ISML 2014: Eight more Nova faces join the party
By Jo-Ryan Salazar
March 10, 2014
Eight more faces from the Nova Division have entered the 2014 International Saimoe League main draw after Preliminaries Match Day 12. Some of these faces have clinched promotion to the Stella Division. Others are in it for the very first time. Let's take a look.
Joining from Nova Group 1 is Eru Chitanda (2506 vote), with wins over Mikan Yuuki (2317 votes) and Chocolat (1440 votes). Other victors from this group included Yui Yuigahama (2268 votes) over Noire (1821 votes) and Kyouko Sakura); and Ai Astin (2139 votes) over Kouko Kaga (1867 votes) and Maki Nishikino (1397 votes).
Tohka Yatogami (2724 votes) is entering the main draw from Nova Group 2 after defeating Karuta Roromiya (2204 votes) and Charlotte Belew (1233 votes). Other winners from this group included Ouka Yuuouji (2397 votes) over Tamako Kitashirakawa (1816 votes) and Manaka Mukaido (1441 votes); and You Kasukabe (2495 votes) over Komari Kishigaya (1664 votes) and Celestia Ludenberg (1401 votes).
Kurousagi (2566 votes) is joining the party from Nova Group 3 after defeated Renge Miyauchi (1999 votes) and Mei Misaki (1497 votes). Other winners included Ai Shindou (2029 votes) over Natsume Tsuchimikado (1770 votes) and Neptune; and Ai Fuyuumi (2163 votes) over Himeko Inaba (2031 votes) and Gou Matsuoka (1180 votes).
Yukino Yukinoshita (2968 votes) is going through from Nova Group 4 after wins over Sanae Dekomori (1817 votes) and Ririchiyo Shirakiin (1438 votes). Other winners included Asuka Kudou (2408 votes), who defeated Sayaka Miki (1600 votes) and Karen Kujou (1524 votes); and Noumi Kudryavka (2132 votes), who defeated Yuno Gasai (1788 votes) and Nepgear (1774 votes).
Touka Takanashi (2457 votes) joins Eru in promotion to the Stella after wins over Momo Velia Deviluke (2155 votes) and Madoka Kaname (1493 votes) in Nova Group 5. Other winners included Furano Yukihira (2033 votes), who defeated Akatsuki (1818 votes) and Yuiko Kurugaya (1756 votes); and Myucel Foaran (2066 votes), who defeated Hotaru Ichijou (1718 votes) and Iona (1364 votes).
Another Nova contestant that will be moving up to Stella next year is Suguha Kirigaya (2385), who took care of Misaki Shokuhou (2038 votes) and Shiori Shimiya (1731 votes) in Nova Group 6. Also winning were Komari Kamikita (2165 votes) over Tomoko Kuroki (1717 votes) and Takao (1491 votes); and Laura Bodewig (2077 votes), who defeated Leticia Draculair (1879 votes) and Cthugha (1733 votes).
Origami Tobiichi (2227 votes) ensures that Date A Live will leave its influence on the Nova Division after winning Group 7 over Nyarlathotep (2147 votes) and Mitsuki Nase (1746 votes). Other winners included Masuzu Natsukawa (2151 votes), who defeated Suzuka Dairenji (1888 votes) and Ryuuko Matoi (1359 votes); and Yukina Himeragi (2290 votes), who defeated Frenda Seivelun (1839 votes) and Kyouko Kirigiri (1645 votes).
Finally, Yui of Sword Art Online will be promoted to the Stella Division next year after defeating Haqua du Lot Herminium (2150 votes) and Rin Natsume (1618 votes). Also winning were Frey (2254 votes) over Mikasa Ackerman (1832 votes) and Emi Yusa (1776 votes); and Chisaki Hiradaira (2100 votes) over Morgiana (1863 votes) and Kazusa Touma (1227 votes).
Two more days remain in the prelims before the main draw comes up. Match Day 13 of the 2014 International Saimoe League Preliminaries is scheduled for Sunday, March 16, 2014. Vote for your favorite candidates at InternationalSaimoe.com and join the ongoing debate.
Monday, March 10, 2014
Sunday, March 09, 2014
ST. LOUIS — The locker room was silent, players sat motionless. This was 39 minutes before No. 2 Wichita State tipped off against Indiana State on Sunday – an unblemished record on the line – and 14 players sat before their head coach, Gregg Marshall.
Standing in front of a dry erase board, he delivered a blunt message in 43 seconds.
"Just so we know where we are," he said. "Where are we? Where do we stand? What's at stake?"
He held out a iPad and scrolled down.
"This," he continued, "is from the Sycamores, Indiana State alumni association.
"Scroll to the bottom. They have planned tonight a pep rally to welcome the 2014 Arch Madness tournament champions home. Hulman Center. Doors open at 8 o'clock, OK. Tonight. To welcome the Valley tournament champions home, all right.
"So that is what you're dealing with.
"They want a piece of us. They want a piece of us. Let's give 'em the whoooole thing. Let's give them the whole enchilada."
