2012-13 RTC Conference Primers: Missouri Valley Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 7th, 2012

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

Top Storylines

  • MVC Untouched — The Missouri Valley Conference has so far survived the first few rounds of changes among the top 15 conferences in Division I basketball (the Ivy being the other one). While every major conference, and some others even further down have been expanding or shifting, the MVC has walked away unscathed and still completely intact. That doesn’t mean there have not been rumors about teams leaving the conference at some point. The latest such mention was late this summer whenthere was a report that Evansville was on the verge of heading to the Horizon League. While some of that was theory based on some relatively weak facts, there are still cards likely to be played on that matter at some point. The question is when it will happen and who will be the first to start the falling dominoes within the league. It may turn out to be a school like Evansville that is looking to get out of the shadow of the other bigger players in the Valley.
  • Can Doug McDermott have an even better season? — Creighton fans are salivating to see what McDermott can do to follow up last season, when he earned first-team All-America honors, averaged almost 23 points a game, and shot an amazing percentage behind the arc while frustrating opponents down low.  The encore may not be so much about increasing his scoring like he did from his freshman to sophomore year, but about how far he can lead the Bluejays come March. McDermott spent the summer at the Amare Stoudamire and LeBron James skills camps, but he also took some time off after almost playing two years without a break including a stint with the Team USA U-19 squad.  With so many expectations on his shoulders, it will be interesting to see if he continues to take everything in stride or listen to the whispers of the NBA and focuses on those areas of his game most likely to take him to the next level.  For the MVC as a whole, the fans probably hope for both. 

Doug McDermott Gives The MVC Something It Hasn’t Had In Many Years: A Bona Fide National POY Candidate.

  • Big Men Instead of Guards—For many years, the Valley has been known as a guard’s league with not as many big-bodied frontcourt players leading the way.  Things have changed at least for the teams at the top. Along with McDermott, the Bluejays boast big man Gregory Echenique, who while topping over 300 pounds when he came to Creighton over three seasons ago, is now down to 260 and very agile. Jackie Carmichael from Illinois State impressed many at the camps he attended this summer after coming up big at the end of the season for the Redbirds. Colt Ryan, though he could be considered a guard, is more of a forward, but he can score in bunches for Evansville. Drake returns center Seth Van Deest from a shoulder injury that kept him out all season. Carl Hall will likely try to hold things down with Wichita State bringing in a bunch of new players.  Then you have Seth Tuttle from Northern Iowa who was the MVC Freshman of the Year last season. When you look at the make-up of the MVC going into this season, it is easily dominated by talented frontcourt players. 
  • Deja vu Times Two—Three years ago, Greg McDermott returned to the conference that originally made him a hot commodity and has experienced success by taking Creighton back to the NCAA Tournament.  This time Southern Illinois hopes Barry Hinson has the same success coming back to the conference that he had marginal success with while at Missouri State.  It is rare that a coach returns to the same conference to coach another school, but the MVC must be a special place where two former coaches do so to coach different teams in a short period of time. Unlike McDermott who came to Creighton with a cupboard somewhat full, Hinson has a little more work to do after the struggles SIU has had for the past four seasons.

Reader’s Take I


Predicted Order of Finish

  1. Creighton (27-4, 15-3)
  2. Northern Iowa (24-7, 14-4)
  3. Illinois State (24-7, 13-5)
  4. Wichita State (23-8, 12-6)
  5. Drake (15-15, 9-9)
  6. Missouri State (15-16, 7-11)
  7. Indiana State (15-15, 6-12)
  8. Evansville (15-16, 6-12)
  9. Bradley (13-18, 5-13)
  10. Southern Illinois (11-20, 3-15)

Read the rest of this entry »

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RTC Summer School: Missouri Valley Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on August 1st, 2012

Over the next couple of week’s we’ll be checking in with each of the high mid-major leagues as to their mid-summer offseason status. Today we start with the MVC.

Patrick Marshall is MVC Correspondant for Rush the Court.  You can find his other musings on Twitter @wildjays and on White & Blue Review. 

Three Summer Storylines

1. Doug McDermott Continues All-American Status. Doug McDermott was named a first team All-American last season.  While the rest of the first team decided to leave school early for NBA riches, McDermott decide to stay in school. He did this to not only improve his game, but also has hopes to take the Creighton Bluejays further into the NCAA Tournament after leading them to the Big Dance for the first time since 2007 and advancing to the Round of 32.  His summer has been spent going to all of the skills camps including the Deron Williams/Amare’ Stoudemire Skills camp as well as the Lebron James Skills Academy, continuing to impress onlookers. With McDermott back, expectations are high in Omaha and many fans fear that if he does have the same kind of year or better that it might be hard for him to hold off on the NBA a second time.

