Saturday, April 09, 2011

2011-12 Preview: Mid Majors, Part II

Horizon League

It seems absurd to say this after Butler made their second consecutive NCAA Title game, but the Horizon was a really wide open conference this past season. In fact, after Butler got swept by UW-Milwaukee and lost to Youngstown State I got some comments and e-mails telling me that anybody who was watching Horizon basketball knew that Cleveland State was the best team. But I stuck with Butler because what I saw was a team that had come within a few inches of a National Championship, and after basically blowing any chance at an at-large bid was being forced to grind through more-or-less meaningless games in January against teams like Youngstown State. They just couldn't find the proper motivation. Even at that low point of their season, I could still note that all season long Butler had showed up big against their biggest opponents, whooping Cleveland State by 23 points, beating Florida State and Washington State, and nearly taking out both Duke and Xavier. Once they could smell March approaching Butler turned up their game and won their final seven regular season games, including a road win at Cleveland State. They then cruised through the Horizon tournament and, as we all know, earned yet another National Runner-Up.

The biggest loss for Butler, of course, is Matt Howard. I used to make incessant jokes about how Howard would be in foul trouble when he got off the team bus, but he got far more agile and intelligent as a senior and did a great job of staying on the court in his final NCAA Tournament. Shawn Vanzant and Zach Hahn also graduate. The big question mark is Shelvin Mack, who would be a borderline first round pick if he entered the NBA Draft this year, and is considered to be right on the fence. I'm going to project at the moment that Mack stays, and will drop them in my projections if he does leave. Assuming Mack is back, he'll start in the backcourt with Ronald Nored. Other guards are Chase Stigall, Crishawn Hopkins and Jackson Aldridge. Whether Mack comes back or not, Aldridge (a 2011 recruit) will be a key to Butler's future. As good as Mack, Nored, Stigall (and Vanzant) are at creating offense, none of them is a true point guard, and Butler struggled with turning the ball over all season long. Over the course of the season they were 9-8 in games where they had an offensive turnover rate over 18.0. In games with an offensive turnover rate of 18.0 or lower they were 19-2, with one of those losses being the National Title game, where they only lost because they set all sorts of records for shooting incompetence (their 18.8% shooting percentage was the worst by any team in any NCAA Tournament title game, and their 3-for-31 (9.7%) two-point shooting was the worst by any Division I team in any game all season long - the previous low was 4-for-36 (11.1%) by Mount St. Mary's in a 99-34 drubbing at Virginia Tech during an ACC tune-up game. They need a true point guard to make an immediate impact, and Jackson Aldridge has a real chance to do that.

Butler's frontcourt will be in a much better condition. Khyle Marshall was a highly touted 2010 recruit and he really came on late in the season. Let me quote what I said in my National Title game preview: "Khyle Marshall has been such a force off the bench (22 offensive rebounds in 88 NCAA Tournament minutes). To put Marshall's numbers in perspective, his 10 offensive rebounds per 40 minutes played in the NCAA Tournament are more than 213 of 345 Division I teams averaged as a team this season - and Marshall did it against elite defensive rebounding teams like ODU, Pitt, Florida and Wisconsin (Pitt, Florida and Wisconsin led the Big East, SEC and Big Ten, respectively, in defensive rebounding percentage, and ODU led the entire nation in rebounding margin per game)." Andrew Smith is a capable frontcourt player who can become a force if he can increase his agility like Matt Howard did. They've also got decent returners in Garrett Butcher and Eric Fromm, and have a slew of quality 2011 recruits (Roosevelt Jones, Andy Smeathers and Kameron Woods). It's unreasonable to expect Butler to make another National Title game run - six of their ten NCAA Tournament wins the past two years have been by four points or less, so just their luck alone has been outside what one could expect again. But Butler has a great coach, and signs recruits that the other Horizon League schools can't even dream of, so they remain the heavy, heavy conference favorite.

