UMass Big Win At Fordham

by - Published February 17, 2007 in Columns


Minutemen Win Battle Inside Against Fordham

by Ray Floriani

BRONX, N.Y. – For a minute forget the Xs and Os. It wasn’t about offensive sets. The plain and simple reason behind UMass’ defeat of Fordham at Rose Hill tonight came down to two things: defense and rebounding. In his press conference following the 74-59 Minutemen triumph, Fordham coach Dereck Whittenburg referred to those vital points several times.

“Defense and rebounding,” he said. “We didn’t do a good job with either tonight. It’s something we preached to our players the last few days but we just didn’t get it done. Against a talented, experienced team like UMass we have to play well in all facets to have a chance.”

In the first half it appeared the sellout crowd of 3,200 would be treated to a very competitive game. After a slow start, the shots started to fall for the Rams. Bryant Dunston stepped out and hit a few threes and a double-digit deficit was whittled down. Only a UMass trey in the waning seconds allowed the visitors to take a 30-27 lead at intermission.

The second half was another story. The Minutemen went on a 14-4 run over the initial eight minutes to establish a significant lead. More importantly, a tone was set. UMass scored three inside baskets and two treys during that juncture, an example of classic inside-out offense. On the other end, they completely negated any Ram opportunities in the paint, as Fordham scored only two field goals during that stretch, both fifteen foot jump shots.

“It was a great overall effort in a hostile environment,” UMass coach Travis Ford said. “I watched Fordham on tape several times and they are a very good defensive team. Tonight we got help from our bench, that is something you need this time of the year.”

Specifically, that help came from senior swingman Brandon Thomas (12 points) and junior forward Dante Milligan (nine points, 11 rebounds). Among the starters, senior forward Stephane Lasne did appreciable damage with an 18-point, 10-rebound effort.

While UMass bottled up Fordham’s inside game, Ford saw some defensive lapses the first twenty minutes. “We gave up more threes (5) than I wanted,” he said. “On offense we had seven turnovers which was a concern.”

In the second half, UMass was guilty of only three miscues on offense. The Rams did knock down four treys, but they came when the outcome was all but sealed and delivered.

The Rams were led by Dunston, their prime inside threat, with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Two of his four field goals, though, were from beyond the arc. The loss was Fordham’s (13-11, 6-6) fourth straight.

“We still have things (post season) in our reach,” Whittenburg said. “We just have to get back to playing the right way and worry about a game at a time.”

UMass improved to 18-7 (8-3 in conference), tied for second with Xavier and a half game behind Rhode Island in the Atlantic Ten.

Game Notes

  • Chris Lowe gave UMass a good 7-point, 5-assist, 5-rebound outing at the point. “He (Lowe) does a good job but I’m on him a lot in practice,” Ford said. “As good as he is I know he can be even better.”
  • Ford believes 6’9″ senior center Rashuan Freeman (eight points, three rebounds) can wind up in the NBA. “One on one, you have trouble matching up with him,” Ford said. “In the NBA he won’t be double-teamed. I really believe he can make a roster and contribute to some team.” Several NBA scouts were on press row for the contest.
  • Neither Ford nor Whittenburg buys into any talk that the Atlantic 10 is experiencing a down year. “I think we have three teams worthy of NCAA bids,” Ford said. “Maybe the won-lost records don’t stand out as much because we’re so busy beating up on each other.”
    Whittenburg defended the conference, saying,” Marcus Camby is gone, but we go through a change. We don’t have great players like Camby but we have very good teams like Xavier. We have parity unless you want a team to dominate, like St. Joe’s or GW in recent years. All our teams are competitive, which bodes for a good league.”
  • Among the crowd there was a respectable UMass contingent. At halftime one young lady was seen wearing a Kentucky jersey. A UK fan on an icy night on Rose Hill? As she walked past it became clear. The number was five and “Ford” was lettered on the back, a throwback jersey of the UMass mentor’s playing days under Rick Pitino. On mentioning this, Ford noted, “I saw her (the lady in the jersey) when we came out for the second half. I have to say,” he added with a laugh,” I was really impressed.”
  • UMass was coming off a 98-89 setback at Temple on Sunday. What was the reason for the turnaround? “Defense,” Ford answered. “We didn’t play any against Temple. We gave up 98 points but I have to say Temple hit (outside) shots against us like no one has this season.”

