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
  • DSC_0237web.jpg Hrdlicka, Teter pour ‘heart’ into Zebra soccer program

    For the past four years, Claremore High School seniors Katelin Teter and Nick Hrdlicka have represented the ‘heart and soul’ of the Lady Zebra and Zebra soccer programs.
    The soccer duo will join seven other seniors on Friday night for Homecoming against Collinsville at Lantow Field.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • DSC_0114web.jpg SOCCER: JV Lady Zebras edge Verdigris, 2-1

    Claremore sophomore forward Brylee Brasher may have felt a little out of position Monday night during the junior varsity game against Verdigris.
    Normally, starting in the goal for the Lady Zebras varsity team, Brasher came out of her comfort zone to start at forward for the Claremore JV.
    The position switch proved to be a great decision for head coach Robin Sutherland, as Brasher showed a tenacity on offense that led to Claremore’s 2-1 win over Verdigris.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • Hart: Vols hoops job still 'extremely attractive'

    Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart believes the criticism former men's basketball coach Cuonzo Martin encountered this season won't hinder the Volunteers' search for a successor.

    April 17, 2014

  • BIG 12 MBB: Kansas State gives Weber 1-year contract extension

    Kansas State basketball coach Bruce Weber has received a one-year contract extension through the 2018-19 school year after leading the Wildcats to 47 wins in his first two seasons, the most victories by any coach in his first two years in school history.

    April 17, 2014

  • NCAA MEN'S BB: Manning completes Wake Forest coaching staff

    New Wake Forest basketball coach Danny Manning is bringing three members of his Tulsa coaching staff with him.

    April 17, 2014

  • NCAA MEN'S BB: Duke's Parker declares for NBA Draft

    Duke freshman Jabari Parker is entering the NBA draft.
    Coach Mike Krzyzewski says in a statement Thursday it was ''an honor for us to have him in our program.'' In an essay posted on SI.com, Parker says the NBA offers him the best chance to develop both as a player and off the court.

    April 17, 2014

  • NBA: Blake Griffin's 16th technical triggers 1-game suspension

    Blake Griffin has picked up his 16th technical foul of the season, triggering a league-mandated one-game suspension.

    April 17, 2014

  • NBA CAPSULES: Wizards top Celtics, clinch playoff berth

    Bradley Beal scored 27 points and Washington clinched the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference with a 118-102 win over the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night.
    The Wizards will be facing Chicago in their first playoff appearance since 2008.

    April 17, 2014

  • Let the (real) games begin: It's NBA playoff time

    Finally, the NBA playoffs are set.
    It took the entire season to fill out those brackets.
    Overtime thrillers in Memphis and Charlotte, a go-ahead dunk in Oklahoma City to win a game and cap another scoring title for Kevin Durant, plus some good old-fashioned disinterest by Brooklyn ... all that, and more, on the final night of the season was needed before the eight conference-quarterfinal matchups in this season's NBA playoffs could be decided.

    April 17, 2014

  • Hopes high Negro Leagues stadium makes comeback

    The light touch of a paint roller is enough to dislodge a chunk of plaster from the crumbling walls of Hinchliffe Stadium.
    Though silent for decades, the former home of several Negro Leagues teams is getting another chance at bat as baseball's first National Historic Landmark.

    April 17, 2014