Checking In On… the Missouri Valley Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on February 1st, 2012

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:

BracketBusters—On Monday night, ESPN announced the matchups for the tenth installment of the BracketBusters series.  Creighton and Wichita State fans were hoping that a few matchups would go their way with St. Mary’s headed to Creighton and the Shockers getting an opportunity to knock of undefeated Murray State. This was not meant to be as St. Mary’s and Murray State were paired together. That sent Long Beach State to Creighton and Wichita State to Davidson. The Shockers’ triple-overtime loss at Drake hurt them more than probably anyone realized with this matchup. A total of five teams from the Missouri Valley Conference were selected for games on the ESPN family of networks. Here is the full schedule of games for the MVC:

February 17:

  • Northern Iowa @ Virginia Commonwealth, 6 PM CT (ESPN2)

February 18:

  • Wichita State @ Davidson, 11 AM CT (ESPN or ESPN2)
  • Southern Illinois @ Ball State, 1 PM CT
  • Indiana State at Butler, 1 PM CT
  • Drake @ New Mexico State, 2 PM CT (ESPNU)
  • Old Dominion @ Missouri State, 4 PM CT (ESPNU)
  • Oakland @ Illinois State, 4 PM CT
  • Loyola-Chicago @ Bradley, 7 PM CT
  • Long Beach State @ Creighton, 9 PM CT (ESPN2)
  • Western Illinois @ Evansville, TBD

More Free Basketball—This week, several conference games were contested throughout and sent to overtime. Missouri State lost to Illinois State in overtime last Wednesday to kick the week off.  Then, in Des Moines on Saturday, Wichita State and Drake went to triple overtime before the Bulldogs came away as victors. Finally on Sunday, Indiana State and Evansville battled to double overtime before the Sycamores left Evansville with a victory. The league is setup this season in a way that pretty much anyone can beat anyone on any given night.

Chaos in the Standings—With Wichita State’s loss, the Shockers fell out of the tie with Creighton in the league race. With the Bluejays holding a one game lead over Wichita, the game in Omaha on February 11th becomes even more important. But after that, the rest of the league is still in flux. A total of two games separate teams three through nine in the standings and no one seems to want to break out of that pack. One week, a team like Evansville will go 3-0 and then the next go 0-2. Others, like Missouri State keep splitting their weekly games. Right now, there’s little hope for more than two teams making the NCAA Tournament, barring a run in the MVC Tournament. Even something like that could knock Wichita State off if they are sitting on the bubble.

Creighton Draws An Interesting BracketBuster Date, But It Seems Like Other Valley Teams Could Do More Harm Than Good With Their Matchups. (UPI/Will Greenblatt)

Power Rankings (last week’s rankings in parentheses)

Drake invited themselves to the Creighton and Wichita State party while the rest of the league tries to position itself for the MVC Tournament that is about a month away.

  1. Creighton (20-2, 10-1) (1): Creighton continues to roll along with a ten-game winning streak entering Wednesday’s action. There has been some debate based on statistics that Wichita State is a better team than Creighton. They may seem similar with schedules, but the Bluejays do own a win over the Shockers in Wichita. The one concern for Creighton however, is the turnovers and sloppy play as of late. The Bluejays had 19 turnovers against Bradley and were able to win, but at some point, those miscues could catch up with them. It is their teamwork that keeps winning games.
  2. Wichita State (18-4, 9-2) (2): The Shockers hit a stumbling block in their triple-OT loss against Drake and then were assigned to play at Davidson in the BracketBusters later this month. These two things were probably not something they wanted, although coach Gregg Marshall gets to go a little closer to home. One asset to Wichita State is its depth, but in the loss to Drake, Marshall only played about seven players throughout the game. Also, despite Garrett Stutz’s back problems, he logged a staggering 50 minutes in that game. Read the rest of this entry »
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Checking In On… the Missouri Valley Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 18th, 2012

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:

  • A Two-Team Race: With Missouri Valley Conference play starting with a frenzy of surprises, there continue to be some additional shockers, just not at the top of the league. Creighton and Wichita State continue to win and are both tied for the league lead at 6-1. What has probably been more of a surprise is the inconsistent play of the teams below the Bluejays and the Shockers.   Missouri State, Northern Iowa, Indiana State and Evansville have all been inconsistent while Drake has gone 3-0 in this most recent stretch of games.
  • McDermott Hits 1,000: Creighton’s Doug McDermott went over 1,000 points on Sunday night in only his 57th game of his career. That is amazing for only being halfway through his sophomore season. Creighton’s all-time leading scorer, Rodney Buford, took 59 games to get to the 1,000 point mark. McDermott’s teammate, Antoine Young, was honored earlier this season after scoring his 1,000th point. The difference in this case is that it took Young more than three full seasons to hit that milestone. McDermott isn’t looking to be slowing down anytime soon.
  • Ahead of the Pac-12: The MVC as a conference sits at #8 in the RPI positioning them ahead of the Pac-12 and just behind the A-10 and the Mountain West. Five teams are in the top 100 of the RPI with Creighton leading the way at #21. Northern Iowa and Wichita State are not far behind at numbers #30 and #31, respectively. The last time the MVC had more than two teams in the top 40 of the RPI was in 2005-06 and five of the league’s teams were in the final RPI rankings. Everyone except for Southern Illinois is under #200.

Wichita State's Demetric Williams And The Rest Of The Shockers Are Doing All They Can, But Need An Opportunity To Jump Creighton In The Standings.

Power Rankings (last week’s rankings in parentheses)

With some separation happening, there is a battle currently going on in the middle of the conference.

