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Mid-Major Minutes: Gonzaga’s going after more big dudes, the Missouri Valley is JUST FINE, and we’ve got some alternate UNLV history

It’s time for some game theory

Good morning! If you’re reading this, you’re clearly starting your day off right with an effort to better yourself by becoming more educated about the goings-on in the mid-major world.

In a landscape so dominated by the biggest schools and conferences, it’s quite hard to winnow down the information you want and need to hear about your favorite mid-major programs.

Thankfully, Mid-Major Madness is here to aggregate the news and links for you, providing you with a brand-new, daily post about the world of mid-major hoops.


#Content to Read

Gonzaga offered a REALLY BIG DUDE (Slipper Still Fits)

Gonzaga sure does love its big men, and we here at Mid-Major Madness love the big men that Gonzaga loves. From Karnowski to Sacre to Sabonis to Turiaf, it’s all about the big, ultimate dudes in Spokane.

Now, Gonzaga’s going after another huge guy.

Matt Van Komen is a high school player in Utah, and he’s the most recent player to get a scholarship offer from Mark Few & Co. Oh, and get this: He’s 7’3.

As Peter Woodburn puts it:

He is ranked as the second-best player coming out of Utah, the 16th best center in the nation, and the No. 73 player overall according to 247Sports. There is some actual potential running through that lanky frame, and the Zags are trying to chomp down on it early.

Speaking of lanky, Van Komen fits the bill, as you would imagine a sophomore in high school who has lived through a relentlessly consistent growth spurt. He’ll have to put on a decent amount of weight to be a force at the next level, but still has plenty of time to do so.

I’m excited just thinking about Gonzaga having a strong 7’3 guy on the roster in the future. At least it’ll give us someone to praise in the Mid-Major Madness slack for the foreseeable future.

Some alternate history regarding UNLV athletics (Las Vegas Review-Journal)

The Review-Journal’s UNLV writer, Mark Anderson, put on his Harry Turtledove hat and penned a piece yesterday that featured some alternate history about a variety of UNLV athletics-related events. Among those scenarios discussed, two involved the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels basketball team.

The first scenario involved Greg Anthony and what would have happened if he had not fouled out against Duke in the 1991 Final Four. To Anderson, that moment was pivotal, writing that:

With a second national championship in hand, all the momentum would have been with the Rebels’ basketball program and not university president Robert Maxson. But coming up short provided Maxson with enough of an opening to force out coach Jerry Tarkanian, who agreed to leave after the 1991-92 season, in which the Rebels went 26-2 but were ruled ineligible by the NCAA for the postseason.

Anderson also wrote about how the Great Recession postponed plans to build a state-of-the-art arena for UNLV and as a way to pursue professional sports expansion teams. Really, it’s difficult to examine counterfactuals and hold them up as truth. Still, it’s a fun exercise looking at what could have been.

Stansbury’s skilled recruiting is landing him quality in-state players (Herald-Leader)

We all know that Rick Stansbury has a fondness for recruiting the most talented players, and that has not changed since he has taken over at Western Kentucky. Already amassing a bonkers incoming class, Stansbury is now making sure he’s getting some of the best players within Kentucky as well.

Two such players are Taveion Hollingsworth and Jake Ohmer, fresh out of Dunbar High School and Scott County High School, respectively. Both are guys that Stansbury seems pretty excited about coaching, especially since Hollingsworth was Mr. Basketball for the Commonwealth of Kentucky last year.

And, according to Mark Story, it sounds like Ohmer didn’t need much convincing to come play for Stansbury either:

Before the state tournament, Ohmer appeared headed for the University of the Cumberlands of the NAIA. After Scott High’s defeat, Stansbury talked to Ohmer that Saturday, then spent Sunday morning before the state finals with Ohmer and his family.

The player committed to Western that night.

The Missouri Valley Conference is just fine without the Shockers (Peoria Journal Star)

Last season was one of the roughest in recent memory for a conference that usually ranks among the best non-Power 5 leagues in college basketball. The MVC was dominated by Wichita State and Illinois State, while basically every other school was ailing.

Now that Wichita State has left for the AAC, many are wondering what is next for this historic conference. Dave Reynolds, a Bradley Braves writer who knows a thing or two about the MVC, says that the conference will be just fine.

This is a great piece full of quotes from other officials throughout the MVC, but one quote in particular from Bradley president Gary Roberts stands out to me:

“Wichita State was an outlier in our conference because the Koch brothers supplied it with such an unlimited amount of resources. Wichita was operating in a different strata and that gave them an entrenched advantage. Everybody knew they’d win the conference every year and it made it more difficult to build solid programs. So losing them was a big plus for the rest of us.”

Non-conference scheduling is changing for better or for worse (Sports Illustrated)

Your opinion about how schools are handling non-conference scheduling likely depends on who your favorite team is. And, since you’re reading a site devoted to mid-major basketball, my guess is that you’re probably unhappy with the move towards more conference games in the sport’s biggest conferences.

After all, this move means less money for schools involved in buy games and less chances to pull off incredible upsets over big names (hello there). As Joan Niesen points out:

Sports become more and more stratified between the haves and the have-nots with every passing year, and the more money and power are centralized among smaller and smaller groups, the less of a chance for drama, upsets, ridiculousness—basically all the reasons for which everyone but Alabama, Duke and Kentucky fans watch sports.


Tweets of Interest

I think the only people who RT’d this are writers for this site, the boss of this site, and an Oakland fan who has beef with Ben

John Gallagher and Hartford are an excellent model of inclusivity in sports

Coming to a court near you: NBA granny shot free throws

Scott Cross has himself some new dudes

I haven’t watched WWE since I was 6. I might watch this.


Recruiting News