We continue our conference previews with the OVC. Every week on Twitter, we preview two conferences streaming live from the Mid-Major Madness account (@mid_madness), speaking with media members and coaches throughout the selected league.
For the full Twitter Space, hit the link below:
To open the conversation, Mid-Major Madness contributors Jordan Majewski and Nick Lorensen recapped what happened in the OVC last season and so far this offseason.
Murray State finished 18-0, running the table in league play. The Racers won a game in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2019.
This offseason has been centered around shifting in league membership. Murray State joined Belmont in moving to the Missouri Valley Conference. Austin Peay is leaving for the ASUN.
But, with subtractions come additions and the Ohio Valley had a ton of those. Coming over from the Sun Belt, Little Rock brings a great basketball footprint and an NCAA Tournament victory as recent as 2016. Additionally, two Division II schools made the jump to DI. Lindenwood brings the St. Louis market into play, and Southern Indiana ties down the league's partnership with Evansville. Both have been successful programs for quite some time.
Soon after, the conversations with coaches started as UT Martin head coach Ryan Ridder (5:00) joined the program. The Skyhawks had a tough first season under Ridder but got huge news when it was announced that former All-OVC forward Parker Stewart would return to the program. Stewart spent one season at UT Martin, where he averaged 19.2 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. He left the program after the tragic passing of his father, Anthony Stewart. Anthony was the head coach in Martin from 2016-20.
“Parker is a young man with a great head on his shoulders,” Ridder said. “Unfortunately with the situation with his dad passing away, I think there was just some much-needed grieving process and some time with his family that he missed out on being away. Kinda putting closure on being around family and obviously honor his dad's legacy, here, and try to do something they dreamt of doing together. Which was competing at the top of the OVC and finding a way to compete for a conference championship.”
Parker Stewart started his collegiate career at Pitt. The Skyhawks will open their season against the Panthers on Nov. 7.
Following Ridder, Tennessee State head coach Penny Collins (21:30) joined to talk about what he has built in Nashville. Collins has quickly built a reputation as a top recruiter in mid-major basketball.
“There’s a lot of minutes to go around,” Collins said. “That’s one of the things we’re really trying to instill in our team right now. We’re stronger together, all that whole jazz that everyone says this time of year. Who are we really going to be when the ball gets tossed up? Hopefully, we can go back on the values that we’ve been teaching. Hopefully, we’ve done a good job in recruiting in getting the type of guys in here that understand that it’s just going to be different people’s night, night-in and night-out.”
Tennessee State currently has an average star rating of 2.6 on its team, which is the best in the league.
Jordan and Nick then continued the conversation by previewing every team in the league. To hear about your team, advance the recording to each time stamp.
37:00 Eastern Illinois
41:55 Little Rock
44:10 Morehead State
52:20 Southern Indiana
55:05 Tennessee Tech
58:00 POTY & Title Predictions
Along with the Twitter Space, Nick talked to Morehead State head coach Preston Spradlin. Spradlin has built a consistent winner in the OVC, forging Morehead into a big man factory. This season, that big man could be Alex Gross
“He has a chance to be one of the better big men in the OVC this year,” Spradlin said. “I just think with Alex, he’s got a great feel for the game, he’s extremely intelligent. He does have a lot of experience. He played four years, he’s played 30+ minutes a game for three-plus years in a row.”
Along with the OVC, preview articles for the MAAC and Mountain West have come out this week. Stay tuned for the Twitter Space previews on the Independent, Ivy League, and NEC.