The Horizon League held its media day on Wednesday at the Intercontinental Hotel in Chicago with all nine coaches and players from each of the teams. Mid-major Madness was on hand to take in all the League had to offer, and get a second look at its preview for this season.
Of course, no media day would be complete without the release of the preseason All-League team. As expected, Kendrick Perry of Youngstown State was the player of the year. Oakland's Travis Bader, Wright State's Cole Darling, and Green Bay's Keifer Sykes and Alec Brown rounded out the First Team All-League.
In the closest voting in Horizon League history, Green Bay beat out Wright State by one point to be the preseason favorite to win the 2013-14 Horizon League championship. Wright State took 22 of the first place votes, and Green Bay was right behind with 21 top votes. Also receiving first place votes were Cleveland State (2, 3rd place), Oakland (1, 4th place) and Youngstown State (1, 5th place). Rounding out the nine-team conference was defending champion Valparaiso in sixth place, UIC in seventh place, Detroit in eight place and Milwaukee in ninth.
Full audio from the open press conferences are below, but here are a few of the highlights:
- Commissioner Jon LeCrone stated that the league's 90-day exclusive negotiation window started on October 1. If the league decides to not renew their deal with ESPN they will be looking elsewhere for television deals.
- LeCrone also said they will be looking to potentially expand the league to 10 teams or more in the coming years. They will do a deal that makes sense for the league and not just a deal to add teams.
- The conference is continuing to review the league's strategic plan, including the possibility of having scheduling incentives for teams that continue to schedule difficult out-of-conference opponents.
- Cleveland State senior Anton Grady said he was playing without hesitation during the team's overseas trip. He missed most of the year last season following knee surgery.
- Youngstown State is looking for sophomore Bobby Hain and senior Kamren Belin to step up and take some pressure off of Perry.
- Wright State coach Billy Donlon went on for nearly three minutes about how mid-major teams are getting the raw end of the deal with both scheduling and NCAA tournament seeding. I can't fully do it justice in print and recommend you go listen to it. The question that "prompted" it starts at the 2:40 mark and goes to the 5:11 mark. At one point, he states that he will probably get in trouble for his comments, which I don't see happening, but the NCAA might not agree with all the thoughts he expressed.
- Detroit senior Evan Bruinsma is looking to take more of a leadership role after being a part-time starter last year. Additionally, he shared that his sister plays volleyball at Valparaiso, and she is not allowed to wear Valpo gear at home.
- Oakland coach Greg Kampe had one of the more entertaining press conferences of the day. He also sat in on the first four press conference of the event.
- During his own press conference, Kampe stated that he thinks their up-tempo style of play will be an advantage against opponents that haven't seen it before.When asked about the potential rivalry with Detroit, Coach Kampe gave the question some careful consideration before he said he's really looking forward to playing Detroit and that the Titans are only two of the three games of which he knows the date.
- Green Bay coach Brian Wardle is looking to continue to develop their defensive and rebounding mentality this season and that he doesn't want his players to be comfortable with only winning preseason awards.
- Valparaiso coach Bryce Drew is still adjusting to the new players on his team, after returning only four players from last season. Their size will change their playing style but they won't know until the season starts on what type of pace they'll be able to consistently play.
Below you will find the full, unedited, press conferences. I apologize if the sound isn't the finest of qualities and if some questions (mine) are louder than others.