Big South Notebook

by - Published January 6, 2004 in Conference Notes



Big South Conference Notebook

by Jeremy Dunlap

Gallup For Three

Conference play opened Sat., Jan. 3 with four games, and the most exciting one proved to be Liberty’s visit to Conway, S.C., to battle Coastal Carolina. With Liberty leading 65-64 down the stretch, Coastal Carolina’s senior guard E.J. Gallup hit a three-pointer with only eight seconds remaining to give the Chanticleers a 67-65 win over the Flames. Gallup hit two other three-pointers in the game on the way to a team-high 17 points, including one at the end of the first half to give the Chants a four point halftime lead.

New Kids on the Block

Over their last two provisional years in the Big South, Birmingham-Southern had proven that even though their games did not count in the standings, they were a team that could beat anyone in the league on any given night. On the first night of conference action, they built on that reputation and in their first-ever official Big South game, the Panthers went on the road and took out preseason favorite Winthrop, 61-54.

On the other hand, VMI did not make as good of a debut in their first Big South Conference game. The Keydets traveled to UNC-Asheville and lost 61-48. VMI is still searching for its first win over a Division I team this season.

Player of the Week

Coastal Carolina senior guard E.J. Gallup’s late game heroics against Liberty and a strong effort against a very talented North Carolina squad have earned him the Hoopville Big South Player of the Week honors for this last week. Gallup averaged 19 points in Coastal’s two games this week, helped by 7-for-12 shooting from beyond the three-point arc. This marks the second Coastal player to earn this honor – senior guard Brandon Newby was the other.

Team Reports

Birmingham-Southern Panthers (8-3, 1-0) Last Week: 2-0

It was an exciting and memorable week for BSC as they not only easily defeated a solid St. Peter’s team in the consolation game of the Shamrock Office Solutions Classic at St. Mary’s but also notched a victory in their first-ever official Big South Conference game. In the 75-59 win over St. Peter’s Dec. 29, the Panthers utilized a 42-23 rebounding advantage and 17-point nights by senior guards Derrick Williams and Jakob Sigurdarson to win rather easily over the Peacocks.

The Panthers went to the Winthrop Coliseum Jan. 3 and beat the Eagles 61-54, despite not making their first field goal until after the second media timeout. BSC was led by sophomore guard James Collins who scored 16 points off the bench. Senior forward Grant Davis scored 15 points and grabbed nine rebounds to help the cause, with two critical three-pointers during the second half that helped squelch rally attempts by Winthrop.

Birmingham-Southern will look to continue their winning ways with a trio of conference games. They will finish their current road-trip with a game at UNC-Asheville Jan. 5 before heading back home to face Coastal Carolina Jan. 8 and Charleston Southern Jan. 10.

Charleston Southern Buccaneers (3-9, 0-1) Last Week: 1-2

A good result finally occurred for Charleston Southern as they defeated a Division I team for the first time this season when they squeaked by Bethune-Cookman, 50-48, in the consolation game of the Jack in the Box Holiday Classic at Furman Dec. 30. The win followed a 66-50 first round loss to Lipscomb and preceded an 80-66 loss to High Point at home in CSU’s conference opener Jan. 3.

In the win over Bethune-Cookman, CSU won despite a shorthanded lineup with junior forward Kurtis Rice, sophomore guard Thomas Harrison and freshman guard Donnell Covington all missing the game. Junior forward Nathan Ball picked up the slack with 14 points and nine rebounds to lead the way for the Bucs. CSU had everybody back except for Covington against High Point, but the Bucs could not hit free throws (8-for-17) and could not take advantage of senior guard Ed O’Neil’s 13 assists in the loss to the Panthers.

The Bucs will stay home to take on Liberty Jan. 5 before heading to Birmingham-Southern Jan. 10.

Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (6-6, 1-0) Last Week: 1-1

The week started slowly for the Chants, as they traveled to the Dean Smith Center and got beat 105-72 by North Carolina Dec. 30, but opened the conference season and the New Year in style with a 67-65 home win over Liberty Jan. 3.

In the loss to the Tar Heels, Coastal could not compete with UNC’s 61 percent three-point shooting and a 28-13 turnover deficit. Senior guard E.J. Gallup was the only Coastal player in double figures with 21 points. Gallup was the hero as he led the Chants in scoring against Liberty with 17 points, including the game-winning three-pointer mentioned at the beginning of this notebook. Senior guard Brandon Newby chipped in with a double-double, scoring 13 points and getting 10 rebounds.

The Chants face the two teams with the best overall records in the conference this week. First, Coastal will host High Point (8-4) Jan. 5 then they will hit the road and take on Birmingham-Southern (8-3) Jan. 8.

High Point Panthers (8-4, 1-0) Last Week: 2-0

The wins continue to come for head coach Bart Lundy and the Panthers as High Point beat two different schools from Charleston, S.C., this week. High Point opened the week by hosting the Citadel Dec. 30 and defeating the Bulldogs, 94-70. The Panthers shot a blistering 65 percent from three-point range, including 4-of-4 from junior guard Javier Palacios. Palacios scored 16 points in the game, making all five field goals and both free throws that he shot in the game. Junior guard Zione White led the Panthers with 19 points and seven rebounds.

In their conference-opening 80-66 win at Charleston Southern Jan. 3, High Point was paced by junior forward Danny Gathings’ fifth double-double of the season. Gathings scored a team-high 19 points and gathered a team-high 14 rebounds in the game. The Panthers were able to shake off the pesky Buccaneers with a 15-4 run midway through the second half. This marked the sixth straight game and eighth overall in which High Point has scored at least 80 points in a game.

The explosive High Point offense will have three tough tests this week. The Panthers will travel to Coastal Carolina Jan. 5, host Winthrop Jan. 8, then go on the road to face Liberty Jan. 10.

Liberty Flames (3-10, 0-1) Last Week: 0-2

Liberty’s losing streak has climbed to five games with a pair of losses last week. The Flames wrapped up their trip to Tucson, Ariz., Dec. 30 and their appearance in the Fiesta Bowl Classic with a 74-52 loss to Valparaiso. The Flames only shot 30 percent as a team and freshman guard Larry Blair was their only player in double-figures, scoring 20 points.

The Flames traveled to Coastal Carolina Jan. 3 and lost a heartbreaker to the Chants, 67-65. Again, Blair led the Flames with 20 points. This time around, he did get a little more help as the team shot 48 percent and senior forward Gabe Martin scored 16 points in the losing effort.

The Flames will look to get back in the win column as they play three conference games this week. Their week starts on the road at Charleston Southern Jan. 5 before heading back home for games against UNC-Asheville Jan. 8 and High Point Jan. 10.

Radford Highlanders (4-6, 0-0) Last Week: 0-1

The Highlanders only had one game last week and they probably wish they did not even bother to play it. Radford went to East Carolina Dec. 30, and despite trailing by only 13 at halftime, the Highlanders ended up losing 87-50 to the Pirates. Radford struggled to put the ball in the basket the whole game, shooting only 30 percent from the field and only making 1-of-14 three-pointers. Sophomore guard Whit Holcomb-Faye almost got a double-double, scoring 13 points and grabbing nine rebounds to lead the Highs in both categories.

Radford is the last team in the conference to open league play, and they will tip-off their Big South slate with a trip to Winthrop Jan. 5. After their game against the Eagles, Radford will head back to Virginia to battle VMI on the road Jan. 8 then host UNC-Asheville Jan. 10.

UNC-Asheville Bulldogs (3-9, 1-0) Last Week: 1-1

UNC-A has had trouble early in the season, but if this last week is any indication, head coach Eddie Beidenbach may have his Bulldogs heading in the right direction, if a big injury does not slow his team down.

To open the week, UNC-A hung tough against Tennessee Dec. 30 before losing 80-67. The Bulldogs played evenly with the Volunteers, even holding a lead with nine minutes remaining before the Volunteers took control in the last eight minutes of the game. Sophomore guard Omar Collington scored 18 points to lead the Bulldogs.

The Bulldogs were able to open their Big South season with a win Jan. 3, beating conference newcomer VMI, 61-48. The win may have come at a price though, as junior center Joseph Barber went down with a knee injury five minutes into the game. His status is unknown at this time. Junior forward Billy Allen played his best game of the season, scoring 17 points and grabbing nine boards. The team shot 90 percent from the free-throw line and held the visitors to only 36.5 percent shooting from the field.

UNC-A will try to get their first winning streak started when they host Birmingham-Southern Jan. 5. That game will be followed by a trip to Virginia with a Jan. 8 match up at Liberty and a Jan. 10 battle with Radford.

VMI Keydets (2-9, 0-1) Last Week: 0-2

Injuries have been a big problem for VMI so far this season. Junior forward Preston Beverly is going to miss the rest of the season with a knee injury and bad ankles have caused senior forward Radee Skipworth to miss half of VMI’s games so far and junior center Tim Allmond to miss both of last week’s games, which were both losses.

VMI opened last week with a lopsided loss at Old Dominion, 74-52 Dec. 29. The shorthanded Keydets only played eight players as senior guard Richard Little led the team with 17 points along with seven assists. In their first-ever conference game at UNC-Asheville Jan. 3, the result was not much better, as VMI lost 61-48. The Keydets did get some good news as Skipworth finally returned to the lineup and led the team with 20 points.

VMI will host their first Big South game in school history when they face Radford Jan. 8. After battling the Highlanders, the Keydets will be back on the road to take on preseason favorite Winthrop Jan. 10.

Winthrop Eagles (6-6, 0-1) Last Week: 1-2

The Winthrop lineup continued to get shaken by injuries after the Eagles traveled west to compete in the azcentral.com Hoops Classic in Tempe, Ariz., and entered conference play. At the tournament, Winthrop split a pair of games with Western Michigan and San Diego, losing to WMU 76-71 Dec. 29 and beating San Diego in the consolation game 70-66 the next day. Senior forward Tyrone Walker had a career game in the loss to Western Michigan, scoring 24 points and grabbing 20 rebounds and earned a spot on the all-tournament team.

During the tournament, freshman guard Torrell Martin, Winthrop’s second leading scorer, injured his knee, forcing him to miss the conference opener at home against Birmingham-Southern Jan. 3. Compounding the problems for the Eagles, junior center Josh Grant was suspended indefinitely for violating team rules. With the short-handed lineup, which is also still missing junior guard Ivan Jenkins, Winthrop could not overcome the sharp three-point shooting of Birmingham Southern and lost 61-54. Martin’s status is unknown, but head coach Gregg Marshall has said that he could miss at least a few weeks based on initial reports.

The Eagles will be hoping for medical miracles this week as they have three conference games on their calendar. Winthrop will host Radford Jan. 5, travel to High Point Jan. 8, then return home to face VMI Jan. 10.

     

Northeast Conference Notebook

by - Published January 6, 2004 in Conference Notes



Northeast Conference Notebook

by Keith Burdette

In the past two weeks, everyone, including myself, took a break of some sort. Central Connecticut State continues to play their season at a snail’s pace having played only two games during the entire month of December that haven’t been postponed. The team I picked to finish dead last in the league is one of only two teams to have won more games than they’ve lost. Last year’s champion finally picked up their first win of the season. Its been a crazy year so far and with the meat of the conference schedule right in front of us, chaos will more than likely continue to reign.

Central Connecticut State Blue Devils (2-3, 0-0 NEC)

The Blue Devils have had by far the strangest ride this season. Since the last column, they’ve played two games. The first was a December 21st tilt with Providence College. CCSU came out firing in the first half, building a lead of as many as twelve. The Friars clawed ahead early in the second half, but the Blue Devils answered with an eleven point run to get the lead back. But the more talented Friars came back and took a lead they would never relinquish with 6:42 to play. In 72-67 loss, Ron Robinson scored a career high 29 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Freshman DeMario Anderson added thirteen points and five rebounds and earned NEC rookie of the week honors. The second game they started on December 30th game against Niagara. But with 2:58 to play in the first half and Niagara holding a 40-33 lead, the power in all of New Britain went out and forced a postponed of the game. The game resumed at 1:30 PM the next day with both teams scoring six points to end the first half. CCSU opened the second with a 15-8 run to tie the score at 51. The game was again tied at 64 when the Purple Eagles used a 11-5 run to take the lead for good. Robinson hit a couple free throws at one point to cut the lead to one but the Blue Devils could not get any closer and Niagara won 79-74. Robinson led the way with eighteen points and eleven rebounds for the 26th double-double of his career and Justin Chiera added fifteen points. The five games the Blue Devils have finished is the fewest of all Division I teams in the country yet they still only play one game this week, a Monday game at Loyola MD.

