Checking in on… the Missouri Valley

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 25th, 2011

Patrick Marshall of White & Blue Review is the RTC correspondent for the Missouri Valley Conference

A Look Back

  • Missed OpportunitiesThis week, several teams missed opportunities to really shake things up in the Missouri Valley Conference.  Missouri State had a great opportunity to get a commanding lead in the standings and stay undefeated, but lost to Indiana State on a last-second shot by Jake Kelly to tie the game with a foul.  He calmly sank the free throw and the Sycamores found themselves tied with Missouri State for a short time in the standings.  Creighton had an opportunity to move up a couple of games, but lost to Missouri State on Saturday with Kyle Weems coming through with late-game heroics for the Bears.

  • 3OT Thriller In what could have shaken the standings a little more, Indiana State went into Wichita and gave the Shockers all they could handle taking the game to three overtimes.  Wichita State eventually pulled out the win.

  • Standings Stay PutAs a result of the ups and downs of everyone this week, the standings and power rankings stay the same.  Slowly, as mentioned last week, Northern Iowa has worked its way up back into the mix and scored a key victory over Wichita State.  With Creighton and Missouri State on for this week, it should be another crazy week in the Valley.
  • Player of the Week—Kwadzo Ahelegbe, Northern Iowa—Ahelegbe has been the key cog in bringing Northern Iowa back into the MVC race.  He averaged 18.5 points, 5.0 assists and shot 61.1 percent from the field this week in the two Panther victories.
  • Newcomer of the Week—Jake Odum, Indiana State–The freshman has continued to impress as the leader on the court for the Sycamores.  He had 11 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in the three-overtime game against Wichita State.  His presence on the court will decide whether Indiana State continues to win games or not.

Power Rankings (Record) (Conference Record) (Last week’s rank)

  1. Missouri State (16-4) (8-1) (1)— Missouri State had a wide range of emotions this week.  First was the last second loss in Terre Haute against Indiana State, which carried over into the game with Creighton.  Missouri State was down the whole game by as many as 15 points until the final 11 minutes of the second half, where they fought back to steal the win against the Bluejays.  They get to face the state of Iowa this week by going to Drake and hosting Northern Iowa.
  2. Wichita State (16-4) (7-2) (2)— The Shockers have went through almost the same set of emotions, a bit of an emotional gut check.  The Shockers have had some problems defending home court in conference play after losing two straight against Missouri State and Northern Iowa.  They almost lost their third straight at home before winning in triple overtime against Indiana State.  This week they take a trip to Southern Illinois before hosting Bradley.
  3. Indiana State (12-8) (7-2) (3)— The Sycamores are the surprise team of the season which there always seems to be lately in the MVC.  Their six-day stretch of basketball was one to remember.  Indiana State had their biggest test of the season in games against Missouri State and Wichita State.  While being able to steal one against the Bears, They could not steal another one on the road at Wichita State.  Evansville comes to town this week and has been the only other team in the conference to beat Indiana State.  I’m sure Indiana State will be hungry for that one.   Then, a road trip to Creighton who may be looking for revenge against the Sycamores.
  4. Northern Iowa (14-6) (6-3) (4)— The Panthers have been able to fly under the radar for the most part and have snuck back into the race.  They have won six of their last seven games including wins at Wichita State and Drake last week.  They host Creighton and then go to Missouri State. If the Valley season has been any indication, don’t be surprised to see Northern Iowa sitting at the top of the conference standings by the end of the week.  Some are hoping that their Bracketbusters opponent will put up a better fight. 
  5. Creighton (13-8) (5-4) (5)— The Bluejays have had several opportunities slip through their fingers.  They came out on fire against Bradley but really struggled in the second half.  Creighton has had second half problems all season and that caught up to them again in Springfield when they could not hold a lead against Missouri State in the final minutes.  Creighton has now lost games against Iowa State, Nebraska, Missouri State, and Indiana State on final possessions and  have had second half breakdowns against BYU, Northwestern, Missouri State, and Wichita State.  Creighton needs someone other than Antoine Young to be able to create plays in the backcourt.  The Bluejays is tougher than last year, but not tough enough.   
  6. Evansville (10-9) (4-5) (6)— The Aces have been average this season as their record indicates.  They lost against Southern Illinois but came back to beat Bradley. Pieter van Tongeren has improved for Evansville.  They head to Indiana State, who they have beaten already and have a quick turnaround for the return game against Southern Illinois
  7. Southern Illinois (10-10) (4-5) (7)—The Salukis are sitting in the position that the media picked them in to start the season, but they are getting better, just inconsistent.  They gave Illinois State their first conference win of the season which takes them back a couple of steps. The injury to Gene Teague really hurt them this season, but he has now returned to the lineup. They host the Shockers this week before hitting the road back to Evansville.
  8. Drake (8-12) (3-6) (8)— Drake is trying to see what they can do in preparation for next year since things have not turned out as they had hoped.  They did get a win against Illinois State to give them some confidence, but then laid an egg against Northern Iowa.   They get to play spoiler against Missouri State this week before heading to Illinois State.
  9. Illinois State (9-11) (1-8) (9)— The Redbirds got their first win in the conference against Southern Illinois which gives them a boost before their rival game against Bradley.  They hoped that year four under Tim Jankovich would not have turned out the way it has. 
  10. Bradley (6-14) (0-9) (10)— What else can you say about Bradley?  They played probably one of their best halves of basketball against Creighton in the second half on Wednesday night and tried to come back against Evansville, but were too far down to get a victory.  Andrew Warren continues to be a scoring machine for Bradley and unfortunately isn’t in the same breath of Jimmer Fredette due to the team’s struggles. 

