Evansville Purple Aces

Overall record: 16-17, 6-12 in the MVC

Head coach: Marty Simmons

Tenure at Evansville: 11th season

Career coaching record: 265-232

Home court: Ford Center

Starters: G Ryan Taylor, G Duane Gibson, G Dru Smith, F Solomon Hainna, C Dalen Traore

Bench: G Marty Hill, F Dainius Chatkevicius, G K.J. Riley, F John Hall, G/F Blake Simmons 

Overview: After starting 10-5 last season, including a 70-58 triumph upset against perennial Missouri Valley contender Northern Iowa, the Purple Aces fell into a dismal rut, losing nine consecutive games during the middle of the season. 

Though the team rebounded towards the end of the 2016-2017 campaign, finishing the final nine games with a 6-3 record, the departure of three starters and six seniors leaves a host of question marks entering the 2017-2018 season. Five newcomers should hopefully provide the Evansville with enough talent to recoup its losses.

Redshirt junior guard Ryan Taylor figures to lead the Purple Aces after averaging better than 14 points per game last season. He will fill the shoes of the departed Jaylon Brown, the team’s leading scorer last season at 20.9 points per game. 

Evansville will travel to Durham in late December for the first-ever meeting between the two sides. 

One thing that needs to go right: The Purple Aces get an all-conference year from Taylor, and—along with help from new faces among the supporting cast—make a deep run in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament. 

One thing that could go wrong: Losing three starters and a wealth of senior leadership proves too costly for Evansville as the team flounders again in conference play due to an inability to score efficiently.