What does All-American Doug McDermott have in mind for an encore in 2012-13?

2. Coaching Changes Welcome Back Familiar Faces. Southern Illinois’ Chris Lowery was let go after a tumultuous time in Carbondale during his final four seasons as head coach that saw the program hit rock bottom. To resurrect the Saluki program, MVC coaching veteran Barry Hinson returned to the league to take over the head coaching job. Hinson spent the past four seasons at Kansas in a supporting role as the Director of Basketball Operations. He becomes the second coach in the past three seasons to leave the MVC and come back to coach another team in the league (Greg McDermott is the other). Hinson was let go from Missouri State in 2008 despite being pretty successful, but he couldn’t get his team to the NCAA Tournament.  The question will be whether he can take Southern Illinois back to the postseason.

3. Teams Lose With Transfers. The resurgence of the MVC in 2012 caused a few of the better players in the league to look for greener pastures.  Drake’s Rayvonte Rice decided to leave the Bulldogs and ended up at Illinois, a school where he had hoped for an offer coming out of high school.  There was speculation even before last season that Rice was looking to transfer, but he had tried to dismiss it.  The departure of Rice, an MVC-All Freshman selection two years ago and a second team All-MVC selection last season, puts a dent into Drake’s drive to rise in the league for next season.  On the other end of things, Illinois State’s Nic Moore decided to leave the Redbirds after his All-MVC Freshman season. After an impressive showing at the MVC Tournament and the departure of head coach Tim Jankovich, Moore decided a change was in order.  However, there were not as many teams looking for Moore to join them as he probably expected and eventually followed Jankovich to SMU.  Illinois State was looking to be a contender this season, but again could take a hit due to the transfer of Moore and a coaching change.

Reader’s Take

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Missouri Valley Tournament Preview & Season Wrap-Up

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 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.

Arch Madness Preview

League Play Summary

The Missouri Valley Conference broke out of its shell this season, bringing it back to a multiple-bid-conference even before the MVC Tournament this weekend in St. Louis. For the past four seasons, The Valley has only had the automatic bid advance to the NCAA Tournament and was viewed as a falling league after getting four teams into the tournament in 2006. This year, everything changed. With the breakout play of Creighton’s Doug McDermott and the dominance of Wichita State, the MVC has two teams ranked in the Top 25 for the first time since 1983 and the first time ever heading into Arch Madness.

Creighton started off strong this season and looked like the team to beat behind McDermott with early non-conference wins against San Diego State, Northwestern and a blowout of Iowa. A stumble against St. Joseph’s derailed the Jays for a bit, but they rebounded and remained a mainstay in the Top 25 until a three-game losing streak, which included a big loss at home against Wichita State. After heart-stopping victories in three of their last four games of the regular season, they are now back into the Top 25 heading into Arch Madness.

Wichita State played even stronger as the season wore on. After struggling a bit in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, the Shockers have rolled to win 24 of their final 26 games and have only lost once in 2012 — to Drake in triple-overtime. For the Shockers, it has been a total team effort on the offensive and defensive side of things. Since they did not have a “star” player to add to the hype, it took a while for WSU to break into the rankings.

Teams like Evansville, Missouri State, and Northern Iowa had opportunities this season to make an impact, but came up a little short.

Reader’s Take

 