A Look Ahead

The grueling conference season continues with several big games on the schedule this week.

  • 1/26—Creighton @ Northern Iowa (ESPNU)—Creighton has struggled with Northern Iowa in recent years, but a win here is needed by both teams to have a chance for the top of the league.   Greg McDermott returns to where his coaching career took off and brings his son who originally signed with Northern Iowa.  It will definitely be an interesting return.
  • 1/26—Wichita State @ Southern Illinois (Fox Sports Net)—The Shockers are trying to keep par with everyone else and winning on the road is always important, especially at SIU Arena.
  • 1/26—Illinois State @ Bradley (Local TV)—Both teams are the bottom dwellers in the league, but their rivalry is always fierce.  Jim Les’ job may be on the line for Bradley in this one.
  • 1/29—Indiana State @ Creighton (ESPN Full Court/ESPN3)—Indiana State doesn’t want to feel left out in the conference race and getting more wins against the teams like Creighton will help solidify the run they have had during conference season.
  • 1/30—Northern Iowa @ Missouri State (ESPNU)—If the cards fall right earlier in the week and Northern Iowa gets revenge for the conference opener in Cedar Falls that the Bears won, then the Panthers could be sitting at the top of the league after Sunday night.  The always adventurous Missouri Valley Conference.
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Checking in on… the MVC

Posted 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. 

Power Rankings

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

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RTC Conference Primers: #10 – Missouri Valley

Posted by Brian Goodman on October 27th, 2010

Patrick Marshall of White & Blue Review is the RTC correspondent for the Missouri Valley Conference.

You only need one video clip to sum up the Missouri Valley Conference last season: Ali Farokhmanesh hitting the dagger three-pointer against #1 Kansas in the NCAA Tournament to advance to the Sweet 16.

Predicted Order of Finish:

  1. Missouri State (24-6, 14-4)
  2. Wichita State (23-7, 13-5)
  3. Creighton (23-8, 13-5)
  4. Southern Illinois (21-9, 11-7)
  5. Northern Iowa (20-11, 10-8)
  6. Bradley (19-11, 10-8)
  7. Illinois State (16-16, 7-11)
  8. Drake (12-18, 4-14)
  9. Evansville (11-16, 4-14)
  10. Indiana State (9-21, 4-14)

All-Conference Team (key stats from last season in parentheses)

  • G: Toure’ Murry, Wichita State (11.9 PPG, 5 RPG, 109 AST)
  • G:  Sam Maniscalco, Bradley (13.1 PPG, 107 AST)
  • G:  Kwadzo Ahelegbe, Northern Iowa (10.6 PPG, 97 AST)
  • F:  Kyle Weems, Missouri State (13.6 PPG 6.2, RPG 40.7% 3PT)
  • C:  Kenny Lawson Jr., Creighton (13.1 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 82% FT)

6th Man

Adam Leonard, Missouri State  (13 PPG,  39% 3PT)

Impact Newcomer

Greg Echenique, Creighton (Rutgers transfer)

Kyle Weems was nine years old when Missouri State last made the NCAA Tournament in 1999.