  1. Creighton (16-2, 6-1) (1)—After the setback to Missouri State to start conference play, Creighton has been steady and winning ever since.  They are now 7-1 on the road this season including six of those being “true” road games. Their road win total is double what they had last season. They also have four wins against teams in the top 50 of the RPI (Northwestern, San Diego State, Wichita State , and Northern Iowa). The media still loves talking about how Doug McDermott ended up at Creighton and stepped out of the shadows of Harrison Barnes. Read the rest of this entry »
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Checking In On… the MVC

Posted by Brian Goodman on December 7th, 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 MVC/MWC Challenge Runs To A Draw: Over the weekend, the Missouri Valley and Mountain West Conferences played the third annual MVC/MWC Challenge games.  With only eight teams left in the current Mountain West, there were only eight games played.  Although Boise State played two MVC teams in the past few weeks, only one of those games was a part of the Challenge.  The two biggest games involved Creighton and Wichita State.  The Bluejays came back from 17 points down in the first half to escape San Diego State with a victory.   On the other side of the coin, Wichita State destroyed UNLV behind Joe Ragland’s 31 points.  The Challenge will finish out in the 2012-13 season.
  • Valley RPI Rising: The MVC has been having some pretty good non-conference success this year.  So good, in fact, that the Valley heads into this week with the seventh highest conference RPI.  This is quite a difference from sitting at #11 last season at the same time.  With Northern Iowa, Creighton, Indiana State, Wichita State and Missouri State all in the top 41 in the RPI, things are looking great for multiple NCAA bids this year.
  • Creighton In The Top Twenty: With several teams ahead of the Bluejays losing, Creighton moved up to #17 in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll and they make their debut in the AP poll sitting at #19.  In the AP poll, this represents Creighton’s first appearance since November 2006 and their highest ranking since March 2003.
  • Ragland Has His Day: Wichita State’s Joe Ragland created a little history in the big win over UNLV.  He was the first Shocker since 2006 that scored more than 30 points in a game.  He was dead-on from behind the arc, going 8-9 against UNLV.  In the two games this week, he was 14-18 from the field and 11-13 from behind the three point line.

Joe Ragland Sliced And Shot His Way To A 30-Point Game In The Shockers' Win Over The Runnin' Rebels Sunday. (MVC-Sports.com)

Power Rankings

  1. Read the rest of this entry »
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Checking In On… the Missouri Valley Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 23rd, 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:

  • Creighton Cracks The Polls—This week, for the first time since March 2007, the Bluejays are ranked in one of the major polls.  They check in at #25 in the USA Today Coaches poll.  The last team from the MVC to be ranked by the coaches was Northern Iowa, which was 13th in the final USA Today Coaches poll at the conclusion of the 2009-10 campaign.  While many saw Creighton as a sleeper this season, they now have a large target on their back.
  • Wichita State Falls Short—Last season, Wichita State faltered in the Maui Invitational by missing some opportunities to get some big name wins and did not have everything completely come together until they won the postseason NIT.  This season, they also struggled to get the wins they need from their exempt tournament, the Puerto Rico Tip-off.  They did beat Colorado, but then lost to Alabama and Temple. The good news is that they probably have a few more opportunities outside of this tournament this season.
  • Seat on Fire In Carbondale—Many knew that Chris Lowery was on the hot seat at Southern Illinois coming into this season.  Three games in, the question is whether he should have been allowed to come back this season after all.  With an 0-3 start, including a loss against Division II Ohio Dominican, this could be another long season in Carbondale.

The McDermotts Have Creighton Crashing The Polls In November.

Power Rankings

  1. Creighton (4-0)—Creighton has started the season on a roll and they appear to have the pieces surrounding Doug McDermott to make it a special year. Creighton won their first three games largely without the need of scoring from center Gregory Echenique, but after beating Iowa on Sunday, Echenique is in the mix now on the offensive end. Grant Gibbs has played like another point guard on the court taking some pressure off of Antoine Young. Right now there is a lot of unselfish play with 56 assists on 66 baskets in the first two games and 86 assists on 125 field goals for the season. Read the rest of this entry »
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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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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)

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Checking in on… the MVC

Posted by Brian Goodman on December 21st, 2010

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

A Look Back

  • Finals Make a Slow Week—The Missouri Valley Conference was quiet for the most part this week as teams had less time on the practice court and fewer games to be played due to finals.  Each team only played once this past week except Wichita State and Northern Iowa.
  • Schedule AnomaliesSpeaking of scheduling, a few schools have had some extended time off.  Bradley has not played since their December  8 loss at Duke, but the Braves play two games this week before Christmas.  Southern Illinois has had 11 days in between games since the December 11 loss at Western Kentucky.   Indiana State lost to Purdue this past Saturday and does not play again until conference play begins on December 29.   In addition, the winning percentage of The Valley as a whole is at its lowest since 2003.  These are not good times for this league.
  • Echenique’s DebutCreighton fans have been waiting for almost a year for Gregory Echenique to step on the court for the Bluejays.  In his debut on Saturday night, Echenique scored 12 points, grabbed five rebounds and tallied three blocks in 18 minutes of action.  Two games against Western Illinois and Samford will let Echenique get more court time before conference season.
  • Player of the Week—Kyle Weems, Missouri State—Weems has shown a lot of consistency in the non-conference season and his 26 points and eight rebounds led the way in the Bears’ win against Saint Louis this week.
  • Newcomer of the Week—Kenneth Harris, Evansville.—Harris was instrumental in Evansville gaining a victory against Middle Tennessee this week with his 13 points and a game-high eight rebounds.  The Aces had to hold on after blowing a 21-point lead in the final twelve minutes of the game.

