Evansville Purple Aces Q&A w/Randy Beard

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Evansville Purple Aces Q&A w/Randy Beard

Postby MVCfans » December 26th, 2010, 2:26 pm

Our seventh MVCfans.com pre-conference season Q&A is with Randy Beard of the Evansville
Courier & Press. Randy started covering the Aces beat this summer to go along with his
responsibilities as a sports columnist at the Courier & Press. In that role, he kept up with the
Aces through columns and occasional game stories/sidebars while also bouncing around to Indiana,
Purdue, Louisville, Kentucky and Illinois. This year he will be the main person covering the Aces.

Prior to coming to Evansville in 2007, Randy was the sports editor in Tallahassee,
Fla. (1999-2007) and Anderson, S.C. (1988-1999), covering teams in the ACC and SEC.

You can follow Randy's stories about the Aces: Randy Beard - Evansville Courier & Press


Question 1.
The first thing most MVC fans will notice when Evansville takes the
floor in their respective buildings this year is a slimmed down Marty
Simmons. How did Coach Simmons accomplish such a dramatic transformation
and what reason did he give for losing the weight?


A. He and his wife Angie decided they needed to make a lifestyle change for
their health. The 6-foot-5 Simmons has lost nearly 150 pounds since
mid-March, also shedding those sweater vests that had been the staple of
his wardrobe. He now wears suits on the sidelines at games. He and Angie
had guidance from a nutritionist and they increased their exercise
regimen, beginning with walking three miles each morning. Now they jog for
three miles at 4:30 a.m. She also has lost considerable weight.


Question 2.
Colt Ryan was the MVC Freshman of the Year last season. How has he
improved heading into his sophomore year and what role does he need to
play for the Aces to be successful? Can he be a leader on this team as a
sophomore?


A. The 3-pointer will still be Colt's main weapon, but he's also driven the
baseline and the lane much more frequently, trying to get to the basket or
the foul line. He made 19 of 23 free throws in the recent win over Norfolk
State, missing a pair of technical free throws that would have given him
the single game school record for most free throws by a player. Simmons
wants all his players to attack the basket and Colt has used the shot fake
effectively to get his defender in the air. He has become a leader, but
mainly by example. The vocal leadership role has been shared mostly by
seniors Pieter van Tongeren, Clint Hopf and Kavon Lacey and junior Denver
Holmes.


Question 3.
Evansville was predicted to finish in last place by the MVC media. You
wrote an article recently titled "UE has no plans to live in the cellar".
What does Coach Simmons have to do to get this team to exceed
expectations and avoid a Thursday night date in St. Louis?


A. The key will be finding scoring balance each night, which they have
managed to do for most of the nonconference games. Clint Hopf and Pieter
van Tongeren have given them solid minutes in a tag-team fashion in the
post, though Simmons would like to see more offensive rebounds from the
pair. Kenneth Harris gives them a slasher who can also hit 3-pointers.
Denver Holmes also has gotten better at penetrating and pitching, as
evident by his assist numbers so far. I think they'll be consistent
defensively and should be able to limit possessions by their opponents by
running their motion offense. They key will be finding the two or three
other scorers on the nights when Colt Ryan may have trouble shaking his
defender. My personal feeling is that they have the talent to finish in
the middle of the pack, but they are going to need to get strong minutes
off the bench consistently from players like Jordan Jahr, Ned Cox and
Lewis Jones


Question 4.
In two of the three seasons that Coach Simmons has led the Aces, his
team finished with a 9-21 record. Already this season, the Aces have the
most impressive win of any MVC team having won at nationally ranked
Butler. How many wins do you anticipate for the Aces this year? Is there
a number of wins that the athletic department would like to see? Will
Coach Simmons feel any pressure from the AD if he fails to achieve
whatever internal goals are set?


A. I think they can flirt with finishing .500 on the season, but 15-16 wins
is probably maxing it out for this team. As young as they are, that would
be a good progress. But if they continue to get to the foul line more than
40 times a game, like they have in the last two, they could surprise a few
teams. They're knocking in better than 70 percent of their free throws. I
haven't talked to AD John Stanley about his expectations, but I don't see
Simmons under that much pressure at this point. He's still got a lot of
support because of his past connections to the program as a player an
assistant coach. The pressure could start to increase next season,
however, if UE's attendance falters in the new arena.


Question 5.
In 2011, the city of Evansville will open a beautiful new arena that
will seat 10,000+ for basketball. How do you expect the new arena will
benefit recruiting and attendance?


A. I think it already has helped recruiting. The impact on attendance is
still the great unknown. Evansville's core fan base is older and stubborn
and many aren't pleased to see Roberts Stadium being phased out. They like
the easy access off the Lloyd Expressway and the ample parking around the
arena. The downtown arena will rely on municipal parking lot a couple of
blocks away, a few downtown parking garages and street spaces. Next year
will be more of a challenge because the city has torn down an older hotel
and a new hotel is going to be built on the site of a parking garage that
was connected to that hotel. The hotel may not be finished until 2012, and
at that time there will be an underground parking garage under the hotel
that will be available for arena spectators.



