The Missouri Valley (MVC) is comprised of some very competitive female basketball teams. These teams will kick off the 2021-2022 season in early November to determine the MVC’s next champion. The 2020-2021 season was affected by COVID-19, and the Bradley Braves won the MVC tournament for the first time in their history, upsetting the No. 2 ranked Drake Bulldogs in the finals.
The Braves advanced to the finals after top-ranked Missouri State Lady Bears pulled out of their semi-final game against them due to a positive COVID-19 case in the Braves camp. The Lady Bears dominated the 2020-2021 season and will be super motivated to win the MVC tournament in 2021-2022. Will anyone challenge them? Will the Braves maintain their title? We will take a look at the upcoming MVC season!
Let’s take a look at how the Missouri Valley women’s basketball teams stack up for this upcoming season!
Missouri Valley woMen’s Basketball Preview 2021-22
the Favorites: missouri state, Drake
Missouri State Lady Bears
Head coach: Amaka Agugua-Hamilton (3rd season)
2020-2021 record: 23-3 (16-0 in MVC)
Conference finish: 1st
The Lady Bears won the regular-season championship both seasons under her tutelage and have all of their key players returning for 2021-2022, including MVC player of the year Brice Calip and All-MVC selection Jasmine Franklin. Despite their dominance, the Lady Bears have still not won the MVC Conference Tournament due to cancellation in 2019-2020 and them pulling out for safety reasons in 2020-21.
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The Lady Bears would definitely want to avenge this in the 2021-2022 season. It isn’t easy to look past the Lady Bears as one of the overwhelming favorites in the 2021-2022 Missouri Valley Conference.
Head coach: Allison Pohlman (1st season)
2020-2021 record: 18-12 (13-5 in MVC)
Conference finish: 2nd
The Bulldogs have been perennial contenders for the past decade, and this will continue in the 2021-2022 season. Their leading players include Courtney Becker (MVC All-Freshman Team 2020-2021), sharp-shooter Sarah Beth Gueldner, and reigning MVC 6th Player of the year Maggie Bair. Allison Pohlman was recently appointed and will be in her first season as head coach, following fourteen years as an Assistant Coach.
The Bulldogs are good on both ends of the court and will be well coached by Pohlman; we anticipate that they will be a major threat to the Lady Bears in the 2021-2022 season.
the contenders: Bradley, Illinois state, northern iowa, loyola
Head coach: Andrea Gorski (6th season)
2020-2021 record: 17-12 (10-8 in MVC)
Conference finish: 5th
The Bradley Braves won the MVC Tournament for the first time in school history last season. They played with a level of confidence and composure in the MVC Tournament that defied their 5th place finish in the regular season.
The Braves inspirational coach Andrea Gorski will be motivating her girls to strive for further glory in 2021-2022. Gorski lost two of her key players in the Petree sisters but still has the indomitable Gabi Haack and most of the team from last season, which augurs well for team chemistry, and the girls will be rearing to go in defense of their MVC tournament title.
Illinois State Redbirds
Head coach: Kristen Gillespie (5th season)
2020-2021 record: 16-9 (12-6 in MVC)
Conference finish: 3rd
Coach Kristen Gillespie will be aiming to improve on the team’s commendable performance in the 2020-2021 season, where they made it to the Woman’s National Invitation Tournament. This was the Redbird’s first postseason appearance in eight years.
The Redbirds have done better than predicted in the last four seasons. Most pundits predicted that they would finish 5th or lower last season, but they ended the season 3rd. With the retention of three of their four All-MVC-honors players in Deanna Wilson, Juliann Redmond, and Mary Crompton, we expect them to be in the reckoning in the Missouri Valley Conference race!
Northern Iowa Panthers
Head coach: Tanya Warren (12th season)
2020-2021 record: 17-13 (11-7 in MVC)
Conference finish: 4th
The Panthers coach Tanya Warren will be seeking to keep her team in the top-half of the conference in the 2020-2021 Missouri Valley women’s basketball season. The Panthers have retained Karli Rucker, Kam Finley, Emerson Green, and Bre Gunnels, who were four of their top five players’ last season. They should at least match their 69 points per game that they scored last season, and if they can restrict opponents to less than the 63 points they allowed, the team will definitely win a lot of games and be one of the contending teams in the MVC.
Head coach: Kate Achter (6th season)
2020-2021 record: 12-15 (8-10 in MVC)
Conference finish: 6th
The Ramblers achieved big wins in the 2020- 2021 season, including an epic 61-60 victory over the Redbirds in the conference quarterfinals. The Ramblers also pushed the Drake Bulldogs, losing by a mere 4-points in a game in the season. These results show that the Ramblers can be competitive if they play at their best. They also played in the postseason for the first time in their history when they appeared in the Women’s Basketball Invitational tournament.