Fairleigh Dickinson Knights (5-4, 1-0 NEC)

Last time we checked in with the Knights, they had just picked up their first conference win of the season. This time, they’ve gone over the .500 mark for the first time. The last two weeks didn’t start well with a 88-77 loss to St. Peter’s. The teams traded leads all through out the first half with the Peacocks grabbing the lead at the break. St. Peter’s effectively put the game away with a 19-4 run to start the second half and lead by as many as 24 at one point. A late 12-1 Knight run made the score respectable. Off the bench, Tamien Trent scored a team-high eighteen points and Andre Harris added twelve points. Only one starter reached double figures. Two nights later, FDU even their record with a 79-64 win over Buffalo. Gordon Klaiber led the team with 21 points and Gadi Buch added eighteen points as the only Knights in double figures. But it was enough as the team shot 53 percent for the game. The game was never close as FDU raced out to a 9-0 lead to start the game and held the Bulls to 23 percent shooting in the first half. December 30th brought a 67-60 win over Rider. Klaiber continued his hot stretch by scoring 23 points and grabbing nine boards. Rider led at the break by one but an early run to start the second half gave FDU the lead for good. Sunday, the Knights must travel to West Point to face Army for their last non-conference game of the season. In other team related news, head coach Tom Green received a contract extension although terms were not disclosed.

Long Island Blackbirds (4-6, 0-2 NEC)

The Blackbirds tried to recover from their second conference loss with probably their two toughest non-conference opponents. December 20th was a trip to Rutgers that LIU just as soon forget. Long Island missed their first nine shots and never really recovered. No player scored in double figures and the team shot a measly 27 percent from the floor in the 80-54 loss. Then, December 29th, the team traveled to South Carolina to face the College of Charleston in the Saturn Shootout. The Blackbirds shot only 29 percent and turned the ball over 20 times in another loss, this time 86-59. Raymond Edwards led the way with sixteen points and James Williams contributed twelve points. But the Blackbirds came back the next night and defeated Norfolk State 72-68 in the consolation game. Raymond Edwards scored 22 points on 11-14 shooting and former NEC rookies of the week Esa Maki-Tulokas and Evan Meekins added eleven and seventeen points, respectively. The only game this week is a trip to Big 12 country to face Texas A&M on Tuesday.

Monmouth Hawks (6-3, 0-0 NEC)

After a two week break, the Hawks got back to action with a couple in-state rivals. On December 28th, Monmouth defeated a visiting Rider 64-59. Blake Hamilton had his first career double-double with fourteen points and eleven rebounds while Chris Kenny added twelve points as the only other player in double figures. The Broncs rallied at the end of the game to try and take the lead but 11-12 free-throw shooting held them off. Two nights later, the Hawks dropped a 88-61 decision at Seton Hall. Every Pirate starter scored in double figures and the team shot 59 percent from the field. Blake Hamilton again led the way with sixteen points but the other four starters combined for only thirteen points. Two games line the schedule in the next week. The rescheduled game with Sacred Heart is on Saturday night and is the first conference game of the season. Next Wednesday brings a trip to yet another in-state rival in the Princeton Tigers.

Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers (2-8, 0-1 NEC)

December 23rd, the Mount opened their conference season with a 75-66 loss to St. Francis NY. The Terriers used a late 16-5 run in the second half to take the lead and put the game away. Landy Thompson scored nineteen points, including seventeen in the second half to lead all scorers. Three days earlier, the Mount dropped a 74-55 decision to La Salle. The Explorers jumped out to the first half lead thanks to 24 points from Gary Neal and then cruised to victory as the Mount failed to find a hot hand in the second half to chip into the lead. Kiel Butler and Charles Cook led the way with twelve points each. The Mount snapped their two game skid with a nail-biter against Navy. Landy Thompson hit a two with 45 seconds to give his team a one point lead only to have the Midshipmen answer with a two of their own with eighteen seconds to play. But Thompson would have his revenge and hit the game-winner that bounced off the backboard as well as the front and back of the rim as time expired to lift the Mount to a 54-53 win. Thompson ended the game with fifteen points to lead the team while freshman Mychal Kearse had fourteen points and twelve rebounds for his first career double-double. This week the Mount play their fourth of sixth straight on the road with a trip to face in-state rival Maryland.

Quinnipiac Bobcats (2-7, 0-0 NEC)

Last we heard from the Bobcats was their decapitation at the hands of UConn. Sadly, things didn’t get much better. December 23rd was a trip to another Big East school in Notre Dame. The Irish jumped out to a big lead early but the Bobcats clawed back to trail by only four with about four minutes left to play in the half. But the Irish took a 44-27 lead at the break, closing the half with a 19-6 run. The Bobcats could get no closer than fourteen in the second half and lost 79-62. Kason Mims shined brightly in the loss scoring 23 points while grabbing seven rebounds and dishing off six assists. With the first eight games outside the state of Connecticut, the home opener finally came on December 30th with a game against Northern Arizona. But the Lumberjacks scored the first ten points of the game and the Bobcats struggled to come back the entire game. Down eleven at the break, Quinnipiac was able to cut the lead all the way down to one with seven minutes to play but couldn’t take the lead and NAU put them away for the 79-70 win. CJ Vick had a monster game with 21 points and eighteen rebounds but the rest of his teammates struggled from the field which made it difficult to put runs together. The Bobcats play at Madison Square Garden on Saturday afternoon against St. Francis NY to open the conference season. The game is the first of a quadruple header at the World’s most famous arena with Holy Cross, Michigan and St. John’s featured in some of the later games. Manhattanville comes to Hamden on Monday to wrap up this week’s slate of games.

Robert Morris Colonials (3-5, 1-0 NEC)

The Colonials have the unique distinction of having won every game at home and have lost every game on the road. December 17th’s trip to Buffalo resulted in a 79-66 loss. RMU shot over 50 percent from the field but had three separate players foul out and 31 total fouls which contributed to the Bulls having a huge advantage at the line. Chaz McCrommen led all scorers with 22 points and Maurice Carter added sixteen. RMU returned to the Sewell Center on December 21st and posted a 70-63 win over Maryland Eastern Shore. Again Chaz McCrommon lead the way with 18 points as the Colonials started the game with a 7-0 run. UMES fought back to cut the lead to three at a couple points during the game but could get no closer. In the next game out on December 28th at Duquesne, RMU fell behind 6-0 to start the game but managed to come back and take a 29-28 lead in the first half. But the Dukes used a 17-8 run to close the half. In the second half, the Colonials would cut the lead to five before the Dukes broke the game open. Aaron Thomas had 23 points and ten boards for his fifth career double-double. Its on the road on Saturday as RMU takes on Eastern Kentucky before returning home to face Bucknell on Wednesday.

Sacred Heart Pioneers (4-5, 1-0 NEC)

The Pioneers split their last two games which both came on the road. On December 20th, SHU beat Albany 75-69. The Pioneers held the lead much of the first half but could not distance themselves from the Great Danes. The lead was one at the break and that same trend continued until the midpoint of the second half when Albany took it’s first lead of the game. The two teams traded leads until the 2:30 mark when Maurice Bailey hit a three to give the Pioneers the lead for good. James Samuels led four players in double figures with nineteen points and Kibwe Trim had a double-double with 15 points and eleven rebounds. On December 29th, the Pioneers traveled to Wisconsin to face one of last year’s Final Four participants Marquette. The Pioneers jumped out to an early lead but Marquette soon took control and led by as much as fifteen in the first half. But the lead was only eleven at the break. SHU used an early run in the second half to cut into the lead. With 5:41 to play, the lead was merely one at 62-61 but the Golden Eagles answered with a 6-0 run and held off the Pioneers down the stretch. In the 77-72 loss, Maurice Bailey, Jarrid Frye and Kibwe Trim all reach double figures. Conference games greet the Pioneers this week, traveling to Monmouth on Saturday and Wagner comes to town on Wednesday.

St. Francis NY Terriers (3-6, 1-0 NEC)

The Terriers started this past stretch of games with two straight defeats. December 17th brought a 61-53 loss to Binghamton. SFNY shot only 29 percent in the second half but used free throws to stay in the game and found themselves trailing by only two late. But the Bearcats made their free throws and forced a key turnover to hold the Terriers at bay. John Quintana led the team with 21 points off the bench but the starters scored only seventeen the entire game. On December 20th, Quintana again led the team with 22 points but the Terriers dropped a close one to Penn State. SFNY used 14 Nittany Lion turnovers to take a four point into the half. The Terriers extended their lead to eleven at 48-37 before Penn State started chipping away. The Nittany Lions took the lead for good with 7:59 to play and used hot shooting down the stretch to ice the game. SFNY bounced back on December 23rd and picked up its first conference win over Mount St. Mary’s. Four different players scored at least fifteen points, including sixteen a piece from John Quintana and Eric Thompson, as the Terriers used a 47 point second half to bury the Mount. SFNY made it two straight with a 78-76 overtime win over Cornell on December 29th. John Quintana was fouled as he attempted a game-tying three with 0.4 seconds to go. He calmly nailed all three free throws to tie the game at 69 and send it into overtime. In the extra frame, Mike Wilson gave the Terriers the lead with the last of his nineteen points and John Quintana hit a free throw with 0.8 seconds remaining to give the Terriers the 78-76 win. Quintana led the Terriers this time with 24 points. The showdown with Quinnipiac at Madison Square Garden is Saturday and SFNY play their final non-conference game of the season Tuesday at Army.

St. Francis PA Red Flash (3-5, 0-1 NEC)

The Red Flash won their last two games before a two week break that extends into the new year. On December 18th, the Red Flash used a hot second half to come from behind to defeat American 75-63. Darshan Luckey led the way with 23 points but it was Sonny Benton who scored seven of his seventeen points in a key 16-6 run that gave SFPA the lead for good. On December 21st, the Red Flash made it two in a row with a 66-62 victory at VMI. Leading by one with less than a minute to play, the Red Flash hit four straight free throws down the stretch to ice the game. Jason Osbourne had a double-double with eighteen points and twelve rebounds. Darshan Luckey had 21 points to lead the team and earned NEC player of the week honors for his efforts. The Red Flash return to action on Saturday with a trip to Cornell and then face Nebraska to close out the non-conference season on Tuesday, also on the road.

Wagner Seahawks (3-7, 0-0 NEC)

After a slow start, the Seahawks finally appear to have turned the corner under new head coach Mike Deane. Wagner opened the season with six straight losses, including a 83-62 setback at Florida State on December 18th. In that game, the Seahawks kept it close in the first half and trailed by only seven at the break but an 18-0 Seminole run in the second half squashed any thoughts of winning. Then the Seahawks ripped off three straight wins. The first came over NAIA power Georgetown KY on December 20th 63-60. Wagner led by ten at the break and by as many as twelve in the second half before a cold stretch allowed Georgetown to get back in the game and ultimately take the lead. Trailing by three with a minute and a half to play, Doug Viegas hit both end of a one-and-one and Courtney Pritchard who had missed the better part of the previous two games came away with a big steal which led to a bucket and the lead. Georgetown could not find the basket on their last couple possessions and the Seahawks had their first win. Viegas led the team with thirteen points and Pritchard chipped in with nine points and six assists, including the big assist on the winning basket. A big blow was discovered after the game when Viegas had to go to the hospital and be treated for a lacerated kidney; he is expected to miss the rest of the season. The Seahawks picked up their next win over Chicago State on December 22nd. Trailing by six in the second half, they used a 13-4 run to seemingly take control of the game. But the Cougar’s Royce Parrin hit a three pointer as time expired to tie the score and send it into overtime. But Wagner controlled the extra frame and won the game 75-68. Pritchard had eighteen points, nine of which game in the run at the end of regulation. Teoine Carroll had 22 points with a couple big threes in overtime to put the game out of reach. The last of the three wins came over Albany on December 30th 69-59. The Seahawks trailed by 21 points in the first half but rallied to cut the lead to twelve at the break. In the second half, Pritchard again sparked a key run. This time he scored ten points in a 12-2 run that would give his team the lead for good. January 2nd marked the final non-conference game against Lehigh and the Seahawks hoped to bring a four game win streak into conference play but it was not to be. Wagner had an eight point lead just before halftime but a 29-4 run that spanned the two halves buried them. The Seahawks fought back to make the game respectable but could not dig themselves completely out of the huge hole. Courtney Pritchard had 22 points on 8-15 shooting in the 64-59 loss but the rest of the team shot a miserable 29 percent. Conference play begins on Wednesday with a trip to Sacred Heart.