What You Need to Know

  • Multiple Bids: Last season, people will easily remember the Missouri Valley Conference with Ali Farokhmanesh hitting the gutsy three-pointer late in the game to lead Northern Iowa’s upset against #1 Kansas in the NCAA Tournament.  What you may not know is that for the third straight season, the MVC has only sent one representative to the Big Dance.  After several years of sending multiple teams in and hitting a peak of four teams in 2006, the past three seasons have seen the team that won both the conference regular season and conference tournament (Drake and UNI twice) as single-bid teams that went to the NCAA Tournament.  This season the schools in the conference have beefed up their schedules the best they can to hopefully return to a multiple bid league.
  • Coaching Changes: A number of linked events took place this summer regarding the coaches in the MVC. The Dean of the Valley Dana Altman left Creighton after 16 years to take the head coaching job at OregonIowa State head coach Greg McDermott was hired less than 48 hours later.  He had one stint in the MVC already as the head coach of Northern Iowa before Ben Jacobson.  Jacobson released McDermott’s son Doug from his letter of intent so that he could join his dad and play with the Bluejays.   About a month later, Indiana State head coach Kevin McKenna left to become an assistant once again under Altman.   Chris Lowery (Southern Illinois) and Jim Les (Bradley) are now the elder statesmen of the conference, but both of their seats are pretty warm right now as they try to take their teams back to the NCAA Tournament after each of their Sweet 16 runs seem like ages ago for those two schools.
  • Veteran Teams: Many of the MVC teams bring back a lot of veterans to lead their respective teams.  Creighton returns all-conference center Kenny Lawson and point guard Antoine Young.   Missouri State brings back a solid combination of Adam Leonard and Kyle Weems.   Wichita State has the talented JT Durley, Graham Hatch and Toure’ Murry while Bradley has Andrew Warren, Sam Maniscalco and Taylor Brown returning.   But you can’t leave out Northern Iowa with Kwadzo Ahelegbe and MVC sixth man of the year Lucas O’Rear. With such a large percentage of players retuning this season, a battle for The Valley title could be messy and any of these teams could emerge as the dust clears in March.

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Checking in on… the MVC

Posted by jstevrtc on January 18th, 2010

Patrick Marshall of White & Blue Review is the RTC correspondent for the Missouri Valley Conference.

Current Records and my standings (Conference Standings) (Last Week):

  1. Northern Iowa  16-1  (7-0) (1)
  2. Wichita State 14-3 (5-2) (2)
  3. Illinois State  13-5 (4-3) (4)
  4. Creighton  9-9 (4-3)  (8)
  5. Missouri State  13-5 (3-4) (3)
  6. Bradley  8-9 (3-4) (6)
  7. Indiana State  11-7 (3-4) (5)
  8. Drake  8-11 (3-4)  (9)
  9. Southern Illinois   10-6 (3-4) (7)
  10. Evansville 6-10 (0-7) (10)

STORIES OF THE WEEK

Big Game Week—Have your TVs tuned to ESPNU on Tuesday night as the top two teams in the conference have their first matchup of the season.  Northern Iowa  tries to take another road game in conference play, having already won at some of the toughest places in the conference—Southern Illinois, Creighton and Illinois State.  They will try to conquer probably the loudest and rowdiest crowd at Wichita State.    On the other side of the coin, Creighton and Illinois State who are tied right now for third in the conference will also be playing each other on Tuesday night.  If Northern Iowa wins Tuesday night, it looks like things will be coming down to a fight for second place in the conference, as UNI could run away with the Valley — and we are not yet into February.

Missouri State starting to slide—The Bears were the talk of the conference coming into conference season, but Cuonzo Martin probably wishes they weren’t so heralded, since they’re playing like most people expected them to play once conference season started.   They now have lost four out of their last five games and are essentially taking themselves out of the MVC race.

Creighton and Drake surging—The Bulldogs and Bluejays have both had some struggles winning games this season but are now on a roll.  Creighton has won four of their last five games  and Drake has won three straight, with surprising wins over Southern Illinois, Illinois State and Missouri State.

Lets take a look at the MVC at just about the halfway point to see where teams are headed:

TEAMS TO BEAT

Northern Iowa (2-0 this week, 15 game winning streak)—Northern Iowa just keeps winning and have their longest winning streak in school history.   They are the toast of not only the Valley but of the state of Iowa as well.  They aren’t the fastest, the best-shooting, or the most imposing team on the court, but they keep finding ways to win with different players stepping up on different nights.  They survived against Bradley and then decimated Indiana State this week.  Wichita State will be big game for them, but they can survive if they don’t win that one.  That could, however, set up a trap game in the return game against the Sycamores later in the week.