On the Baseline

This could probably be labeled “from the baseline to courtside.” A familiar face on press row was Peggy Ann Torney. Peggy graduated from Fordham in 2003. She cheered four years for the Rams and was cheerleading co-captain her senior year. A Bronx resident, Peggy is pursuing her masters in journalism at Columbia University, and covering basketball games is one of her class assignments. “I’m comfortable with writing about basketball,” she said. “I’ve cheered for basketball games for years and learned a lot by watching.” Covering games at her alma mater makes it even more special.

     

America East Notebook

by - Published February 16, 2007 in Conference Notes



America East Notebook

by Phil Kasiecki

Catamounts In Command

With Sunday’s 67-63 win at Albany, Vermont is now in control of the race for the top. The Catamounts, who have won eight straight following Wednesday night’s 90-75 win at Maine, are now 12-1 in America East play and two games up on Albany in the loss column.

There’s more of note with the Catamounts, who have returned to the top of the conference faster than just about anyone could have imagined. After Wednesday night’s win at Maine, the Catamounts are 13-3 on the road and 7-0 away from home in conference play. They lead the conference in scoring, field goal percentage defense and rebounding margin. They have looked like the best team in the conference for much of the season, and now they’ve cleared the way with the win over Albany.

Perhaps most impressive of all is that the Catamounts continued to win without injured forward Joe Trapani, who played six minutes in the win at Maine after missing six games due to injury. The Catamounts won all six games without the conference’s top freshman (out of a deep group of impressive first-year players), so they’ll only be that much better now that he’s back.

BracketBusters Beckons

Albany and Maine will be playing the final non-conference games of the season this weekend as participants in the ESPN BracketBusters event. Albany will be playing a nationally televised game for the second consecutive season on the road at Boise State on Friday night. On Saturday, Maine will travel to Boston to take on former America East rival Northeastern. The teams will get the opponents at home next season as part of the agreement coming into the event.

Terriers Clinch Third

Boston University clinched third place in the conference with its win over Stony Brook on Thursday night. The young Terriers have clearly grown during America East play after non-conference play saw some tough losses and bad showings. They’re playing the kind of defense Dennis Wolff’s teams are known for, and Wolff has been happy with their showings at that end of the floor of late.

While there is some offensive balance, and senior Omari Peterkin and freshman Corey Lowe have led them for much of the season, another freshman, Carlos Strong, has come on of late. Strong scored 30 points last Thursday against Binghamton, going 8-10 on three-pointers and not doing any part of it in a quick spurt, an effort Wolff said was “probably as good a game as a perimeter player has played here since I’ve coached.” Since moving into the starting lineup, Strong has scored in double figures in five straight games and was named the conference’s Rookie of the Week last week. That streak was snapped against New Hampshire, but he came back with 14 in Thursday night’s win against Stony Brook.

Another notable is that the Terriers really seem to get better in the second half of games. They have broken open several games in the second half with their defense and have warmed up shooting the ball. Thusday night was no exception, as the Seawolves tried to rally and made eight of their first 11 shots in the second half before going just 3-19 the rest of the way.

“These kids have a pretty good will to win,” Wolff said after the game. “We let them back in it a little bit, but then we made a lot of good unselfish plays.”

The Terriers’ offensive balance helps make them dangerous, as any of several players are capable of scoring well. The only question is who it will be, as the consistency isn’t there yet. But this is a young team, and that should come.

“We have capable players at every position,” said freshman Tyler Morris, who led the win over Stony Brook with 19 points. “Sometimes guys lose confidence in hitting shots. When we’re all hitting shots and playing confident basketball, it’s very hard to guard us.”

Seawolves Need a Third Option

It’s been a season of growing pains for Stony Brook, which fell to 3-10 with Thursday night’s 68-55 loss at Boston University. Injuries haven’t helped, especially in the frontcourt, as a couple of key players in that unit have had to miss time with injuries. It hasn’t been completely painful, as they have made some gains and beat the Terriers at home about a month earlier.

While the defense has improved and coach Steve Pikiell is satisfied with the improvement, it’s at the offensive end where the Seawolves can get in trouble. Thursday night’s loss showed that they’re vulnerable when leading scorers Ricky Lucas and Mitchell Beauford aren’t on, as they lack a viable third scoring option.

“When Ricky and Mitch play well, we’re in games and we have a chance to win,” said Pikiell. “When they don’t, we really struggle to find that third, fourth, fifth option.”

Freshman point guard Eddie Castellanos has shown promise and might run the team for the next three years, but he’s not a scorer. That’s one thing he’ll need to develop down the line so as to keep defenses honest and keep them from playing like it’s 4-on-5. Classmate Kyle Wright has also had some good contributions and should only get better. They would like to add a shooter to the mix since Lucas and Beauford are more scorers than shooters.