     

Atlantic Sun Notebook

by - Published January 6, 2004 in Conference Notes



Atlantic Sun Conference Notebook

by Doug McKinney

What a week it’s been for the Atlantic Sun. Well, mostly for Belmont.
That’s right the Bruins of Belmont capped one of the biggest wins in school
and conference history, upsetting Missouri, 71-67. The Bruins had four
players score in double figures to get their first ever win over a ranked
opponent. It took six tries for the Bruins to accomplish the feat.

Sharing the Honors

The National Championship title of college football is not the only thing
being shared in the world of sports. Seniors Josh Bodden (Central Florida)
and Steve Drabyn (Belmont) share Atlantic Sun Player(s) of the week this
week. Bodden held averages of 19.5 points and 9.0 rebounds through a span
of two games last week, while Drabyn helped lead the Bruins to upset
Missouri with 16 points and has moved up to fifth place on Belmont’s career
three-pointers list with 226.

Belmont (7-3, 2-1)

The Belmont Bruins have a lot of good things going for them. Not only did
they beat Missouri, but Belmont has found themselves at 7-3 overall, 2-1 in
the A-Sun, and with a four game home winning streak. Adam Mark, Jese
Snyder, Steve Drabyn, and Nick Otis all scored in double figures to lead
Belmont over Mizzou. After their win at Missouri, the Bruins used momentum
to knock off Jacksonville, 70-54. Senior forward Adam Mark has been the
driving force for the Bruins. The 2003 Atlantic Sun Male Student-Athlete of
the Year is averaging over 18 points and 7 rebounds this year. Belmont
played Monday against Stetson and will travel to A-Sun foe Troy State on
Jan. 8 before waiting nine days to play their next conference game, when
they’re pitted with Florida Atlantic.

Campbell (0-10, 0-3)

After the letter B comes the letter C. Translation, after the great report
about Belmont basketball, comes time for Campbell’s report. And
unfortunately for Camel fans, the news isn’t good. The Camels find
themselves winless not only in conference play but overall. Campbell, who
was picked to finish 10th in the Atlantic Sun, can only smile at the fact
that they are one of four teams that are winless in conference play in the
A-Sun. The Senior-Freshmen guard tandem of Tarick Johnson and Anthony
Atkinson are producing about a third of the team’s scoring. That’s not
going to get the job done.

Central Florida (8-2, 3-0)

The Golden Knights had a hot winter break and that’s not because they’re
based in Orlando, Florida….but because they’ve won six straight. UCF had
three players score in double figures as they routed Georgia State 70-60 for
their third A-Sun victory. Josh Bodden led the Golden Knights with 15
points and 8 rebounds. UCF will be on the road this week when they travel
to face at Stetson (Jan. 9) and Jacksonville (Jan. 11)

Florida Atlantic (6-4, 3-0)

FAU started the season off losing to South Florida and Georgia, but have won
their last six out of last eight games. The Owls are averaging 82 points a
game where most of the credit go to upperclassmen Mike Bell (20.0 ppg),
Pierre Tucker (14.3) and Earnest Crumbley (13.3). Up next for the Owls is
inter-state road trips to Jacksonville (Jan. 9) and Stetson (Jan. 11).

Gardner-Webb (3-8, 0-2)

The Bulldogs are one of the four winless teams in the Atlantic Sun and are
still trying to find their identity. GWU has started 8 different players in
their starting line-up and must play well on their upcoming road trip.
Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, they won’t play at home again until Jan. 17.

Georgia State (6-4, 1-2)

At this time last year the Panthers found themselves at 4-6 and legendary
coach Lefty Driesell handed the head coaching duties over to then associate
head coach Mike Perry. This year Georgia State, the Atlantic Sun Preseason
champions, are 6-4 and have started off 1-2 in conference play. Junior Nate
Williams is chipping in 14 points a game for the Panthers, as they’re
getting senior leadership from guards Kevin Thomas (12.1 ppg) and Trello
Galloway (10.1)

Jacksonville (5-4, 0-2)

With the exception of the double overtime loss to Troy State, Jacksonville
has gotten blown out in their other three loses. The good news is the
Dolphins have back to back conference home games coming up this week. The
bad news, those home games are against undefeated A-Sun opponents. The
Dolphins are winless in the A-Sun and need more help other than David Lee
and Haminn Quaintance.

Lipscomb (4-7, 1-2)

The Bisons defeated Stetson giving them their first Atlantic Sun victory of
the year. However, their next three games are against the undefeated teams
of the Atlantic Sun. The Bisons are in their first year as a member of the
Atlantic Sun conference, but won’t be eligible to compete in the conference
tournament. Led by Brian Fisk and James Poindexter, the Bisons might give
some Atlantic Sun teams some problems this year, though.

Mercer (5-7, 2-1)

The Mercer Bears are on of the many college basketball teams riding on a
roller coaster season this year. After losing by 57 points to Alabama the
Bears dropped another game, this time to conference foe FAU. Before the
pair of loses, Mercer was riding a four game winning streak. Before the
winning streak, came a five game losing streak. Go figure. If the Bears
start playing consistent basketball, though, they could be a serious threat
for the Atlantic Sun title. The Bears have a very balanced offensive attack
led by five players that are averaging over 10 points a game, including
Scott Emerson’s 19 points a game. Not to mention, Emerson is pulling down
around 9 rebounds per game. If the Bears play consistent they’ll enjoy a
ride to the top; if not, they’ll be plummeting down Splash Mountain.

Stetson (2-6, 0-2)

Right now the only good news for the Hatters is that they will host first
and second round regional action of the men’s NCAA tournament. The last win
for the Hatters was all the way back in well, November, when they won their
first two games of the year. That means the Hatters has lost six in a row.
Young and energetic head coach Derek Waugh looks to have a rebuilding season
on his hands as next year he’ll get a pair of transfers from Tulane and
Richmond.

Troy State (7-3, 3-0)

Closing out the trio of undefeated teams in the Atlantic Sun is the mighty
Trojans of Troy State. Two of the Trojans losses came to respectable
program, but a loss to the Christian Brothers University doesn’t look good
on their record. Other than that, the Trojans have a lot of good things
going for them. Much like Mercer, Troy State has the luxury of having five
players average double figures in scoring. The 1-2 punch combo of senior
forwards Rob Lewin and Kendrick Johnson are averaging a total of around 32
points and 16 rebounds a game total. Also, the Trojans have the pleasure in
hosting two conference games this week, when Belmont and Lipscomb come into
town.

     

Missouri Valley Notebook

by - Published January 6, 2004 in Conference Notes



Missouri Valley Conference Notebook

by Neal Heston

Beware of Dogs

Dr. Tom and the Drake Bulldogs were tabbed to finish ninth in the Missouri Valley this season. It doesn’t look like anyone has told them yet.

Drake (5-5) pulled off a shocker in Kansas during a 71-60 upset over Wichita State on Saturday. The win evened the Bulldog’s MVC record at 1-1 as they pounded the MVC’s preseason favorite. WSU fell to 1-1 in conference play.

Take away a horrid first half against Southern Illinois last month and the Bulldogs could be sitting at 2-0 in MVC play. Not bad for a squad that is dominated by underclassmen, with just one senior on the roster. The youthful Bulldogs are growing up quickly as they have played right along with two powerhouses in the conference.

WSU (8-4) was able to end the game on an 8-0 run to finish with some respect, but just like the contest with Southern Illinois, Drake came out hot after halftime. Freshman Nick Grant was good for 19 points in the contest, and sophomore Josh Powell added another 14 along with ten boards for the Bulldogs.

Drake’s defense recorded at least 20 turnovers for the fourth time in five games as Wichita State was forced into a season-high 25 miscues. The Bulldogs, ranked second nationally in steals, are 3-2 in those five games.

The young Bulldogs are beginning to raise some eyebrows as only one of their five losses has been by more than ten points. A strong week that included two wins and a Player of the Week honor by Josh Powell now has Drake on the right path. The road gets a lot bumpier though as Bradley and unbeaten Creighton appear on the schedule this week.

SIU streak snapped; Creighton still running

The Charlotte 49ers walked on the Salukis’ home court last week and accomplished a feat no other team had in three years – they beat the Salukis on their home court, 64-59, ending SIU’s 31-game home winning streak. A late rally by SIU fell short in front of a shocked Saluki crowd.

Creighton now holds the MVC’s longest home-winning streak and the nation’s third longest at 25 games. Currently, the Bluejays aren’t too concerned with their home-winning streak; they’ve got a nice 10-game win streak to start the season.

MVC Player of the Week:

Josh Powell, Drake

After averaging more than 13 points in the Bulldogs’ two wins this week, sophomore Josh Powell earns the MVC Player of the Week. He recorded a double-double in Drake’s huge win over Wichita State.

MVC Newcomer of the Week:

Erik Crawford, Northern Iowa

Sophomore guard Erik Crawford has been getting it done on all parts of the court during Northern Iowa’s five-game winning streak. For the second time this season, he is the MVC Newcomer of the Week. Crawford has been averaging double figures in scoring the last two games, is putting up seven rebounds a game and has hit 12 of 13 from the free throw line.

MVC Notes

Bradley (8-5 / 1-1)

The offense is seriously missing the presence of Phillip Gilbert. The Braves have put up only 52 and 49 points this week in a win and a loss. Marcellus Sommerville took charge, recording a double-double in a defensive struggle with Indiana State on Saturday. He tallied 17 points with 11 boards in the 52-42 victory. Creighton manhandled BU on Monday night, 66-49. Bradley stuck with the Bluejays for much of the first half but just couldn’t hold on. Sommerville sunk 12 points in the loss.

A road trip is on tap for this week to Des Moines to face a tough Drake squad and to Evansville, where the Purple Aces are looking to get on the winning track.

Creighton (10-0 / 2-0)

Southwest Missouri State almost handed Creighton its first loss of the season, but the Bluejays were able to rally back in their conference-opener for a 59-54 win. Brody Deren and Kellen Miliner led the Creighton attack with 11 points apiece. CU took advantage of a Bradley team minus Philip Gilbert on Monday for a 66-49 victory. Brody Deren recorded a double-double with 15 points and a career-high 14 boards.

Creighton will travel to Illinois State on Jan. 7 and will host Drake on Jan. 11.

Drake (5-5 / 1-1)

A poor free-throw shooting performance last week that cost the Bulldogs a victory was put behind them this week during two strong wins. In their first game, the Bulldogs held on for dear life as they saw a 12-point lead evaporate to Cleveland State. Five players scoring in double figures propelled Drake to victory though, 83-80. The youthful Bulldogs shocked Wichita State – and the conference for that matter, in a dominant 71-60 win over the Shockers. Freshman Nick Grant rose off the bench to score 19 points.

Bradley will head to Des Moines on Jan. 8. From there the Bulldogs will head to Creighton on Jan. 11 and try to snap the Bluejays’ home-winning streak.