Regular Season Awards

  • MVC Player of the Year: Doug McDermott, Creighton (23.1 PPG, 47.9% 3FG, 8.1 RPG)McDermott had some early accolades coming into the season as a third-team preseason All-America by The Sporting News, but blossomed into a National Player of the Year candidate. Although his scoring numbers dropped between non-conference and MVC play, he has still been one of the more dynamic players this season and made Creighton a totally different team. McDermott is still third in the nation in scoring, and once the Bluejays get into the postseason, teams playing against him for the first time could be in for a big surprise. Read the rest of this entry »
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Checking In On… the Missouri Valley Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on February 22nd, 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 a Bust: Last weekend was the annual Bracketbusters event that the MVC has been involved in since its inception. In recent years, fans and even coaches haven’t been too fond of the Bracketbusters with the argument that being involved in this doesn’t help them. The fact remains that the Valley hasn’t really proved that they are past the Bracketbusters. In the five television games last weekend, the conference went 2-3 with league leaders Wichita State and Creighton the only ones to walk away with wins. As a whole, the league went 4-6. Missouri State and Northern Iowa were the big losers in this one in their losses to Old Dominion and Virginia Commonwealth. The CAA has dominated the MVC in this series.
  • Shockers and Bluejays NCAA-Bound: Wichita State and Creighton have solidified their status as at-large teams for the NCAA Tournament with their wins this past weekend. The Shockers are ranked now in both polls while Creighton is hanging around just outside of the top 25. The latest projections have the Shockers as high as a #4 seed and Creighton around a #6 seed. Unless there is a total collapse, both of these teams should be in even if they do not win the MVC Tournament. They both could make a run once they do get to the NCAA’s.
  • MVC Seeding Still in the Air: It’s the final week of the conference season and seeding for the middle six teams in the league is still to be decided with this week’s games. Illinois State, Missouri State, Evansville, Northern Iowa, Drake and Indiana State will all be fighting to stay out of the Thursday night play-in games in the MVC Tournament.

Power Rankings (last week’s ranking in parentheses)

Wichita State and Creighton are the clear top players in the Missouri Valley Conference this season. Any team in the middle of the league could emerge as a threat to get the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament by winning the MVC Tournament.

  1. Wichita State (24-4, 14-2) (1): Wichita State is on a roll and appear to be the best non-power six conference team in the nation. They are 12-1 since losing to Creighton on New Year’s Eve and do not look like they are letting up at all. Everything seems to be falling from the field, their defense has been solid and they have a big guy that can shoot the three.  All great tools for a postseason run. Head coach Gregg Marshall hopes that Wichita State can now get the media coveragethey deserve.

    Gregg Marshall hopes that Wichita State can now get the media coverage they deserve (AP)

  2. Creighton (24-5, 13-4) (2): Creighton spent its week trying to survive — first with a come-from-behind win against Long Beach State with an Antoine Young buzzer-beater and then another comeback job, this one in overtime over Evansville Tuesday. Both games were at home.   One thing about Creighton that has helped them this season has been the walk-ons.  Read the rest of this entry »
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Checking In On… The Missouri Valley Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on February 15th, 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:

  • Wichita State on Top: The showdown in Omaha was not really a showdown as much as it was a statement by the Shockers that they are the best team in the Missouri Valley Conference this season. Wichita State beat Creighton 89-68 to give itself a two-game lead in the conference race and all but seal the regular season championship. Creighton was able to get Garrett Stutz into foul trouble, but the Shockers showed they have a lot of different weapons with Joe Ragland and Ben Smith slicing and dicing the Creighton defense.
  • Creighton Falls From Rankings: The Bluejays have been a mainstay most of the season in the top 25 rankings, but after their three-game slide culminating with the loss to Wichita State, the Bluejays are now on the outside looking in. They more or less traded spots with Wichita State, but the Shockers were still only ranked in the AP poll and not the USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll. For the Shockers, it is their first top 25 ranking since 2006. It is still surprising that although they have a similar record as Creighton and maybe has a better win against UNLV than Creighton’s win over San Diego State, Wichita State is not getting the same amount of respect as the Bluejays have had this season.
  • BracketBuster Week—This week is the annual Bracketbusters weekend that includes all ten MVC teams. Five of the schools (Creighton, Drake, Northern Iowa, Missouri State, and Wichita State) will be featured on the ESPN family of networks over the weekend. A win over Long Beach State could help Creighton recover some of the lost accolades, but Missouri State and Northern Iowa have the biggest opportunity to make some noise with wins over the always-tough CAA.

 

Gregg Marshall's Shockers Surged Soundly Ahead Of Creighton Heading Into BracketBusters Weekend.

Power Rankings (last week’s rankings in parentheses)

Only a couple of weeks to go in the regular season and teams are finally starting to separate out.

  1. Wichita State (22-4, 13-2) (1): Wichita State has been playing some great basketball for the past several weeks.  Other than the triple-overtime loss to Drake a couple of weeks ago, the Shockers have won the other 12 of their last 13 games. The balance on this team is what has made it so tough to go along with tough defense. Joe Ragland has been a big part of that balance. Many are surprised that Wichita is not ranked in one of the polls.
  2. Creighton (22-5, 12-4) (2)— The Bluejays broke out of a three-game slump with a needed win at Southern Illinois before heading into the Bracketbusters game this weekend against Long beach State. Creighton is still in a good position for the NCAA Tournament as an at-large squad, but cannot lose to teams they shouldn’t in this final stretch run. Despite the public showing of head coach Greg McDermott and Doug McDermott during a timeout on Saturday, everything is fine between father and son. Read the rest of this entry »
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Past Imperfect: Parrish Casebier Was All Wrong

Posted by JWeill on February 9th, 2012

Past Imperfect is a series focusing on the history of the game. Every two weeks, RTC contributor Joshua Lars Weill (@AgonicaBoss|Email) highlights some piece of historical arcana that may (or may not) be relevant to today’s college basketball landscape. This week: the forgotten rise and fall of Evansville’s Parrish Casebier.

