Checking In On… the Missouri Valley Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on December 21st, 2011

Patrick Marshall is the RTC correspondent for the Missouri Valley Conference.   You can also find his musings online at White & Blue Review or on Twitter @wildjays.

Reader’s Take

 

The Week That Was:

  • The Valley Beats Another Ranked Team: Another week, another set of nice wins in the Valley.  The latest is Indiana State knocking off then #25 Vanderbilt on the Commodores’ home court.  Sophomore R.J. Mahurin came off the bench to get 14 points including 4-7 from three to help lead them to the 61-55 victory.  After going 11-22 against BCS schools last season, this year the MVC is 10-10 so far.  The last time they had a .500 record against those leagues was during the 2007-08 season.
  • Poll Gathering: Creighton continues to stay in the polls, this week at #21 in the Coaches Poll and #23 in the AP poll.  But other MVC teams are starting to get noticed.  Wichita State, Northern Iowa and Indiana State are all getting votes in the AP poll.  The chances of having two teams in the Valley ranked might be going down as conference play starts in about a week.  It may be a battle all season on which MVC team will be ranked in the national Top 25.
  • Sending Out An SOS: While most teams in the MVC are trying to set the bar high to get the conference at a different level and four teams are in the RPI top 52, there are a couple of other teams that are on the other end of the spectrum.  Illinois State is sitting at #292 in the strength of schedule category, while Southern Illinois‘ strength of schedule is at #343 out of 345 teams in D-I.  Evansville is at #305.  While the top of the league is pretty solid, the bottom half of the league still has some work to do.  This could keep the Valley from moving as high as they could in the RPI as a conference later in the season.

The Inconsistent Supporting Cast Around Colt Ryan Keeps The Standout Swingman Under The Radar. (Erin McCracken/Courier-Press)

Power Rankings

  1. Creighton (9-1)— Creighton moves back up to the top spot this week after blowing out Houston Baptist on Saturday at home and Tulsa on the road Monday night.   Grant Gibbs had 18 assists during those two games and Gregory Echenique has had his best performances offensively in those two games.   A lot of the talk over the past few weeks from the national media is Creighton’s suspect defense.  However, that is one thing they are working on fixing.
  2. Northern Iowa (10-2)—Ohio stunned Northern Iowa on Tuesday night to break the Panthers’ nine-game winning streak.  They will have to regroup a bit heading into conference play.  Northern Iowa is all about streaks and they will probably start one again.  But the Panthers will definitely be in the top tier of the conference. The question always lingers—What if they did not let Doug McDermott out of his LOI?  While everyone still ponders that, get an inside look at Ben Jacobson’s office. Read the rest of this entry »
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Set Your TiVo: 11.14.11

Posted by Brian Otskey on November 14th, 2011

Brian Otskey is the Big East correspondent for RTC and a regular contributor. You can find him @botskey on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

Two games from the ESPN marathon highlight tonight’s slate but don’t sleep on a potential upset special in South Bend and a power conference battle in LA.

Detroit @ Notre Dame – 9:00 PM EST on ESPNU (***) (cross-posted on RTC Live)

Eric Atkins Looked Great in ND's First Game This Year

  • Point guard Eric Atkins carried the Fighting Irish to victory in their first game this season, one of four (including tonight) without senior forward Tim Abromaitis, currently sitting out due to a suspension. The sophomore Atkins poured in 27 points on 6-7 FG (along with six assists) in a win over Mississippi Valley State on Saturday. Against star Detroit point guard Ray McCallum, Atkins will have to protect the ball and run the offense effectively against a hungry Titans squad looking to upset a Big East squad on its home floor. As a result, Atkins’ scoring opportunities may be reduced. Without Abromaitis, Notre Dame is very thin and must turn to Scott Martin for a big offensive output.  If Martin or Atkins is held in check, the Irish could be looking at their first loss in only their second game of the season.
  • Detroit’s offense is loaded with scoring threats from McCallum to Chase Simon and Nick Minnerath, among others. While McCallum deservedly gets most of the press, Minnerath and his front court teammate, LaMarcus Lowe, could be the difference in this game. Notre Dame has a collection of 6’5” and 6’6” type guys on its roster with only Jack Cooley and Mike Broghammer providing any kind of bulk in the paint. The Titans have a chance to really take advantage of the mismatch in the lane and offset any advantages Notre Dame may have elsewhere. Detroit and Notre Dame play at opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of pace. Expect the Titans to push the pace all night, attacking Atkins defensively in search of turnovers and easy basket opportunities in the open floor. With McCallum’s play-making ability and Atkins coming off a four turnover game, this matchup sets up well for Detroit.
  • Will Mike Brey counter with the burn offense? It’s possible but Brey trusted Ben Hansbrough to run that for all 40 minutes last season. He’s no longer around so we doubt Brey will use it all game with a sophomore point guard. You may see it at times, especially if Detroit picks up a lot of easy buckets early, but the Irish just need to execute their normal half court offense and avoid turnovers. Pace, rebounding and defense will be what to watch for in this game. Cooley had ten rebounds last time out and a repeat performance may be needed for the Irish to avoid a loss. Neither team has a reputation for defending well so this could be a high scoring game. With Abromaitis out, Detroit may actually have more weapons to turn to offensively. The Titans have a terrific chance to win this game on the road.

Nebraska @ USC – 10:30 PM EST on Prime Ticket (**)

  • USC returns only one starter from last year’s team, Maurice Jones. At 5’7”, Jones has trouble getting his shot off and it showed against Cal State Northridge on Friday, going 0-7 (a major part of USC’s 0-15) from deep. It won’t get easier against Doc Sadler’s defense. USC is going to have to score points inside to win this game. Dewayne Dedmon and Aaron Fuller can do that but the Cornhuskers ranked #6 in two point defense last season. Kevin O’Neill also has to find some way for his team to rebound since Nikola Vucevic and Alex Stepheson are no longer in LA. Nebraska outrebounded South Dakota 42-24 in its Friday victory.
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RTC Conference Primers: #12 – Missouri Valley Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on October 25th, 2011

Patrick Marshall of White & Blue Review is the RTC correspondent for the Missouri Valley Conference.  You can find him on Twitter @wildjays.