Thanks again to Randy for participating in our team by team MVC Q&A. Previous Q&A's can be found in the MVC links section of the forum.

Dec 13 - Drake Bulldogs - Mark Emmert
Dec 16 - Jim Benson - Illinois State
Dec 18 - Paul Suellentrop - Wichita State
Dec 20 - Steve Pivovar - Creighton
Dec 22 - Kelly Beaton - Northern Iowa
Dec 24 - Todd Hefferman - Southern Illinois
Dec 26 - Randy Beard - Evansville
Dec 27 - Todd Golden - Indiana State
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Evansville Purple Aces Q&A w/Randy Beard

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Re: Evansville Purple Aces Q&A w/Randy Beard

Postby Ace Dad » December 26th, 2010, 11:07 pm

The comment about Evansville's fan base was so right on. I fully understand that a fan base is comprised of several elements: students, former graduates, local basketball fans, deep pocketed donors, etc, etc. Our fan base must be 10-15 years older than the other Valley teams, and this is coming from a 54 year old guy who is sensitive about his age (do not call me Gramps!) I love our older fans, but they need to start getting more vocal at games and stop staring down the younger folks who like to raise hell for the Aces.

Several times an older fan stared me down because they thought I was a little bit too animated (I saw nothing wrong with the middle finger extended toward the refereee when he failed to call the Saluki for the foul, kidding).

We need to keep the older crowd. But, they got to get vocal.
There is no difference between basketball and life. Give both your best and ignore the "fans" on the sideline.
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Re: Evansville Purple Aces Q&A w/Randy Beard

Postby ACECARD » December 27th, 2010, 11:46 am

Give the older crowd something to get excited about, and they will get plenty vocal. The energy at UE comes from the team to the crowd, not from the crowd to the team. The older crowd won't get vocal for a team that turns the ball over 20 times, and shoots 28%. Give them a team that can beat WSU by 15 here and 5 on the road, and they will get plenty vocal. We might even get more than 50 students to come to the games. The last two games were a good example of the noise that 4,000 (paid attendence, not actual) people can make. One, a last second shot, the other a come back from being seven down at the half. Sounded like 2 or 3 times that amount.

A little off topic, but in my opinion, the new arena won't meet it's potential if the the Aces can't start fielding teams that don't have to play on Thursday in the MVC Tournament. I'm sure that it will be full next year because people will want to be a part of the new experience, but if the Aces don't field competitive teams, attendance will suffer. In short, build them a team, and the fans will come. We may not like it, but that's the way it is, in Southern Indiana.
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Re: Evansville Purple Aces Q&A w/Randy Beard

Postby Ace Dad » December 27th, 2010, 2:30 pm

Original response to Ace Card erased because Ace Dad does not want to be banished from MVCFANs.
There is no difference between basketball and life. Give both your best and ignore the "fans" on the sideline.
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Re: Evansville Purple Aces Q&A w/Randy Beard

Postby Ace Dad » December 27th, 2010, 11:43 pm

ACECARD wrote:Give the older crowd something to get excited about, and they will get plenty vocal. The energy at UE comes from the team to the crowd, not from the crowd to the team. The older crowd won't get vocal for a team that turns the ball over 20 times, and shoots 28%. Give them a team that can beat WSU by 15 here and 5 on the road, and they will get plenty vocal. We might even get more than 50 students to come to the games. The last two games were a good example of the noise that 4,000 (paid attendence, not actual) people can make. One, a last second shot, the other a come back from being seven down at the half. Sounded like 2 or 3 times that amount.

A little off topic, but in my opinion, the new arena won't meet it's potential if the the Aces can't start fielding teams that don't have to play on Thursday in the MVC Tournament. I'm sure that it will be full next year because people will want to be a part of the new experience, but if the Aces don't field competitive teams, attendance will suffer. In short, build them a team, and the fans will come. We may not like it, but that's the way it is, in Southern Indiana.



Card, I just checked our stats, we are averaging 15 TOs a game and our shooting percentage is 46%. We turned the ball over 20 times in one game--North Carolina. I still believe too many of our older fans are looking on the floor for Jerry Sloan and what they need to do is embrace the team they have. I already admitted that I am 54. I sense you wore bell bottoms, too. Also, Southern Indiana is no more special than Fresno, St Louis, Spokane, Philadelphia, Houston, Des Moines, Canada, or Venezuela: There is good basketball everywhere and knowledgeable fans everywhere.

Good to meet you :D
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Re: Evansville Purple Aces Q&A w/Randy Beard

Postby WuDrWu » December 28th, 2010, 5:05 pm

ACECARD wrote:Give them a team that can beat WSU by 15 here and 5 on the road, and they will get plenty vocal.


Wow. There's a fan any program would be just DYING to have on board.

Beat WSU by 15 at home and 5 on the road....so you'll get excited when Evansville is a top 15 type team?