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

  1. Wichita State (8-2) (2)—The Shockers played twice this week with a warm-up game against Alabama A&M before hitting the road with what amounted to basically a road game against LSU.  Garrett Stutz hit a three-pointer with eight seconds to go to give Wichita State a two-point lead and they held on for the win.  I know I had Toure’ Murry as the MVC Player of the Year this season, but he is really struggling as of late, including a 3-12 performance against LSU and five turnovers.  Tulsa comes to town before the holidays to close out the non-conference slate.
  2. Missouri State (7-3) (1)—Missouri State earned a nice win against Saint Louis on Saturday, and only fall in the rankings due to the competition they played this week compared to Wichita State.  However, I still think that overall, Missouri State is still slightly ahead of the Shockers.  The Bears play Arkansas State in a rematch of the opening round of the NIT-Tipoff.  Defensive intensity is still something they are working on.
  3. Northern Iowa (7-3) (4)— Northern Iowa heads to Las Vegas this week for a great opportunity to get a couple of wins against the top conferences in the nation.  However, even though Indiana and Colorado have potential this season, they still aren’t the top teams in their respective conferences.  At the same time these could be significant wins come March.  Kerwin Dunham has been absent lately because of plantar fasciitis.  Injuries are not good for any team trying to make the postseason.
  4. Illinois State (7-3) (3)—The Redbirds might have an opportunity here come conference play.  They didn’t win against the toughest teams in their non-conference slate, but Tim Jankovich has had a nice opportunity to play a lot of players and lineups to prepare for conference season, including Blake Mishler.  They close out on the road at UNC-Wilmington on Monday.
  5. Creighton (6-4) (5)— Creighton gets a chance to solidify their rotation with a couple of buy games this week before Christmas.  Even though Gregory Echenique looked good on Saturday night, they barely beat a bad Idaho State team, which shows they still have a ways to go.
  6. Evansville (5-4) (7)—The Purple Aces created a lot of unnecessary drama on Saturday with their win over Middle Tennessee, who they met for the second time this season.  Evansville appears to have a lot more potential than the likes of Southern Illinois and Indiana State at this point.  They definitely won’t end up in the cellar.
  7. Southern Illinois (5-5) (6)—The Salukis have not played since December 11 and may have to shake the rust off against Northern Illinois before preparing for conference play.  One thing I know they probably have been working on is rebounding.  But they are still looking for that leader they have not had since Bryan Mullins was there.
  8. Indiana State (5-6) (8)—The Sycamores battled Purdue this past weekend, but just came up short in their final game of the non-conference season.  They now have until December 29 to prepare for Bradley in their conference opener which now looks like a winnable game.  They also have two very capable players in Jake Kelly and Dwayne Lathan, but they have put a little too much pressure on themselves.
  9. Bradley (4-5) (9)— The Braves are still recovering from their blowout at Duke and will play two games this week against Jackson State and Detroit. Jim Les has the opportunity to finalize his rotation and hopefully find the players that will ultimately replace Taylor Brown and Sam Maniscalco who are both out for the season with injury.   Now add backup point guard Dyricus Simms-Edwards to the injury list with a sprained knee.   Dodie Dunson is now the only option at point guard for Bradley.
  10. Drake (4-5) (10)— Drake came up short against their in-state rival Iowa, but have a couple games this week against Dartmouth and Chicago State.  A loss to either of these teams could mean disaster for this young team.  They also have to understand how to break the press.

A Look Ahead

There are only a couple games before the holidays and the start of conference season that are of significance.

  • 12/21—Tulsa @ Wichita State at Intrust Bank Arena (Local TV)—After the thrilling victory against LSU on a neutral court this past weekend, the Shockers leave their normal comfy confines of Koch Arena to instead play downtown at the brand new Intrust Bank Arena against the always tough Tulsa.  This could end up being their best win of the non-conference season.
  • 12/22—Detroit @ Bradley (No TV)—With the injuries Bradley has had to deal with this season, this game will be an interesting one to see if they can pull out what might have looked like a guarantee win at the beginning of the season.
  • 12/22-23—Northern Iowa at Las Vegas Classic (CBS College Sports)—The Panthers head to Las Vegas right before Christmas to play a couple of games.  They open first on Wednesday against Indiana and then play either Colorado or New Mexico on Thursday.  These could be two great wins for Northern Iowa after the slow start they have had this season and set them up with some great confidence before the start of conference play.
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Checking in on… the Missouri Valley

Posted by Brian Goodman on December 12th, 2010

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

A Look Back

  • ACC Beatings: The Missouri Valley Conference was featured this week in a pair of games on Wednesday night—a sort of ACC/MVC challenge.  It wasn’t much of a challenge for Duke and North Carolina to dispose of Bradley and Evansville both by over 25 points.  Fans love the idea of the matchups, but the end result on national TV may not be the best for the league.
  • Missouri State Quietly Consistent: Everyone anointed Wichita State the preseason favorites.  Some thought Creighton was ready to break out even with a new coach.  There were others that said Northern Iowa would just reload.  But very quietly, Missouri State has strung together the most consistency so far.  They put up over 100 points last weekend against Central Arkansas and rode a four-game winning into Saturday’s game with Oklahoma State.  Granted, they haven’t won against the best teams they have played (Tennessee, Oklahoma State and Tulsa), but are at least not losing to teams they shouldn’t.
  • Scoring Drought: The Missouri Valley Conference against Iowa, Duke and North Carolina this week were only able to score as many as 49 points.  Against Iowa, Northern Iowa’s cold shooting woes only garnered them 39 points.   Evansville hosted North Carolina but could muster only 49 points while Bradley went to Duke and only put up 48.  The conference was 4-6 this last week because they could not score any points – aside from a few “Power Six” foes, the MWC played good defense, as reflected by the opponent scoring totals.
  • MVC As A One-Bid League: It is becoming clearer that the MVC is going to be a one-bid league this season.  Through Saturday’s games, the league is an unimpressive 49-38.  A lot of losses have come against teams the league has no business playing at this point.  As Kyle Whelliston wrote this week, the Valley needs to start playing regularly against teams in leagues currently around them to bring the league back up.
  • Player of the Week: — Dwayne Lathan, Indiana State: Lathan is starting to come on for the Sycamores.  Against DePaul last week, Lathan had 24 points, five rebounds, six assists, two steals and two blocks.  If Indiana State is going to surprise people this season come conference play, Lathan will have to carry the team on his shoulders.
  • Newcomer of The Week — Doug McDermott, Creighton: McDermott is the only consistent newcomer right now.  He continues the start of his career of scoring in double figures in every game he has played and is currently ahead of pace on Creighton’s all-time leading scorer, Rodney Buford.

