Weekly Men's Notebook; Drake Ranked No. 14 This Week
Drake is one win away from clinching at least a share of the league's regular-season title. Next up for the 14th-ranked Bulldogs is a game at Southern Illinois on Wednesday. [The Salukis are 59-1 in their last 60 conference home games.] The Bulldogs currently have a four-game lead over second-place Illinois State with five conference games remaining. Southern Illinois' five-game gap from first to second place in 2003-04 is the biggest in The Valley since Bradley in 1985-86. The 1985-86 Braves were also the last team to go perfect (16-0) as they held a six-game margin on second-place Tulsa and Drake. That six-game cushion in 1986 is the league record. Drake has five all-time MVC regular-season championships, the last coming in 1971.
State Farm Missouri Valley Player of the Week
P'Allen Stinnett, Creighton, 6-3, Fr., Gd., Las Vegas (Nev.) Brewster Academy [N.H.]
Stinnett averaged 19.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 1.5 assists while leading Creighton to double-digit wins over Northern Iowa and Southern Illinois last week. He opened his week with a career-high 24 points in a 74-50 win over UNI. He made 10-of-15 shots from the floor while also adding six rebounds and two assists in just 21 minutes. On Sunday, Stinnett had 14 points and three steals in 23 minutes of a 19-point win over Southern Illinois. He shot 5-of-9 from the field, including a pair of dunks and an improbable 270-degree spinning jumper. Stinnett shot 15-of-24 from the field (60 percent), 5-of-10 from three-point range (50 percent) and also drained 3-of-4 free throws in the wins.
Newcomer of the Week
Booker Woodfox, Creighton, 6-1, Jr., Gd., Lewisville (Texas) High [San Jacinto College]
Woodfox averaged 15.5 points in just 18.5 minutes per game off the bench as Creighton beat Northern Iowa and Southern Illinois by a combined 43 points last week to move into sole possession of third place. Woodfox shot 11-of-17 from the field (64.7 percent), 3-of-5 from three-point range (60 percent) and also hit 6-of-7 at the line (85.7 percent). He began his week with 11 points in 18 minutes of a 74-50 romp over Northern Iowa. Woodfox made 4-of-7 shots in that game and went on a personal 7-0 run to stretch CU's lead to 27 in the second half. Woodfox matched his career high with 20 points in 19 minutes in the win vs. SIU. He had 16 of his points in the first half to help CU built a 19-point halftime lead. He made 7-of-10 shots from the floor for the game. Woodfox also contributed two assists, two steals and a rebound while playing 37 turnover-free minutes on the week.
In addition to the league’s player and newcomer of the week selections, several conference players had notable performances, and they include:
- Matt Braeuer, WSU -- Averaged 12.0 points on 60 percent shooting in his first two games since suffering a concussion Dec. 29. He led WSU in scoring with 15 points in the win vs. Indiana State.
- Osiris Eldridge, ILS -- Eldridge averaged 20.0 points per game (nearly five points above his season average) on a 61.5 shooting percentage, collected 3.5 made three-pointers per game and added 3.5 rebounds per contest, in two games
- Emmanuel Holloway, ILS -- Averaged 7.5 points, 1.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game in an average of 17.5 minutes per game, in Illinois State’s two Missouri Valley Conference home games against No. 15 Drake and Bradley last week.
- Leonard Houston, DU -- Averaged 19 points and 5.5 rebounds while leading Drake to two victories. He scored a game-high 22 points, hitting seven of 12 shots from floor, in the come-from-behind 73-70 win at Illinois State.
- Dale Lamberth, MSU -- Had his fourth point-rebound double-double of the season with 15-10 at Bradley Wednesday and then turned in his sixth 20-point game of the year vs. UNI Saturday.
- Gabe Moore, INS -- Averaged 15.5 points, three rebounds, five assists and two steals per game in two games last week.
- Bryan Mullins, SIU -- Averaged 16.5 ppg and 4.0 apg in a win over Indiana State and the loss at Creighton. He made 6-of-7 shots from 3-point range on the week.
- Daniel Ruffin, BU -- Averaged 20.5 points, 6.0 assists, 2.0 rebounds and 1.5 steals in Bradley's two games last week. He became the fourth Brave to score as many as 25 points in a game this season when he hit Missouri State for a career-high 25 points Wednesday night.
- Theron Wilson, BU -- Averaged 15.0 points, 9.0 rebounds, 2.5 steals and 1.0 blocked shots in Bradley's two games last week. He notched his second double-double of the season with 13 points and a career-best 13 rebounds Wednesday night versus Missouri State.
