Checking in on… the Missouri Valley

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 25th, 2011

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

A Look Back

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

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

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

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

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

A Look Ahead

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

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

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 18th, 2011

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

A Look Back

  • Indiana State Is For Real Indiana State came into the week with a 4-1 conference record, but many were not convinced they were a legitimate contender based on the teams they have played so far—mainly teams in the bottom of the league.  However, the Sycamores escaped with a big win against Creighton on the last second lay-in by Carl Richard to take them to 6-1 in league play heading into this week.

  • Bradley and Illinois State Remain Winless Both of these schools have yet to win a game in conference play after sitting last season towards the top of the league.  For the Braves, this is their worst start in MVC  history while the Redbirds have not suffered a start to conference play like this for eight years.
  • Defense Part of the EliteMissouri State, Wichita State, and Indiana State are 1-2-3 in scoring defense which has been the key in those three teams sitting at the top of the conference.   Missouri State is keeping teams at just over 28% shooting from three-point land compared to almost 40% last season.
  • Player of the Week—Aaron Carter, Indiana State—The senior for the Sycamores has taken advantage of his expanded role over the past few weeks being a key component in the wins over Creighton and Bradley this week.  He averaged 17 points including 8-of-13 from three point range and 8-of-9 from the charity stripe.
  • Newcomer of the Week—Mamadou Seck, Southern Illinois—Seck has been a bright spot amongst the struggles Southern Illinois has had averaging 15 points and 11 rebounds per game in their two losses this week.  He had 17 of the team’s 31 rebounds in the loss to Missouri State.

Power Rankings (Record, Conference Record) (Last Week’s Record)

  1. Missouri State (15-3, 7-0) (1)— The Bears are still rolling along with wins over Southern Illinois and Bradley this week.  They have learned from their mistakes from last season which has turned things around for them this season.   This week will be a big test to see whether it can stay undefeated in conference play with a road trip to Indiana State and then the return game against Creighton Saturday afternoon on ESPN2. 
  2. Wichita State (15-3, 6-1) (2)—The Shockers had a successful road trip this week with wins at Creighton and Drake.  Wichita State wore down the Bluejays with their athleticism while they just ran the Bulldogs off the court.  All six of their conference wins have been by 14 points or more, and their 4-0 start on the road is the first since 1964-65.  David Kyles, who was blazing hot at the beginning of the season, cooled off as conference play began, but might have gotten his shot back against Creighton.  However, Garrett Stutz strained knee in the game against Creighton and may be limited for a period of time.   They host two big games against the rejuvenated Northern Iowa Panthers and the surprising Indiana State. 
  3. Indiana State (11-7, 6-1) (4)— The Sycamores have started 6-1 in league play for the first time since the 1999-2000 season and a big part of it is the play of freshman point guard Jake Odum.  The local product has been a solid leader for Indiana State while at the same time the team has overcome player injuries by Jake Kelly and Dwayne Latham allowing others like Aaron Carter step up.  As these players are coming back, Indiana State has built itself some good depth.   By the end of this week, the Sycamores could be sitting at the top of the league if it can get wins against Wichita State and Missouri State.  Their biggest concern is getting more fans at home games
  4. Northern Iowa (12-6, 4-3) (6)— Hello…the Panthers are still around.  While many, like myself, wrote off Northern Iowa a couple of weeks ago, they have rebounded by winning four of their last five games and have entered back into the MVC race, including the ugly 46-44 win last Wednesday night.  Lucas O’Rear was suspended for a game for violating a team rule, but returned to the starting lineup and had a career high 18 points and added 10 rebounds in his second career double-double in the win against Illinois State.  They still need some help, but can make more strides with Wichita State and Drake on the schedule this week.
  5. Creighton (12-7, 4-3) (3)— The Bluejays are not able to win games right now.  Creighton has lost two straight home games for the first time since the Qwest Center opened in 2003 when they lost to Missouri State last week and Wichita state this past week.  A white-out and  $1 sodas and $1 beers were not enough to take down the Shockers ending a 17-game home winning streak against Wichita State.  After the stunning loss against Indiana State, they hope to get back to winning ways at home against Bradley and stealing a game at league leader Missouri State this week. 
  6. Evansville (9-8, 3-4) (8)— The Purple Aces won two games this week against Drake and Illinois State leaving them in the middle tier of the league. The wins are due to balanced scoringColt Ryan may have finally found some other teammates that want to score some points and play ball, including point guard Troy Taylor.   It is very possible they could notch a couple more wins this week as they take on Southern Illinois and winless Bradley.
  7. Southern Illinois (9-9, 3-4) (5)— Just when you thought the Salukis had things turned around and could have a decent conference season, they have now lost three of four, including their eighth straight loss to Northern Iowa on the road, and find themselves sitting with a .500 record for the season.   The limited play of Gene Teague is keeping SIU from controlling the paint.   The bottom of the league battles continue with Evansville and Illinois State on the schedule. 
  8. Drake (7-11, 2-5) (7)— Drake has lost five of their last six and if it wasn’t for Illinois State and Bradley being even worse, the Bulldogs would be sitting at the very bottom of the league.  They might actually get another win this week as they host Illinois State, but that may be the last one they get for the next month.  If their travel problems are any indication, this could be a long rest of the season for the Bulldogs. 
  9. Illinois State (8-10, 0-7) (9)—Illinois State and Bradley are fighting for that bottom spot.  Luckily head coach Tim Jankovich has a pass for this season and they can build some experience for 2011-12. They are definitely tired of losing and they haven’t even played Bradley yet this season.   
  10. Bradley (6-12, 0-7) (10)— Some are talking about Jim Les losing his job at the end of the season despite the injuries they have suffered.  If Indiana State’s reaction to injuries is any indication, then it could be very well be Les’ last season in Peoria.  They still haven’t said “quit,” but how long until they do?   

A Look Ahead

As Missouri Valley Conference play hits mid-season, there are a lot of key games going this week.

  • 1/18—Illinois State @ Drake (Local TV)—Illinois State is looking for their first conference win and this might be their chance to get one.
  • 1/19—Northern Iowa @ Wichita State (Fox Sports Net)—The Panthers are trying to stay in the race while the Shockers are looking to stay at the top to fight Missouri State and Indiana State down the stretch.
  • 1/19—Missouri State @ Indiana State (Local TV, both markets)—The Bears are trying to stay undefeated in conference play.  A win here could almost seal things up for Missouri State with all the road wins they have gotten and have a favorable schedule the second half of the season.
  • 1/22—Creighton @ Missouri State (ESPN2)— Creighton was dismantled in Omaha in the second half against Missouri State.  The Bluejays will need to get a big road win here to stay on the outside, looking in.  Creighton is basically fighting for seeding in the MVC tournament from here on out.
  • 1/22—Indiana State @ Wichita State (Local TV)—The Sycamores finish their week against the top of the league and could be sitting at the top of it with a win in Wichita.
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