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

  1. Missouri State (6-3) (1)—Missouri State is on a roll right now (outside of Saturday’s loss to Oklahoma State) and seem to be the most consistent in the league routing Central Arkansas 101-61 with six players in double figures.  Will Creekmore, who is one of only two players in the league to score in double figures every game this season is dealing with a dislocated finger on his non-shooting hand.  With Adam Leonard struggling and having health issues, Creekmore will be needed to team with Kyle Weems to keep their pace going.
  2. Wichita State (6-2) (2)—The Shockers have been flying off of everyone’s radar after their failure at San Diego State.  Their problem right now is that they play in spurts but cannot put together a long stretch of consistent play.   They have a game against Alabama A&M on Monday to try and get more consistency before taking on LSU after finals.
  3. Illinois State (7-3) (3)—Illinois State still has a ways to go, but they are still sitting towards the top this week because the rest of the league does not want to play any better.   Against Ohio, D.J. Cooper, a player who ISU head coach Tim Jankovich tried heavily to recruit, torched the Redbirds for 29 points including the game-winner.  Justin Clark is hoping to get on track.  He was 0-for-17 from three point range before hitting one against Ohio this week.
  4. Northern Iowa (4-3) (5)— Speaking of the three pointer, the Panthers were 6-30 from the arc against Iowa in their 51-39 loss on Tuesday.  Northern Iowa is 1-22 all time in Iowa City and are probably glad they don’t come back for another couple of years.  With a rebuilding team like Northern Iowa, they take one step forward and then two steps back.  The Panthers made it 19 wins in a row at home by beating Morehead State Saturday night.
  5. Creighton (4-4) (7)—The Bluejays have lost to a top 25 team, a potential top 25 team, the coach’s former team and their in-state rival in a span of two weeks.  After the loss to Nebraska on Sunday, the new coaching staff probably suffered their first negative reaction from fans during the transition to Greg McDermott.  Kenny Lawson will get some help down in the post with Gregory Echenique becoming eligible at the end of the first semester this week.  Echenique wants to live up to the expectations many have already put upon him.
  6. Southern Illinois (5-4) (8)— Southern Illinois won two straight this week before heading to Western Kentucky.    The Salukis will not play another game for 11 days.  It will be interesting to see whether the time off will help them regroup before conference season.   What has emerged for Southern Illinois is their frontline of Carlton Fay, Gene Teague and Mamadou Seck.  Lowery made the tweek to the lineup by starting Seck and it appears to be paying off.
  7. Evansville (4-4) (4)—Evansville started their week off with a one-point loss to Air Force in the MVC/MWC challenge, but then had the opportunity to take on North Carolina.  The Tar Heels ran out early against the Purple Aces and didn’t look back.  Clint Hopf and Tyler Zeller are both local products, but never faced each other until this game.   Evansville hopes to rebound against Middle Tennessee this week as they finish up a same season home and home with them.  The Aces lost to Middle Tennessee in their first meeting this season.
  8. Indiana State (4-5) (9)— After being called out for lack of toughness in the loss against Wyoming last week,  they bounced back to beat DePaul for the first time since 1979—In the Final Four with Larry Bird with the Sycamores.  Indiana State is slowly climbing the ladder as they appear to be coming together as a team.
  9. Bradley (4-5) (6)—Bradley is in shambles right now.  The Braves have lost five in a row after starting out 4-0 and the blasting at Duke this week has not helped things.   They have to put the pieces back together and Jim Les thinks that, “They are close to turning this thing around.”  One bright spot was the emergence of freshman Walt Lemon, Jr.  leading Bradley in scoring against Duke.  Their next game is not until December 20.
  10. Drake (3-4) (10)— Drake broke a three-game losing streak with a gutsy win at Eastern Michigan last week.   Drake returned to the Knapp Center for the first time in a month with their game on Sunday against Boise State.  Frank Wiseler is gradually coming back from his Achilles injury that he suffered over the summer.  With the Valley suffering like they are, don’t be surprised if the Bulldogs are able to take advantage of things once conference season rolls around.

A Look Ahead

With finals week this week, there are limited choices, but some games worth paying attention to once the weekend arrives.

  • 12/18—Idaho State @ Creighton (ESPN Full Court)—Many Creighton fans had this date circled on their camera for the debut of Rutgers transfer Gregory Echenique.  The Bluejays specifically tried to schedule three games between now and the conference opener on December 29 to get Echenique some playing time.
  • 12/18—Iowa @ Drake (Local TV)—The battle for Iowa supremacy concludes as the Hawkeyes visit the Knapp Center.  The Bulldogs need this win not only for them, but to help the conference profile.
  • 12/18—Indiana State vs. Purdue at Conseco Fieldhouse (Big Ten Network)—The Sycamores and Boilermakers get together for the Boilermaker Blockbuster which was revived for the first time since 2003.
  • 12/18—Wichita State vs. LSU in Bossier City, LA (Local TV)—This closes out a three-game series between these two teams where each team played on their home court and the final game of the series was at a neutral site.  But in reality it is basically a home game for the Tigers in this one.  Wichita State needs this one to get a key win on their resume.  LSU is not the answer, but they are still a Power Six conference team.
  • 12/18—St. Louis @ Missouri State (No TV)—This is a rare A-10 vs. MVC matchup in this one.  Both teams want to make noise in their respective conferences, so this should be a good game, but too bad it is not on TV.
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Checking in on… the MVC

Posted by rtmsf on February 8th, 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  21-2  (12-1) (1)
  2. Wichita State 20-5 (9-4) (2)
  3. Illinois State  16-8 (7-6) (3)
  4. Indiana State  14-10 (6-7) (7)
  5. Missouri State  16-8 (6-7) (6)
  6. Creighton  12-12 (7-6)  (5)
  7. Bradley  12-11 (7-6) (8)
  8. Drake  11-14 (6-7)  (4)
  9. Southern Illinois   13-10 (5-8) (9)
  10. Evansville 6-17 (0-13) (10)  

