Checking in on… the OVC

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 29th, 2010

Greg Waddell is the RTC correspondent or the Ohio Valley Conference.  [ed note: this post was written prior to the weekend games of Nov. 26-28]

A Look Back

  • Kenneth Faried proved why he’s the Number 1 player in the OVC and probably an NBA lottery pick over a two-game Morehead State road trip. Facing off against two Top 10 teams in Florida and Ohio State, Faried put on a clinic as the 6’8 forward  notched 20 points and pulled down 18 rebounds against the Gators and recorded 15 points and 12 rebounds against the Buckeyes on 5-7 shooting from the field. Faried is the real deal and OVC fans should enjoy him while he’s here.
  • Murray State has stumbled out of the gates, struggling to find an identity while trying to mesh a talented backcourt with an inexperienced frontcourt. The lack of production in the post has put a burden on the Racer guards thus far as teams have been able to pressure the perimeter and force Murray State to shoot the three. If the Racers hope to have success this season, Ivan Aska and Jeffrey McClain must step up their game in the post and high flying wing Ed Daniel must begin to assert himself in the scorebooks. All in all the Racers have the talent to repeat their success of a season ago but continue to be their own worst enemy. The game against Morehead State will get a whole lot juicier if Billy Kennedy can’t find a way to right the ship before December 4.

