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Missouri Valley Notebook

January 6, 2004 Conference Notes No Comments

Missouri Valley Conference Notebook

by Neal Heston

Beware of Dogs

Dr. Tom and the Drake Bulldogs were tabbed to finish ninth in the Missouri Valley this season. It doesn’t look like anyone has told them yet.

Drake (5-5) pulled off a shocker in Kansas during a 71-60 upset over Wichita State on Saturday. The win evened the Bulldog’s MVC record at 1-1 as they pounded the MVC’s preseason favorite. WSU fell to 1-1 in conference play.

Take away a horrid first half against Southern Illinois last month and the Bulldogs could be sitting at 2-0 in MVC play. Not bad for a squad that is dominated by underclassmen, with just one senior on the roster. The youthful Bulldogs are growing up quickly as they have played right along with two powerhouses in the conference.

WSU (8-4) was able to end the game on an 8-0 run to finish with some respect, but just like the contest with Southern Illinois, Drake came out hot after halftime. Freshman Nick Grant was good for 19 points in the contest, and sophomore Josh Powell added another 14 along with ten boards for the Bulldogs.

Drake’s defense recorded at least 20 turnovers for the fourth time in five games as Wichita State was forced into a season-high 25 miscues. The Bulldogs, ranked second nationally in steals, are 3-2 in those five games.

The young Bulldogs are beginning to raise some eyebrows as only one of their five losses has been by more than ten points. A strong week that included two wins and a Player of the Week honor by Josh Powell now has Drake on the right path. The road gets a lot bumpier though as Bradley and unbeaten Creighton appear on the schedule this week.

SIU streak snapped; Creighton still running

The Charlotte 49ers walked on the Salukis’ home court last week and accomplished a feat no other team had in three years – they beat the Salukis on their home court, 64-59, ending SIU’s 31-game home winning streak. A late rally by SIU fell short in front of a shocked Saluki crowd.

Creighton now holds the MVC’s longest home-winning streak and the nation’s third longest at 25 games. Currently, the Bluejays aren’t too concerned with their home-winning streak; they’ve got a nice 10-game win streak to start the season.

MVC Player of the Week:

Josh Powell, Drake

After averaging more than 13 points in the Bulldogs’ two wins this week, sophomore Josh Powell earns the MVC Player of the Week. He recorded a double-double in Drake’s huge win over Wichita State.

MVC Newcomer of the Week:

Erik Crawford, Northern Iowa

Sophomore guard Erik Crawford has been getting it done on all parts of the court during Northern Iowa’s five-game winning streak. For the second time this season, he is the MVC Newcomer of the Week. Crawford has been averaging double figures in scoring the last two games, is putting up seven rebounds a game and has hit 12 of 13 from the free throw line.

MVC Notes

Bradley (8-5 / 1-1)

The offense is seriously missing the presence of Phillip Gilbert. The Braves have put up only 52 and 49 points this week in a win and a loss. Marcellus Sommerville took charge, recording a double-double in a defensive struggle with Indiana State on Saturday. He tallied 17 points with 11 boards in the 52-42 victory. Creighton manhandled BU on Monday night, 66-49. Bradley stuck with the Bluejays for much of the first half but just couldn’t hold on. Sommerville sunk 12 points in the loss.

A road trip is on tap for this week to Des Moines to face a tough Drake squad and to Evansville, where the Purple Aces are looking to get on the winning track.

Creighton (10-0 / 2-0)

Southwest Missouri State almost handed Creighton its first loss of the season, but the Bluejays were able to rally back in their conference-opener for a 59-54 win. Brody Deren and Kellen Miliner led the Creighton attack with 11 points apiece. CU took advantage of a Bradley team minus Philip Gilbert on Monday for a 66-49 victory. Brody Deren recorded a double-double with 15 points and a career-high 14 boards.

Creighton will travel to Illinois State on Jan. 7 and will host Drake on Jan. 11.