The top contender in the Horizon League in 2010-11 was Cleveland State, and as I said they were actually picked by most analysts to be the conference favorite when Butler was struggling in late January. And at the end of the season, Cleveland State was actually a borderline at-large team, with an RPI of 42nd, although without any premier wins (their best win of the year probably was their win over Iona back in November. The problem for them going foward is that they lose their superstar, Norris Cole (21.7 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 5.3 apg, 2.2 spg). They return every other player from their regular rotation, but Cole carried the team on his back all season long and will be impossible to replace. They return quality backcourt and wing scoring in Jeremy Montgomery (11.6 ppg, 1.8 apg), Trevon Harmon (13.2 ppg, 52.2 eFG%), Josh McCoy (4.4 ppg, 36.8 3P%) and Tim Kamczyc (5.9 ppg, 41.2 3P%), but they are in need of a new point guard. Anthony Wells, who barely played in his first two years, is a possibility, as is Sebastian Douglas, a 2010 recruit who redshirt the 2010-11 season. 2011 recruit Charles Lee also could earn the point guard spot next season. But really, the biggest problem for Cleveland State in recent years has been on the boards, where they've been destroyed by Butler's big front lines. During the regular season they were outrebounded in a majority of Horizon League games, and finished 8th in the conference in offensive rebounding rate, and 5th in defensive rebounding rate. They were badly outrebounded in all three games against Butler (they lost all three games as well). Aaron Pogue (6.1 rebounds per game, including 2.5 per game on the offensive glass) is a good rebounder, but he's the only returner from the rotation I can say that about. Gary Waters has put together quality 2010 and 2011 recruiting class, however, with a big emphasis on size. Ludovic Ndaye and Devon Long led the 2010 class, and Anton Grady leads the 2011 class.

Few people realized that the 1 seed in the 2011 Horizon League tournament was actually UW-Milwaukee, a team that swept Butler during the regular season. And the team started 4-5 in Horizon League play before winning their final nine conference games to finish 13-5. To be fair, a lot of that run was pure luck - they won six of those nine games by five points or less or in overtime. The Panthers lose two starters to graduation, including star Anthony Hill (15.3 ppg, 52.9% shooting, 6.6 rpg). They return their starting point guard, Kaylon Williams (8.3 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 5.4 apg) and quality perimeter scorers (Ja'Rob McCallum scored 13.4 points per 40 minutes played, and Tony Meier shot 44.3% behind the arc), but the loss of Hill makes their interior game a big question mark. Meier is 6'8", but he's more of a perimeter player than a post player (149 attempted threes compared to 101 attempted twos for the season). Their key big man next year could be a transfer: James Haarsma, who had 7.1 rebounds per game (and 10.8 points per game, on 50% shooting) as a sophomore at Evansville in 2009-10. Rising-sophomore Kyle Kelm is 6'9" and had a decent freshman year (2.9 points and 2.2 rebounds in 13.4 minutes per game). They have another 6'9" player in their recruiting class: JJ Panoske. I think UW-Milwaukee will be even better next year than they were this past year, but that still doesn't mean I think they have any realistic chance of repeating their Horizon League title.

The third best team in the conference, according to the computers, was actually Valparaiso. They lose two starters to graduation (two of the four players to score ten points per game or more during the season) as well as a key bench player. They do return their leading scorer (Corey Johnson: 16.7 per game) and a very efficient scorer in wing Ryan Broekhoff (10.3 ppg, 44.8 3P%, 61.2 eFG%), as well as a pair of capable ball handlers in Brandon Wood and Erik Buggs (a combined 6.2 assists per game). Broekhoff was also a key interior defender (1.1 blocks per game) for a defense that led the conference in eFG% against. Valparaiso had five freshmen and sophomores in their regular rotation, so they should have plenty of young talent developing even though they don't have a big 2011 recruiting class (the 2009 and 2010 recruiting classes were so large that there were only three scholarships available, and one is going to Ben Boggs, a transfer who played 9 minutes per game as a freshman at Virginia Tech in 2009-10).

Wright State was yet another team that was at one point in the hunt for the Horizon League title. They were 10-4 at one point, but lost their final four regular season games and were thumped by Cleveland State in the second round of the Horizon League tournament. It's going to be a very different team next year. They lose four starters to graduation, including their top four scorers (their top returning scorer, Cole Darling, had only 4.3 points per game as a true freshman in 2010-11). But they had four freshmen this past season that earned at least 8 minutes per game, and they also get back DJ Carthan, who averaged 6 minutes per game as a true freshman in 2009-10 and received a medical redshirt for 2010-11. They also add Julius Mays, who scored five points per game in two seasons at NC State, and a deep 2011 recruiting class led by bigs Tavares Sledge and Alex Pritchett. The entire roster this past season had one junior and one sophomore, which means that they'll lose only three combined players to graduation the next two years (the third is Julius Mays, who heads in the 2011-12 season with two years of eligibility remaining). So while there's no chance that they contend with Butler next season, this is a young program that should improve over the next three years, and might be really good by the 2013-14 season if things progress well (and yes, I also can't believe I just talked about the 2013-14 season).