Power Rankings

  1. Murray State (3-1): Things haven’t gone quite as Billy Kennedy expected this early in the season but that’s okay with the Racers’ head man as his team heads west for the 76 Classic. Yet, they were able to notch a 55-52 win against Stanford in a semi-road environment. Still reigning as the class of the conference, things are looking up in Murray, Kentucky, as guard play has been the backbone of the team again this season. One cause for concern, though, is the lack of inside presence the Racers have shown thus far. The inability of the big men to establish themselves has hampered the backcourt slightly. There’s too much talent waiting in the wings though to dent their momentum too much though as sophomore sensation Isaiah Canaan leads the charge for the team this season, notching 11.7 points per game while senior Isacc Miles has been on the mend with a bum knee.
  2. Morehead State (2-3): The boys in blue put on a show for OVC fans in their last two games provided a chance for Morehead golden boy Kenneth Faried to put on a show against perennial powers Ohio State and Florida is back to back contests.  The Eagles has a little more success against the No. 10 Gators, pushing Billy Donovan’s squad to the wire before falling 61-55 as Faried notched 20 points and 18 boards. Faried found a fan in Donovan who gushed about the forward’s potential. “That’s Dennis Rodman all over again,” Donovan said. “If I was an NBA general manager I’d be taking him with my pick. That’s what a next-level guy looks like.” Faried is averaging 17.2 points per game on the season and adding 12.8 boards per game.
  3. Austin Peay (2-3): Although their record is not quite as good as No. 4 Eastern Kentucky, the Govs have played a tougher schedule to this point, knocking off quality opponents in St. Louis and Chattanooga and narrowly falling to Lipscomb and Southern Illinois. The only glaring blight comes from a 87-65 beatdown at the hands of Purdue, but the Boilermakers are the No. 8 team in the country so that can’t be held too much against Austin Peay. Transfer Tyshawn Edmonson from St. Johns has been a bright spot, averaging 17. 4 points and 4.2 rebounds per game for his hometown team while John Terry and Anthony Campbell average 12.8 and 12 points, respectively.
  4. Eastern Kentucky (3-3): Despite sporting a .500 record, the Colonels could have fallen further in the power rankings as they have yet to play anyone worth mentioning. They do however have some depth to brag about as four players average more than 10 points a game with Preseason All –OVC player Justin Stommes just behind at nine a contest. Had Stommes been available in all the team’s games (he did not play in the first three) EKU could be 5-1. Spencer Perrin averages 11.3 points per game with Willie Cruz closely behind at 10. 8
  5. Tennessee Tech (0-2): The Golden Eagles could have ranked higher with their two losses coming against potential tournament teams in NC State and East Tennessee State, but with no wins it’s hard to know how good Tennessee Tech can be at this point. Alfred Jones leads the way with 10.5 points and five boards per game with Kevin Murphy chipping in 10 and 6.5. UGA transfer Zac Swansey has been a pleasant surprise, averaging 9.5 points and 5.5 assists per game, including a 13 point performance against the Wolfpack in the season opener.
  6. Eastern Illinois (1-3): The Panthers pose the same problem as most of their OVC contemporaries as little competitive basketball has been played to this point. With three bad losses, it’s hard to rank Eastern Illinois any higher but the talent to go deep in the conference still remains. Tyler Laser is the bright spot for EIU again tossing in 13 points per game while Jeremy Granger adds 12.6 points and 3.6 assists per game.
  7. Jacksonville State (1-3): Same story, different team.  Plagued by a lack of star power, the Gamecocks continue to toil at the bottom of the OVC standings with little hope of climbing out of the cellar as little help looms on the horizon. One bright spot has been Nick Murphy whose 18 points and seven boards a game pace JSU. The Gamecock’s lone win of the year comes against West Alabama. Enough said.
  8. UT-Martin (2-3): A surprising start to the season has helped the Skyhawks as they rank in the top half of the league at this point in wins, but a lack of talent keeps them muddled in the cellar of the conference. Reuben Clayton has been a big time player for Martin this season, averaging 19.8 points and nearly seven rebounds a game. Mike Liabo is adding 12.2 points and 3.2 boards a game for team whose biggest claims to fame come in losses against LSU and No. 15 Memphis.
  9. Tennessee State (1-4): Notching only one win this season, against small Fisk University at that, the Tigers have little to celebrate at this point. The bright spot for TSU comes in the form of a trio of talented scorers in Kenny Moore, Patrick Miller, and Robert Covington. Moore is averaging 14.8 points a game while Miller and Covington check in right behind him at 13.4 and 12.8 respectively. The Tigers can lay claim to a loss to a quality teams in Mississippi State (75-65) but a slaughter at the hands of St. Louis (78-50) shows inconsistency in the early going.
  10. Southeast Missouri State (0-4): You know things are bad when all you have to brag about are losses but the Redhawks did play SEC foe Arkansas tough when they pushed John Pelphrey’s squad to the wire in a 66-56 thriller. Leon Powell and Nick Niemczyk are the only bright spots for SEMO – Powell checks in averaging 16 points and 8 rebounds while Niemczyk has posted 13.8 points per game.
  11. SIU-Edwardsville (1-3): The bad got worse for the Cougars when the team’s leading scorer from last season, Mark Yelovich, went down in the team’s opening game, and will miss the rest of the season. The team has rebounded somewhat though as two players in Corey Wickware and Nikola Bundalo are averaging 14. 8 and 14.4 points a game, respectively.

A Look Ahead

Holiday tournaments are underway and the OVC teams are getting their fair share, with participants in the 76 Classic, Chicago Invitational and Global Sports Roundball Classic. The biggest chances for some national attention come against the Big Ten. Friday, SIU-Edwardsville will face struggling Iowa, and on Sunday, Tennessee Tech squares off against Michigan State. The OVC gets to conference play in a hurry — Morehead State and UT-Martin meet in Morehead on December 2.

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Summer School in the Ohio Valley Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on August 16th, 2010

Greg Waddell is the RTC correspondent for the Ohio Valley Conference

Around the OVC

  • He’s Baaack…: Kenneth Faried has decided to return. An Associated Press All-American honorable mention last season, the 6’8 power forward is back in Morehead after garnering NABC All-District honors and sweeping the Ohio Valley Conference awards, earning Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, and First Team All-Conference. His 16.9 points and 13.0 boards per game captured the attention of NBA scouts as he turned down what might have been a second-round pick to return to school. Clocking in at No. 25 on Chad Ford of ESPN’s Big Board, he is viewed as a mid to late first rounder by the worldwide leader.
  • The Rich Get Richer…and So Do The Poor: Recruiting is a funny thing, and sometimes, crazy things happen. Take this season’s OVC recruiting haul, for example. The top two ranked players entering the conference according to, Shawn Jackson and Jeverik Nelson, went opposite routes with one choosing the conference’s best team (Jackson to Murray State) and the other the worst (Nelson to Tennessee-Martin). Martin, which limped to a 4-25 record and finished last in conference play (excluding SIU-Edwardsville, who is technically not a member of the conference yet), benefited the most from recruiting as they added three highly-touted players.

