Final: SIU 72, WSU 68. The Shockers will play on Thursday. Read More
Final: SIU 72, WSU 68. The Shockers will play on Thursday. Read More »
Todd Hefferman covers SIU for the Southern Illinoisan. He wins the brevity award for responses. Probably bad questions. Read More »
A series of “This Day in History” posts from Wichita State’s 1989 College World Series championship team.
The game: WSU 9-10, Kearney (Neb.) State 0-2
The skinny: Five WSU pitchers allowed five hits in front of a record opening-day crowd of 650 in the first game. Kearney State committed 10 errors. Pat Meares and Eric Wedge homered in the second game.
The quote: “They were right at them, but they were hard hit. I won’t deny they were errors though,” WSU coach Gene Stephenson on Kearney State’s fielding problems.
WSU’s record: 3-1
Big picture: WSU swept the three-game series by a combined score of 36-2.
Final: WSU 76, ISU 70. Shockers take a big step toward Friday in St. Louis. Read More »
Todd Golden is on his fifth season covering Indiana State for the Terre Haute Tribune-Star. He blogs at Down in the Valley. I am supposed to take Todd to lunch on Tuesday before the game and promised to show him Wichita’s best burger – which I say is at Ty’s Diner. I’m open for other nominations. Let me know.
Q: Will Indiana State earn the title of “Team nobody wants to play in St. Louis?”
A: I think the winner of Tuesday’s game gets that honor.
Certainly, Indiana State has righted a lot of what it had going wrong during its five-game winning streak, notably avoidance of unforced turnovers. Moreover, the Sycamores have been hard to defend with Jay Tunnell, Harry Marshall, Rashad Reed and Jordan Printy all on their game offensively … they’ve each hit double-digit scoring in four consecutive games. Four road wins in the conference is impressive too no matter how you slice it.
It’s easy to forget, and hard to fathom given the 4-19 start, that ISU has something to play for against the Shockers. ISU needs a lot of help, but it can still avoid Thursday in St. Louis.
If ISU beats the Shockers and avoids Thursday, anything’s possible, including a long stay in St. Louis. If ISU wins, but have to play Thursday anyway, I wouldn’t want to be the No. 1 or No. 2 seed that’s going to see them Friday. I think a No. 1 or a No. 2 is going to go down at St. Louis this year regardless, whether they play Indiana State, Southern Illinois, Drake, Evansville or Wichita State.
If ISU loses to the Shockers, especially if they get trucked out of Koch Arena (I don’t see it, most of the WSU-ISU games in my time at Koch have been competitive), it will be interesting to see how the team responds. The current winning streak is the first taste of success this team has had, so in return, it will be the first time they will have had to bounce back.
But to answer your question and make a long story longer, if I were an opposing Valley school, I’d rather face Missouri State, Southern Illinois, Drake, or even Northern Iowa before I’d want to face the Sycamores or the Shockers right now.
Q: Rank Jay Tunnell’s 8-of-9 three-point performance at Illinois State on the list of most incredible sports events you’ve witnessed.
A: Restricting it to my time on the ISU beat, it’s in the top three. Tunnell was one make short of Marico Stinson’s school-record 9 of 11 3-point blast-off against Drake and Tom Davis’ zone defense in 2007. The incredible thing about that game was that Stinson had most of those three’s in a 10-minute span wrapped around halftime.
What might have been more incredible than Tunnell’s 8 of 9 3-point shooting (a lot of the credit, incidentally, should go to Harry Marshall, who repeatedly found Tunnell open on the high pick-and-roll) was his 10 of 11 overall shooting the next game against Drake. Both were school records for percentage. Combine those two games and nothing can touch it since I’ve been around the team.
It brings to mind that the best thing about covering Indiana State men’s basketball — ISU conjures up these off-the-charts bizarre performances, games, and wild swings of success and failure. More than anything else, that’s what defined ISU basketball in my time covering the team, besides the losing seasons, of course.