Five Valley Games to Air Nationally
For the third-straight year, at least five Valley games will air on ESPN networks as part of the O'Reilly ESPNU BracketBusters series. Last year, the league matched a record when five games were on national TV on the same day. In February 2008, five BracketBusters games featured MVC schools, with four on ESPN2, and a fifth on ESPNU. Missouri State also played a televised BracketBusters game, but that game was Friday, Feb. 16, on ESPN2. In the 2007 event, the Valley established a league record with five same-day national telecasts as part of BracketBusters.
MVC games on national TV as part of BracketBusters
F23 -- Creighton at Oral Roberts (ESPN2), 2 pm CT
F23 -- Nevada at Southern Illinois (ESPNU), 3:30 pm CT
F23 -- Drake at Butler (ESPN2), 4 pm CT
F23 -- Milwaukee at Bradley (ESPN360.com), 8 pm CT
F24 -- Wright State at Illinois State (ESPNU), 5:30 pm CT
MVC Champs = NCAA
Fourteen-straight MVC regular-season champions have reached the NCAA tournament. Illinois State (1992-93) was the last to win the league’s regular-season crown and not make it. Creighton has more titles than any active member, (13 regular-season, 10 tournament).
How Seed it Is
Since the MVC began taking all 10 members for the tournament (1997 tournament, the past 11 seasons), Drake has played in the opening-round games nine times -- four times as the No. 10 seed. In that span, Drake was also a No. 6 seed twice, a No. 7 seed twice, a No. 8 seed twice, and a No. 9 seed once. Drake has already locked up at least a No. 2 seed for the tournament. The Bulldogs have not been better than a No. 6 since 1993 (they were a No. 5 seed in 1993). In fact, Drake has never been seeded higher than a No. 3 (1986) in the history of the tournament, until this year.
Drake has moved to 22-1 after two more wins last week extended its school-record win streak to 21 games. The last MVC team to start a season 22-1 was Bradley in 1985-86. The Braves reached 31-1 before losing two of their final three (at Tulsa in the MVC Tourney Final and to Louisville in the NCAA Tourney). Bradley's only other loss that year was to Clemson in the Rainbow Classic -- 12/28/85).
20 Wins Already
Only one team in Drake history has won more games in a season than the 22 wins Drake has already achieved, through Feb. 10. That 26-win team 40 years ago went to the Final Four. It marks only the fifth time that Drake has had a 20-win season in its history.
MVC 20-Game Winners
The Valley has had a minimum of two 20-game winners in each of the past nine seasons. In 2006, the league had six 20-game winners for the first time in its history. The previous mark (4) has been reached five times (1994-95, 1999-00, 2003-04, 2004-05, 2006-07).
20 Wins Important?
Since the NCAA Tournament field was expanded to 64 teams (1985), 59 Valley teams have posted 20 wins prior to "Selection Sunday." Forty-two have reached the NCAAs, and another 16 were in the NIT (Creighton was 20-12 in 1985 and did not reach the post-season).
A Million Served
This week, the league will surpass a million total fans. Currently, the league has drawn 989,431 fans in 126 home contests (7,853). Creighton is averaging a league-best 15,773, second all-time to its record of 15,909 last year. Of the current Valley membership, only four have eclipsed an average of 10,000.
Average Team Season
15,909 Creighton 2006-07
15,773 Creighton 2007-08
13,901 Creighton 2005-06
13,674 Louisville 1974-75
12,016 Creighton 2003-04
12,009 Louisville 1967-68
11,839 Louisville 1966-67
11,208 Creighton 2004-05
11,162 Louisville 1971-72
10,872 Louisville 1973-74
10,738 Indiana State 1978-79
10,698 Wichita State 1965-66
Fans Love the MVC
Last season, The Valley established all-time attendance marks as 1,251,050 fans witnessed regular-season and tournament games for a league-record average of 8,020. The State Farm MVC Tournament drew a league-record 85,074 fans over four days, eclipsing the previous record by more than 20,000. At the tournament, 22,612 fans were at both the semifinals and finals and those totals (both sellouts) set a Scottrade Center record for a basketball game. More people (22,612) attended the MVC title game than any other league championship tournament game.
Drake Streak Is 4th-Best
Drake has won a school-record 21-straight games, bettering the previous school winning streak set by the 1968-69 team, which won 12-straight until losing in the semifinals of the NCAA Final Four to eventual national champion UCLA, 85-82. Drake's current 21-game win streak trails only unbeaten Memphis (23) for the nation's longest current streak.
