Ivy League Notebook

by - Published December 31, 2001 in Conference Notes



Ivy League Notebook

As A Whole: According to IvyLeagueSports.com, the Ivy men’s basketball teams are on pace to break a record for collective regular season, non-conference wins. As of Friday, December 28, the league had compiled 43 wins and, if all goes well, is on its way to 59 for the season. That will shatter the mark of 50 set in 1996-97. There are 30 total non-conference games remaining in 2001-02.

In a related side note, fellow Hoopville columnist Lon Samuelson is on pace to break a record for attending the most college games without paying.

Late Bloomers: Unlike most D-I conferences that have either already started or will start conference play on Jan. 3, the Ivy doesn’t really get going till around January 11. The fact that the league is only comprised of eight teams might have something to do with that. Less teams means more time to get all of those Patriot and Northeastern teams on the schedule. As of December 30th, only one Ivy contest had transpired: Harvard-Dartmouth (Dec. 15), with the Crimson coming out the winner. The two teams square off again in a rematch on Jan. 5 in Hanover, NH.

The Hunt For Red-Hot December:
Brown’s Earl Hunt is the Ivy’s leading scorer by a landslide. His 23.6 average far outpaces second-best Ugonna Onyekwe of Penn (19.4). Hunt, the preseason player of the year, is also fourth in the league in rebounding (6.6) and ninth in field goal percentage at just under 48 percent. Hunt is not a one-man show, however. Teammate Alai Nuualiitia has lived up to expectations as one of the league’s best rebounders and shot blockers and has exceeded expectations as one of the league’s best all-around players. As of December 30th, Brown was 5-2, with wins over in-state rivals Rhode Island and Providence.

On January 12, Brown hosts Columbia. No, the game won’t be on ESPN but you’ll see two of the more exciting players in the conference go at it: Earl Hunt and Columbia’s Craig Austin.

Beginning January 2nd, the Bears have consecutive games against Army, Navy, Coast Guard Academy, the Taliban*, the Iraqi Republican Army* and the Michigan Militia*.

(*Writer’s embellishment, in case you haven’t guessed.)

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Battle of the Bluegrass

by - Published December 30, 2001 in Columns




Notes from the Battle of the Bluegrass

by Brian Seymour

I suppose I should come clean right off the bat and admit I am not a Rick Pitino fan.

It flies in the face of journalistic objectivity for me to admit this, but I suppose if you faithful Hoopville readers want objectivity you can pick up the New York Times or read game stories on the Associated Press website until your eyes are sore.

Having said that, I do respect the guy a great deal as a recruiter and somewhat less, but still as a coach. What I don’t like is his smarmy “I’m smarter and better than you” attitude he projects which somehow changes, yet also stays the same depending on his coaching location.

At Providence, he was the excitable whiz kid. At Kentucky, he was the nascent genius, heir to the throne of Allen and Rupp. At Boston, he was the lunch pail counterpart to Pat Riley, still slick with his hair and his suits, but with an attitude that he had just hiked to the game from his brownstone in Southie.

I don’t even like Pitino discipiles. Billy Donovan seriously creeps me out with his “Patrick Bateman in American Psycho” look.

Now he’s back in the college game at Louisville with what appears to me as almost a mercenary, “screw the world” zeal. By taking on the task of trying to rebuild Kentucky’s biggest rival, Pitino is laying waste to his past to prove to the world what a genius he is. Why else take the Louisville job and not an equally lucrative job at UNLV or Michigan, or even wait a year for another high-profile opening?

But I haven’t seen any Louisville games this year and I’m prepared to give Pitino the benefit of the doubt. So I thought it would be fun to watch the Kentucky-Louisville game and see how I feel about the 21st century Pitino and note my thoughts on the game.

Pregame: I’m forced to switch from “Fletch Lives” on TBS. This movie is perhaps the exact moment when Chevy Chase went beyond the point of no return and started mailing in every single acting role for the next 10-plus years.

Rick Pitino sneakily enters the floor from the Kentucky side of the court, evading a likely shower of boos (though he’s still booed pretty loudly during the announcement of the lineups). To the crowd’s evident surprise, Pitino neither flips them the finger nor does he strip off his face and suit jacket to reveal horns and a red, pointy tail.

18:48 left in the 1st half: I’ve already decided I hate Louisville’s uniforms. The Old English L on black doesn’t do it for me and they actually look like they say “Clouisville.” Contrast that with Kentucky’s classic look.

16:40 1st: The Cards look pretty good en route to a 6-3 lead. They’re not intimidated.

15:55 1st: Jim Nantz uses the word “frenetic” to describe the pace of the game. Does he mean “frantic”? Is “frenetic” really a word? I’ve noticed it’s only used to describe basketball games. I need a dictionary.

[Ed. Note: Score one for Jim Nantz. 'Frenetic' is indeed an adjective that means frenzied or frantic. Actually, it looks like the combination of both of these words.]

14:40 1st: Admittedly, I haven’t seen much of Louisville, but if their usually MO is to run the ball up the court and take off-balance shots, it’s going to be a long year.

12:20 1st: Nice baseline move and a dunk for Tayshaun Prince and a 12-9 UK lead. Pitino answers with a smart timeout even though the TV timeout is 20 seconds away. This guy can coach, that’s for sure.

11:20 1st: CBS shows a picture of the 1989-90 Kentucky staff which prominently features Tubby Smith with a cheesy porn mustache. Shaving that thing off could be the best move he made for the entire decade of the 90s, including taking the job at Kentucky. I can’t stress this enough.

9:40 1st: Louisville may be the most tattooed team in college basketball. As near as I can tell, every player has at least one.

7:42 1st: I was keeping track of the number of shots CBS shows of Pitino but gave up here at 16. It had to be in the 40s for the entire game. Perhaps an all-time record.

7:20 1st: Nantz and Billy Packer hint that Pitino’s hiring at Louisville in March might have caused Kentucky to lose its NCAA Tournament game that same day against Southern Cal. Kind of a head scratcher for me. I don’t see the connection.

6:02 1st: Luke Whitehead enters the game for Louisville. This kid is an automatic finalist for the worst hair in college basketball. Stringy cornrows with thin “Color Me Badd” sideburns?

4:01 1st: CBS shows video of Whitehead’s missed dunk against Coppin State where he actually lands on his head. Very frightening. I take back everything bad I just said about him – this kid has guts.

3:43 1st: Another showing of the Edge shaving cream commercial where the guy rides through a car wash which also shaves him, leading some girl in a bikini to jump into his car at the end of the commercial. Which gets me to thinking – Can’t we have secret military tribunals and executions for some of these weasels on Madison Avenue also?

1:49 1st: Nantz describes Louisville’s performance as “gritty.” If you want to call taking bad shots, making bad passes and committing bad fouls, but yet remaining within six points of the lead as “gritty,” so be it.

1:30 1st: Four fouls on Whitehead in five minutes. I take back the hair comment, but we’re still going to have to include him on the Hoopville “All-Unfortunate Name” team.

Halftime: The Cardinals have somehow scored 32 points and trail only by four. Kind of gritty actually.

An advertisement teases that DirecTV viewers will be able to see ALL the games in the first three rounds of the tournament, instantly causing me to consider putting in a time-off request at work for those two weeks and throwing another mortgage on the house to pay whatever CBS is going to ask for that service.

18:20 left in the 2nd half: Nice follow by Tayshaun Prince, but good Lord man! Eat a burger or two! What does he weigh? 98 pounds?

17:19 2nd: 42-37 lead for Kentucky and another good timeout from Pitino. He’s easily one of the three best coaches in the game for controlling tempo from the bench.

17:18 2nd: Packer has his tongue stuck firmly up Prince’s backside by this point. You can almost see him making googly-eyes at the kid from the sideline.