Reader’s Take I


Top Storylines

  • Back to Multiple Bids?: The Missouri Valley Conference is getting a little more attention entering this season than in the past, and rightfully so.  Six of the top ten scorers in the league are back along with four of the top five rebounders.  The league is looking to have the impact it had back in the 2005-06 season, when it sent four teams to the NCAA Tournament.  Since then, only the automatic qualifier from the MVC Tournament has advanced to The Dance. With so many talented upperclassmen, there could be an opportunity for The Valley to get closer to that status of six years ago.
  • Kyle Weems or Doug McDermott?: There are a lot of people that have probably forgotten that Kyle Weems of Missouri State was the MVC Player of the Year last season with all the buzz that Creighton’s Doug McDermott received over the summer.  Going into 2011-12, one hotly-debated topic is whether Weems can repeat or if McDermott will build upon his MVC Freshman of the Year performance.  McDermott was only the second freshman in the 100-year-plus history of the MVC to get first team all-conference honors.  Weems tried to lead Missouri State to the NCAA Tournament, but came up just short.  Due to the personnel losses by the Bears, including their coach, and all of the returning players for the Bluejays, can Weems surprise the “experts” and have even better success to repeat?

Kyle Weems May Be The Best Player In A Resurgent MVC This Season. (MVC-Sports.com)

  • New Ford Center: Evansville will start the season in a new downtown arena, the Ford Center.  They open it in style with in-state powers Butler and Indiana visiting to start the season.  This building represents the continual facility improvements for the Missouri Valley Conference member schools.  Creighton started the trend with the Qwest Center (recently renamed CenturyLink Center).  Northern Iowa followed suit with its own basketball building in the McLeod Center.  Missouri State opened JQH Arena a couple years later and in Wichita, a new arena was built to complement Koch Arena as a place where the Shockers can play a game or two a year.  Southern Illinois spent almost $30 million to renovate SIU Arena.  So if you are looking for a conference that keeps upgrading the basketball environment like a major conference, this is where you should go.
  • Scheduling Philosophies: In the past, the MVC member schools would hold back a game on their schedules to try to get a home-and-home series against a high-major school.  Although this has worked out in the past, it sort of backfired this season.  As a result, many of the final games scheduled for each team will come against a non-Division I school, and in other cases, a game was not even scheduled, leaving a gap between the end of the regular season slate and the conference tournament.  Creighton and Illinois State chose to schedule one game fewer than the number of games they could have scheduled while the rest of the schools scheduled the likes of Loras College, Emporia State, Upper Iowa, Maryville and others as a regular season game on the schedule.  With almost 350 teams in Division-I, that isn’t a good sign for a non-major, major conference.

Predicted Order of Finish

  1. Read the rest of this entry »
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Morning Five: 08.30.11 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on August 30th, 2011

  1. We’ve been on record for a while with our belief that the summer trips abroad that teams take to play exhibitions against foreign squads pay off in currencies that have little to do with the on-court aspects of basketball and more to do with overall esprit-de-corps and the broadening of minds of 18-22 year-olds. We like that Northern Iowa head coach Ben Jacobson seems to agree. The Des Moines Register‘s Mark Emmert (not that one, we assume) noted that a few schools in the state of Iowa got to go to some pretty amazing places this summer — Australia, Italy, and Brazil, anyone? — with Jacobson quoted as saying, “The time away from (strictly basketball activities) becomes beneficial, just building that team chemistry and the trust and the things that have to be there if you’re going to put together a good season.”
  2. Mark Turgeon has Gary Williams to thank for the recent inking of 7’1”, 225-pound Ukranian Olexiy Len to the Terps’ roster for the upcoming season — the program had been recruiting Len before Turgeon arrived and finalized the deal — and already Len has vaulted himself into the upper reaches of our favorite players for 2011-12. He said that the first time he ever saw Maryland play was against Duke at Comcast in 2010, a game that ended in a big ol’ RTC. Len’s impression: “I could not believe the atmosphere…it was unbelievable.” Around here, we don’t necessarily advocate every RTC, but when used properly…well, don’t tell us it doesn’t mean anything. It certainly did last year to a kid in the Ukraine who now finds himself en route to the College Park Campus.
  3. After seven years of the previous version, there is a new floor at Kansas State’s Bramlage Coliseum. We like the balance struck, here. There are some progressive tones but still a traditional feel. Put better, they didn’t go overboard but still made it cool. The purple octagon outline? Nice. The darker “intra-arc” wood? We’re on board. The PowerCat in the center? Perfect size. Well done all around. We imagine it will bring a smile even to Frank Martin’s face (we kid, we kid). Take note, Northwestern.
  4. Speaking of K-State, are they really, as the Kansas City Star’s Sam Mellinger puts it, “one step above hosed” when it comes to likely shake-outs of the next phase of conference realignment? Some experts believe that Kansas would do better to disregard pressure from in-state influences and do whatever Missouri does. A KU-Mizzou bond pretty much cements a solid rivalry around Kansas City, one of the country’s most college-sports-crazy markets. Kansas State, says Mr. Mellinger’s expert, has the most to lose in the end, and in this swirling magma that represents the early evolution of eventual superconferences, has a profile that doesn’t fit the SEC as much as it does the MAC. My, the deals, alliances and secret handshakes that must quietly be happening in that proverbial Big 12 backroom. By the way, has anyone seen Texas A&M?
  5. Morgan State’s Todd Bozeman knows all about that big ice cube on which Bruce Pearl is about to sit. Bozeman was a 32 year-old hot shot at California when he got slapped with a show-cause from the NCAA for paying Jelani Gardner’s parents $30,000 and then lying about it. His show-cause penalty was for eight years, though, which ended up keeping him out of coaching for ten. Pearl will be 55 years old when his three-year show-cause ends in 2014. Could any coach hit with such a penalty ever come back to a level anywhere near that which they once achieved? It seems darn near impossible once you’ve been stigmatized with the show-cause, and that’s obviously the point. Nooga.com’s Brendan Quinn recounts the story of Bozeman and ponders the fate of Pearl in an interesting piece.

 

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RTC Summer Updates: Missouri Valley Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on July 27th, 2011

With the the NBA Draft concluded and the annual coaching and transfer carousels nearing their ends, RTC is rolling out a new series, RTC Summer Updates, to give you a crash course on each Division I conference during the summer months. The latest update comes courtesy of our MVC correspondent, Patrick Marshall.

The summer has been a busy one for the Missouri Valley Conference. They are hoping the 2011-12 season will be one that sees the conference become a multiple-bid league again.  They haven’t had multiple bids to the NCAA Tournament since the 2006-07 season.

