March 13, 2014
Disappointing season leads to lessons learned and brighter outlook for 2014-15
This wasn’t the kind of season first-year head coach David Howard imagined
when he was hired last summer. Through all the struggles, he and his players
learned lessons and gained takeaways for a stronger 2014-15.
Howard inherited some players with experience from the final game at nationals last year, and he had high expectations. But change is hard.
“It was a tougher transition on me and the players than I realized. The returners were used to playing a certain style and in different roles. We had to completely change everything,” Howard said. “It took far too long for everyone to get on the same page.”
The Cyclones lost too many matches based on a one possession difference because of poor starts and pushing hard too late in the game. Once they fixed those elements, the difference-maker was playing smarter. Yet the losses don’t reflect the talent of the team. Along with the heartache was resiliency in the players. They could have given up after the first big loss, but continued to push in practice and worked on improving their skills. The starters worked hard all season, earning some well-deserved accolades. Kyle Ward (Lockport) was named to the All-Conference first team, Johnte Shannon (Thornwood) had nods to the All-Conference second team and Des’nique Harris (Plainfield East) was an honorable mention for the second team.
Howard replaced coach Dedrick Shannon, who retired after nine years at the helm. Shannon led his 2012-13 squad to a championship in both the Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference and NJCAA Region IV along with a trip to nationals where they were runners-up. There were high hopes for another successful season, but the Cyclones finished with an 8-22 overall record and 4-10 conference record.
“This was not even close to what I wanted. If anyone told me this would be my record, there’s no way I’d believe them. If I had to point a finger at someone, it’d be myself,” Howard said.
The players were given too much autonomy and had more input early in the season instead of earning it, he explained. Howard also didn’t make his expectations clear nor define roles earlier. His biggest takeaway from the season—stay true to himself as a person and coach.
“It was a humbling experience, a brutal learning experience, and I learned a lot. I recognize what went well so it wasn’t a complete loss. It’ll make me better and make the guys better not just in basketball, but in dealing with change and transitions,” Howard said. “It took a lot of losses to learn, but the coaches and players will be better to have dealt with this season.”
Howard would be remiss if he didn’t thank his coaching staff who covered for him when he tore his Achilles, in addition to the Athletics staff for their support all year. He also received advice from Dedrick Shannon, who relayed his own first-year woes. “I’m grateful for his wisdom and for everyone who has been so supportive. It makes me want to work that much harder,” he said. “It was a crazy year, but I’m truly blessed and grateful.”
Next season the Cyclones will play in the new Health, Fitness & Recreation Center. Howard is excited at the prospect of a new gym and fitness center with state-of-the-art equipment and more space that allows more practice flexibility for his players to get enough work in on the court and the classroom.
March 11, 2014
Two former Cyclones earn accolades
Two former Cyclones were named to the 2014 All-Mid-American Conference (MAC)
third team after impressive seasons.
Juniors Richaun Holmes (2011-12), a forward at Bowling Green State University, and Karrington Ward (2012-13), a forward at Eastern Michigan University, both received the honor. This year Holmes averaged 13.4 points and 7.5 rebounds per game and broke a school single-season record with 86 blocks. Ward averaged 12.5 points per game, 15th most in the MAC, along with 6.4 rebounds per game.
While at Moraine Valley, both players were named to the NJCAA Division II All-American first team in addition to helping lead their respective teams to Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference and NJCAA Region IV championships as well as appearances in the NJCAA championship.
February 28, 2014
Cyclones put up the good fight
When Moraine Valley first faced Kishwaukee College this season, they were
dealt a crushing blow with a 45-point deficit. Their second meeting (Feb.
27) in the playoffs yielded another loss, 89-74, but with more fight.
The Cyclones had chances and came as close as eight points. Some missed layups near the end jolted Moraine Valley’s momentum.
Cameron Juillerat led the charge with 19 points followed by Des’nique Harris (14 points, 10 rebounds), Johnte Shannon (14 points, four steals), and Kyle Ward (11 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds).