Wichita State (1-1 this week, won 5 of last 6)—Wichita had been flying high until they came into the Qwest Center Saturday to take on Creighton.  After jumping out to an early lead the week before and turning on the cruise control the rest of the way, in the return game it looked like the same thing would happen.  But the Shockers were called for too many fouls, and Creighton hit their charity shots to give Wichita State their first loss in six games and keep a losing streak in Omaha intact since 1992.  They don’t have time to sulk on this one as Northern Iowa comes to town on Tuesday and then WSU hits the road again to Drake.  Toure Murry is on his way to being one of the elite Shocker players if he continues his play.

ON THE RUN

Creighton  (2-0 this week, won four of last five)—Considering the way that Creighton played in their two games  this week, you wish they could have played like this since the beginning of the season.  First was a dramatic last second shot by Antoine Young to get the victory against Southern Illinois earlier in the week, and then they had to shrug off a really bad shooting night to hit 22-of-30 free throws and survive the final seconds to edge out a one point victory against Wichita State.  Creighton received a late Christmas gift as Rutgers big man Greg Echenique decided to transfer to the Bluejays and will be eligible in December.  He cannot wait to get started. This week doesn’t get any easier for the Bluejays as they travel to Illinois State before returning home to host Missouri State.

Drake (2-0 this week, three game winning streak)—This feels weird putting Drake up in this spot, but they are two seconds away from a four-game winning streak and the Bulldogs are now playing their best basketball of the season with victories over Missouri State and Illinois State.  The big reason is coach Mark Phelps decision to give his senior players more minutes on the court.  Drake is setting themselves up for a victory over Evansville this week, and could surprise Wichita State, especially if they lose against Northern Iowa earlier in the week.  Fear the Drake.

HEADING DOWN THE WRONG PATH

Illinois State  (1-1 this week, two of four conference wins against Evansville)—Don’t be fooled by the Redbirds at this point in the conference season.  If Osiris Eldridge is not putting up his normal points, this team may not be able to have other people step up all the time like they did against Evansville , but if he does, then no one else gets involved and they are having problems winning games, like against Drake Sunday night.   The easy wins are gone with their series against Evansville completed.  Creighton comes to town this week and then they head to Carbondale to take on Southern Illinois.  Illinois State could be headed for a freefall if they aren’t careful.

Bradley (1-1 this week, 3-7 in their last 10)—Bradley is the most inconsistent team in the conference to this point in the season.  The PJ Star outlines this pretty well.  They have a lot of problems winning on the road as they are 1-3 on the road so far in conference play.  They just missed a big win against Northern Iowa, losing by a deuce.  They may go 1-1 again this week when they go to Southern Illinois and then host Evansville.

Indiana State (0-2 this week, lost threfo of last four)—Just as I was about to jump aboard the Indiana State bandwagon, the Sycamores lost out on a great opportunity to put themselves in a great position in conference play.  The losses to conference leaders Wichita State and Northern Iowa is a big blow.  Instead of getting ahead of others in trying to get to the top of the MVC, they are now in a six-team race to not have to play one of the dreaded Thursday night play-in games of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament.  Harry Marshall has stepped up his game, and now we will have to see if the rest of the team steps up as well.    They have an opportunity to redeem themselves on the road against Missouri State and when they host Northern Iowa in the return game.

Missouri State (0-2 this week, lost four of last five)—Missouri State is well on its way to a freefall, unable to win games on the road.  Like Bradley, the Bears are 1-3 on the road in conference play. But they were able to go 3-1 on the road in non-conference play.  That is the difference between non-conference and conference play; it is a lot harder to win on the road against teams in your own league.   The first half has been the key for the Bears as they keep “laying eggs.”  They are in a lot of trouble if they lose both games against Indiana State and Creighton this week.

Southern Illinois (1-1 this week, lost four of last five)—The Salukis are pretty lucky they didn’t lose at Evansville Saturday night.  With rumors of head coach Chris Lowery headed to Depaul at the end of the season and Lowery seemingly losing his players during a four game losing streak, they were still able to salvage a win against Evansvile.  Against Creighton on Wednesday night, Nick Evans got into a little altercation with Creighton’s Chad Millard which led to Evans’ ejection.  He was also out for the Evansville game because of that.  It is important for SIU to beat Illinois State and Bradley at home this week if they expect to return to the postseason.  Otherwise they are headed for their second consecutive losing season.

