Tag Archives: Missouri State

Missouri State Preview — 2-3-2018

Saturday, February 3, 2018 1:00 p.m.
Gentile Arena, Chicago, Ill.

As everyone even mildly interested in the MVC this season knows, Missouri State, with their exceptional talent, experience, and depth – especially in the frontcourt— was expected to win the conference title this season. Northern Iowa was voted a close second, behind the promise of their experienced coach, experienced starting lineup, and some newcomers bringing more athleticism to Cedar Falls. And Loyola was voted third, thanks to some admired returning talent and potential from a few good-looing newcomers. Prognosticators can gauge the coaching and the past performance of returning players, but they can never know for certain how team chemistry or a couple of game-changing bounces can go. And there are always injuries, mishaps, and unexpected circumstances.

Many people will blame an adverse reaction to a cryotherapy treatment for the Bears not coming close to their potential and expectations this season. A treatment session on Jan. 22 resulted in two players, 6’5” junior forward Reggie Scurry and 6’7” Abdul Fofana, getting blisters on the bottom of their feet. At first the players were said to be out day to day, but later it was admitted that recovery will take “weeks.” Fofana rarely plays significant minutes, but Scurry has made a significant difference as the first or second player off the bench, including 18 points and seven rebounds in Missouri State’s five-point win over the Ramblers in December. Scurry averages 8.9 points and 4.2 rebounds on the season.

In spite of Scurry’s bizarre injury, the Bears were not living up to potential before the cryotherapy session. At 5-3 in conference and 15-6 overall against a snoozer of non-con schedule, Missouri State showed flashes of dominating athletic talent meted out in undersized and infrequent doses. A lot of random Saturday afternoon YMCA pickup squads have more chemistry, and too often the team plays like there has been zero game planning. An early home loss to North Dakota State featured Alize Johnson getting 23 points and 20 rebounds, but the team—the entire team—had only one (1) assist.

After a mystifying loss at Oral Roberts (a team that was 2-9 at the time and coming off a loss to a non-D1 team), MSU briefly played some exceptional basketball—a decisive win over a very good Wright State team and three straight conference wins to start their MVC campaign. But malaise or complacency or indifference again swept over the team.

The three games since losing Scurry have just tacked on more dread to what has become a numb fog of season. The Bears have now lost four in a row, and six of their last eight. As their lackluster performances have increased, their rotation off the bench has tightened, even without Scurry. In their loss at home last Saturday against SIU, they got only 26 minutes from their bench as all five starters played 31 minutes or more. In Tuesday night’s home loss to Illinois State, the starting backcourt was 1-for-16 from the field for two points and three assists.

Sixth man and outside shooting specialist Ryan Kreklow has struggled mightily in the past four games, averaging 2.8 points while shooting 21.4% from the field. Kreklow, a junior guard, came into the season with a 39.6% mark in career field goal percentage (including 44.9% last season), but is averaging only 28.9% this season. Even Preseason Conference Player of the Year Alize Johnson has struggled; in two key road conference games last week at Drake and at Bradley, he combined for only nine points on 2 of 14 shooting from the field. Last time out against Illinois State, Johnson got his double-double– 12 points and 10 rebounds—but it came on 4 of 14 shooting. Johnson continues to shoot three pointers with team-leading frequency despite connecting at less than 28%. Even with one of the best frontcourts in the league, rebounding—once the definitive strength of the Bears—has eroded of late; three of MSU’s last four opponents have won the rebounding battle, and despite the recent slump, MSU still leads the league on the season with a +6.2 rebounding margin.

In Loyola’s last outing, the Ramblers ended their second 7-game winning streak of the year at Bradley when a furious comeback came up short with a botched last possession. Loyola has had seven 7-game winning streaks in the past 12 seasons, but hasn’t won eight in a row since 1984-85. Loyola still has a chance to get a third streak of seven wins or more in the 2017-18 season if they win out the regular season.

Saturday’s game at 1 p.m. is the kick-off to a big day at Loyola. The game will be a “White-Out” at Gentile Arena, with fans asked to wear white to show support for the team. The Ramblers have a chance to set a new high in conference wins with a victory, Coach Porter Moser has a chance to achieve a new career season high in MVC conference wins, and a win would reduce Loyola’s magic number to 6 to win the conference. And at 7 p.m., the #7 Loyola men’s volleyball team hosts #13 USC at in Gentile Arena.

Loyola game notes: http://www.loyolaramblers.com/documents … df?id=5831

Missouri State game notes: https://missouristate_ftp.sidearmsports … s%2025.pdf

TV/Streaming video: CBS Sports Network / http://www.cbssports.com/watch/cbssportsnetwork

Stats: http://stats.statbroadcast.com/broadcast/?id=189602

Vegas odds: Loyola by 7

Missouri State Preview — 12-22-2017

Friday, December 22, 2017 8:00 p.m.
JQH Arena, Springfield, Mo.