Reader’s Take

Summer Storylines

  • Coaching Changes: The MVC only had two coaching changes in the offseason.  First, after leading Missouri State to its first MVC regular season title, Cuonzo Martin was lured away from the Bears to Tennessee.  He was replaced by Purdue assistant Paul Lusk, who weeks earlier might have been in line to succeed Matt Painter had Painter left Purdue to become the new head coach at Missouri.  He has Valley ties as a player at Southern Illinois in his college days, where he helped the Salukis to three straight NCAA Tournament appearances.  On the flip-side, Bradley head coach Jim Les was fired after nine seasons with the Braves.  After taking Bradley to the Sweet Sixteen in the 2005-06 season, he had trouble getting the team back to that level.  Les was replaced by Kent State head coach Geno Ford.  These moves have caused a bit of a frenzy as Kent State filed a lawsuit against Bradley due to the way they hired Ford.  Les has since been named the new head coach at UC Davis (where his son currently plays), and he too has filed a lawsuit of his own against his former school disputing the settlement he was paid from his dismissal.  Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall and Northern Iowa’s Ben Jacobson were speculated for many jobs over the summer, but they both chose to stay with their respective schools.
  • Creighton’s International Duo: Creighton’s Doug McDermott and Gregory Echenique have had a summer to remember.  McDermott spent the end of June through the middle of July playing for the Team USA U-19 squad helping the team to a fifth place finish in Latvia.  McDermott led the team in three-pointers made, was second in minutes, and third in scoring for the American team during the FIBA Championships.  McDermott’s frontcourt counterpart Echenique is currently in Venezuela as a member of his nation’s national team.  Echenique and his teammates will try to qualify for the 2012 Olympics in Argentina at the beginning of September before he returns to Creighton for the fall semester.
  • League Talent: There have been several different examples of decisions made by the league’s top talent this offseason.  First off is the 2011 MVC Player of the Year, Kyle Weems.  Weems earned his degree from Missouri State, and with a year of eligibility remaining, he could have easily decided to transfer to a different school to play right away, especially with a new coach coming into town.  Instead, he decided to stay in Springfield for his senior season.  In an opposite move, Bradley’s Sam Maniscalco was a senior last season for the Braves, but he spent much of it recovering from an ankle injury.  Early last season it was decided that he would shut things down and apply for a medical redshirt, which he received.  Then came the firing of Les.  During Maniscalco’s redshirt season, he was able to complete his degree.  With a year of eligibility still remaining and a new coach coming to town, the all-MVC player decided to transfer and finish his college career at Illinois.  Finally, you have Drake’s Ravonte Rice.  A runner-up for the MVC Freshman of the Year last season, Rice has not kept it secret that he isn’t necessarily happy at Drake, but that he isn’t going to transfer… at least not yet.  This is a pivotal year for the Bulldogs, as two years worth of the conference’s best recruiting classes are now sophomores and juniors that have had marginal success.  How Drake does this year could determine whether Rice stays or goes.

Despite a coaching transition going into his senior year, 2011 MVC Player of the Year Kyle Weems will stick it out for the Bears. (Missouri State University)

Read the rest of this entry »

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Morning Five: 05.16.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on May 16th, 2011

  1. Maryland may have made a solid hire in former Texas A&M coach Mark Turgeon, but they had an awful week after his hiring as they appear to have lost every one of the commits in the incoming freshman class. The two biggest are Sterling Gibbs, the younger brother of Pittsburgh star Ashton Gibbs, and Nick Faust. While both players have stated that they are still considering coming to College Park this fall they remain uncommitted and are drawing attention from other schools. Gibbs, in particular, has drawn a lot of interest and is reportedly considering Texas very seriously. Turgeon’s ability to get these two players to come back to Maryland could determine how successful he is in his first few years in the ACC.
  2. Turgeon has also been busy trying to land a different kind of recruit–Kansas State assistant/recruiting extraordinaire Dalonte Hill. According to reports, Maryland has made Hill an offer, which he is mulling over and will reportedly make a decision on early this week. Hill is an important piece of Turgeon’s plan to reclaim the Baltimore/DC recruiting area, which Gary Williams struggled to do in recent years. If Turgeon can lure Hill to Maryland, Terrapins fans could forget about the loss of Gibbs and Faust very quickly.
  3. Speaking of Turgeon, Texas A&M appears to be set to announce that they will be hiring Murray State coach Billy Kennedy to fill the spot that Turgeon left behind when he headed to Maryland (discussed in more detail here). The Aggies were reportedly also looking at Northern Iowa coach Ben Jacobson. In the end they decided to go with Kennedy, who turned Murray State into one of the top programs in the Ohio Valley Conference. The Racers were able to win the OVC regular season title the past two seasons and scored a first round upset over Vanderbilt in the 2010 NCAA Tournament. Although this season ended in disappointment with losses to Tennessee Tech in the conference semifinals and Missouri State in the first round of the NIT, Kennedy appears to be an excellent hire for the Aggies. Kennedy will be expected to produce very quickly as Turgeon left the cupboard overflowing (at least for a program like Texas A&M) with what should be a top 25 team next season.
  4. We are still about three months away from Midnight Madness, but Pat Forde is already thinking about the upcoming season and has compiled a list of ten things that he is looking forward to next season. We have to say just reading the list gets us more excited for the season. We are sure there are more reasons that you can think of to get excited for the season, but this is a pretty good place to start.
  5. While Forde is focused on big picture topics, Fran Fraschilla is more interested in six of the most intriguing teams in the country next season (ESPN Insider required). Every team listed–Alabama, MemphisLouisville, Baylor, Mississippi State, and Harvard–is intriguing in its own way, but we think the last three are the most interesting for a variety of reasons: Baylor with a returning top five pick in Perry Jones and two ridiculously athletic incoming freshmen (Quincy Miller and Deuce Bello); Mississippi State for the sheer ridiculousness of the Renardo Sidney era; and Harvard to see if they can finally win the Ivy League and make some noise in the NCAA Tournament.
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Checking in on… the MVC

