College basketball practice starts today (although everybody has been practicing in short bursts this fall).
Two stories stand out as WSU tips off:
- It’s the final ride for seniors Toure Murry, Garrett Stutz and David Kyles, the key pieces of coach Gregg Marshall’s first “real” recruiting class. Marshall brought in several players the previous season, but it was a rush job after he was hired from Winthrop in the spring. Murry, Kyles and Stutz were part of the first class that he and his assistants put in a full year of work to get, and the work paid off big. All three played big roles in turning around the Shockers after a tough transition from Mark Turgeon to Marshall. Murry started from his first game. Stutz and Kyles started on and off, giving WSU the quality depth that defined the team the past two seasons. There is one thing left for them to do – get WSU an MVC title and a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
- It will be weird to think about last season being such a success, and also one nobody wants to repeat. That’s the curse of the NIT. When the players get their NIT rings, everybody will think “That was great. I hope we don’t defend that crown.”
Here are my MVC picks. MVC media day is Oct. 25 in St. Louis:
1. Creighton, 2. WSU, 3. Indiana State, 4. Northern Iowa, 5. Evansville, 6. Missouri State, 7. Illinois State, 8. SIU, 9. Drake, 10. Bradley. I’ve dropped Drake two spots from my summer predictions because of the shoulder injury that may sideline center Seth VanDeest.
All-MVC – Kyle Weems, Missouri State; Doug McDermott, Creighton, Toure Murry, WSU; Mamadou Seck, SIU; Jake Odum, Indiana State.
Players I strongly considered: Garrett Stutz, WSU; Anthony James, UNI; Antoine Young, CU, Colt Ryan, Evansville, Rayvonte Rice, Drake.
The Shockers, in part due to that NIT run, are receiving a fair amount of national attention.
- Seth Davis asks the inevitable “Next VCU” question and includes WSU.
- The Sporting News ranks WSU No. 39.
- ESPN’s Dana O’Neill sees the MVC producing an NCAA at-large team and wonders about Chris Lowery’s future at SIU.
- ESPN’s Andy Katz doesn’t want us to forget Indiana State. No reason for the Shockers to sleep on the Sycamores.
- ESPN’s Jay Bilas wants to come to Koch Arena for a broadcast. It’s a shame College GameDay doesn’t do more non-BCS schools. WSU is a deserving host.
And from around the MVC
- Bradley gets started with a new coach. As always, injuries are an issue in Peoria.
- New Missouri State coach Paul Lusk says his lineup is a mystery. I will be shocked if sophomore Nathan Scheer isn’t a starter for the Bears.
- The Redbirds start the season looking for scoring.
- UNI players are on the mend. The Panthers have nine freshmen on the roster, and several will need to help this season.
- Creighton’s Antoine Young wants to get the Bluejays back in the NCAA Tournament. Creighton coaches hope they can give Young more breaks this season.
- Drake is concentrating on rebounding, a task made more difficult by an injury to center Seth VanDeest.
- Some fuddy-duddy in Evansville doesn’t approve of the arena being downtown, proving every city has people who make stands on silly issues. With their four top scorers back, the Aces hope to move into the top half of the MVC.
- SIU’s Mamadou Seck is one of the Valley’s best players, but a bad team will probably obscure his accomplishments.