Evansville (0-2 this week, eight game losing streak)—Evansville can only play spoiler mode at this point in the season, though their seven point loss to Southern Illinois was the closest they have come to winning a conference game.   Colt Ryan is the best thing going for the Purple Aces right now — oh, and how they conduct themselves.  Can they get their first conference win against Drake or Bradley this week?

WEEK AHEAD AND GAMES TO WATCH

This week, the Valley’s two top teams finally meet up, and there are several other intriguing matchups this week.

  • 1/19, Northern Iowa @ Wichita State (ESPNU)—Easily the game of the week as the matchup of the two top teams of the conference takes place.
  • 1/19, Indiana State @ Missouri State (Fox Sports Net)—Who will step up to the plate to turn things around for either team?
  • 1/20, Bradley @ Southern Illinois (Local TV)–Both teams need a win badly to stay in contention.
  • 1/20, Creighton @ Illinois State (Local TV)—Although Creighton has been struggling this season as a whole, they are right in the conference race and can score a key win against Osiris Eldridge and the Redbirds.  Eldridge tears Creighton apart every time he plays them.
  • 1/23, Wichita State @ Drake (ESPNU)—Drake hopes to continue their surge while Wichita State tries to stay at the top. Things will be turned upside down in the Valley if Drake wins this one.
  • 1/24, Missouri State @ Creighton (Local TV)—Two teams headed in the opposite direction.  Can the Bears steal one in Omaha or is their early season start going to become irrelevant?
  • 1/24, Northern Iowa @ Indiana State (Fox Sports Net)—The Sycamores need this win, and could give Northern Iowa their first conference loss — if UNI is still undefeated in conference play at that time.
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Checking In On… the Missouri Valley

Posted by jstevrtc on December 1st, 2009

checkinginon

Patrick Marshall of White & Blue Review is the RTC correspondent for the Missouri Valley Conference.

Current Records and My Standings:

  1. Missouri State  (5-0)
  2. Wichita State  (5-1)
  3. Bradley  (4-2)
  4. Illinois State  (6-0)
  5. Indiana State  (5-2)
  6. Southern Illinois  (3-1)
  7. Northern Iowa  (4-1)
  8. Evansville  (2-2)
  9. Drake  (2-4)
  10. Creighton  (2-4)

STORIES OF THE WEEK

Creighton lays an egg.  Creighton had Michigan on the ropes in their opening game of the Old Spice Classic with a five point lead in the closing minutes but let Michigan back.  It took a full court drive by Creighton’s Antoine Young to send the game to overtime, but the Bluejays could not stop Manny Harris from taking over the OT period and sending Creighton to a loss. They then looked like they were stuck in quicksand against Xavier in the losers’ bracket and then finished things off with a loss against a young Iona squad. Many thought Creighton had a chance to really make some noise in this tournament and even an opportunity to win it all, but they had the worst possible scenario happen to them, going 0-3 in the tournament and creating only negative buzz for themselves on the national stage.

Missouri St. On Fire.  Missouri St. took out an undefeated Tulsa team to up their record to 5-0.  They already have two nice wins on the season with their first road contest coming up this week.

Performance in tourney play.   The Valley had varying degrees of success in the holiday tourneys held last week. Wichita St. lost to Pittsburgh, but then came back to defeat Iowa in the CBE Classic.  Bradley kept Oklahoma St. close before losing to them, but turned around to defeat Illinois.  Creighton, as mentioned earlier, went 0-3 in the Old Spice Classic.  The conference is now 36-17 in the non-conference season.

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2009-10 Conference Primers: #10 – Missouri Valley Conference

Posted by rtmsf on October 28th, 2009

seasonpreview

Patrick Marshall of White and Blue Review is the RTC correspondent for the Missouri Valley Conference.

Predicted Order of Finish:

  1. Creighton (24-6, 14-4)
  2. Northern Iowa (23-6, 13-5)
  3. Wichita St. (23-8, 12-6)
  4. Southern Illinois (21-8, 12-6)
  5. Illinois St. (23-7, 11-7)
  6. Bradley (19-10, 10-8)
  7. Indiana St. (17-13, 8-10)
  8. Drake (13-18, 5-13)
  9. Evansville (10-19, 3-15)
  10. Missouri St. (9-21, 2-16) 

All-Conference Team.  This is a guard laden league which will populate the Missouri Valley All-Conference team this season.