Posted by Brian Goodman on February 15th, 2011

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

A Look Back

  • Battle for SeedingThe last two weeks of the season will be about seeding for the MVC Tournament.  No one wants to be the team that has to play four consecutive days for a chance to play in the NCAA Tournament.  Indiana State, Creighton, Evansville, and Drake are fighting to stay out of that #7-seed hole.
  • Unpredictable ValleyIf you don’t pay attention to the Missouri Valley Conference for a period of time, you will get lost on everything happening in the league with the surprise upsets and close games.  Wichita State was beaten by Southern Illinois on their home court.  Northern Iowa lost Lucas O’Rear and they have gone from a possible third straight MVC championship to trying to stay out of the play-in game in St. Louis.  Last-place Bradley has won three of their last four after starting 0-11 in conference play.  Indiana State and Evansville could finish in the top four, which has been unheard of.  Hold on tight, it will be a crazy ride.
  • Multiple Bids?—Joe Lunardi has had Missouri State and Wichita State in his bracket for the past couple of weeks and the Bears and Shockers have separated themselves in the Valley race.  However, if the MVC wants to make sure they really are a multiple-bid league this season, Missouri State and Wichita State has a small margin of error.  They will definitely need to win their Bracketbuster games this weekend and play into the finals of the MVC Tournament.  At worst, one of the two will need to make the finals of the MVC tournament for the league to get two teams in this season.  Otherwise, the MVC will again be a one-bid league for the fourth year in a row. With these odds, who knows who will win the conference tournament.
  • Player of the Week— Kyle Weems, Missouri State—The potential MVC Player of the Year continues his march, averaging  23 points and six rebounds a game, which also includes 7-13 from three-point range in their two wins this week against Bradley and Illinois State.  Those numbers come with only playing 28 minutes a game in both contests.  Missouri State is very tough to stop when he gets going.
  • Newcomer of the Week— Jake Odum, Indiana State—The freshman continues to lead the Sycamores.  He averaged over 16 points, nine rebounds, three assists and two steals in their two wins this week against Illinois State and Drake.   He drives the offense for Indiana State.

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

  1. Missouri State (20-6) (12-3) (2)— The Bears are back on the winning track this week with wins over Bradley and Illinois State.  Missouri State is known for man-to-man defense, but they broke out the zone last week and expect to see it more.   They are winning the games they need to be winning and will need to continue that this week when they host Drake on Tuesday before stepping out of conference in the BracketBusters against Valparaiso.
  2. Wichita State (21-5) (12-3) (1)— Wichita State was stunned at home when Southern Illinois came to town and knocked off the Shockers.  However they took that fury out on the road at Northern Iowa where they just shut down the Panthers and walked away with a dominant victory.  The Shockers hope they have found their point guard in Joe Raglund.  They will have a couple more big tests this week against the surging Evansville Purple Aces before hosting Virginia Commonwealth as one of the feature games on BracketBusters Friday night. 
  3. Northern Iowa (18-9) (9-6) (3)—The Panthers have continued to struggle without Lucas O’Rear and have lost three games in a row since the injury.  Coach Ben Jacobson says they miss O’Rear, but that they just need to play better.   Northern Iowa is fading down the stretch and will likely be bunched up in the 3-7 positions in the conference and will need to get things going to get the best seed possible in the MVC Tournament, but there is no doubt that the rest of their season is in murky waters.   They go to Bradley who have won three of the past four and then host George Mason in BracketBusters. 
  4. Creighton (16-11) (8-7) (4)— Creighton is really struggling with winning on the road in the MVC.  After starting 3-0 on the road to begin MVC play, the Bluejays have lost their last five on the road and continue to be lacking two to three plays a game that they need in order to win.  Illinois State comes to town before hitting the road to Akron which would be a lot better matchup in men’s soccer than men’s basketball.  They played a full 40 minutes against Southern Illinois on Sunday night, probably their first 40 full minutes of great play all season.  Doug McDermott isn’t Harrison Barnes, but he has made a splash this season of historic proportions
  5. Indiana State (14-12) (9-6) (6)— Indiana State is back on the winning track after losing five in a row with wins over Illinois State and Drake this week.  The Sycamores start what constitutes “the rest” of the MVC after the top three teams.   The key here is seeding for the MVC tournament where that is their only chance to get to the NCAA Tournament.  They go to Southern Illinois this week before hosting Morehead State as a part of the BracketBusters.   Jake Odum is the one who makes or breaks the success for Indiana State.   But their bench is pretty helpful too.
  6. Evansville (14-11) (8-7) (5)—The Purple Aces have had an up and down week, first, taking advantage of Northern Iowa’s troubles and knocking them off, but then couldn’t keep down last place Bradley.  Scary, but if you look at teams that might make a run in the MVC Tournament and get the auto-bid for the NCAA Tournament, you could put some money on Evansville right now as they could be the surprise.  Colt Ryan is known as their scorer, but senior Kavon Lacey has stepped up his game, making them tougher.   They get to host Wichita State this week before getting a nice matchup in BracketBusters with Murray State.  A couple wins here, and people will have to be on the lookout. 
  7. Drake (11-15) (6-9) (7)—Drake’s up and down season continues with a home victory against Creighton and a road letdown at Indiana State.  Like Creighton, the Bulldogs have troubles winning on the road in conference play sitting at 1-6 in such contests.  They hit the road again to Missouri State on Tuesday, so expect that record to go to 1-7.  Then they host Detroit on Saturday.  Ryan Wedel is trying to be the leader of this team and hopes to lead them into the improbable postseason. 
  8. Bradley (9-17) (3-12) (8)—The Braves are all of a sudden the hottest team in the Valley right now and is creating headaches for the rest of the league.  They have won three of their last four and gave Missouri State all they could handle in getting that one loss.  They are now playing with nothing to lose and getting a couple wins makes them spoilers for the rest of the season.  They try to spoil Northern Iowa’s season on Tuesday before hitting the road to Tennessee-Martin in the BracketBuster matchup.
  9. Southern Illinois (11-15) (5-10) (10)—After having one of their worst weeks ever last week, the Salukis have bounced back to have an average one.  First they knocked off Wichita State in one of the more surprising upsets of the season but then laid a huge egg against Creighton.  The Salukis have suffered from recruiting the wrong players and the long term effects have been catastrophic and patience is wearing thin.   They now get two home games this week with Indiana State and Wisconsin-Green Bay.
  10. Illinois State (11-15) (3-12) (9)—The Redbirds conference season has been full of streaks starting with losing their first eight, winning the next three, and are now suffering through another four game losing streak.  Illinois State tried their best to spoil some things for Missouri State but just came up short.   For a team that contended for conference championships the past few seasons, this has to be tough for Illinois State fans to understand why they have struggled so much this season.   They hit the road this week at Creighton and then to Western Michigan. 

