Providence Steals One At Home

by - Published February 7, 2007 in Columns



Friars Shouldn’t Have to Steal One at Home

by Phil Kasiecki

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – A team that’s going to reach the NCAA Tournament sometimes needs to steal a game along the way. In light of that, Providence’s 71-70 win stolen from Cincinnati might seem very good at first glance. There’s just one little problem with this scenario.

This game was on Providence’s home floor, against the team at the bottom of the Big East standings.

“Basically, we were holding on for dear life,” head coach Tim Welsh said.

That about summed it up. That also sums up why, though the Friars and the faithful who stayed after they went down eight with 1:41 to go celebrated the win, they can’t get too high from it.

Teams that don’t have much margin for error need to steal a road game or two while holding serve at home. The Friars, who had lost four of six prior coming in, haven’t looked sharp lately and that didn’t change much on Tuesday night. This wasn’t a game they should have had to steal, especially at home.

All night long, the Friars struggled with Cincinnati’s zone defense. It wasn’t Syracuse, but the Friars did a lot of east-west ball movement and turned the ball over when they actually tried to move it elsewhere. They committed 19 turnovers, which the Bearcats cashed in for 26 points. To their credit, when they weren’t turning the ball over, the Friars were usually scoring. They shot over 44 percent from long range, which helped bail them out, led by an 8-16 showing from hero Sharaud Curry (24 points, including the last nine of the game) and Weyinmi Efejuku (13 points), and overall they shot over 55 percent for the game.

What’s even more concerning about their play against the zone is what the coach noted after the game when asked about it.

“I think we were just a little out of rhythm against it,” admitted Welsh. “We were prepared for it. We play against it every day in practice, it’s just a basic 2-3.”

That’s the heart of it right there. This isn’t something the Friars never see. It wasn’t a gimmick, and it’s the defense they practice against. The turnovers are an aberration, as it wasn’t a high total for the season, but a large percentage of them translated to points for the Bearcats. That the Friars didn’t seem to know what to do against it doesn’t speak well of where they’re at.

Defensively, the Friars weren’t much better despite a 32-22 edge on the boards. The Bearcats shot 50 percent, including 8-20 from long range, but the disturbing statistic is points in the paint. Cincinnati, with less size than the big, physical Friars that have won plenty of battles in the paint this season, had a 30-20 edge in points in the paint. This is a team the Friars should have dominated inside with the Bearcats’ lack of size.

Providence led for much of the first half and the early going in the second half, but you never felt like they were going to break it open. Indeed, they never did, as their biggest lead was seven and the Bearcats had a number of chances at the lead that they didn’t convert during the course of the game.

That looked like it would come back to haunt them in the final minutes, when the Bearcats got hot from long range and went up 70-62 with 1:41 left. Fans headed for the exits, with many directing their ire at Welsh – whose job is still on the line – and the way the Friars had been playing, no one could blame them. It was a very cold night outside and nothing the Friars had done in the final minutes, or for that matter all night long, indicated that they had a comeback in them. And who knew that Curry would even get the chance to hoist up his runner from the left elbow in the final minute, let alone watch it somehow go in to tie the game before his free throw was the deciding margin.

While Providence did come back from the deficit, they had plenty of help. Cincinnati did plenty to give this game right back, from missing two front ends of one-and-ones at the foul line (they were just 4-14 from the foul line in the game) to a backcourt violation, giving the Friars chances even after the Friars threw the ball out of bounds near their bench. It wasn’t hard to tell that this Cincinnati team isn’t long on experience, and it probably surprises no one that they are now 0-4 this season in games decided by three points or less.

It would be one thing if Tuesday night’s game was an isolated event; every team has a game where they play exceedingly well or downright poor. But this game continues a bad trend for the Friars, as ever since they’ve had to go on the road a few times, they haven’t been the same. They’ve lost just twice at home all year, but have won just once on the road. That has to change, and they can’t really afford to not hold serve at home at this point. The road difficulty won’t go away easily with trips to Pittsburgh and Notre Dame right around the corner.

That means that it’s time for the Friars to get their act together if they want to be an NCAA Tournament team. They still need to hold serve at home, but with the way they’ve played lately that’s hardly a given. They shouldn’t have to steal one at home from a team at the bottom of the conference standings.