Bearcats Struggle on Defense

After regularly being one of the better defensive teams in America East, Binghamton has struggled at that end of the court this season. Opposing teams are shooting over 44 percent from the field this season, and they have been out-rebounded. They force more turnovers than all but one team, but that hasn’t given them the necessary lift to win some games they have lost.

The Bearcats lost at Boston University despite a gallant effort last Thursday, but rebounded on Sunday to blow out Maine 67-40. Another tough road game awaits on Sunday as they travel to conference leader Vermont.

This will be a team to watch down the line. They have a well-kept secret in junior point guard Mike Gordon and a couple of young big bodies in freshmen Lazar Trifunovic and Miladin Kovacevic (both natives of Belgrade, Serbia) that are only going to get better. The Bearcats have also been bitten by the injury bug, notably sophomore big man Ian Milne, who has missed most of the season after also missing time last season.

Other Notes From Around America East

  • New Hampshire has had some struggles, but give Bill Herrion’s team credit for being able to bounce back a couple of times this season. Sunday’s win over Boston University shows that this team won’t be an easy out.
  • The storm that hit the northeast on Valentine’s Day affected one game, as the Binghamton/New Hampshire game was postponed and rescheduled for Tuesday, February 20 at 7 P.M. It also affected Stony Brook, who played at Boston University on Thursday and couldn’t get on the bus to Boston until late that morning instead of a day earlier.
  • Hartford snapped an eight-game losing streak last week and has now won three straight. They continue to get a fine season from senior Bo Taylor, who had a good week last week and has helped make it easier for the first-year coaching staff.
  • Maine is right with Hartford in the battle for fourth place, tied with the Hawks at 6-8, but the Black Bears are at that point from the opposite end as they have lost three straight games. They appear to have a slightly easier road the rest of the way, as they are at UMBC and face Stony Brook at home, while the Hawks still have to go to Binghamton and Vermont.

     

Horizon Notebook

by - Published February 16, 2007 in Conference Notes



Horizon League Notebook

by Cory Eve

Hearts on Fire

What do you think of that article title? Not only did I make a pun for a Valentines Day article, but I did using a song lyric from any number of the epic movies in the Rocky saga. Let’s stick with this theme of Valentines Day and Rocky by taking a look at some teams and people who deserve some love, and by looking at those less fortunate individuals and teams who aren’t feeling so rosy on this day for lovers.

Who Deserves Some Love?

1. Wright State Raiders – This is a team nobody was talking about heading into league play, and after beating Butler 77-65 on Saturday and Cleveland State 68-55 today, the Raiders are now 13-2 in the conference and one game ahead of the second-place Bulldogs. Going back to the Rocky theme, I think this team could be comparable to Sly in Rocky 3. Clubber Lang (Butler) completely decimates Balboa (Wright State) in the first meeting, but Stallone comes back with a vengeance to take the title. They have won eight straight games, which makes them the hottest team heading into the Horizon League Tournament. If the Raiders can get a win on the road next Thursday against Youngstown State, then they will be guaranteed at least a share of the regular season league championship. Wright State not only deserves flowers, but let’s go ahead and give them a box of chocolates too.

2. DeShaun Wood – I know I’ve been writing a lot about this guy, but I still feel like he does not get the love he deserves. He is the best player playing on what is currently the best team in the league. All of the focus on the Horizon League guard play has gone to Butler’s duo of A.J. Graves and Mike Green, and they deserve the praise they are getting; however, Wood is having quite a season of his own. He leads the league in scoring at nearly 20 points per game, and he also averages five rebounds, close to four assists, and two steals per game. He may not win it, but I believe Wood is the conference player of the year, and without him, the Raiders would not be in first place. The nation and the Raiders owe a lot of overdue love to DeShaun Wood.

3. Ryvon Coville – The big man for the Detroit Titans deserves some love even though he is playing on one of the bottom teams in the Horizon. Coville has been one of the bright spots for a team that has been in the shadows of the league all season. He has averaged a double-double this season by scoring 13.5 points per game and grabbing a conference-leading 10.5 rebounds per game. He’s very efficient on the offensive end of the floor, shooting nearly 56 percent from the field. Coville also gets it done on the defensive side of the ball in blocking nearly two shots a game. If nobody else is willing to do it, then I will give Coville some love on Valentines Day.

Who Needs a Hug?