While the aforementioned five teams (Butler, Cleveland State, Valparaiso, UW-Milwaukee and Wright State) were the five teams that at one point or another were contending for the Horizon title, no talk of the season can be complete without discussing Detroit, because of the 2010 recruiting class built around Ray McCallum, a McDonald's All-American who was also recruited by schools like UCLA, Arizona, Florida and Oklahoma. How did Detroit land a player like that? His father happens to be the head coach. And McCallum made an immediately impact, averaging 13.5 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game. Despite some other big names in the class, the second best true freshman in 2010-11 was actually Nick Minnerath (11.2 ppg, 57.3 eFG%, 4.8 rpg). And of course, their best player was still Eli Holman (11.8 ppg, 60.7% shooting, 9.5 rpg, 1.6 bpg), another player with NBA potential but who is expected to return for his senior season. Even with nothing else, the fact that Detroit will have two likely future NBA players on their roster makes them dangerous. Their biggest problem this past year was that, unfortunately, they also played defense like an NBA team, and finished 8th in the conference in Pomeroy adjusted defensive efficiency. They'll need to clean that up to join the top tier of the conference.

One last sleeper to discuss is UW-Green Bay, a team that had three freshmen and two sophomores earning eight minutes per game or more, led by 7-footer Alec Brown (10.2 ppg, 5.6 rpg and 2.1 bpg as a true freshman). Daniel Turner (6.6 ppg, 5.8 rpg) was another quality true freshman. Their biggest need is in the backcourt, where they lose their starting point guard (Rahmon Fletcher), and return only one regular that shot better than 32% behind the arc (Steve Baker - 41.2%). They will look to Terry Johnson, a transfer from Illinois State, and 2011 recruits Aaron Armstead and Keifer Sykes to add to their backcourt depth, which also includes returners Jarvis Williams, Seth Evans and Kam Cerroni. Among all of those, the most likely starting point guard is probably Seth Evans.

In the end, here's how I see the top of the Horizon playing out:

1. Butler
2. Cleveland State
3. Detroit
4. UW-Milwaukee
5. Valparaiso
6. UW-Green Bay
7. Wright State

Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference

In my opinion this was a very disappointing season for the MAAC. No team was remotely in the at-large discussion, and the best team (in my opinion) was Iona, a team that ended up being relegated to the CIT (where, to be fair, they did make the championship game). The conference's NCAA Tournament representative was St. Peter's, a team that got hot in the MAAC tournament and knocked off both Fairfield and Iona, but earned only a 14 seed in the NCAA Tournament and was easy fodder for 3 seed Purdue.

I'll start my discussion of the MAAC with Fairfield, actually. Head coach Ed Cooley jumped and took the Providence job, but that actually might have been a blessing with disguise since they somehow stole Sydney Johnson from Princeton. I don't understand why Johnson would have taken the job, particularly considering his love for his alma mater, unless Fairfield paid him some huge sum of money (I haven't found anybody reporting the actual salary yet, but it must have been well beyond anything Princeton was willing to pay). Fairfield does lose three regulars to graduation, but none of them were crucial. They have a nice rising-junior backcourt in Derek Needham (14.1 ppg, 4.5 apg) and Colin Nickerson (5.9 ppg, 2.2 apg, 1.9 spg), and they have one more year of eligibility from their star post player Ryan Olander (10.4 ppg, 53.2% shooting, 6.8 rpg, 2.1 bpg). And the team adds two big time transfers. They add Rakim Sanders, who scored in double-digits per game in all three seasons he played at Boston College, and they also add Desmond Wade, who had 4.8 assists per game as a sophomore at Houston in 2009-10. The biggest flaw on the team, for sure, is size. Olander is the only regular returning with a height greater than 6'5". Their 2011 recruiting class features two bigs to try to alleviate this problem: 6'11" Vince Van Nes and 6'7" Adam Jones. Unless players leave the program because of the coaching change, I would think it more likely than not that Fairfield will actually be improved next season.