Evansville (1-9 / 0-2)

Someone stop the bleeding; the Purple Aces are reeling, having dropped five in a row. Unlike most of the earlier losses, these last two contests weren’t even close. No player reached double figures in a 72-52 loss to Indiana State on New Year’s Eve, and luck wasn’t any better in Cedar Falls during an 80-67 loss to Northern Iowa on Saturday. Matt Webster led the way against Northern Iowa with 17 points.

The Braves will try to get on track this week, but it won’t be easy. Home dates with Bradley and Southwest Missouri State loom.

Illinois State (4-6 / 0-2)

The Redbirds almost took down #20 Illinois but couldn’t hold on and lost in overtime, 80-73. Illinois rallied from a deficit to force overtime and took control from there. Marcus Arnold led the Redbirds with 23 points, and Trey Guidry added another 16.

Just one game is on the schedule for this week, a road contest at Indiana State on Saturday.

Indiana State (5-5 / 1-1)

Jerod Adler scored a career-high 13 points against Evansville, and Amani Daanish added another 13 as the Sycamores continued their run of domination over the Purple Aces. The game was no contest as ISU took a 40-18 halftime lead and cruised to a 72-52 victory. Saturday was another story. No Sycamore could reach double figures in scoring during a 52-42 setback to Bradley. David Moss did bring in 10 rebounds.

ISU will have two home games this week with Southern Illinois on Jan. 7 and Illinois State on Jan. 10.

Northern Iowa (7-3 / 2-0)

The Panthers are enjoying their longest winning streak in four years after wins over Siena and Evansville. Ben Jacobson took control against Siena with 16 points and six assists in the 82-70 win. Five Panthers reached double figures in a game where UNI led by as many as 25. UNI controlled Evansville and held off a late rally by the Purple Aces. Erik Crawford led the Panthers in scoring with 19 points.

UNI will try to extend its winning streak on the road this week at Wichita State on Jan. 8 and Southwest Missouri State on Jan. 11.

Southern Illinois (8-2 / 2-0)

The new year started on a sour note for the Salukis as they dropped their first home contest in three years to Charlotte, 64-59. Three Salukis reached double figures in scoring as the Salukis tried to rally, but it wasn’t enough to extend the home-winning streak.

SIU will face two teams coming off of bad losses this week: a trip to Indiana State on Jan. 7 and a home contest with Wichita State on Jan. 11.

Southwest Missouri State (8-5 / 0-2)

The Bears are still searching for their first MVC win after a 59-54 setback to Creighton. SMS shot 52% in the first half to take a 31-27 lead but couldn’t hold on during the second frame. Merrill Andrews tallied 17 points for SMS and Monwell Randle tacked on another 11.

SMS will travel to Evansville on Jan. 7 and will host Northern Iowa on Jan. 11.

Wichita State (8-4 / 1-1)

2003 ended on a sour note, and 2004 hasn’t been any better thus far. Though Jamar Howard recorded a double-double with 21 points and 11 points last Tuesday, Oral Roberts slipped past the Shockers, 76-73. Things went very wrong on Saturday as WSU committed a season-high 25 turnovers in a 71-60 loss to Drake.

Wichita State will try to get back on track and live up to their preseason hype this week as they host Northern Iowa on Jan. 8 and travel to Southern Illinois on Jan. 11. Fox Sports Net will televise the game with SIU on Jan. 11.

     

Hoop Fool Comic

by - Published January 6, 2004 in Featured



Conference USA Notebook

by - Published January 6, 2004 in Conference Notes



Conference USA Notebook

by Zach Van Hart

Upsetting the SEC again

Knocking off the best in the SEC is no longer just the job of No. 12 Louisville. While LSU was not ranked No. 1, (they are not even in the Top 25), the Tigers were 8-0 coming into their game against Houston. The Cougars promptly knocked LSU from the ranks of the unbeatens with a 60-52 win.

Houston starting out the game with an 18-5 run and never trailed, taking a ten-point lead into the half. Andre Owens, after his 41 point outburst against Texas A&M Dec. 27, finished with eighteen points for the Cougars. Lanny Smith led the Cougars with nineteen points. The win capped off Houston’s first five-game win streak since the 1997-98 season.

The Cougars came back to earth against Louisiana Lafayette, losing 81-67. It was Houston’s second road game of the season, which they have lost both. Houston is by no means a contender for the C-USA title, but their proved they can at least hang with just about anyone in the conference and could pull off an upset or two.

Big week for the Billikens

Saint Louis is one of those teams that is going to hang around in every game, no matter who they are playing. Teams like that are dangerous, as both Dayton and Kansas State found out last week. The Billikens improved to 7-4 after winning on the road against previously ranked Flyers, 60-49, before winning a nail biter at home, 65-64, against the Wildcats.

After a slow first half, the SLU offense exploded for 41 points during the second half against Dayton. Coming again with only seven players, the Billikens had just eight assists but countered by hitting 20-of-28 free throws. The Flyers died by the three-point shot, making only 6-of-29 treys.

Against Kansas State, Saint Louis trailed by five late before Chris Sloan hit a three-pointer with 27 seconds remaining. After the Wildcats missed the front end of a one-and-one, Josh Fisher converted a three-point play with only 0.8 seconds remaining, giving the Billikens the thrilling victory.

Quietly, one of the most exciting and consistent player in C-USA this year has been Saint Louis junior Reggie Bryant. The 6-foot-2 guard is averaging 17.9 points per game. After missing the first three games of the season, Bryant has been great in the eight games he’s played in. During the past four games Bryant has averaged 20 points per game.

Not fool’s gold

Charlotte has notched a big win on the road, beating the defending national champions. They have won by large margins and squeaked out wins in overtime. They have halted 30-plus home game winning streaks. Now, they have completed their best non-conference schedule under head coach Bobby Lutz. It appears that the 49ers are a legitimate contender for the C-USA title.

With scoring inside from Curtis Withers and Eddie Basden and scoring outside from Demon Brown and Brendan Plavich, the Niners are a very balanced squad that does not depend on a scoring style, let alone one particular player. Look out for the 49ers as the conference schedule starts.

Injury update

UAB’s Morris Finley has returned from his shoulder injury, playing 27 points and hitting his first three-pointer in a month against South Alabama Saturday. While he is still not 100 percent, he is getting very close.

DePaul’s Andre Brown missed his third-straight game, Saturday against Chicago State, with soreness and discomfort in his knee. Brown’s return date is still uncertain.

Charlotte’s Brendan Plavich missed the Niners’ game against Southern Miss with a hamstring pull. Look for Plavich to be in action against DePaul Tuesday.

Louisville’s Francisco Garcia bruised his left knee during the Cards game against Toledo Tuesday, sitting out the second half. But he played with no pain during the Cardinals’ win against Murray State Saturday.

Player of the Week

Curtis Withers, Charlotte

Withers averaged 20.5 points and 10.5 rebounds during the 49ers’ two wins last week, including a 64-59 win on the road against Southern Illinois. Withers is filling in a big role in the middle for Charlotte and his 10.0 rebound average is third in the conference.

The rest of C-USA

Cincinnati (9-0)

The Bearcats cruised in their final tune-up of the season, beating Elon 102-63 Tuesday night at the Fifth Third Arena. Balance has been the key all season for Cincinnati and their win against Elon was no different. Six players scored in double digits, led by Jason Maxiell’s double-double of nineteen points and ten rebounds. Eric Hicks, Jason White and Tony Bobbitt each scored thirteen points of the bench. The Bearcats shot 57.8 percent from the field, including 65.5 percent during the first half. Cincinnati also finished with a season-high 28 assists. Up next – at Tulane, Jan. 7.

DePaul (7-4)

Despite the absence of Andre Brown, the Blue Demons won both of their games last week, both in close fashion. Against SE Missouri State, DePaul won 57-50 before holding off crosstown rival Chicago State, 81-74. Against the Indians, the Blue Demons trailed 48-46 before finishing the game on an 11-2 run. DePaul struggled against Chicago State, which owns a poor 1-13 record, but held on for the win. C-USA’s leading scorer Delonte Holland continued his great season, scoring 21 and 24 points, respectively, during the Demons’ two wins. Up next – against Charlotte, Jan. 6.

East Carolina (8-2)

After defeating Radford easily at home, 87-50, the Pirates saw their five-game winning streak snapped on the road Saturday, losing to Mississippi 65-49. Against Radford, Derrick Wiley scored a season-high 26 points, leading for Pirates in double digits. Against the Rebels, ECU traveled outside of Mingis Coliseum for just the second time this season, and left with their second loss. Mississippi scored the first nine points of the game and never looked back. Wiley promptly responded after his 26 points with his season-low, only scoring four on the road. The Pirates went cold from the field, hitting only 17-of-49 shots. Up next – against UAB, Jan. 7.

Louisville (9-1)

The No. 12 Cardinals coasted to two home victories last week, defeating Toledo 92-56 and Murray State 91-69. Two things became evident last week for Louisville: Francisco is just as dangerous when he doesn’t score and Larry O’Bannon is starting to become another integral part of the Cards attack. Against Murray State and former Louisville assistant coach Mick Cronin, Garcia dished out a school-record fifteen assists, to go along with seventeen points and seven rebounds. Garcia is now second in C-USA in assists, averaging 6.4 per game. O’Bannon scored a career-high 20 points against the Racers and has averaged fourteen points per game during the Cards’ last three wins. Up next – against Southern Miss, Jan. 7.

Marquette (9-2)

The Golden Eagles, the last team out of the Top 25, won its third home game by five points or less against a weak opponent Monday, defeating Sacred Heart 77-72. The Pioneers, after trailing big early, got the lead down to one, 62-61, with less than six minutes remaining, but Travis Diener made a big three-pointer and big free throws late to seal the win for Marquette. Diener led the Eagles with 22 points and six assists. It has become apparent that Diener is the only Marquette player who consistently shows up every game. While Steve Novack, Scott Merritt and Terry Sanders are all talented players, all three tend to disappear from time to time. Up next – at Houston, Jan. 7.

Memphis (8-2)

Just like Marquette, the Tigers have been winning the close games. Last week Memphis won its third straight game by six points or less, knocking off pesky Oakland at home, 69-63. Playing with essentially six players, the Tigers were led by freshman Sean Banks’ 20 points on 8-of-14 shooting and Jeremy Hunt’s season-highs of fifteen points and nine assists. Oakland stayed in the game by hitting 11-of-26 three pointers. Up next – at Villanova, Jan. 6.

USF (6-5)

The Bulls won the USF Holiday Classic last week, defeating South Alabama 78-67 before coming back to beat New Orleans 66-61. A balanced attack led the Bulls against South Alabama, as four players scored in double digits and as a team USF shot 61.5 percent from the field. Against the Privateers, the Bulls employed a rarely-used 3-2 zone defense to spark an 18-1 run during the second half, keying the win. Free throws were the key for USF, going 16-of-20 from the charity stripe. Up next – against No. 12 Louisville, Jan. 10.

Southern Miss (7-4)

It’s becoming pretty obvious what the Golden Eagles problem is this season – playing away from Hattiesburg. Southern Miss is now 7-0 at home and 0-4 on the road after splitting its games last week. The Eagles lost handedly on the road at Auburn, 78-60, before winning during the waning seconds against New Orleans 61-59. Jasper Johnson, after a poor performance against the Tigers, hit a jumper with 0.8 seconds left to win in dramatic fashion against the Privateers. Up next – at No. 12 Louisville, Dec. 7.

TCU (4-7)

The Horned Frogs played twice last week and neither game was close. Against Grambling Monday, TCU scored a season-high 99 points, winning 99-71. Marcus Shropshire scored a season-high 26 points and Corey Santee nearly finished with a double-double, scoring eleven points and dishing out nine assists. Then against No. 22 Vanderbilt, the Horned Frogs gave up a season-high 95 points, losing 95-60. The Commodores had five players in double digits and Shropshire never showed up for TCU, getting shutout. Up next – against Saint Louis, Jan. 7.