The Shockers charged onto the court and beat Indiana State 83-69 in the Missouri Valley Conference title game before a Scottrade Center crowd awash in yellow and black.
Wichita State (34-0) will become the first team to enter the NCAA tournament undefeated since a star-studded UNLV team accomplished the feat in 1991. The 1975-76 Indiana team was the last undefeated national champion, which means an undefeated champion has never been crowned since the tournament expanded to 64 teams (now 68) in 1985.
"This team is going to be remembered 50 years from now," Missouri Valley Conference commissioner Doug Elgin told USA TODAY Sports. "The real tantalizing question now? Can they run the table – 40-0?"
PROFILE: Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall
Throughout the weekend as Wichita State chased its first MVC tournament championship since 1987, Marshall focused on winning this particular event – incrementally proceeding game by game, even half by half – rather than cementing a 34-0 record.
"The pressure was a lot more in the regular season," sophomore guard Ron Baker says. "This is a new season for us."
Added guard Fred VanVleet: "People don't realize how hard it is to do what we did, no matter what league you play in."
The Shockers are expected to be a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament and play their first two games here in St. Louis as they begin their pursuit of back-to-back Final Four appearances. In a season chock-full of intriguing story lines, the Shockers stand as the most compelling. Led by a candid, shoot-from-the-hip coach, they are a bunch of overlooked, under-recruited players who proudly wear a chip on their shoulder. And they recoil at the suggestion that WSU is a "mid-major" program.
In fact, when a reporter asked Marshall in a news conference about being a mid-major, the coach bristled and said, "That 'MM' term that you used has been buried. I'm sure you saw that, but they had the funeral and everything, last rites. It's over."
There's no shortage of motivation: Their MVC tourney championship T-shirts included an unfortunate misprint. On the backs, Indiana State was listed as the champion.
Whether Wichita State would be better poised for a deep NCAA tournament run if it had suffered a loss has made for a strong debate. In 2004, Saint Joseph's suffered its first loss of the season in the Atlantic-10 tournament, earned a No. 1 seed and still reached the Elite Eight.
"It's too late in the year to lose," Wichita State assistant Steve Forbes said. "Maybe in January. When you get in February, March, time to keep winning. All a loss does is create a little self doubt. 'Oh, you can get them back (in gear) right after a loss'. Well, we have them right."
WOODEN AWARD: Ranking the 15 finalists
Aside from overcoming a 19-point deficit with 11:48 to play at Missouri State on Jan. 11, Wichita State has largely avoided much turbulence. Marshall says he's not sure he has called more than two timeouts all season long.
"I think timeouts are a sign of weakness," he said.
And the Shockers' first two games here were devoid of adversity, much to the delight of the thousands of Shocker Nation fans who overtook the city.
At 11:30 a.m. on Saturday morning, a large ballroom at the team's hotel, The Westin St. Louis, was packed with hundreds of Shockers fans, all in yellow and black. The crowd overflowed into the surrounding hallways for the team's pep rally. Fans, some riding high on the shoulders of their spouses, passionately sang along to the team's popular song. Some wore T-shirts adorned with the lyrics.
"You don't want to go to war/With the Shockers!"
"Don't start no stuff/Won't be no stuff!"
The university president John Bardo told the crowd that applications for admission for next fall are been up 89%. By the time Marshall finally addressed the fans, they were bursting with energy and anticipation.
"We've been playing one-and-done basketball for about a year," Marshall told them.
Ninety-minutes later Marshall walked in front of his players, all sitting in folding chairs in the locker room. In his final speech before the semifinal against Missouri State, he pointed to three circles drawn on the dry erase board and tapped the board. Only one circle had an 'X' in it.
"This is where we are in the tournament," he said. "It's three or nothing for us … We're one-third of the way there. It's three or bust. We're trying to put an 'X' right here today."
He talked about the importance of rebounding before pivoting back to the big picture. Players sat with rapt attention. No one moved.
"This will be our 33rd game in a row, but we don't talk about that anymore. We didn't talk about 32. The reason I talk about 33, okay, not only was it Larry Bird's number, not only is it the last Valley team, the most games they won before they lost in the championship game of the NCAA tournament back in the day, Larry Bird, but it's 33% toward a championship.
"When we win, it's 66.6 repeating. Sixty-seven percent – that's what we're after. Another step. Another step. Respect your opponent. Come out with unbelievable energy. We'll be fine."
The team came together and started clapping and hollering. Then they steamrolled Missouri State. By halftime, Wichita State was in total control of the game, but Marshall wasn't satisfied.
"This is the score, zero-zero," Marshall said. "Pay attention to that. It's very important …
"Bigs need to sprint more. You guys are (expletive) playing three or four minutes and coming out. Sprint! Sprint! Sprint! Sprint to screen! Sprint on your roll! Sprint to pop! Okay, more! Run the court on offense! Beat them down the floor!
"Fives cannot change angles, so if you sprint and sprint back they are going to be lost."
