HANOVER, Ind. -- The Hanover men's basketball team tips off the 2017-18 season with an exhibition against NCAA Division I opponent, Butler University, Saturday afternoon, inside historic Hinkle Fieldhouse.
THE TEAMS: Hanover and Butler will both look to build off deep runs in national tournaments last year, with both squads advancing to at least the Sweet 16 in their respective NCAA Tournaments. The Panthers, who appeared in the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight for the first time in program history last year, finished 2016-17 with a 26-4 overall mark, while their 16-2 HCAC record was good enough to fuel regular season and tournament conference championships.
The Bulldogs finished 25-9 last year, while their 12-6 mark in the Big East seeded them No. 2 in the postseason conference tournament. Butler advanced to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16, where they were defeated by eventual national champion, North Carolina, 92-80.
THE COACHES: Hanover will have a familiar face on the bench this season as Jon Miller ('97) returns for his 10th season at the helm for the Panthers. Miller recorded his 200th career coaching victory last season and currently holds a 150-91 record at HC.
LaVall Jordan ('01) enters his first year as the head coach of the Bulldogs in 2017-18. Jordan spent last year as the head coach of the UW-Milwaukee, where he led the Panthers to an 11-24 record. The former Butler standout has also spent time as an assistant for the Bulldogs, Iowa and Michigan.
PANTHERS TO WATCH: Senior Wes McKinney (Batesville, Ind.) enters his senior season for Hanover in 2017-18 and will look to build off a career year last winter. McKinney led the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference in scoring (18.7) and rebounding (8.3) last season en route being named the conference's men's basketball player and overall male athlete of the year. The senior, who was a D3hoops.com All-American last season, has garnered preseason All-American status by Street & Smith's this fall.
Hanover also returns two starting guards in junior Cam Fails (Mason, Ohio) and senior Levi Buck (Pendleton, Ind.). Fails, a 2016-17 HCAC first team selection, averaged close to 15 points per game last year while also ranking among the tops in the conference in steals per contest, 1.5. Buck enters his third year as a starter for the Blue and Red and is coming off scoring and assist averages of 9.1 and 2.3 in 2016-17.
Senior Colin Smith (Cincinnati, Ohio) will look to lead a fairly inexperienced front court this season. Smith, HC's version of a Swiss army knife has shown the ability to lead the team in rebounding and assists, while also making shots at a high percentage. The senior posted a .529 shooting clip last season, while ranking first on the team in assists per game, 2.7, and second in rebounds, 7.1.