Even though Fairfield won the conference regular season title by two full games over Iona, I agreed with the computers that Iona was the best team. Iona does lose two seniors from the rotation to graduation, with the tougher loss being Alejo Rodriguez (6.6 ppg, 69.9% shooting, 6.7 rpg, 1.1 bpg). They have one more year left of eligibility for their tremendous inside-outside duo of Scott Machado (13.2 ppg, 7.6 apg) and Mike Glover (18.4 ppg, 61% shooting, 10.1 rpg). Jermel Jenkins and Kyle Smith are two other quality backcourt players returning, and they've got a good shooter in Sean Armand (42.1 3P% as a true freshman). Trinity Fields and Jayon James add even more backcourt depth. Their big need is on the boards, where they need somebody to replace Alejo Rodriguez, who was relentless. The team led the conference in defensive rebounding percentage, and they won't want to drop off too far. Obviously Mike Glover is an elite rebounder, but after that their top rebounding returner is Chris Pelcher, who is 6'10" and had an efficient 60.3 eFG%, but who only played 9.3 minutes per game as a sophomore. They might need to go out and get another big during the summer.

St. Peter's did a great job to win the MAAC tournament, but it should be understood for the fluke that it was. They beat both Fairfield and Iona in the tournament, despite losing at home to both of them in the weeks leading up to the tournament, including a 14 point thumping at the hands of Iona only ten days before beating them in the MAAC tournament title game. They led the MAAC in defensive effective field goal percentage, but their offense was awful, particularly ball handling (they were dead last in the conference in offensive turnover rate). In the MAAC tournament, both Iona and Fairfield made late runs when they started pressing and St. Peter's started turning the ball over nearly every possession (they turned the ball over on at least 21% of possessions in all three MAAC tournament games, despite the wins). And even with that in mind, they lose four starters to graduation, including their starting point guard. Making the NCAA Tournament was a great achievement, but I don't see any way that they get back next year.

The third best team in the conference, according to Sagarin and Pomeroy, was Rider. They lose only two starters to graduation, although one was leading scorer Justin Robinson (15.2 ppg, 42.7 3P%). Mike Ringgold was the team's third leading scorer (12.1 per game), and he also graduates. Robinson is a particularly important loss because of his three point shooting, since Rider depended heavily on that during the season. They led the MAAC in 2010-11 with 38.5% three-point shooting. That said, they do have several good shooters left, including Brandon Penn and Novar Gadson, who are both 6'7" and shot 42% and 37.5%, respectively, behind the arc for the season. Jonathan Thompson (39% behind the arc as a sophomore) could also be a big scorer with more playing time. They also add Jeff Jones, who scored 7.3 points per game, including 43.5% behind the arc, for Virginia in 2009-10. A big key for the team is the continued development of Danny Stewart, who had 7.3 points and 7.1 rebounds per game, including 58% shooting from the field, as a true freshman. He only used 15.7% of possessions while on the floor, so Rider has got to get him the ball more to help balance their offense.

Loyola-Maryland and Siena are two sleepers in the conference. Loyola-Maryland loses only one starter to graduation, but that starter was their starting point guard (Brian Rudolph), and ball handling was the best part of their offense (3rd in the MAAC in offensive turnover rate, and only 6th in eFG%). They do return a good frontcourt duo of Erik Etherly (10.8 ppg, 7.6 rpg) and Shane Walker (11.1 ppg, 7.1 rpg), and will get back Anthony Winbush, who scored 7.3 points per game with a 51.8 eFG% in 2009-10 but missed the 2010-11 season with an injury. Siena loses two starters to graduation, and one of those is Ryan Rossiter (18.7 ppg, 13.2 rpg, 1.4 bpg), who seemingly has been the best player on Siena since last century. But despite the fact that Rossiter is irreplaceable, Siena has not missed a beat in recruiting since Mitch Buonaguro was promoted to the head coach position when Fran McCaffery left to take the Iowa job last year. Rakeem Brookins has already seized the point guard position with 9.0 points and 4.3 assists per game as a true freshman in 2010-11. Their 2011 recruiting class is led by athletic bigs Imoh Silas and Lionel Gomis. Siena has a long way to get back to the top of the MAAC, but another quality recruiting class in 2012 could have them right back in contention for the MAAC title in 2012-13.