  • Kevin Dillard (G), So., Southern Illinois ( 12.2 pts., 4.2 ast.)—The bright spot for Southern Illinois last season is a tenacious ball handler and defender.
  • Clevin Hannah (G), Sr., Wichita St. (11.2 pts. 4.3 ast.)—Hannah comes in as the leader for the Shockers which will make some noise this season.
  • Osiris Eldridge (G), Sr., Illinois St. (14 pts, 6 reb.)–Last season he had Champ Oguchi as a security blanket and kept him from trying to take over the game himself.  His all around game development will probably garner him Conference Player of the Year honors.    
  • Justin Carter (G), Sr., Creighton  (8.1 pts, 5.5 reb.)—Over the summer, Carter has emerged as the leader of the Bluejays.
  • Adam Koch (F), Sr., Northern Iowa (12.1 pts., 5.1 reb.)—Koch was a solid player last season to help lead the Panthers to the conference championship and will get the opportunity again as the team returns pretty much everyone.

6th Man.  Jake Kelly (G), Jr., Indiana St. (Transfer from Iowa)—Jake got a surprise this fall as the NCAA allowed him to be an active player on the Sycamore team instead of having to sit out a year like transfers usually must.  Due to the death of his mother, Kelly returned home to Indiana last season and announced he was transferring to Indiana St.  Getting immediate eligibility will solidify the backcourt for the Sycamores.

Impact Newcomer.  Wayne Runnels (F), Jr., Creighton—Wayne was an all around sports star in high school and could have probably played any sport he wanted to.  He decided on basketball.  The JC transfer will make an immediate impact for the Bluejays. 

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What You Need to Know.  For several years, the Missouri Valley Conference was a multiple bid conference for the NCAA Tournament, but the runs by Wichita St. and Bradley to the Sweet 16 in 2006 seem like a distant memory.  The past two seasons, the MVC has only managed to get their one automatic bid into The Dance.  Drake went in 2008 and Northern Iowa went last season.  Both teams won the regular season title and conference tournament.   Although Creighton shared the regular season championship with the Panthers last season, the Bluejays were on the outside looking in for the 2nd straight year while Southern Illinois had their first losing season in 10 years.  Considering the unexpected the last two seasons, things may be returning back to the norm this winter.  Casual fans of the conference may see familiar names at the top this season as Creighton, Southern Illinois and Wichita St. will be in the mix, while last season’s champion  Northern Iowa returns almost everyone to a team that surprised everyone by the time conference play rolled around.   Illinois State has risen toward the top the past couple of seasons and although they again have Player of the Year candidate Osiris Eldridge in the lineup, the supporting cast may not be enough this season to keep them there. 

Predicted Champion.  Creighton Bluejays (NCAA Seed:  #9)—There are so many teams that believe they will be the best this season, but Creighton will slip to the top.  Creighton worked it’s way back up to the top of the league down the stretch last season winning 11 of the last 12 regular season games before getting embarrassed by Illinois St. in the MVC Conference Tournament semifinals.   Yes, Creighton lost MVC POY Booker Woodfox.  Yes, Creighton lost four year starting PG Josh Dotzler.  Yes, emerging big man Kenton Walker transferred.  Those are definitely big holes to fill.  But the returning core includes senior Justin Carter who was a JUCO transfer a year ago and by the second half of the season became comfortable and dominated the boards.  He has appeared to take a leadership role over the summer.  P’Allen Stinnett is fun to watch and it will be important to see if he has matured enough to also be a leader.   Antoine Young emerged as the guy to lead the point for the Bluejays, but watch out for Andrew Bock to settle in as the Dotzler type of point guard Coach Dana Altman is used to and  to utilize Young’s skills in his ability to drive to the basket at the off guard spot.  The question mark is the inside game where Kenny Lawson is the only real veteran returning to the post position.  Chad Millard is a little out of position in the post, but is the next  tallest player on the team.  Wayne Runnels comes in from the JUCO ranks and is expected to make an impact right away to help a team that ranked last in the Valley last season in rebound margin.  A couple other players on the roster are expected to step up on a team that likes to rotate players constantly leaving the opening for others to make plays.  Creighton also has the potential to have the best non-conference schedule in the league which will give them a little more wiggle room whether they win the conference or not.

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