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2013-14 Missouri Valley Post-Mortem

by - Published May 8, 2014 in Columns, Conference Notes

The Missouri Valley sent just one team to the NCAA Tournament in 2014, but that team was pretty good – and it brought a lot of attention to the conference. It was a good thing since the conference as a whole has had better years than this one.

Wichita State became the first team to go 34-0 before the NCAA Tournament. The Shockers’ pursuit of an undefeated regular season was a big storyline for much of conference play, especially once it became clear that there weren’t many teams in the Valley that could beat them this year. They pulled it off, including convincing wins in the conference tournament, and then reached 35-0, the first team ever to do that. Their season ended in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in a classic against eventual runner-up Kentucky.

… Continue Reading

2014 NCAA Tournament: Early thoughts

by - Published March 17, 2014 in Columns

The NCAA Tournament selection committee has spoken. The 68 teams are set to begin the tournament on Tuesday with two of the First Four games. With that, the fun is about to begin.

Before that, here are some random thoughts on the selection, seeding and potential matchups, as well as reaction to some early chatter about the field.

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BracketBusters takes center stage once again

by - Published February 19, 2012 in Columns

Every year, there is a lot of talk about how to make BracketBusters better, or if it should just go away entirely. While teams have undoubtedly benefited from it over the years of its existence, the feelings on it seem a bit mixed, and it’s debatable whether or not it has been good as a whole. Right now, it’s what we have, and on Saturday it was center stage.

Proponents have talked about teams getting an extra national television appearance for people to see them. They have also cited the chance to get an RPI boost. Certainly, some of the teams that have benefited can look back and argue that they would not have made the NCAA Tournament if not for a win in the BracketBusters, including Final Four teams from George Mason and VCU. … Continue Reading

Baylor is clearly third in the Big 12

by - Published February 12, 2012 in Columns

At this time of the year, we find out who teams are. The importance of each game in the standings is clearer, teams have injuries, seniors are playing their final games and freshmen have about 20 games under their belt.

Every season, there are some teams that look very good for a while, even good enough in our minds to be Final Four and/or national championship contenders. They have the talent, experience and early on a few good wins. They might not lose a game for a while, even beating some good teams. Then sooner or later, they get tested, and we find that they’re not quite at that level.

Enter this year’s Baylor Bears, 72-57 losers at Missouri on Saturday. … Continue Reading

Wichita State Shockers 2011-12 Preview

by - Published November 10, 2011 in Conference Notes

Wichita State Shockers (29-8, 14-4)





Projected starting five:

Sr. G Toure’ Murry
Sr. G David Kyles
Sr. C Garrett Stutz
Sr. G Joe Ragland
Sr. F Ben Smith

Important departures:

Jake J.T. Durley: 11.3 ppg, 4.9 rpg
Gabe Blair: 6.5 ppg, 6.4 rpg
Graham Hatch: 6.1 ppg

Percent returning:

Starts: 44.3 percent
Minutes: 57.0 percent
Scoring: 58.9 percent
Rebounding: 47.8 percent


Freshman guard Evan Wessel was a first-team all-state for class 6-A at Heights High School in Kansas.

Toughest nonconference match ups:

Nov. 17 vs. Colorado
Dec. 4 vs. UNLV
Dec. 10 vs. Utah State


Wichita State has seen other teams capture the MVC crown the past two seasons even though it was predicted to win. The target is off the Shockers’ backs this season, but they still return a potent lineup capable of making a run for this season’s title again. Five of WSU’s top six scorers return this season, all of whom averaged 6.7 to 9.4 points per contest in 2010-11. Problems might occur on the boards though, with the losses of J.T. Durley and Gabe Blair. A very inexperienced bench might also force the Shockers to watch another team celebrate this season again. As of now, it appears WSU will have the opportunity to defend its NIT title.

Prediction: Third

Back to Missouri Valley preview

Wichita State Rides Defense to NIT Title

by - Published April 1, 2011 in Columns

NEW YORK – In a battle of two programs, frequent participants but never an NIT champion, Wichita State emerged victorious. The Shockers defeated Alabama 66-57 in the title game on Thursday at Madison Square Garden. A tempo-free look follows.



Wichita State 65

Alabama 65


Offensive efficiency:

Wichita State 102

Alabama 88

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NIT Semifinal Games Are Another Study in Contrasts

by - Published March 30, 2011 in Columns

NEW YORK – “Déjà vu all over again,” to quote a wise sage. The NIT semifinal doubleheader was similar to the semis of the recently completed Newark Regional in the NCAA. Washington State versus Wichita state was a one-sided rout devoid of ties or lead changes. Following that, Alabama and Colorado saw five ties, nine lead changes and an SEC team emerge victorious in a game not settled until the final shot.