Here's how I see the top of the MAAC ending up:

1. Fairfield
2. Iona

3. Rider

4. Loyola-Maryland

5. Siena

Missouri Valley Conference

I've said many times how underrated the viewing experience of the Missouri Valley is. The teams try really hard, play solid basketball, and have great crowds. I'm never disappointed watching those games. But I've been shocked at how poorly the level of play in the conference has been. And while it was embarrassing enough that their one NCAA Tournament representative (Indiana State) got a 14 seed and was waxed in the first round by Syracause, the low point of the season for the Missouri Valley was actually Bracketbusters weekend. A lot has been made of the VCU win over Wichita State, which doesn't look as bad now, and actually was probably the difference between VCU making the Final Four and being in the NIT. But Northern Iowa also lost to George Mason, Missouri State lost to Valparaiso, Indiana State lost to Morehead State, and Evansville lost by 25 points to Murray State. It was a total wipe out for the conference, and doomed any realistic chance the conference had at an at-large bid. Can things pick up next season?

I'll start with Wichita State, which was the team I felt was best all season long, despite the fact that they were swept by Missouri State. And while they were an old team (26th in Pomeroy experience), they will not be too damaged by graduations. They played a ten man rotation, with all ten earning at least 13 minutes per game, and none averaging more than 26. Of those ten, four will graduate, but five will be seniors next season. The biggest concern for next year will be continuing their dominance on the boards. They led the Missouri Valley in both offensive and defensive rebounding rates in 2010-11, but will lose their two best bigs: JT Durley (11.2 ppg, 4.9 rpg) and Gabe Blair (6.6 ppg, 54.2% shooting, 6.4 rpg). The only regular over 6'5" that they return will be Garrett Stutz (7.4 ppg, 53.6% shooting, 3.6 rpg), a 7-footer. 6'7" Jerome Hamilton was a highly rated recruit in 2009 but took a redshirt year and hasn't played much - he could potentially step up in 2011-12. They also have a quality big in their 2011 class in 6'8" Jake White. If they can get big man production, the Wichita State backcourt should be very good. Toure' Murry will be back for one more year, and should contend for Missouri Valley Player of the Year. Joe Ragland is capable point, and other backcourt returners from the rotation include David Kyles, Ben Smith and Demetric Williams. The team should continue to be steady with so much experience back, but they're not efficient enough offensively or defensively to survive a big drop-off in the rebounding category.

Missouri State swept Wichita State during the regular season and won the outright Missouri Valley regular season title. Like Wichita State they lose four regulars to graduation. Unlike Wichita State they had a tight rotation and will not return a whole lot. They basically played a seven man rotation, so only three regulars will return. Of course, one of those returners is their star, Kyle Weems (16.0 ppg, 39.5 3P%, 6.9 rpg). The team does have some quality youth from a nice 2010 recruiting class, led by Nathan Scheer (4.1 ppg, 54.7 eFG%). Aaron Cooper barely played as a true freshman in 2010-11, but could have to play key minutes at the point next year. Missouri State does have a really good 2011 recruiting class lined up, but that has to be a question mark now that Cuonzo Martin left to take the Tennessee job. Paul Lusk is the new head coach, and his first task will be re-securing that 2011 class, led by bigs Christian Kirk and Andrew Wilson.

Indiana State, of course, was the Missouri Valley's representative in the NCAA Tournament. And while they weren't a particularly good team over the course of the year and got wiped out by Syracuse in the NCAA Tournament, they do deserve credit for finishing the season strong. Indiana State won their final five regular season conference games, including a road victory at Northern Iowa, and then they beat both Wichita State and Missouri State en route to their Missouri Valley tournament title. And they won with nowhere near the raw talent that teams like Missouri State and Wichita State had - they did it with ferocious defense to compensate for a weak offense. Indiana State led the Missouri Valley in both 2P% and 3P% defense, and also led the conference in defensive steal percentage. The team had 11 different players that at times played important minutes, with all 11 averaging at least 8.7 minutes per game. Of those 11, three graduate, but none were that crucial. The Sycamores return their top three scorers, their top four rebounders, and their top assist man. Their star of the future, without much question, is Jake Odum, who as a redshirt freshman in 2010-11 had 4.1 assists per game with a 1.85 A/TO ratio and also led the team with a 47.7% shooting percentage (his 52.3 eFG% was third best). A big need for the team is post scoring. Myles Walker is a good rebounder and post defender, but he shot only 45.5% from the field. RJ Mahurin is 6'8" and played really well as a freshman in 2010-11, including a 54.3 eFG%, but he is not a post player and actually took more threes (69) during the season than twos (48). They do have a good prospect in 6'10" Jake Kitchell, who redshirt in 2010-11 and has four years of eligibility remaining. Their top 2011 prospect is another big: 6'8" Justin Gant. A good defense and an elite point guard (by Missouri Valley standards) are a good formula, but they absolutely need that size to develop to win consistently enough to repeat their Missouri Valley tournament title.