Drake (5-5 / 1-1)

A poor free-throw shooting performance last week that cost the Bulldogs a victory was put behind them this week during two strong wins. In their first game, the Bulldogs held on for dear life as they saw a 12-point lead evaporate to Cleveland State. Five players scoring in double figures propelled Drake to victory though, 83-80. The youthful Bulldogs shocked Wichita State – and the conference for that matter, in a dominant 71-60 win over the Shockers. Freshman Nick Grant rose off the bench to score 19 points.

Bradley will head to Des Moines on Jan. 8. From there the Bulldogs will head to Creighton on Jan. 11 and try to snap the Bluejays’ home-winning streak.

Evansville (1-9 / 0-2)

Someone stop the bleeding; the Purple Aces are reeling, having dropped five in a row. Unlike most of the earlier losses, these last two contests weren’t even close. No player reached double figures in a 72-52 loss to Indiana State on New Year’s Eve, and luck wasn’t any better in Cedar Falls during an 80-67 loss to Northern Iowa on Saturday. Matt Webster led the way against Northern Iowa with 17 points.

The Braves will try to get on track this week, but it won’t be easy. Home dates with Bradley and Southwest Missouri State loom.

Illinois State (4-6 / 0-2)

The Redbirds almost took down #20 Illinois but couldn’t hold on and lost in overtime, 80-73. Illinois rallied from a deficit to force overtime and took control from there. Marcus Arnold led the Redbirds with 23 points, and Trey Guidry added another 16.

Just one game is on the schedule for this week, a road contest at Indiana State on Saturday.

Indiana State (5-5 / 1-1)

Jerod Adler scored a career-high 13 points against Evansville, and Amani Daanish added another 13 as the Sycamores continued their run of domination over the Purple Aces. The game was no contest as ISU took a 40-18 halftime lead and cruised to a 72-52 victory. Saturday was another story. No Sycamore could reach double figures in scoring during a 52-42 setback to Bradley. David Moss did bring in 10 rebounds.

ISU will have two home games this week with Southern Illinois on Jan. 7 and Illinois State on Jan. 10.

Northern Iowa (7-3 / 2-0)

The Panthers are enjoying their longest winning streak in four years after wins over Siena and Evansville. Ben Jacobson took control against Siena with 16 points and six assists in the 82-70 win. Five Panthers reached double figures in a game where UNI led by as many as 25. UNI controlled Evansville and held off a late rally by the Purple Aces. Erik Crawford led the Panthers in scoring with 19 points.

UNI will try to extend its winning streak on the road this week at Wichita State on Jan. 8 and Southwest Missouri State on Jan. 11.

Southern Illinois (8-2 / 2-0)

The new year started on a sour note for the Salukis as they dropped their first home contest in three years to Charlotte, 64-59. Three Salukis reached double figures in scoring as the Salukis tried to rally, but it wasn’t enough to extend the home-winning streak.

SIU will face two teams coming off of bad losses this week: a trip to Indiana State on Jan. 7 and a home contest with Wichita State on Jan. 11.

Southwest Missouri State (8-5 / 0-2)

The Bears are still searching for their first MVC win after a 59-54 setback to Creighton. SMS shot 52% in the first half to take a 31-27 lead but couldn’t hold on during the second frame. Merrill Andrews tallied 17 points for SMS and Monwell Randle tacked on another 11.

SMS will travel to Evansville on Jan. 7 and will host Northern Iowa on Jan. 11.

Wichita State (8-4 / 1-1)

2003 ended on a sour note, and 2004 hasn’t been any better thus far. Though Jamar Howard recorded a double-double with 21 points and 11 points last Tuesday, Oral Roberts slipped past the Shockers, 76-73. Things went very wrong on Saturday as WSU committed a season-high 25 turnovers in a 71-60 loss to Drake.

Wichita State will try to get back on track and live up to their preseason hype this week as they host Northern Iowa on Jan. 8 and travel to Southern Illinois on Jan. 11. Fox Sports Net will televise the game with SIU on Jan. 11.


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