Home » Columns » Currently Reading:

Touring the Northeast

January 8, 2003 Columns No Comments

Touring Around the Northeast

by Phil Kasiecki

Boston College Needs to Play to the Level of Opponents

Boston College enters the Big East schedule on a very low note, having lost three straight games. Losing to Kent State, a team with just one loss on the season, and rival Providence, which has played well with a little inconsistency, is one thing, but the crusher was Sunday’s home loss to Northeastern. The Eagles had not lost to Northeastern since 1964, but the Huskies shot 51% from the field to win despite playing without two starters.

The game has opposite implications for both teams.

The Eagles are in a funk at a time when they can least afford it. They lack depth and remain very susceptible to a bad shooting game from Troy Bell, who was 6-18 in this game. Craig Smith has remained a force up front, but he’s been the only consistent support for Bell. Louis Hinnant, while an intelligent role player, is not a big scorer or shooter, and Ryan Sidney has not been a consistent scorer as well. At times like this, one can wonder how much the Eagles miss Uka Agbai, a leader and consistent player for this team.

The Eagles could have some serious struggles ahead unless Bell can carry them or someone else gets hot, as the Big East is certainly not weak this season. The Eagles are fortunate to be in the weaker East Division, but that does not gain them much. Connecticut is a clear favorite and continues to have BC’s number, Miami seems to be hitting their stride and St. John’s is similar to them in that they may be best with a small lineup and are not very deep. The young Villanova Wildcats will be no slouch, nor will Virginia Tech. The West Division looks to have three teams that are solid NCAA bets in Pittsburgh, Notre Dame and Syracuse, while Georgetown and Rutgers will contend. The Eagles did not make out well with the crossover games, as they play at Syracuse on Saturday, then later have West Virginia and Notre Dame coming to town and play at Rutgers next month. The Eagles also head to Raleigh to play North Carolina State, so things don’t get easier.

For Northeastern, this may be just the springboard they need for conference play. They are now 7-6 with the win as they head to Burlington to take on Vermont Wednesday night. Jose Juan Barea continues to be the key piece, playing with a maturity beyond his years that included several key plays in his 19-point, 5-assist effort against Boston College. Sylbrin Robinson showed how good he can be when he comes to play, as he had 21 points and 8 rebounds and made several key plays as well and didn’t stop playing after blowing a breakaway dunk in the early moments of the game. Javorie Wilson and Adrian Martinez function well as shooters, though Wilson has shown an ability to score off the dribble as well. Adam Drain may prove to be a key reserve off the bench, as he did against Boston College, with his ability to shoot the ball.

The pieces are there for a good run in America East, especially with Vermont weakened by the loss of reigning Player of the Year T.J. Sorrentine for the season. Boston University still looks like a clear favorite despite having just a .500 record before opening conference play with a win over Binghamton, but the Terriers are not unbeatable. No team in the conference has a record above .500 in non-conference play.

URI Looks Good As Non-Conference Play Finishes

Jim Baron’s rebuilding job at Rhode Island is far from complete, but it is progressing very well at this point. The Rams entered Atlantic Ten play with a 7-3 record before dropping the opener at St. Bonaventure. They did not play a schedule full of world-beaters, but they knocked off USC and Providence along the way and the only bad loss is to Buffalo early in the season.

The Rams have a concern up front, which has shown up in several games this season, but the perimeter unit is in good shape with senior Brian Woodward finally starting to play up to the initial expectations when he arrived in Kingston, and sophomore Dustin Hellenga not having a sophomore jinx. Howard Smith has had a fine season running the show thus far, as the senior leader has a 3.7 assist/turnover ratio and nearly 3 steals per game. Newcomer Dawan Robinson, who sat out last season under Prop 48, has come along in the backcourt as well, though he needs to take better care of the ball.

This season, the Rams will go as far as their frontcourt will take them. If someone can step up and complement the perimeter unit, or if they can get hot and shoot better (just over 40% from the field and under 30% on three-pointers thus far), it would not be a surprise to see the Rams in the NIT. Either way, the Rams are headed for a nice improvement this season.

The Rams welcome Fordham on Wednesday and head to Amherst on Saturday to take on Massachusetts in their first full week of Atlantic Ten play.