Loyola kicks off the 2017-18 conference season with a pre-Christmas Friday night road game against the conference favorites. Loaded with seniors, including the 2017-18 Preseason Player of the Year Alize Johnson, Missouri State was picked as a heavy favorite to win the MVC in the 2017-18 Preseason Poll. The Bears picked up 30 of the 40 first place votes in the poll, even as the MVC was considered to have the most parity in decades.

Coach Paul Lusk’s 2017-18 squad has a lot of talent, so much so that two heralded upperclassmen—seniors-to-be Chris Kendrix and Austin Ruder—left the team last spring as their playing time diminished and they had limited prospects. A plethora of experienced newcomers has bolstered an already talented returning group. The Bears have been very inconsistent in non-conference season despite their 9-3 record. The Bears won their toughest game on an uninspiring non-conference schedule—an 85-80 road win against Western Kentucky—but dropped three much easier games, including two (home against North Dakota State and at Oral Roberts) that should have been gimmes.

The MSU starting five are likely to be Jarred Dixon and Ryan Kreklow at the guard spots, and the trio of Alize Johnson, Jarrid Rhodes, and Obediah Church in the frontcourt. Grad transfer JT Miller recently replaced Ronnie Rousseau III in the starting lineup, but Miller did not play at all in Tuesday’s win over Wright State.

Dixon is a 6’4” junior guard who averages 7.9 points per game and leads the team in assists. Kreklow is a senior shooting guard specializing in threes, but has had trouble finding his stroke this season. He averages 7.2 points per game and leads the team in steals, but is shooting only 32.8% from three and only 33.7% overall.

Six-six small forward Jarrid Rhodes averages 9.2 points and 4.6 boards per game. He leads the team in made threes, shooting at a 40.4% clip. Obediah Church is a 6’7” junior forward who likes to mix it up inside. Church, a Springfield, Ill. native, leads the league in blocks, averages 6.9 points per game, 5.8 rebounds per game (2.6 on the offensive boards, ranking third in the MVC), and hits 71% of his shots from the field.

MVC Preseason Player of the Year Alize Johnson is the most talented player in the league. At 6’9”, he plays with the ball handling abilities of a shooting guard. Averaging 14.0 points and 10.5 rebounds, he shoots 54.5% on his two-point field goal tries, but his three-point stroke has been off this season compared to last. He’s also a great passer, ranking a close second on the team in assists.

MSU’s bench is among the best in the league, and gets a lot of playing time. JT Miller, a 6’2” graduate transfer guard by way of Howard University, is a sometimes-starter who averages 9.8 points on 52.7% shooting from the field. Juco newcomer Reggie Scurry is a solidly-built 6’5” junior forward averaging 9.4 points; he ranks second on the team in blocks, and shoots 58.1% from the field. Ronnie Rousseau III was the starting point guard at the beginning of the season, but now comes off the bench to play starters’ minutes. The 5’10” senior is a dangerous outside shooter, and averages 6.5 points and 2.2 assists per game. Tanveer Bhullar, a 7’2” grad transfer from New Mexico State gets into most games but averages less than 10 minutes per game, chipping in 3.1 points on average.

If you haven’t noticed, the Bears have a lot of height and length, augmented by very speedy guards. They’re led by upperclassmen, and have very good depth and flexibility from the bench. The result is a team that leads the league in blocks, rebounding margin, and offensive rebounds. Conversely, the Bears struggle a bit with their turnover margin, steals, and outside shooting. Both MSU and Loyola are somewhat turnover prone, but MSU overcomes that with an 8.8 average rebounding margin. Loyola’s strength is shooting percentage, and passing. The Ramblers are first in the league in field goal percentage, and the Bears are fifth; Loyola is second in three-point shooting percentage, the Bears are last. It will be a contrast in styles when these two teams match up.

Loyola is coming off an embarrassing 73-56 loss in Milwaukee, where the injuries to Clayton Custer and Ben Richardson seemed crucial just a few minutes into the game. Uncharacteristically, the Ramblers were ice cold from distance throughout the game, and Loyola’s opponents were lights out. Loyola had a season-low nine assists in the game, and shot under 40% from the field for only the second time this year—both losses—as the Panthers went on a blistering run in the final minutes of the first half to stretch out to a 17-point advantage. Richardson may be getting close to returning for the Ramblers, but freshman Christian Negron was injured before the UWM game and his status is also indefinate.

The Ramblers have won only one conference opener since joining the MVC, and have won only two of the past 10 conference openers dating back to the Horizon League. The Ramblers split with MSU last year, and hold a 6-3 advantage all-time with Missouri State.

Loyola Game Notes: http://www.loyolaramblers.com/documents/2017/12/20//Missouri_State_Away_Notes_12_22_17.pdf?id=4768

MSU Game Notes: http://missouristate_ftp.sidearmsports.com/custompages/sports/m-baskbl/notes/Game%20Notes%2014.pdf

TV/Streaming video: NBC Sports Chicago / ESPN 3 (http://www.espn.com/watch/_/id/3232399/loyolachicago-vs-missouri-state-m-basketball)

Live Stats: http://www.sidearmstats.com/missouristate/mbball/media/

Vegas Odds: Pending