The State of the Valley

6 12 2011

8-7, not quite the Valley heyday, but a winning record against BCS-conference foes is a great step for a conference who expects an abundance of early-season success.

Once considered the hands-down top mid-major conference in the country, the MVC’s recent plight as a single-bid league in the NCAA tournament could finally end in 2011-2012.

Proving the conference’s worth has become the focus for MVC and league commissioner Doug Elgin (good interview in the Examiner from August)

“I think our people understand that they simply have to prove they are worthy of an NCAA Tournament at-large bid, and they cannot accomplish that without playing strong non-conference schedules.  Our teams have to be better than teams from higher-profile leagues, and the best way to make that point it is to schedule strategically… early-season tournaments provide the best opportunity to play NCAA Tournament-caliber teams at neutral sites.”

Solid wins (WSU over UNLV, Evansville over Butler, etc) and a combined 46-23 non-conference clip (through Dec.4), may just push the Missouri Valley conference back toward mid-2000 prominence.

Creighton and Wichita State are carrying the torch, but look who is making an appearance in the top-five of CBS’s early season RPI Report (Sorry Panther fans, but I’m not sure it’s quite deserved).

Irrespective of your feelings on early-season ranks (please see BCS issues), there’s little question that the powers-that-be in the national media are starting to take notice.

Heck, Valley-friendly media like Joseph Book are already throwing out Doug McDermott’s name for All-American contention (Joseph Book’s MVC ranking at the Examiner).

And it’s hard to argue. Not only is Dougie McD in the top-5 in scoring, but his leadership and clutch play have Creighton in the national rankings.

Where the final record falls as conference season draws closer remains to be seen.

Most likely, Evansville will not be able to put-away fourth-ranked North Carolina on the road.

(8-8).

But I do expect UNI to take care of business at home against the lowly Hawkeye (5-3 against a very weak schedule).

9-8.

Missouri State hosting an Oklahoma State team yet to garner a solid win deems this one a toss-up, slight edge going to MSU at home.

10-8. At worst. 9-9 (a vast improvement over last year’s 11-22 mark).

Give the commissioner and the league’s coaches some credit. This year’s MVC is playing at a higher level and certainly giving fans around the Midwest cause for excitement.

Now if only we can Jim Nantz on board…





Catch me in the Galleria, Plaza, Chesterfield

9 03 2010

Congrats to the Drake seniors – Bill Eaddy, Craig Stanley, Adam Templeton, and Josh Young for completing their Drake careers. Despite an up-and-down senior season, I’m proud of each of these guys for their hard work, determination, leadership, and career success. Each brought valuable qualities to the team and will be missed next year. I was especially happy about the gritty performance they showed against Southern Illinois Thursday night, ensuring that the team did not go quietly. Congrats on your careers fellas!

I was fortunate enough to view this victory first hand. For the first time, I attended the MVC tournament as a fan – well, kind of. After four years wearing P (Participant) credentials I flipped to the “dark side” (a term a lot of my “peers” used this weekend when asking about my experience) and wore an M (Media). To be honest, it was an amazing experience.

Traveling with KXNO’s Matt Perrault and Ken Miller, I sat in press row and assisted on Thursday and Friday during their sports talk program. Both guys made me feel very comfortable and led me around, both on and off air until I could figure things out for myself. I reunited myself with Dick Enberg and even got to meet a man with a cult-following, Bill Raftery (Note: Klayton Everett Korver was justifiably insanely jealous. Maybe he should have listened to me when I told him to go to St. Louis!)

The weather was great and the tournament was equally impressive. I’ve never been able to enjoy how well both St. Louis and the ScottTrade Center cater to Valley fans. The entire downtown area is adorned with Valley paraphernalia making for a very festive atmosphere. Different areas and hotels represent different teams, with common areas for all to enjoy. In the arena, the excitement and entertainment was geared toward all – getting fans excited with various questions, contests, and rallying cries. Someone even won four Cardinal tickets for spelling my name correctly. Sadly, they did not ask me this question. However, on the videoboard, the question clearly asked “How do you spell the last name of Drake University’s former MVC MVP and conference tournament MOP Adam Emmenecker?” (One kinda fun thing about the tournament is the questions were almost rudely obvious to ensure no wrong answers. Help was encouraged.) Maybe that wasn’t the exact question, but it was something to that effect. Needless to say, a female Drake fan answered the question correctly and has yet to ask me to attend the Cardinals game with her. I’m still hopeful.

Wichita State fans seemed the most abundant, but most schools were well represented. Sadly, the two schools with the least fans were Drake and Evansville. After such great support two years ago, it seems many Drake fans were not willing to make the trip. I was very happy with those who attended, however. Despite smaller numbers than Southern Illinois, Drake fans were loud and supportive, making their presence felt.

As they did through most of the regular season, UNI dominated the tournament. It was one of the more impressive basketball displays I’ve seen in person. Their defense as phenomenal and they had 10 guys make big plays over the course of the weekend. They seem to be getting stronger and stronger in preparation of the NCAA Tournament. Right now, I see them as a 6 or 7 seed, with the potential to make a splash against some powerhouses. I wish them the best of luck, as many Panther fans did for us two years ago. Make the conference proud!








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