Tulane (6-4)

The Green Wave snapped a three-game losing streak by defeating Nicholls State 61-56. Like all season, Tulane won with a team effort, as Ben Benfield led the team in scoring with thirteen points. Both teams struggled shooting the ball, each hitting only eighteen shots from the field. Do not expect to see the Green Wave in any high scoring shootout games as conference play starts this week. Up next – against No. 11 Cincinnati, Jan. 7.

UAB (7-4)

The Blazers wants nothing to do with the MAC for the rest of the season. Lucky for them, the only way they will play another team from the mid-major is if they play one in a postseason tournament. UAB dropped its second game of the season to a MAC team, again on its home court, losing 68-66 to Marshall. The Blazers recovered by defeating South Alabama Saturday, 90-75. Mark Patton hit two free throws with 0.4 seconds remaining to clinch the win for the Thundering Herd. Against South Alabama, Gabe Kennedy led four UAB players in double figures with nineteen points. Up next – at East Carolina, Jan. 7.

Games to watch

Charlotte at DePaul, Tuesday at 8:30 p.m.

The first C-USA game of the season is a good one. The 49ers have already proven it can win on the road. The health of Andre Brown and Brendan Plavich are big factors for each team.

UAB at East Carolina, Wednesday at 7 p.m.

This is a big game for both teams for different reasons. The Blazers have been inconsistent all season but finally look healthy now that Morris Finley is back. East Carolina has fallen apart in January the past two seasons.

Memphis at Southern Miss, Saturday at 5 p.m.

The Golden Eagles are 7-0 at home this season. Memphis has been playing everyone close, regardless if they are ranked or unheard of. This will be a battle of opposites: the big men of Southern Miss versus the guard play of Memphis.

     

Big 12 Notebook

by - Published January 6, 2004 in Conference Notes



Big 12 Conference Notebook

by Zach Ewing

It’s that time of year again, time for the cupcake schedules to end and the real college basketball season to begin. And in the country’s heartland, it’s no different. Kansas travels to Boulder, Colo., to take on the Colorado Buffaloes in the first Big 12 league game of the season Monday night on ESPN. The best thing about it? It all gets better from here.

A bad week in the North

At the start of last week, Colorado, Iowa State, Kansas State and Missouri were a combined 24-6 on the season, for a winning percentage of .800. Last week, those schools went 1-6, with losses to such teams as Richmond, Missouri-Kansas City and Belmont.

Tuesday night started the barrage on the teams in the Big 12’s North. Kansas State, winless on the road, traveled just a couple of hours west on I-70 to play Missouri-Kansas City, a team they had defeated in the teams’ first 14 meetings. UMKC pounded the Wildcats 93-52. K-State shot only 36 percent and committed 18 turnovers, while UMKC jumped to a 14-4 lead en route to a 40-22 halftime lead.

As if that weren’t enough for one night, if you had traveled two more hours west on I-70 on to Columbia, you would have witnessed another shocker: Belmont 71, Missouri 67. The Tigers lost twice last week to fall from grace, but both losses were by a combined three points and against good teams away from home. This, on the other hand, was in the Hearnes Center and against the Belmont Bruins from the Atlantic Sun Conference. The Tigers nearly avoided the upset with a 12-2 run to tie the game at 59, and two Rickey Paulding three-pointers in the final minute to get within 69-67, but Adam Mark rebounded a Belmont free-throw miss with eight seconds left to seal the win.

On Wednesday, Colorado pulled out a dud in the second half and lost to Richmond 75-62, and Iowa State suffered its first loss of the season at Virginia. Then on Saturday, K-State and Iowa State both lost again, to St. Louis and San Diego State respectively. If you’re counting, that’s six losses by four teams in seven games, with four of those losses coming to teams from non-major conferences. Ouch.

OK performances from Oklahoma schools

At the All-American Classic on Saturday in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State pulled an impressive sweep over Princeton and Southern Methodist.

OU’s win, although only by a 58-55 margin, was a good one because the Sooners were able to overcome Jabahri Brown’s injury earlier in the week and hang on for a tricky victory over a determined Princeton squad. The Sooners improved to 10-0 on the season with a match-up at Connecticut looming on Sunday.

As for Oklahoma State, the win was impressive for different reasons. A lot of reasons. Six Cowboys scored in double figures as OSU pounded SMU 89-54. The Mustangs had been 2-0 against Big 12 teams (Texas Tech and Baylor) this season, but Oklahoma State used a 28-9 run to end the first half to leave no doubt in this one. The Cowboys shot 60 percent from the field in the romp.

A lot of folks in Oklahoma are salivating while they wait for the continuation of the Bedlam Series, which happens on Jan. 14.

Baylor’s woes continue

As if things could get any worse for the Baylor Bears… Coach Scott Drew is now down to just five scholarship players (ten overall) after senior starters R.T. Guinn and Terrance Thomas were declared academically ineligible. Thomas led the team with 18.6 and 8.0 rebounds per game, and Guinn averaged 11.2 points and 5.2 rebounds a game. The Bears responded with a good performance in a loss against Purdue, but wins from now on will be hard to come by for Baylor.

Conference Predictions

Now that the non-conference slate is over save for a few intriguing match-ups (Texas and Oklahoma against UConn, Missouri against Syracuse), it’s time to catch up on what we’ve learned so far. Here are my predictions for the final Big 12 standings:

1. Kansas – take out one hiccup against Nevada, and the Jayhawks have been the best team in the league
2. Oklahoma – the only undefeated team left, but the Sooners are too young to win it all
3. Missouri – despite a rough start, the Tigers have tremendous talent; this prediction might even be too low
4. Texas – the Longhorns need to continue to give the ball to P.J. Tucker
5. Texas Tech - first Big 12 team to 12 wins, including Iowa and Minnesota
6. Oklahoma State – extremely balanced, but can the Cowboys win on the road?
7. Nebraska – impressive start, including a blow-out of Minnesota on the road
8. Colorado – the Buffs have talent, but are way too inconsistent to compete every night in the Big 12
9. Iowa State – a freshman backcourt might hold this talented team down
10. Kansas State – losing by 41 to UMKC was a bad sign
11. Texas A&M - the Aggies are lucky Baylor is in this league
12. Baylor – five scholarship players may equal winless Big 12 season

Big 12 Player of the Week

Andre Emmett, Texas Tech – averaged 22 points in wins over Minnesota and Ohio State and has his Red Raiders streaking into conference play

Big 12 Freshman/Newcomer of the Week

P.J. Tucker, Texas – averaged 24.5 points and 10 rebounds per game in Texas’ two wins

Around the Big 12

Baylor Bears (5-7)

Harvey Thomas led the Bears with 16 points in their 76-65 loss to Purdue on Saturday, but Scott Drew has to be concerned with the grueling schedule ahead. Baylor starts Big 12 play at Texas on Saturday with no depth whatsoever – four Bears played at least 36 minutes against the Boilermakers. Tommy Swanson stepped up with 14 points, but even a 15-5 second-half run only brought BU within eleven.

This week: Tuesday vs. Texas-Pan American, Saturday at Texas

Colorado Buffaloes (6-3)

After CU had a big home winning streak snapped against Utah, they turned it into a losing streak by falling to Richmond on Wednesday. The Buffs led 50-49 but the Spiders answered with a 15-4 run. Mike Skrocki led Richmond with 20 points, including 5 three-pointers. Even the positives had a downside to them for Colorado. Junior center David Harrison had 18 points and 11 rebounds, but he landed hard on his shoulder going for a rebound late in the game and may not be at 100 percent for the Big Monday match-up with Kansas, a game where the Buffs will find a lot out about their chances in the Big 12 this year.

This week: Monday vs. Kansas, Thursday vs. Savannah State, Saturday vs. Northern Colorado

Iowa State Cyclones (7-2)

The Cyclones had a dream start to the season after a nightmare of an off-season, but they came crashing from the ranks of the undefeated with two losses last week. First, on Wednesday, ISU led Virginia on the road 64-57 with about nine minutes left, but the Cavaliers went on a big run to win 85-74. Devin Smith, who scored 25 points, put Virginia ahead for good with a three-pointer with 3:43 to play that made the score 72-70. ISU out-rebounded the Cavs 40-23, but committed 23 turnovers and only forced 5.

Then, on Saturday, San Diego State dealt Iowa State another loss. ISU led 44-43 with 14:40 to play, but SDSU went on a 19-6 run to seal the victory. Freshman Curtis Stinson scored 27 in a losing effort. Next week is vital for the Cyclones.

This week: Wednesday vs. Missouri, Saturday vs. Nebraska

Kansas Jayhawks (8-2)

KU enjoyed its first home game in nearly three weeks by pounding Binghamton 78-46 on Monday. The Jayhawks started the game on a 19-2 run and never looked back. On Friday versus Villanova, however, Kansas got a bit more of a challenge. The game was tied 38-38 at halftime, and even after the Jayhawks got out to a 66-48 lead, the Wildcats came back to pull within five with less than three minutes left. KU used good free-throw shooting to seal the win, however, and Keith Langford and Wayne Simien combined for 47 points. A downside to the victory was the fact that only six Kansas players scored. A lack of depth may hurt the Jayhawks down the stretch.

This week: Monday at Colorado

Kansas State Wildcats (7-3)

What an awful week in Manhattan, as the K-State football team got beat in the Fiesta Bowl three days after UMKC pounded the Wildcats on the hardwood in Kansas City. KSU tried to rebound Saturday versus Saint Louis, and did with a better performance but not with a win. Kansas State held a commanding 64-59 lead with 1:20 to play, but Chris Sloan hit a three for the Billikens and then, with eight seconds to play, Josh Fisher completed a three-point play to put SLU up 65-64. Reggie Bryant, who scored 25, sealed the win with a steal with two seconds left. Cartier Martin, who had 19 points, was the only Wildcat in double figures.

This week: Saturday vs. Savannah State

Missouri Tigers (5-4)

The loss to Belmont was a new low for the Tigers, despite 21 points from Rickey Paulding and 18 from freshman Linas Kleiza. Coach Quin Snyder responded by shaking up the starting line-up for the first time this season, starting freshman Thomas Gardner and sophomore Kevin Young in place of senior Josh Kroenke and preseason Big 12 player of the year Arthur Johnson.

Saturday, it still didn’t look as if MU would be able to rebound against Iowa, as Paulding and Johnson were held to 11 points combined, with Paulding shooting 0-of-9 from the field. However, Kleiza dropped another 18 points to go with 9 rebounds and Travon Bryant added 14 points, and Mizzou blew out the Hawkeyes 76-56. All 12 Tigers in uniform scored, as MU’s bench outscored Iowa’s bench 40-9.

This week: Wednesday at Iowa State, Saturday vs. Texas A&M

Nebraska Cornhuskers (9-1)

It was a slow week but a good week in Lincoln, where there is still no football coach but there is a good basketball team. The Huskers left the state for the first time all season and beat Minnesota 77-60 on Monday. Nebraska used 6 three-pointers during a 24-6 second-half run that made the score 65-47, and NU shot 52 percent to only 33 percent for Minnesota. Nate Johnson scored 25 points and Brian Conklin added 17, with both players coming off the bench.

This week: Tuesday vs. St. Francis (PA), Saturday at Iowa State

Oklahoma Sooners (10-0)

In an otherwise uneventful 72-57 shellacking of Texas Pan-American on Monday, Kelvin Sampson and OU got a scare when Jabahri Brown was kicked in the jaw early in the game. Brown played only 10 minutes, but came back on Saturday to play 30 minutes against Princeton with a mouthpiece in. Brown scored 6 points in a 58-55 win. The Sooners got out to a 10-point lead in the second half but suffered through a six-minute scoring drought until Jason Detrick made two free throws with 33.9 seconds left. Ed Persia missed a three at the buzzer for the Tigers, and OU can rest up as an undefeated team until they play No. 1 Connecticut on Sunday.

This week: Sunday at Connecticut

Oklahoma State Cowboys (9-1)

Samford jumped out to a 9-0 lead in Stillwater on Tuesday night, but Oklahoma State responded with a run of its own to take a lead at halftime and then used two big second-half spurts to win 65-50. Tony Allen (19 points) and Joey Graham (15 points) led the Cowboys to the victory.

