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Ohio Valley Conference Notebook: Evan Bradds is the OVC Player of the Year, and Murray State is confusing

SEMO has some issues, Bradds is on fire still, Tennessee surprises, and more.

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

1. Southeast Missouri State's struggles just took a turn for the worse

I'll preface this by saying that Erin Unerstall of the Southeast Missourian seems to have a much better idea of what's going on than anyone else.

Most significantly, what is known now is that Marcus Wallace, Ladarius Coleman, and JT Jones are now no longer part of the Redhawks basketball team. SEMO is now 0-9 and destined to tank to the bottom of the OVC after new Coach Rick Ray dismissed these three in what was already a horrid start to the season.

What's strange about the situation is that this wasn't a mutual decision. It seems that Ray, in his first year as coach after being fired at Mississippi State, has rid himself of guys that don't fit his ideal style of play and weren't playing up to his standards.

Editorial opinion: This seems ridiculous. The players, as evidenced in this piece, sure didn't seem to want to be done, and were quite taken aback by Ray's decision. I'm not sure what message he's trying to send or if he really believes that this is what's best for the program in the long run.

2. Evan Bradds' performance

For the most part, the statistics tell the story. Belmonts' Evan Bradds is starting to receive attention from some national writers who are paying attention to his shooting exploits. Though he doesn't venture outside of the paint much, he uses his long frame and quickness to create plenty of scoring opportunities around the bucket. Bradds is lighting it up around the basket. He's coming off his second OVC POTW award and is scoring 19.4 points per and 8.1 rebounds per game while leading the country by shooting .748 from the floor.

Just take a look at some of his performances from the floor so far this season.

  • 11/13 @ Marquette: 10-13, 9 rebounds, 24 points
  • 11/21 @ Evansville 13-13 14 rebounds, 28 points, 4 assists
  • 11/23 South Alabama 14-15, 30 points
  • Two games vs. rival Lipscomb on 12/1 and 12/7: COMBINED 18-22, 20 rebounds 10 assists, 48 points.

3. Tennessee Surprises


If I told you that through 10 games, that two of the Tennessee programs in the OVC would have seven wins, you'd probably scratch your head or chuckle. And if a guess had to be made as to what program would be the ones with the winning record well...you probably would have guessed that wrong too. After what looked to be a momentum-building year for UT-Martin, the Skyhawks sit at 3-7 and have yet to look formidable in any game this season. Heath Schroyer's team doesn't seem to have any answers, especially on the defensive end. On the other hand, Tennessee State and Tennessee Tech are showcasing a high upside after residing as cellar dwellers. The Tigers already have two more wins than they did a season ago and sit at 7-2. The play of Wayne Martin and Keron Deshields continues to impress.

Tennessee Tech is nearly as big a surprise as State. Though Tech wasn't nearly as bad as State a year ago, for anyone to expect the Eagles to be 7-3 and win SIX STRAIGHT before falling to Arkansas, well... that person(s) probably only exists within the Eagle fanbase or within the program itself. Torrance Rowe and Ryan Martin have torn apart opposing defenses through 10 games. Tech still has Chattanooga and Iowa in the nonconference to bolster its profile before OVC play begins.

4. Where to stand on Murray State

To say that Murray State is going through a rebuilding year is in all honesty an overstatement. Despite the fact the the Racers are not the same team that went undefeated in conference play a year ago, it still is talented enough to compete for a tournament spot. Even in the midst of a three-game losing streak (including four of its last five), the Racers fought to the bitter end against Evansville, quite the team in its own right, and fell at Illinois State.

This team has an excellent pool of talent. Wayne Langston, Jeffery Moss,  Bryce Jones and the rest make for a talented team to any eye. The 5-5 record is a bit misleading. This team will get it together. New coach Matt McMahon and crew will get it together and when the season winds down, will probably be in contention for the OVC West.

Elsewhere

  • EKU continues its fast pace under new coach Dan McHale, which has inflated the numbers of guys like Jarelle Reischel and JaVontae Hawkins who played well against Kentucky at Rupp.
  • Eastern Illinois is struggling even when Trae Anderson takes over.
  • When Malcolm Drumwright's ability to score for Jacksonville State seems to have no bearing on how it performs.
  • Morehead State is looking alright, but not sure who takes charge of the offense come OVC time.
  • SIUE has been forgettable, with the exception of a big win over rival SIU in which Burak Eslik showed flashes of brilliance.
  • As for Austin Peay, the Governors have looked half decent after a horrid start. Chris Horton has come along a bit. They can build off that.

OVC play is going to be fun. A lot of stuff has to be answered. A few new things could develop in the time before conference play begins. Anything that has really surprised you thus far?