1. Cleveland State – It’s been a very rough season for the Vikings all year long. They are currently in the midst of a five-game losing streak, which has left them dwelling the cellar of the Horizon League at 2-12. With the exception of a few games, this team is not getting blown out every night. Five of their 12 losses in conference play have been by five points or less, so it makes the losses even more heartbreaking for the Vikings and nobody likes to see broken hearts on Valentines Day. I suggest we give the Vikings some of those candy hearts because they do not quite deserve a big gift since they have lost so many games, but everyone needs some love, especially today.

2. Avery Smith – Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s leading scorer at 15 points per game has only scored a total of 20 points in his past three games, and the Panthers have lost all three. During this three-game skid, Smith is 9-29 from the field. This is the third time this season the Panthers have been on a losing streak of at least three games. Smith and all the Panthers need a hug or some other sort of love to get them back on track if they plan on doing anything in the Horizon League tournament.

3. Detroit Titans – It’s been a struggle all year long for the Titans, who are currently tied for second-to-last in the league at 5-9. After today’s loss to Youngstown State, Detroit has lost four straight games after reaching a respectable .500 in the conference. The defense for the Titans has been the leading cause for this past losing streak, as they have given up nearly 74 points per game. During their four-game slide down the Horizon standings, the Titans have been allowing their opponents to shoot an average of 49 percent from the field. If the teams you are playing are hitting nearly every other shot, then you are not going to win most of those games. The Titans need hugs.

     

Duke In The NCAA

by - Published February 16, 2007 in Columns



Blue Devils Snap Skid, Look Every Bit a Tournament Team

by Phil Kasiecki

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. – Even before Duke once again convincingly beat Boston College, the talk of the Blue Devils not making the NCAA Tournament needed to stop. The Blue Devils have a resume for it despite the 5-6 ACC record they had coming in, and there was no way this losing was going to continue. Mike Krzyzewski has never lost five straight at Duke, a stunning statistic that is still intact after Wednesday night’s 78-70 win.

Make no mistake about it, this isn’t the Duke team that won the national title in 2001, or even the Blue Devils of last year. There is just one senior on this team, walk-on Joe Pagliuca. The team’s three co-captains include two sophomores and a junior. There’s inexperience, like freshmen Jon Scheyer and Gerald Henderson playing the minutes they have, and sophomore David McClure starts often while fresh off a redshirt year. Still, this team has no shortage of talent, and that’s never a bad thing to have when the coach is Krzyzewski.

Duke also has BC’s number, having won six straight against the Eagles. Their last two wins have also come against the Eagles, as their last win before the four-game losing streak came against the Eagles at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Clearly, the Eagles were just the medicine this team needed.

“After losing four straight, we wanted to get back on track,” said sophomore guard Greg Paulus. “To do it against the first-place team, at their place in a hostile environment, it’s a big win for us. Hopefully we can build on this one and get things going again.”

Amidst all the talk of the Blue Devils not making the NCAA Tournament, we have to realize that they are human as well. They’re not going to win every time out. They also aren’t going to win every close game, of which they have had plenty – almost no team does that, although it might seem like it at times. A team that wins every close game is a rarity; it’s not just having experience that helps a team pull those out, but also a little luck along the way. The Blue Devils are 2-3 in games decided by five points or less, all of which were one-possession games. That means they’re simply not having a storybook season, and we can’t fault them for that or make like they’re not a good team. The reality is that they’re hardly perfect, even if they are the Duke Blue Devils.

“We’re still learning how to become a good basketball team,” said Krzyzewski. “We’re growing. Except for the start of Maryland, I thought we got to be a better basketball team while we were losing. We just didn’t win.”

In some ways, Wednesday night’s game was a carbon copy of last season’s game between these two teams at The Heights. After the teams stayed close for much of the half, the Blue Devils got going in the final minutes, ending the half with eight straight as part of a 14-3 run to take a 43-32 lead into the locker room.

The way they got there told the story: the Eagles fell asleep at the switch often on defense, allowing the Blue Devils easy baskets. When they actually defended them, the Blue Devils threw the ball away a few times, showing that this Duke team is quite beatable. As if the defensive gaffs weren’t enough, the Eagles also fell asleep with the ball near the end of the half. After an inbound pass to Tyrese Rice off a make, Josh McRoberts caught Rice napping with the ball and stole it for a layup.

Duke dominated the glass in the first half by a 19-8 margin, with 11 offensive rebounds. The boards were where the stat of the game was, as McRoberts (18 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists) had eight rebounds at the half, while no Eagle had more than seven for the entire game. McRoberts took advantage of the Eagles not boxing out well for a few of those rebounds. Though he’s not a dominant player, McRoberts seems to be coming alive based on last night and his strong second half against Maryland three nights earlier.

