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Missouri Valley Notebook

December 4, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments

Missouri Valley Conference Notebook

by Neal Heston

Creighton and Southern Illinois are the only two MVC teams that remain unbeaten after nearly two weeks of play. Both are steamrolling their ways through the beginning of the season. Bradley and Wichita State are close behind with one loss each. The quick starts by each team have helped the Missouri Valley Conference to its best start in the last several years in non-conference play. Only Indiana State, Drake and Evansville currently sit below .500.

Southern Illinois and Drake will get the MVC season started on Saturday when they tip-off in Des Moines. The Salukis will look to continue their dominating play from the non-conference schedule as they get ready to defend their MVC title from last season.

Players of the Week

Wichita State’s Rob Kampman was named the conference’s Player of the Week having averaged almost 24 points and eight rebounds a game for the Shockers in the final two games of the Paradise Jam Tournament. He set career-high marks with 26 points and 13 rebounds in WSU’s win over Northern Arizona.

Marcellus Sommerville was named MVC Newcomer of the Week for the second week in a row. He is the only Bradley player to have scored in double figures every game this season.

Team Notes

Bradley (4-1)

With a come-from-behind win over Miami (FL) last Wednesday, Bradley finished 3-1 in the Las Vegas Tournament. Rhode Island also finished 3-1 and was crowned champion based on point differential. James Gillingham hit two free throws in the final seconds to propel the Braves to an 83-82 win. Gillingham finished with 29 points. Phillip Gilbert also added 29 for Bradley.

Gilbert and Gillingham took charge again on Saturday in the Braves’ 69-56 victory over Bowling Green. Gilbert led the team in scoring with 23 points while Gillingham added another 17.

The Braves travel to Mount Pleasant, Michigan on Wednesday to take on Central Michigan for a 6:05 tip-off. DePaul comes to town on Dec. 7.

Creighton (2-0)

The defending conference tournament champions have yet to be challenged this season after breezing past St. Bonaventure 83-63 last Saturday. Senior forward Brody Deren led the Bluejays with 18 points and eight boards. The future looks promising with home contests scheduled against Bethune-Cookman on Dec. 3 and Delaware State on Dec. 6.

Drake (1-2)

The Bulldogs came out slow and didn’t have enough time to recover in a 76-69 loss to Colorado State last Saturday. CSU ran out to a 9-0 lead and had Drake in a 40-20 hole by the end of the first half. Freshman Nick Grant led the Bulldogs with 12 points in the losing cause.

Evansville (0-3)

Evansville is the only MVC team still searching for their first win. Austin Peay kept the Purple Aces winless, sending Evansville to a 62-54 loss Monday night. UE rallied from as much as 14 down to take a brief lead before Austin Peay ran away with the win. Future games won’t be any easier for UE as they face a tough road test at Butler Dec. 6.

Sophomore guard Eric Ottens will be out with a leg injury until January. He helped Evansville off the bench last season with nearly six minutes per game.

Illinois State (1-2)

The Redbirds have dropped two consecutive games after beginning the season with a victory. Northern Illinois took advantage of poor shooting by the Redbirds for a 66-55 win last Wednesday. Gregg Alexander and Marcus Arnold both scored in double figures for ISU, but the team couldn’t recover from hitting just 15% of their shots in the first half.

Five players scored in double figures on Saturday in a better-shooting game for ISU, but Utah State was even better, sending the Redbirds to an 89-84 defeat. Sophomore Neil Plank led the way with 21 points for a team that hit 62% of its shots. Utah State hit 30 shots in 45 attempts to hold off the Redbirds.

Illinois State has home dates set with Bellarmine on Dec. 2 and Eastern Michigan on Dec. 6.

Indiana State (1-2)

The 1979 Final Four didn’t go Indiana State’s way again as the Sycamores dropped both contests in the ’79 Final Four reunion. David Moss tallied 20 points and ISU nailed 10 threes, but DePaul rallied from a 10-point deficit for a 78-66 win. Penn took care of business with an 86-48 win over ISU on Sunday in the consolation game. Sophomore center Ted Morris led the Sycamores with 16 points. The Sycamores travel to Eastern Illinois on Dec. 6 and Valparaiso on Dec. 8.

Northern Iowa (2-2)

The Panthers need a breather. After dropping a contest to Butler in the final seconds last week, sophomore Erik Crawford missed a game-tying 3-pointer in the final seconds during a 79-76 loss at Iowa State. Dating back to last season, UNI’s last four losses have come in the final seconds.

Matt Schneiderman led the Panthers with 22 points, but Iowa State’s Jackson Vroman was the difference in the game as he carried the Cyclones on the floor. Schneiderman was UNI’s hero on Tuesday night though as he sank a three at the buzzer to send the Panthers to a 75-72 win. The win was huge for UNI’s confidence heading into the contest against Furman on Dec. 6.

Southern Illinois (3-0)

After pulling off a squeaker against Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the defending regular season conference champions remain unbeaten. Brad Korn scored a career-high 17 points in the Salukis thrashing of Jacksonville State last Wednesday. SIU enjoyed an 84-49 win in its home opener. Darren Brooks’ 26 points helped push the Salukis past Wisconsin-Milwaukee Saturday. SIU hosts Southeast Missouri State Dec. 3 before traveling to Des Moines to take on Drake Saturday.

Southwest Missouri State (3-2)

Tommy Johnson and Monwell Randle combined for 33 points, but Kent State was able to sneak past SMS 64-63 on Saturday. The Bears host the Price Cutter Classic Dec. 5-6, facing Coppin State Friday and either Weber State or Texas State-San Marcos Saturday.

Wichita State (4-1)

MVC Player of the Week Rob Kampman used 26 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Shockers to a 68-51 win over Northern Arizona. WSU held Northern Arizona to just 18 points during the second half to coast. The MVC preseason favorites overcame a tough challenge on Tuesday by taking down one of the toughest Mid-Major schools in the nation. Randy Burns tallied 24 points to lead the Shockers over Manhattan, 74-57. Fortunately for WSU, the temptation for Manhattan to shoot 3-pointers was too great to overcome. They hit just two of 20 in the game. Rockhurst comes to town on Saturday to take on the Shockers.

In other news for Wichita State, freshman center Zach Green is expected to miss the season for academic reasons. Green averaged 21.2 points and 12 boards as a high school senior last year.


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