STORIES OF THE WEEK

2010 Bracketbusters—The people in Bristol announced the  11 TV matchups for this season’s Bracketbusters for  Friday and Saturday, February 20th and 21st, while the other conference commissioners matched up the rest of the games of the other 76 teams.  Here are the matchups for the Valley teams and TV info for those selected to play on the ESPN family of networks:

  • Northern Iowa vs. Old Dominion, Friday, February 19th, 6PM, ESPN2
  • Wichita State  @ Utah State,  Saturday, February 20th, 11PM, ESPN2
  • Nevada @ Missouri State, Saturday, 2PM, ESPN2
  • Morehead State @ Ilinois State, Saturday, 4PM
  • Indiana State @ Green Bay, Saturday, 7PM
  • Loyola (Ill.) @ Creighton,  Saturday, 8:35PM
  • Drexel @ Bradley, Saturday, 7PM
  • Drake @ Cal State-Northridge, Saturday, 9PM
  • Western Michigan @ Southern Illinois, Saturday, 2PM
  • Illinois-Chicago @ Evansville,  Saturday, 7PM

Valley coaches in favor of expanded tournament—On the weekly Missouri Valley Conference teleconference, the question of expanding the NCAA Tournament to 96 teams was deemed pretty favorable by the coaches in the Missouri Valley Conference.  With the Valley looking at a one bid for the third straight year, I guess you could understand why they would like it.  However, I still think it takes away from the integrity of the hard work done throughout the season and the build-up would not be the same when teams are expecting to go to the NCAA Tourney by default every year. 

Northern Iowa declared MVC champs—Ok, so mathematically several teams have a chance to catch up and tie or overtake Northern Iowa, but come on,  with five conference games remaining, Northern Iowa has basically run away with the Valley regular season crown while all the other teams are just beating each other up.  When the Panthers knocked off Wichita State last week, they staved off their final threat in the regular season.

Rivalry Week in Full Swing—The known rivalries in the Valley will all be in action this week.  Creighton heads to Carbondale to take on Southern Illinois where the Salukis are looking to respond to the blowout the Bluejays handed to them last season on SIU’s home floor.   The Battle of I-76 between Bradley and Illinois State will be played again with Bradley seeking revenge for getting run off the court a couple weeks ago at Redbird Arena.  Drake and Northern Iowa hook up again as well in an in-state matchup.

TEAM BREAKDOWNS

CRUISE CONTOL

Northern Iowa (2-0 this week, 20-1 in last 21 games, 5 game win streak)—The Panthers are getting every team’s best shot, but they are continuing to find ways to win.  Against Wichita State on Wednesday, the Panthers survived a late rally by the Shockers to get the win.  Saturday they came from behind to beat Southern Illinois and Adam Koch scored the team’s last 11 points.  They hope to continue their domination against Drake and Bradley this week.

BUMPY HIGHWAY FOR  2nd-9th

Bradley (2-0 this week) – After going 0-2 last week, Bradley turned things around to go 2-0.  This is just one example of how the rest of the Valley has played this season.  A winning shot by Will Egolf gave Bradley a thrilling victory over Drake.  It is a big week for the Braves this week as they get a shot at the top of the conference with Northern Iowa and Illinois State.  The other good news for them is that both games are at home. 

Wichita State (1-1 this week)—The Shockers just seem to be coasting through under the radar for the most part.  After losing a heartbreaker against Northern Iowa  for their chance to try and catch them, the Shockers had to rally from 15 down in the final nine minutes against a shorthanded Indiana State team to pull out a victory.  It’s the little things that players like Aaron Ellis bring to the court for the Shockers that has helped them become so successful this season.  Games against Evansville and Missouri State should give Wichita State the opportunity to lock down their second place standing in the Valley.

Illinois State  (1-1 this week)— Win one, lose one….that is the mantra of the Valley over the past several weeks and the Redbirds have not been left out.   The big troubles have been road games with last week’s loss coming at Indiana State.  Illinois State is now 1-5 on the road.  With Bradley and Creighton on tap this week, can they get a road victory?  The other question—is Osiris Eldridge not playing as well this season compared to last?   Appears that way. 

Missouri State (1-1 this week)— The Bears are the highest scoring team in the Valley as well as trying to be a great defensive team as well.  In their win against Creighton this week, they displayed both as they went on 11-1 and 17-0 runs to take the Bluejays behind the woodshed, 70-52.  Creighton only had 30 points with nine minutes to go.  Southern Illinois and Wichita State give the Bears opportunities  to move up this week.

Creighton  (1-1 this week)—Creighton, like Illinois State, has big problems winning a road game.  After getting crushed at Missouri State this week, the Bluejays are now 2-11 in road/neutral games this season and it looks like they may not get a road victory the rest of the year.  Luckily they have two home games this week against Indiana State and Illinois State.  It is so dire for Creighton fans now, that the focus is almost off the men’s basketball team as fans find the Creighton Dance Team more interesting. 

Indiana State (1-1 this week)—The Sycamores took a big blow this week losing point guard Harry Marshall along with Dwayne Lathan to injuries suffered during the Illinois State game that will pretty much take them out until the end of the season.   They had a valiant effort against Wichita State on the road, but didn’t have enough gas to keep the Shockers from stealing the victory down the stretch.  Creighton and Drake are on the schedule this week.

Southern Illinois (1-1 this week)— The Salukis couldn’t upset the Panthers even though they hoped their depth would be key this week, so they continue to be an average team.  Tony Freeman had weird feelings playing a game in the state of Iowa again.  They got a victory against Missouri State, but cannot relish in it too much because they turn around and play them again this week along with doormat Evansville

Drake (0-2 this week)—Drake had a nice run, but they have now lost three of four games.  The three losses have all come on the road.  Josh Young keeps getting accolades before he is crowned the school’s all-time scoring leader.  They host conference leaders Northern Iowa this week and travel to Indiana State. 