February 21, 2014
One more win before playoffs
It’s been a hot and cold year for the Cyclones, but they finished the
regular season (Feb. 20) on a warmer note. Although they lost to Morton
College in their first meeting in January, the Cyclones fought for their
78-72 win over the Panthers before playoffs start.
The Cyclones were a strong force in the first half, going up by 20 at one point. Some miscues after the break had Moraine Valley on edge, but they maintained a lead for the ultimate victory.
Brett Kaiser had a double-double for the night with 19 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, and three blocks. Kyle Ward scored 14 with seven boards, five assists and three steals in addition to contributions from Cameron Juillerat (14 points, four assists), Johnte Shannon (13 points, four rebounds, four assists), Des’nique Harris (nine points, five boards), and Brennan Ivory (four blocks).
February 19, 2014
Cyclones lose their fight
Unlike the fighting spirit the Cyclones had in their match with Prairie
State College on Saturday, they didn’t have the same drive Feb. 18, and fell
88-77 to the Pioneers.
The Cyclones were killed on the glass and out rebounded 46-32. Johnte Shannon tallied 25 points and three assists followed by Brett Kaiser (17 points, four rebounds), Kyle Ward (11 points, eight rebounds, two blocks), and Des’nique Harris (11 points, six boards).
February 16, 2014
Defense falters in loss to Pioneers
It was only in the last couple minutes of their game on Feb. 15 that the
Cyclones were stunted offensively, but it was enough for a stinging 75-70
loss to Prairie State College.
Moraine Valley held a lead nearly the entire game thanks to some big numbers from Kyle Ward (19 points), Paulius Ostruskevicius (14 points), Jason Allen (11 points), and Cameron Juillerat (10 points). At the break the Cyclones were up 35-28. Some missed layups and defensive blunders ultimately hurt the Cyclones in the second half. With two minutes to go, the Cyclones were ahead by four, but couldn’t score for the rest of the game, giving them the narrow loss.
Ward also had eight boards, five assists and three steals for the night while Ostruskevicius added three steals.
February 14, 2014
Cyclones control Spartans
The last time Moraine Valley played Elgin Community College, it was a close
battle with the Cyclones taking the loss. In their Feb. 13 meeting, the
Cyclones took control in the second half for a more solid 82-68 victory.
Both teams put the pressure on, keeping it close in the first half. At halftime the Cyclones were down by two. By putting on a stronger defensive front, the Cyclones were able to pull away for the win.
Johnte Shannon led the charge with 23 points. Kyle Ward had a big night with 18 points, eight boards, seven assists, and two blocks. Paulius Ostruskevicius added 10 points and seven rebounds while Des’nique Harris finished with nine points and 10 rebounds, and Denton Wallace had eight points and five rebounds.
February 12, 2014
Cyclones halt skid
The Cyclones’ long winless spell ended Feb. 11 with a 78-72 victory over McHenry
County College. In the last matchup between the two conference teams on Jan.
21 the Cyclones lost.
One key to this win was that the Cyclones continued to play hard even after making mistakes that have plagued them throughout this already rough season. Kyle Ward regained his prowess on the court with 26 points, seven rebounds and seven assists followed by Paulius Ostruskevicius (16 points), Des’nique Harris (11 points, six rebounds), Brett Kaiser (10 points, seven rebounds), and Denton Wallace (10 points).
February 7, 2014
’Clones struggle in second half for loss
Another rough second half did the Cyclones in on Feb. 6 in a 65-50 loss to
Waubonsee Community College.
The Cyclones came out of the gate charging, playing well enough to hold a 26-22 lead at the end of the first half. However, Waubonsee found another speed in the second half, going on an early 17-0 run, which proved too much for the Cyclones to overcome while they struggled to make any shots.
Johnte Shannon finished with 11 points, four assists, four rebounds, and three steals; Brett Kaiser had nine points and four boards; Kyle Ward had six points, six rebounds, seven assists, and five steals for the night.
February 5, 2014
The Cyclones had a win in their hands Feb. 4, but it slipped away at the end
resulting in a painful 59-58 loss to College of Lake County at home.
Both teams had their share of turnovers throughout the game, but for most of the first half the Cyclones held a lead. Brett Kaiser was the offensive force with 14 points at halftime when Moraine Valley led 28-22. There was at least a three-minute stretch toward the end of the second half where the Cyclones did not score, missing several layups and not executing plays.
