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Mid-Continent Offseason Update

October 15, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments

Mid-Continent Offseason News Update

by Cory J. Danner

The Mid-Continent Conference was all about change in the off-season. Many teams added new coaches, many players graduated and throngs of freshman are being brought in, and the biggest change of all was a new commissioner.

Ron Bertovich was brought in to guide the Mid-Con into the future. A former A-10 commissioner, Bertovich hopes to continue the excellence the conference has enjoyed over the past few seasons. One of the major goals of Bertovich’s is to expand the conference to 10 teams and maybe even more.

He hopes to increase the exposure through TV and radio. Expanding to nine this season with the addition of Centenary will bring more exposure to the southern region. With most all the teams in the Midwest, it’s hard to get much excitement outside the area. Unlike the Pac-10 or Big East conferences that rely on TV, the Mid-Con has to rely on positioned teams like Southern Utah and Centenary.

After a thrilling finish of the Mid Continent Conference championship last season between IUPUI and Valparaiso, of which IUPUI won, the 2003-2004 season is shaping up nicely with many off-season twists and turns. The biggest development in the Mid-Con is the departure of former Valpo player and last season’s coach, Scott Drew. Drew left to fill the vacancy created at Baylor after Dave Bliss resigned from the position. Bliss resigned because of the turmoil surrounding the cavalcade of lies regarding the disappearance of Baylor player Patrick Dennehy.

Taking over at Valpo this season is a familiar face for the Crusaders, Scott Drew’s father, Homer Drew. Drew guided the team before his son for years, and looks to rebound from the heartbreaker the team suffered to IUPUI in the Mid-Con final.

IUPUI re-signed conference Coach of the Year Ron Hunter after massive speculation that he would leave for greener pastures. For such a young team to already be competing for conference titles is really something spectacular. Usually after such a strong run through a conference tournament and a NCAA tournament appearance, the coach will take the reigns at a bigger school.

Oakland started off strong last season and faltered down the stretch, being knocked out in the first round by the lowly Southern Utah Thunderbirds. There is reason to be happy about the outlook of the season for the team though. Graduating only one senior, Mike Helms, the Thunderbirds should rock the western side of the Mid-Con.

Oral Roberts is another team that finished the season with a bad taste in their mouth. The team received votes in the national Top 25 early in their season, but slipped and fell in the conference, posting a meager 9-5 record. Losing four of their last six going into the tournament may have been the blinders the team had on when they fell asleep against UMKC in the first round of the conference tournament.

UMKC ran off to a 2-11 start, and the Kangaroos were almost ready to pack up the tent and go home. Michael Watson helped turn the team around midway with a 25.5 ppg average. The Kangaroos pulled off the major upset in the tournament as they knocked off the higher seeded Oral Roberts.

Southern Utah’s season could be summed up in one word: mediocre. Scraping together 11 hard fought wins, the Thunderbirds had a tough time pulling out only five conference wins. The ‘Birds did pull off a huge upset in the conference tournament against Oral Roberts. The team graduates four seniors and the upcoming season looks rough.

Western Illinois changed coaches in the off-season, and boy did they need it. Winning only three conference contests last season, the Leathernecks felt a need for a change. The new coach is former Mid-Con assistant coach with Southwest Missouri State, Derek Thomas. The man is known for his recruiting skills, and after losing their leading rebounder and assist man, he will need to do a bang up job.

Chicago State are the lovable losers of the Mid-Con. If there is ever a team you root for when your team is not playing, it’s the Cougars. The Cougars failed to record even one victory in the conference last season, so the team made the obvious move to change coaches. Kevin Jones will take the helm of a team who went 3-27 last season.

Centenary is the new kid on the block this season, being added to the Mid-Con. The Gents are located in Shreveport, LA. The conference seems to want to branch out more and more. Adding a team now spreads the conference west to Utah, south to Louisiana, north to Michigan, and east to Indiana.


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