According to Sagarin and Pomeroy, the fourth best team in the Missouri Valley over the course of the regular season was Creighton. And Creighton had a relatively successful postseason, making it to the final game of the CBI. They lose two key players to graduation: Kenny Lawson (9.2 ppg, 52.7 eFG%, 5.5 rpg) and Kaleb Korver (4.3 ppg, 38.5 3P%, 2.3 apg). Antoine Young (13.1 ppg, 5.0 apg, 2.38 A/TO ratio) is the team's key creator and ball control, but the young core of the team going forward will be Doug McDermott (14.9 ppg, 58.1 eFG% 7.2 rpg as a true freshman) and Greg Echenique (10.5 ppg, 60.9% shooting, 5.8 rpg). The team has a couple of good young outside shooters (Jahenns Manigat hit 39% behind the arc as a true freshman, and Josh Jones hit 38.4% behind the arc as a sophomore), so they should continue to be one of the best shooting teams in the conference. With that paint offense developing, and a quality point guard in Antoine Young, Creighton should have the best offense in the conference in 2011-12.

Northern Iowa tied for fourth in the standings with Creighton. They actually were somewhat in contention for the conference title when February began, but they lost six of their final seven regular season games, then lost in the MVC tournament quarterfinals to Creighton, and won only one game in the CIT. Northern Iowa's identity during their magical 2009-10 season was on defense, and they were third in the Missouri Valley in points allowed per game this past season, but it was a wildly deceptive stat. Northern Iowa was last in the conference in tempo (59.6 possessions per game), and actually were rated by Pomeroy as the second worst defense in the conference in 2010-11 (compare that to 2009-10, when Pomeroy rated their defense 16th best in the entire nation). They lose three players to graduation, including star Kwadzo Ahelegbe (14.1 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 3.0 apg) and their best rebounder, Lucas O'Rear (6.9 ppg, 5.7 rpg). O'Rear was their key interior defender as well, which puts even more pressure on the young players on this team. They have a good returning inside-outside combo of rising-juniors in Jake Koch (9.8 ppg, 5.0 rpg) and Anthony James (12.4 ppg, 43.1 3P%, 3.4 rpg). 6'8" Nathan Buss and 6'5" Max Martino are two quality players from their 2010 recruiting class that redshirt this past season and could contribute next season. And Ben Jacobson has capitalized on that 2010 NCAA Tournament run with a really good 2011 recruiting class, which is probably the best in the conference. It's led by sharpshooting guard Matt Bohannon, power forward Ben Tuttle and combo guard JeVon Lyle. Northern Iowa has the talent that, if they can recapture the defensive intensity of a year ago, can take them back to the top of the conference. And they certainly have a quality core going forward regardless.

One other team to discuss briefly is Drake. They finished only 7-11 in the conference and got whipped in the first round of the Missouri Valley tournament by Bradley, but they did it with only one senior on the roster, who was really just a spot-up three-point shooter (Ryan Wedel). Mark Phelps took over this program in 2008 after Keno Davis left, and his first two full recruiting classes (2009 and 2010) have been really good and deep, and he's got a really nice young core. The 2009 class is led by Seth Van Deest (8.8 ppg, 52.5% shooting, 4.4 rpg) and Ben Simons, who is 6'8" and shot 42% behind the arc for the season. Among the 2010 class, Rayvonte Rice is a statsheet stuffer already (13.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 1.6 apg, 1.4 spg, 0.8 bpg). And the highest rated 2010 recruit, Karl Madison, had to redshirt his freshman season because of a series of minor injuries, but is expected to be healthy for next season. It remains to be seen if Drake has the overall talent to eventually make a run at a Missouri Valley title, and even if they do it likely won't be until the 2012-13 season, but they definitely should be improved for 2011-12.

Here's how I see the top of the Missouri Valley playing out in 2011-12:

1. Creighton
2. Northern Iowa

3. Wichita State

4. Indiana State

5. Drake

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