As of Monday, the Great Lakes Valley Conference has five men’s basketball teams without a loss: Indianapolis (6-0), Bellarmine (5-0), Kentucky Wesleyan (4-0), Drury (5-0) and USI (4-0). Two others have only one loss: Missouri-St. Louis (5-1), projected as one of the league powerhouses this season, and … Maryville?
Yep, Maryville. That tiny school on the far west side of St. Louis directly off 40 (that’s what St. Louisans call I-64 because, presumably, it was once just U.S. 40) is 6-1. The key for these guys is defense. Maryville is giving up only 59.6 points per game, primarily because it’s holding opponents to just .385 field-goal shooting, including just .229 (36-for-157) from 3-point range. As for its offense, three players are scoring in double figures — Asa Toney (13.9 points per game), Armon Provo (13.7) and Gerald Shaw (11.5) — and one just under 10 a game, Trae Pemberton (9.1).
So mark the date of Jan. 5. That’s when Maryville visits USI. By the way, that’s two days after the Screaming Eagles open their GLVC schedule by hosting Missouri-St. Louis. By the time these two games are completed, USI will have a pretty good idea where it stands for the season, let alone in the conference.