The second half saw more of the same as the Blue Devils at one point led 65-41. The Eagles simply didn’t show up to play, their rally in the final minutes to make it a ballgame aside. They simply expended too much energy coming back to finish the job.

“I was confident we were going to win,” said McRoberts of the Eagles’ comeback attempt. “Winning was the only thing on my mind.”

Krzyzewski was happy with how his team handled the losing streak. He saw them maintain confidence, feeling they can still play with anyone. They stayed consistent with their approach and continued to compete, and it can’t hurt that they didn’t play a cupcake schedule in non-conference play.

“We’re still learning, and in this league, because every game is so good, you’re learning while you go through the league, and hopefully you win enough to put yourself in a position to play in March, which I think we’re doing,” he reflected.

Barring a complete collapse the rest of the way, Duke will be in the NCAA Tournament. That might well spell trouble for a team or two, especially given the defense this team has played. The main reason the Blue Devils have won as much as they have is their defense, which is near the top in the ACC. The offense is what has been lacking for a lot of the season, as they’re last in scoring, in the bottom half in field goal percentage, and only three ACC teams turn the ball over more. If the offense comes around a little more, the talk that they might miss the NCAA Tournament will only look more foolish later on.

     

Florida State: Seminoles’ Toney Douglas Out With Hand Injury

by - Published February 16, 2007 in Newswire



Seminoles’ Toney Douglas Out With Hand Injury: Florida State sophomore point guard Toney Douglas will be out for a week with a hand injury. He injured his hand during the team’s loss to Clemson. Douglas is the Seminoles’ second-leading scorer. [2/16/07]

UCLA: Starters Return this Week For UCLA

by - Published February 16, 2007 in Newswire



Starters Return this Week For UCLA: Injuries to starters Darren Collison and Lorenzo Mata contributed to UCLA’s loss to West Virginia last weekend, but both starters returned against Arizona State. Collison, who has a shoulder injury, was a game-time decision but scored 18 points in 37 minutes. Mata said his left hip was feeling better and that he played 21 minutes, scoring 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the field. [2/16/07]

Crystal Basketball

by - Published February 16, 2007 in Columns




NCAA Tournament Crystal Ball

by Dan Hauptman and Michael Protos

Feb. 16, 2007

This week, before gazing into Hoopville’s Crystal Basketball, Hoops 101 professors Dan Hauptman and Michael Protos ate their apples, put on their elbow-patched blazers and studied the recent history of the six major conferences. When surfing the digital record books through their half spectacles, they discovered an intriguing trend: The world of college basketball is turning upside down.

Although two conferences — the Big Ten and SEC — have been dominated by two schools during the past decade, the other four leagues have witnessed huge changes among the top and bottom teams in just the past few years. Take notes and spit out your chewing gum, as Hoopville’s scholarly duo teach their findings in this conference-by-conference history lesson.

ACC: Today, Boston College is flying over the rest of the ACC. Two years ago, the Eagles did not even compete in the conference. Furthermore, the surprising third-place squad, the Virginia Tech Hokies, competed against Boston College in the Big East just three seasons ago.

Big 12: In 2007, Texas A&M is tied for first with Kansas, a perennial Big 12 powerhouse. The Aggies’ rise is remarkable because, in 2004, Texas A&M lost all 16 conference games and finished the season with a deplorable RPI of 246.

Big East: As a trickle-down effect of Boston College’s move to the ACC, the Big East added Marquette, Louisville and three other Conference USA teams. Looking at the conference standings, Marquette and Louisville are tied for third, ahead of 12 other Big East squads. Also, two traditional conference powers, Syracuse and Connecticut, national champions in 2003 and 2004, respectively, are in grave danger of missing the Big Dance. Things have gotten so bad in Storrs that the Huskies are in 11th place. And remember, only the top 12 of 16 conference teams advance to Madison Square Garden and the Big East Tournament.

Pac-10: Last year’s national runner-up, the UCLA Bruins, are certainly used to their present position perched atop the Pac-10. So let’s examine the second- and third-place teams. Washington State, the surprising second-place team led by first-year head coach Tony Bennett, finished at the bottom of the conference in 2006 (4-14 in conference play), when Tony’s father, Dick, coached the Cougars. In addition, the third-place team, USC, finished in last in the Pac-10 two seasons ago with a 5-13 record.

While those four conferences have certainly witnessed noteworthy and fascinating changes the last few years, the Big Ten and SEC prove that the more the other conferences change, the more these two leagues have stayed the same.