A tempo-free look follows.

… Continue Reading

Missouri Valley Notebook – February 23, 2011

by - Published February 23, 2011 in Conference Notes

Valley struggles in BracketBusters weekend
In an attempt to make a statement and avoid being a one-bid league for the NCAA Tournament, the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) did not fare well this weekend in the BracketBusters challenge. The league combined for a 3-7 record in the competition, with all six postseason hopefuls falling. Wichita State, Northern Iowa and Indiana State all had opportunities at home, but failed to capitalize in defeats to VCU, George Mason and Morehead State. This weekend’s struggles magnify the importance of the final week before the conference tournament in St. Louis, March 3-6.

A look at the postseason hopefuls:

… Continue Reading

Missouri Valley Notebook – December 5, 2010

by - Published December 6, 2010 in Conference Notes

Missouri Valley dominated in MWC-MVC Challenge Series

Any bubble teams from the Missouri Valley Conference on Selection Sunday better hope no team from the Mountain West is also on the bubble. The bids will likely go out west based on head-to-head play, as the Mountain West Conference breezed to an 8-1 record in this year’s Mountain West-Missouri Valley Challenge Series. Six of the eight losses were by double digits for the Valley, and only Northern Iowa’s 64-60 win at TCU was the MVC’s taste of victory. There will be little time to lick the wounds, as games against powers such as Duke, North Carolina and Oklahoma State loom this week.

A look at some of the Challenge Series highlights:

Wichita State barely blinked and saw a three-point lead turn into an 11-point deficit during an 83-69 loss at No. 17 San Diego State on Saturday night. It was a match that pitted who most consider the top teams of each conference, and the score can be a little misleading. Had it not been for a fierce two-minute stretch, the contest probably could have been a last-possession thriller. The Shockers led 47-44 in the second half and only let roughly two minutes pass before hitting their next basket. But San Diego State caught fire and reeled off 14 straight points during that span. The closest WSU could pull within the Aztecs after that was six. Wichita State (5-2) now sits at 0-2 against teams currently in the top 25.

Two other top 25 teams from the Mountain West had little trouble with their competition. No. 23 UNLV cruised past Illinois State, 82-51, and 25th-ranked BYU held off Creighton at the Qwest Center, 77-65. Coupled with another loss to Nebraska on Sunday, Creighton’s record against above-.500 teams fell to 1-4. The Bluejays nearly came back to pull off the upset against BYU after erasing a double-digit deficit midway in the second half, but the Cougars tallied 10 straight after Creighton tied the game and made that lead stick.

Bad news for the rest of the MVC: Northern Iowa’s defense is still improving and forcing opponents to play its style. The Panthers held TCU to 60 points on the road, which actually raised their points allowed per game to around 58. The Missouri Valley’s sole win in this series was also the Horned Frogs’ first home defeat of the season.

Evansville was one basket away from giving the MVC a second win in the series – also on the road. Kenny Harris missed a trey as time expired, and Air Force held on, 57-56. Even in the defeat, the Aces continue to look like they may compete for an upper-half finish in the MVC. The real measuring stick will come when North Carolina visits on Wednesday.

Other outcomes of the series: Utah held off Bradley, 68-60, sending the Braves to their fourth consecutive loss after a 4-0 start. Wyoming had little trouble taking care of Indiana State, 81-51. New Mexico used a second-half spurt to pull away at Southern Illinois, 74-59. And Drake shot almost 60 percent from the field in the first half at Colorado State, but couldn’t keep up in the second half during a 78-67 defeat.

Top performers in the MWC-MVC Challenge

Doug McDermott, Creighton: The freshman forward grabbed another double-double with 20 points and 12 boards. He also hauled in more than half of the Bluejays’ offensive rebounds.

Andrew Warren, Bradley: The loss to Utah spoiled a stellar output from the guard. Warren sank 27 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, was 10-for-10 at the charity stripe, nailed 3 treys and snatched 4 steals.

Kwadzo Ahelegbe, Northern Iowa: The senior guard scored almost half of the Panthers total points. Without a doubt, the Northern Iowa defensive effort would have been a loss without his contribution.