16:20 2nd: Pitino maintains his composure after a questionable intentional foul call (which, in my opinion, ultimately turned the game towards a blowout for the Wildcats). Maybe this is a kinder, gentler Rick Pitino as some in the media have said.

15:15 2nd: Kentucky takes a 50-37 lead. The game is, for all intents and purposes, over. Kentucky just has too much talent.

13:41 2nd: Another unguarded dunk for Prince. My theory is he’s too skinny and thus, blends into the court, camouflaging him from opposing defenses.

11:47 2nd: The game takes a turn for the boring. It’s apparent by this time that no one is going to run on the court and take a swing at Pitino and it’s even more apparent that the Cardinals are outclassed. I start wondering how much my tax refund is going to be this year.

8:04 2nd: Packer uses the word “frenetic.” I really need a dictionary. Too bad Christmas is over.

7:40 2nd: Like the pros they are, Nantz and Packer seamlessly move into “blowout mode”, throwing up RPI stats for the major conferences and hyping the UCLA-Kansas game two weeks away.

7:34 2nd: Scenes from the “Rick Pitino Show” in Louisville, which apparently features magicians and fire-eating women. And this guy wasn’t interested in the UNLV job?

6:02 2nd: Packer continues to punch Louisville while they’re down (the guy’s speciality if you ask me), harping on their outside shooting. They are bad though.

5:33 2nd: Another UL miss from the charity stripe. They’re horrible free-throw shooters too. How is this team 9-1?

5:13 2nd: Kentucky makes a shot to end a mini-rally from the Cardinals and I can almost imagine Tubby Smith as the coach from the Kubla Kai in the Karate Kid yelling at Tayshaun Prince – “Finish him! Sweep the leg!”. Which makes me smile.

3:40 2nd: Cliff Hawkins makes a crossover move and basket so stunning it causes the arena to gasp before erupting in bedlam. The move can’t even be described by words. One of the best moves I’ve ever seen. Ever. Seriously.

3:02 2nd: TV timeout. Is there anything worse than the last three minutes of a blowout in basketball? At least in football or hockey, there’s the possibility of violence.

2:30 2nd: You know it’s a blowout when Nantz and Packer blather on about Happy Sandler for a full minute.

1:44 2nd: The crowd is chanting, “Tubby! Tubby! Tubby!”. It is officially a “Lovefest.”

0:55 2nd: Reece Gaines hits two straight jumpers then picks up his 5th foul on a ticky-tack foul in the frontcourt. The night in a microcosm for Louisville.

0:48 2nd: More Blowout Useless Trivia&8482; from Packer – this year’s Louisville team is the first to have their names on the backs of their uniforms. He also used that as a excuse to note that he played in the first ever game with names on the backs of the uniforms – Duke vs. Wake Forest in 1962.

Final: Kentucky won 82-62 and it wasn’t even really that close.

My impressions: I’ve got my beefs against Pitino out of my system. Hell, I hope he does pretty well at Louisville. He took his lumps in the NBA and I’m not one to carry a grudge. His TV show looks like it could use some help though.

Having said that, this year’s team at Louisville doesn’t seem very good. They might back into an NCAA Tourney berth, but they’ll probably have to go 10-6 in the conference to do it. I don’t see it happening.

Meanwhile, the Wildcats are about as impressive as advertised. It’s hard to imagine them not making the Elite Eight at least. They have the talent to beat anyone in college basketball on a given night and probably the Chicago Bulls as well.

     

Metro Atlantic Notebook

by - Published December 30, 2001 in Conference Notes



Metro Atlantic Notebook

Da King a’New Yawk: Manhattan Head Coach Bobby Gonzalez is certainly earning that 2-year contract extension awarded last year. The Jaspers are 9-1 and champions of the recent Madison Square Garden Holiday Festival. After out-dueling Fordham in the first round game, Manhattan bumped Iona 69-58 in an all-MAAC final. This is was the first of what could be three previews of the MAAC championship. Not only are the Jaspers tops in the conference (as of 12/29), but they are also the best team in the New York area. They have now knocked off the likes of Fordham, Hofstra, Iona, St. John’s, Long Island and St. Peter’s. Hunter College-School of Social Work has not yet accepted the Jaspers challenge. Stay tuned.

And Speaking of Iona: It’s Alive! Yes, the Gaels have risen from the grave. Since starting out the 2001-02 campaign 0-6, Jeff Ruland’s club has won five out of the last seven, including a 73-70 win against Seton Hall in the first round of the Madison Square Garden Holiday Festival. The Gaels are 2-1 in the MAAC and are starting to look like the team picked to repeat as conference champs. They’ve gotten a lift from Junior Guard Courtney Fields, who has been averaging 13.6 points in his last 6 games.

Foxxy!: While Manhattan and Iona try to rip each other’s throats out, Marist will be creeping up on them. The Red Foxes (I’ve never seen one any other color) are 7-3 going into New Year’s and just lost to a gutsy and surprisingly good LaSalle team 70-64. Every night sees a different hero on this club. If it’s not well-rounded point guard Sean Kennedy (13.6 points and 5.7 assists per game) it’s the other guard Rick Smith (11.7 points per game), the MAAC’s Player of the Week. Look for Marist to steal a game or two from Iona and/or Manhattan this year.

How Big Are You?

by - Published December 28, 2001 in Columns





How Big Are You?

by Bill Thayer


“Big players make big plays.”

It’s a simple phrase. I don’t know who coined it, I don’t know when it started, but dammit, it’s one of my favorites.

While watching the Duke/Kentucky game, something crossed my mind – Jason Williams is ready for prime time, while Tayshaun Prince is not. When the Blue Devils fell behind, it was Williams who came to the rescue, hitting shot after shot. Williams led the charge and in the end, it was the Blue Devils who came out on top.

But where was Tayshaun Prince? Prince did his part in helping Kentucky jump out to a quick lead. He made some great plays in the post as well as helped control the boards. When push came to shove and Williams had guided Duke back into the game, Prince never stepped out and made plays. Prince was not dominating the glass, nor was he demanding the ball the way a star should.

For Kentucky to be successful late in the season, it will be up to Prince to sack up and make things happen. While Cliff Hawkins and Keith Bogans are more vocal leaders on the court, Prince’s array of skills makes him the go-to guy. There is no reason Hawkins should get more shots than Prince in the last two minutes of a tight game. The ball starts in Hawkins’ hands, but it is up to Prince to go get it.

I have to admit, Prince showed something in the first two rounds of last year’s NCAA tournament. In the first round, Prince led Kentucky in a late run as they held off pesky Holy Cross. I’ll never forget the shootout Prince had with Iowa’s Dean Oliver in the second round. Prince was on fire from behind the arc. It was that game in which I fell in love with the lanky power forward’s game.

Prince hasn’t been the only star who has faltered in big game situations this season. Missouri’s Kareem Rush played well early, but was invisible when the Tigers were dominated at home by Iowa. Luke Recker, a senior leader (read: experienced big game player) led Iowa as they ran roughshod over the Tigers. While Iowa was up big early, if Rush had hit a few shots in the second half, he could have awoken the crowd and his teammates.

When Missouri battled rival Illinois, Frank Williams showed why he is an All-American as he repeatedly took the ball to the Tigers, leading the Illini to their first win over a top 25 opponent this season. The game was huge for Illinois, who looked less than impressive in losses to Arizona and Maryland in recent weeks. Once again, when the Tigers needed him, Rush could not hit a shot. And, instead of trying to go to the hoop, Rush stood outside the three-point arc, lofting threes that were nowhere near the mark.

Sometimes though, one man cannot carry a whole team. In my last column, I sang the praises of St. Joseph’s Marvin O’Connor. While O’Connor had a huge season last year, his Hawks have started slow, losing to Eastern Washington, Georgia State and a slumping North Carolina squad. In the loss to Georgia State, O’Connor scored 33 points, hitting 7-of-13 from behind the three point arc, but missed what would have been a game tying three with 6 seconds left.