Big Ten: This year, Ohio State and Wisconsin are dominating the Big Ten — both are 11-1 in conference action — and are strong candidates to earn No. 1 seeds in the 2007 NCAA Tournament. The consistency of these two programs has been unmatched in the conference, as the Buckeyes or the Badgers have finished among the top three in each of the previous eight Big Ten seasons.

SEC: The SEC East is college basketball’s version of the NBA’s dominating Western Conference. This season, three SEC East teams have better records than any of the six SEC West squads. The cream of the SEC East crop — and hence, the SEC conference — is defending national champion Florida and Kentucky, the winningest program in NCAA history. The success of the two schools goes way back, as Florida and Kentucky have both been in the top three in the SEC East in each of the previous eight seasons. A more impressive statistic: In the 15 SEC Tournaments since 1992, Kentucky has won 10 times, Florida has won twice (in 2005 and 2006), and the other three champions were SEC West teams Mississippi State (in 1996 and 2002) and Arkansas in 2000.

Enough of the past. It is time to look into the future. Hauptman and Protos saw these visions when peeking into Hoopville’s Crystal Basketball this week.

Hauptman’s Hoops Horoscope Protos’ Prognostications

Florida
Wisconsin
UCLA
North Carolina

Florida
UCLA
Ohio State
Wisconsin

Ohio State
Pittsburgh
Washington State
Texas A&M

North Carolina
Kansas
Washington State
Texas A&M

Memphis
Kansas
Southern Illinois
Kentucky

Pittsburgh
Memphis
Southern Illinois
Georgetown

Nevada
Georgetown
Air Force
Boston College

Nevada
Virginia Tech
Butler
Kentucky

Creighton
Butler
Virginia Tech
Oregon

Indiana
Oregon
Marquette
Texas

Marquette
UNLV
Texas
Arizona

Arizona
Air Force
Tennessee
USC

BYU
Tennessee
Oklahoma State
Duke

Oklahoma State
Boston College
Duke
Villanova

West Virginia
USC
Indiana
Villanova

UNLV
Creighton
West Virginia
Texas Tech

Virginia
Missouri State
Vanderbilt
Notre Dame

Clemson
Notre Dame
Stanford
Virginia

Texas Tech
Clemson
Santa Clara
Stanford

Missouri State
Purdue
Vanderbilt
Xavier

VCU
Alabama
Maryland
Georgia

Gonzaga
Georgia Tech
VCU
Arkansas

Georgia Tech
Bradley
Gonzaga
Xavier

Davidson
Maryland
Winthrop
Alabama

Winthrop
Davidson
Akron
South Alabama

BYU
Michigan State
Holy Cross
Akron

Holy Cross
Long Beach State
Oral Roberts
Penn

Texas A&M – Corpus Christi
Oral Roberts
Vermont
Penn

Vermont
Austin Peay
Marist
Weber State

South Alabama
Marist
Austin Peay
Delaware State

East Tennessee State
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi
Central Connecticut State
Delaware State
Jackson State

Central Connecticut State
East Tennessee State
Cal State Fullerton
Jackson State
Weber State
Last 4 In:
Georgia
Georgia Tech
Bradley
Gonzaga
Last 4 In:
Maryland
Alabama
BYU
Michigan State
Last 4 Out:
Florida State
Purdue
Kansas State
Syracuse
Last 4 Out:
Florida State
Illinois
Providence
Georgia
Shooting Stars:
Georgetown
USC
Santa Clara
BYU
Shooting Stars:
Georgetown
West Virginia
Washington State
Southern Illinois
Sinking Ships:
Clemson
Duke
Texas Tech
Oklahoma State
Sinking Ships:
Gonzaga
Alabama
Arkansas
Clemson
Conference Breakdown:
ACC: 8
Big East: 6
Pac-10: 6
SEC: 6
Big 12: 5
Missouri Valley: 4
Big Ten: 3
Mountain West: 3
West Coast: 2
22 one-bid conferences
Conference Breakdown:
ACC: 8
Big East: 6
Pac-10: 6
SEC: 6
Big 12: 5
Big Ten: 5
Missouri Valley: 3
Mountain West: 3
23 one-bid conferences

Whose field looks more accurate to you? Or are both Hauptman and Protos off target? E-mail us your comments on the Crystal Basketball or give us your own NCAA Tournament prognostications. Then check back throughout the next two months, as Hauptman’s and Protos’ visions for the Big Dance become clearer as the days until Selection Sunday count down. The calendar reads February. In this shortened month, Cinderella has less time to pick out her dancing slippers.