Ranking the MVC (through Dec. 6)

  1. Wichita State (5-2)
  2. Missouri State (6-2)
  3. Northern Iowa (4-2)
  4. Creighton (4-4)
  5. Evansville (3-3)
  6. Bradley (4-4)
  7. Illinois State (6-2)
  8. Indiana State (3-5)
  9. Southern Illinois (4-4)
  10. Drake (2-4)

Top games to watch this week

Wednesday, Dec. 8

Bradley at No. 1 Duke: A four-game skid is not how the Braves envisioned going into Durham, N.C., but a road win at No. 1 would be quite the way to snap a losing streak. The MVC will try to make it two wins in a row over No. 1, after Northern Iowa’s triumph over Kansas last March. Valley teams haven’t beat the top-ranked team outside of the NCAA Tournament in almost 59 years.

North Carolina at Evansville: Evansville also gets to take on an ACC power Wednesday when the Tar Heels visit. UNC sits just outside the top 25 going into this contest. The matchup will be a perfect opportunity for the Aces to prove their win over Butler wasn’t a fluke.

Saturday, Dec. 11

Missouri State at Oklahoma State: After missing its opportunity at Tennessee last month, Missouri State has one last shot to take down a BCS team before conference play.

Missouri Valley Notebook – November 30, 2010

by - Published November 30, 2010 in Conference Notes

The young season is two weeks old already, and the Missouri Valley Conference is off to a slow start – although against some strong competition. All teams have combined for a 33-21 non-conference record – not quite on pace to match last winter’s 90-39 mark.

What we’ve learned heading into December:

Wichita State is the only team helping its at-large opportunity so far. Yes, there is a long time to go after November, but the selection committee nevertheless will look at some of these good wins and losses – and in some cases, very bad losses. Wichita State (3-1) has steamrolled through the competition early, with the only defeat at the hands of Connecticut, 83-79. UConn, now ranked No. 7, shot its way to the Maui Tournament title, also knocking down the likes of No. 2 Michigan State and No. 9 Kentucky.

Other teams who may depend on at-large bids in March aren’t faring as well as the Shockers. After rushing out to a 4-0 start, Bradley has dropped two straight, including a head-scratching home loss to Eastern Illinois. Missouri State (4-2) sits in a slightly better position, with a 4-point loss to then-No. 23 Tennessee, but another loss to Conference USA foe, Tulsa. What may work in Missouri State’s favor this March is its 60-49 victory over fellow mid-major, Pacific. Northern Iowa’s (2-2) best chance to prove it hasn’t fallen far from last season’s success flopped during the second half of the season-opener at Syracuse, a 68-46 defeat. That was followed with another loss at Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Creighton (4-2) has a lot to prove in the Mountain West-Valley Challenge Series this week. A date with BYU on Wednesday will give the Bluejays an opportunity to raise some eyebrows. It will also give Creighton another chance to beat a team with a winning record for the first time this season.

Through the questions though, Creighton has a fearsome trio forming for MVC opponents. Antoine Young, Kenny Lawson Jr. and newcomer Doug McDermott have combined for 44 points and almost 20 rebounds per game. If they’re unable to grab the needed non-conference wins, the Bluejays are certainly solidifying themselves as a scary team by the time the conference slate begins.

The Northern Iowa defense looks like it will have to be stellar for another postseason appearance. They allowed just 55 points per game last season and might need to duplicate that to stay competitive in the MVC during 2010-11 to aid a struggling offense. Not counting the victory over Division III Coe College, the Panther offense is managing a mere 58.7 points. The good news so far: The defense is still solid, allowing just 57.5 points in four games. Syracuse managed the best output so far against them during its 68-46 thumping.

Evansville (3-2) is continuing where it left off last season. A 71-68 overtime win at No. 23 Butler Saturday is the proof. As the only MVC team not to win at least 10 games last season, Evansville still finished the ’09-10 campaign 3-3. That included wins over league leaders Northern Iowa and Wichita State and another near-miss against Wichita State. With its current play, the Aces may be pushing 10 wins by the time they play Wichita State on Dec. 29. Even if they don’t have 10 by then, the Aces have clearly pulled themselves out of the Valley cellar.

Ranking the Missouri Valley (through Nov. 28)

  1. Wichita State (4-1)
  2. Missouri State (4-2)
  3. Bradley (4-2)
  4. Northern Iowa (2-2)
  5. Creighton (4-2)
  6. Evansville (3-2)
  7. Indiana State (3-3)
  8. Illinois State (5-1)
  9. Southern Illinois (3-3)
  10. Drake (2-3)

Games to watch this week

Tuesday, Nov. 30

Indiana State at No. 25 Notre Dame: After a rough start, the Sycamores have an opportunity to run their win streak to three and make a statement against the newly-ranked Irish.

