CIO… the Missouri Valley ConferencePosted by Brian Goodman on November 20th, 2012
- Wichita State Enjoys Quiet 4-0 Start: Coming into this season, Gregg Marshall had a lot of components to replace with the graduation of five seniors who had significant playing time and scoring. The Shockers have started the season 4-0 (three games in the last five days) including a win at VCU that went down to the wire. However, Marshall wasn’t necessarily happy with his team’s play in its latest game against Howard. They are second in the MVC in scoring defense, giving up 55.2 points a game. The thing about Wichita State will be its schedule — there is a good chance that we may not know how good the Shockers are until their December 13 showdown with Tennessee. Wichita State owns the nation’s best road record since the 2010-11 season. The Shockers are 20-3.
- Creighton is More Than McDermott: In Creighton’s first game of the season, Doug McDermott scored 21 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in the win over North Texas. However, against UAB, McDermott got saddled with two fouls early, sat the bench for most of the half and finished the game with only five points. Creighton was down by as many as 10 against the Blazers in the second half but 18 points from Josh Jones and a beast of a game from Gregory Echenique with 13 points and 16 rebounds pushed the Bluejays to a 17-point victory. So while teams will try to stop McDermott, there is a lot more to the Bluejay offense than him.
- Surprise Starts, Conference Record in Non-Conference Play: Heading into this week, there are six Valley teams still undefeated. Creighton, Illinois State, Wichita State, Northern Iowa, Bradley, and Southern Illinois are all sitting with perfect records. As a whole the MVC is 24-5 in non-conference play. Three of those losses have come against Top 25 opponents: Notre Dame (Evansville), UCLA (Indiana State) and San Diego State (Missouri State). At the same time however, five of the conference’s wins have come against non Division-I competition. The MVC cannot let opportunities against top opponents slip through their fingers. This upcoming weekend of holiday tournaments will be a great opportunity for the MVC to continue to rise its RPI stock.
- Creighton (3-0) – Creighton is off on an expected 3-0 start. The season opening matchup of Doug McDermott and Tony Mitchell from North Texas was interesting to watch. Although the game was decided somewhat early, it appeared McDermott came up with the better game on that night. As teams continue to key on McDermott it will be even more important for Gregory Echenique to continue his impact on the game down low. Austin Chatman is off to a good start at point guard for the Bluejays. After committing some early turnovers against UNT, he has rebounded by running the Jays a lot better including dishing out 11 assists against Presbyterian. He leads the MVC in assists and assists per game so far. Ethan Wraggehas hit 10-of-16 from three-point range to start the season.
- Illinois State (3-0) – The Redbirds are off to a great start. One of their wins includes an overtime win on the road at Drexel, who was picked to win the CAA this season. Jackie Carmichael has definitely shown improvement in the offseason looking almost unstoppable against the Dragons. The redbirds lead the MVC scoring 91 points per game while only giving up 68. Between Carmichael and Tyler Brown, they are both tearing it up tied in the MVC for second averaging 18.7 points a game. The Redbirds head to South Padre this week to take on UAB before facing either TCU or Northwestern. This is a tournament that Illinois State could definitely win and put them into a great position early in the season. Dan Muller is working with a different rotation this year that means senior Anthony Cousin, junior Zeke Upshaw and sophomore Geoffrey Allen aren’t going to be playing as much this season for Illinois State.
- Wichita State (4-0) – The Shockers are off to a good start and was able to escape with a road victory over VCU. There is still a long way to go for Wichita State as they head to Cancun. They should be favored to win that tournament. Defense will be a big factor for Wichita State as they develop more offensive numbers. They are holding opponents to 39.3 % shooting from the field and allowing only 55 points a game. Wichita is also getting to the line a bunch. They have more than doubled the amount of times to the line that their opponents have making 51 free throws through the first three games of the season. Malcolm Armstead has been a great help to the Shockers so far, but needs to watch what he says. In Saturday’s game against Western Carolina, he only played five minutes in the game and told coach Marshall that he was “going to sit this one out because I want to get ready for the trip [to Cancun]” because he was nursing a cold. Not a good thing to say to a coach that can turn on you in a moment’s notice.
- Northern Iowa (3-0) – After taking out a non-D1 opponent to start the season, the Panthers were threatened in their stateside game of Battle 4 Atlantis against Toledo before finally winning in overtime. One question right now for the Panthers is their depth. Although it appears UNI has a lot of depth, the overtime game against Toledo only had six players getting the majority of the minutes. It will be interesting to see how the rotation is handled when they get to Battle 4 Atlantis. By the time UNI comes home from their trip to the Bahamas, they could be the media darlings with a successful run against the likes of Louisville, Missouri and possibly Duke and vault the MVC into a different light. Deon Mitchell has been big in the games so far and has built upon his successful freshman season.
