Checking in on… the MVCPosted by Brian Goodman on November 22nd, 2010
Patrick Marshall of White & Blue Review is the RTC correspondent for the Missouri Valley Conference.
A Look Back
- Southern Illinois already in trouble: The Salukis had the opportunity against Illinois and former coach Bruce Weber to open the season. Both teams were hot to start, but Southern Illinois cooled off and Illinois’ pressure defense smothered the Salukis and they left Champaign with a 85-63 loss. Three days later as a part of ESPN’s 24 Hours of Hoops marathon, many references were made to Michigan’s Chris Webber and his infamous timeout in the NCAA finals back in 1993 when Southern Illinois did the same thing against Northeastern while tied in overtime. On a rebound with only a couple seconds remaining, the Salukis called timeout, but they did not have one. A technical foul was called and Northeastern hit one of the free throws. Controversy ensues, but Southern Illinois starts at 0-2.
- Bradley loses Taylor Brown: Right as the season was about to start, Bradley announced that Taylor Brown would not play for the Braves this season. It appears Brown is suffering from a cardiac condition that requires three months of rest to properly evaluate his condition. This is a big loss for Bradley.
- Missed opportunities: The Missouri Valley Conference has already suffered from some missed opportunities in the first week of the season. Northern Iowa took a trip to Syracuse on the opening weekend. The darling of the NCAA Tournament last season went home with their tail between their legs as the Orange dominated the Panthers for a 68-46 victory. Drake got blasted by Iowa State 91-43. Missouri State came up short against Tennessee. Add in the Southern Illinois losses and the chances to win a couple games from the Power Six conferences slipped away.
Player of the Week
Antoine Young, Creighton – Young led the Bluejays in all three wins to start the season. He averaged 15 points, five rebounds, and three assists per game this week in the wins over Alabama State, Northern Arizona and Louisiana.
Newcomer of the Week
Kenneth Harris, Evansville – The juco transfer has made an impact early for the Purple Aces as he scored 21 points on 7-8 shooting in his debut against Oakland City and hit key free throws down the stretch and grabbed eight rebounds for Evansville in their 77-73 victory over Texas-San Antonio.
- Bradley (3-0)–Bradley is off to a hot start, but the games are close and they are still adjusting to playing without Taylor Brown. The injury bug has hurt the Braves over the past few seasons. Dodie Dunson was out all last season and Andrew Warren was out during the 2008-09 campaign. These types of injuries have kept Bradley from reaching their full potential. But they are surviving right now and they are doing it with the help of their bench.
- Creighton (4-0): Creighton is not winning with style points, but have brushed off a couple scares with hot-shooting Northern Arizona and Louisiana squads. The biggest difference so far through the first three games—free throw shooting. The Bluejays have gotten to the free throw line 85 times already, shooting over 81% while the opponents have only gone to the charity stripe 26 times. Games against Iowa State and Kennesaw State are on the schedule this week.
- Wichita State (1-0): The Shockers haven’t done too much so far and have almost gone unnoticed during the first week of play. They graded themselves after their win against Texas Southern. Wichita State hopes to make a splash this week at the Maui Invitational in Hawaii, starting with UConn.
- Missouri State (2-2): Missouri State gave Tennessee all they could handle in their NIT loss on Wednesday. Then they had to turn around and play Tulsa on Friday night and looked tired. Playing four games in seven days has taken its toll already on the Bears with the starters playing a lot of minutes and some suffering the flu bug. They need to rebound quickly as they have two more games in the next two days. They are hosting the consolation rounds against Pepperdine and a rematch of the CollegeInsider.com championship game against Pacific.
- Illinois State (2-0): The Redbirds have started the season undefeated with a whole slew of new players and are trying to go into the season without pressure. Both of their games were extremes. They blew out SIU-Edwardsville, but they blew a 22 point lead against Tennessee State that they eventually held on to win. Jackie Carmichael is trying to be the team leader for Illinois State so far, but he needs to stay out of foul trouble.
- Evansville (2-0): The story with Evansville is the fact that they lost one of their exhibition games. However for the games that count, they have come away with some confidence-building wins. In the 77-73 win against Texas-San Antonio, the game was tied 17 times and the lead changed 26 times. Having a game down to the wire will benefit the Purple Aces early in the season. They now take on the Indiana Hoosiers for the first time in 15 years.
- Northern Iowa (1-2): The Panthers are still trying to adjust without Ali Faroknamesh, Adam Koch and Jordan Eglseder. Northern Iowa unveiled their Sweet 16 banner this week before their game against Division III Coe College. The returning players and new players are still looking for their roles. They hope that a game against North Dakota will help make that better
- Southern Illinois (0-2): I’m sure Southern Illinois didn’t plan on starting off 0-2, but they did and it may take longer than I realized to get them back to their MVC glory days. 23 turnovers, missed three pointers and missed free throws against Northeastern will not win basketball games. They now focus their energies to the Chicago Invitational Challenge. They first host Ausin Peay and Charleston Southern which should produce their first wins of the season.
- Drake (1-1): Drake started off with a win over Texas Southern, but are licking their wounds after the loss to Iowa State. After being tied four minutes into the game, the Bulldogs missed 14 straight shots and Iowa State went on a 23-1 run during the next 10 minutes and they could never recover. After a week off between games, they need to be ready for the Great Alaska Shootout this week.
- Indiana State (2-3): The Sycamores have already played four games, but they haven’t turned out as they had hoped to start new head coach Greg Lansing’s career, leaving the coach searching for answers. After winning their first game of the season against Texas-Pan American, they suffered losses against Loyola-Chicago, Eastern Kentucky and Ball State. In their latest loss against Ball State, the Sycamores had 26 turnovers and have now lost 24 straight on the Cardinal home court. After going to Oral Roberts this past Saturday, Indiana State will finally open their home season this Saturday against Buffalo.
A Look Ahead
Here are the games of significance this week as the MVC gets more opportunities against power conference teams.
- 11/21: Creighton vs. Iowa State in Des Moines, Iowa (No TV)—Coach Greg McDermott leads the Bluejays to take on his former team. This game was already planned before McDermott left the Cyclones to coach Creighton during the offseason. There may be some emotional fans during this one.
- 11/21: Evansville @ Indiana (Big 10 Network)—The Purple Aces go into this contest undefeated and they will see how Tom Crean’s rebuilding is going. You never know what could happen in this one. Indiana will travel to Evansville next season to open the new Evansville downtown arena.
- 11/22-24: Wichita State @ Maui Invitational (ESPN/ESPN2/ESPNU) — The Shockers have some great opportunities for themselves and the MVC this week in the always-stacked Maui Invitational. If they get past Connecticut in the first round, they would likely play Michigan State. A final game could include Washington, Kentucky, Virginia or Oklahoma. Anything less than two wins for Wichita State would be a disappointment.
- 11/24-27—Drake @ Great Alaska Shootout (Fox College Sports Pacific)—Drake heads north to hopefully get themselves on track after the blasting at Iowa State. They open against Southern Utah and then either Ball State or St. Johns. Houston Baptist, Arizona State, Weber State and host Alaska Anchorage round out that field.
- 11/26—Southern Illinois vs. Purdue in Chicago, IL (Big 10 Network)—Friday night starts the four-team tourney part of the Chicago Invitational as the Salukis get to face another former coach in Matt Painter and the Purdue Boilermakers. Wright State and Richmond will be the options on Saturday to close it out.