The Hawks problem was not O’Connor, who was double teamed when he attempted the game tying jumper, but their inside game. Georgia State’s sophomore center Nate Williams scored 27 points and pulled down 13 rebounds. Against Eastern Washington, the Hawks were killed on the glass, getting out rebounded 39-28. And the loss to North Carolina came without O’Connor, who sat due to an injured toe.

For all of these teams to be successful in March, it will be up to the entire team to play at their best for the team to be successful. It will be up to the star to determine how they fare when push comes to shove.

ASSORTED MUSINGS:

• I’m sick of hearing Big East fans complaining about UConn not playing Syracuse this season. The conference had to add teams to keep the football schools from leaving. The conference added some awful basketball schools in Miami, Virginia Tech and Rutgers, not to mention teams that have been down recently (Notre Dame and West Virginia). It’s ridiculous to make every team play each other. The SEC has made it work, there is no reason the Big East can’t.

• Three places I want to catch a game before I die: The Palestra, Allen Field House and MacArthur Court in Eugene, Oregon.

• Freshman of the year? I’ll take Chris Thomas from Notre Dame.

• I wanted to write a column about “mid-majors” but that’s too played out. My 2 cents is to just drop the term “mid-major”. The term is too generic, there are no defining factors. Hell, in terms of mid-majors vs. majors, I’ll take the MAC over the C-USA, the WCC over the WAC and the MAAC over the Atlantic Ten.

• The orange shirt/blue shirt thing at Florida thing looked great on TV. If you saw it, you know what I’m talking about.

• I hope Omar Cook is closely following Jason Gardner’s progress this season.

• I’ll admit that I never thought Jason Kapono would play as well as he has filling in for Cedric Bozeman at the point. It’ll be interesting to see what happens with that team when Bozeman comes back. Obviously he has to step back in to run the show, but I’ll be keeping an eye on how long it would take Steve Lavin to put Kapono back in if Bozeman struggles.

• I still don’t understand why Jan Van Breda Kolff would leave Pepperdine to take the St. Bonaventure job. I don’t think the A-10 is better than the WCC, while it has to be easier to attract recruits to Malibu than to Olean, NY.

• With home and home games left against Maryland, Virginia and Wake Forest, as well as a road game against Boston College and a pair of always-tough battles with North Carolina looming, I would be SHOCKED if Duke stayed undefeated the rest of the way.

• Jason Williams, you proved me wrong. I’m still not sold on Chris Duhon however…

     

Ohio Valley Notebook

by - Published December 27, 2001 in Conference Notes



Ohio Valley Notebook


There has only been one conference game so far this season (Murray
State’s blowout of Tennessee State), but after the calendar changes from 2001
to 2002, OVC head-to-head action will heat up. In the first two months of
this young season, OVC teams have played almost all their games
out-of-conference, attempting to prove that the conference is a force to be
reckoned with across the nation. So far, that has not really been exhibited,
as the conference is ranked 23rd in the conference RPI (Ratings Percentage
Index), with no teams listed in the top 100 on the team RPI. Listed below
are the top games played so far by each school, with big wins, surprising
losses and close calls sprinkled amongst the schedules of many of the nine
teams in the Ohio Valley Conference.

Tennessee-Martin: 7-3

Big Win: On 12/6, won 76-71 vs. Middle Tennessee. The Skyhawks beat the Blue
Raiders in the first game played by the teams since MTSU left the OVC to go
to the Sun Belt Conference before last season.
Surprising Loss: On 12/21, lost 86-60 vs. Winthrop at the Winthrop Holiday
Tournament. It isn’t surprising that UT Martin lost to Winthrop, the
eye-raising part is the whopping 26 points that the game was decided by.
That’s what usually happens when a team like the Tennessee-Martin makes only
six hoops and scores 25 points in the second half.
Close Call: On 12/16, lost 83-72 at Mississippi. Two-time Newcomer of the
Week Jair Peralta arrived at halftime after graduating earlier in the day.
Its unfortunate for the Skyhawks that he was not there for the entire 40
minutes, as the outcome may have been different and UT Martin might have
upset Ole Miss.
Review: After winning its sixth straight game by beating Northern Arizona on
12/8, Tennessee-Martin was ranked 16th in the nation according to the RPI.
Since then, the Skyhawks have lost to Ole Miss and Winthrop and defeated West
Virginia State, their third win against a non-Division I school. As a
result, UT Martin’s RPI is now 113, second to Eastern Illinois (106) in the
conference.

Murray State: 7-4

Big Win: On 12/11, won 69-65 at DePaul. The Racers were up by double digits
for most of the game, until a late DePaul rally made it a nail-biter for
Murray State.
Surprising Loss: On 12/22, lost 71-58 at Tennessee-Chattanooga. A month
before, the Racers beat the Mocs by a similar score at home.
Close Call: On 12/1, won 74-69 vs. Alabama-Birmingham. Murray State overcame
a 19-point second half deficit to get the home win.
Review: The Racers are the only OVC team that boasts a conference win this
season. That happened on 12/21, when they clobbered Tennessee State 103-72.
Two of the four losses were against 2001 NCAA Tournament teams (Indiana State
and Western Kentucky), with another quality loss against Rick Pitino’s
Louisville team. The team has played well at home (5-0) and struggled away
from its Murray, Kentucky campus (2-4). Junior college transfer James Singleton
has played well for the Racers, averaging 11 points per game and being named
Newcomer of the Week once.

Eastern Illinois: 7-5

Big Wins: On 11/28, won 52-50 vs. Indiana State. Jesse Mackinson’s last
second basket thwarted ISU’s comeback attempt.
Close Call: On 11/22, lost 70-65 vs. Georgia Tech at the Las Vegas
Invitational. EIU led by four at the half, but was outscored 48-39 in the
second half.
Review: The losses have all come versus quality teams, with defeats against:
Illinois, Georgia Tech, Penn, Oklahoma, and Ohio State. Henry Domercant is
sixth in the nation with almost 25 points per game. The junior guard also
has won Player of the Week twice this year.

Morehead State: 5-4

Big Win: On 12/5, won 80-72 vs. Wright State. WSU shot 55 percent from the field,
but Morehead was still able to get the win.
Close Call: On 12/18, lost 90-81 in OT at IUPUI. Ricky Minard scored 27
points and Kyle Umberger had 26 points in the tough overtime loss.
Review: The Eagles had won four of their first eight games before losing at
future OVC-member Samford. Sophomore Minard is challenging for the Player of
the Year award with 18.9 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. One thing that
could hurt Morehead this season is its defense. Opposing teams are shooting
49 percent from the field and 35 percent from 3-point land.

Tennessee Tech: 5-4

Big Win: On 11/20, won 79-65 vs. South Carolina State. After leading by 17
at halftime, Tech won its first game of the season easily over the Bulldogs.
Close Call: On 12/17, lost 70-66 at Louisville. Rick Pitino and his
Cardinals are now 4-0 vs. OVC teams.
Review: Tech started the season 5-1, but has since lost three road games
against good teams by a total of 17 points. The losses: 87-80 at New Mexico,
70-66 at Louisville, and 89-83 at North Texas. The fourth loss came in the
school’s opener, 72-63 at Tennessee. The Golden Eagles are 4-0 at home in
Cookeville and have tied a school record by winning 18 consecutive games at
the Eblen Center. Sophomore Jason Harrell won his second career Player of
the Week award in early December, while junior transfer Damien Kinloch has
won two Newcomer of the Week awards.