Don't buy any green bananas, pops. And as far as expectations, maybe you should look inward for a change, and you might see part of the problem.
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Re: Evansville Purple Aces Q&A w/Randy Beard

Postby Ace Dad » December 28th, 2010, 7:09 pm

WuDrWu wrote:
ACECARD wrote:Give them a team that can beat WSU by 15 here and 5 on the road, and they will get plenty vocal.


Wow. There's a fan any program would be just DYING to have on board.

Beat WSU by 15 at home and 5 on the road....so you'll get excited when Evansville is a top 15 type team?

Don't buy any green bananas, pops. And as far as expectations, maybe you should look inward for a change, and you might see part of the problem.



Welcome to my world. When Ace Kid was playing I would go to Evansville to my favorite donut and coffee shop wearing my Aces gear. I would sit with the oldtimers, and I say that affectionately, and we would talk Aces basketball. No, not current Aces basketball..............the College Division days. I did my best to steer the conversation about the current team, but to no avail. Again, I love our fans, but sometimes the older fans are so stuck on the good ole days, that they have unrealistic expectations:

If we measure success by beating WSU by 15 and in their house by 5, than we have a problem. We need to first worry about fielding a competitive team for the 4-7 spots and then we can start thinking about the upper third.

Wu, I hope "Pops" is a term of affection as opposed to a term of derision. Since becoming a Grandfather I am sensitive to comments about older folks.
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Re: Evansville Purple Aces Q&A w/Randy Beard

Postby ACECARD » December 28th, 2010, 9:51 pm

Ace Dad wrote:Original response to Ace Card erased because Ace Dad does not want to be banished from MVCFANs.

Dad, would sure loved to have seen the post that would have gotten you thrown off the forum. I don't think that my opinion that the Aces are not going to fill the Stadium until they start winning games in the MVC, and finishing last, and being picked to finish last, should raise that kind of ire. No, so far this season, the Aces are shooting more than 28%, and committing less than 20 turnovers per game. I have seen more than my share of DIV I games were they did not. Let's see how many wins that leads to.

Since I don't want you to get thrown off the forum on my account I will only post glowing reports on the Aces play from here on out.

Nice to meet you, also.
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Re: Evansville Purple Aces Q&A w/Randy Beard

Postby ACECARD » December 28th, 2010, 9:59 pm

WuDrWu wrote:
ACECARD wrote:Give them a team that can beat WSU by 15 here and 5 on the road, and they will get plenty vocal.


Wow. There's a fan any program would be just DYING to have on board.

Beat WSU by 15 at home and 5 on the road....so you'll get excited when Evansville is a top 15 type team?

Don't buy any green bananas, pops. And as far as expectations, maybe you should look inward for a change, and you might see part of the problem.

Beating WSU by 15 at home, and 5 on the road wouldn't get them anywhere near the top 15. Probably wouldn't get them in the top 50. And let's see what a great fan you are, when your team plays on Thursday for 10 straight years.
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Re: Evansville Purple Aces Q&A w/Randy Beard

Postby AndShock » December 29th, 2010, 1:23 am

ACECARD wrote:
WuDrWu wrote:
ACECARD wrote:Give them a team that can beat WSU by 15 here and 5 on the road, and they will get plenty vocal.


Wow. There's a fan any program would be just DYING to have on board.

Beat WSU by 15 at home and 5 on the road....so you'll get excited when Evansville is a top 15 type team?

Don't buy any green bananas, pops. And as far as expectations, maybe you should look inward for a change, and you might see part of the problem.

Beating WSU by 15 at home, and 5 on the road wouldn't get them anywhere near the top 15. Probably wouldn't get them in the top 50. And let's see what a great fan you are, when your team plays on Thursday for 10 straight years.

#7 in the country beat us by 14 at home, and we haven't lost a regular season home game in almost two years.
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Re: Evansville Purple Aces Q&A w/Randy Beard

Postby WuDrWu » December 29th, 2010, 7:57 am

ACECARD wrote:Beating WSU by 15 at home, and 5 on the road wouldn't get them anywhere near the top 15. Probably wouldn't get them in the top 50. And let's see what a great fan you are, when your team plays on Thursday for 10 straight years.


1)You sure it wouldn't?

2)My team actually has come pretty close to that before.....I was still a great fan and so were most of the rest of Shocker Nation. Sure, there are some fair weathered fans, everyone has them, but we're fine, thanks for asking.

3)And if that actually happened today, I can promise you there would be a bloodletting the likes of which would make your grandchildren cry. We wouldn't accept it without a fight...it is embarrassing to see a program like UNI lead this conference.

3)That's life as a Division 1 program that has higher aspirations than being competitive for the 7th place and happy to cash your share of what the best teams in the conference can bring home. Programs like WSU that have fans that pony up deserve to have some successes.
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Re: Evansville Purple Aces Q&A w/Randy Beard

Postby unipanther99 » December 29th, 2010, 11:54 am

I moved the side discussion about UNI it's own topic. Continue on with the discussion about Randy Beard's breakdown of the Aces season so far.

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