BLEW A TIRE AND ENGINE BROKE DOWN

Evansville (0-2 this week, 14 game losing streak)— Colt Ryan averaged 24 points in his two games this week against Creighton and Bradley. Before the end of the season, Ryan will shatter the freshman scoring record for this school.  Unfortunately, the Purple Aces continue to lose.  With the City of Evansville building a new Arena and the Aces expected to play there, will there be enough people in the seats to make the switch?  Wichita State and Southern Illinois the next ones to beat up on the Aces.

WEEK AHEAD AND GAMES TO WATCH

Pretty much every game is key in the Valley this week, but here are the best matchups and a couple most people should be able to watch on TV.

  • 2/9—Illinois State @ Bradley (Local TV)—Yes, most won’t be able to watch this one, but Bradley has declared a “Blackout” as the Redbirds try to come in and sweep their home-home series this season.
  • 2/10—Northern Iowa @ Drake (Local TV throughout Iowa) –This game has to get mentioned because of an in-state rivalry and the Panthers are ranked in the top 25 so every game is important for them.
  • 2/13—Illinois State @ Creighton (Local TV in Omaha and Illinois)—This game will determine who will likely play on Thursday night in St. Louis in the MVC Tournament. 
  • 2/13—Northern Iowa  @ Bradley (Fox Sports Net)—Either at home or on the road, the Panthers have been dominating the Valley.  Can it continue in Peoria?
  • 2/14—Missouri State @ Wichita State (ESPNU)—The Shockers hope to lock in second place in the Valley with this game
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Checking in on… the MVC

Posted by rtmsf on January 25th, 2010

Standings & Records (Conference Standings) (Last Week)

  1. Northern Iowa  17-2  (8-1) (1)
  2. Wichita State 15-4 (6-3) (2)
  3. Illinois State  14-6 (5-4) (3)
  4. Drake  10-11 (5-4)  (8)
  5. Bradley  10-9 (5-4) (6)
  6. Creighton  10-10 (5-4)  (4)
  7. Missouri State  14-6 (4-5) (5)
  8. Southern Illinois   11-7 (4-5) (9)
  9. Indiana State  11-9 (3-6) (7)
  10. Evansville 6-12 (0-9) (10)

STORIES OF THE WEEK

Wichita State/Northern Iowa game was as expected—The matchup of the top two teams in the conference was quite the game this week.  Getting the TV exposure is needed for the MVC.  Wichita State came out fast against the Panthers to take a dominant lead in front of a raucous home crowd to halftime.  Maybe it was the extra attention that Northern Iowa was getting by being ranked the day before or the fact that the Shockers hosted another ranked team at home in the same season for the first time in almost 15-20 years.  But the Panthers erased the deficit early in the second half and seemed as though they were going to pull out the victory the same way they have all season, but did not have enough as the Shockers upset the Panthers and once again put the Valley race back in play for several other teams.

Opportunities lost, others gained—With Northern Iowa losing this week, Wichita State, Creighton and Illinois State could have taken advantage of the situation in the MVC standings.  However, Creighton lost to Illinois State, Illinois State lost to Southern Illinois and Wichita State turned around and lost to Drake.  Bradley and Drake, who have been struggling this season, have taken advantage of those losses to move up the Valley standings.   It is now anyone’s game, but it is extremely important that either Wichita State or Northern Iowa decide to take over the league and somebody else win the Valley tournament if they expect to get more than one team into the NCAA Tournament this season.

Saint Louis wants to be part of the Valley?—Saint Louis head coach Rick Majerus made it quite clear that they would rather be a part of the Missouri Valley Conference instead of the A10.  The question is, could that really happen?  And if so, would they drop a team or add another to make the conference twelve?  Butler? Western Kentucky?  Apparently there are no plans for any MVC expansion, but does make an interesting discussion.

POSITIVE WEEK

Drake (2-0 this week, 5 game winning streak) — Drake has been on fire, now on a five-game winning streak including a dominating win against Wichita State on Saturday.   Players are stepping up while Craig Stanley is out with an injury.   The Bulldogs will be squarely in the conference race with wins against Northern Iowa and Creighton this week. What a turnaround this might be after having a horrible non-conference season and losing to teams like SIU-Edwardsville at home.

Bradley (2-0 this week, 3 game winning streak) – Bradley all of a sudden is making a turnaround with a three-game winning streak with wins this past week against Southern Illinois and Evansville.  Defense has been the key to their resurgence.   Bradley could move up into the top three of the conference with wins over Creighton and Illinois State this week.

CAN’T DECIDE

Northern Iowa (1-1 this week) — The Panthers ranking and Sports Illustrated article were probably a little too much to handle this week heading into their game against Wichita State while opening the door to the rest of the conference to say they are beatable.  Northern Iowa is in no way guaranteed the NCAA tournament as their Athletic Director can attest after his participation in a mock NCAA selection committee exercise.   Jordan Eglseder looks like a different player this season and appears to be a dominant inside threat in the Valley.  The hottest team in the conference, Drake, is coming to town before a trip to Missouri State is on the schedule this week.

Wichita State (1-1 this week) — Wichita gave Northern Iowa their best shot and sent a message to the Panthers that they are contenders for the league, but then must have had a hangover in getting drilled by Drake.    You would have thought Wichita was completely out of the race after this loss.    They hope to get back on track against Illinois State and Southern Illinois

Illinois State  (1-1 this week) — The Redbirds came from behind Wednesday night against Creighton by dominating the inside with Dinma Okiakosa setting the standard, but then suffered an overtime defeat to Southern Illinois.   This will be a key week for them with games against Wichita State and Bradley.

Missouri State (1-1 this week) — Missouri State blew a 24-point second half lead against Indiana State before surviving in overtime.  They then lost a see-saw battle against Creighton.  A key to the Bears’ continued success is the health of Adam Leonard. He has been experiencing back spasms that may keep him out of games down the line.  They will need him for the games against Evansville and Northern Iowa this week.

Creighton  (1-1 this week) — Creighton let another halftime lead slip away, this time at Illinois State.  They were on the verge of collapsing but hit an amazing 15-15 from the free throw line in the second half to get a win against Missouri State.  Are the Bluejays playing scared?  Some are starting to think that including the players.  Road trips to Bradley and Drake won’t make things any easier this week.