Austin Peay: 5-8

Surprising Loss: On 12/5, lost 75-61 at Arkansas-Little Rock. Ten days
later, APSU got revenge and beat UALR at home by 19 points.
Close Call: On 12/8, lost 77-75 vs. Western Kentucky. Nick Stapleton tied
the game with 10 seconds left, but Derek Robinson won it for WKU with a
rebound and eight-foot put-back at the buzzer.
Review: The Governors really have not beaten any quality teams, with wins
against Arkansas-Monticello, Marian (Ind.), SUNY-Binghamton, Arkansas-Little
Rock and Webster. If Austin Peay can play against OVC teams like it played
against No. 25 Western Kentucky, then this team may have a solid season.
Also, sophomore point guard Gerrell Webster quit the team on 12/7. Webster,
who had started all eight games and averaged 3.3 points and 2.1 assists per
game, indicated that he was leaving the school to be closer to his home of
Tallahassee, Florida.

Tennessee State: 3-6

Big Win: On 11/24, won 101-78 vs. Evansville. The Tigers shot 58 percent from the
field and made 11 of their 21 3-point attempts in front of 450 people at the
Gentry Complex.
Close Call: On 11/27, lost 79-73 at Kansas State. Tennessee State was
leading by 10 early in the second half when the Wildcats woke up and scored
14 straight points and squeaked out a close win.
Review: Whoever said that home court is not an advantage clearly is not
associated with the Tennessee State men’s basketball team. The Tigers are
3-0 at home, but on the road the team is 0-6. Bad news for TSU fans: the
team plays its next five games away from Nashville. Also, the Tigers allow
their opponents to score more than 81 points per game, worst in the
conference. One player who has had a disappointing first two months of the
season is guard Garrett Richardson. The sophomore is only averaging 13
points and 4 assists per game. If he can pick things up and the team defense
improves, then Nolan Richardson III may have a successful second season at
Tennessee State.

Eastern Kentucky: 3-7

Surprising Losses: Lost two games to Western Illinois.
Review: With wins against Wilmington, Marietta and Transylvania, EKU is
still looking for a big win against an OVC-caliber team. One bright spot has
been the play of freshman Michael Haney. Haney won the Rookie of the Week
award the first week of the season and is third on the team in scoring with
eight points per game and leads the Colonels in rebounding with six rebounds
per contest.

Southeast Missouri: 1-8

Close Call: On 12/5, lost 76-71 at Vanderbilt. The Indians cut an 18-point
second half deficit to three points with 18 seconds left, but they weren’t
able to capitalize and pull off the shocker.
Review: Things have gotten so bad for the Indians that among the top notes
listed in the team’s most recent press release is this one: Ron Hines,
Southeast sports information director, has worked 613 consecutive basketball
games at the university, the longest streak in Division I basketball. The
lone SeMo win came on 12/8 vs. Division II North Alabama. Two bright spots
have been the play of freshmen Derek Winans and Brett Hale. The guards have
each won the OVC Rookie of the Week award, with Winans winning it in back-to-back weeks last month.

Southwestern Preview

by - Published December 27, 2001 in Conference Notes



2001-02 Southwestern Athletic Conference Preview

by David Mosse

The non-conference season has been unkind to the SWAC. With two teams
still winless, two others with one win, and no team above the .500 mark, it
will be interesting to see which teams can turn things around during league
play. The team to beat promises to be Alabama State, who placed three players
in the pre-season first team, including player of the year candidate Tyrone
Levett. The Bulldogs should face a stiff challenge from Alcorn State and
their star forward Marcus Fleming. Two teams who could emerge as contenders
if things break right are Grambling and their all-world forward Paul Haynes,
and the feisty Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils, whose frenetic fast-paced style could cause some sleepless nights for coaches around the league.
The smart money however, is on a two-team race between the Bulldogs and
Braves, with the winner earning a trip to the NCAA tournament.

1. Alabama State: Alabama State, the defending champions and preseason favorites to capture the conference crown, enters the conference season as the hottest team in the
League. After stumbling to a 1-5 start, the Hornets, led by head coach Rob
Spivey, have strung together six straight victories including their first two
conference games. The catalyst for this remarkable turn around has been a
stingy defense that has allowed an average of 57 points per game over the
course of the winning streak. If the Hornets are to sustain this momentum
through to the conference season they must not only continue their defensive
mastery of their opponents but must get strong play from senior forward
Tyrone Levett. Levett has owned the boards thus far, including hauling down
18 in a victory over Jackson State earlier this season.

2. Alcorn State: After a miserable 0-5 start, the Braves have rebounded by taking their first two conference games behind the one-two punch of youngsters Jason Cable and
Marcus Fleming. Fleming, a sophomore forward, is averaging 12 points and 8
rebounds a game while Cable, a talented freshman from Huntsville, Alabama, is
off to a strong start contributing over 10 points per game. The pair must
maintain their level of play and also find help from a third scorer if Harold
Blevins’ squad is to capture the conference title for the third time in four
years and make another trip to the big dance.

3. Mississippi Valley State: The Delta Devils and their energetic head coach Lafayette Stribling hope to overcome two common prerequisites for success: size and experience. Without a single player over 6 foot 8 and four freshmen seeing considerable playing time, the Devils thus far have done an admirable job of coping with a stacked
deck. The freshman have played above their years and the front court has
played above its height as Mississippi State won their conference opener and
stands just one game below .500. The driving force behind the strong start
has been the performance of D’Jamal Jordan and Ashley Robinson. The pair must
continue their strong play if the Devils are to continue to defy the odds.

4. Alabama A & M: The Bulldogs hope to survive the rugged conference season playing their version of small ball. Without a single player above 6 foot 8, head coach
Vann Pettaway will rely on speed and toughness to make up for a troubling
lack of size. The Bulldogs will need a strong senior season from point guard
Desmond Cambridge, the team’s leading scorer thus far. Cambridge, a candidate
for conference player of the year, scored 28 of the team’s 54 points in a
loss to Alabama despite being hounded by the Crimson Tide defense. The
Bulldogs must also figure out some way to avoid being slaughtered on the
backboards every night.

5. Grambling: Simply put, the Grambling Tigers should be the Paul Haynes show. The
sophomore forward has done it all in the early part of the season for head
coach Larry Wright’s troops, leading the league in scoring at a 23 point per
game clip. Haynes, a native of Auburn Hills, Michigan, was overlooked by Michigan and
Michigan State and is using this season as his personal retribution. If he
continues to display the outside range that has him shooting 43 percent from
three-point land, Haynes may be laughing all the way to the bank – as in
finding a place in the NBA. Yet for all of Haynes’ heroics, the Tigers are
off to a 3-7 start and must find other weapons if they are to make a run at
the conference title.

6. Texas Southern: Despite featuring arguably one of the most talented backcourts in the State, the Tigers find themselves off to a miserable 1-8 start, including dropping
their conference opener. So what’s been the problem? Defense. The Tigers are
being lit up game after game wasting strong efforts from guards Steve Hoyer
and Rakim Hollis who are combining for 37 points per game. The good new is
with most of the conference still struggling to find themselves, head coach
Ronnie Courtney has time to make adjustments. However, the team will have to
improve drastically at the defensive end and also on the boards, where the
guard laden team has been overwhelmed in virtually every game.

7. Jackson State: Thank God for Arkansas Pine Bluff. This must be the rallying cry coming from Jackson State where only the Golden Lions winless record is deflecting
attention away from the Tigers own disastrous start. With a single win from
their first 10 games, head coach Andy Stoglin has little to build upon for
the remainder of the season. One bright spot has been the play of junior
guard Tim Henderson, who leads the team with a 16 point per game average.
Henderson has been all alone however, as the Tigers have struggled to find a
second scorer. Jackson State is hoping the conference season will afford them
a fresh beginning but after an 0-2 start its clear they are in need of a
major overhaul.

8. Prairie View: With but two freshman on the roster and five seniors contributing heavy minutes, head coach Elwood Plummer will lean on experience to make a run at
the conference title. Like the rest of their conference foes, the Panthers
struggled in the non-conference season posting a 3-7 mark but they are
confident their veteran leadership will lead to success in the league. The
Panthers rely on strong defense and timely outside shooting as witnessed by
their almost 40 percent clip as a team from three point land. If the Panthers
are to emerge as contenders, seniors Gregory Burks and Jamar Miles must lead
the way as they have in the team’s three victories this season.

