The No. 5 carries a short and mixed history with Wichita State basketball. Carter Arnett, Mo Evans and Wendell Preadom wore it. None lasted all four years at WSU. Randy Burns wore No. 5 with distinction for four seasons. Now Demetric Williams gets it.
I love No. 5, mostly because George Brett wore it. With that as the background, here is a five-spot to start the season:The MVC’s 5 most intriguing personalities
Southern Illinois coach Chris Lowery. The Salukis slipped the past two seasons – an NIT spot and a losing season. The program has endured some drama with off-the-court issues and player departures. SIU appears to be talented enough to make a good run this season. If they don’t, Lowery will need to do a lot of explaining.Creighton junior P’Allen Stinnett. Talented. Creighton needs him to be more consistent and less temperamental. His play is especially important with Justin Carter out for a month with a knee injury. Opposing fans are waiting for a Stinnett meltdown when he comes to town. He’s got to get past that.Southern Illinois guard Tony Freeman. He has one season and many expect it to be a big one. Coaches and media types put him onthe preseason All-MVC team before he played a game in the conference. If he is as good as advertised, SIU is in good shape.Indiana State guard Jake Kelly. Another transfer from Iowa who could shake things up in the MVC. Indiana State’s backcourt could be very good. Kelly may end up on the All-MVC team.Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall. He’s a big personality in a conference where many coaches are reserved (either by choice or nature) in public. Things get more interesting if WSU is a contender.
5 important non-conference games for the MVC
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Bradley at BYU (Friday) – BYU is the Mountain West favorite and 61-3 in the past four seasons at home. Not an easy task for Bradley. If the Valley wants more than one bid, winning here is a good place to start.Creighton at Dayton (Saturday) – Same story for the Jays.SIU at UNLV (Nov. 21) – The Salukis don’t get many shots at big wins with their non-conference schedule.Northern Iowa at Iowa State (Dec. 2) – The Panthers didn’t do enough last season to build a good non-conference resume. This game starts a tough stretch with home games against Iowa and Siena to follow.Wichita State at UMKC (Dec. 9) – Impossible to take the Shockers seriously if they lose to UMKC for a third straight season.
5 important January conference games
UNI at Creighton (Dec. 29) – The co-champs open the season. UNI played great on the road in 2009. Can the Panthers do it again?UNI at SIU (Jan. 6 ) – Tough start for the Panthers.Creighton at Wichita State (Jan.9) – Oh boy. Where to start?SIU at Creighton (Jan. 13) – Jays play at WSU, SIU, WSU, at Illinois State in mid-January.Bradley at Illinois State (Jan. 30) – The MVC is more fun when this rivalry means something.
5 MVC players to watch
Creighton C Kenny Lawson – He needs to do a lot of heavy lifting on his own. His production might be the MVC’s most telling stat.SIU F Carlton Fay – It’s time for him to be more of a consistent force as a junior. He failed to reach double figures in scoring in eight MVC games last season.WSU G Toure Murry – Better shot selection and better defense will make him one of the MVC’s best.UNI C Jordan Eglseder – Dominated at times. Disappeared at others. He is a senior.Bradley G Andrew Warren – An outside shooter is just what Bradley needed.
Five things I don’t like about the MVC
We need some scoring. Two teams averaged 70-plus points in 2009. Same in 2008. Three did it in 2007. Two in 2006. I’m not asking for Paul Westhead. Could we get a few more teams that look good on offense?Coach of the Year is always the coach of the first-place team. Why?Cedar Falls, Iowa. Too cold. Too icy. Those roads scare me.Women’s basketball. It needs to get better. A lot better.Illinois State’s schedule. It needs to get better.
5 things I like about the MVC
Tournament semifinals in St. Louis. That’s a good day of basketball. The atmosphere in 2006 hit a high point.Hoops Pub and Pizza in downtown Peoria.It didn’t go crazy during the expansion fever and dilute the product. An 18-team round-robin schedule is a perfect.Defense. Watch closely during non-conference games. Teams, and I mean good teams, aren’t ready for the MVC defenses.Seniors. Valley players stick around.