The outcome was never in doubt. After the 67-42 rout, Marshall walked into the locker room and delivered a two-minute speech.
"Okay, we've got a great steak dinner tonight," he says.
He looked up at a television screen.
"Go Tennessee," he said in reference to the Volunteers, a team Wichita State beat earlier this season, who were pounding Missouri.
"A couple things, man. You guys were so focused. God! They ended up getting 42, but we all know how that went down. The first group was really good. Really, really, really, relaly good. Less than a point a minute."
He looked at the three circles on the board and grabbed a marker.
"Can we do this? Finish this one."
Marshall finished off the 'X' in the second circle. Only one circle remained, one obstacle – Sunday's MVC title game.
"You're 67% toward your goal," he said. "Anyone want to sing for this one?"
"Wait!" players holler.
"We didn't sing for the last one, so we've got to wait!"
Later that night the team sat at round tables inside a private room in Mike Shannon's Steaks and Seafood restaurant downtown. Marshall was relaxed, sitting beside his wife, Lynn, and surrounded by close friends.
Lynn, who can be more outspoken than her husband, suggested a line or two that Marshall can fire back at critics of the program. Marshall roars. He repeats it three times. He loves it. He might use it one day.
His daughter Maggie later meandered over to the table and recounted how Bob Knight visited Wichita State's practice and told her that she had the wisest observations of anyone in the gym.
Marshall and a reporter turned to watch some of the Duke-North Carolina game on a large screen. They agreed it was an important so-called bounce-back game for the Blue Devils, who had previously lost to Wake Forest.
Marshall said he doesn't know anything about bounce-back games this season. Everyone laughs. He's right.
The Shockers have not lost since the 72-68 setback on April 6, 2013 to eventual national champion Louisville in the national semifinals.
Before Sunday's game, Marshall told his team that Indiana State and his team had different things at stake. He mentioned a potential 34-0 record. He mentioned 1991 UNLV.
There will be no Indiana State celebration tonight at the Hulman Center. The unbeaten Shockers are now back in the NCAA tournament, playing angry and chasing history.
"I think critics to me, at this point, are just laughable," said Marshall's 17-year-old son, Kellen. "I think it's laughable to try to critique a team that is making history with every game."
Toward the end of Marshall's news conference Sunday, a reporter asked if he had a message for any skeptics. Marshall said no.
Moments later, Marshall had a response, one that he had talked about over dinner Saturday.
"I might have an answer," he said. "I'm going to go with Chadrack Lufile's tweet about two weeks ago. 'Wolves do not fret over the opinions of sheep.' "
Rick Byrd had coached Belmont to the NCAA Tournament in six of the past eight seasons, but now it's six of nine, as his top-seeded Bruins were beat 79-73 by Eastern Kentucky in Saturday night's Ohio Valley final.
The Colonels -- who were the preseason favorite in this league -- lead from the opening tip and held on to earn the second bid of the 2014 NCAA Tournament. (Harvard earned first invite to the party, on Friday night.)
Eastern Kentucky's been away from the NCAAs for a few years now, and this is a big showing for the team. Belmont recently came over from the Atlantic Sun. Because of that, some wondered if Byrd's program would dominate in the OVC the way it did previously. And it's still good. But having a different team break through is a good sign for the league.
This team is filled with veterans and knows how to move and score. There are defensive issues that EKU counters with many 3-point attempts. It shoots without a conscience. It is top-15 in the country in field goal percentage and will try to get the game in the 80s against whatever team it goes up against.
Player to know: Corey Walden. The senior was the Defensive Player of the Year and led EKU with 29 points in the title game. He scored nearly 70 points over the course of the OVC tournament. He's second on the team in points, rebounds and assists. He came up very big against Belmont, and chances are he'll be at the top of the scouting report.
Walden is also among the best on-ball defenders at the mid-major level. He's the one-man counter to a team that's not known for its D.
- Record: 24-9 overall, 11-5 in the Ohio Valley
- Most recent tournament appearance: 2007 (lost as 16 seed)
- Jerry Palm predicts: 15 seed
- RPI: 109
- KenPom ranking: 141
- Sagarin ranking: 150
- Best wins: at IPFW, vs. Belmont
- Worst losses: at SIU Edwardsville, at Tennessee Tech, vs. Morehead State
- Notable stat: At 56.3 percent entering Saturday, Eastern Kentucky came in as the second-best 2-point shooting team -- in the country. The Colonels do offense a lot better than defense, and getting short and mid-range shots has allowed this team to get this far. The team shoots 38.3 percent from 3, which is nice, but not even top 35 in the country.
- Closing quip: Even if it's a 15 seed, it's going to be a very dangerous 15 seed. Why? The eight players who see the most playing time are juniors or seniors. This group can finish each other's sentences. Experience means a lot when small teams get to the NCAA tournament, because the pressure and big stage of that tournament can overwhelm almost anyone. Even though it'll be new for this group, having vets will help.