9. Southern: Don’t be surprised if the Southern Jaguars have circled their meeting with Arkansas Pine Bluff on the calendar for it may represent their only chance at
a victory this season. At 0-10 the Jaguars have been an absolute debacle. In
their last four losses they have surrendered up an average of 95 points per
game. Even stellar play from 5 foot 9 point guard Victor Tarver, averaging
just under 17 points per game, has not been enough to notch a victory this
season. The Jaguars showdown with the Golden Lions may not represent a Final
Four preview, but it should be a competitive match-up between two hungry
teams.

10. Arkansas Pine Bluff: Arkansas Pine Bluff fans should hold off on those reservations to Atlanta. Not much has gone right for the Golden Lions so far this season. Winless in their first 10 games, the team has been an exercise in futility, suffering a
pair of 50 point losses to Gonzaga and Marquette respectively. The Golden
Lions defense has been downright putrid, allowing seven teams to eclipse the
90-point mark. The lone bright spot for this bumbling bunch has been the play
of junior forward Kory Mckee, who leads the team with an 11 point per game
average. If the Golden Lions are to salvage some kind of respectable season
they will need to stiffen up on the defensive end and find someone to
compliment Mckee offensively.

Predictions:

Player of the Year: Paul Haynes, Grambling

Coach of the Year: Lafayette Stribling, Mississippi Valley State

Newcomer of the Year: Jason Cable, Alcorn State

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Colonial Notebook

by - Published December 27, 2001 in Conference Notes



Colonial Notebook

Ram Tough – So Far: The Colonial has hosted a few early intra-conference games, and even though we have not reached the thick of conference play, one thing is certainly for sure. Uncertainty.

Yes, as I look into my crystal ball (actually a souvenir snow globe of South of the Border I got when I was ten), I see that the only thing predictable about the Colonial is its unpredictability.

Virginia Commonwealth, a team that had superb potential coming into this season, was supposed to be good, but with its better-than-average schedule, few believed the Rams would be 9-3 going into January. Mack McCarthy’s club has the best overall record in the conference but not the best conference record. That honor, thus far, goes to Drexel, another puzzlement in this wee season.

Feeling Right At Home: Drexel got trounced by Marist and Rider, got clipped by Lafayette and Penn, but showed basketball brilliance against conference foes James Madison and Hofstra. In what was supposed to be a year for Bruiser Flint and the Dragons are getting their collective feet wet in the CAA and so far the conference waters are just fine. If the 4-6 (overall) team from Philly is looking for more comfort in conference play, then they’ll be happy to know that after a 12/29 bout with Niagara, their schedule features nothing but Colonial action till 2/23. Junior Center Robert Battle is leading the league in rebounding with 8.7 a game.

It’s Lonely At The Top: Good news and bad news for James Madison. David Fanning is at the top of the Colonial scoring list with a healthy 21 points per game average. The bad news is, he is the only Duke in the top 25 in conference scoring. (You can’t have everything.) He’s been the leading scorer in each of JMU’s (5-3) eight games and recently scored a season high 25 against winless Morgan State team. The Dukes face Cornell on 12/28 before heading up to Newark to face Delaware on January 3rd.

The Second Coming? Not quite.: Highly touted rookie point guard Woody Souffrant of Hofstra had 10 assists in a December 23rd loss to Drexel. That’s the first time since January of 2000 that a Dutchman player has had 10 or more assists in a single game. Speedy Claxton, now with the Sixers, dished out 12 in a game against Northeastern almost two years ago. Tom Pecora’s 5-5 squad hopes to snap a 3-game losing streak when they challenge Illinois-Chicago in the first round of the USF shootout in Tampa. Hofstra would like to avenge a late November loss to host South Florida in the championship game.

The First One’s The Hardest:
Conference favorite UNC-Wilmington won their first CAA battle of the year, but it wasn’t easy. Huzzahs and kudos should still be doled out, however, as the Seahawks needed only 20 minutes to come out with a 71-67 win against Old Dominion in Norfolk. The Seahawks did much damage from beyond the arc hitting 7-of-15 from 3-point range in the second half. The second half surge was led by Brett Blizzard, who scored 16 of his 21, and Craig Callahan, who netted 15 of 17 points. Though only 5-5, UNCW leads all CAA members with a Sagarin ranking of 73.

Southland Preview

by - Published December 27, 2001 in Conference Notes



2001-02 Southland Conference Preview

by David Mosse


With the defending champions McNeese State suffering a couple of
key losses, this league should be Texas-San Antonio’s to win. The Roadrunners
sport virtually the same roster that finished tied for second last season.
With four senior starters including high-scoring guard Devin Brown and
rebounding machine McEverett Powers, the Roadrunners will be tough to beat.
Their stiffest challenge should come from the Cowboys, who still posses one
of the premier players in the league in Jason Coleman, and a high scoring
Stephen F. Austin squad poised for a major turn around from last season’s
10th place finish. This league should be marked by high scoring, fast paced
basketball and an exciting conference tournament to determine which team
makes the field of 64.

1. Texas-San Antonio: The Roadrunners are living up to their preseason billing
as the Southland Conference favorite. USTA already won the Pizza Hut Classic
at Southwest Missouri, defeating Idaho State 81-72 and host Southwest
Missouri 72-71 in overtime in the final, and they have raced to a 2-0 start
in conference play. The Roadrunners posses the most experienced team in the
conference with four senior starters. The key man has been senior guard Devin
Brown, who leads the Southland in scoring at 21.8 points a game. McEverett
Powers has complemented Brown’s outside attack, averaging 18 points and 7.8
rebounds.

2. McNeese State: The defending champion Cowboys got off to a miserable start
this season but have bounced back strong by winning three in a row, including
their first road victory of the season at Jackson State. The Cowboys shooting
has yet to come around as evidenced by their lowly 36 percent shooting as a
team. However, they have found ways to manufacture points. Junior guard
Jason Coleman is averaging 19 points a game and senior forwards Ben Perkins
and Fred Gentry are scoring more than 10 points a game. The Cowboys must
shoot better and improve upon their 10 assists a game average if they are to
repeat as conference champions.

3. Stephen F. Austin: The Lumberjacks will rely on three pronged attack. Junior
forward Percy Green, the Southland player of the week last week, is averaging
a team-high 17.8 points and 7.3 rebounds a game. The Lumberjacks have
consistently gotten him involved in their offense, and he’s hitting 56.4 percent
from the field. Junior guard Ben Hunt is scoring 11 points a game, but more
importantly, shooting 51 percent. Junior guard Skip Jackson is scoring nine points a
game, but he was most influential in the Lumberjacks’ league win over
Southwest Texas with a team-high 21 points. The three will have to continue
their strong play if the Lumberjacks are to compete with the powerhouses of
the league.

4. Texas-Arlington: The Mavericks have done their best to outscore teams thus
far, but must improve a defense that is surrendering 97 points per game. The
star of the show has been senior guard Steve Barber, whose 38 points against
Wichita State were the most by a Southland player this season, and the fifth
most in school history. He accomplished the feat in 29 minutes of play. He
also led the Mavericks with 25 points in the victory at Bradley, and his six
three-pointers were the key. Barber, an early favorite for
conference player of the year, is unlikely to maintain this pace, further highlighting the need for an improvement on the defensive side of the
floor.

5. Lamar: The Cardinals are hoping to benefit from a challenging non-conference
schedule, having recently competed in the Michigan State classic. Junior
forward Damany Hendrix has starred thus far, averaging 19 points a game
including 23 in an 80-71 loss to Michigan State. He also had 10 rebounds and
hit 9 of 9 from the free throw line. Hendrix, a candidate for conference player
of the year, will be the key if the Cardinals are to make a run at the
conference title. Another key will be continuing to protect the ball, as the
Cardinals are committing just 12.8 turnovers a game. Freshman Ben Jacobsen
has made the biggest impact among Lamar’s four freshmen, averaging nine
points in just 20 minutes of play per game.