Kaiser finished the game with 24 points and six rebounds followed by Cameron Juillerat (11 points), Johnte Shannon (10 points, six steals, five assists), and Des’nique Harris (19 rebounds).
February 3, 2014
Cyclones take a hit from Oakton
Troubles continued for the Cyclones as they dropped their latest conference
matchup on Feb. 1 to Oakton Community College, 87-69.
The Cyclones got off to a poor start, trailing by 30 at halftime. Johnte Shannon had a two-handed slam dunk early in the second half as the Cyclones were making a comeback, but they could only cut the lead to 11 at one point and couldn’t make up enough ground.
Shannon finished with 16 points, five rebounds and four assists followed by Denton Wallace (12 points, five rebounds), Jason Allen (10 points), Cameron Juillerat (eight points), and Brennan Ivory (seven rebounds).
January 31, 2014
Struggles continue for ’Clones
The Cyclones had another bad start, struggling to complete shots, and took a
rough 73-52 loss from Morton College on Jan. 30.
Moraine Valley put up a fight, cutting Morton’s lead to eight late in the second half, but fell back down after the surge. Johnte Shannon lead with 18 points followed by Brett Kaiser, who racked up a double-double with 15 points, 10 rebounds and five steals. Des’nique Harris had 12 rebounds for the night.
January 24, 2014
Cyclones fight to the end
It was another close-but-no-cigar loss for the Cyclones Jan. 23 in a narrow
72-69 conference loss to Elgin Community College.
Despite a number of turnovers down the stretch, the Cyclones played well but were pitted against a tough Spartans team.
Johnte Shannon was on fire, amassing a season high 35 points along with five boards, five assists, and three steals. Kyle Ward came up with 18 points, eight rebounds, six assists, and four steals while Des’nique Harris rounded out the top with six points and 11 boards.
January 22, 2014
Cyclones denied by Scots
The Cyclones had the wind blown out of their sails Jan. 21, after a tough
matchup with conference foe McHenry County College. Moraine Valley lost
86-73 to the Scots.
Kyle Ward had 16 points, seven assists and four boards for the night followed by Paul Ostruskevicius (14 points, four boards), Des’nique Harris (12 points, eight rebounds), Brett Kaiser (eight points, seven rebounds), and Denton Wallace (eight points).
January 19, 2014
Cyclones miss opportunities
There were opportunities for the Cyclones to come out ahead Jan. 18 against
NJCAA Division II seventh-ranked South Suburban College, but they fell 66-59
in the away contest.
The Cyclones were down by one at halftime and took the lead briefly before falling in the final minutes of the game.
Kyle Ward led with a team high 25 points, five rebounds and three assists followed by Des’nique Harris (20 points, eight rebounds) and Brett Kaiser (eight points, five rebounds).
January 17, 2014
Cyclones edge out Chiefs in OT
The Cyclones snapped a four-game losing streak thanks to a big 64-58
overtime win Jan. 16 over conference foe Waubonsee Community College.
Moraine Valley had momentum throughout the entire game until the Chiefs tied things up at 55 with less than a second to go. Kyle Ward and Denton Wallace were key offensively in overtime for the Cyclones to earn the first conference win of the season.
Ward led the charge with some big numbers including 17 points, 11 boards, 10 assists, and four steals. Wallace had 15 points while Johnte Shannon finished with 11 points and five rebounds. Brett Kaiser had eight points and six rebounds and Des’nique Harris banked seven and grabbed 10 boards.
January 15, 2014
’Clones fall to Lancers
There was some fight in the Cyclones on Jan. 14, but they couldn’t catch up
to College of Lake County, losing the battle 78-62.
Down by four at halftime, the Cyclones lost their groove in the second half and struggled to come back. Kyle Ward had an active night with 14 points, six rebounds, four steals, and three assists. Paul Ostruskevicius had 13 points, seven rebounds and three steals.
January 12, 2014
Cyclones challenged in overtime
The Cyclones started conference play Jan. 11 with an overtime game, but came
up just short. Moraine Valley fell 80-73 to Oakton Community College.
