Tuesday at Koch Arena

All kinds of notions about the MVC race turned upside down Sunday afternoon. No team benefited more than Bradley, WSU’s next opponent. The Braves had lost three of five entering a game against Southern Illinois. They struggled to beat Division I newcomer SIU-Edwardsville for one of those wins. Then they ran the Salukis out of Carver Arena, leading by 27 with under six minutes to go. WSU’s perimeter defense will again be important Wednesday. The Braves are not shooting the three as often or as accurately as in recent seasons. But it remains a big part of their offense. WSU is holding teams to 31.7 percent shooting from three, down from a Valley-worst 39 percent last season.

“It better be good Wednesday night for us to have a chance,” WSU coach Gregg Marshall said. “They’re going to shoot the ball and they’re going to shoot from the perimeter.”

Bradley guard Sam Maniscalco led the Braves with 18 points against SIU. He made 3 of 6 threes. The Braves are shooting just 31.1 percent from behind the arc. Their 241 threes rank sixth in the Valley. Last season, with Jeremy Crouch, Daniel Ruffin and a healthy Andrew Warren, Bradley led the MVC wtih a 925 threes and made 37.4 percent at a shorter distance.

“Nice win to start the conference season, a convincing win at home against SIU,” Marshall said. “Maniscalco played very well, shot the ball in. Theron Wilson is doing his thing, offensive rebounding, giving them energy. Very similar to Ramon Clemente, but more skilled. He can hit the three.”

  • WSU practiced Monday and Tuesday afternoon. Garrett Stutz looks healthier after a bout with a virus.
  • Three of Bradley’s five losses are to Florida, Michigan State and Butler. One is to UMKC. One is at Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Marshall declined to talk more about his comments after Sunday’s loss at Creighton, other than to make it clear he had not changed his mind. He took issue with the Bluejays running what he said was a lob play in the final seconds of that game. He didn’t want to address it, other than say his feelings about the play had not changed. You can listen to his post-game interview here. Those podcasts from an Omaha radio station also include host Matt Perrault ripping Marshall for the comments. Perrault and Marshall have a history that dates to last season, when they conducted an interview that neither walked away from looking great. Perrault bungled some questions. Marshall did the interview on speaker-phone, which stinks for the listeners, and clearly wanted no part of the session. Now Perrault has a major mad-on for Marshall, which I guess is to be expected from a talk-radio host in a rival Valley city. Here is what Marshall said on his post-game show:

“They ran the lob-dunk play. I’m filing that one away. One of these days, that will come back to haunt them, I just believe. They ran a lob-dunk play up 16 with 50 seconds to go after a timeout.”

I watched the play several times. I’m not sure many people noticed the play, which amounted to P’Allen Stinnett cutting backdoor. Josh Dotzler appeared to take a look. WSU defended the cut and Dotzler didn’t throw the pass. It didn’t seem like a big deal, although Marshall saw it immediately and didn’t like it. He probably would have been better off to play that “look at how little they respect you” card in private with his team. It’s hard for me to get too offended about a play that didn’t happen. The intent bothered Marshall. He said what he said. That is how he is and I don’t think he is going to change.

What does it mean? Probably not much. I can see how Creighton fans can get fired up about it. They worship Altman. Marshall’s comments aren’t going to hurt him with most Shocker fans. They don’t like Creighton, which is the way it should be. The comments might add a little spice to future meetings, and there’s no harm in that. I’m sure Altman is not beloved in every MVC city, and his career seems to be going nicely.

I think Perrault is off base on some of his criticisms of Marshall regarding moving from small-time Winthrop to the big-time MVC and being out of his league coaching and dealing with the media. You could make an argument that what Marshall did in nine seasons at Winthrop is as impressive or better than what Altman has done at Creighton. Altman started with a lot more to work with at Creighton in regard to history, support, attendance and conference strength. Winthrop was a program with no history in a little-known conference when Marshall took over. Despite having no chance at an at-large bid, he went to the NCAA seven times in nine seasons and won an NCAA Tournament game. Altman has two NCAA Tournament wins, despite having the advantage of higher seeds in most cases. If you want to take issue with Marshall’s comments, that’s one thing. His coaching resume stands up pretty well for a guy his age and job situation. Don’t take this as a criticism of Altman, who is clearly an excellent coach who has done great things at Creighton. I think dismissing Marshall’s work at Winthrop is unfair.

Finally, I think Altman himself would be embarrassed at Perrault’s assertion he will wind up being the greatest coach in MVC history. Surely Perrault has heard of Henry Iba (to name one former MVC coach). If you want to change that assertion to “best coach in the MVC since 1990,” I would listen.