The Enigma That Is Massachusetts

After looking like a sinking ship early in non-conference play, perhaps Massachusetts is simply a tease. With the bad losses they have had, they shocked many with their upset of North Carolina State last Thursday for their third straight win at the time. Then on Sunday, they went to the Bronx and lost by 13 to a struggling Fordham team.

Senior forward Jackie Rogers has come alive lately at the offensive end, averaging nearly 17 points the last five games. If he can become a factor on the glass (he has just 11 rebounds in the last 3 games) and Micah Brand can pick it up after his last two games, the Minutemen will be in good shape up front and it might help their struggling perimeter game. If the frontcourt can play better, players like Anthony Anderson, Mike Lasme and Jeff Viggiano should get better looks.

Harvard, Yale Slow Up As Ivy League Play Approaches

After starting fast out of the gates, Harvard and Yale ended their non-conference slates with slumps.

Harvard started out 7-2, but then dropped its final three non-conference games before opening Ivy League play with a 67-50 win over Dartmouth on Saturday behind a career-high 24 points from senior center Brian Sigafoos. Yale, meanwhile, started 5-2 before dropping its last three, all on the road. They still have two games left before beginning Ivy League play against Brown next Friday, as they host Rhode Island and Division III RPI.

Despite the slumps, both teams should be contenders in the Ivy League, especially since Pennsylvania showed in non-conference play that they aren’t as invincible as some projected them to be in the preseason. The Quakers have a veteran lineup with more talent than anyone in the league, but are just 3-4. They have played a very tough schedule, but this is a team that has won many of those games in the past; this year’s team has lost to Drexel and Delaware in addition to major conference foes Providence and Colorado.

Harvard has senior leadership with their senior starting five, including the Ivy League’s top rebounder (Sam Winter) and top assist man (Elliott Prasse-Freeman), while Yale has a veteran lineup that is shooting the ball very well from long range thus far. One thing the Bulldogs aren’t doing as well as they did last year is rebounding. Last season, Yale topped the Ivy League in rebounding margin by far, out-rebounding opponents by just under 5 per game; thus far this season, the Bulldogs are being out-rebounded by almost 2 per game.

Holy Cross Heads Into League Play On a Good Note

During non-conference play, Holy Cross re-affirmed their position as almost prohibitive favorites in the Patriot League. The Crusaders enter Patriot League play with a 9-3 record against a good non-conference schedule, featuring wins over Boston College and Ivy League contenders Harvard and Princeton. The only loss that could be considered a bad loss was to Marist, as their other losses are to national power Kansas and Ivy League contender Yale.

The Crusaders have a front line that should overpower most Patriot League teams, especially with the addition of 7’6″ North Carolina transfer Neil Fingleton. He joins a front line that already has former Patriot League Player of the Year Tim Szatko, 6’9″ senior Patrick Whearty and 6’11” sophomore Nate Lufkin (last season’s league Rookie of the Year). Ralph Willard’s team also has a deep bench and good class balance, which bodes well for the Crusaders’ future. It would not be a shock if Holy Cross doesn’t lose a league game; at the very least, expect them to win at least 20 games when it’s all said and done.

Other Notes From Around the Nation

• Which conference looks to be the best as we head into conference play? The SEC. The Big 12, projected as the best by many in the preseason (including this writer), has looked good, but the SEC looks solid all-around. Alabama and Mississippi State look like Final Four contenders, while it would not be surprising at all to see Kentucky, Florida, Georgia, or even Mississippi at least reach the Sweet 16. Mississippi is a quiet 8-2, and Auburn is worth keeping an eye on as they are 11-2 entering their real tests of the season in the SEC.

• Speaking of the Big 12, don’t be surprised if Kansas struggles at times while Wayne Simien is out with a dislocated shoulder. The Jayhawks aren’t as deep as they have been in previous seasons and especially up front, as they now must look to Jeff Graves and Bryant Nash for more production in his absence.

• Give John Calipari a lot of credit for the start at Memphis. Many didn’t figure the Tigers to be much more than a .500 team with their personnel losses and top two recruits bolting for the NBA Draft before ever playing at Memphis, but the Tigers are 9-2 and one of the reasons Conference USA looks better than expected. Chris Massie has made a big difference since returning, as he is playing like a determined man on the post. The Tigers have quality wins and look to be a strong NCAA Tournament contender.

