Checking In On… the Missouri Valley

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 30th, 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 Continues Up the Top 25—With a lot of teams in the lower part of the top 25 losing this week, Creighton moved up in the coaches poll from #25 to #23 while also receiving more votes in the AP poll putting them at #26. So far the Bluejays have not disappointed including their 104-81 victory over Campbell and winning the Dale Howard Classic.
  • Valley Stock Rising—The Missouri Valley Conference has had some great success so far in the non-conference season. There are only 27 teams in Division I still undefeated. Only three non-BCS leagues still have undefeated teams. Two of those teams are Creighton (5-0) and Missouri State (4-0). The Valley is 37-16 so far including a 24-4 home mark.
  • Northern Iowa Bounces Back—The Panthers made an impressive showing in South Padre by getting wins against Rice and Providence. Since the loss at St. Mary’s, Northern Iowa has won their last four and are getting good contributions from players like Seth Tuttle, who averaged 11 points and 6.3 rebounds in the last three games. 

Greg Lansing And Jake Odum Have The Sycamores On The Rise. (Matt Kryger/Indianapolis Star)

Power Rankings

  1. Creighton (5-0)— Creighton continues to roll along. In their only game this week, the Bluejays started the game hitting their first 13 shots of the game putting them up 18 points early on Campbell. Creighton continued to blister the nets the rest of the game and set a school record shooting 70.4% from the field for the game. Creighton also dished out 30 assists on 38 baskets for the game. They currently lead the nation in assists while placing third in points per game.
  2. Indiana State (6-1)—The Sycamores continue to build upon last year’s success by playing with a lot of poise during the Old Spice Classic. After beating Texas Tech in the first round, the Sycamores took it to the wire against Minnesota before losing to the Gophers. Indiana State rebounded to get a win over Fairfield to take third place.  Five players finished in double-figures. The balanced scoring right now by Indiana State will keep opponents off balance. 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. (

  • 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 February 8th, 2011

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

A Look Back

BracketBusters MatchupsBracketBuster matchups were announced last week, and the Missouri Valley Conference was awarded three games on national television.

  • 2/18, 6PM, ESPN2–VCU @ Wichita State
  • 2/19, 4PM, ESPN2Missouri State @ Valparaiso
  • 2/19, 6PM, ESPN2–George Mason @ Northern Iowa

The other matchups between the other conference members:

  • Creighton @ Akron
  • Evansville @ Murray State
  • Morehead State @ Indiana State
  • UW-Green Bay @ Southern Illinois
  • Illinois State @ Western Michigan
  • Detroit @ Drake
  • Bradley @ Tennessee-Martin

Bradley Has a Winning Week – After starting conference play 0-11, Bradley has reeled off a couple of wins against Creighton and Southern Illinois.  In the game against the Bluejays, the game was moved up four hours to avoid a snowstorm that still left Creighton stranded.  The Salukis on the other hand were blown out at home by Drake before coming to Bradley.  The Braves were able to take advantage of the other team’s struggles to garner a couple of wins and a glimmer of hope that Jim Les will be back next season.

Southern Illinois ImplodingIf you were watching last Wednesday night, you saw Southern Illinois get torched by Drake’s outside shooting.  What you may not have seen was Chris Lowery calling out his team, saying they “quit” during the game.   To make matters worse, at the end of the week, it was announced that three players, including two starters, were suspended for three games based on an assault incident on campus.   The SIU program has a lot to sort out.

Northern Iowa Suffers a BlowLucas O’Rear was injured Wednesday evening against Illinois State.  The man of much facial hair ended up suffering a fractured ankle and is now out for the rest of the season.  This is a big blow for the Panthers in their run back up the Valley standings.  Without him, Northern Iowa suffered a loss to Drake and now have to regroup for the final stretch run to try and get their third straight MVC regular season championship.

Player of the Week—Andrew Warren, Bradley—The play of Warren has been overshadowed by the performance of Bradley as a team this season.  However, the talented guard has been carrying this team on his shoulders and continued that this week.  He averaged 23 points and almost seven rebounds in the two victories against Creighton and Southern Illinois.

Newcomer of the Week—Rayvonte Rice, Drake—The freshman led the way for Drake this week in their two victories averaging 21 points a game over Southern Illinois and Northern Iowa this week.  In a year dominated by Doug McDermott from Creighton, Rice has been coming on as of late.  Both Rice and McDermott will lead their respective teams against each other this week.

