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.
- 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.