• The Pacific Ten has emerged from non-conference play arguably looking weaker than projected, which is not good. Arizona and Oregon are keepers, but the drop-off after those two is large. UCLA has struggled mightily, Stanford looks better than expected but is still very beatable, and California did well in non-conference play but is still a question mark.

• Saturday night saw the second high school game on national television this season, as LeBron James led his St. Vincent-St. Mary’s team to a victory over Santa Ana (CA) Mater Dei. James struggled mightily shooting the ball, hitting just 8 of 24 shots and missing all nine of his three-point attempts. The game was really more of a coming out party for two Mater Dei players in particular, Minnesota-bound senior guard Wesley Washington and sophomore point guard Mike Gerrity. Washington hit several clutch shots and played a solid game, while Gerrity doesn’t play the point like a sophomore.


Comment on this Article:

Subscribe to Hoopville

Enter your email address to subscribe to Hoopville


Hoopville Archives

College Basketball Tonight

We hope you enjoyed COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT during the 2016 NCAA Tournament. COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT is a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran college basketball broadcaster Ted Sarandis, along with co-hosts Mike Jarvis and Terry O'Connor, both former Division I coaches. It also included many great guests, including Hoopville's own Phil Kasiecki.

The show aired on AM 710 WOR in New York City on Sunday evenings starting with Selection Sunday and running through the NCAA Tournament.

Here are links to the shows:

March 13, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 20, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 27, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

April 3, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

Coaching Changes

The coaching carousel is moving. Keep track of the latest coaching changes right here on Hoopville.

Everybody Needs a Head Coach

Former college basketball coach Mike Jarvis has a new book out, Everybody Needs a Head Coach.

"As you read this book, I hope that Coach Jarvis' experiences inspire you to find your purpose in life."
-Patrick Ewing, NBA Hall of Fame center

"Mike Jarvis' is one of my special friends. I am so pleased that he has taken the time to write this fabulous book."
-Mike Krzyzewski, Five-time NCAA championship head coach, Duke Blue Devils

"In reading this book, I can see that Mike hasn't lost his edge or his purpose. Readers should take a look at what he has to say."
-Jim Calhoun, Three-time NCAA champion, UConn Men's basketball

Review on Hoopville coming soon!

Hoopville Podcasts

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – April 26, 2018

April 27, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we spend a lot of time looking at what the Commission on College Basketball came up with, as their report was just produced. We also look at the NBA Draft and transfers, which have many rosters potentially in flux for next season.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – April 6, 2018

April 6, 2018 by

In our first podcast in the postseason, we look back one more time on the NCAA Tournament, which was just what we needed at this time. We also look at the NIT, CBI and CIT, as well as important transactions with players leaving early for the NBA Draft and coaching changes.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – April 3, 2018

April 3, 2018 by

The 2018 national championship is in the books, and with it another season of college basketball. We break down the national championship game and some of its implications to wrap up the season.

College Basketball Tonight – April 1, 2018

April 2, 2018 by

Welcome to our Final Four edition of College Basketball Tonight. In this edition, we look ahead to Monday’s national championship game, and bring on two guests – long-time Villanova radio play-by-play broadcaster Ryan Fannon and Radford head coach Mike Jones – to get their thoughts and insights on the game.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – April 1, 2018

April 1, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we break d own the national semifinals, where one game went back and forth while the other was never really a ballgame thanks to an impressive performance for the ages by the winning team.

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

Lincoln captures Hamilton Park title

August 15, 2017 by

For the first time, a public school won the Hamilton Park Summer League, and they were led by a big effort from a junior point guard in the title game.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Boston Shootout

June 12, 2017 by

Some news and notes coming from the second and final day of action at the 2017 Boston Shootout, where the host program provided plenty of talent, but so did a program that produced a team that beat them.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Northeast Hoops Festival

April 11, 2017 by

The Northeast Hoops Festival helped bring in the new spring travel season in New England, and we have notes from some of Saturday’s action.

2016 Boston Back to School Showcase notes

September 12, 2016 by

We look back at the 2016 Boston Back to School Showcase, where a couple of Boston City League teams were among the most impressive on the day.

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale championship recap

June 28, 2016 by

We look back at the championship games of the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, which had a big local flavor as one might have expected.