The automatic bids are starting to fill up. In the past two days, automatic bids have gone to Northeastern (Colonial), Manhattan (Metro Atlantic), Wofford (Southern), Valparaiso (Horizon), Robert Morris (Northeast), North Dakota State (Summit), and Gonzaga (West Coast). There are obviously some big story lines from Monday night that Tommy Lemoine covered in his Bracket Prep for Wofford, Northeastern, and Wofford. We will cover last night’s story lines a little more later today, but the things that jumped out at us were St Francis-Brooklyn remaining one of only five original Division I programs to never make the NCAA Tournament (Army, Citadel, Northwestern, and William & Mary are the others) and the questions surrounding whether or not BYU will receive an at-large bid.
The coaching carousel is starting to heat up as three new positions opened up with SIU-Edwardsvillefiring Lennox Forrester, Illinois-Chicagofiring Howard Moore, and Citadelfiring Chuck Driesell. Forrester had been the coach at SIU-Edwardsville for eight seasons going 83-149 with losing seasons in each of his final seven seasons after going 17-11 in his first season, which also happened to be the school’s last year in Division II. Moore went 49-111 in five seasons with his only winning season happening in 2012-13 when he went 18-16. Driesell, the son of the legendary Lefty Driesell, had his best season in the last of his five seasons. Unfortunately, that was only 11-19 and he finished 42-113. Like the other positions we mentioned before, none of these would be what we consider big-time jobs, but the Illinois-Chicago position offers the appeal of being in one of the best basketball areas in the country and a decent conference (Horizon) to play in, which could entice a high-major assistant who might feel that he has waited long enough.
The coaching carousel might generate most of the attention in terms of movement, but be sure to keep an eye for some potentially significant transfers now that many players are having their seasons end. One of the first big ones to hit the transfer market is Evan Payne, who announced on Instagram that he would be transferring from Loyola Marymount. Payne, who averaged 18 points and 2.8 rebounds per game this past season, will probably end up at a high-major school especially since he has two more years of eligibility remaining even if he has to sit out a year as we have not heard anything about him looking for a hardship waiver.
If you thought there were grey areas with social media, just wait until we get into the crowdfunding. According to a report from Darren Rovell, FanAngel is proposing to allow fans to contribute money towards an athlete who returns to school instead of leaving to play professionally. The company would take 9% off the top as its commission. Of the remaining 91%, when the athlete completes his or her eligibility, the athlete would get 80%, the athlete’s teammates would get 10%, and the remaining 10% would put into a scholarship fund. Although this has generated quite a bit of buzz based on it being featured on ESPN.com, we have a hard time believing this will ever be approved as even the company’s founder admits that the NCAA has not signed off on it and expressed reservations about it. There are also issues with how the money gets distributed to the athlete since neither the athlete nor anybody representing him or her is supposed to contact the company before the athlete’s eligibility is complete. Given all of these issues, we have a hard time seeing how this will hold up to NCAA scrutiny.
With the start of the NCAA Tournament a little over a week away (don’t get us started on the ridiculous event in Dayton) you are going to start seeing a lot of lists talking about the best games, players, shots, etc. We doubt that you are going to see many lists like Ken Pomeroy’s most tense NCAA Tournament games since 2010. Like many things that Pomeroy does, some of these are obvious and are easily remembered by even the most casual fan while others are things you would not have remembered without his work. Now, you can question his methodology here, which is admittedly not as rigorous as his usual statistical analysis, but it is a fun trip down memory lane.
David Changas is the RTC correspondent for the OVC. You can follow him on Twitter @dchangas.
Can Murray State Repeat Its Success? Last year, the Racers took the college basketball world by storm by being the nation’s last remaining undefeated team after starting 23-0. They lose several key contributors, but another run to a second-round NCAA Tournament win is realistic, and coach Steve Prohm proved he can coach in his first season at the helm. Should Murray State win the league’s automatic bid, it likely will not come with a lofty five-seed as it did last year, but any team with potential All-American Isaiah Canaan leading it in March will be dangerous.
Isaiah Canaan Is The Early Favorite For OVC Player Of The Year And Has A Shot At Even Higher Accolades. (Getty Images)
Belmont Arrives: In an effort to raise its overall profile, Belmont left the Atlantic Sun and certainly will add cachet to a league coming off its best year in recent memory. The Bruins have been a dominant force in the A-Sun for the past dozen years, earning the conference’s automatic bid in five of the last seven. Their addition to an already formidable league raises its profile that much more, and though Murray State is the league favorite, Belmont will draw attention to the OVC in this and years to come.
Who is Robert Covington? With all of the hoopla surrounding Canaan and Murray State, plus the arrival of Belmont, the player who isn’t the subject of enough discussion is Tennessee State big man Robert Covington. The 6’9″ senior finished third in the league in scoring and second in rebounding last year, and is projected by some to be a second-round pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. He scores, rebounds, and shoots the three proficiently, and has an NBA physique. A player of the year caliber season should be expected from Covington, and the presence of NBA scouts will be commonplace at Tiger games.
