For What It's Worth: January 13th

The next time I come to Evansville I’m going to drive.  The three worst flights I’ve ever taken in the Missouri Valley Conference have been in to and out of Evansville.  I’m not sure how I’ve wronged this city, but we are clearly not in sync.

Back in the Hall—

It appears as though Carl Hall could be back in the mix for the Shockers this week.  The senior won’t play against the Aces today, but he could participate in their morning shoot around and will likely practice on Monday as Wichita State prepares for visits from Illinois State and Creighton this week.  Hall broke his thumb in a fall at practice and hasn’t played since the Tennessee game on December 13.

Baker still hobbled---

On the other hand, or foot—Ron Baker is still hobbled.  The freshman is on the trip, but so too is he still on crutches and will be for the next couple of weeks.  The Shocker medical staff doesn’t want him to put any weight on his left foot for six weeks and then it’s another week of walking only.  The earliest that Baker is expected back is the start of February.

Dealing Aces---

The Shockers have won six in a row since losing three starters, but have they lost a little steam in the last week?  The six point win at Bradley looked like a nice one until the Braves wilted in two lopsided losses this week.  Maybe the WSU win in Peoria took some wind out of their sails.  Then there was the second half comeback against Southern Illinois.  Lost in the 39 points of Cleanthony Early, the nine blocks of Ehiman Orupke and the nine assists of Malcolm Armstead—is the fact that SIU stressed the Shockers the entire way. Evansville is small but capable.  The Aces have won three straight and in Colt Ryan have one of the most prolific scorers in MVC history.  Off to a 3-1 start in the conference, this is a big game for UE as they try to make the jump from the middle of the pack in the Valley.

Weird but true—

Two of the leading rebounders in the Valley are guards:  Jeff Early, who the Shockers just saw with Southern Illinois and Evansville’s Troy Taylor.  Taylor is a 6’0 point guard who’s averaging over 7 boards a game this season and over 10 caroms in his last four starts.  Taylor had 19 rebounds in an overtime win against Missouri State on January 2.  Taylor also notched a triple double with 10 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in a loss to Creighton.

Bad ‘Birds—

Illinois State is in full retreat after an incredible fifth straight loss to start the Valley season.  Picked to finish second in the conference, the latest debacle came yesterday when they blew a nine-point lead at home to winless Drake.  The Redbirds were outscored by 14 points in the second half and are the only team in the conference without a league win.  Earlier last week new coach Dan Muller suspended Tyler Brown, one of his leading scorers.  Obviously, there’s some real dysfunction in Normal, Illinois.   The Shockers host ISU on Wednesday.

Coming here tomorrow:

KU and K-State with road wins and the divisional playoffs in the NFL, have a good Sunday.