Southern Illinois (1-1 this week)—Just when you thought the Salukis were about to pack it in for the second consecutive season (with a loss to Bradley at home), screams for Chris Lowery’s exit out of town grows louder and louder, and academic problems with Gene Teague,  they survived against Illinois State in overtime.   A road trip to Indiana State before hosting Wichita State are on the slate this week.

PACKING IT IN

Indiana State (0-2 this week) — Indiana State took 30 minutes to wake up against Missouri State and almost came back to defeat them, but came up short.   Although they were in range of Northern Iowa, they could not steal a win from there.  The loss of Dwayne Lathan has really hurt this team.   They have few opportunities left to make a conference run, but could have some success hosting Southern Illinois before heading to Evansville this week.

Evansville (0-2 this week, 10 game losing streak) — It doesn’t really matter who Evansville is playing anymore, they just don’t have enough to win games.  Rebuilding is hard, especially at Evansville.   Missouri State and Indiana State are on the slate this week and could be a spoiler for those teams.

WEEK AHEAD AND GAMES TO WATCH

The Wild and Wacky Valley.  You have to see it:

  • 1/25, Western Kentucky @ Southern Illinois (Fox College Sports)—A very odd out of conference matchup for the Salukis and Hilltoppers during conference season that looked more attractive at the beginning of the season.  Not so much now, but still likely a good game.
  • 1/27, Creighton @ Bradley (Local TV)—Great matchup for both teams that are looking to position themselves for St. Louis.
  • 1/27, Drake @ Northern Iowa (Local TV)—Drake wants respect.  Best way to get it is against conference leader UNI.
  • 1/27, Illinois State @ Wichita State (Fox Sports Net)—Koch Arena is a great college basketball environment.  See it in action on TV.
  • 1/30, Bradley @ Illinois State (Fox Sports Net)—I think the loser of this game will end up playing on Thursday in the play-in games in the MVC tournament.
  • 1/30, Creighton @ Drake (Local TV)—Even though Drake didn’t get the win in Omaha a couple weeks ago, the effort jumpstarted them into their current streak.  A great I-80 matchup.
  • 1/30, Northern Iowa @ Missouri State—This game isn’t going to be on TV, but it will be a battle in Springfield by these two teams.
  • 1/31, Wichita State @ Southern Illinois (ESPNU)—The Shockers want to separate themselves from the rest of the Valley contenders, but the Saluki’s may not let them at home.

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Checking in on… the MVC

Posted by jstevrtc on January 11th, 2010

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

Current Records and my standings, (Conference Record) (Last Week):

  1. Northern Iowa  14-1  (5-0) (1)
  2. Wichita State 13-2 (4-1) (2)
  3. Missouri State  13-3 (3-2) (3)
  4. Illinois State  12-4 (3-2) (4)
  5. Indiana State  11-5 (3-2) (6)
  6. Bradley  7-8 (2-3) (7)
  7. Southern Illinois   9-5 (2-3) (5)
  8. Creighton  7-9 (2-3)  (8)
  9. Drake  6-11 (1-4)  (10)
  10. Evansville 6-8 (0-5) (9)

STORIES OF THE WEEK

Valley sitting 10th The Missouri Valley Conference is sitting 10th right now in the Pomeroy ratings with Northern Iowa sitting up on top at #33 with Wichita State and Missouri State at #62 and #68 respectively.  In 2006 when the Valley had so much success and got four teams into the NCAA Tournament, six teams were in the top 60.  It will be interesting to see what kind of rankings they can end up with at this rate.  The conference is getting back to the national scene, but the numbers still are not where they were a few years ago and they are just hoping to get at least more than one team in the Big Dance this season.

Northern Iowa ready to run away — Speaking of Northern Iowa, the Panthers look like they could run away with the Valley this season.  With road victories already at Southern Illinois, Illinois State and Creighton, they have set themselves up for a chance to run away with the conference.  However, they still have all those teams at home.  Last season the Panthers struggled down the stretch, losing a lot of games in their own building.   A game in Wichita on January 19th is one to circle on the calendar as you may see the first game between the two leaders in the Valley.

Teams separating themselves — There are several other teams in the Valley trying to separate themselves from the rest of the pack to make the Valley less weird and wacky compared with past seasons.   Wichita State is playing extremely well right now along with Missouri State and Illinois State wanting to have a say.  A dark horse could be Indiana State.

Historically top teams need to check into rehab — Last season it was Southern Illinois suffering a losing record for the first time in ten years.  This season it may be Creighton headed to a losing season, sitting at 7-9 right now.   Southern Illinois may still end up joining them by the time the season is over as they have now lost three straight.  It is very unusual to see one of these two teams heading to the bottom of the league, but if both end up down there by season’s end, then there will be a lot more questions going forward.

TEAMS TO BEAT

Northern Iowa (2-0 this week)—As mentioned above, the Panthers are getting a lot of attention especially with a 13 game winning streak, but also as the only undefeated team in conference play after big road wins at Southern Illinois and Illinois State this past week.  Some feel that UNI deserves to be ranked.  They better be careful for what they wish for.  This week Northern Iowa gets to host Bradley and Indiana State which looks like an easy enough task, but there might be an upset in there that could turn things upside down.

Wichita State (2-0 this week)—The Shockers keep plugging along, getting wins against Creighton and Missouri State.  Wichita State had a 25 point lead at Missouri State before barely holding on at the end to get the win.  The Shockers, however, still look to play a full 40 minutes but have a lot of weapons.  The controversy in that game was that a fan in the Missouri State crowd shoved Toure Murry to the ground.  Likely no punishment for the fan.  They might have found that full 40 minutes on Saturday night as they took revenge against Creighton over last season’s MVC tournament game shocker with a rowdy home crowd and took Creighton out right from the beginning of the game.   They will be tested this week as they hit the road for both of their games against Indiana State, and a return game with Creighton in Omaha.