Catlin Bogard is the RTC correspondent for the Ohio Valley Conference. You can also find his musings online at OVC Ball or on Twitter @OVCBall.
The Week That Was
Rough Week For Big Men: Two of the top big men in the conference have already missed games this year due to injury. SEMO’s LeonPowell injured the same knee that caused him to miss an entire season two years ago in the Redhawks’ final exhibition game. Powell did not play in their opener against Missouri, but did return against Harris Stowe, shooting a perfect 8-8 from the field. Austin Peay’s John Fraley is out of the hospital after suffering a concussion in the Governors opening game against Middle Tennessee. Fraley was sorely missed on the Governors’ trip to California, and could miss a couple of weeks according to the Leaf-Chronicle.
It Hasn’t Even Been Close: The Ohio Valley Conference isn’t off to the best of starts, with only ten wins in its first 29 outings. But what’s surprising is how many haven’t even been close. Of the conference’s 19 losses, 14 have been by double digits. The exceptions? Tennessee Martin’s nine-point loss to Ohio, Austin Peay’s nine-point loss to Middle Tennessee, Eastern Illinois’ seven-point loss to Indiana State, Tennessee State‘s three-point loss to Western Kentucky, and Southeast Missouri State‘s one-point loss to Bradley.
The Flip Side: Not everything is bleak in the OVC. The Racers are off to a 3-0 start, after a big win on the road against the favorites to win the MEAC, Morgan State. Tennessee Tech held a late second half lead against Miami before things fell apart in the closing minutes. And while there haven’t been a lot of wins, there haven’t been any embarrassing upsets for the conference either.
Just A Week Into The Season, Steve Prohm's Racers Are The Only Remaining Undefeated Team In The OVC. (Ricky Martin/Ledger & Times)
Catlin Bogard of OVC Ball is the RTC correspondent for the Ohio Valley Conference. You can find him on Twitter @OVCBall.
Readers Take I
Here Come the Cougars: Although SIU Edwardsville is in its final year of transition to Division I, the Cougars will play a full Ohio Valley Conference slate. SIUE will be eligible to win the OVC regular season title, but cannot enter the conference tournament until they have completed their transition in 2012-13. The Cougars are unlikely, however, to make a major impact this season after going 0-9 against OVC teams a year ago.
Out of Balance: As a result of the Cougars entrance to the conference, the now 11-team league will play an uneven schedule of 16 games, much shorter than the 20 and 22-game schedules seen since the last OVC expansion. But the current structure won’t stay in place for long. After it was announced that Belmont will join the conference next season, OVC commissioner Beth DeBauchetold the voice of the Racers, Neal Bradley, that “it appears that it would make sense to have divisions, most notably for our men’s and women’s basketball teams.” But the OVC might not remain a 12-team league long enough to matter. Jacksonville State is exploring a move to a FBS conference according to a release from the school, and the Huntsville Times reports that Tennessee State has been invited to join the SWAC.
What Was Old is New Again: Two teams on opposite ends of last year’s final standings have one thing in common: inexperience. Both Morehead State and Jacksonville State will feature teams with more new faces than old this year. Last season’s last place Gamecocks have seven transfers and four new players, with Stephen Hall being the only Gamecock with more than one year of experience. Meanwhile, MSU has eight new faces, including six freshmen joining the defending OVC Tournament champions.
New Sideline Patrolmen: Two of the top teams last year, Murray State and Tennessee Tech, will feature new coaches this season. Steve Payne replaces Mike Sutton, who retired after eight seasons with the Golden Eagles. Steve Prohm will take over the Racers after Billy Kennedy left to take the head coaching job at Texas A&M.
With the completion of the NBA Draft 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. Our latest update comes courtesy of our Ohio Valley Conference correspondent, Catlin Bogard. You can read more of Bogard’s work at OVC Ball.
Movin’ On Up: Two teams will feature former assistant coaches in new roles in 2011-12, although each school took a much different path to the same decision. In March, StevePayne was named the new head coach at Tennessee Tech for the retiring Mike Sutton. The longtime Golden Eagles assistant had coached the team previously, as Sutton was sidelined with a horrible health condition that threatened his immune system. Over at Murray State, Steve Prohm will head the Racers after an offseason that saw former head coach Billy Kennedy’s name come up in at least three job searches before he eventually accepted the head coaching job at Texas A&M. The late-season coaching change didn’t leave Murray without options, as former Racer and current NBA assistant Popeye Jones’ name was one of many mentioned for the opening before the Racers eventually named Prohm as Kennedy’s successor.
Ten-Man Class: Morehead State lost its biggest player when Kenneth Faried graduated and was drafted by the Denver Nuggets, but coach Donnie Tyndall is cashing in on the Eagles’ success last season by signing ten players for the 2011-12 season, including three juco transfers. The cupboard wasn’t exactly bare for the Eagles either, with ten players scheduled to return for Tyndall, so how he slices his rotation is something well worth monitoring for any Eagles fan.