6. Sam Houston State: The Bearkats feature the most balanced attack in the
league with four players averaging in double figures, led by junior forward
Donald Cole, averaging 17.2 points and 10.2 rebounds per game. He’s the only
player in the Southland averaging a double-double this season. Junior guard Robert
Shannon averages 10 points a game and ranks first in the league with 7
assists per contest. The Bearkats weapons must continue to fire on all cylinders
if they are to make up for a leaky defense that has struggled in defending
the three point shot.

7. Nicholls State: The Colonels are hoping what they lack in experience they can
make up for in energy. Freshman guard Ronnie Price has been a catalyst for
the Colonels, averaging a team-best 13.6 points a game. He also ranks third
in the Southland in assists (3.6) and 15th in steals (1.6) If the Colonels
are to be any sort of factor in the Southland race they must improve upon
their rebounding which has thus far been putrid. The Colonels are being
outrebounded by a margin of 14.5 per game. They also must improve upon their 60 points scored per game average.

8. Louisiana-Monroe: The Indians will lean heavily on their experience, as well
as arguably the best backcourt in the league. Senior guards Nick Colin and
Reggie Griffin are averaging 16.5 and 14.5 points per game, respectively. The
Indians had won three straight, including a 94-90 victory at TCU, before
losing 78-43 at Ole Miss, but they still have high hopes for the conference
season. Behind an up-tempo offense and strong perimeter shooting they could
go a long way.

9. Southwest Texas State: The Bobcats lead the Southland in scoring at 82.3 points per game, but already have dug themselves a hole with league losses to McNeese
State and Stephen F. Austin. The problem has been a shaky defense that has
been unable to stop anyone. A bright spot has been the play of senior guard
Clay Click who leads a balanced scoring attack with 15.7 points a game.
Junior guards Marcus Johnson and David Sykes are scoring 13 points a game.
Six other players are averaging at least six points a game for a Bobcats team
that has been effective from three point range effectively shooting 41
percent.

10. Northwestern State: The Demons hope their frenetic high-flying style will
take them to the top, as they are averaging over 75 points a game. The Demons
must take care of the ball better as they are also averaging over 21
turnovers a game. The Deamons will also need continued strong play from
sophomore center D’or Fisher who had 22 points, 15 rebounds a school-record
12 blocks in the Deamons last game. Fisher should form a strong inside-out
combination with senior guard Michael Byars-Dawson who is averaging 17.5
points a game and hitting 40 percent of his three-pointers.

11. Southeastern Louisiana: Not much has gone right for the Lions who have lost
four straight since defeating Louisiana College in their season opener. The
problem has been an inept offense that is currently averaging a
Southland-worst 58 points per game. Sophomore guard Amir Abdul-Rahim has been
the bright spot offensively leading the team at 12.8 points per contest. Senior
forward Donald Caesar is second in the Southland in rebounding at 9.2 a night.

Player of the Year: Devin Brown, Texas-San Antonio

Coach of the Year: Danny Kaspar, Stephen F. Austin

Newcomer of the Year: Ben Jacobsen, Lamar

Big South Preview

by - Published December 26, 2001 in Conference Notes



2001-02 Big South Conference Preview

by Jon Gonzalez

For 2001-02, the Big South might as well be called the big four because that’s how many teams have a realistic chance of winning the conference. Winthrop, Radford, UNC-Asheville and Coastal Carolina will all butt heads in their quest for Big South supremacy. All four squads are evenly matched, so it will be interesting to see who comes out on top in the end. Winthrop will be led by senior high-flyer Greg Lewis and coach Gregg Marshall, who is one of the top young coaching prospects in the country. Defending regular season champion Radford welcomes back 7-0 center Andrey Savtchenko and may be the best defensive team in the Big South. UNC-Asheville will miss leading scorer Brett Carey but remains dangerous due to the return of guard Andre Smith. The Chanticleers of Coastal Carolina feature Big South Player of the Year Torrey Butler, who alone is good enough to keep CC in championship contention.

And now for the teams who don’t have such a good chance of winning the Big South: High Point, Elon, Liberty, Charleston Southern, and Birmingham Southern. High Point’s best bet at avoiding the conference cellar rests in the hands of brothers Dustin and Derek Van Weerdhuizen. Elon has one of the best guards in the conference in Brendon Rowell, but not much else. Charleston Southern lost 19 games last year and may lose even more in 2001-02 after the loss of three starters. Liberty will need a lot of help from its newcomers to stay competitive after the loss of four starters. Birmingham-Southern, who will not be officially part of the Big South until 2003-2004, went 17-9 last year but face a tougher schedule in 2001-02.

1. Winthrop: The last time the Eagles were on the outside looking into the NCAA Tournament Bill Clinton was president and the Spice Girls were on the top ten charts. After three straight trips to the big dance, Winthrop may have what it takes to extend the streak to four. This year, however, the Eagles will have two tourney goals: making the thing and then winning the play-in game if need be, something they couldn’t do last year. Leading the charge in 2001-02 is head coach Gregg Marshall, who deserves a little more respect for the job he has done in three years at Winthrop.

Marshall lost only one starter, guard Roger Toxey, and has Marcus (don’t call me Martha) Stewart, Derrick Knox, Eyo Effiong, Greg Lewis and Tywan Harris all back for their senior seasons. Stewart and Effiong are the team’s best post players while guards Knox and Harris are very solid in the backcourt. The best player of the group could be forward Greg Lewis, who has more ups than a spaceship. Not to be outdone is junior guard Pierre Wooten, who has quietly become one of the best point guards in the conference. The incumbents will be joined by an impressive group of newcomers highlighted by guard Alex English Jr. English, son of NBA great Alex English, is trying to rebound from two injury plagued seasons at William & Mary. If the Eagles can stay healthy and score in the paint, look out.

2. Radford: The Highlanders have this little quirk that’s kind of a problem for them: they win regular season championships, but lose in the conference tournament. Case in point last season when Radford went 12-2 and then lost in the tourney final to Winthrop. Coach Ron Bradley hopes to buck this current trend with an older, more experienced Andrey Savtchenko. The 7-0 senior averaged 15.4 points a game last season and his NBA-size and strength could be the factors that determine if Radford can get back to the big dance. Savtchenko could have some company on the blocks in the form of fellow seven-footer Jason Bees. If the freshman can acclimate himself to the college game quickly, Savtchenko and Bees could form a tandem that will give opposing Big South coaches nightmares.

Also inside is the wiry Corry Watkins, a 6-7 tweener whose size can create match-up problems. Junior Raymond “Peanut” Arrington becomes the main man in the backcourt with the departure of leading scorer Jason Williams. Arrington has a killer first step and has proven he can be a dependable jump shooter. If Arrington can pick up Williams’ slack and the frontcourt produces, Radford will be tough.

3. Coastal Carolina: You can’t stop Torrey Butler, you can only hope to . . . yeah, you know the rest. The 6-3 guard/forward was butter-smooth in 2000-01, averaging 19.4 points per game and shooting 47 percent from three-point land. Oh and by the way, Butler is the reigning Big South Player of the Year. However, coach Pete Strickland’s team is more than just one player. The Chanticleers also feature one of the conferences’ best playmakers, sophomore point guard Alvin Green. Green has a knack for finding the open man, and since Butler draws most of the opposition’s attention, many a Chanticleer will benefit from Green’s unselfishness.

One Chant who needs to convert on passes he receives is junior Antonio Darden. The 6-3 forward is the most talented player in the Coastal Carolina frontcourt, which was the Chants’ Achilles heel last season. He and fellow forward junior Clint Reed must produce to take the pressure off of the backcourt. If the frontcourt cannot step up, Coastal Carolina must depend on its athleticism, depth (the Chants return nine of their ten top players) and guard play. But if the frontcourt plays decently and Butler continues to be magnificent, Strickland may finally see a glimmer of success after three abysmal years.