     

NJIT’s Inaugural Division I Season

by - Published February 15, 2007 in Columns


Highlanders Learn Rigors of Division I

by Ray Floriani

NEWARK, N.J. – The drive down route 21 (McCarter Highway) was a smooth one given that rush hour traffic had ended. NJIT (New Jersey Institute of Technology) is located in Newark’s University Heights section. Within walking distance are three other institutions of higher learning, UMDNJ, Essex County College and Rutgers. Riverfront Stadium, the Newark Bears’ Baseball field, is also a walk away, but only on a pleasant day – not the frozen 15-degree evening Mother Nature has given us this early February evening.

On the NJIT campus are banners proclaiming the school’s 125th anniversary, currently being celebrated this academic year. On outside of the Fleisher Center, NJIT’s home court, is an inscription “The Edge is Knowledge.” It’s very appropriate considering the first year of Division I for NJIT is a significant learning experience.

Both South Dakota State and host NJIT are in the midst of long seasons. They have a combined eight wins between them. NJIT actually caught attention in November by opening the season with wins over Manhattan and Rider. Since then, it’s been only one other ‘W’, but they did play a good Navy team tough before dropping a heart breaker in overtime.

Despite having losing campaigns, both teams come out hard and compete. NJIT establishes early leads, but the visitors continuously answer. Not surprisingly, a lot of the attack on both ends is guard-oriented. Big men set screens and battle underneath. Basically the posts are not priority options. The ball is in the hands of the guards at crunch time.

In the waning moments NJIT holds a 65-62 lead. South Dakota’s Matt Cadwell has shredded the Highlander perimeter for 20 second half points. The sophomore guard gets a great look beyond the arc from the corner. It falls off the rim. NJIT’s Andrew Engel grabs the rebound, is fouled and hits both free throws to ice the 67-62 triumph.

NJIT senior guard Clayton Barker led all scorers with 27 points, while Cadwell paced South Dakota State with 22.

Afterward NJIT coach Jim Casciano was obviously pleased. He was concerned about his team’s perimeter defense.

“That’s something we constantly stress and remind them about,” he said.

Regardless, win number four was in the books and, as a bonus, NJIT finally played at home. The most recent game on campus was January 10th. Since then, they played five games on the road in places as La Salle, Utah Valley State and Pan American (Texas). Good for frequent filer miles, not so good for the won-lost ledger. Through it all, Casciano is very upbeat.

“It’s just been an unforgettable experience to start this and set a foundation,” he said in a positive tone regarding this first year. The 13-man roster has a total of eight players in their freshmen or sophomore years. Casciano makes no excuses of having a young group faced with Division I competition. He talks frequently of a “learning curve” and expects his team to take the new experiences and build on them each night out. “I talk a lot about playing with passion and intensity each and every possession,” he said. “They watched Duke-North Carolina last night, so I told them that’s a great example of intensity. Both teams played hard every single possession. That’s what you need on this level.”

About the only thing Casciano will complain about is the schedule, but frequent road games in wide spread outposts is a given as an independent. The coach, as does the rest of the school’s administration, realizes conference affiliation is job number one.

“You have to be in a conference,” Casciani said. “A conference gives you the opportunity to play for the championship and a ticket to the ‘Big Dance’. That’s very important for us.”

The talk is that NJIT could be a possibility for the Northeast Conference or Patriot League. The latter would be an ideal fit. Patriot schools want first and foremost, their members as outstanding institutions of higher learning. NJIT can proudly walk with the Lehighs, Lafayettes or Bucknells (to name a few) in that regard. Having NJIT could also give the Patriot a New York metropolitan area presence.

For the present, NJIT focuses on playing out the schedule – not going through the motions but learning each time out. “The Edge is Knowledge.” At NJIT, the Highlanders have got their share of it this first year out in Division I, with several wins as a bonus.

A few notables from the weekend

Villanova 78, Seton Hall 69. The Hall’s lack of size and scarcity of depth proved to be their undoing. Seton Hall trailed from the outset but did make a late run. It was not enough as the Pirates dropped their fifth consecutive conference game, and hopes of getting to the Big East Tournament are slim.

Rutgers 73, Cincinnati 69. Senior year is special and Adrian Hill doesn’t want his to end when the regular season ends the first weekend in March. The 6’6″ forward put together another fine 18-point, six-rebound performance as Rutgers came from behind for Saturday’s win at the Rutgers Athletic Center. The victory gave Fred Hill’s club a sweep of the Bearcats and kept alive their hopes of getting to the Garden for the conference tournament.