A Look Ahead

The week starts with conference play, but then the big weekend of BracketBusters will be a big test for teams.

  • 2/15—Wichita State @ Evansville (Local TV)—Evansville is still playing well and a win against Wichita State will really put a wrench into the conference race, and the outside possibility of the MVC getting two bids this season.
  • 2/16—Indiana State @ Southern Illinois—Indiana State has one last run in them to finish in the top four in the league.  It starts with Southern Illinois.  The Salukis on the other hand are trying to save face for next season wondering if they will have a new coach or not.
  • 2/18—Virginia Commonwealth @ Wichita State (ESPN2)—This is definitely one of the feature games of the Bracketbusters weekend and will be one not to miss.  The CAA and the MVC have had some pretty good games over the past few seasons because of BracketBusters.  The Shockers need this one to get a quality win on their resume that is clearly missing.
  • 2/19—Missouri State @ Valparaiso (ESPN2)—This is the game that Missouri State fans wanted so they would not have to travel to the coasts for a game before the final week of MVC competition.
  • 2/19—George Mason @ Northern Iowa (ESPN2)—Northern Iowa feels they still have something to prove and they need this game more than George Mason does.  However, George Mason isn’t coming to lose and what looked like a great matchup has now lost some luster.

Other  Games on National TV This Week:

  • 2/15—Northern Iowa @ Bradley (Fox Sports Net)
  • 2/16—Illinois State @ Creighton (ESPN Full Court/ESPN3.com)
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Checking in on… the MVC

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 31st, 2011

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

A Look Back

Conference RPI vs. Other Mid-Majors SchoolsThe Missouri Valley Conference is really suffering in the RPI as a conference this season.  RPI Forecast has the conference ranked #12, just behind the Horizon but ahead of the WCC.  Things are even worse in the Pomeroy rankings, where the MVC stands 14th behind the WAC. The chance of being a multiple-bid conference gets slimmer by the week.

MVC/MWC Challenge Opponents AnnouncedThe Missouri Valley Conference and the Mountain West Conference have announced the matchups for next year’s MVC/MWC Challenge.  The winter of 2011 will be the third of the four contracted years for this challenge, and some very interesting matchups are created:

  • Nov. 30 – Creighton at San Diego State–Creighton leads all-time series, 3-1; last meeting 1/3/1974
  • Dec. 3 – Air Force at Drake—Drake leads all-time series, 5-0; last meeting 12/12/1981
  • Dec. 3 – Indiana State at Boise State— First meeting
  • Dec. 3 – Colorado State at Northern Iowa— First meeting
  • Dec. 3 – Missouri State at New Mexico—New Mexico leads all-time series, 1-0; only meeting 12/22, 1962
  • Dec. 3 – TCU at Evansville–First meeting
  • Dec. 3 – Bradley at Wyoming–Bradley leads all-time series, 1-0; only meeting 3/30/1951
  • Dec. 4 – UNLV at Wichita State–Series tied, 1-1; last meeting 1/10/1979

Panthers Still RisingNorthern Iowa is still working its way back to the top of the MVC, where they have been the past two seasons.  A win over Creighton and a thrilling victory against conference leader Missouri State have put them back into the thick of things.  They have won eight of their last nine games and are currently on a seven-game roll.  Don’t be surprised to see Northern Iowa working their way to a third straight NCAA Tournament berth.

Bracketbuster MatchupsThe Missouri Valley Conference schools will find out their opponents for Bracketbusters on Monday.  All ten schools are involved in this event, with Wichita State and Missouri State lined up for likely TV games.  Northern Iowa also remains a possibility for one of the 11 television spots on the ESPN family of networks for this event.  Schools like St. Mary’s, Old Dominion, Utah State and George Mason will likely get matched up with teams in the Valley.

Player of the Week—Kyle Weems, Missouri State—Weems is continuing to make his case for conference Player of the Year honors with solid performances this week, averaging 18 points and six rebounds a game.  After having a somewhat slow start to conference season, Weems has been more consistent.

Newcomer of the Week—Doug McDermott, Creighton—McDermott is continuing his great freshman season, averaging 16 points and eight rebounds in games against Northern Iowa and Indiana State this week.  It is very likely that McDermott is considered for All-Conference first team honors at the end of the season.

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

  1. Wichita State (18-4) (9-2) (2)—The Shockers finally take over the top spot since they are winning right now.  They had a somewhat easy week with Southern Illinois and Bradley, but wins are wins and that is what the goal is at this point in the season.   Wichita State should enjoy back to back 20-win seasons again, but February has always been a tough month for the Shockers.  Things could get interesting when they go to Indiana State this week before hosting a streaking Illinois State.
  2. Northern Iowa (16-6) (8-3) (4)— Right now, the Panthers are playing the best ball, knocking off Creighton and Missouri State this past week.  Their seven-game winning streak is a familiar feat as they reeled off 11 straight in conference play two seasons ago and started off winning 13 of 14 games to start conference play last season.   Ben Jacobson does his best to keep from providing bulletin board material and wants no distractions.  They should continue their streak against Drake and Illinois State this week.
  3. Missouri State (17-5) (9-2) (1)— Missouri State easily had the game of the week in against Northern Iowa on Sunday night, but lost it in the final seconds breaking a 19-game winning streak they had at JQH Arena.  The win against Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls at the beginning of conference season broke a large home winning streak for the Panthers.   They had to hold off Drake earlier in the week and the Bears are pretty vulnerable at this point.  It is possible they may have problems with a hot Evansville team before the rematch with Indiana State who gave them their other loss in conference play. 
  4. Creighton (14-9) (6-5) (5)— Creighton’s up-and-down season continues, but they may be turning a corner.  They came up just short against Northern Iowa despite shooting 70% from the field in the second half, and earned a hard-fought victory against Indiana State where 51 fouls were called between the two teams.  The play of Doug McDermott is easing the stress on his dad, Greg.  A lot of Creighton fans wonder what this team would be like without the young McDermott on the team this season.  The schedule is somewhat favorable for the Bluejays over the next five games as they play teams in the bottom half of the league.  They head to Bradley and then host Evansville this week.
  5. Indiana State (12-10) (7-4) (3)— The Sycamores are coming back to earth after the fast conference start.  They have now lost three in a row and things do not get easier with the return game against Wichita State and Missouri State on the schedule this week.  Against Creighton, turnovers were a problem.   At the same time, it is a great opportunity to turn things around and get back in the conference race if they take things “one game at a time.” 
  6. Evansville (12-9) (6-5) (6)— Don’t look now, but Evansville is on a bit of a roll.  They have won five of their last six and are playing with a lot of confidence.  The Aces are exceeding expectations for the second year in a row. They could really make the Valley standings interesting with games against Missouri State and Creighton this week. 
  7. Southern Illinois (10-12) (4-7) (7)— Southern Illinois is going the opposite way of the Purple Aces.  They have lost five of their last six and time may be running out for Chris Lowery.  However, he may still be back next season because it would cost the school too much to replace him and their financial state to keep the university running could not afford to take that kind of hit. It is getting to a point where their best player, Mamadou Seck is having to bring the ball up the court and he isn’t the point guard.   They could pick up a couple of wins this week against Drake and Bradley. 
  8. Illinois State (11-11) (3-8) (9)—After starting conference season 0-8, the Redbirds have won three in a row and have risen out of the bottom of the rankings. Their confidence is soaring after getting a last second shot reversed in the Drake game to send it to overtime.  Like Evansville, they could play the role of spoilers against Northern Iowa and Wichita State this week.
  9. Drake (8-14) (3-8) (8)—Drake has lost six of seven, and you really don’t know what team will show up from game to game.  They are 0-5 on the road in conference play, so they are definitely not a road team.  At home, they rank last in attendance with less than 4000 attending home games.  They travel to Southern Illinois  before hosting Northern Iowa this week
  10. Bradley (6-16) (0-11) (10)— Losing stinks and I’m sure Bradley fans are tired of it. I fully expect Bradley to get a win before the season is over, but who will it be against?  Taylor Brown is definitely not coming back this season as there was talk he might end up playing during the stretch run after his required three months off.  But there are way too many factors that could make things worse.  Between Evansville, Illinois State and Bradley, they will create some havoc before conference season is over, but it may hurt the MVC more than help it.  The Braves get Creighton and Southern Illinois this week.

