men

Countdown to Tip-Off: Western Illinois Men

2013-14 COUNTDOWN TO TIPOFF // thesummitleague.org // @summithoops 

 

 

 

 


 

WESTERN ILLINOIS FIGHTING LEATHERNECKS

2012-13 REVIEW
Overall Record: 22-9
Summit League Record (Finish): 13-3 (t-1st)
Postseason: Advanced to Summit semifinal, College Basketball Invitational participant

2013-14 QUICK GLANCE
Interim Head Coach (Season): Jim Molinari (6th)
Letterwinners Returning/Lost: 6/7
Starters Returning/Lost: 2/3

Men's Basketball Page | Schedule | Roster

Web Page: goleathernecks.com
Twitter: @WIUAthletics

COACH SPEAK

"I think we're somewhat starting over.  It's really hard, you never know how good a team you have, how they'll adjust until they get against outside competition.  I think more important than who you have, is do you have an identity.  People and teams in life have to have an identity.  They have to really go about that identity decisively, you have to play decisively.  We're always going to try to be a good defensive team and be a team that tries to take care of the ball and hit a shot once in a while." – Head coach Jim Molinari

KEY RETURNEES
F Adam Link (9.9 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 1.4 apg, Summit League All-Newcomer team); G Remy Roberts-Burnett (6.5 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 2.0 apg); C Michael Ochereobia (3.4 ppg, 2.6 rpg)

SUMMIT LEAGUE PRESEASON POLL
Position: 4th
All-League Selection: Adam Link (2nd)

BLUE RIBBON COLLEGE BASKETBALL YEARBOOK
Forecast: 5th
Analysis Excerpts:  Western Illinois has been a Division I program since 1981, but the Leathernecks never enjoyed a season like they did in 2012-13. They won more than 20 games for the first time. They shared the Summit League title with South Dakota State—the school's first conference crown since taking the Mid-Continent in 1982-83. They won more than 70 percent of their games for the second time. Did we mention that WIU's attendance more than doubled from 2011-12?

"I think the excitement level is raised," said Jim Molinari, who earned the Summit's coach of the year honors for his team's efforts. "When you raise the excitement level, you raise the interest level and the expectations."

In at least one sense, Western Illinois was a victim of its own success because teams won't come to Macomb. The Leathernecks expect to have just 11 home games, which is never ideal but even less when you have so many youngsters.

Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook, the "bible" of preseason preview publications, is now in its 33rd printing. To see the complete version of this story, as well as 344 other profiles of Division I schools, order the 400-page 2013-14 edition at www.blueribbonyearbookonline.com or by calling 877-807-4857.

OTHER PRESEASON PROJECTIONS
Athlon Sports: 4th
CBSSports.com:

Lindy's Sports: 5th
NBC Sports Talk: 4th
Sporting News:
5th
USA Today:
4th
Yahoo! Sports:

SEASON OUTLOOK
courtesy WIU

History was made at Western Illinois during the 2012-13 season. The Leathernecks shared the Summit League regular season championship with South Dakota State after being projected to finish fourth in the preseason poll. Western finished the 2012-13 campaign with a 22-9 overall record. The 22 wins are the most in the program's Division I history.

Head coach Jim Molinari was honored with the conference's 'Coach of the Year' Award, and the Leathernecks had two First Team All-Summit League players in Ceola Clark III and Terell Parks. Parks was also tabbed the league's Defensive Player of the Year, while Adam Link was named to the All-Newcomer squad.

Western took part in the postseason for the second consecutive year playing in the 2013 College Basketball Invitational.  Western was tops in the nation in personal fouls per game (12.6) and fewest fouls (391), and second in the nation in scoring defense, allowing only 53.6 points per game. Western ranked in the top-30 in two other national statistical categories, including: 12th in three-point field goal percentage (39.1), and 20th in fewest turnovers (352).

Six players return from last year's squad, and the team welcomes in six newcomers. The 2013-14 roster breakdown features: three seniors, two juniors, three sophomores, and four freshmen.

GUARDS
Remy Roberts-Burnett, Jordan Foster, and Jason Hawthorne return in the Leathernecks backcourt. Roberts-Burnett sat out eight early season games a year ago due to injury, and made 19 starts during the season. He averaged 6.5 points, 2.0 rebounds, and 2.0 assists per game while making 45.0-percent of his shots from the field. Foster saw time at point guard, backing up First Team All-Conference guard Clark. Foster averaged 2.9 points, 1.0 rebounds, and 1.0 assists per game. Hawthorne appeared in 19 games and averaged 2.5 points per game. He made 12-of-23 3-pointers. Senior Billy Molinari suffered a season-ending injury during the preseason.Two freshmen round out the guard position for the Leathernecks, Jabari Sandifer and Garret Covington.

FORWARDS AND CENTERS
One forward and one center return in the frontcourt, both seniors. Adam Link is the team's leading returning scorer after averaging 9.9 points per game in 2012-13. He started all 31 games for the Leathernecks, averaging 4.1 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game. At center, Michael Ochereobia played in all 31 games and made five starts at the end of the season. He averaged 3.4 points and 2.6 rebounds per game. Four newcomers will look to give the team depth in the three through five positions, including freshmen Mike Miklusak and Travis Barnes, sophomore Tate Stensgaard, and junior Mohamed Conde.

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