- Bradley (3-0) – The Braves quick start is a bit of a surprise after struggling last season under first year coach Geno Ford. The biggest surprise is the road win at IUPUI. Bradley snapped an 11-game losing streak on the road in that one and may be a sign of the program turning things around. Tuesday night’s game at South Florida will be a great test for the Braves on the road. The other surprise is the low turnout so far for basketball games. Attendance is down 27% for the on-campus game at Renaissance Coliseum compared to last year and the student turnout wasn’t so great.
- Evansville (2-2) – After opening the season with a loss at Notre Dame, the Purple Aces have had to deal with other problems. In their second game against Buffalo, their scoring machine, Colt Ryan was injured just seven minutes into the game with a hip pointer. Ryan was out for that loss and the win against Yale, but came back of the bench for the third game in three days against Western Illinois. Although the Aces haven’t been scoring many points, they are limiting the points of their opponents giving up only 53.5 points a game. Their three-point shooting is last in the league right now. Once Ryan returns to full strength, they may be able to get the scoring going again.
- Drake (1-1) – Drake is off to a slow start. After opening the season with a win over William Jewell, a non D-1 school, they had to face Detroit. Despite staying close, the Bulldogs came up short. Things will be really interesting for them when they go to California for the DirecTV Classic. A big showing there could really turn things around for them. JuCo transfer Richard Carter is making an early good showingfor Drake scoring 19 points in the first game, including four three-pointers.
- Indiana State (2-1) – The Sycamores opened the season at UCLA and while they stayed with them through the first half, they ended up getting blown out. In the two wins Jake Odum averaged 16 ppg, while hitting 8-of-11 from the field and making 15-of-16 attempts from the charity stripe. However, in the win over Truman State, head coach Greg Lansing was not happy with his team’s performance. The Sycamores head to Ball State before hosting High Point on Sunday.
- Southern Illinois (2-0) – One of the thing that Barry Hinson is doing with the Salukis is to help them remember what it feels like to win. What a better way to do that than to schedule games against teams that they can win. They opened the season at New Orleans, who almost left Division I hoops, and then hosted an Non-D1 school in Benedictine-Springfield. Hinson used motivation for his team by writing two words on the chalkboard before the game – “Ohio Dominican.” Last year, the Salukis suffered an embarrassing one-point loss in the season opener to the Division II opponent. It appears they are making some strides, then. Four of the next five games are on the road and seven of the next nine are on the road. Hinson may do some tinkering with the lineup.
- Missouri State (1-1) – The Bears started their season defeating an NAIA school and then came up short against San Diego State as the opening game of the final MVC/MWC Challenge. The bench only scored three points in the loss. This may be a tougher year for Missouri State than some might expect. Anthony Downing can carry the load for so long, but will need others to help him out. Keith Pickens might be that guy. He came off the bench to play his first game of the season against San Diego State and got 9 points and 6 rebounds in his return. He is the most tenured player on the Missouri State team this season. The Bears will play four games in the next seven days and they are ready to get back on the court.
- 11/22–Drake vs. Cal, DirecTV Classic (10:30 p.m., ESPN2) – Drake really wants to make a statement this season. They can do it if they can knock off Cal in the first round of the DirecTV Classic on Thursday night after most will be on to Thanksgiving leftovers. Advancing in the winners bracket would be great for the MVC as a whole with the first win of the season against a power six conference opponent.
- 11/23–Creighton vs. Wisconsin, in Las Vegas (9:00 p.m., ESPN2) – This game was high on a lot of lists heading in to the season as one to watch. Although Wisconsin has suffered a few season-altering injuries before the season even started, this will be a great test for both teams. The Bluejays need a win in this game as it is probably their highest profile game of the non-conference season.
- 11/22-24–Northern Iowa @ Battle for Atlantis (NBC Sports or AXS) – You can’t limit it to one game in this one as UNI plays in one of the most stacked tournament fields since the Maui Invitational a few years ago. The Panthers open against top five powerhouse Louisville. Getting any wins in this tournament will be big feathers in their hat as the season goes on. Getting more than one win could throw Northern Iowa into the national spotlight.
Caught on Film
When the Nebraska Educational Television network broadcasts a Creighton game, they always do some interesting things during halftime. The first one of the season came last week against UAB. At halftime, they had an interview with guard Grant Gibbs interviewing Bluejay big man Gregory Echenique. If you know anything about Gibbs, he is usually a pretty funny guy, and, if you don’t already, you should be following him on Twitter. Anyway, the interview is gold.