MVC All-Time Win Streaks
37 -- Cincinnati, 1961-62
33 -- Indiana State, 1978-79
22 -- Bradley, 1985-86
21 -- Drake (current)
18 -- Bradley, 1959-60 (6) into 1960-61 (12)
16 -- Southern Illinois (2003-04)
Rough on the Road
After the first week and a half of conference play, the league was a collective 7-8 in home games. Since, though, the home teams have had a decisive advantage in conference games, going a combined 33-12 (.733) in games at home. Of the 20 road wins this year in league play, Drake owns six, while five Valley teams have none or one MVC road wins.
Drake Climbs to No. 14
Drake is ranked No. 14 in the Associated Press poll and No. 15 in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll this week (Feb. 10). Drake's ranking this year is its first since the final poll of the 1974-75 season (Drake was No. 16 that year after winning the now defunct National Commissioner's Tournament that season.)
Another Top-25 Team
Drake is the sixth MVC team in the past three years to earn a spot in the Top 25. Bradley (2005-06), Creighton (2006-07), UNI (2005-06), Southern Illinois (2007-08) and Wichita State (2006-07) have also represented The Valley in recent top-25 polls.
How Sweet It Is
In the past two years, three different MVC teams have reached the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament. Bradley and Wichita State achieved the feat in 2005-06, while Southern Illinois reached the Sweet 16 last year.
MVC in Post-Season Play
Drake is looking to get back to post-season play for the first time since 1986. The Bulldogs played in the NIT that year and last reached the NCAA Tournament in 1971. Drake's post-season drought is the longest among any MVC member, as every other current member of the league has been in the NCAA Tournament at least once in the past 10 seasons. Drake's NCAA Tournament drought is the eighth-longest nationally (the distinction goes to Harvard, which hasn't been to the NCAAs since 1946).
RPI: Drake at No. 6
Drake is ranked No. 6 in this week's Collegiate Basketball News RPI Rankings. Last year, Southern Illinois was No. 9 in the final CBN RPI rankings. The Salukis were No. 6 entering the NCAA Tournament. Both rankings for SIU were league records. The previous highest RPI for any Valley team (pre-NCAA tourney selection) was Tulsa at No. 15 in 1995, and the previous high for a Valley school to end the season was 16 (also Tulsa in 1995).
RPI - MVC at No. 8
According to the Collegiate Basketball News, the Missouri Valley Conference is ranked No. 8 among conferences, through games of Feb. 10. The Valley has been ranked No. 6 in each of the last two season-ending rankings, but before that, the league had never eclipsed No. 8 (reaching that plateau in 1999 and 2005). The MVC's schedule strength is No. 7. Drake is No. 6, while Illinois State (49) and Creighton (50) also represent the conference in the Top 50.
BU .. 25-Point Club
When senior guard Daniel Ruffin scored a career-best 25 points Wednesday versus Missouri State, he became the fourth Brave to score at least 25 points in a game this season. Sophomore guard Andrew Warren hit for 25 Nov. 18 versus Maryland-Eastern Shore, senior guard Jeremy Crouch scored 25 Dec. 1 versus Southeast Missouri State and junior forward Theron Wilson torched Evansville for 28 points Jan. 19. Only seven other players in The Valley have scored at least 25 this year, no more than two on another team.
BU .. Tough Stretch
Four of Bradley’s five remaining Missouri Valley Conference games will be played against teams either tied with or ahead of the fourth-place Braves in the league standings. The lone exception is Tuesday’s game versus Indiana State at the Hulman Center in Terre Haute, where the Sycamores are 9-1 this season. Bradley will follow by hosting third-place Creighton Saturday afternoon in the first matchup of the year against the Bluejays.
CU .. Year of the Korvers
It's shaping up to be another magical year for the Korver family. Creighton grad Kyle Korver's Utah Jazz team is 17-3 since he was acquired from Philadelphia. Klayton Korver's Drake Bulldog team has won 21 straight games and is 22-1 this season. And Kaleb Korver's Creighton team is 17-6 this season, and has won eight of its last nine games that weren't against brother Klayton's Drake team.
CU .. Newcomers Lift CU
Creighton won key home games last week over UNI and Southern Illinois thanks in large part to its newcomers. Each of CU's top five scorers last week (P'Allen Stinnett, Booker Woodfox, Cavel Witter, Kenny Lawson Jr., Casey Harriman) had never played an MVC game before this season. Each man also shot 54 percent or better from the floor.
DU .. On the Move
Former walk-on Adam Emmenecker is bidding to become the first Drake player to lead the MVC in assists since Curt Smith did in 1992-93 en route to being named the MVC Player of the Year. Emmenecker is averaging 5.91 assists which is the best mark in the league since 2001. He has dished out 34 assists in his last four games. Emmenecker has 136 assists this year, more than doubling his career total of 64 entering this season.
