Thursday, July 19, 2012
Summer Shootaround: Missouri Valley
By Myron Medcalf
Editor's note: ESPN.com’s Summer Shootaround series catches up on the offseason storylines for each conference. For more on the Missouri Valley, click here.
Five offseason storylines in the Valley...
Doug McDermott's work during the summer could help Creighton make a deep NCAA tournament run next season.
Doug McDermott's ceiling: When McDermott decided to come back for his junior season, Creighton regained the services of a star forward who will crack every legit preseason All-America team in the country. But his father and coach, Greg McDermott, expects even more from Doug next season, especially with talented point guard Antoine Young gone. McDermott's multiple stops this summer, including last week's LeBron James Skills Academy in Las Vegas, will help. Few players have experienced McDermott's growth. He was set to redshirt as a freshman. Two seasons later, he was an All-American after averaging 23.2 points and 8.2 rebounds a game for a squad that ranked fifth in Ken Pomeroy's adjusted offensive efficiency rankings. He's already a strong national POY contender who's capable of leading the Bluejays on an NCAA tournament run this season. With a few offseason tweaks to his game -- especially on the defensive end (0.1 blocks, 0.2 steals per game) and off the dribble on offense -- Creighton might have to set its sights even higher.
Wichita State reloading: Last season, the Shockers won the Missouri Valley regular-season title and earned a No. 5 seed in the NCAA tournament. But the program lost five seniors who averaged a combined 57.2 ppg. Joe Ragland was one of the league's most versatile players and Garrett Stutz was a 7-footer who wasn't afraid of the 3-ball. The rebuilding effort will start with 6-8 senior Carl Hall, the team's top returning scorer, and the seven prospects WSU signed, including 5-11 point guard Fred Van Vleet from the ESPN 100. Coach Gregg Marshall has assembled a talented recruiting class. And if every player in that group is available next season, the Shockers will have a strong, young core. But they've lost as much as any team in the country.
Barry Hinson to Southern Illinois: In 2007, SIU earned a trip to the Sweet 16. In four of their past five seasons since that run, however, the Salukis have failed to finish above .500 in conference play. Those challenges led to Chris Lowery's dismissal and Hinson's arrival. Hinson understands the pressures of sustaining success. He had a strong start during his first tenure in the MVC at Missouri State. But he was dismissed in 2008. In recent seasons, he served as Kansas' director of basketball operations. That connection to one of the country's top programs and his familiarity with the MVC created a favorable situation for Southern Illinois and Hinson. The Salukis finished with an 8-23 record in 2011-12. Hinson told reporters in June that he's establishing a "new way of doing things." The Salukis return four of their top five scorers from last season. Now he just needs them to buy in.
Rayvonte Rice goes to Illinois: Rice averaged 16.5 ppg and 5.7 rpg for Drake last season. In April, the talented guard chose to leave the school and transfer to Illinois. Rice played at Centennial High School in Champaign, Ill. "Illinois, I think it's a good fit," Rice told ESPN Chicago. "The coaches really made me feel comfortable. I get a chance to play in front of my friends and family. It's going to be great." Well, it won't be great for everyone. Rice's transfer creates a major void for the Bulldogs, who finished 9-9 in conference play last season and struggled offensively during the 2011-12 campaign.
New regime at Illinois State: After Tim Jankovich resigned to become the coach-in-waiting at SMU, Illinois State turned to a former player and Vanderbilt assistant. Dan Muller, who played for ISU in the mid-'90s, inherits a program that should compete for the MVC title next season. Other than Nic Moore, who decided to transfer, every significant Redbirds player will return. That includes the team's top scorer and rebounder, Jackie Carmichael (13.9 ppg, 9.7 rpg). Carmichael reportedly wowed observers during the recent LeBron James Skills Academy in Las Vegas. He leads a team that lost an overtime thriller to Creighton in the MVC tournament title game and reached the second round of the NIT. The loaded roster should ease Muller's transition back to the MVC.