AVERAGE WEEK

Missouri State (1-1 this week)—Missouri State thought they could just show up to their JHQ Arena home court and notch a win, but Wichita State kicked them in the mouth to remind them that their non-conference success was nothing on which they could hang their hat.  Though they made a valiant effort to come back, it wasn’t enough, and they lost their first one at home.  They were able to rebound from that game to pound Bradley this week as Kyle Weems led the way with 30 points in that win.  Road trips to Drake and Bradley this week await the Bears.

Illinois State (1-1 this week) –The Redbirds got off on a good note this week to defeat Evansville as expected, but then laid an egg in front of a national television audience in their loss to Northern Iowa.  Though they remember the troubles with Northern Iowa over 300 days ago in the MVC Tournament finals, it was not enough for them to pull the upset.   Illinois State will fly under the radar this week against Evansville and Drake.  If they expect to be in the Valley race, they need to win both of these games this week.

Indiana State (1-1 this week)—The Sycamores have to be kicking themselves in that they had an opportunity to get a win at Bradley before losing in overtime after a furious comeback in the second half.  At least they were able to turn it around to blow out Evansville.  Indiana State is increasingly looking like a better and better team and could be in the mix in the conference race, but they cannot let games like Bradley slip away.  They also need to avoid the injury bug.  Last week it was Jake Kelly, now they hold their breath on leading scorer and rebounder Dwayne Lathan and a leg injury.   With Wichita State and Northern Iowa on the schedule this week, this could be a make or break point for Kevin McKenna and his team.

Bradley (1-1 this week)—Bradley needed overtime to get past Indiana State and then  lost at Missouri State this week.  There are doubters on whether this Bradley team can improve the rest of the season, but do not count them out.  With games against Northern Iowa and Missouri State this week Bradley needs to wake up now if they want to stay in the race.  Really, Sam Singh is in his final year at Bradley.

Creighton (1-1 this week)—Funny how both teams that have the most veteran coaches (Jim Les – Bradley), have teams on which they aren’t sure what they really have.  Creighton survived after a pesky Drake team took them to the wire earlier in the week, and then they were “not ready” for the Koch Arena crowd in Wichita.  In addition, Creighton forward Casey Harriman said, “We think we have it, but we don’t.  We need to recognize our record and where we’re at in the league. We have to do something about it.  Yeah, we are Creighton, but we’re not the Creighton of old. We’re not getting it done, and we need to pick it up.”  They need to do it in a hurry; Southern Illinois and Wichita State come to town this week.

Drake (1-1 this week)—Drake almost pulled out a win at Creighton this week, but then was able to come back against Southern Illinois to steal a victory in Carbondale.  The Bulldogs were looking to turnaround their season against SIU, and that is exactly what happened.  Drake is going to be one of those teams throughout the rest of the season that could play spoiler to other teams’ conference hopes.  This week, Missouri State and Illinois State get to head to Des Moines to play with the Bulldogs.

STRUGGLING THIS WEEK

Southern Illinois (0-2 this week)—Is Chris Lowery’s job really on the line in Carbondale?  Yes, Southern Illinois struggled mightily last season, but they were on their way back up, right?  Well, this week after the loss to Northern Iowa, there were quotes from Lowery criticizing the crowd for not getting behind his team.  Then, a writer at ESPNChicago called for Lowery’s job.  People on the Salukitalk message board were talking about bringing Lowery boo signs to the arena, as well.  There was just a full explosion on that board about Lowery.  With the collapse in the final minutes against Drake this past Saturday to give them a three game losing streak, there are probably even more boo birds out there, and questions as to whether or not Lowery’s job is secure.   They hit the road to Creighton and Evansville this week.

Evansville (0-2 this week)—Another week and another couple of Evansville losses.  But they also lost another player as Bryan Bochie decided to leave school and basketball all together.  But coach Marty Simmons thinks Bochie leaving will be a positive on the team.   Will they show up to play Illinois State and Southern Illinois this week?  Probably, but don’t expect them to walk away with a win.  Maybe when they host Drake in a couple of weeks.

WEEK AHEAD AND GAMES TO WATCH

The Valley does not have a lot of compelling matchups this week due to many top teams playing bottom feeders, but here are the best of the crop (or at least the ones you can watch on TV):

  • 1/12, Bradley @ Northern Iowa (ESPNU)—The Panthers try to stay undefeated in conference play.
  • 1/13, Southern Illinois @ Creighton (Fox Sports Net)—These two teams have historically sat at the top of the conference, but these rivals are fighting to just stay relevant in the conference race.
  • 1/16, Indiana State @ Northern Iowa (Local TV)—The Sycamores want to be in the race, and a win at Northern Iowa would be huge.
  • 1/16, Wichita State @ Creighton (ESPN2)—The second matchup in a week, this time on ESPN2 as the Bluejays try to make it a closer game at home.
  • 1/17, Illinois St. @ Drake (ESPNU)—The Redbirds have been flying a little under the radar with Wichita State, Northern Iowa and Missouri State getting all the attention.  This is a chance to showcase what they bring to the table.
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Checking in on… the MVC

Posted by rtmsf on November 23rd, 2009

checkinginon

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

MY STANDINGS (current records)

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

STORIES OF THE WEEK

Injuries, Illness and Suspensions—The Valley has started out with several injuries, illnesses and suspensions this season, causing some teams to play without some veteran leaders including:

  • Bradley lost Dodie Dunson for the season with a broken arm suffered in their game against Idaho State while Taylor Brown is serving a suspension for  an offseason battery charge.  Brown was the team’s leading scorer during the Labor Day trip to Brazil. 
  • Creighton lost Justin Carter to an MCL tear for 2-4 weeks, Casey Harriman was hospitalized with swine flu that turned to tonsillitis that turned to strep throat that turned into mononucleosis, while Chad Millard has been out with a foot injury since September.
  • Drake was without Josh Young due to a hip pointer injury.
  • Wichita St. was without Clevin Hannah for the first three games (including the upcoming CBE Classic game against Pittsburgh) due to a “paperwork” error on his amateur status

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