DU .. Road Tested
Drake owns a 6-0 record when trailing at halftime, including a 5-0 mark on the road with comeback wins in its last five MVC road games at Evansville (30-32), Bradley (27-29), Creighton (24-30), Indiana State (30-35) and Illinois State (29-38). The Bulldogs shot an identical 56 percent, making 14 of 25 shots, in the second half in its last two comeback wins at Indiana State (83-77) and Illinois State (73-70).
UE .. Acing the Panthers?
Evansville should have a scouting advantage when it comes to the Feb. 23 ESPN Bracketbusters game at Eastern Illinois. That's because UE assistant coach Marcus Belcher was an assistant coach at Eastern Illinois last season. Belcher had previously assisted Marty Simmons at Southern Illinois-Edwardsville, and Belcher re-joined him last March when Simmons was chosen as Evansville's head coach.
UE .. Slow Starts
Slow starts have been hard for Evansville to overcome during MVC play, but the Aces managed to overcome a 1-for-16 start in shooting last week against Wichita State. Evansville trailed 31-20 at halftime, but produced a 44-point second half in order to win the game 64-56. The victory was UE's second in its last three home games.
ILS .. Streak Snapped
Illinois State’s 72-68 win over Bradley Saturday night broke a six-game losing streak against the Braves. Prior to Saturday, the Redbirds’ last win over Bradley occurred on Feb. 5, 2005.
ILS .. Lights Out
Illinois State tallied a season-high 54.9 (28-of-51) percent shooting percentage against 15th-ranked Drake last Tuesday despite dropping a 73-70 decision to the unbeaten Bulldogs. On Saturday against Bradley, the Redbirds were 28-of-48 from the field (.583), setting a season-best shooting mark for the second-consecutive game. ISU has shot better than 50 percent in nine contests this season, and is 7-2 in those games.
INS .. Welcome Home
Having played six out of their last eight games on the road, Indiana State returns home this week for two games. ISU is 9-1 at home with the only loss coming to No. 15 Drake. In those 10 games at home, the Sycamores are averaging 68.6 points per game and are shooting 45.8 percent from the field while forcing 31 more turnovers than their opponents. Compare that to the road, where the team is averaging just 59.3 points and shooting just 38.4 percent.
INS .. Block Party
Last year, the Sycamores blocked just 42 shots as a team. This season, the team has improved that mark to almost double at 74, thanks to freshman Isiah Martin. Martin has a league-best 43 blocks in his first season, breaking a freshman record at ISU and besting the entire team’s mark from 2006-07.
MSU .. One In, One Out
Drew Richards came back for eight minutes at Bradley and then started and played 19 minutes vs. UNI with five points and a season-high eight boards in his first action after missing eight games with mono. Meanwhile, Chris Cooks sprained an ankle in the closing stages of the game at Bradley and missed the UNI game.
MSU .. Retired Number
The Bears will retire Daryel Garrison’s (6-3 guard-forward) uniform No. 32 on Feb. 23 when Missouri State hosts Central Michigan. He is MSU's all-time career men’s scoring leader with 1,975 points as a four-year starter which ended in 1975.
UNI .. Downtown Attack
UNI combined for 15 three-pointers in their two games last week, connecting on seven at Creighton and eight at Missouri State. That tied the most treys over a two-game stretch this season. The eight triples against MSU ties the team’s second-best total of the season.
UNI .. 1,400 Club
Senior center Eric Coleman went over the 1,400 point barrier against Missouri State on Saturday. Coleman, who now has 1,404 career points, also moved past Robbie Sieverding into seventh place on the Panthers all-time scoring list.
SIU .. Home Cookin'
Since the start of the 2001-02 season, SIU is 88-5 (.947) overall at home. Southern’s five losses came against Charlotte (Jan. 2, 2004), Louisiana Tech (Feb. 18, 2006), Indiana State (Feb. 1, 2006), Indiana (Dec. 1, 2007) and Butler (Dec. 28, 2007).
SIU .. Against the MVC
Southern Illinois will put its 17-game home winning streak against MVC opponents on the line Wednesday night when it hosts No. 14-ranked Drake. Since the start of the 2001-02 season, SIU is 59-1 at home against MVC opponents. The only loss during the six-plus year span was to Indiana State on Feb. 1, 2006.
WSU .. He's Back
Senior Matt Braeuer made his return to the WSU lineup after missing 10 games following his fourth concussion. In just 12 minutes against Evansville, Braeuer scored nine points, and in his first start since the injury, scored a team-leading 15 points in the win against Indiana State. Braeuer is sporting special head-gear normally worn by soccer players to protect from another head injury.
WSU .. Harris Starts
Senior walk-on Lance Harris started the first game of his career Wednesday night at Evansville. Harris played 22 minutes and got the Shockers on the scoreboard first with a three-pointer from the left wing.