Tunnell’s performance, the nature of that comeback win (ISU was down 12 with two minutes and change to go at Redbird Arena) and subsequent winning streak, fits perfectly in the Sycamore zeitgeist.
There’s too many examples to cite, but if you want to get a feel for what it’s like to follow ISU around, a snapshot of the 2006 season is a great example. An 8-0 start is followed by an 0-for-January. The 11-game losing skid gets broken with a victory at Southern Illinois, when SIU had the nation’s longest home-court winning streak and it was considered near-impossible to win in Carbondale. Later, ISU set the MVC Tournament record for worst and best shooting halves in the same game against Drake.
Last year’s comeback win over Wichita State at Hulman Center is another example. ISU wiped out 21-point and 10-point deficits in the same half to win the game.
Regardless of who’s coaching or who’s playing, surreal is the norm at Indiana State.
Q: How does this last week unfold in the MVC? I say Northern Iowa is done.
A: Before I go on, I picked UNI to finish 10th in the preseason poll, so my soothsaying abilities should be taken with several ba-zillion grains of salt. On a happier note for Shockwaves readers, I had WSU avoiding Thursday in St. Louis (I can’t remember if I had them fifth or sixth), so my magic 8-ball floated me some knowledge.
I agree on the current state of UNI … stick a fork in them. They’re out of gas and their schedule isn’t favorable either. Too bad, they’ve been the best story in the Valley this season.
It’s hard to go against Creighton at this point. They should take care of Missouri State and I haven’t seen any evidence that Illinois State is mentally tough enough to win at Qwest on Saturday, even if the conference title is on the line.
Of course, knowing the way this season has gone in the Valley, Illinois State will roll to the Valley regular season title with a win in Omaha, perhaps even on a buzzer-beater from prodigal son Lloyd Phillips.
The battle for fifth to ninth is equally intriguing, though there isn’t enough bandwith to discuss the myriad scenarios.
Q: Different sport – Are you surprised Indiana State is building a new baseball stadium and that the school intends to bid for the MVC Tournament? I expect more schools to cut back on baseball in tough economic times.
A: Not at all. This has been in the works for a long time. ISU Director of Athletics Ron Prettyman has been a big believer in baseball from day one. Prettyman has a baseball background — his son Ronnie scored the College World Series-clinching run for Cal State-Fullerton in 2004 — and among the reasons ISU hired coach Lindsay Meggs in 2006 was that he was instrumental in building a stadium for Cal State-Chico for the Division II program there.
Given Terre Haute’s affinity for baseball — I’ve lived all over Indiana and baseball interest is higher here than anywhere else I’ve been — as well as a thriving prep scene that has turned out Division I-caliber talent in recent years out of proportion to its population, I think it’s a sound move.
College baseball is a niche Indiana State can take advantage of. Aside from Notre Dame, and maybe, fellow Valley member Evansville, the college baseball landscape is wide open in Indiana. No one pays one iota of attention to baseball at Purdue or Indiana (I’m only slightly exaggerating when I say that IU baseball is more popular in Terre Haute because of Hautean and All-American-caliber catcher Josh Phegley than it is in Bloomington), and the rest of the state’s mid-majors are a mixed bag.
Membership in the Missouri Valley Conference has a lot to do with it … none of the other conferences that include Indiana-based schools is better, including the Big East and Big Ten. It’s one sport where Indiana State can exploit an advantage over other state schools if the program is turned around and with a new facility.
ISU is also hoping to have a summer collegiate league team play in its stadium, which will make its facility the focal point of the local sports scene during what is now a fallow Terre Haute summer and a time when ISU is off the map, so there’s a public relations bent to it too. They just want to avoid that messy Missouri State-type sharing scenario the Bears have with the Double-A team in Springfield.
