ST. LOUIS, Mo. -- The Creighton men's basketball team has been picked to finish fourth in the Missouri Valley Conference in a poll of league coaches, sports information directors, writers and broadcasters. Bluejay center Kenny Lawson Jr., a senior from Oceanside, Calif., was honored as the MVC's Preseason Player of the Year. Both announcements were made this morning in conjunction with the league's annual Media Day in St. Louis, Mo.
Wichita State garnered 33 of the 39 first-place votes and is the overwhelming favorite to win the regular-season title with 382 points of a maximum 390. Despite tying for seventh-place last season, Missouri State was tabbed second with one first place vote and 313 points in the poll. Northern Iowa, which has won back-to-back regular-season and Arch Madness titles, claimed three first-place votes and earned 289 points.
Under the direction of first-year coach Greg McDermott, Creighton was tabbed fourth in the poll with 282 points. This is the 11th consecutive season that Creighton has been pegged for a top-four finish, something it has done the past 13 years. The other two first-place votes went to Bradley, which garnered 264 points to rank fifth.
Sixth in the preseason poll was Illinois State with 165 points, while Indiana State and new coach Greg Lansing were slotted seventh with 136 points. Rounding out the bottom three spots in the poll were eighth-place Drake (121 points), Southern Illinois (120) and Evansville (73).
Pollsters have accurately predicted the league's regular-season champ only 12 times out of 26 since 1985-86. Just one team has been picked for fourth place but gone on to take the regular-season crown, Illinois State in 1992-93.
Also announced was the preseason all-MVC team, headed by the selection of Lawson as Preseason Player of the Year. He is joined on the five-man squad by Northern Iowa's Kwadzo Ahelegbe, Bradley's Sam Maniscalco, Wichita State's Toure' Murry and Missouri State's Kyle Weems. The honorable-mention preseason all-Valley club includes Bradley's Taylor Brown and Andrew Warren, Wichita State's JT Durley, Missouri State's Adam Leonard, Evansville's Colt Ryan and Drake big man Seth VanDeest.
Lawson averaged 13.1 points, 6.8 rebounds and league best 1.5 blocked shots per game last season while helping Creighton finish 18-16 overall. He is Creighton's first preseason MVC Player of the Year since Nate Funk in 2006-07.
2010-11 MVC Men's Basketball Preseason Poll
Rank School (1st place votes) Total Points
1. Wichita State (33) 382
2. Missouri State (1) 313
3. Northern Iowa (3) 289
4. Creighton 282
5. Bradley (2) 264
6. Illinois State 165
7. Indiana State 136
8. Drake 121
9. Southern Illinois 120
10. Evansville 73
2010-11 MVC Preseason All-Conference Team
Name School Pos. Year
Kenny Lawson Jr.*, Creighton, C, Sr.
Kwadzo Ahelegbe, Northern Iowa, G, Sr.
Sam Maniscalco, Bradley, G, Sr.
Toure' Murry, Wichita State, G/F, Jr.
Kyle Weems, Missouri State, G/F, Jr.
*Preseason MVC Player of the Year
Taylor Brown, Bradley, F, Jr.
JT Durley, Wichita State, C, Sr.
Adam Leonard, Missouri State, G, Sr.
Colt Ryan, Evansville, G, So.
Seth VanDeest, Drake, C, So.
Andrew Warren, Bradley, G, Sr.