Claremore Daily Progress

Sports

June 26, 2013

Missouri Valley Conference hoops in transition

DES MOINES, Iowa — Wichita State finished last season with a stirring run to the Final Four that was a point of pride for Missouri Valley Conference.

Yet like many leagues around the country, the Valley is dealing with realignment-induced change that could alter its future.

League cornerstone Creighton, arguably the MVC's top program in recent years, is off to the reconfigured Big East in 2013-14.

The Valley quickly added Loyola (Ill.) University of the Horizon League to take Creighton's place. But while the Chicago-based Ramblers have a chance to someday flourish in the more prominent Valley, losing the Bluejays stings.

"Obviously, not having Creighton is something that, collectively, we're going to have to do a great job of covering up,'' Northern Iowa coach Ben Jacobson said Monday. "I think we're in very good position to cover up for Creighton.''

The Bluejays, behind two-time All-American Doug McDermott, are expected to contend immediately in the new Big East after winning the MVC last winter.

It could take much longer for the Ramblers to find their footing in the Valley.

The Ramblers, who haven't reached the NCAA tournament since 1985, finished just 5-11 in the Horizon League a year ago. Loyola beat Mississippi State and DePaul, but it was just the first time in 21 years the Ramblers defeated more than one BCS-level school.

There are indications that Loyola is getting better, though.

Coach Porter Moser - who coached at Illinois State from 2003-07 and played at Creighton from 1986-90 - led the Ramblers to an eight-win improvement in 2012-13. That was the biggest jump by a second-year coach in school history.

Loyola returns five players with starting experience, including star forward Christian Thomas, from a roster that was the sixth-youngest in the nation last season. But even Moser said Monday that it's tough to predict how Loyola will fare in its first season in the MVC.

"We are preparing guys, to let them know how good (the Valley) is. The coaching, the atmosphere, the level of players,'' Moser said. "There's really good teams. There are some teams in some other leagues that can be really talented, but I think the Valley is talented and has great teams.''

Loyola's biggest selling point to the Valley was its presence in a major media market. Most of the league teams already recruit heavily in Chicago, and Moser said he's already begun to notice Loyola resonating more with recruits in the classes of 2014 and 2015.

"The Valley has such a strong name, and it's been a very, very positive reception,'' Moser said. "It's now going to be an even bigger stage. The TV package in the Valley is very exciting ... almost every game that (we'll) be playing will be on some type of TV. That's just exposure. That's such a different level, and we're excited to be a part of that.''

The Valley's national buzz will undoubtedly take a dip next season by losing the Bluejays, especially considering that McDermott is one of the most recognizable stars in the country.

But Wichita State's profile is higher than ever, and the Shockers will likely open the season in the Top 25. There's depth behind them, too, as every team in the league won at least six Valley games and 10 overall in 2012-13 for the first time in 106 years.

"We've never been a one-team league. We're never going to be a one-team league,'' Southern Illinois coach Barry Hinson said. "Certainly we're going to miss the Bluejays. It would be great if we could have them back. But at the same time, we're adding a new team in Loyola that's a great market. Chicago is a much better market than Omaha.''



 

1
Text Only
Sports
  • Patel named RSU men's basketball assistant coach

    Rogers State University head men’s basketball coach Justin Barkley named Vinay Patel the new assistant men’s basketball coach on Monday.

    “I am very excited about bringing Vinay on board,” Barkley said. “He brings invaluable experience to the program as he is a well-respected recruiter and his NCAA Division II resume is a perfect fit as we continue our transition to become a full-NCAA Division II member.”

    April 22, 2014

  • DSC_0089web.jpg All-State Hoopsters

    Verdigris senior point guard Baileigh O’Dell capped off a stellar four-year prep basketball career with Tulsa World 2nd-Team All-State recognition.
    O’Dell, a 5-foot-5 floor general that will compete for the Lamar University Lady Cardinals in the Southland Conference next season, was one of five girls basketball players from Rogers County to earn All-State accolades.
    Claremore senior point guard Kaleigh Cox, Inola senior point guard Lexi Williams, Verdigris senior guard Caitlyn Hanslovan and Verdigris freshman forward Keara Battenfield were named to the honorable mention squad.

    April 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • DSC_0127web.jpg SOCCER: Lady Zebras ranked 4th in Class 5A poll

    Strong senior leadership and a talented core of underclassmen have kept the Claremore Lady Zebras on a nine-game winning streak since falling in the season opener.
    Senior midfielder Katelin Teter and senior defenders Jentry Cruce and Anna McGuire have the Lady Zebras playing their best soccer in the closing week of the regular season.
    Behind Teter, Cruce and McGuire, as well as other seniors Bailey Bacon and Emily Parkinson, the Lady Zebras (9-1) are currently ranked No. 4 overall in the Class 5A girls soccer state poll.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • DSC_0181web.jpg BASEBALL: Claremore splits series with Collinsville

    The moment Claremore senior catcher Matt Whatley got thrown out at home plate in the top of first inning, it was downhill for the Zebras.
    Collinsville took advantage of six Claremore errors and erupted for 17 hits to thump the Zebras, 15-2 Friday afternoon in Metro Lakes Conference play.

    April 21, 2014 2 Photos

  • BROWNweb.jpg BASEBALL: Catoosa’s Brown holds off Ft. Gibson

    Nick Brown twirled a four-hitter and Catoosa held firm defensively with the game on the line, powering the Indians to a 4-3 victory over Fort Gibson Saturday on Senior Day.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • DSC_0216web.jpg RSU's Law silences UT-Permian Basin

    The Rogers State University baseball team dropped game one of a Heartland Conference series at Texas-Permian Basin, 2-0, but battled back to split the twin bill Friday with a 7-1 victory in the night cap.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Southern Mississippi searching for new basketball coach

    Southern Mississippi athletic director Bill McGillis thought basketball coach Donnie Tyndall might not last long as the team kept winning games.

    April 22, 2014

  • Kentucky's Julius Randle enters NBA Draft

    Kentucky forward Julius Randle took a lot of time and talked to a lot of people before deciding to leave after one season for the NBA draft, where he is expected to be among the top five selections.

    April 22, 2014

  • BIG TEN MBB: Illinois player Darius Paul arrested

    University of Illinois police say basketball player Darius Paul faces preliminary charges of resisting a peace officer and unlawful consumption of alcohol by a minor.

    April 22, 2014

  • SEC MEN'S BB: Tennessee hires Southern Mississippi's Donnie Tyndall

    Tennessee's coaching position had just become available when Donnie Tyndall received a text message urging him to pursue the job.

    April 22, 2014