Kenneth Faried's return to Morehead State spells trouble for the rest of the OVC in 2010-11. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Power Rankings:

  1. Murray State: After winning the OVC regular season title, conference tourney, upsetting Vanderbilt in the NCAA tournament, and falling just short of knocking off national runner-up Butler, the 2009-10 Murray State team was one to remember. The scary thing is the 2010-11 edition may be better. Despite losing senior stalwarts Tony Easley and Danero Thomas, there is help on the way. Easley, the Racers’ emotional leader from last season, looks to be the biggest hole to fill but head coach Billy Kennedy managed to work his magic yet again, luring 6’9 big man Shawn Jackson from Florida. Jackson, arguably the best freshman in the conference, should start immediately and looks to be a force in the paint from his first day on campus while Chris Griffin, the other freshman recruit, will look to back up the three, potentially sophomore high-flier Ed Daniel. With the two-headed scoring attack of guards Isacc Miles and B.J. Jenkins returning, OVC Tournament MVP Isaiah Canaan may be relegated to sixth man again. What a good problem for Kennedy to have as the Racers look to be the class of the Ohio Valley once again.
  2. Morehead State: The other MSU had a decent season as well. Okay that might be a bit of an understatement. Led by Kenneth Faried, who won almost every award the OVC has to offer, the Eagles soared to a second place finish in league play and captured an NIT berth that led to a beatdown of Colorado State and a narrow loss to Boston University in overtime. Projected as a second-round pick in the NBA draft, it seemed that Faried was all set to try his luck in the league, until he decided to come back. Although Morehead State does say goodbye to second leading scorer Maze Stallworth, (12.6 PPG) they welcome back three of their top four scorers and look like a promising pick come tournament time.  The only team standing in their way is Murray but after dashing the Racers’ hopes of an undefeated conference run, they’ve shown they can hang with Billy Kennedy’s squad.  The OVC is a two-team league, and if Morehead can take out their rivals to the west, March Madness may find more than two MSUs dancing.
  3. Austin Peay – After last season’s unexpected finish, a loss at the hands of Tennessee Tech in the first round of the OVC Tournament, the Govs will look to pick up the pieces and build on their 17-15 2009-10 campaign. The only problem is they’ll be forced do so without two main components. Guard Wes Channels, whose 16.9 PPG led the team, has graduated, and 6’8 forward Duran Robertson fell victim to a career-ending knee injury in a preseason pickup game. Robertson’s injury will affect the Govs’ frontline depth where Austin Peay returns 6’9 junior center John Fraley (9.2 PPG, 7.6 RPG) and 6’7 second-team all-Ohio Valley Conference forward Anthony Campbell (15.5 PPG, 5.3 RPG), The Govs do add Tyshawn Edmonson, a transfer from St. John’s via Midland (Texas) College, who will look to push for playing time. Edmonson played high school ball at nearby University Heights Academy. Read the rest of this entry »
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Checking in on… the OVC

Posted by rtmsf on February 21st, 2010

Greg Waddell of Murray State News is the RTC correspondent for the Ohio Valley Conference.

Standings (as of 2/18)

Team of the Week – Murray State captures the honor this week at the Racers continue a run of dominance through the OVC. Sitting at 16-0, Billy Kennedy’s team secured the regular season crown on Tuesday in a 80-68 win over Southeast Missouri State. Joe Lunardi of ESPN currently has Murray as a No. 13 seed in the NCAA tournament, playing Temple in Spokane.  It will be interesting to see how the brackets unfold if Murray falls in the conference tournament as the OVC has typically been a one-bid conference.  As Doug Gottlieb noted, it may be hard to turn down a Racer team with only four losses.