Things were never quite right with Parrish Casebier. Born in Owensboro, Kentucky to unmarried black parents, he was adopted at age two by a white family and brought across the Ohio River to live in tiny Rockport, Indiana, where he spent his youth struggling with being different. His younger sister was later adopted by the same family, and together they endured the taunts and bitter looks that came from neighbors, other kids and even some family.

Though he became a basketball standout at South Spencer High School, where he was the state’s second-leading scorer as a senior, even his own coach didn’t always like him. And at 6’3”, stocky, with short arms and little lift, Casebier was built all wrong for big-time college basketball. He was a forward with a guard’s size and a guard with a forward’s handle. In the world of Indiana high school basketball, Casebier’s muscle and will made him a star. But college coaches were mostly unimpressed.

Though Casebier could fill up the net, once scoring 49 points in a game two times in a mere two weeks, there was just something off. He talked back to coaches and got in fights almost daily. He skipped classes and all but dared the school to take away the one thing that made Casebier not just different but better. While further upstate Indiana-bound legend Damon Bailey was wrapping up his storybook prep career before heading off to play for Bob Knight at Indiana, Casebier was trying to earn a place on the state all-star roster or working out for mid-major college coaches.

Some of that lack of interest was due to Casebier’s size and lack of athleticism, but some of it, too, was an unspoken reputation for being a difficult kid, a kid with issues. But college coaches, especially at the lower levels, still take talent, even troubled talent, and Casebier clearly was one. So he picked the school that had first offered him a scholarship, the University of Evansville, over Western Kentucky and Indiana State. Schools like Evansville live off of under-recruited kids who don’t fit the profile that major colleges have for what a player is ‘supposed to be.’ And 6’3” power forwards are not supposed to be successful at the college level. The coach of the Purple Aces, Jim Crews, had been a longtime Knight assistant and he knew he was getting in Casebier a volume scorer who he would have to manage off the court. And for much of the time Casebier played in Evansville, things went fine, on the court.

Casebier was a star at South Spencer High School in Indiana.

Being different was something Casebier had adapted to, even if he hadn’t always done it willingly. Hardly an athletic marvel, Casebier instead relied on craftiness and shot fakes, often pumping three or even four times before shooting. The result was a school record for free throws attempted. There was some precedent for a game like Casebier’s. With his build, he offered a similar skill set to that of NBA star Charles Barkley, who was a capable but uncommon shooter from distance, and whose bulk belied his quickness and grit. But Casebier lacked Barkley’s otherworldly athleticism. And also his sense of self.

“He causes a lot of matchup problems,” Loyola of Chicago head coach Will Rey once said, “because he posts up. He scores on putbacks. He can shoot threes.”

As a freshman, Casebier averaged 15 points and 7.2 rebounds a game, not bad for an introduction to college ball, even in an off-the-radar conference nationally. The team was mediocre, but young, and the future looked bright indeed.

But before his sophomore campaign, the other side of Parrish Casebier also began to show itself. Before the season began, Casebier was one of several Evansville students caught in a textbook-selling scam and the soon-to-be basketball star was forced to sit out the first five games of the season. It was a trend of on-court/off-court swings that would manifest itself multiple times over the years, as was his generally dismissive response to being caught. It was, he told everyone, no big deal. They had singled him out because of his status. Read the rest of this entry »

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Checking In On… The Missouri Valley Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on February 8th, 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:

  • Creighton Knocked Off, Twice—Creighton went into Cedar Falls with an 11-game winning streak, but left with a loss against Northern Iowa. The Panthers’ Anthony James was the hero in this one. After an Antoine Young three-pointer to tie the game up with just under five seconds to play, James went the length of the court, dribbled in and then bounced out for a step-back three over the outstretched arms of Doug McDermott and drained it sending the Northern Iowa fans into a frenzy. Creighton was cold from the field again and lost against Evansville taking some luster off of Saturday’s game against Wichita State. Northern Iowa now takes the momentum of that win into Wichita to take on the Shockers on Wednesday. For Creighton, they are hoping to survive.