4. UNC-Asheville: Filling in the gaps; that will be the goal of UNC-A head coach Eddie Biedenbach as he leads his Bulldogs into 2001-02. Biedenbach lost 20.4 points a game with the departures of guard Brett Carey (13.3 points per game) and center Adam Earnhardt (7.1 points per game). So who will be the plugs in UNC-A’s proverbial leaking dam? There are several candidates. Junior Andre Smith showed great potential last season scoring 10.4 points per game and figures to be much improved. Likewise with veteran forwards Colin Shaw and Robby Joyner, who must provide stability in the paint.
Other key returning post players include sophomore forward Alan Lovett and junior center Ben McGonagil, both of whom have tremendous upsides.

It may be the newcomers, however, that will determine if UNC-A can fill its biggest void: the blank space that sits in the number of NCAA Tournament appearances made column in the UNC-A record book. Junior transfer Alex Kragel will step in and replace the departed Carey. Kragel has good height for a guard and can shoot the lights out. Freshman swingmen Bryan McCullough and Julian Capel, cousin of Jason and Jeff, will both be called upon to do what they did best in high school, score. 6-10 freshman center Jon Higginbotham may be too big not to be worked into the Bulldog’s rotation. No matter who plays, the Bulldogs must raise their field goal percentage to win.

5. Elon: The team formerly known as the Fighting Christians is looking for one thing in 2001-02: respectability. Elon was atrocious last year, finishing 9-20 and 4-10 in conference. This year, however, the Phoenix may not be all that bad. Three starters are back for coach Mark Simmons’ club including guard Brendon Rowell, one of the most unheralded players in the conference. Rowell was nothing short of fantastic last year, averaging 18.8 points per game. He is a legitimate contender for Big South Player of the Year in 2001-02. As good as Rowell was last season, he could have been better if he had some help around him. Simmons is hoping other players besides Rowell step up and make major contributions.

It is up to players like senior David Hall and junior Shamar Johnson, both returning starters, to buck the conception that Elon is more than just a one-man team. Likewise, junior guard Drew Kusterman has to provide scoring off the bench and become a dependable sixth man. Rowell’s real help may come in the form of two JuCo transfers recruited by Simmons. Guard Carlos Moreira can spot up and drain the open jumper while fellow guard Quinton McCleod is as quick as any one in the Big South. The Phoenix lost 20 games last year, 14 of which were on the road, so they proved they could at least be decent at home. It’s winning away from Alumni Gym that will define Elon in 2001-02.

6. High Point: Break up the Panthers. Heading into 2001-02, High Point returns all of its starters, all of whom are either juniors or seniors. The Van Weerdhuizen brothers, Dustin and Derek, are back and so is Jermaine Wallace. Junior Dustin, the better of the two brothers, proved last season he is a player to be reckoned with in the Big South, scoring 11.8 points per game. His brother, Derek, wasn’t too shabby either, averaging 7.6 points per game. Wallace, who can play forward and center, gives the Panthers a legitimate inside threat. Although he is still raw, Wallace is aggressive and has an uncanny ability to find great offensive position in the paint. Joining Wallace in the frontcourt is forward Valdas Kaukenas who has great power but has the tendency to play out-of-control at times.

The key to the Panthers’ success could be the play of senior point guard Doug Alves. Alves played below his potential during most of last season but has the skills to be a solid playmaker. Another player head coach Jerry Steele is counting on is 6-3 senior guard Mantas Ignatavicius. Ignatavicius is not afraid to take the three-ball, but needs to knock the shot down more consistently. With five returning starters and potential on the bench, High Point should be in good shape. But if only the Panthers could make their shots. High Point shot 39.3 percent from the field last season, one of the worst percentages in the conference. Steele’s players would be well advised to stick around after practices and work on jump shooting drills. If High Point can inflate its shooting percentage and Alves can provide consistent play at the point, the Panthers just may have a shot to at least nip at the heels of the conference’s elite.

7. Liberty: Oh, to be a rookie on the Liberty University basketball team. If freshmen on the Flames roster came to Liberty with dreams of playing immediately, well, they will get their wish sooner than later. Thanks to the loss of four, count ‘em four starters, headman Mel Hankinson is faced with a major rebuilding project. Even though he lost four players who collectively averaged 42 points per game last season, Hankinson can take solace in having one experienced holdover and a talented core of newcomers. Senior Chris Caldwell is back for one more year of being the focal point of the Flames offense. The 6-1 guard averaged 16.7 points per game last season despite drawing constant attention from opposing defenses. This season, Caldwell will be expected to lead not only in the scoring column, but in the locker room as well.

Help in the veteran leadership department will also be expected from junior forward Rob Attaway, who may see more minutes in 2001-02. The incoming class of freshmen features two potential game breakers who will be called upon to contribute immediately. 6-6 forward Torin Beeler and 6-2 guard Travis Eisentrout highlight an extremely touted freshmen class. Beeler is a slasher with a nice medium range jumper while Eisentrout has great court awareness and will probably start at the point. Inside, JuCo transfer Jason Sarchet gives the Flames an instant presence in the paint. The 6-10 sophomore has the tools to establish himself as one of the premiere post players in the Big South. If the newcomers can compliment Caldwell, Liberty’s flame may not flicker out as quickly as expected.

8. Charleston Southern: Head coach Jim Platt’s team proved it could play with the Big South’s best last year, defeating Winthrop and Radford down the stretch. The wins were part of an 8-6 finish after the Bucs began the year 2-12. Unfortunately for Platt, the club’s strong finish was keyed by three players he doesn’t have anymore. Forwards O.J. Linney, Nick Mitchell and Ivica Perica are all gone to graduation leaving CSU a little empty in the middle. The exodus in the frontcourt has paved the way for Platt to insert a player he is very high on, freshman center Kevin Warzynski. Platt is so high on the 6-8 Warzynski that he plans for the youngster to be the cornerstone of the CSU program for years to come.

But Warzynski may be a year or two away from reaching his potential, so 6-9 senior Nikola Pejovic will have to be the main man in the middle for the Bucs. Pejovic, as well as freshman Nathan Ball, will be counted on to pick up the rebounding slack for CSU, an area that the team did well in last year. The only unit on the team without any question marks is the backcourt. Point guard Ed O’Neil has great quickness and will be counted on to integrate the inexperienced frontcourt players into the offense. Next to O’Neil, CSU has a pair of junior shooting guards that took great strides in 2000-01, Gene Granger and James Seegars. Both Granger and Seegars bring a vast amount of athleticism to the table, but neither has exceptional shooting ability. If O’Neil can create and Granger and Seegars can hit shots thus taking pressure off of the frontcourt, CSU may be able to avoid the conference cellar.

9. Birmingham-Southern: The Panthers won’t receive full Big South accreditation until 2003-04, yet, they may be better than a handful of teams in the conference. Last season, BSC finished 17-9 as a D-1 independent with one of those wins coming at the expense of Big South power Winthrop. This season, the Panthers play 14 games against Big South opponents and could improve upon its 2000-01 record with the return of three starters. While head coach Duane Reboul will sorely miss forward Neal Broome and center Adrian Pryor, Reboul will enjoy having three solid guards return for their senior seasons. Point guard Rashard Willie is quicker than a hiccup and can penetrate with the best of them. Corey Watkins and T.R. Reed have decent shooting range and both could be due for breakout senior campaigns.

6-11 sophomore Michael Bilostinnyi is raw, but should improve drastically as the season progresses by having the chance to start in the middle. Joining Bilostinnyi inside will be freshmen Shema Mbyirukira and Josiah James. Reboul did a wonderful job coaching this group last season and if his guards can excel in 2001-02, the Panthers may wind up with a winning record against Big South opposition. BSC could be the surprise team of a conference there not even officially part of yet.

