Bruce's Blog - January 9

(WICHITA, Kan.)

For What it’s Worth on this January 9— The Missouri Valley Conference was expected to be a four horse race, but Illinois State is an early candidate for the glue factory. Picked second behind Creighton, the Redbirds looked the part going 9-3 in the non-conference. This was a team that had taken Louisville to the final shot and won a road game at Dayton. Now they’re nudging Drake and Southern Illinois to make room in the MVC cellar. Weird.

Barry’s Back---

After a four year hiatus at KU where he was a staffer under Bill Self, Barry Hinson is back in the league that he loves. The former Missouri State coach has always extolled the virtues of the Valley and he jumped at the chance when Chris Lowery was fired in Carbondale after last season. Hinson is one of the really good guys in coaching. Not only is he good at what he does, he doesn’t seem to take himself too seriously in doing it. He is self-deprecating and a genuinely funny, smart guy. I remember talking to him at the NCAA Tournament in Gregg Marshall’s second year. He was emphatic about the program that Marshall would create at Wichita State and he’s been right. Marshall counts Hinson amongst his good coaching friends crediting him with being a great sounding board over the last six years. By the way, Barry joins us on Sports Daily at 10:15am Wednesday (KFH 1240AM 98.7FM).

Speaking of the Salukis---

Southern Illinois comes to Wichita on a four game losing streak, during which opponents have shot 54 percent…ouch. SIU has been hurt by an injury to forward Dantiel Daniels, one that leaves them with just one active player taller than 6’5”. Still, the Salukis outrebound their opponents by 1 ½ a game. Southern used to be the gold standard in the league, going to six straight NCAA’s in the ‘00’s—but their fortunes really waned under a torrent of transfers from the program. Two former Salukis lead their teams to the NCAA last year (Brandon Wood/Michigan St—Anthony Booker/Iowa St.). Former SIU guard Kevin Dillard and center Gene Teague are among the leading scorers at Dayton and Seton Hall. Two other transfers are sitting out their years at Utah and Ohio. Hopefully, the talent drain will dry up—the Valley needs Southern Illinois to be a player.

Short memory---

Gregg Marshall hasn’t, so lest you forget: an already bad--injury depleted SIU came in to Koch Arena two years ago and stunned the Shockers. It’s the only time in their last six meetings the Salukis have won, but it cost the Shockers a share of the Valley title and most likely a spot in the NCAA.

Quick Shocker hits---

Malcolm Armstead: has hit 6 of his last 11- 3 pointers. Cadrack Lufile: hasn’t scored in his last three games and only two rebounds in them. Demetric Williams: averaging 12 pts. in his last 4 games. Cleanthony Early: averaging 16 pts. since Carl Hall and Ron Baker were sidelined. Nick Wiggens: became the sixth different Shocker to lead the team in scoring when he had 18 at Drake. Ehimen Orupke: has hit 7 of 9 shots in last two games, wish they had him for another year. Fred Van Vleet: had 8 pts. in the first half at Bradley. Tekele Cotton: What hasn’t he done? Jake White: averaging nearly 6 rebounds over his last three games.

Iowa State at Kansas—

KU is a prohibitive favorite to win a ninth straight Big 12 title, a title they begin the defense of tonight against Iowa State. There’s a lot of attention on the one freshman that starts at KU, but more importantly are the three –five year seniors in the lineup. Talk about experience. The Jayhawks have won 30 straight games on its home floor and I don’t see much from Iowa State to change it. The Cyclones are the conference’s leading scoring and rebounding team, but they’ve haven’t done it with a signature win. KU is the only team in Big 12 history to go unbeaten through the conference season, going 16-0 in 2002. I think they have a good chance to improve on that this year by going 18-0. That’s as much a testimony to KU as it is a swipe at the rest of the Big 12.

Coming up tomorrow---

…what we learned today.

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