Checking in on… the Missouri ValleyPosted by Brian Goodman on December 12th, 2010
Patrick Marshall of White & Blue Review is the RTC correspondent for the Missouri Valley Conference.
A Look Back
- ACC Beatings: The Missouri Valley Conference was featured this week in a pair of games on Wednesday night—a sort of ACC/MVC challenge. It wasn’t much of a challenge for Duke and North Carolina to dispose of Bradley and Evansville both by over 25 points. Fans love the idea of the matchups, but the end result on national TV may not be the best for the league.
- Missouri State Quietly Consistent: Everyone anointed Wichita State the preseason favorites. Some thought Creighton was ready to break out even with a new coach. There were others that said Northern Iowa would just reload. But very quietly, Missouri State has strung together the most consistency so far. They put up over 100 points last weekend against Central Arkansas and rode a four-game winning into Saturday’s game with Oklahoma State. Granted, they haven’t won against the best teams they have played (Tennessee, Oklahoma State and Tulsa), but are at least not losing to teams they shouldn’t.
- Scoring Drought: The Missouri Valley Conference against Iowa, Duke and North Carolina this week were only able to score as many as 49 points. Against Iowa, Northern Iowa’s cold shooting woes only garnered them 39 points. Evansville hosted North Carolina but could muster only 49 points while Bradley went to Duke and only put up 48. The conference was 4-6 this last week because they could not score any points – aside from a few “Power Six” foes, the MWC played good defense, as reflected by the opponent scoring totals.
- MVC As A One-Bid League: It is becoming clearer that the MVC is going to be a one-bid league this season. Through Saturday’s games, the league is an unimpressive 49-38. A lot of losses have come against teams the league has no business playing at this point. As Kyle Whelliston wrote this week, the Valley needs to start playing regularly against teams in leagues currently around them to bring the league back up.
- Player of the Week: — Dwayne Lathan, Indiana State: Lathan is starting to come on for the Sycamores. Against DePaul last week, Lathan had 24 points, five rebounds, six assists, two steals and two blocks. If Indiana State is going to surprise people this season come conference play, Lathan will have to carry the team on his shoulders.
- Newcomer of The Week — Doug McDermott, Creighton: McDermott is the only consistent newcomer right now. He continues the start of his career of scoring in double figures in every game he has played and is currently ahead of pace on Creighton’s all-time leading scorer, Rodney Buford.
Power Rankings (Record) (Last week’s rank)
- Missouri State (6-3) (1)—Missouri State is on a roll right now (outside of Saturday’s loss to Oklahoma State) and seem to be the most consistent in the league routing Central Arkansas 101-61 with six players in double figures. Will Creekmore, who is one of only two players in the league to score in double figures every game this season is dealing with a dislocated finger on his non-shooting hand. With Adam Leonard struggling and having health issues, Creekmore will be needed to team with Kyle Weems to keep their pace going.
- Wichita State (6-2) (2)—The Shockers have been flying off of everyone’s radar after their failure at San Diego State. Their problem right now is that they play in spurts but cannot put together a long stretch of consistent play. They have a game against Alabama A&M on Monday to try and get more consistency before taking on LSU after finals.
- Illinois State (7-3) (3)—Illinois State still has a ways to go, but they are still sitting towards the top this week because the rest of the league does not want to play any better. Against Ohio, D.J. Cooper, a player who ISU head coach Tim Jankovich tried heavily to recruit, torched the Redbirds for 29 points including the game-winner. Justin Clark is hoping to get on track. He was 0-for-17 from three point range before hitting one against Ohio this week.
- Northern Iowa (4-3) (5)— Speaking of the three pointer, the Panthers were 6-30 from the arc against Iowa in their 51-39 loss on Tuesday. Northern Iowa is 1-22 all time in Iowa City and are probably glad they don’t come back for another couple of years. With a rebuilding team like Northern Iowa, they take one step forward and then two steps back. The Panthers made it 19 wins in a row at home by beating Morehead State Saturday night.
- Creighton (4-4) (7)—The Bluejays have lost to a top 25 team, a potential top 25 team, the coach’s former team and their in-state rival in a span of two weeks. After the loss to Nebraska on Sunday, the new coaching staff probably suffered their first negative reaction from fans during the transition to Greg McDermott. Kenny Lawson will get some help down in the post with Gregory Echenique becoming eligible at the end of the first semester this week. Echenique wants to live up to the expectations many have already put upon him.
- Southern Illinois (5-4) (8)— Southern Illinois won two straight this week before heading to Western Kentucky. The Salukis will not play another game for 11 days. It will be interesting to see whether the time off will help them regroup before conference season. What has emerged for Southern Illinois is their frontline of Carlton Fay, Gene Teague and Mamadou Seck. Lowery made the tweek to the lineup by starting Seck and it appears to be paying off.
- Evansville (4-4) (4)—Evansville started their week off with a one-point loss to Air Force in the MVC/MWC challenge, but then had the opportunity to take on North Carolina. The Tar Heels ran out early against the Purple Aces and didn’t look back. Clint Hopf and Tyler Zeller are both local products, but never faced each other until this game. Evansville hopes to rebound against Middle Tennessee this week as they finish up a same season home and home with them. The Aces lost to Middle Tennessee in their first meeting this season.
- Indiana State (4-5) (9)— After being called out for lack of toughness in the loss against Wyoming last week, they bounced back to beat DePaul for the first time since 1979—In the Final Four with Larry Bird with the Sycamores. Indiana State is slowly climbing the ladder as they appear to be coming together as a team.
- Bradley (4-5) (6)—Bradley is in shambles right now. The Braves have lost five in a row after starting out 4-0 and the blasting at Duke this week has not helped things. They have to put the pieces back together and Jim Les thinks that, “They are close to turning this thing around.” One bright spot was the emergence of freshman Walt Lemon, Jr. leading Bradley in scoring against Duke. Their next game is not until December 20.
- Drake (3-4) (10)— Drake broke a three-game losing streak with a gutsy win at Eastern Michigan last week. Drake returned to the Knapp Center for the first time in a month with their game on Sunday against Boise State. Frank Wiseler is gradually coming back from his Achilles injury that he suffered over the summer. With the Valley suffering like they are, don’t be surprised if the Bulldogs are able to take advantage of things once conference season rolls around.
A Look Ahead
With finals week this week, there are limited choices, but some games worth paying attention to once the weekend arrives.
- 12/18—Idaho State @ Creighton (ESPN Full Court)—Many Creighton fans had this date circled on their camera for the debut of Rutgers transfer Gregory Echenique. The Bluejays specifically tried to schedule three games between now and the conference opener on December 29 to get Echenique some playing time.
- 12/18—Iowa @ Drake (Local TV)—The battle for Iowa supremacy concludes as the Hawkeyes visit the Knapp Center. The Bulldogs need this win not only for them, but to help the conference profile.
- 12/18—Indiana State vs. Purdue at Conseco Fieldhouse (Big Ten Network)—The Sycamores and Boilermakers get together for the Boilermaker Blockbuster which was revived for the first time since 2003.
- 12/18—Wichita State vs. LSU in Bossier City, LA (Local TV)—This closes out a three-game series between these two teams where each team played on their home court and the final game of the series was at a neutral site. But in reality it is basically a home game for the Tigers in this one. Wichita State needs this one to get a key win on their resume. LSU is not the answer, but they are still a Power Six conference team.
- 12/18—St. Louis @ Missouri State (No TV)—This is a rare A-10 vs. MVC matchup in this one. Both teams want to make noise in their respective conferences, so this should be a good game, but too bad it is not on TV.