A Look Ahead

The top teams will try to avoid upsets this week.

  • 2/1—Wichita State @ Indiana State (Local TV)—The Shockers had to fight in three overtimes for the win in the first meeting.  The second meeting could be another great battle.
  • 2/1—Creighton @ Bradley (ESPN Full Court/ESPN3.com)—At some point Bradley will win a Valley game, it is just that the Bluejays don’t want to be that team.
  • 2/2—Missouri State @ Evansville (Local TV)—The Bears could be that much closer to locking up the MVC regular season, but the Purple Aces have been hot as of late.
  • 2/5—Indiana State @ Missouri State (No TV)—The Sycamores were impressive early in the conference season, but if they want to stay in the race, then they need a win here badly.
  • 2/5—Northern Iowa @ Drake (ESPNU)—The Panthers won the game in Cedar Falls.  Will the Bulldogs return the favor in Des Moines?

Other games on National TV this week:

  • 2/2—Drake @ Southern Illinois (Fox Sports Net)
  • 2/5—Evansville @ Creighton  (ESPN Full Court/ESPN3.com)
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Checking in on… the MVC

Posted by rtmsf on December 27th, 2010

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

A Look Back

  • End of the Non-Conference SeasonSome people may say it is a relief to see the end of the Missouri Valley Conference’s non-conference season.  Every school in the conference had opportunities against top teams in the nation and none of them could come through and separate themselves, nor get into the national spotlight.   The conference really needs to take a look at the scheduling that each of the schools do and maybe re-evaluate what can be accomplished in the non-conference season.   There were more games than usual scheduled against the top 25 teams in the nation, but maybe it would be better to get more with the teams ranked 26-75 instead.  They may also have to try and play more neutral court games as well.
  • Diamond in the RoughWe have talked before about Gregory Echenique and his impact to the Creighton basketball team since becoming eligible, but another player that has become eligible heading into conference season is Diamond Taylor from Southern Illinois.  Taylor came to the Salukis last season after being kicked off the Wisconsin basketball team in September 2009 after being arrested for burglary and possession of stolen property.    With a new start, Taylor will bring a scoring and defensive spark to Southern Illinois.
  • RPI doldrums If the Valley ever wants to be considered a multiple big league again, one thing they will need to do is find a way to move up the conference RPI rankings.  As of the past week, the Missouri  Valley Conference was as low as the 13th in some conference rankings sitting below the Ivy League.  While they now beat up on each other in the conference season, their only hope to move up now is to have a couple of teams separate themselves and then make a nice showing in the now overblown Bracketbusters.
  • Non-Conference Player of the Season—Kyle Weems, Missouri State—Weems is second in the league in scoring, sixth in rebounding and the only player in the league to be in the top 10 in both categories.  He has been the leader the Bears have needed during their tough non-conference season.  The junior has scored in double figures in all but one of their games and has averaged 22 points a game in the past four games.  If Missouri State is going to win the conference season, Weems will be the key to take them there.
  • Non-Conference Newcomer of the Season—Doug McDermott, Creighton—There was talk that McDermott would redshirt this season.  With the wait of Gregory Echenique to become eligible, Ethan Wragge’s foot injury and the loss of Casey Harriman, McDermott was the required to go ahead and play.  He has started every game this season and is second on the team in minutes played.  The freshman has responded by averaging almost 13 points and 6 rebounds a game.   Creighton received a gift when Northern Iowa released him from his Letter of Intent so he could play for his dad.