Brett Kaiser led the attack with 16 points, eight rebounds and three assists followed by Des’nique Harris (16 points, seven rebounds), Johnte Shannon (12 points, four assist) and Kyle Ward (11 points, six assists, five rebounds).
January 10, 2014
Cyclones fall short
Some sluggish minutes and a struggle to bank layups cost the Cyclones in
their 81-70 loss to Olive-Harvey College on Jan. 9.
Paulius Ostruskevicius led Moraine Valley with 22 points, four rebounds and three assist followed by Brett Kaiser (12 points), Kyle Ward (10 points, 13 rebounds), Des’nique Harris (eight points, 13 rebounds), and Johnte Shannon who had a big night (nine points, six rebounds, six assists, seven steals).
December 22, 2013
Cyclones getting stronger
The Cyclones are improving one game at a time. Despite falling 82-73 in
overtime to Danville Area Community College on Dec. 21, it was a much
better performance from their first meeting earlier in December when
Moraine Valley lost 90-56.
Johnte Shannon led the fight with 25 points, seven rebounds and three steals. Two players had double-doubles for the night- Kyle Ward (22 points, 11 rebounds, five assists) and Des’nique Harris (11 points, 10 rebounds). Paulius Ostruskevicius rounded out the bunch with 10 points.
December 20, 2013
Cyclones edge out Wolves
The Cyclones may have found their groove after earning a second consecutive
win Dec. 19 over rival Joliet Junior College. It came down to the wire, but
Moraine Valley pulled out a 72-71 victory in the final seconds of the game.
At one point the Cyclones were up by 12 points, but with 20 seconds left in the matchup they were down by one. Johnte Shannon made two free throws with six seconds on the clock to put the Cyclones ahead, and the Wolves ran out of time to score.
Des’nique Harris had a double-double on the night with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Kyle Ward had a big game with 11 points, seven rebounds, six assists, and six steals. Paulius Otruskevicius was next with 13 points and five steals followed by Shannon (11 points, three steals) and Cameron Juillerat (10 points).
December 18, 2013
Cyclones earn win over Rams
The Cyclones played better basketball on Dec. 17, which showed in their
63-57 victory over Wilbur Wright College.
Although Moraine Valley had some dominating moments, they did let the Rams back into the game for a close finish. Denton Wallace led the way with 16 points and six rebounds followed by Johnte Shannon (15 points, five rebounds, three assists), Cameron Juillerat (11 points, three rebounds), Des’nique Harris (eight points, seven rebounds), and Kyle Ward (six points, 12 rebounds, three assists).
December 16, 2013
Free throws hurt ’Clones
The Cyclones put up a good fight on Dec. 13 in their latest home game
against Elmhurst College JV, but 12 missed free throws throughout the night
contributed to the 63-58 loss.
Johnte Shannon led Moraine Valley with 24 points and three rebounds followed by Des’nique Harris (11 points, five rebounds) and Cameron Juillerat (seven points).
December 9, 2013
Rough outing for ’Clones
The Cyclones always have an extra challenge when facing Danville Area Community College. Their most recent meeting on Dec. 7 was no exception as Moraine Valley fell hard, 90-56. Johnte Shannon banked 26 points for the night followed by Cameron Juillerat with 11 points and Des’nique Harris with eight points and six rebounds.
December 2, 2013
Cyclones come up short in Cincy
It was a discouraging weekend (Nov. 29-30) for the Cyclones as they dropped
two at the Cincinnati State Tech and Community College Surge Classic
The Cyclones faced a tough Cincinnati State Tech and Community College squad to begin the weekend. It was another game where Moraine Valley started flat. There were too many open looks, too much defensive pressure and not enough fight in the Cyclones’ 106-44 loss. The Cyclones are a better team than they looked, but with one of their best players—Kyle Ward—out with an injury, the team hurt psychologically, said head coach Dave Howard. Moraine Valley didn’t make enough shots early, it was an uphill battle and the lead got out of control.
Des’nique Harris led the team with 13 points and 10 rebounds while Johnte Shannon had 12 points, five rebounds and three assists, and Paulius Ostruskevicius finished with 11 points and four boards.