Saturday, the Cowboys led by as many as 37 in blowing out Southern Methodist 89-54. Graham, Allen and Daniel Bobik all scored 14 points, but balanced scoring is nothing new for OSU. Six players average more than 10 points a game for Eddie Sutton, something that will make the Cowboys very hard to defend come conference play. Saturday’s game against Texas Tech will be great to watch and have a big effect on the conference race in the early-going.

This week: Tuesday vs. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Saturday at Texas Tech

Texas Longhorns (7-2)

It was a coming-out party for freshman P.J. Tucker in Austin. After Duke held Tucker scoreless in blowing away Texas 89-61, the big man exploded with 27 points and 15 boards in an 88-72 win over George Washington on Monday. He scored 6 of UT’s 11 points in an 11-0 run to start the game and finished the night 12-of-16 from the field. Tucker continued to dominate despite getting into foul trouble early against Texas-Arlington. He had 22 points and 5 rebounds in the game and Texas shot 61 percent as a team in the first half. The final score was 99-79.

This week: Monday at Providence, Saturday vs. Baylor

Texas A&M Aggies (6-4)

The Aggies got 19 points from both Antoine Wright and Jesse King as they continued a patsy schedule with a 75-67 win over Louisiana-Monroe. A&M out-rebounded the Indians 43-16, shot 54 percent and got out to a 16-2 lead, but still couldn’t put Monroe away. In the good news department, another scoring threat emerged for the Aggies: Leandro Garcia-Morales shot 4-of-4 on three-pointers and scored 14 points.

This week: Tuesday vs. Long Island, Saturday at Missouri

Texas Tech Red Raiders (12-2)

Bobby Knight went back to his old stomping grounds this week as his team improved to 3-0 against the Big Ten this season with wins over Minnesota on Thursday and Ohio State on Sunday. Five Tech players scored in double figures, including Jarrius Jackson with 20 and Andre Emmett with 17, and the Red Raiders shot 58 percent to pull away from Minnesota in an impressive second half. The final score was 90-73, and Knight thanked the season-high crowd of 10,524 for showing up on New Year’s Day after Knight had reprimanded the community for poor support earlier this season.

Against Ohio State, Emmett exploded, scoring 27 points and pulling down 11 rebounds to lead four Raiders in double figures. TTU won 80-72 even though the Buckeyes took 26 more shots than Tech. Ohio State was 26-of-79 while the Red Raiders were 32-of-53. A 10-0 run that put TTU up 57-52 was the key to a hard-fought second half in Columbus.

This week: Saturday vs. Oklahoma State

Five games to watch

Kansas at Colorado, Monday – the first Big 12 game and a gauge for Colorado

Missouri at Iowa State, Wednesday – the Cyclones have exceeded expectations while the Tigers have disappointed. Does that mean ISU can spring the upset?

Oklahoma State at Texas Tech, Saturday – OSU’s balanced scoring against TTU’s great defense

Nebraska at Iowa State, Saturday – which of these two surprises is for real?

Oklahoma at Connecticut, Sunday – a win puts OU squarely in position as Big 12 favorite and Final Four contender

     

Missouri isn’t Done

by - Published January 6, 2004 in Columns



Missouri Fans: Nothing to Worry About

by Doug McKinney

It’s been a tough week for Missouri fans. As Tiger fans try to get the
after taste of a 14-27 loss to Arkansas in the Independence Bowl out of
their system, it’s been painful for them to turn their attention back on the
hardwood. Ever since a December 13 loss to Gonzaga (80-87), Missouri (5-4,
0-0) has lost their last four out of six games and in their latest setback,
a shocking 67-71 loss to Belmont (I know what you’re thinking, who?), Mizzou
fans even booed their beloved Tigers. Hold on a second Mizzou fans.

While there is no reason the Tigers should be playing this bad as of late,
there is also no reason the Mizzou faithful has anything to worry about.
Yes, I know the Tigers were ranked in the top 5 in the preseason by every
publication out there (they were 4 in Hoopville) and now they’re not even
ranked in the top 25. And yes, I know there is no way they should be losing
to teams like Belmont (once again, who?). And even with all the allegations
of coach Quin Snyder running a dirty program (The Ricky Clemons story…that’s
a whole ‘nother issue), I’m still going to say Missouri fans: You have
nothing to worry about. I said this at the beginning of the season, and
I’ll say it when they’re struggling: The 2003-2004 edition of Missouri Tigers
basketball is still a favorite to win it all.

Let’s look at some of the reasons why Mizzou is still a contender.

1. Quin Snyder

Snyder quickly became a fan favorite after his rookie
campaign in 99-00, when he took the Tigers to the NCAA tournament and has
been doing so every year since. With his young look and exciting style of
play, fans have been flocking to the Missouri bandwagon, and why shouldn’t
they? After all, Snyder knows how to win. In his second year at Mizzou,
Snyder took his improved Tigers squad to the second round, followed by an
Elite 8 appearance in 01-02. Last season the Tigers had the daunting task
of facing Final Four team Marquette in the second round and lost in a hard
fought battle. Nevertheless, not only does Snyder know how to get his team
to the postseason, but he also knows how to get his team to win in the
postseason play. Most importantly, Snyder knows how to get his team out of
this position. It starts with the coach people.

2. Missouri’s returning group from last year

The Tigers return over 80
percent of their scoring and over 90 percent of their rebounding from last
year. And in that group is included guards Ricky Paulding, Josh Kroenke,
and Jimmy McKinney; frontcourt members Arthur Johnson and Travon Bryant.
All five of these players are so talented, that any one of them would start
on any other team in the nation. Guaranteed.

3. Insert Jason Conley

A VMI transfer, Conley gives the Tigers yet another
scoring threat. The 6’5 junior guard is a multi-dimensional scorer who has
the ability to hit the three ball as well as penetrate the lane to create
scoring opportunities. He hasn’t had too many opportunities to showcase his
talent yet, but don’t you worry. He will soon enough.

Now that you know why Mizzou is still a contender, we can look at a number
of factors in what they have to do in order to be successful. We know they
have a great core of players and a great coach, but if they do the following
they’ll be in good shape.

1. More Bench Production

In their loss to Belmont, the Tigers got one
measly point from their bench. One point?!?! Yes, so that means out of the
67 points they scored, 66 came from their starters. In their loss to
Memphis, the bench only supplied five points; in their loss to Illinois the
Tigers could only manage six bench points; and you get the idea. And look
at the stats when they win. When Mizzou beat Iowa, they got 40 points from
their bench. Forty points will help the Tigers out much more than uno.

2. Big 12 is a Big Deal

One of the problems being one of the nation’s top
teams is that Mizzou is in one of the nation’s elite conferences. Big 12
action starts Wednesday when Missouri travels to face Iowa State before the
Tigers come back to Columbia and host Texas A&M. It’s essential they start
off hot and gain confidence before they face teams like Oklahoma and Kansas.

3. Insert Jason Conley

You’ve heard about him and I know you’re waiting
for him to breakout, but he hardly gets the ball. Message to Missouri
players: give him the ball! Conley has only 28 attempted field goals this
year. Only 28? Geez, the guy led the nation in scoring at one point. Give
him the ball and you guys will win.

Please people, don’t buy into the off court issues for Missouri, it’s has
nothing to do with the Tigers play as of late. They’ve got what it takes to
make a run for the title and that’s what’s important. So to the infamous
Antlers of Missouri and company keep on cheering you beloved Tigers.
Because when March comes, Missouri fans won’t remember what tough weeks are
like.

     

ACC Notebook

by - Published January 6, 2004 in Conference Notes



Atlantic Coast Conference Notebook

by Michael Protos

ACC/SEC Challenge?

One of the more intriguing series of games in the early season is the
ACC/Big Ten Challenge, but the ACC has owned the challenge each season. This
year, circumstance has three of the ACC’s elite teams playing against SEC
teams in the same week. Apparently an official ACC/SEC Challenge would be
equally lopsided as the SEC won all three games.

The marquis game put No. 10 North Carolina on the road to No. 8 Kentucky.
The Tar Heels frustrated the Wildcats and their fans for the first half and
a smattering of boos greeted the Wildcats as they left the floor at halftime
trailing 28-20. But coach Tubby Smith rallied the troops and Kentucky shot
lights out in the second half. North Carolina coach Roy Williams responded
by benching all of his stars in favor of the reserves in hopes of slowing
down the Wildcats.

In the end, Kentucky hit the clutch shots while North Carolina could not hit
any shots. The Tar Heels failed to make a field goal for nearly six minutes
late in the second half. Kentucky’s Gerald Fitch led the Wildcats to a 61-56
victory as only two Tar Heels reached double-figures. The game was
competitive, but neither team managed to play well for 40 minutes. Both
teams have work to do before the NCAA Tournament, or else higher seeds could
easily upset these teams.

Kentucky and Florida have both reached No. 1 in the polls this season while
no ACC team can make that claim. No. 14 Florida played No. 23 Florida State
this week in Gainesville, Fla., and showed why the Gators reached the top
spot. Anthony Roberson broke through Florida State’s solid defense for 28
points and Florida put up 87 points on the Seminoles, winning 87-73. Florida
State could not withstand Florida’s athleticism and energy, which forced 21
turnovers by the Seminoles. Florida State, which lacks a marquis victory on
its resume, needed to win this game.

The last ACC/SEC match up should have been the most winnable game for the
ACC. No. 2 Georgia Tech traveled to Athens, Ga., to play its rival, Georgia.
Neither team could establish dominance, but the Bulldogs led for most of the
second half. The Yellow Jackets came back, though, behind B.J. Elder’s 25
points, and forced overtime. Twice. But in the end, Georgia’s Jonas Hayes
was too much and guided the Bulldogs to an 83-80 victory. Hayes finished
with 25 points.

These games come early in the season but mean a lot for March. Although,
Georgia Tech, Florida State and North Carolina all have the talent to
dominate conference play and earn a top seed in the tournament, the SEC made
a statement this week about which conference is stronger. Come March, the
tournament committee may need to decide between an SEC team and an ACC team
for a top seed. These games could easily sway the committee’s decision in
favor of the ACC.

Every game has meaning in college basketball.

Coach K: 600 Served at Duke

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski won his 600th game as the head coach for the No.
3 Blue Devils when Duke blasted Clemson, 73-54, Jan. 3. Krzyzewski becomes
only the 13th coach in NCAA men’s basketball history to win 600 games at the
same school. His record at Duke stands at a gaudy 600-176. Coach K has 673
wins in his career, which includes a 73-59 mark in five seasons as coach of
Army. Coach K needs 207 more wins to break the all-time Division I coaching
record of 879 set by Dean Smith of North Carolina. In the previous seven
seasons at Duke, the Blue Devils have won 214 games.

Tar Heel Infirmary Report

Last week against UNC-Wilmington, junior forward Jawad Williams received an
elbow to the head. Later reports confirmed that Williams suffered a
concussion, and he missed the No. 10 Tar Heels’ game against Coastal
Carolina Dec. 30. Williams played against No. 8 Kentucky, but he was shut
down by a stingy Kentucky defense. The Tar Heels need Williams to shake out
the cobwebs and play effectively because he has emerged as one of North
Carolina’s most reliable leaders.

Meanwhile, another critical piece of North Carolina’s lineup, sophomore
forward Sean May injured his left ankle against UNC-W. X-rays did not reveal
a fracture, but May wore an air splint earlier this week as a precaution.
The Tar Heels’ postseason hopes are as thin as their lineup. Without May and
Williams, this team will limp through conference play. But if they stay
healthy, this team is as good as any in the country.

Georgia Tech Sets School Record

Prior to losing to their instate rival, Georgia, Jan. 3, the No. 2 Yellow
Jackets set a new school record by beating Virginia Commonwealth Dec. 29.
Georgia Tech established their best start in school history by stretching
their record to 12-0. The Yellow Jackets’ momentum could not carry them
through two overtimes at Georgia, where Georgia Tech has not won since 1976.