Player of the Week- In an unorthodox move, this week’s edition will nominate two players for the top honor.  Seeing as how coverage is divided into a bi-weekly segment it would only seem fair to have two winners.  Week one winner, Nick Murphy of Jacksonville State averaged 21 points, 10 rebounds and three assists per game as the Gamecocks split a pair of games from Feb. 8 through Feb 15 while week two winner Mark Yelovich from SIU – Edwardsville earned the award after dropping 34 points on the University of North Dakota.

Play of the Week – Instead of the typical game of the week, this edition will instead focus on a single play.  This week’s honor goes to Isaiah Canaan, a freshman on the Murray State basketball team, after a half court shot from his knees earned the guard the top spot on the Sportscenter Top 10 and an interview with Jay Crawford on ESPN2 First Take.  The heave has been mentioned as a possible nominee for an ESPY as Play of the Year.

League Notes

  • According to the OVC has a conference RPI of 19th nationally entering this week, a 10-spot improvement over two seasons ago.
  • Also as of now seven OVC teams have clinched a spot in the eight-team tournament as Tennessee State, UT Martin and SEMO fight for the final spot.


  • Murray State.  The Racers wrapped up a conference championship and no. 1 seed in the OVC tournament Tuesday, coasting past the Redhawks of SEMO 80-68.  Senior Danero Thomas recorded 18 points in the win and Isaiah Canaan hit a circus shot from half court to earn a date with ESPN.  This season has been All-Racers thus far. Can it continue? We’ll see.
  • Morehead State.  The Eagles played one of the toughest conference games this week, taking on Eastern Kentucky in a battle of the OVC’s No. 2 and 3 teams.  Kenneth Faried was, well, Kenneth Faried, notching 15 points and 16 rebounds for the his 20th double-double on the year. Maze Stallworth added 20 points and four three-pointers and State rolled, clinching second place in the conference in the process.
  • Eastern Kentucky.  The Colonels played admirably but fell just short against Morehead, stumbling 77-64. Josh Taylor played well for EKU, notching 21 points in the loss, but it just wasn’t enough.  Eastern will get a shot at Murray State on Feb. 27 at 6 p.m.
  • Austin Peay.  The Govs had an exciting week as they opened play against Jacksonville State, drubbing the Gamecocks 83-63, before edging the Golden Eagles on Tennessee Tech in overtime. Austin Peay got a little help from two players this week, as Anthony Campbell and Wes Channels team to lead the team in scoring both games. The highlight of the week came in the second contest as Channels dropped 24 with Campbell adding 23.
  • Tennessee Tech.  Overtime is just not good to the Golden Eagles as both games this week went to extra periods and both ended with losses. Tech is now 1-4 in extended play this season with Elijah Muhammed remaining one of the few bright spots after notching 26 points and 8 assists against Tennessee State and 15 against Austin Peay.  Frank Davis added 15 in the loss to Peay.
  • Jacksonville State.  Jacksonville State had another bad week, stumbling in back to back games at Austin Peay and Tennessee State.  Dominique Shellman and John Barnes recorded 13 points apiece in the loss to the Govs.
  • Eastern Illinois.  Eastern Illinois only played one game this week but that one game was a win, knocking off UT-Martin 83-68. Zavier Sanders, notched 16 points on eight of 10 shooting, to lead the Panthers.
  • Southeast Missouri State.  SEMO played an integral role in Murray State’s conference championship Tuesday. Mainly in that they lost, but it’s a role they played nonetheless.  There really isn’t anything to positive to say about the Redhawks at this point other than Marland Smith (19 points) and Derek Thompson (17 points) played well in the loss.
  • Tennessee State.  The Tigers managed a two game winning streak this week, knocking off the Golden Eagles of Tennessee Tech and Jacksonville State in succession.  Jeremiah Crutcher and Robert Covington teamed up for 48 points (24 apiece) in the win against Tech and Jacquan Noble dropped 18 points in the win over State.
  • UT Martin.  Marquis Weddle was the only thing to write home about again as the Skyhawks lost their only game of the week.  Weddle scored 18 points but it just wasn’t enough.  Maybe next week.
  • SIU Edwardsville.  Playing a JV team this week, the Cougars picked up their fourth win of the season as Mark Yelovich exploded for 34 points against North Dakota.  That was pretty much the only bright spot for SIU-E
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Checking in on… the OVC

Posted by rtmsf on February 8th, 2010

Greg Waddell of Murray State News is the RTC correspondent for the Ohio Valley Conference.

