(Author Note: This article was originally written on 5/11/15)
Let there be ten again! The Horizon League has added the Northern Kentucky Norse, who will fully participate in conference play beginning in the upcoming school year. Just four years ago this school, located just seven miles outside of Cincinnati, was a NCAA Division 2 school. They have since been transitioning to being a full D-1 institution, while participating in the Atlantic Sun Conference. Their basketball arena may become the envy of the league- The Bank of Kentucky Center opened in 2008 and seats about 9,200.
Welcome to Detroit City! The Horizon League Men’s Basketball Tournament will be held in the Motor City for the next five years. The next two will be in the old Joe Louis Arena, while the succeeding three will be held in the new arena home to the Red Wings. This will make for a unique championship environment, with the possibility of “fan fest” events. Perhaps this will give Detroit Mercy or Oakland a much needed tourney boost.
Should they stay or should they go? Evidently the answer for a few big name Horizon League players has been to go. Cleveland State has been hit hardest by the recent transfer epidemic. Before last season, Bryn Forbes bolting for Michigan State left the Vikings with few perimeter scoring threats. But this off-season has been even worse for Head Coach Gary Waters. They lost two Horizon League First Team selections, big man Anton Grady and point guard Trey Lewis, both of whom will be seniors. Grady is headed to compete for a national title at Wichita State, while Lewis is heading to a depleted Louisville.
Youngstown State was also hit hard with five players leaving the team. However, the only player of note was leading scorer Marcus Keene (15.6 ppg). The 5’11” point guard will have to sit out next season, but will have two years left at Central Michigan. In 13 seasons in the Horizon League, the Penguins have only had one winning record in league play. Their hopes of finishing in the upper echelon next season look all but dashed now.
Don’t get me wrong, the league has benefited wildly over the years from droves of quality incoming transfers. But don’t say that to current Viking and Penguin fans!