Wednesday, Dec. 1

Iowa State at Northern Iowa: The unbeaten Cyclones (6-0) will try to continue their early season dominance over the MVC, having dropped 91 points on both Creighton and Drake. With the style Northern Iowa plays though, you can almost expect Iowa State and UNI to combine for 91 points Wednesday.

No. 21 BYU at Creighton: The Bluejays have yet to beat an opponent with a winning record. Wednesday is the perfect opportunity, as the No. 21 Cougars visit the Qwest Center unbeaten.

Saturday, Dec. 4

Wichita State at No. 17 San Diego State: This contest will be like a Bracket Buster in February, and could catapult the Shockers into the Top 25 with a win.


Coaching Changes and NBA Draft Early Entrants

The coaching carousel is moving. Keep track of the latest coaching changes right here on Hoopville.

Also, keep track of players who have declared early for the NBA Draft.

Your Phil of Hoops

Watson’s transfer will sting BU the most

April 11, 2014 by


Boston University recently saw three players transfer. The impact of the departure of one of them will be felt more than the other two.

Mihalich’s first year at Hofstra is over but will have plenty of value

March 9, 2014 by


The first year for Hofstra under Joe Mihalich is in the books. Many expected that wins would be hard to come by, and they were, but this season was about more than that and is hardly a throwaway year.

Cornell’s future can only be better

March 2, 2014 by


Cornell has had a rough season, as could be expected given some personnel losses. It’s almost in the books, and the future at least looks brighter.

Hoopville Archives

2014 Prep School Tour

Missed a recap of an open gym workout? We have them all right here for you.

Sept. 9: Putnam Science Academy
Sept 10: Commonwealth Academy
Sept. 11: St. Andrew's
Sept. 12: Northfield Mount Hermon
Sept. 16: Brewster Academy and Phillips Exeter
Sept. 17: Brooks School
Sept. 21: Holderness School
Sept. 23: St. Thomas More and Marianapolis Prep
Sept. 24: South Kent School and Kent School
Sept. 25: Williston Northampton
Sept. 28: Wilbraham and Monson Academy and Suffield Academy
Sept. 30: New Hampton
Oct. 5: Worcester Academy
Oct. 7: Brimmer and May
Oct. 8: Cushing Academy
Oct. 9: Tilton
Oct. 12: Tabor Academy and Rivers School
Oct. 14: The Master's School
Oct. 16: Vermont Academy

You can also find them all right here.

Even More: City Hoops Recruiting

Mass Elite and Boston Warriors hold college showcase

Mass Elite and Boston Warriors, two of the largest programs in Massachusetts, teamed up for a college showcase on Wednesday night. Here are some evaluations from that event.

Massachusetts 11th grade AAU Tournament recap

Teams gathered at Mass Premier Courts to chase the state title in the oldest age group, and one champion was a familiar one.

Travel team profile: All For One

All For One has been one of the better travel programs in Massachusetts for players before they reach high school

Travel team profile: Blackstone Valley Chaos

Size and options on the wing are not lacking for this year’s junior team

Travel team profile: Expressions Elite

Expressions Elite has quickly become one of the deeper programs in New England

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

Marianapolis Prep will battle in Class AA

October 20, 2014 by


Marianapolis Prep is far from loaded with talent, but they have enough perimeter talent to be dangerous. As is usually the case, they will battle and be a tough out in Class AA.

New Vermont Academy coach has put together a contender

October 17, 2014 by


Vermont Academy has a new coach for the second year in a row, but they shouldn’t skip a beat. They have enough talent to win a lot of games and make a deep run in NEPSAC Class AA.

The Master’s School has good students and talent

October 15, 2014 by


The Master’s School has a number of good students, and they will continue to head to college later. This time around, they also have some talent on the hardwood and should win a few more games.

Rivers will try to build on a breakthrough season

October 13, 2014 by


The Rivers School had a breakthrough season last year, winning the Independent School League. They will try to build on that with a team that loses a lot but also returns a lot from last season’s team.

Tabor Academy looks to have more depth this time around

October 13, 2014 by


Tabor Academy will once again be headlined by a frontcourt player. This time around, though, the Seawolves appear to have a deeper support cast than in recent years.