Standings: (as of 2/7)

Team of the Week –  Rivals Murray State and Morehead State share the honor this week as both teams played admirably in their games.  Murray continued its reign of dominance over the OVC, squeaking past hated rival Austin Peay 65-63 in the Regional Special Events Center while Morehead roared to a 84-75 win over Tennessee Tech to sweep the season series and capture 13 of their last 14 games. The two teams will square off on Feb. 25 in Morehead, Ky., in a game that could determine conference supremecy.

Player of the Week – In a closely contested battle, Morehead State forward Kenneth Faried edges Tennessee-Martin guard Marquis Weddle for the title of Player of the Week in this edition. Although Weddles’ play (24 ppg and 6 rpg) over the week was superb, Faried claimed the award by showcasing an all-around game more suited for the NBA than the OVC, notching a dominant performance over the weekend against Tennessee Tech to raise his averages for the week to 19 points and 14 boards. During the stretch Faried recorded his 17th and 18th double-doubles of the season including his ninth straight.

Game of the Week – Murray State 65, Austin Peay 63. When rivals collide, crazy things tend to happen. This edition’s game of the week was just another example as it took every ounce of magic the Racers had to keep the team’s conference mark unblemished for one more game, edging the Govs on a last second shot by junior guard Isacc Miles. Although Miles provided the heroics, Danero Thomas provided the steady hand as the senior forward from Louisiana paced the Racers with 23 points and 11 rebounds. On the other side, Anthony Campbell played well for Austin Peay, nearly recording a double-double with 20 points and eight boards. 

League Notes

ESPN released its schedule of games for its Bracketbuster series on Feb 1.  All 11 OVC schools will participate in for the fifth straight season with games taking place on Feb. 19 and 20. OVC schools are 16-29 all-time in the event, including a 3-7 record last season.

  • Oral Roberts at Austin Peay
  • Northern Illinois at Eastern Illinois
  • Winthrop at Eastern Kentucky
  • Presbyterian at Jacksonville State
  • Morehead State at Illinois State
  • Morgan State at Murray State (TV – ESPNU)
  • Southeast Missouri at Miami (Ohio)
  • SIU Edwardsville at Cal State Fullerton
  • Tennessee State at Central Michigan
  • Tennessee Tech at Appalachian State
  • UT Martin at Ball State