  • Stutz is Stud—After concerns of Wichita State’s Garrett Stutz having some back problems and his ongoing health mentioned here last week, he spent last week proving everyone wrong.  Stutz went out and scored 25 points and grabbed 11 rebounds against Missouri State and then turned around and had 24 points and 15 rebounds against Indiana State. He went over 1,000 points in his career as a Shocker. Over the past four games he has averaged almost 25 points and ten rebounds per game. It will be interesting to see how he fares against Northern Iowa and Creighton this week.
  • Braves Hitting Bottom—Normally, you wouldn’t talk much about a team that is 6-19 and 1-12 in the conference, but it is hard not to after the week Bradley had. The Braves lost by 30 to Evansville last Wednesday and then lost to rival Illinois State by 30 on Saturday, Bradley’s worst loss in the series since 1909. It is the first time in the storied program history that it has lost by 30 or more points in back-to-back games. Geno Ford has a long road ahead of him to bring this program back to relevance. Maybe the only good news is that four of their last six games are at home.

Garrett Stutz Has Powered The Shockers Past Creighton In The Latest RTC Power Rankings.

Power Rankings (last week’s rankings in parentheses)

Wichita State has moved up to #1 with Creighton’s loss to Evansville. The rest of the league had little movement, but the Panthers are back in the conversation.

  1. Wichita State (20-4, 11-2) (2): The Shockers are the team to watch over the next few weeks. Although they appear to be a solid bet to make the NCAA Tournament, a couple wrong steps here or there may throw them on the bubble.  Toure Murry is on pace to reach the top 10 in Wichita State career scoring. He is already there in games played, three pointers, free throws made, assists, and steals. He will have to be a factor down the stretch for the Shockers to be successful. The defense has been big too as they held Missouri State to 10-33 shooting in the second half last week.
  2. Creighton (21-4, 11-3) (1): By now, the different teams in the league know that if they can contain Doug McDermott in some way, they have a chance against the Bluejays. The supporting cast had been pretty efficient in picking up the pieces, but struggled against Northern Iowa and Evansville — which led to the losses. That completely contrasts the performance against Illinois State earlier in the week when the Bluejays scored 102 points. The players are having a lot of fun this season as teammates Jahenns Manigat and McDermott interview each other. Read the rest of this entry »
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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 25th, 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

  • Battling in the Middle—Last week, we talked about Creighton and Wichita State being in a two-team race to the finish. This week, take a look at the five teams after them. Nobody really wants to rise above the rest except for possibly Evansville. The Aces were the only ones in that group to go undefeated this past week while the other four went 1-1. Drake has a big opportunity to separate itself this week while hosting the Bluejays and the Shockers.
  • Colt Ryan Flying Under the Radar—Speaking of Evansville, Colt Ryan is someone that casual fans need to keep an eye on. With Creighton’s Doug McDermott getting most of the attention this season, Ryan has continued to improve, especially during conference play, to become a bigger scoring machine. He now sits at fifth in the nation in scoring (21.2 PPG). It helps when you can score 39 against Bradley and 20 against Illinois State in the two games he played in this week.

There's No Question Who Drives The Bus For The Aces - It's Evansville's Colt Ryan. (Erin McCracken/Courier & Press)

  • Bracketbusters—The Bracketbusters match-ups will be announced early next week and the MVC looks like they could be featured in two of the top three games. The question now remains who the opponents will be. Creighton will likely get a game against either St. Mary’s or Long Beach State while Wichita State looks to travel to Murray State or Iona. The match-ups will determine whether Creighton and Wichita State will be playing for possibly a better NCAA Tournament seed or if they are matched up with teams that are hoping for a signature win for their resume. For the remaining MVC teams, the Bracketbusters could actually be a benefit this year more than it has been in the past.

Power Rankings (last week’s rankings in parentheses)

We are halfway through the Missouri Valley Conference season, but it appears that the table is set for the battle between Creighton and Wichita State for the regular season crown.