Power Rankings (Record) (Last week rank) and Conference Outlook

  1. Wichita State (9-2) (1)— Wichita State had an up and down non-conference season.  They missed some opportunities out in Maui, blowing a lead late to Connecticut putting them in the wrong part of the bracket and missing a chance against Michigan State and Kentucky.   Then they failed to win their MVC/MWC Challenge game against a still undefeated San Diego State.  However they have come on lately by winning a tight game at LSU (which now doesn’t look as good after the Tigers were blown out by North Texas) and then taking down Tulsa this past week in the first basketball game at Intrust Bank Arena.    They have some big momentum going into conference play.   They host Evansville and travel to Bradley for their first two conference games.
  2. Missouri State (8-3) (2)— Will Creekmore has stepped up larger than many have expected and together with Kyle Weems gave the Bears a decent non-conference season, but probably not what they were hoping for.  They came up just short against Tennessee in the NIT Tipoff, got caught by Tulsa unprepared, and played tough against Oklahoma State.  Unfortunately they were all losses.   There is no signature win on their resume that will help them come March.
  3. Northern Iowa (9-3) (3)— Rebuilding and exceeding expectations from last season has been a large challenge on Ben Jacobson’s plate.  The Panthers were taught an early lesson at Syracuse and have had some troubles on the road losing to Iowa and Wisconsin-Milwaukee.  However, winning the Las Vegas Classic springboards them into conference play with a lot of confidence and a solid rotation of players.    The Panthers now have a knack for beating storied teams with the win against Indiana this week.
  4. Creighton (8-4) (5)— Creighton got off to a slow start, but heads into a conference season riding a four game winning streak, getting Rutgers transfer Gregory Echenique three games under his belt to get ready for conference season.  However, losses to their toughest competition like BYU, Nebraska, Northwestern and Iowa State lays out a path that the Bluejays need to have a stellar MVC regular season and put all of their eggs into the MVC Tournament basket..
  5. Illinois State (8-3) (4)— Tim Jankovich said coming into the season he had one of the youngest teams in the league having to replace a lot of key players, so their non-conference has been probably as expected.  They lost games against their toughest competition, UNLV and Ohio, and had a rough outing on their first road game of the season losing at Arkansas-Little Rock.   But they finished their non-conference on a strong note in a back and forth contest at UNC-Wilmington before winning in overtime.  They will be tested early with Creighton and Missouri State to start things off.
  6. Southern Illinois (6-5) (7)—Southern Illinois is where most people had them coming into this season.  Somehow I missed the memo and expected them to be better than they have been.   They started off the season getting blown out by Illinois and then somehow called a timeout they didn’t have against Northeastern to start the season 0-2.   The Salukis have been able to beat the teams they were supposed to beat, but lost to known commodities of a Drake and Northern Iowa start their battle for the MVC. Shorter and more intense practices might be their answer.
  7. Evansville (6-4) (6)— There are signs of improvement in Evansville, but like the other teams in the conference, could not get a big win to put in their back pocket.   Butler could be that win, but even they look down compared to their NCAA Championship game run last season. Losses against North Carolina and Indiana  along with Air Force and Middle Tennessee exploits their inconsistency that is still being put in place for a program that has struggled to do anything since becoming a part of Division I years ago.  But with young players like Colt Ryan, Denver Holmes and Ned Cox, things might be looking up. Starting at Wichita State will not be an easy task.
  8. Bradley (6-5) (9)— There is something in the water in Peoria that has caused things not to turn out at all what was expected coming into  this season.  Two starters and potential All-Conference players in Taylor Brown and Sam Maniscalco have been grounded with injury and the Braves were riding a five-game losing streak coming into the week before Christmas where they were able to get back on the winning track. Jim Les may have saved his job for another year once again because of injuries and coaching a different way.  Indiana State and Wichita State are on the slate for the first week. 
  9. Indiana State (5-6) (8)—The Sycamores have had time to think about their last non-conference game against Purdue on December 18th.  Being on the road for most of their non-conference season was a killer for Indiana State though they probably gained a lot of experience playing against adversity heading into the conference season.  They could get themselves off to a good start if they can beat Bradley and Evansville in the first week.
  10. Drake (5-6) (10)— After Drake’s teaching lesson from Dartmouth to start the week, the Bulldogs in shambles at the end of the non-conference.   When your wins are against Texas Southern, Southern Utah, Eastern Michigan, Boise State and Chicago State, there is definitely something that is not clicking for them.  They have had the last two top recruiting classes in the conference, but there may be some questions on whether that talent has the right coach in place. 

A Look Ahead

Conference play begins and there are already some good matchups to kick things off.

  • 12/29—Missouri State @ Northern Iowa (Fox Sports Net)—A great game to kick off MVC conference play as both teams expect to be in the race at the end of the season.
  • 12/29—Creighton @ Illinois State (ESPN Full Court/ESPN3.com)—Creighton has had some struggles with Illinois state when they have played each other early in the conference schedule.   Both teams have work to do as they start conference play.
  • 1/1—Wichita State @ Bradley (ESPNU)—This game had a lot of potential before half of Bradley’s starters went down with injury.  The Shockers will set the bar in this game.
  • 1/1—Illinois State @ Missouri State (No TV)—Missouri State has steadily risen in the Valley stature over the past couple of seasons.  I still think the Bears can win the conference.  At the same time, we may know early where the Redbirds will ultimately end up.
  • 1/1—Northern Iowa @ Southern Illinois (No TV)—Both programs are heading in different directions.  Northern Iowa is in the reloading stage while Southern Illinois is still going through an extreme makeover.
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Set Your Tivo: 11.12.10

Posted by Brian Otskey on November 12th, 2010

***** – quit your job and divorce your wife if that’s what it takes to watch this game live
**** – best watched live, but if you must, tivo and watch it tonight as soon as you get home
*** – set your tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2013
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

Brian Otskey is an RTC contributor.

Although the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer was granted an exception, tonight is the NCAA-mandated start of the college basketball season. Here are five games to keep an eye on this evening. Rankings as per the latest RTC Top 25. All times eastern.

#18 Georgetown @ Old Dominion – 7 pm on Comcast-D.C. and WSKY Hampton Roads (VA) (****)

Georgetown & ODU Re-Convene a Solid Rivalry Tonight (WaPo/J. McDonnell)