Team Roundups

  • Murray State.  The Racers continued their unbeaten streak through conference play, knocking off Tennessee Tech and Austin Peay in dramatic fashion.  Against Tech, MSU started off slow but a second half surge allowed them to pull away easily behind B.J. Jenkins’ 17 point outburst. Jenkins also added five rebounds in the rout.  The Austin Peay game was a different story altogether though as the Racers struggled to put together any rhythm and fell behind early.  Isacc Miles, who struggled to score the entire game, put the team on his back in the final two minutes, scoring seven points including a dagger at the buzzer to knock off the Govs.  Danero Thomas was a workhorse throughout the game for Murray State, recording 23 points and 11 rebounds.
  • Morehead State.  This past week was a good one for the Eagles as they swept the season series against Tennessee Tech while also extending their win streak to 13 of their last 14 games.  Kenneth Faried was a monster down low for Morehead State as the forward from New Jersey did everything but get the team water.  Against the Golden Eagles he was especially dangerous, cleaning the glass for 17 rebounds while adding 26 points, but the game before was a relataively pedestrian one for the big man as he recorded only 12 points and 11 boards. Teammate Maze Stallworth picked up the slack though, dropping 26 points and 11 rebounds.  Farried’s two double-doubles push his season total to 18 and nine straight.
  • Eastern Kentucky.  The past week was also good for the Colonels and Papa Oppong as they jumped out to two wins behind the guard’s stellar play.  In the games Oppong put on a shooting clinic for the opposition dropping two games of double-digit scoring in which he recorded 20 and 19 points respectively.  The highlight of the week as the Colonels knocked off Jacksonville State on a Justin Stommes layup with 21 seconds remaining.  EKU escaped to play another, notching their seventh straight home win against the Gamecocks.
  • Austin Peay.  Despite dropping the heartbreaker to Murray, the week wasn’t all that bad to the Governors.  Forward Anthony Campbell lit up the nets for 20 points on six of 10 shooting against the Racers while adding eight rebounds.  He was equally impressive from the floor in Austin Peay’s win over Tennessee Martin and he notched 13 points and 10 boards.  Center John Fraley had his way with the Skyhawk defense in the win as he cleaned the boards for 14 rebounds and added 13 points as well.
  • Tennessee Tech.  And now to the bad…  Very few things went right for the Golden Eagles this week as they dropped tow straight games.  Kevin Murphy was one of the lone bright spots in the 76-58 shellacking at the hands of Eastern Kentucky as the guard netted 16 points.  There are no moral victories in conference play so although the margin against Morehead State was a little smaller, a loss is still a loss in the books. Jud Dillard did everything he could to help Tech in the Morehead game, but sometimes that not enough as his 25 points and 12 rebounds just couldn’t get them over the jump. Maybe next week.
  • Jacksonville State.  Another 0-2 week for the Gamecocks was made a little bit worse by a close loss at the hands of EKU on Saturday.  Nick Murphy was a monster in the first game, a 94-75 loss to Morehead State but the problem is he was the only one to show up, his 22 points and 12 rebounds just not enough to offset the point differential.  Jacksonville State rebounded nicely against EKU but ran out of gas in the end as a crucial play by Eastern’s Justin Stommes put them down one and a timely charge call on the next possession ended their chances at a W. Trenton Marshall scored 19 points and added five boards in the loss.
  • Eastern Illinois.  They fall in the bottom part of this list because they only played one game this week.  That one game was a win, but coming against one of the weaker teams (SEMO) in the league doesn’t help.  Jeremy Granger roughed up the Redhawks for 19 points on nine of 15 shooting and James Hollowell added 10 points and 5 rebounds for the victors.
  • Southeast Missouri State.  Things got worse for the Redhawks as their only win this week came against a team technically not even in their league…literally.  After a loss to the Panthers, SEMO took on lowly SIU-Edwardsville, currently 3-20 overall, to claim an ugly win. Sam Pearson scored 11 points and added four rebounds in the loss while Marland Smith netted 17 points and five rebounds in the win.
  • Tennessee State.  Tennessee State doesn’t fall this low because of a lack off effort, just a lack of production.  Despite Robert Covington’s outburst of 19 points and eight rebounds the Tigers failed to match up with Murray State, and squandered an early lead before falling by 22 (76-54).  Jacquan Nobles and Will Peters did everything they could against Tennessee- Martin and their combined 39 points (Nobles-20, and Peters-19) helped TSU squeak past Martin 74-68.
  • UT Martin.  Marquis Weddle is an animal; his team…not so much.  Despite two 20-point games (23,25) against quality opponents in Austin Peay and Tennessee State the Skyhawks just couldn’t pull off a win in the end. The loss of a player like Lester Hudson would hurt any team but Martin must find a way to help out Weddle if they expect do anything come tournament time.  
  • SIU Edwardsville.  SIU- Edwardsville is doing a valiant job despite the odds stacked against them.  The talent on their team will get better and better in future seasons but they aren’t there yet and it’s no ones fault.  Nikola Bundalo did his best against SEMO, notching nine points and 13 rebounds, but Edwardsville found itself overmatched in every facet of the game and went home with a tough 68-49 loss.
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