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

  1. Wichita State (20-4) (11-2) (1)—The Shockers have quietly made their way to the top and are holding on to the conference lead after two wins this week over Drake and Indiana State.  After Southern Illinois on Tuesday, the Shockers go on a tough run to end the season at Northern Iowa, at Evansville, the BracketBusters game against VCU, hosting Creighton and then finishing at Missouri State.   If Wichita State makes it through this stretch of games, they definitely deserve the MVC regular season crown.  One interesting note is that there has not been a Wichita State player that has won a weekly award from the MVC offices, and it has been suggested that they decline the award if a Shocker does get one. 
  2. Missouri State (18-6) (10-3) (3)— The Bears have hit a bit of a wall losing two of their last three and surviving against Indiana State on Saturday.  However, the schedule is favorable for Missouri State as four of their final five conference games are against teams at the bottom of the league.  It should make for an interesting race between the Bears and the Shockers.   A missing part of Missouri State’s team this year has been Adam Leonard. If the Bears are going to have a solid run to finish the season, Leonard is going to have to step things up.  He has spent extra time in the gym.  Hopefully for them, it reflects well down the stretch. 
  3. Northern Iowa (17-7) (9-4) (2)— The Panthers  had won eight in a row before and looked like they were rolling until Lucas O’Rear went down against Illinois State which led to the letdown against in-state rival Drake.  Three of the final five conference games are on the road including going to Evansville this week for what appears to be a typical “trap” game.  They then have a showdown with Wichita State on Saturday night which will decide if they still have a chance for the top of the mountain.  Will Dick Vitale actually be in Cedar Falls for their BracketBuster game?  I wouldn’t hold my breath. 
  4. Creighton (15-10) (7-6) (4)—The Bluejays endured the embarrassment of allowing Bradley to get their first conference win of the season.  They did rebound to knock off a hot Evansville team and are now putting themselves in a good position to secure a top-four seed in the MVC Tournament.   But they can’t let down against Drake and Southern Illinois this week.   Doug McDermott continues to put up some amazing numbers—such that he could earn himself awards at the end of the year, including a spot on the All-MVC team. 
  5. Evansville (13-10) (7-6) (6)— Evansville started off the week with a nice win against Missouri State even without leading rebounder and second leading scorer Kenneth Harris.   However, they ran into a Creighton team with something to prove and took down the Purple Aces to be tied for fourth place in the Valley race.  One thing is for sure, they will not be cellar dwellers this season and the team has made some great strides.  They get to host Northern Iowa this week before heading to Peoria to take on Bradley.
  6. Indiana State (12-12) (7-6) (5)— The Sycamores are coming back to earth after their hot conference start.  They have now lost five straight games after playing against the top teams in the league.  I guess they have to be satisfied with moral victories.   However a date with Illinois State and Drake might be what they need to finish off strong.  
  7. Drake (10-14) (5-8) (9)—Drake won both of their games this week and jumped out of the bottom of the league.  They hit 16 three-pointers their win against Southern Illinois and held off Northern Iowa to beat their in-state rival.  If it was up to Rayvonte Rice, he thinks they could go on a big run to get to the postseason.  Creighton comes to town on Tuesday before heading to Terre Haute for a date with Indiana State.
  8. Bradley (8-16) (2-11) (10)—Teams will take wins any way they can get them.  For Bradley, that first conference win came against Creighton.  With that win and a victory against Southern Illinois, who they caught at the right time, Bradley enjoys the month of February.  January was winless, but in February, they have two wins already.  They get to play the role of spoiler, going to Springfield to take on Missouri State and celebrate alumni weekend against Evansville.
  9. Illinois State (11-13) (3-10) (8)—The Redbirds are back to their struggling ways after winning three in a row.  It wasn’t a surprise that they lost to Wichita State and Northern Iowa, but they did keep things close.  Any game in the MVC is a possible upset and you never know what is going to happen.  They can spoil the party for everyone with the Sycamores and the Bears coming to town this week.
  10. Southern Illinois (10-14) (4-9) (7)— We have talked about already how Southern Illinois has hit rock bottom.  Fans are getting tired of the once proud program that will be missing the postseason for the third year in a row.  It will cost the school dearly to send Chris Lowery packing, but it may be the only option after spending millions of dollars remodeling SIU Arena and playing to a half full crowd.  One way or another, things must change

A Look Ahead

Look out for these games:

  • 2/8—Northern Iowa @ Evansville (No TV)—The Panthers are struggling without Lucas O’Rear and head for their second straight road game without him.  Evansville has been hot and could knock them off.
  • 2/8—Southern Illinois @ Wichita State (Local TV in both markets)—The Shockers are the dominant team in the league at this point and SIU is in shambles right now.  However, there is always a chance for a shock here, pardon the pun.
  • 2/9—Bradley @ Missouri State (Fox Sports Net)—Bradley has a couple conference wins under their belt and could play the role of spoiler.  Missouri State needs to keep winning.
  • 2/12—Wichita State @ Northern Iowa (ESPN2)—This is a big game for both teams, but even bigger for Northern Iowa to try and catch up to the Shockers.   The Shockers on the other hand are trying to pull away from the rest of the league.  A special 9PM CST start for this one.
  • 2/13—Southern Illinois @ Creighton (ESPNU)—Is this one of the final games in the Chris Lowery era at SIU?  Creighton is looking for a good seed for the MVC Tournament.  Oh yeah, and it is a rivalry game, but that is sort of lost in the mix at this point.
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