The U-N-I Panthers opened the season as the favorites in a Missouri Valley Conference That looks to be even tougher than expected. The Panthers open the league chase at Bradley this (Wednesday) evening and it has been a banner year for the MVC so far in which it has been ranked as high as second in the country.
U-N-I coach Greg McDermott says all the M-V-C coaches are each others biggest fans in the non-conference part of the league. McDermott’s team is off to a 10-1 start, the Panther’s best since they moved to division-one. McDermott says that start is even more important with a tough conference schedule ahead. He says the league is no longer a secret nationally, and the teams are beating quality opponents more often.
Bradley is 6-2 and the Braves have one of The Valley’s top players in senior Marcellus Sommerville and one of the top newcomers in junior forward Zach Andrews.
Braves coach Jim Les says his team will regain the services of seven-foot sophomore center Patrick O’Bryant. He was one of two players suspended for violating NCAA rules in connection with a summer job.
Drake opens the conference race at Evansville.Third year coach Tom Davis has called this his best Bulldog team and hopes that will show during a rugged league race. Davis says the Valley has some really good coaches and it’s good to see the recognition.
The Bulldogs take a 7-4 record into their conference opener and have played the Valley’s toughest non-conference schedule. He says they still have some areas they need to improve in to be competitive in the conference.
Evansville is the only conference team to not post a winning record in non-conference play. The Aces are 4-4 but do have a win over Purdue.