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Missouri Valley Notebook

December 9, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments



Missouri Valley Conference Notebook

by Neal Heston

Butler tours MVC

The Butler Bulldogs might want to consider switching over to the Missouri Valley Conference. For the second week in a row, Butler stole a win from an MVC team at the buzzer after squeaking past Evansville. The Bulldogs feature a 2-0 record against MVC foes this season but are only 1-2 vs. the rest of the nation. Two more games remain against MVC opponents.

Mike Monserez has been a name that has plagued Northern Iowa and Evansville during the last two weeks. He hit a 3-pointer as time expired to beat the Panthers Nov. 25 and sunk two free throws in the final seconds to put away the Purple Aces on Sunday. If not for those two possessions, the Bulldogs could easily be sitting near the bottom of the Horizon League early at 1-4. Tough schedule or not, that’s quite a hole to get out of.

Butler seems to be one of the few teams surviving against MVC opponents so far. Excluding the Bulldogs, the Missouri Valley is 32-16 in non-conference play. Two more MVC teams have a shot at putting away the Bulldogs. Bradley hosts Butler on Wednesday and Indiana State will visit Indianapolis on Dec. 20.

Shockers will try and live up to hype

Okay, it may be a little early in the season to hype a big conference match-up, but Wichita State (WSU) begins a journey on Saturday that the league media predicts to be a successful one. Southwest Missouri State (SMS) will host the Shockers on Dec. 9 that will feature two teams expecting to compete for this season’s MVC title. Both finished in the top four last season.

Led by preseason all-conference member Jamar Howard, WSU is tabbed to win the MVC, with Creighton, Bradley and SMS following. The Shockers haven’t captured the MVC since the 1983 team finished conference play at 17-1. Last season, WSU earned a 12-6 conference record on their way to a NIT appearance.

If the games between these two teams from last season are any indication, WSU’s first Missouri Valley challenge will be no picnic. The Shockers held on for a four-point victory in January and again for a six-point win in March, which clinched third place. WSU should be expected to pull this one out too as six players are averaging at least nine points a game compared to two for SMS. Howard leads the way for the Shockers with 13.2 a game.

Hawks soar into Dome

Iowa is soaring through the season at 6-0, but the UNI Panthers hope to take a shot at their unblemished record when the Hawkeyes make a stop in Cedar Falls on Tuesday. The Panthers have only taken four of 33 games against Iowa, but two of the last three in the UNI-Dome have gone in the Panthers’ favor.

Pierre Pierce leads an Iowa group that has four starters with scoring averages in double figures. UNI forward Matt Schneiderman and guard Ben Jacobson also have scored in double figures for the Panthers every game this season. UNI will have to rebound from Saturday’s poor shooting performance to have any shot at keeping the Hawkeyes from reaching lucky number seven in the win column.

The game will be televised on certain Fox sports networks across Iowa.

Players of the Week

I took the liberty of selecting my own Players of the Week this time. It was close to being a clean sweep for the Bradley Braves – but not quite.

After leading Illinois State to consecutive wins with 20 and 27-point efforts, Trey Guidry has the honor of being MVC Player of the Week. Guidry and the Redbirds hit the road to face a tough Illinois-Chicago squad on Saturday. Bradley’s Phillip Gilbert receives an honorable mention with 20 and 25-point performances for the Braves, who won one and lost one this week.

Surprise, surprise, Bradley’s Marcellus Sommerville is my MVC Newcomer of the Week. It was hard not to pick him after his key 20-point performance during the Brave’s 71-65 win over Central Michigan.

MVC Game of the Week

Southern Illinois 75, Drake 66

The defending champs got the MVC season started on the right foot by holding off a late Drake rally. SIU held a 34-18 advantage at the half before the Bulldogs finally found the basket. Drake hit only four of 24 baskets in the first half.

Darren Brooks will be tattooed in Drake coach Tom Davis’ head the next time these two teams face off in February. Brooks scored 24 points, captured ten boards, blocked four shots and recorded a school-record eight steals in the game. SIU recorded 16 steals in all and forced Drake into 23 turnovers.

Team Notes

Bradley (5-2 / 0-0)

Phillip Gilbert and Marcellus Sommerville continue to help Bradley roll through the non-conference schedule. Sommerville, the MVC’s Newcomer of the Week the first two weeks of the season, tallied 20 points in the Braves 71-65 win over Central Michigan on Dec. 3. Gilbert also scored 20 in the game.