Transition Period: Quite possibly the biggest news of the offseason will not even affect the OVC until next season. Belmont will join the conference in the 2012-13 season, leaving the Atlantic Sun after ten years of dominance. Also in 2012-13, SIU Edwardsville will become a full member of the conference, making the OVC a 12-team league. This year, the Cougars will play a full OVC regular season, but will be ineligible for postseason play as they continue their transition into Division I. How long it will stay a 12-team conference is up in the air, though. Jacksonville State is openly searching for a FCS football conference to move to, and Tennessee State was recently offered a chance to rejoin the SWAC.
Faried Will Be Missed in the OVC (But Not By His Opponents)
If you are interested in participating in our ATB2 feature, send in your submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Charlotte 49, #4 Tennessee 48: “I expected this…but not on back to back nights. And not against Oakland at home, and a 4-6 Charlotte team on the road. And if you think it’s going to get any easier, you’re new to this game.” (Rocky Top Talk)
Other Game of Interest
Indiana 88, SIU-Edwardsville 54: “When you win by 30-plus and your opponent doesn’t hit a field goal until the 7:05 mark in the first half — which, yeesh — sometimes there’s not much to say. A dominant win is a dominant win.” (Inside the Hall: Part 1 and Part 2)
Things have been a little slow in the college basketball world with finals and the Blogosphere has reflected that, but we’re back with another edition of ATB2. If you are interested in participating in our ATB2 feature, send in your submissions to email@example.com.
Top 25 Games
#2 Ohio State 83, Florida Gulf Coast 55: “It was the Jon Diebler show as the senior sharp shooter tied a school record by making nine three-point baskets. He also scored a career-high 29 points. Diebler was 9-of-13 (all threes) from the field and actually connected on nine consecutive threes. He missed his first two before making the next nine and missing his last three attempts. Jay Burson held the three-point record by himself for 22 years. Burson made nine threes against Florida in 1988 at Madison Square Garden.” (Eleven Warriors)
#19 Minnesota 66, Akron 58: “Despite a slow start that saw them down 32-27 at halftime against an inferior opponent, the Gophers re-established their inside presence and utilized their athletic ability to take down the Akron Zips 66-58 in their last game before an eight-day finals break.” (From the Barn)
Other Games of Interest
Gonzaga 103, Lewis-Clark State 61: “Six Gonzaga players scored in double figures tonight as the Bulldogs dominated Lewis-Clark State, an NAIA Division I team. Elias Harris led all scorers with an efficient 19 points in 19 minutes played. The German forward only missed on one shot attempt all night. Rob Sacre, David Stockton, Kelly Olynyk, Mathis Monninghoff, and Sam Dower all hit double figures in the 103-61 victory. The only noteworthy item from tonight’s game is that Steven Gray’s toe injury is not serious and he was merely held out because, well, the opponent was an NAIA team.” (The Slipper Still Fits)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Isaiah Canaan appears on ESPN First Take after a half court shot from his knees against SEMO:
Isacc Miles, Murray State (9.7 PPG, 47% FG)
Zac Swansey, Tennessee Tech
What You Need to Know
This could be the first year in quite some time the OVC puts two teams in the NCAA Tournament. Though unlikely, it could happen if Murray State has the season everyone is expecting, and Morehead State can find a way to knock off the Racers in OVC Tournament play. Based on preseason hype including a #31 ranking by Lindy’s, Murray State could make a resume impressive enough for an at-large bid if it can knock some big-name teams and win the 76 Classic in Anaheim. The other MSU can make some noise also, as the Eagles possess a special player in Kenneth Faried. In basketball, that kind of player can make all the difference and Donnie Tyndall’s squad will get the chance to make waves early as they play three quality teams from last season’s NCAA Tournament in Ohio State, Florida and Northern Iowa. Morehead State will travel to Gainesville on November 11 to get a crack at Billy Donovan and the Gators before heading north to Columbus two days later. Northern Iowa is the final stop as the Eagles head west to Cedar Falls on the December 11. Also, SIU-Edwardsville continues to wait in the wings as it transition to full-fledged membership.
Kenneth Faried is ready to dethrone Murray State, but the Racers have other plans. (zimbio.com)
Murray State (NCAA Seed: #9): After a campaign in 2009-10 that will go down as one of the best in program history, the scary thing for OVC foes is that this year’s edition may be even better. Despite losing senior leaders Tony Easley and Danero Thomas to graduation, the Racers look to reload behind the strong play of a three-headed guard attack. Led by returning starters B.J. Jenkins and Isacc Miles, the deadly backcourt gets a little more frightening when last year’s sixth man, Isaiah Canaan, gets thrown in the mix. Canaan, who actually averaged the second-most points on the team last season at 10.4 PPG, should pick up right where he left off, shooting a ridiculous 50% from the field and 48% from behind the arc. After last season’s last-second buzzer-beater vanquished Vanderbilt, things are looking good for Billy Kennedy’s squad, as the Racers look to cash in plenty of wins at the newly renamed CFSB Center.
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 ESPN.com, 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)
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.
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.
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 »
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.
According to OVCSports.com 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
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. 25in 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.
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
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 JohnFraley 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.