By Joey Bennett
TERRE HAUTE — Basketball season is upon us again, and it’s time to take a look at where former Wabash Valley standouts will be competing this winter.
A thorough examination of all college Web sites in Indiana and Illinois, plus others known to have local talent outside the bi-state area, shows a total of 14 area graduates coaching in college and 42 players competing collegiately.
Terre Haute North and Terre Haute South each has eight graduates either coaching or player to lead the area schools.
Most of the coaches are in the same location as last year, with the only exceptions being Terre Haute North grad Clint Weddle switching from Indianapolis to Indiana State, South Vermillion’s Lou Gudino moving from Louisiana Tech to Indiana State and former local resident Mike Roberts being promoted on Ben Braun’s staff to assistant coach for the California Bears.
Marshall native Jeff Strohm, a finalist for the Indiana State job last spring who has been an assistant coach at Western Kentucky the past two seasons, left WKU this summer to pursue other career goals.
“Jeff will be moving on to pursue his career goals of being a head coach or working at a higher level of basketball, possibly the NBA,” said WKU Coach Darrin Horn.
Of the players, 27 are men and 15 are women. Eight of the players toil at the NCAA Division I level, while four play NCAA Division II, nine play in NCAA Division III, 12 play for junior colleges and nine play for either NAIA or other small-school division programs.
Several players are returning to the court after a year away.
Included in that group are:
• Robinson’s Tyson Schnitker, the former Indiana State standout who will be completing his eligibility this year at Southern Indiana.
• North’s Andre Dickson, who has not played for a few seasons but is resurrecting his career at Lindenwood.
• North’s Dan O’Leary, who sat out last season but is returning to action for Hanover.
• South’s Brooke Daugherty, who played briefly for Danville Area CC before suffering a season-ending knee injury.
• South’s J.T. Hatfield, who graduated in 2005 and is making his collegiate debut for Olney Central.
• South’s Travis Davis, who was injured last year but returns for his sophomore season at Illinois Central.
As always, several players who previously competed have ended their careers despite having eligibility remaining.
The most prominent of those is North Vermillion grad Allison Hughes, who has decided to forego her senior season at St. Joseph’s.
Hughes was the leading scorer for the Pumas last year at 17.5 points per game, and was the fifth-leading scorer in the Great Lakes Valley Conference.
A Dean’s List student in business administration, Hughes plans to resume her playing career next winter.
“I’m going to finish out the year at Saint Joe and get my undergraduate degree,” she said recently. “Next year, I will be looking to use my last year of eligibility at a school that I have not yet determined [while pursuing a master’s degree].”
Allison’s older sister, Ashley Hughes, graduated from St. Joseph’s in 2006 after an excellent playing career there, and spent last season as an assistant coach for the Pumas under Amy Siegel (now an Indiana State assistant). Ashley is now a student at Rose-Hulman pursuing a master’s degree in biomedical engineering.
As always, please send any additions or corrections to the list accompanying this column to the e-mail address provided below.
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• Morgan starts coaching career — Former North Vermillion and DePauw University softball player Annie Morgan has been named graduate assistant coach at Lakeland College in Sheboygan, Wisc.
Morgan was a member of DePauw’s NCAA Central Regional Championship team that ended up finishing fifth overall at the Division III World Series last spring. She was mainly a utility player that specialized in base running.
“Annie is knowledgeable and likes the strategy side of the game,” said Lakeland Coach Chad Buchmann. “Her championship experiences will help her make coaching adjustments, as well as help our program reach our goal of making the NCAA tournament.”
Morgan earned a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology from DePauw with an emphasis in sport and exercise science. She is now pursuing a master’s degree in theology.
• Graves in nation’s top 50 — Butler senior guard A.J. Graves of White River Valley has been named to the Preseason Top 50 Candidates list for the 2007-08 John R. Wooden Award, the nation’s most coveted college basketball honor.
Graves was named to the Wooden Award Midseason All-America team, featuring the Top 30 candidates for the Wooden Award, a year ago. He finished the season as Butler’s leading scorer, while helping the Bulldogs to a school-record 29-7 campaign, a championship in the NIT Season Tip-Off, a co-championship in the Horizon League and a berth in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship.
The 6-1 guard averaged 16.9 points in 2006-07 and finished second in the NCAA Division I in free throw shooting (.948). He was named MVP of the NIT Season Tip-Off, after leading Butler to consecutive victories over Notre Dame, Indiana, No. 22 Tennessee and No. 23 Gonzaga, and he earned honorable mention All-America recognition. He also was named a first team Academic All-American.
Last month, Graves was named Horizon League preseason Player of the Year.
On Thursday night, Graves had a team-high19 points as Butler defeated St. Joseph’s 75-50 in an exhibition contest.
• USI No. 10 — The University of Southern Indiana men’s basketball team received its second preseason ranking of the fall when the Division II Bulletin placed the Screaming Eagles in its Top 25 at number 10.
The Screaming Eagles, who were ranked seventh last week by the Sporting News 2007-08 College Basketball Magazine, have been ranked in the preseason each year since 1993-94 and have been a preseason fifth or better 11 times in the last 14 seasons.
Besides Schnitker, the only other local product with the Screaming Eagles is sophomore guard Brent Owen of Chrisman.
• DACC No. 11 — Linton native Mike Carpenter improved a struggling Danville Area Community College men’s basketball program to a 14-17 record last year, and the Jaguars have earned a No. 11 pre-season ranking in the NJCAA Division II pre-season poll.
“We play a style that hasn’t been seen here before. It’s an athletic, up-tempo exciting brand of ball,” Carpenter told the Danville Commercial-News. “We’re going to push the ball and play above the rim. We feature several long and quick players who can excel at multiple positions on the court. It’s a style similar to Kansas, Florida and North Carolina.”
Among the returnees for DACC are South Putnam’s Ronnie Williams and first-team pre-season All-America selection Marcus Thomas.
Thomas holds school records for three-pointers in a season (79) and three-point field goal percentage in a season at 47.8 percent.
“We’re ready to get going. There hasn’t been a winning season here since 2000,” Carpenter said. “We have good quality players who are good students and hard working young men. It has the potential to be a very rewarding year.”
• Conrady, Mocs to battle IU — Indiana’s men’s basketball team will open the regular season on Nov. 12 by playing Chattanooga, a team which made the NCAA tournament two years ago.
Terre Haute South grad David Conrady, who led the Braves to the semistate finals in 1982, is the associate head coach for the Mocs.
• Kelly scores 10 for Hawkeyes — Former Marshall High School standout Jake Kelly, a freshman at Iowa, scored in double figures in his first collegiate game on Thursday.
Kelly scored 10 points in 16 minutes as Iowa beat Division III Simpson College 56-30 in an exhibition game. Kelly hit 2 of 3 shots from the field, both 3-pointers, and also went 4 for 4 at the free throw line. He also had one rebound.
Iowa has just 11 players on its roster this year due to several defections after former coach Steve Alford took the New Mexico job.
• Trendelman paces St. Joe’s — The St. Joseph’s volleyball team lost both matches on its final road trip of the season recently, falling by identical 3-0 scores to Northern Kentucky and Bellarmine.
Joy Trendelman of Terre Haute South had a team-high 18 kills for the weekend.
Joey Bennett is a former Tribune-Star sports reporter who now teaches at Northview High School. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.