  1. Creighton (18-2, 8-1) (1): The Bluejays escaped Missouri State with a win after having several opportunities to lose the game in the final minute. They turned around and ushered Indiana State out of the CenturyLink Center. Could the Bluejays be a sleeper Final Four team? That is yet to be seen, but it wouldn’t be a surprise either. There have been some comparisons to this season’s Creighton team to the 2002-03 season—the senior year of future Chicago Bulls sharpshooter Kyle Korver.
  2. Wichita State (17-3, 8-1) (2): Toure’ Murry is embracing his last season as a Shocker by taking over games, especially last week against Northern Iowa. For the season his minutes are up (27.5), points per game is up (12.2) and field goal percentage is up (42.3%) compared to last season. In the last five games, WSU is 87-of-112 (77.6%) from the free throw line. One thing to keep an eye on is the health of 7-footer Garrett Stutz. Some back problems may limit his effectiveness as the season plays out. The Shockers are really close to cracking the Top 25. Read the rest of this entry »
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The Missouri Valley’s March Back to Prominence

Posted by dnspewak on January 19th, 2012

Danny Spewak is an RTC correspondent. You can find him on Twitter @dspewak. He filed this report following Creighton’s 66-65 victory at Missouri State in Springfield on Wednesday. 

No need to remind Paul Lusk about the strength of the Missouri Valley Conference this season. During the past five days, his Missouri State team has lost three games by a total of four possessions. “It’s just one tough game after another,” Lusk said. “You have to go play good basketball in this league.” That’s a theme across the Valley in 2011-12, as the conference looks poised to earn multiple bids in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2007.  Even in a 66-65 loss, the Bears’ game against Creighton at JQH Arena Wednesday night serves as a prime example of the MVC’s rise. Missouri State forced the Bluejays into 11 first-half turnovers, held the nation’s second-leading scorer to just 15 points and kept an animated home crowd involved by playing the #19 team to the final possession. Had Anthony Downing’s jumper at the buzzer fallen, a middle-of-the-pack team would have completed a sweep of the league’s top contender and Wooden Award candidate Doug McDermott. 

And nobody would have blinked an eye. “I think parity is a sign of strength in a league,” commissioner Doug Elgin said. “Absolutely, I think the league is much better this year than it was a year ago. And I think if you look at the talent that’s coming into the league, we’re going to be stronger next year still.”

Creighton's Nailbiter on Wednesday is an Example of MVC Parity (photo by the Associated Press)

The results from non-conference play support Elgin’s opinion. Thanks to a strong performance against other leagues in November and December, the MVC ranks eighth in conference RPI right now, above the Pac-12, Conference USA and the West Coast Conference. Wichita State, the other main contender for a league title and an at-large bid, embarrassed UNLV by 19 points at home. Illinois State beat Rutgers on a neutral floor, while Drake and Northern Iowa both beat Iowa State. But the best example of the MVC’s parity may be Indiana State, which lost again on Wednesday to fall to 2-6. Yet the defending tourney champs still won at Vanderbilt earlier this season and represented itself well on national television with two victories in the Old Spice Classic during Thanksgiving week.

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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 Missouri Valley Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 11th, 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:

  • McDermott Continues To Impress—Doug McDermott continues to be on the radar of most major college basketball lists, especially with his 44-point performance against Bradley on Saturday night, which is tops in college hoops this season and the most for an MVC player since 1999. Jay Bilas of ESPN even tabbed McDermott as the mid-season Player of the Year. It will be interesting to see ultimately how McDermott handles all of this attention.
  • Look out for Illinois State—Illinois State has been criticized the past few seasons due to how coach Tim Jankovich scheduled his team in non-conference play. The schedule was upgraded slightly this season and it may be paying dividends in conference play. They have won six of their last eight, including a last second three-pointer by Jackie Carmichael, his first of his career, to defeat Evansville (video below).  Illinois State also gave Wichita State everything they could handle on Tuesday night.

  • Scoring In Bunches—In addition to McDermott’s career night this week, there have been several other players that had big outings.  Colt Ryan of Evansville scored 31 points against Wichita State and 25 against Illinois St., the Shockers’ Garrett Stutz had 29 points against Evansville and Rayvonte Rice (Drake) and Anthony James (Northern Iowa) went 27 and 26, respectively, against each other in their game this week. A lot of individual performances are arising this season in a conference that is generally known for its defense.

Power Rankings

After the first week of MVC play, a lot of positions changed in the power rankings (last week’s ranking in parentheses).

  1. Creighton (14-2, 4-1) (1)—Creighton had two wins this past week against Drake and Bradley, but one area they need to watch out for is in the turnover category. They had 35 turnovers in those wins. Luckily for them, they were able to outscore the competition and players other than McDermott are making an impact, especially Grant Gibbs. The defense locked down against Northern Iowa on Tuesday and they pulled out a tight win at home. Read the rest of this entry »
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