They will continue to be a contender in the MVC in 2021-2022 since they still have Allison Day and MVC freshman of the year Maya Chandler on their roster.
stuck in purgatory: valparaiso, southern illinois
Head coach: Mary Evans (4th season)
2020-2021 record: 12-13 (7-9 in MVC)
Conference finish: 7th
The Beacons are still a work in progress and do not have the team to consistently challenge the top Missouri Valley women’s basketball teams; however, with All-MVC players such as Carie Weinman and Caitlin Morrison, they can spring a few surprises. They will surely improve with the tactical nous of Mary Evans and will soon be a contender in the MVC.
Southern Illinois Salukis
Head coach: Cindy Stein (10th season)
2020-2021 record: 9-16 (5-13 in MVC)
Conference finish: 8th
The Salukis averaged just 60.2 per game last season and conceded over 64 per game; they need to find a way to score more goals per game than they concede to move forward. The roster for this season has not improved significantly; however, they still have Mackenzie Silvey, Gabby Walker, and Abby Brockmeyer, who were their outstanding players last season. If the outstanding Silvey plays at her best, she can win the Salukis some games, they however do not have the depth to be contenders.
the basement: evansville, indiana state
Evansville Purple Aces
Head coach: Robyn Scherr-Wells (1st season)
2020-2021 record: 6-18 (2-16 in MVC)
Conference finish: 10th
The Purple Aces had an underwhelming season in 2020-2021. They finished at the bottom of the conference and need some serious rebuilding to compete with the best teams in the Missouri Valley Conference. The Purple Aces have hired the experienced Robyn Scherr-Wells as their head coach for 2021-2022. Scherr-Wells is coming off a successful season as Assistant Coach at Florida International University. She is regarded as someone who can revitalize fledgling programs, which the Evansville program definitely needs at this time.
Indiana State Sycamores
Head coach: Chad Killinger (1st season)
2020-2021 record: 5-15 (2-14 in MVC)
Conference finish: 9th
The Sycamores have hired a 25 year veteran in Chad Killinger for the 2021-2022 season to work his magic and turn around the program. One of the main things that need immediate attention for the Sycamores is their negative scoring margin which stood at -13.2 in the 2020-2021 season.
They had the worst defensive record in the MVC and were among the worst teams offensively as well. The Sycamores need help on both sides of the floor to reverse the dismal situation that they find themselves in. Coach Killinger is in for a rocky ride; at least for his first couple of seasons, he needs to transform the Sycamores program, which will take time.
2021-22 missouri valley women’s Basketball Players to Watch
Gabi Haack – guard – fifth year – bradley
Gabi Haack of the Bradley Braves is one of the top MVP contenders for the MVC conference. She was second in the MVC in scoring last season, averaging 16.5 points per game, placing her behind her teammate Lasha Petree (18- Points per game). Haack also averaged 6.8 rebounds per game (6th in the MVC), made 40% of 3-Points attempted (6th in the MVC), and averaged 5.7 and 1.6 defensive and offensive rebounds, respectively.
2021-2022 will be a memorable season for Haack as she aims to become the leading scorer in Bradley history (needs 30 points) and also the most prolific from the free-throw line in school history (requires two free throws). Haack will also be the team leader, with the departure of Lasha Petree, and all eyes will be on her to deliver for the Braves!
Karli Rucker – guard – senior – northern iowa
Karli Rucker will be the most important player for UNI Panthers for the upcoming season. Rucker has been a consistent performer in the Missouri Valley Conference, finishing as the 10th best scorer in 2020-2021 (13.3 Points per game) and 5th best in assists (3.8 per game).
We expect that she will score even more in 2021-2022 and is a player that you should keep an eye on! She has made the MVC All-Conference team for all three years that she has played for the Panthers, and we anticipate that she will be on the team for the upcoming season if all goes well.
Mackenzie Silvey – guard – graduate student – southern illinois
Mackenzie Silvey is now a graduate student, and her experience and basketball acumen will be vital for the Salukis. Silvey will be tasked with leading the Salukis offense, which she has done exceptionally well throughout her college career.
She averaged 14.7 points per game last season (5th in the MVC), 1.7 3-points made (9th), and 2.8 assists per game (11th). Silvey scored at least 10-points per game in the final 13 games of the season, which speaks to her consistency and dependability as a scorer. The fortunes of the Salukis in the 2021-2022 season will be tied to how well Silvey plays and leads the team. We will be watching!
2021-22 Men’s & Women’s College Basketball Conference Previews
Learn more about the upcoming 2021-22 men’s and women’s college basketball seasons with Nothing But Nylon’s extensive conference previews, with a new conference covered every week before the campaign tips off in November.