The fall sports season started this week, which means the start of basketball practice is less than two months away. It is about time: this has felt like one of the longest off-seasons ever, what with the anticipation surrounding the start of a new era of Creighton basketball.
But no hoops action doesn’t mean there isn’t news to report. There’s a lot you might have missed during the past month. Let’s do a bit of catching up.
Schedules trickling out: Usually by this time of year, most of the Missouri Valley Conference schools have their non-conference schedules out for everyone to see (and criticize). However, only three schools have publicized their non-conference portions so far — Northern Iowa, Evansville, and Drake (though not officially). As of this week, many schools are still trying to find some games. Creighton is finalizing a home and an away game, Wichita State has two or three yet to schedule, Indiana State has one opening to fill, as does Bradley. Southern Illinois’ and Missouri State’s schedules look pretty set, but there are still some dates missing. Who knows what Illinois State is doing?
So far the lineup of games for the Valley schools is impressive. North Carolina continues a 2-for-1 deal with Evansville and will visit the Purple Aces . Evansville also plays the storied Indiana Hoosiers program, as the two teams start a 2-for-1 deal. The Hoosiers will come to Evansville next season to help the Aces open their new arena.
Missouri State is starting a 2-for-1 series at Oklahoma State. Southern Illinois finally gets their opportunity against former SIU coaches Bruce Weber and Matt Painter in games against Illinois and Purdue. One-and-done opportunities are also on special this season, as Northern Iowa heads to Syracuse, Bradley travels to Duke, and Indiana State plays the Boilermakers at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
As of right now, Creighton gets Iowa State in Des Moines, which seems the worst of the bunch above. There are some great opportunities for the Valley this season. Can MVC teams turn those opportunities into signature wins?
If you want an updated list of games scheduled unofficially, take a peek over at our scheduling page to see what the Valley schools have lined up. As for the Valley schedule itself, it sounds like it might be in the member schools hands by the end of this week or next for approval.
Texas Tech scheduling philosophy: One interesting read from this summer is the perspective that Texas Tech takes as far as the Red Raiders’ own scheduling practices. They actually try to play on the road while a lot of high-major conference schools avoid it like the plague. They have also lowered season ticket prices this season to draw more fans.
Tournaments having trouble fielding teams: Bradley is a part of the 8-team Hall of Fame Classic, but there have been some problems from the organizers to get that eighth team. Then you have the Charleston Classic, which even run by ESPN can’t seem to fill the last two teams in that bracket; as of last Friday, they were still looking for teams. It appears, though, that Coastal Carolina is the seventh team. I would have much rather had the Bluejays a part of that field than the MTE with Iowa State. Kennesaw State, Northern Arizona, and Alabama State just aren’t the same.
Once the schedule comes out, fans’ next question is always, “will the games be on TV?” We are currently compiling all of the MVC games that will be on TV. So far it is a small list, but at this point, Wichita State will be on the ESPN family of networks three times while competing in the Maui Invitational. Southern Illinois will be a part of the ESPN 24-hour hoops marathon. All of the MWC-MVC Challenge games that are being hosted by MWC schools will be shown on The Mtn. channel.
If you want to see all of the MWC-MVC challenge games on TV, you better make a plea to Cox Communications (402-933-3000) to start carrying The Mtn. Remember, a lot of us missed the Creighton vs. New Mexico game last season because it was carried on The Mtn., which virtually no one in Omaha has except for those select bars and DirecTV subscribers. At least this season, Creighton and the MVC own the rights to the game against BYU, so expect to see that game on at least Fox Sports Net. By the way, BYU is the most sober school for the 13th year in a row.
Former Bluejays in the News
Korver’s dodgeball: Kyle Korver may not be in Utah anymore with the Jazz, but he is working with Deron Williams again to host a charity dodgeball tournament. With Korver now in a Bulls uniform, it would make a lot of sense for Creighton to play a game in the Chicago area at the same time the Bulls are in town; I would think a lot of CU fans would love to make a trip to the Windy City to watch both.
Anthony Tolliver a Timberwolf: Tolliver got a little extra airtime on Deadspin and ESPN when he signed with Minnesota a couple weeks ago. If you haven’t seen the video, enjoy it. For Anthony, his new contract is well deserved.
Altman’s trip to Italy: Dana Altman is really going to have a challenging first season at Oregon. Not only are players transferring and getting injured, but because of the shortage of players, the early season trip to Italy has been canceled and now Oregon may lose several days of practice in October as a result. Teams get an extra 10 days of practice to use to prepare for these trips, but now that Oregon’s isn’t happening, they have to wait for the NCAA to decide how this will be handled. Oregon basketball is in shambles right now, and it will be interesting to see how Altman handles the adversity after having a troubling season last year at Creighton.
Redbirdfan has a new moderator: The long time Illinois State fan message board Redbirdfan.com has come to a close, but another Illinois State fan decided to take it over. The new board has a slight different domain name: redbirdfan.net.
New MVC message board: Speaking of message boards, there is a new board dedicated to following Missouri Valley Conference sports. Check out MVCFans.com for some good discussions about hoops and all other MVC sports.
Marshall, the motivational speaker: In his off time, Wichita State head coach Gregg Marshall inspires teachers to do more with less, even if it means driving to Omaha for a game against Creighton instead of flying.
Northern Iowa’s new court: You knock off Kansas to get to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament and what is your reward? The court that you played on, naturally. It was not the same court where Ali Farokmanesh and the Panthers put away the Jayhawks last March — but the next best thing. Northern Iowa purchased and installed the same Sweet 16 court used against their next opponent in the NCAA Tournament, Michigan State–albeit refinished with UNI and Valley logos. It is a little piece of history that will live on at the McLeod Center.
Europe tour: Five players from MVC schools (Drake, Southern Illinois, Missouri State, and Bradley) joined five players from other schools (Illinois, Wisconsin, Purdue, and Eastern Illinois) to tour Europe and build relations through playing basketball games put together by Global Sports Academy. They went 5-0 and got some extra experience they can bring to their teams heading into the season. The MVC players were Dyricus Simms-Edwards (Bradley), Gene Teague (SIU), Seth VanDeest (Drake), Ben Simons (Drake), and Adam Leonard (Missouri State).
Liquor License at SIU Arena: As if Saluki fans need any other reasons to yell vulgarities or be themselves, now they get to add alcohol to the mix. At least it is only in designated areas; it could get really ugly in Carbondale.
Other Great Reads
Characteristics of successful coaches: This article is a nice reminder and a great set of guidelines of what makes a great coach. I’m not a coach myself, but if I were to look for one, these characteristics would be key to my search.
Butler getting more notoriety: This kind of recognition and interest happened with George Mason when they went to the Final Four, and now it is happening to Butler. All of a sudden, everyone wants to go there. Northern Iowa is experiencing the same thing.
Sadler’s key year: Nebraska went 4-0 in the Bahamas this last week, but it does not mean everything is all peachy at Nebraska. Husker Mike expressed his displeasure with Doc Sadler and the program at the end of last season, but even this summer, Sadler himself has some doubts about any type of success at Nebraska.