Big South Superlatives

Regular Season Champ: Winthrop
Tourney Champ: Coastal Carolina
Bubble Burst: Winthrop
Sleeper: High Point
Player of the Year: Brendon Rowell, Elon
Newcomer of the Year: Torin Beeler, Liberty
Coach of the Year: Pete Strickland, Coastal Carolina
Best Name: Peanut Arrington, Radford
Best Shooter: Chris Caldwell, Liberty
Best Defender: Greg Lewis, Winthrop

ACC Notebook

by - Published December 26, 2001 in Conference Notes



ACC Notebook


What have you done for me lately?

With the Seminole football team not playing in the national championship
game for the first time in four years, the spotlight in Tallahassee is now
shining brightly on the struggling basketball squad. If Florida State is
unable to buck the trend and win more games than it loses, then head coach
Steve Robinson will be in grave danger of losing his job at the end of the
season. The team has started the season 4-5, with home losses coming against
Western Carolina and American. This is the latest in a downhill slope that
began when FSU hired Robinson to replace Pat Kennedy after the 1996-97
season.

Robinson came from Tulsa and had a very strong first season leading the
Seminoles, as the team went 18-14 and advanced to the second round of the
NCAA Tournament. Things have gotten worse every year for Robinson and his
team. The Seminoles went 13-17 in 1998-99, then 12-17, and last year the
team finished a horrendous 9-21.

The fifth-year coach is 56-74 since coming to Tallahassee and his team
has not been ranked in the AP Top 25 since January 18, 1998. Also, FSU is
6-34 against Top 25 teams under Robinson, with only three wins against ranked
ACC squads. The numbers clearly do not lie, and if this Seminole team is not
able to advance to a postseason tournament, then Robinson may be cleaning out
his office come March.

Two intriguing possibilities to replace Robinson could
include: former Bulls and Iowa State coach Tim Floyd, who is likely to return
to the college ranks; and one of the greatest players in FSU history,
recently-fired Warriors head coach Dave Cowens.

A Perfect Ten: After its epic win against Kentucky in the Jimmy V Classic, Duke is now a perfect 10-0. The defending national champions have not lost in almost ten
months, winning 20 consecutive games following a February 27 loss to
Maryland. Obviously the team is extremely talented and well-coached by Mike
Krzyzewski, but there are some problems that the Blue Devils will have to
correct in order to repeat as champions.

The loss of current Grizzlies star Shane Battier has hurt the Blue Devils
on both ends of the court. When watching Duke play, it is evident that the
offense has very little movement amongst the players. Most possessions
include mostly one-on-one attempts by offensive leaders Jason Williams (the
latest ACC Player of the Week), Mike Dunleavy Jr., or Carlos Boozer. This is
something that could hurt the team down the stretch.

Also, Duke’s interior
defense is suspect. The team starts 6-foot-9 Carlos Boozer at center, with
raw 6-foot-11 center Casey Sanders and 24-year-old 6-foot-10 forward Matt
Christensen also in the mix. If Boozer can learn to exert his 280 pounds and
become a force down low defensively against taller centers around the nation,
then this Duke squad may be even better when 2002 rolls around. If these two
issues are fixed, then Coach K’s squad may become the first team since
Indiana in 1975-76 to finish the season without losing a game.

Fingleton’s Crusade to Worcester: As speculated on Hoopville last week, Neil Fingleton has transferred from North Carolina to Holy Cross. The 7-foot-5 British center will have two and a half years of eligibility once he is able to start playing for the
Crusaders in January 2003. As a result of losing Fingleton, North Carolina
is looking for a center for next year’s team. If Carolina does not bring in
anyone in addition to the three elite prospects that the school has already
signed, then there will be no players on the 2002-03 squad taller than
6-foot-8.

The Power of the ACC: The ACC remains the top conference in the country, with three teams currently ranked in the top third of both polls. Undefeated Duke is ranked
first in both polls, undefeated Virginia is fourth in both polls, while
Maryland is sixth in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll and eighth in the AP Top
25. In addition, Wake Forest is ranked 25th in both polls. Also, ACC teams
are 62-24 vs. non-conference opponents.

The only conference that is nearly as good as the ACC is the SEC. In the
latest conference RPI rankings, the ACC is in second place with an overall
score of .5852, .0041 behind the SEC. This year, the conferences have split
the eight inter-conference games.

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Also, keep track of players who have declared early for the NBA Draft.

Your Phil of Hoops

Watson’s transfer will sting BU the most

April 11, 2014 by

bostonuniversity

Boston University recently saw three players transfer. The impact of the departure of one of them will be felt more than the other two.

Mihalich’s first year at Hofstra is over but will have plenty of value

March 9, 2014 by

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The first year for Hofstra under Joe Mihalich is in the books. Many expected that wins would be hard to come by, and they were, but this season was about more than that and is hardly a throwaway year.

Cornell’s future can only be better

March 2, 2014 by

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Cornell has had a rough season, as could be expected given some personnel losses. It’s almost in the books, and the future at least looks brighter.

Hoopville Archives

2014 Prep School Tour

Missed a recap of an open gym workout? We have them all right here for you.

Sept. 9: Putnam Science Academy
Sept 10: Commonwealth Academy
Sept. 11: St. Andrew's
Sept. 12: Northfield Mount Hermon
Sept. 16: Brewster Academy and Phillips Exeter
Sept. 17: Brooks School
Sept. 21: Holderness School
Sept. 23: St. Thomas More and Marianapolis Prep
Sept. 24: South Kent School and Kent School
Sept. 25: Williston Northampton
Sept. 28: Wilbraham and Monson Academy and Suffield Academy
Sept. 30: New Hampton
Oct. 5: Worcester Academy
Oct. 7: Brimmer and May
Oct. 8: Cushing Academy
Oct. 9: Tilton
Oct. 12: Tabor Academy and Rivers School
Oct. 14: The Master's School
Oct. 16: Vermont Academy

You can also find them all right here.

Even More: City Hoops Recruiting

Mass Elite and Boston Warriors hold college showcase

Mass Elite and Boston Warriors, two of the largest programs in Massachusetts, teamed up for a college showcase on Wednesday night. Here are some evaluations from that event.

Massachusetts 11th grade AAU Tournament recap

Teams gathered at Mass Premier Courts to chase the state title in the oldest age group, and one champion was a familiar one.

Travel team profile: All For One

All For One has been one of the better travel programs in Massachusetts for players before they reach high school

Travel team profile: Blackstone Valley Chaos

Size and options on the wing are not lacking for this year’s junior team

Travel team profile: Expressions Elite

Expressions Elite has quickly become one of the deeper programs in New England

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Recruiting Coverage

Marianapolis Prep will battle in Class AA

October 20, 2014 by

marianapolis

Marianapolis Prep is far from loaded with talent, but they have enough perimeter talent to be dangerous. As is usually the case, they will battle and be a tough out in Class AA.

New Vermont Academy coach has put together a contender

October 17, 2014 by

vermontacademy

Vermont Academy has a new coach for the second year in a row, but they shouldn’t skip a beat. They have enough talent to win a lot of games and make a deep run in NEPSAC Class AA.

The Master’s School has good students and talent

October 15, 2014 by

mastersschool

The Master’s School has a number of good students, and they will continue to head to college later. This time around, they also have some talent on the hardwood and should win a few more games.

Rivers will try to build on a breakthrough season

October 13, 2014 by

riversschool

The Rivers School had a breakthrough season last year, winning the Independent School League. They will try to build on that with a team that loses a lot but also returns a lot from last season’s team.

Tabor Academy looks to have more depth this time around

October 13, 2014 by

taboracademy

Tabor Academy will once again be headlined by a frontcourt player. This time around, though, the Seawolves appear to have a deeper support cast than in recent years.