Cavalier Back On Board

Virginia gains some more frontcourt depth with the addition of junior
forward Jason Clark. Clark rejoined the team this past week. He has not
practiced with the team this season, but he averaged 4.7 points and 2.5
rebounds per game last season. More importantly, he averaged nearly 16
minutes a game and was the team’s defensive player of the year, so Clark is
capable of providing some productive floor minutes for a young and shallow
Virginia team.

Player of the Week

Julius Hodge, NC State

Junior guard Julius Hodge played 39 of 40 minutes against UNC-Wilmington and
helped NC State win 68-50 by scoring 24 points, grabbing 12 rebounds,
dishing out five assists and stealing the ball four times. Hodge is a
dominant player at both ends of the court and when he takes over games, the
Wolfpack usually win.

Rookie of the Week:

Chris Paul, Wake Forest

Guard Chris Paul stepped up to lead his team when Wake Forest needed a jump
start against Nevada. Paul finished with 18 points, six assists and five
steals to lead the Demon Deacons to a 70-61 victory.

ACC Coach Watch:

Mike Krzyzewski, Duke

Coach K earns a spot on the watch this week for winning his 600th game at
Duke. Krzyzewski seems to build dominant teams every year and with another
top-rated recruiting class coming in next year, the Blue Devils figure to
remain one of the best teams in the nation for years to come. It will only
be a few more seasons before people seriously talk of Coach K becoming the
all-time Division I coaching leader.

Team Reports

Clemson Tigers (7-5, 0-1) Last week: 1-1

The Tigers welcomed future-ACC member Boston College to Littlejohn Coliseum
Dec. 30 and won a critical game 72-62. Clemson has few good wins this season
and a victory over the Eagles would support a case for the Tigers to make
the NCAA Tournament – if they also win at least 11 conference games. The
Tigers have struggled at times in the early season, but new coach Oliver
Purnell had Clemson ready to shut down Boston College. Freshman guard Vernon
Hamilton fell one assist short of a triple-double for the Tigers, finishing
with 19 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists. Hamilton offers the Tigers a
glimpse of a bright future.

But the future was delayed against Duke. The Blue Devils shut down Hamilton
and the rest of Clemson’s squad. The Tigers shot under 40 percent and
committed 16 turnovers. Junior forward Sharrod Ford led Clemson with 12
points. JuCo transfer Lamar Rice played well, scoring 11 for the Tigers.
With the emergence of Rice and Hamilton, Clemson may find a strong rotation
that will allow the Tigers to upset a few of the ACC’s heavyweights – just
not Duke last week as the Blue Devils stormed Clemson for a 73-54 victory,
giving coach Mike Krzyzewski his 600th victory at Duke.

This week, Clemson travels to No. 4 Wake Forest Jan. 10.

No. 3 Duke Blue Devils (10-1, 1-0) Last week: 2-0

The Blue Devils bombarded Davidson with three-pointers in a Dec. 29 matinee.
Duke shot over 40 percent from beyond the arc, making 11 three-pointers en
route to an 88-54 drubbing of Davidson. Sophomore J.J. Redick lit up the
scoreboard with 6-of-10 shooting from three-point land. Redick led all
scores with 22 points. Freshman forward Luol Deng scored 18 points,
supporting his bid for ACC rookie of the year.

Duke was efficient in defeating Clemson 73-54. Junior guard Daniel Ewing led
Duke to victory with 19 points, but three other Blue Devils also reached
double-figures. Sophomore forward Shelden Williams continues to play well
with 12 points, seven rebounds and three blocks. Duke’s frontcourt limited
Clemson’s trio of talented forward to only 21 points. Senior forward Chris
Hobbs did not score a single point.

Duke hosts Fairfield Jan. 6 before traveling to Charlottesville, Va., to
play Virginia Jan. 11.

No. 24 Florida State Seminoles (12-2, 1-0) Last week: 1-1

Florida State prepared for a clash with instate rival Florida by beating up
on an instate creampuff – Stetson. The Seminoles won 87-72 behind 17
three-pointers. That’s more than half of the scoring for Florida State.
Senior guard Nate Johnson shot 6-of-6 from three-point range to lead Florida
State with 20 points. Ten players logged at least 10 minutes for Florida
State and seven of them made at least one three-pointer.

Despite the Seminoles’ hot start, they have played few of the nation’s elite
teams. The game against No. 14 Florida was a must-win for Florida State to
earn a spot among the ACC’s elite. But Florida State’s vaunted defense
crumbled under the full-court running game played by the Gators, who won
87-73. Florida shot better than 50 percent and only turned the ball over 12
times, two statistics that Florida State usually dominates. The Seminoles
committed 21 turnovers to fuel Gator fast breaks. Sophomore guard Anthony
Roberson was unstoppable, scoring 28 points. Senior guard Tim Pickett led
the Seminoles with 25 points, but only one other Florida State player
reached double-figures.

Florida State has a week to figure out how to stop teams that like to run
before hosting another one in NC State Jan. 11.

No. 2 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (12-1, 0-0) Last week: 1-1

Georgia Tech stretched its season-opening win streak to 12 games when the
Yellow Jackets defeated Virginia Commonwealth 86-65. Georgia Tech forced 20
turnovers and fed off the hot shooting of senior guard Marvin Lewis who
drained 5-of-9 three-pointers to finish with a game-high 19 points. If Lewis
can stay hot, the Yellow Jackets should fare well in conference play.
Georgia Tech has a solid eight-man rotation but needs its sharp-shooters to
step up in crunch time, and ACC games have a tendency to come down to crunch
time multiple times a week.

But the nation’s hottest team ran out of steam against instate rival
Georgia. Georgia Tech has not won in Athens, Ga., since 1976 and must wait
for another year to try again because Georgia won 83-80 in two overtimes.
Jonas Hayes led Georgia to victory with a career-high 25 points. Junior
guard B.J. Elder matched Hayes’ 25, but the Yellow Jackets could not get
consistent support from the rest of their lineup. Junior guard Will Bynum, a
transfer from Arizona, scored 15 points, his highest total at Georgia Tech.
The Yellow Jackets lost the battle on the boards, 40-33, which facilitated
Georgia’s upset victory.

Georgia Tech will be the last ACC team to open conference play when the
Yellow Jackets take on the Tar Heels in Chapel Hill, N.C., Jan. 11.

Maryland Terrapins (8-3, 0-1) Last week: 1-0

Maryland dominated Mount St. Mary’s from start to finish, winning 89-56.
Maryland’s defense frustrated the opposing shooters as Mount St. Mary’s shot
under 30 percent and committed 17 turnovers. Most importantly, the Terrapins
dominated the boards, outrebounding Mount St. Mary’s 49-32. Senior forward
Jamar Smith continued to build a case for ACC player of the year by
registering 14 points and rebounds. Sophomore guard John Gilchrist led
Maryland with 16 points and added six rebounds and assists.

The Terrapins wrap up their non-conference schedule this week against
Maryland-Eastern Shore Jan. 6.

NC State Wolfpack (7-2, 1-0) Last week: 1-0

Despite struggling from beyond the arc, the Wolfpack ran over
UNC-Wilmington, 68-50. The Seahawks kept the game close until the second
half. NC State held UNC-W to 35 percent shooting. The Wolfpack leaned on
their stars as junior guard Julius Hodge scored 24 points and grabbed 12
rebounds while senior forward Marcus Melvin scored 22 points. Hodge played
all but one minute of the game. The Wolfpack are well-prepared for each game
as free-throw shooting demonstrates. NC State made 20-of-24 free-throw
attempts.

The Wolfpack face a tough non-conference foe in BYU Jan. 7 before traveling
to Florida State Jan. 11.

No. 10 North Carolina Tar Heels (8-2, 0-1) Last week: 1-1

The Tar Heels entered a potentially devastating game against Coastal
Carolina without forwards Sean May and Jawad Williams. A loss to the
Chanticleers could possibly have shuttled North Carolina out of the rankings.
So in a time of need, sophomore guard Rashad McCants responded by scoring 28
points, which ties his career-high. Fellow super sophomore Raymond Felton
scored 11 points and dished 11 assists to lead North Carolina to a 105-72
blowout of Coastal Carolina without two stars.

May and Williams returned to the Tar Heels’ lineup against Kentucky. But
both struggled against Kentucky, combining for only 11 points. North
Carolina stymied Kentucky in the first half, holding the Wildcats to 20
points. The Tar Heels built a 10-point second half lead before the Wildcats
caught fire, led by senior guard Gerald Fitch’s 21 points. Junior guard
Melvin Scott continues to be a major player for North Carolina, leading the
team with 16 points. But Felton was the only other starter to reach
double-figures and North Carolina could not buy a bucket toward the end of
the game as Kentucky held on for a 61-56 win.

The Tar Heels host soon-to-be ACC member Miami Jan. 7 then try to win their
first conference game against Georgia Tech Jan. 11.

Virginia Cavaliers (9-2, 0-1) Last week 1-1

The Cavaliers have a strong record but have played few good teams this year.
Last week, Virginia hosted two of the best non-conference opponents on the
Cavaliers’ schedule in Iowa State and Providence. Iowa State entered the
game undefeated and looked to beat Virginia inside. But senior forward Devin
Smith refused to let Virginia fold without a fight. Smith led a 19-5 run
late in the second half and the Cavaliers won 85-74. Iowa State obliterated
Virginia on the boards, outrebounding the Cavaliers 40-21. But Virginia
forced 23 rebounds and made 8-of-18 three-pointers.

Virginia could not stop junior forward Ryan Gomes when the Cavaliers played
Gomes’ Providence Friars. Gomes scored 27 points and the Friars shot nearly
60 percent from the field while Virginia shot just over 37 percent. Junior
forward Elton Brown led Virginia with 16 points in a 84-69 loss. Despite
forcing 24 turnovers, Virginia could not capitalize as the Cavaliers
committed 20 turnovers of their own.

Virginia plays William and Mary Jan. 5 before hosting Duke Jan. 11.

No. 4 Wake Forest Demon Deacons (9-0, 1-0) Last week: 2-0

Forcing 27 turnovers, the Wake Forest Demon Deacons used a balance attack to
beat North Carolina A&T 91-67. Wake Forest used 15 players in the game, but
sophomore center Eric Williams led the charge with 17 points and six
rebounds in 18 minutes. The Aggies remained winless while Wake Forest
remained undefeated.

Wake Forest struggled for much of the first half against Nevada but finished
strong to win 70-61. The Demon Deacons typically score at will behind the
dominating inside game of Williams and their dangerous perimeter shooters.
Freshman guard Chris Paul led Wake Forest with 18 points and six assists.
Wake Forest’s defense did not create fast break opportunities to light up
the scoreboard, but the defense helped the Demon Deacons work back into the
game and then pull away in the end. Nevada shot under 36 percent and
committed 19 turnovers.

Wake Forest plays Brown Jan. 6 and Clemson Jan. 10.

     

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Big Ten Notebook

by - Published January 6, 2004 in Conference Notes



Big Ten Notebook

by Alan Rubenstein

How I Spent My Winter Vacation

The month of December regularly brings holidays parties, company outings, sweets and visits with old friends. The Big Ten basketball teams spent the final weeks of the year taking those traditions to heart. Match-ups with traditional and in-state rivals, some cupcakes and a few road trips is how the Big Ten teams have spent the final weeks of 2003.

With Christmas break and finals dotting the College landscape in late December, most of the Big Ten teams had light schedules. Three marquee games took the spotlight the last two weeks.

Wisconsin and Marquette met for the 110th time when the Golden Eagles made the trip west on I-94. It looked like Marquette might make it easy, jumping out to an early 9-0 lead. Scoring droughts of their own ultimately did the Eagles in. Marquette would finish with at least five droughts of 2:30.

The Badgers hounded Marquette in the second half. The Eagles shot only 30 percent from the field after hitting on 56.5 percent of their shots in the opening 20 minutes. The Badgers’ defense down the stretch was a key element to victory. With the Badgers up one, Mike Wilkinson forced Marquette’s Scott Merritt into a travel with 22.4 seconds left.