The Braves have had trouble holding onto leads lately. Central Michigan rallied from 15 down although they came up short. DePaul’s rally on Sunday didn’t fall short. Bradley held a 48-28 lead over the Blue Demons to begin the second half, but DePaul controlled the game thereafter for a 77-74 win Sunday.

Butler comes to town on Wednesday, Dec. 10, and as Northern Iowa and Evansville could say, the Bulldogs are never down by enough. Butler has defeated both teams in the final seconds during the last two weeks.

Creighton (4-0 / 0-0)

The Bluejays continue to ease through the non-conference schedule, but tougher challenges loom on the schedule this week. Nebraska will visit the Qwest Center on Wednesday, and Creighton will hit the road on the weekend to face Fresno State.

Creighton defeated Bethune-Cookman 69-49 and Delaware State 77-48 last week. Though the score would indicate otherwise, the Bluejays were outplayed by Bethune-Cookman in the second half of that contest. The two wins helped Creighton boost its school-record home-winning streak to 21 games.

Drake (2-3 / 0-1)

After dropping the conference opener on Saturday, Drake will host Southern Utah this Saturday. The Bulldogs will need to take care of their “tale of two halves” problem very soon. Only three games remain before the MVC season gets into full swing. Drake has played one good half and one half to forget about in each of its losses to Iowa, Colorado State and Southern Illinois.

Evansville (0-4 / 0-0)

Butler dangled a first victory in Evansville’s face, only to take it away in the final seconds. Again it was Mike Monserez doing the damage as he did at Northern Iowa. Monserez hit two free throws in the final seconds to send Butler to a 65-64 win over UE. The Purple Aces will try for their first win again on Saturday against Eastern Illinois.

Illinois State (3-2 / 0-0)

Trey Guidry has led the Redbirds to consecutive wins during the last week. Guidry sank 20 points in an 87-53 win over Bellarmine and 27 points in an 80-69 victory over Eastern Michigan. Guidry and the Redbirds hit the road on Saturday to take on Illinois-Chicago.

Indiana State (2-2 / 0-0)

The Sycamores only played one game this week, but it worked out. Fresh legs on Saturday helped ISU jump out to a 25-9 lead over Eastern Illinois on the way to a 71-56 win. David Moss tallied 23 points in the winning effort. ISU never trailed from the start.

Northern Iowa (2-3 / 0-0)

It took Furman 15 hours just to reach UNI, and by the time they did reach Cedar Falls, there was only enough time to sleep before Saturday’s game. It didn’t matter. The basket seemed microscopic for UNI as they shot just 29% during a 64-55 loss. The MVC’s best shooting team from behind the arc hit just four of 31, including one of 18 in the first half. Matt Schneiderman recorded another double-double in the effort – his second of the season.

The Iowa Hawkeyes bring their unblemished record (6-0) to Cedar Falls on Tuesday. UNI gave the Hawkeyes a scare in Iowa City last season before Iowa went on a run to close the game. Two of the last three contests between these two teams in Cedar Falls have gone in UNI’s favor.

Southern Illinois (5-0 / 1-0)

The MVC season began on the right foot for the defending champions. After holding off a Drake rally Saturday, the Salukis will enjoy a nine-day break before traveling to Dayton, Ohio to take on Wright State Dec. 15.

Southwest Missouri State (5-2 / 0-0)

With victories over Coppin State and Weber State, the Bears captured their own tournament title, the Price Cutter Classic. Coppin State provided no serious challenge after managing only 11 points against SMS in the first half. The Bears went on to a 73-44 victory. Merrill Andrews scored 32 points in the final against Weber State on Sunday. Every single point was needed too in the 79-74 win.

SMS will be at San Diego on Tuesday and will host Wichita State Saturday in a match-up of two MVC powerhouses.

Wichita State (5-1 / 0-0)

Randy Burns and Fridge Holman led the Shockers with 15 points each in WSU’s 84-59 win over Rockhurst on Saturday. All five WSU starters reached double figures in scoring.

Next on the schedule include road games to Kansas State on Wednesday and Southwest Missouri State on Saturday.

     

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