In their second game of the weekend (Nov. 30), the Cyclones faced Malcolm X College and had a better response despite a 116-89 loss.
Moraine Valley was down early, but fought back and before halftime the team was within seven points (28-21). At that point, the Cyclones couldn’t buy a basket, Howard said. There just wasn’t enough firepower to maintain the momentum in the second half. It was another loss, but the Cyclones fought hard and played well together in this game.
Shannon was the lead scorer with 19 followed by Harris (15 points, seven rebounds), Brett Kaiser (14 points), Jason Allen (11 points), and Cameron Juillerat (10 points, three assists). John Curran had eight boards.
“Other teams are 5-3 or 5-4, so we’re still in the mix. All these games are preparing us for the conference,” Howard said. “The scores are not indicative of who we are as a team. We need to rise to the occasion when we play better teams. Our Achilles heel is rebounding; we definitely need to work on that. They’re discouraged, but I still believe in my guys. As long as we keep working hard, we still can be in it. We have what it takes. When we play aggressively and don’t settle for jump shots and attack the rim, we’re a much better team.”
November 27, 2013
Cyclones grab victory over Chaparrals
The Cyclones have a fondness for coming from behind, and it worked Nov. 26
in their 78-66 victory over College of DuPage.
With Kyle Ward and Johnte Shannon shooting a combined 26 points, the team fed off the duo’s energy, especially in the second half. The Cyclones started the game flat and were down by halftime. But a resilient Moraine Valley team fought back to take the lead for good. If they played like they did in that second half, the Cyclones could have more wins, said head coach David Howard. Despite this needed win, not all the players were healthy at the end of the game, namely starter Ward, making for a bittersweet night.
Ward finished with 16 points, five rebounds and three assists followed by Cameron Juillerat with 15 points and three assists. Paulius Ostruskevicius had 15 points and five rebounds; Brett Kaiser scored 12 and grabbed 11 rebounds; Shannon banked 10 and had six steals, five rebounds and four assists. Des’nique Harris had eight points and nine rebounds.
November 25, 2013
Cyclones denied by Daley
Although the Cyclones had some chances to win Nov. 23, they came up short in
a 70-63 loss to Daley College.
Johnte Shannon led the charge with 18 points. Des’nique Harris had 13 points and 10 rebounds. Kyle Ward had 10 points while Brett Kaiser added nine.
November 23, 2013
Cyclones notch first win
The Cyclones earned their first win of the season on Nov. 21, a 76-44
crushing of Trinity Christian College JV.
Nick Bal was the lead scorer with 16 points and three steals. Cameron Juillerat had 11 points while Kyle Ward scored 10, had 10 boards and five assist. Paul Otruskevicius rounded out the team leaders with seven points and nine rebounds.
November 18, 2013
Close but no cigar for ’Clones
There were some close calls for the Cyclones in their Nov. 16 matchup with
Triton College, just not enough for a win. Moraine Valley fell 85-81.
Kyle Ward was the leading scorer again with 28 points, five rebounds and five assists. Johnte Shannon had 20 points and four assists; Cameron Juillerat had 12 points; Des’nique Harris had 10 points and eight rebounds; and Jason Allen had seven rebounds for the night.
November 15, 2013
Cyclones fall to Hawks
The Cyclones had some chances to win, but came up short Nov. 14 in an 88-80
loss to Harper College.
Kyle Ward had 25 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and three steals; Johnte Shannon had 22 points, six steals and four assists; and Des’nique Harris had eight points and seven rebounds.
November 4, 2013
Cyclones denied by Kishwaukee in season opener
In their season opener Nov. 2, and first test with new coaches and a new
system, the Cyclones lacked fire on the court. It wasn’t pretty as Moraine
Valley fell to Kishwaukee College 109-64.
The players and coaches lacked a cohesive vision in this first game and plan to go back to the drawing board and work harder, said head coach David Howard. “Kishwaukee is a great team that is well coached. We were out coached and out played. We have a week and a half before we play again. We must work hard and not make excuses,” he said.