Marquette’s last chance crumbled when Steve Novak missed a three with 13 seconds remaining. Alando Tucker grabbed the rebound and hit one of two from the line to secure the Badgers’ 19th consecutive home win.

Tucker played his first extended minutes of the season in his third game after returning from a broken foot. Following 12-minute stints in each of his first two games, the sophomore star logged 31 against the Golden Eagles. Tucker finished with 17 points and six rebounds. Devin Harris’ all around game marched on with 15 points, five assists and four rebounds and Wilkinson provided the dirty work with nine points and 10 boards.

The win was Bo Ryan’s 50th at Wisconsin and came on his birthday. The Badgers now have a 32-2 record at Kohl in Ryan’s tenure. With the win, Ryan became the fastest Badger coach to 50 wins.

Indiana has been dominated by Kentucky during the Rick Pitino and Tubby Smith eras. This year’s match up was one of the most lopsided in the series’ history.

Kentucky was able to extend a six-point halftime lead to 15 with a 9-0 run to open the second half and never let up outscoring the Hoosiers 48-15 in the final 20 minutes. Bracey Wright and Sean Kline were the only Hoosiers of significance. Wright finished with 23 and Kline with 15.

The Hoosiers were able to shake off the embarrassment against Kentucky to post a victory over Morehead State in Bloomington just prior to Christmas. Freshman Pat Ewing jr. contributed 12 points and 12 rebounds in his first career start. The Hoosiers were able to post the victory despite a sub par game from Bracey Wright. Wright finished with 19 points on 8-23 shooting. A.J. Moye finished with 14 points and six rebounds and Marshall Strickland had his best game of the year with 20 points on 6-7 shooting from beyond the arc.

Illinois continued its monopoly on braggin’ rights when it won the annual Braggin’ rights game with Missouri for the fourth straight year. For the third straight time, both teams entered the game in the top 25.

The first half looked like Illinois was going to have laughing rights to match their Braggin’ rights. The Illini forced the Tigers to miss 13 of their first 16 shots and held a 40-19 lead late in the first half.

Missouri was able to make a run in the second half when Travon Bryant tied the game with a three-pointer with 1:28 to go in regulation. When James Augustine responded with a lay-up 30 seconds later, the Illini grabbed the lead for good. Dee Brown’s free throws in the final 39 seconds secured the victory.

The win was Illinois’ fifteenth in the last 23 against Missouri and made Bruce Weber the fourth straight coach to win his first braggin’ rights game.

Penn State’s Jan Jagla became the first Nittany Lion in more than three years to win the Big Ten Player of the week. Jagla captured the honor after hitting for 18 points and 17 rebounds in the Lions victory over Arkansas State in the first round of the Lobo Invitational. The double-double was Jagla’s fourth on the year. He currently is in the top five in the Big Ten in scoring, rebounding, blocked shots and free throw percentage.

After three straight losses, Penn State was able to earn victories over St. Francis (NY) and Arkansas State. Against the Terriers, the Nittany Lions rallied from an 11 point second half deficit to post the win. Penn State used a 35-25 advantage on the boards and 59.5 percent shooting to overcome 23 turnovers. Jagla led the Lions with 17 and Marlon Smith and De Forrest Riley-Smith helped out with 14 each. Riley-Smith also grabbed nine rebounds.

The victory over Arkansas State is Penn State’s most impressive of the season. The Indians had entered the game 8-1. The Lions won the game by kicking up the defense a few notches. They forced the Indians into missing 16 of their first 17 shots and held them to 7-36 from three-point range. In addition to Jagla’s brilliant performance, Ndu Egekeze’s had his best night of the year with 15 points and 15 rebounds. Riley-Smith’s 22 points led Penn State.

Northwestern’s Vedran Vukusic earned the award the previous week playing every minute in a NU win over Arizona State and a Cat loss to Illinois-Chicago. The sophomore from Croatia finished the week averaging 24.5 points, hit 16-27 from the floor, 8-13 from three-point range and 9-11 from the line.

Against the Sun Devils, the Wildcats used a length of the floor runner by Tony Parker at the buzzer to garner the upset. Jitim Young had forced a jump ball with 4.6 seconds left to give the Wildcats possession. Young finished with 12 points, nine rebounds and four assists and Parker 12 points and eight assists. NU was able to keep their composure after losing a 13-point second half lead. ASU All American Ike Diogu was the only Devil in double figures with 23 points and 14 rebounds.

After entering the break down two to UIC, Northwestern wilted in the second half in a 90-71 loss. Three Flames crossed the twenty-point barrier. Aaron Carr led NU’s area rivals with 21 and Armond Williams and Cedric Banks finished with 20 each.

Young and Vukusic mustered the majority of the offense for NU. Vukusic’s 27 were a career high and Young added 23.

Minnesota posted its fourth consecutive victory with a 74-65 overtime win against Duquesne. The extra session was the second one at home against a team the Gophers were expected to handle easily. They had to play an extra five minutes against Furman earlier this season. Kris Humphries continued to lead the Gophers finishing with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Adam Boone had one of his best games in a Gopher uniform with 21 points and seven assists. Minnesota rallied from an 18-point second half deficit and didn’t lead until 2:07 remained in overtime.

Iowa renewed its season after a 13-day layoff when Steve Alford met Bob Knight for the third time. They have never met twice while at the same schools and this was their first meeting in four seasons.

The Hawkeyes limped into the half down 39-27. They were able to claw their way back into the game by holding the Red Raiders scoreless during a six-minute stretch midway through the second half. The 52-48 deficit was as close as the Hawks would get. Texas Tech pulled away and captured the 65-59 victory.

Pierre Pierce with 18 and Jeff Horner with 11 were the only Hawkeyes to finish in double figures. Texas Tech will make a return trip next season when the two teams will match-up in Chicago.

Michigan spent the Christmas holiday in the middle of a five game home stand. Led by Lester Abram’s career high 24 and Bernard Robinson Jr’s 22 points, five assists and seven rebounds, the Wolverines posted an 85-75 victory over Central Michigan.

Michigan seized control of the game early, holding the Chippewas to two points in the first nine minutes. A 23-0 run in which Michigan scored on every possession further extended the lead. The Wolverines would settle in at the half with a 50-32 lead.

Central Michigan nearly capped off a spectacular comeback by cutting the Michigan lead to 78-75 with 2:23 remaining. The Wolverines were able to pull away by hitting their free throws to capture the victory. J.C. Mathis’13 rebounds were his best in a Michigan uniform.

Delaware State was the next Wolverine victim. For the second straight game, Michigan raced to a big lead before having to hold on for a late 55-50 victory. The Wolverines led by as many as 19 and held a 30-14 lead at the half. Daniel Horton scored six of Michigan’s last ten points after going scoreless in the game’s first 36 minutes.

Lester Abram led the Wolverines with 12, while Dion Harris had 11 and Bernard Robinson 10. Terrance Hunter scored 18 of his 22 in the second half for the Hornets.

UCLA made their inaugural visit to Ann Arbor for a nationally televised game. The Wolverines and Bruins exchanged runs to open the contest. Michigan scored the first eight points of the game before UCLA responded with a 12-0 run of their own to take their first lead. A 6-0 Michigan run would put the Wolves back on top. Two late threes by Daniel Horton allowed big blue to take a 36-28 advantage to the locker room.

Michigan maintained an 8-10 point margin for most of the second half before a late run by UCLA cut the deficit to three. The Wolverines captured the win by nailing their free throws down the stretch. As they have all year, Michigan used a balanced offense to fuel the win. Four Wolverines finished in double figures led by Harris with 19 and Robinson with 17.

Shaking up the starting lineup to provide energy and a new perspective seems to be the growing fad in the Big Ten. After a three game losing streak to Duke, Oklahoma and Kentucky, Tom Izzo inserted reserves Tim Borgrakos and Jason Andreas as Michigan State posted a 73-60 victory over South Florida. The game marked the first time in two years that Alan Anderson and Kelvin Torbert did not start.

The new look sparked the Spartans to an 18-4 lead, and an 18-1 finish in the first half en route to a 42-19 lead at the break. The Spartans fifth lineup this season provided them with a 36-8 advantage off the bench. Torbert finished with 17 and Anderson 10 as five Spartans finished in double figures. Paul Davis had 12 points and 11 rebounds and Chris Hill contributed 14.

Lack of offense hurt Michigan State again, as they dropped their fifth game this season with the national spotlight on them. Playing in front 75 former Bruins to honor the inauguration of John and Nell Wooden court at Pauley Pavilion, MSU dropped a 64-58 decision to UCLA.

Abysmal shooting ultimately did Michigan State in. They could only manage 35 percent shooting and shot just 8-24 from three-point range. UCLA overcame 16-34 from the free throw line by making 50 percent from the floor and 6-10 from three. Chris Hill with 17 and Paul Davis with 14 were the only Spartans able to generate offense.

Purdue captured their opener in the Blockbuster invitational with an 80-69 victory over Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne. Matt Kiefer posted a career-high with 25 and was supported by Chris Booker with 17. Gene Keady grasped his 496th career victory in the first meeting between the instate rivals.

The shocker from West Lafayette came in the Championship game. After scorching Miami (OH) for 35 points in the first round, SMU’s Bryan Hopkins managed only four against the Boilermakers. Two came on a lay-up with 25 seconds left to put SMU ahead as the Mustangs captured a 60-59 victory. Two misses by Kenneth Lowe in the final seconds denied the Boilermakers their 12th straight title. Their last loss in the Boilermaker classic was to Wisconsin-Green Bay in 1991.

SMU’s zone frustrated Purdue throughout. The Boilers settled for outside shots and wound up hitting only 36 percent for the night. Lowe earned the tournament’s most valuable player after scoring 19 in the championship game.

Ohio State’s up and down season continued with a 75-59 loss at Seton Hall. A late 17-3 dash saved the Buckeyes from an even worse fate. Using nine three point field goals and a 24-5 advantage to open the game, the Pirates bolted to a 41-19 lead at halftime. The loss snapped the Buckeyes three-game winning streak.

Ohio State coach Jim O’Brien became the latest Big Ten coach to shake up his lineup when he replaced four starters for a visit from Eastern Illinois. Velimir Radinovic was the only starter who maintained his spot against the Panthers and his 16 points placed him as the only Buckeye in double figures in the Buckeyes 69-50 victory.

In addition to Radinovic, O’Brien used three former walk-ons and seldom used junior forward Matt Marinchick to open the game. When the former starters entered the game and the Buckeyes up 11-7 the Value City arena crowd greeted them with a loud chorus of boos. Asked after the game why he replaced four starters O’Brien replied “I think the message was sent loud and clear tonight, this (team) is a blue collar operation.”

O’Brien kept nearly the same starters for the Buckeyes 71-58 victory over Dartmouth a few days later. Tony Stockman came off the bench to score 15 and J.J. Sullinger finished with 10. Ohio Sate used a big advantage in depth as ten Buckeyes reached the scoreboard. A 19-4 run early in the second half extended a 37-34 Ohio State lead to 17.

     

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Your Phil of Hoops

Simply put, Syracuse needs to improve offensively

November 22, 2014 by

syracuse

Jim Boeheim didn’t have many things to say about his team’s offense, but that said it all. It’s at that end of the floor that Syracuse’s fate this season will be determined.

Growing pains are here for talented Brown team

November 20, 2014 by

brown

Brown has good talent and should be a factor in the Ivy League, but with three sophomores starting on the perimeter, growing pains are in the foreseeable future

New season, same challenge for New Hampshire

November 15, 2014 by

newhampshire

It’s a new season at New Hampshire, and while the Wildcats look like they will defend, they also appear to have the same challenge they have had for a long time now: scoring.

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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.

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Recruiting Coverage

New England Prep Schools 2014-15: looking back and looking ahead

November 3, 2014 by

nepsac

With a series of prep school open gym visits in the book and the season not far away, here’s a look back at open gyms and a look forward to the season in the New England prep school ranks.

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.