News From Terre Haute, Indiana

January 21, 2010

Fighting winter ‘blahs’ with some help from MVC basketball

By Andy Amey

TERRE HAUTE — Trying to overcome the January blahs with the help of Missouri Valley basketball, NHL hockey and — dare I say it — even occasionally the NBA and the Big 10 has been semi-successful.

Thanks to scrolling some of the obscure channels on my far-too-expensive satellite package, I’ve been able to see some classic MVC stuff lately, like Bradley at Northern Iowa and Southern Illinois at Creighton. It’s an intense, closely bunched league, and I hope I see a lot of you in the stands on Sunday when the Sycamores meet 20th-ranked Northern Iowa.

My MVC prediction right now? If Wichita State shoots as well in March as the Shockers did in Hulman Center last week, WSU is on its way to the Sweet 16.

Yes, that’s a might big if.

I keep thinking my satellite company’s battle with Versus will end soon enough for the NHL playoffs, but I’m getting a little less optimistic about it. Still have seen some good stuff involving the Blackhawks and Blues and occasionally on the NHL Network, and I think even my kids got a little charged up watching the Hawks and the Red Wings fly around on Sunday’s NBC broadcast.

The NBA? I find that as long as I look for the teams that aren’t featured every other day I can enjoy a few things. My teams so far this year in that category are the Thunder, the Grizzlies, even the Kings and Bucks.

Sorry Larry; my hopes aren’t very high about your team right now, however.

And I’m grudgingly accepting the Big Ten Network, if for no other reason than it staggers starting times so the commercials don’t come at the same time as they do on ESPN and ESPN2. Nice to see Stephanie White’s games as an analyst too. (And does Jordan Printy have a sister?)

There are a couple of things to watch for on the high school beat too, although all of them don’t involve Wabash Valley teams.

The one thing of local interest is the Class A girls sectional coming up involving the Wabash River Conference teams, as interesting a tournament as one could hope for considering that its two-time defending champion still has its nucleus back. That team, Turkey Run, is ranked fifth and North Vermillion eighth this week — the good folks of northern Parke County will be extremely quick to point out their early loss to the Falcons was with center Adrianne Francis unavailable — and Rockville won’t be a team to take lightly either.

But that sectional pales compared to another Class A tournament. Until Tuesday, when they played each other, the two unbeaten Class A girls teams, ranked first and second, were Vincennes Rivet and Barr-Reeve; they’ll play in the same sectional too.

There are also several schools around the state who are hopeful of two state championship basketball teams, most of them in the smaller classes (which was the reason, I guess, for class basketball; that and the fun of a 150-mile round trip to watch Terre Haute North play Terre Haute South).

In Class 4A there’s Merrillville. I don’t recall the Pirates being a power on the girls side before, and their boys weren’t even that overwhelming back when they had Gregg Popovich playing against my Red Devils.

Mount Vernon (Hancock) has highly ranked boys and girls teams in Class 3A. In Class 2A Winchester falls into that category — its girls are ranked No. 1 — but the more likely double winner there might be Fort Wayne Luers. And in Class A there’s the aforementioned Barr-Reeve. (I refuse to mention that other school, the one with three initials whose last two are identical.)

• We remember her — Gatorade has finally announced its Runner of the Year for Indiana girls cross country, putting them at approximately the same speed as your Tribune-Star (and I’ll bet Gatorade has a bigger staff).

It’s Waverly Neer of Culver Academies, who beat Tapring Goatee in the State Preview meet but couldn’t catch her a couple of months later at the state finals.

Another Gatorade winner from Culver Academies also ran here in the fall — Alex Banfich, now at Princeton.

Andy Amey can be reached after 4 p.m. for comments or news items at (812) 231-4277 or 1-800-783-8742; by e-mail at; by mail at P.O. Box 149, Terre Haute, IN, 47808; or by fax at (812) 231-4321.