 Perhaps the most anticipated game of the night features two teams starting a new era without their best players. Gone are Greg Monroe of Georgetown and Gerald Lee of Old Dominion, but each team returns its four other starters. Both teams are known for playing excellent defense and a slower tempo style, so tonight’s game figures to be in the 50s or low 60s as a consequence of that. Among the Georgetown returnees are Austin Freeman, the Big East preseason POY, and senior point guard Chris Wright. Freeman is a terrific all-around player and a major threat from the three-point line for the Hoyas. If you’re looking for a good indication of the final result during the game, look no further than the enigmatic Wright. In games where he scored ten points or less last year, Georgetown was just 3-7. When he had at least 11 points, the Hoyas were 20-3. In contrast to past Georgetown teams, this group of Hoyas will run their offense almost exclusively through their backcourt. Freeman, Wright and Jason Clark are arguably Georgetown’s best players and none of them happen to be taller than 6’3. That isn’t to say Georgetown has nobody up front. Julian Vaughn returns for his senior season after transferring from Florida State at the conclusion of his freshman year. Last year against Old Dominion, Vaughn had 13 points on 5-8 FG. Gerald Lee was saddled with foul trouble and thus a non-factor in the game (six points and only one rebound). With Lee now departed, Vaughn may have another good game in the paint for Georgetown. For the Monarchs of ODU, four starters return from a 27-win team that advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Their key players in this game will be Frank Hassell battling inside with Vaughn, point guard Kent Bazemore and Ben Finney who had 13/6/5 assts the last time these teams met. That last meeting was on campus at Georgetown, a game won by the Monarchs. In fact, the visiting team has won every game in this series since it started in the 2006-07 season. Bazemore is an interesting player. He’s a lefty point guard (there are actually two other lefties on the ODU roster) who shot the exact same percentage from the floor and the free throw line last year (48.6%). For Blaine Taylor’s team, free throw and three-point shooting could cause major problems in this game, especially against a defense as tight as Georgetown’s. Keyon Carter is Old Dominion’s best returning three-point shooter and he only shot 34.7% from behind the arc last season. This should be a hard fought, close game that may come down to the final possession. Georgetown was a difficult team to prepare for last year as they had the talent to beat both NCAA finalists Duke and Butler, but also lost games to the likes of Ohio, Rutgers and South Florida. Good guard play and a solid effort from Vaughn should allow Georgetown to grab a nice road win to start the season. For ODU, Hassell must contain Vaughn while Finney and Bazemore have to hold their own against Georgetown’s vaunted backcourt. If Taylor’s team can hold the Georgetown backcourt in check, look for the Monarchs to pull out a win. We hate to go cliché but that’s easier said than done.

Northern Iowa @ #11 Syracuse – 7 pm on ESPN3.com (***)

The last time Northern Iowa won a game, this happened. Times have changed as Ali Farokhmanesh, Adam Koch and Jordan Eglseder have graduated. This is Kwadzo Ahelegbe’s team now. The senior averaged 10.6 PPG last season and now anchors a relatively young team. Against Syracuse’s strong 2-3 zone tonight, Northern Iowa must work the ball into the paint and free throw line area effectively. To do that, sophomore Jake Koch must start to become the impact player coach Ben Jacobson hopes he’ll be. Playing largely behind Eglseder last year, the Ashwaubenon, WI, native only played 13.6 minutes a game last year. He’ll be counted on for much more this time around, along with Johnny Moran and Lucas O’Rear. For UNI to win tonight the guards must be on fire shooting over the zone and Koch has to avoid foul trouble. The Panthers have nobody else on the roster 6’8 or taller who saw any significant action last season. Look for Syracuse to take advantage of that and eat Northern Iowa alive in the paint. The player most likely to do just that is freshman stud Fab Melo. At 7’0 and 265 lbs, Melo is a force inside for which UNI has no answer. You could see a really big freshman debut for Mr. Melo this evening. Syracuse just has too much up front for Northern Iowa to contend with. Rick Jackson, Melo and everybody’s favorite breakout candidate Kris Joseph should dominate at home for the Orange. The backcourt tandem of Brandon Triche and Scoop Jardine only adds to the ‘Cuse’s talent and depth (we haven’t even mentioned their bench). Both can play the point and shoot it well from the arc. All in all, Jim Boeheim’s club just has too much talent for Northern Iowa tonight. We’d be surprised if the final margin was less than ten points.

Oakland @ West Virginia – 9 pm on ESPN3.com (***)

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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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Morning Five: 10.20.10 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on October 20th, 2010

  1. We’re still not over the Robbie Hummel/ACL news from this past Saturday morning, but in the wake of that awful (re-)injury, the gents over at Fanhouse have put together their Costliest Injuries Team — “costly” signifying the delta between what each injured player’s team became and what they would likely have achieved were it not for the injury. If a list of injuries can be called a good list, this one’s comprehensiveness qualifies it as such. The only addition we’d make (you knew we’d have to chime in with something, right?) would be Kenny Smith’s broken wrist from 1984 which sucked all the air out of North Carolina’s title hopes after they had breezed to a 17-0 start (and it’s Curtis Sumpter, not Chris). 
  2. Because as a college basketball fan you can never have enough Gary Parrish in your life, here’s his list of Preseason All-America teams along with a Player of the Year selection that should get the Franklin Street crowd even more hyped for this season.
  3. We were impressed by the frank honesty from the article FoxSports.com’s Jeff Goodman posted soon after the Hummel news broke. Obviously the injury changes that Boilermaker team, but is Purdue really “in shambles” as the title suggests? In addition to what can indeed be seen on stat sheets, we know Hummel would have brought so much value that has nothing to do with what’s found in the box scores. But Purdue has the other two of its top three scorers returning in E’Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson (the latter only 0.2 PPG behind Hummel from tying him as second scorer on the team last year), both of them second team All-Americans, according to Mr. Parrish above. They also have their best distributor (and best A/TO ratio by far) returning in Lewis Jackson (3.3 APG), a rising junior who’s only enhanced that skill over the summer. The loss of Hummel is terrible, but it’s not exactly a steaming pile of rubble they’re dealing with in West Lafayette.
  4. We love the confidence of Northern Iowa chief Ben Jacobson when asked about the 2010-11 edition of his Panthers in the wake of last season’s NCAA Tournament upset of Kansas and serious personnel losses due to graduation: “We’re going to be good.” UNI said goodbye to Jordan Eglseder, Sports Illustrated cover boy Ali Farokhmanesh, and Missouri Valley POY Adam Koch, but that hasn’t dashed hopes in Cedar Falls. The first order of business in following up last year’s success, according to senior point guard Kwadzo Ahelegbe? “It’s just about forgetting about it…What we’ve done lately is practice three times and work on defense. We didn’t go in and watch the Kansas game.” Lead on, Kwadzo.
  5. ESPN’s Dave Telep (how’s that look, Dave?) probably hasn’t finished unpacking his boxes in them new digs at the worldwide leader, but here he notes how the ever-increasing value of surehandedness at the 1-spot in today’s game hasn’t been lost on West Virginia, who landed two point guard prospects earlier this week in Ryan Boatright and Jabarie Hinds, the latter hailing from current Mountaineer forward Kevin Jones’ old high school near The Bronx. Boatright is ranked as the 6th-best PG and 36th player overall in the class of 2011; Hinds is the ranked 22nd among PGs but both are listed as “four-star” recruits.
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