In the effort, Johnte Shannon had 19 points and four assists while Kyle Ward scored 18.
October 24, 2013
The bar is set high for new coach, new season
The Cyclones completed the 2012-13 season higher than they or any other
Cyclones team has gone—runner up in the nation padded by NJCAA Region IV and
Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference championships. As a new season rapidly
approaches, Moraine Valley finds itself ranked #12 in an NJCAA
Division II poll with a new head coach, a new system
and some fresh faces, but the same high standards and goals.
Coach Dedrick Shannon hung up his playbook after nine years, leaving on a very high note. The coveted role of head coach was entrusted to David Howard, a former Cyclone who played under Shannon in 2005-06. From his playing days at Whitney Young High School, Waubonsee Community College and Moraine Valley and then injuries that led to his coaching a throng of Chicago high school teams, Howard was given this chance as head coach and couldn’t be happier. “This is like a dream come true because I wanted to coach on the collegiate level. I have this opportunity, and now I have to make the best of it. I love this. This is not a job I have to peel myself out of bed for,” Howard said. “I’m grateful that coach [Bill] Finn and Dedrick opened this door for me. This is truly a blessing for me to be named head coach.”
With a new coach comes a different system and view of the game. On the court, Howard wants his guys to use their basketball IQ and play the game more mentally. Through repetition at practice, emphasis on defense, blocking out, drills, being more competitive to meet their potential, and good conditioning, he hopes this focus will aid his smaller-sized squad. Howard said he also is allowing his players to voice their opinions on what’s going well or what might work better, but he still has the upper hand. This keeps everyone involved, engaged and ideally working harder.
Within his new system, Howard wants a melding of sport, academics and life, but doesn’t rule with an iron fist. “My philosophy is to teach life through basketball. After my ACL reconstruction, I hung up my laces. I didn’t want it to happen, but at some point you have to hang up the laces and work. I want the players prepared. I want them to work on the court and in the classroom and develop them as young men of high quality and character and top citizens as a whole,” he said. “It’s a tough task, but I welcome it, and I believe I can make a difference. We’ll learn from each other. When they look back, I hope they think it was meaningful and that they learned to be disciplined and set goals.”
The Cyclones lost some key players, including All-American Karrington Ward, who had four double-doubles in the national tournament alone. Despite the loss, a group of veterans returns and brings that nationals experience to the table. All-Conference guard Johnte Shannon (Thornwood, 6’1”) is back along with guard/forward Des’nique Harris (Plainfield East, 6’4”), guard Cameron Juillerat (Australia, 5’11”), guard/forward Brett Kaiser (Stagg, 6’3”), center/forward Derrick Lynn (Bogan, 6’6”), and guard Kyle Ward (Lockport, 6’1”), who was sidelined last year with an injury mid-season.
“I’m expecting these guys to carry the load because they gave their blood, sweat and tears last year. They know what it takes,” Howard said. “I’ll rely on them to push themselves and their teammates. This is the core group, but they can’t do it alone.”
Howard expects the incoming group of players to be invaluable to the success of the team. They are a hardworking talented bunch, and the leaders will emerge and earn their roles as the season progresses.
The effort from all sides will pay off, Howard said, and he has high expectations. “I want to do equally as well as last year. It’s a tall task, but I wouldn’t set the bar any lower. If we don’t return to nationals, I’ll be disappointed and feel I let everyone down. I’m ready to do what I have to do.”
The Cyclones open their season Nov. 2 with an away game against Kishwaukee College. Their first home game is Nov. 16.
October 17, 2013
Former Cyclone impresses at Bowling Green
Former Cyclone Richaun Holmes (2011-12) is making a statement as a Falcon.
The 6-8 forward transferred to Bowling Green State University in 2012 and
has put up impressive numbers for the basketball team. He is the greatest
single-season shot blocker in Falcons history. In one game alone against
North Dakota he had six. In only 602 minutes off the bench, he blocked 73,
shattering the previous record by 14. He ranked third in the Mid-American
Conference (MAC) and 36th nationally in blocked shots. Holmes also ranked
second at Bowling Green and among the top 20 in the MAC for averaging five
rebounds per game.