Siena 82, St. Peter’s 65. The homestanding Peacocks had not won a game since December 8. Despite the 16-game losing streak, St. Peter’s comes out playing hard. First-year head coach John Dunne is active, pacing the sidelines and encouraging his players. The Peacocks build a nine-point first half lead. Siena closes it to two at intermission.

In the second half, it begins to unravel for St. Peter’s. A disastrous four-minute stretch when they were outscored 13-0 becomes their undoing. Besides that spurt, St. Peter’s also had a tough time matching up with Micheal Haddix. The 6’6″ senior forward scored 24 points, pulled down 10 boards and generally wreaked havoc on the baseline.

Raul Orta led St. Peter’s with 17 points while Akeem Gooding added 13. Gooding is a 6’4″ redshirt freshman. The gifted swingman trasferred from Quinnipiac and became eligible to play late December. Since then he’s been a double-digit scorer (10.7 ppg) and their second-leading rebounder (5.8), a bright spot in what has been a very long season.

Niagara 76, Manhattan 74. Trailing by five with ninety seconds to play, Niagara went on a late rally to edge Manhattan in Riverdale. Charron Fisher, Niagara’s junior guard, paced the Purple Eagles with 20 points, his 13th 20-point outing of the season. The win gave Joe Mihalich’s club a weekend road sweep, as Niagara defeated St. Peter’s on Friday. That’s two close road games pulled out in three days, a significant sign with MAAC tournament play less than three weeks away. The win also keeps Niagara just a game back of Marist in the conference standings.

     

Illinois: Tree Hospitalizes Carlwell With Severe Concussion

by - Published February 14, 2007 in Newswire



Tree Hospitalizes Carlwell With Severe Concussion: Illinois freshman center Brian Carlwell suffered a severe concussion after the vehicle he and teammate Jamar Smith were in ran into a tree Monday night. Fighting Illini assistant athletic director Kent Brown said Carlwell is being treated at Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana, but he did not give further details. Smith, a sophomore guard and the driver at the time of the accident, was also treated for a concussion and was released. The 6-11 Carlwell is Illinois’ top recruit this season despite playing limited minutes as a reserve. The Fighting Illini hosts Northwestern Saturday. [2/14/07]

Illinois-Chicago: Collins Back to Lead Flames in 2007-08

by - Published February 14, 2007 in Newswire



Collins Back to Lead Flames in 2007-08: Illinois-Chicago coach Jimmy Collins, back with the team after taking an extended leave of absence early in the year, will resume his coaching duties beginning next season. The Flames’ all-time winningest coach had surgery in January to repair an aortic aneurysm. He returned recently but is still recovering physically and will not coach until the 2007-08 season. Mark Coomes, Collins’ replacement during his absence, has led the Flames to a 4-9 record. He snapped a seven-game losing streak Saturday at Detroit and improved to 10-16 overall and 5-8 in the Horizon League. Collins has an all-time 168-146 record at Illinois-Chicago. He qualified for the NCAA Tournament in 1998, 2002 and 2004. [2/14/07]

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Saturday Notes – December 20, 2014

December 21, 2014 by

author_kasiecki

A busy Saturday is in the books, and we saw the matchups get better, the results continue to be noteworthy and tell us more, and a couple of the games needed a lot of extra time to decide.

Despite a hit on the bottom line, Stony Brook’s transition continues

December 16, 2014 by

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Stony Brook was able to hang with Providence until the roof caved in several minutes into the second half. It’s part of a growing process this team in transition needs, and it continues despite dropping a few games along the way.

Amidst Maine’s rebuilding challenge, there is hope

December 12, 2014 by

maine

Maine has a long road ahead as they rebuild under new head coach Bob Walsh. Amidst the early struggles, the Black Bears have shown some reason for hope going forward.

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Recruiting Coverage

2014 Scholar Roundball Classic recap and notes

December 16, 2014 by

author_kasiecki

We look at some notes and evaluations from Sunday’s action at the Scholar Roundball Classic, where the blowouts included some noteworthy performances.

2014 Hoop Mountain Prep Classic – Sunday notes

December 9, 2014 by

author_kasiecki

We look back at Sunday’s action in the Hoop Mountain Prep Classic, which included an overtime thriller and a couple of lopsided contests, and some prospects who helped themselves out with their play.

Some notes from the National Prep Showcase

November 28, 2014 by

author_kasiecki

The busy weekend that just passed also included a few games at the National Prep Showcase. Here are a few notes from some of the action early on Friday and Saturday.

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.

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.