And we’re back!
Two weeks of previews have turned into three weeks of previews for Missouri’s Non-Conference schedule. I’m doing my best to keep the previews brief on the majority of this schedule since we know it is a bit cupcake-y.
To recap here’s the schedule:
- Nov 7th — Southern Indiana
- Nov 11th — Penn
- Nov 13th — Lindenwood
- Nov 15th — SIUE
- Nov 20th — Mississippi Valley State
- Nov 23rd — Coastal Carolina
- Nov 26th — Houston Baptist
- Nov 29th — @ Wichita State
- Dec 4th — SEMO
- Dec 10th — Kansas
- Dec 17th — UCF (in Miami)
- Dec 22nd — Illinois (in St. Louis)
- Jan 28th — Iowa State
We’ve already discussed the lack of intrigue here. Matt Harris took a dive into how the schedule is about par for the course for 1st year head coaches. On the teams we’ve previewed so far I’ve got Mizzou going 4-0. But what can we expect from the next set of teams?
GAME 5: Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils
Head Coach: George Ivory, 1st season
Last Season: 2-26 (2-16 in the SWAC), 355 in KenPom
George Ivory was hired this season as the 12th head coach in program history after Lindsey Hunter stepped down this past spring. Hunter, a former NBA player and Mississippi native, could never quite get the program going. So now Ivory takes over to try his hand.
Ivory spent 13 season (from 2008 to 2021) at Arkansas Pine-Bluff, also in the SWAC. There he was 140-269 with one NCAA Tournament appearance in 2010.
Coaching in the SWAC is a tough job. You’re served up as fodder for better programs with a lot more money behind them and you’re expected to take your lumps. Alcorn State won the league last year and had one Non-Conference win. They lost to Gonzaga, Oklahoma, Tulsa, Houston, Portland, and beat Milwaukee. MVSU’s last Division 1 non-conference win was a home game against Southeastern Louisiana. Before that you have to go back to 2014.
Surprisingly enough, despite playing a SWAC team nearly every year, Mizzou has only faced MVSU once. That meeting was in 1984 and Missouri won by 14 points.
Missouri is 29-0 all time versus the SWAC with the most wins coming against Jackson State (7), Southern (6), and Arkansas-Pine Bluff (5). In face, Mizzou played UAPB four of those times while George Ivory was the head coach. In 2008 they won by 54, in 2009 they won by 18, in 2010 they won by 28, and in 2015 they won by 53 points. Remember that 2009 game would’ve been Ivory’s lone NCAA Tournament team which might explain why the game was a smidge closer than normal.
So when you’re looking for a win, dial up the SWAC.
What about the team now?
Well the Delta Devils were bad last year. They were the 4th worst Division 1 basketball team last year per KenPom.com, and last in the SWAC. They’re going to be bad again this year, maybe not quite as bad as they were last year, but certainly a sub-300 basketball team.
There isn’t a current updated online roster for MVSU. There were some notable names off their roster last year who entered the transfer portal but so far as we know don’t have a destination. Robert Carpenter was the leading scorer for the team in the 12 games he played in. He averaged nearly 18 points per game, but played in just one game for two minutes after January 10th. Is he back? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
The schools second leading scorer was Caleb Hunter, son of former head coach Lindsey Hunter. He also transferred but so far hasn’t announced a destination.
In all, 7 Devils entered the transfer portal and per VerbalCommits.com only two have destinations. Third leading scorer Devin Gordon opted for North Carolina Central, and backup point guard Elijah Davis went the JUCO route. So who’s back? Who is coming in? We’ll see.
Regardless, this is a nearly certain win for the Tigers.
Game 6: Coastal Carolina Chanticleers
Head Coach: Cliff Ellis, 15th season
Last season: 19-14 (8-8 in the Sun Belt Conference), 155 in KenPom
Our old SEC Nemisis... and by that I mean he coached a long time at Auburn and was really pretty good there but he was well before the time when Mizzou entered the league. Ellis was responsible for some of the best Auburn teams pre-Bruce Pearl. And to some degree even if you include Pearl’s tenure. In 1999 Auburn finished the season 29-4, and most people who remember that era of College Hoops probably remember Chris Porter, the Tigers leading scorer.
In 2004 Auburn fired Cliff Ellis, and in 2007 Coastal Carolina hired him. He’s been at Coastal since, and been pretty good. Three regular season championships, two NCAA tournaments, and he’s helped guide them from the Big South Conference into the Sun Belt.
But the Sun Belt is a better league, and Coastal has struggled to be better than just a few games over .500 in the league since joining up.
Coastal Carolina has made two trips to Columbia in the past, and both ended up losses for the Chanticleers. In January of 1993, Norm Stewart and the Tigers. Records are spotty but it looks like Mark Atkins lead all scorers in the game and it wasn’t a particularly close contest as the Tigers won by 25.
Then to kick off 2001, Quin Snyder’s Tigers beat Coastal in a closer contest. Kareem Rush had 21 points and T.J. Soyoye added a double double as the Tigers coasted (pun very much intended) to a 14 point win.
What about the team now?
Such is life as a mid major these days is having a pretty good player on your roster and him having additional eligibility and him going into the transfer portal. For Coastal Carolina, they had 11 players enter the transfer portal this year after a 19-14 season.
Leading scorer Vince Cole is off to professional opportunities, second leading scorer Rudi Williams transferred to BYU. But 3rd leading scorer Essam Mostafa is back! 4th leading scorer Ebrima Dibba transferred to South Carolina. Josh Uduye is back, the 5th leading scorer.
Transferring in are Eastern Kentucky Super Senior Jomaru Brown, and Forham transfer Antonio Daye. Both were double digit scorers at their previous stops. Henry Abraham comes in from Eastern Illinois with a propensity for long distance shooting and turning the ball over. Linton Brown transfers in from St. Bonaventure after being a minor role player there. And JUCO transfer Kylan Blackmon should be able to help with scoring after averaging 15ppg at Northeast Mississippi.
So Ellis restocked his depleted backcourt with transfers, and hopes some stability inside can help them climb up the standings in the Sun Belt. Still, this is a game Missouri should be at least a double digit favorite in, but also possibly the toughest test to date.