The economy is the 800-pound gorilla, to be sure, and Title IX plays a role too, but I think getting rid of baseball, as UNI is doing, is short-sighted. The sport is creeping into the national consciousness via more television, etc. It will never be like college football or basketball, but I think it’s safe to say it’s gaining in popularity, not declining.
We have a winner. Trick question – Ramon did not play high school basketball. Read More »
For anybody wondering about a miracle run to the postseason for WSU, here’s what I can add. Don’t bother thinking about the NIT. It is a much more legit 32-team field than a few years ago, when it took 40 teams and its selection process involved off-shore accounts, brown bags and darts. Now that the NCAA is running it, the NIT is tougher to get into.
Final: WSU 70, CSU 59. Back to .500.
3:43 remaining: WSU 60, CSU 48. 9-0 run for WSU. Hawkins has four of those points, both on follow shots. He has 10, his first game in double figures since North Dakota on Dec. 22.
7:36 remaining: WSU 54, CSU 48. Murry is 5 of 6 from three for 17 points.
10:09 remaining: WSU 51, CSU 45. Murry with back-to-back threes and nine of WSU’s last 11 points. Durley is passing well out of the double team and getting Toure open shots.
14:55 remaining: WSU 40, CSU 37.
Halftime: WSU 34, CSU 30. The Shockers need better play out of their point guards if they are going to win this game. CSU is making life miserable for Hannah (four turnovers) and Chamberlain with its defense. The Vikings figured something out on offense toward the end of the half. They scored on six of seven possessions near the end of the half.
1:08 remaining: WSU 34, CSU 29.
3:59 remaining: WSU 30, CSU 24. The Vikings have scored on four straight trips. Seven turnovers for WSU. Durley has 11 points.
7:22 remaining: WSU 25, CSU 16. WSU is 11 of 17 from the field. The inside-out game is working nicely. Clemente and Durley established that they can score, so CSU is doubling. That leaves shooters open. Stutz made his fourth three of the season.
11:47 remaining: WSU 15, CSU 9. Durley has six points and a chance for one more at the line. So far, WSU is handling CSU”s defense. WSU is 7 of 11 from the field. Ten of its points are in the lane.
CSU starters – Jackson, Cole, Brown, Bullock, Moore. WSU – Durley, Hannah, Hawkins, Murry, Clemente.
BracketBusters seems to be under fire from fans, media and coaches. I understand it is a sometimes unwieldy and inconvenient game. Would it kill the Valley if it no longer participated? No. Considering commissioner Doug Elgin is one of the guiding forces to the weekend, I don’t expect that to happen. Even with the negatives, I think three things make it worthwhile.
Big news in Valley baseball. Northern Iowa is dropping its program. This is not much of a surprise. In fact, I’m more surprised when Valley schools put money into baseball, such as Illinois State building a new stadium. The Valley schools in the North are fighting an uphill battle. Weather in those places is rarely going to be nice until the season is almost over. They have little chance to build a fan base or play enough good opponents at home to build a decent RPI. I think Northern Iowa coach Rick Heller did a lot with a little. The Panthers played in a rotten off-campus ballpark, battled bad weather and I’m not sure if UNI handed out the full allottment of scholarships. Heller did a good job wringing whatever he could out of that situation.
With apologies to UNI, I think this is good for WSU.
The first in a series of “This Day in History” posts from Wichita State’s 1989 College World Series championship team.
The game: Arkansas 5, WSU 1
The skinny: Arkansas scored five runs in the second inning off Greg Brummett. Razorbacks starter Mike Oquist gave up one hit and struck out six in six innings in the season opener for both teams.
The quote: “That was the only ball hit solid in the inning,” WSU coach Gene Stephenson said of a double by Greg D’Alexander in the five-run second inning.
WSU’s record: 0-1
Big picture: Brummett got his revenge in the College World Series, beating the Razorbacks twice. WSU won 3-1 in the opening game and later eliminated Arkansas with an 8-4 victory
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