     

Ivy League Notebook

by - Published February 6, 2007 in Conference Notes



Ivy League Notebook

by Jay Pearlman

Through Two Friday/Saturday Weekends, Ivy League More Interesting than Ever

Coaches say the lower the level, the tougher the road. And even NBA teams have trouble the second straight night away from home in a different city, all the more so after winning the first. Throw in some late-arriving wintry weather, and through two full weekends plus, the Ivy League is an absolute mess.

First the good stuff. Yale (5-1, 9-10) has the league’s best athlete, Casey Hughes (10.3 points, 51 percent from the field, 6.6 boards, 1.6 assists, 2 steals per game), who is much improved as a basketball player. On Saturday, they had their biggest win since beating Rutgers in Piscataway in the NIT (arguably bigger), as James Jones’ crew bested Penn at home 77-68, completing a rare sweep of Princeton and Penn. But for stumbling at home against travel partner Brown, they’d be 6-0 and alone atop the standings. And aside from that hiccup the second consecutive night away against Yale (after a win on Friday against Brown), Penn (3-1, 12-8) is cruising along, with a home date against Yale circled on the calendar on Friday, March 2.

Now the not-so-good. With Lenny Collins graduated and sophomore Adam Gore out for the season, Cornell (4-2, 11-9) has gotten great play from two freshmen, Randy Wittman’s son Ryan (15.3 points, 2.7 rebounds), and diminutive Louis Dale (12.8 points, 50 percent from the field, 48 percent on threes, 4 assists, 4.1 rebounds, 1 steal), in the process dominating the Rookie of the Week column. But after a split of Princeton/Penn weekend at home (you can tell easily enough which game was the loss), rousing back-to-back wins against travel partner Columbia, and a workmanlike 74-61 win at Dartmouth on Friday night, just as Penn did that very night at Yale, Cornell stumbled badly at Harvard on Saturday. With snow and ice en route from Hanover the night before, and freshmen being freshmen, Cornell stumbled against the Brian Cusworth-less Crimson in Boston, suffering a heartbreaking last second loss 65-64. In that loss – the biggest loss by any team in the conference so far – Cornell provided the opportunity for Drew Housman to find Evan Harris for the winner with 0.8 to play when its star freshmen missed three crucial free-throws: 95% shooter Wittman missed both in a two-shot opportunity, and 92% shooter Dale missed one of two. But for that loss, the 4-2 Big Red would be 5-1 and alone atop the standings.

There is more not-so-good. Blessed with the second best talent in the conference (behind Penn), after splitting Penn/Princeton weekend at home, Columbia (3-3, 12-8) managed to lose both ends of its home and home series with Cornell, in two nearly identical grinding games (49-45 and 56-51). They did get back to .500 by taking out their frustrations on Harvard and Dartmouth away this past weekend (90-70 and 61-55). Coach Joe Jones had better be ready for elder brother James as Yale visits Friday in what surely is Columbia’s biggest game of the year so far.

Now the bad: for the first time ever, Princeton (0-4, 9-9) has lost its first four to start the conference, suffering its most embarrassing defeat Saturday night at Brown 63-48. The second night in a row away shouldn’t have caused the loss, in which Brown scored 20 of the last 24 points (after all, Princeton lost the night before), and neither should the reduced minutes of swingman Kyle Koncz, who just returned from injury. Additionally, the article in this space a week ago comparing Coach Joe Scott to Bill Belichick shouldn’t. But with this practice week likely the toughest ever on Princeton players, seven of ten remaining league games at home, and undermanned Harvard and Dartmouth arriving this weekend, it’s still too early to call this a lost season. It won’t be early any more if they don’t sweep these next two. (Yogi must have been talking about this conference when he said, “It gets late here early”).

Less bad (or less unexpected), the Pattman-Barnett combination wasn’t able to beat either Cornell or Columbia at home this weekend, and like Harvard, Dartmouth (2-4, 7-12) travels to Penn and angry Princeton this weekend. As for the Crimson (3-3, 10-10), with no expectations post-Cusworth they surprised to the good on Saturday in beating Cornell, and if they can somehow repeat at winless Princeton Friday night, they’ll be assured of being at least .500 eight games into the league season. As for Brown (2-4, 7-14), though the win over Princeton must have been sweet indeed for head coach Craig Robinson (two-time Ivy Player of the Year for the Tigers), a most difficult weekend at Cornell and Columbia looms ahead.

Still, all in all, particularly on Saturday nights for traveling teams who won on Friday, nothing is secure in this old league, and no conference tournament at the end leaves little margin for error going forward. It should remain most interesting.

     

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Boston University, Hartford: Two America East Players Suspended

by - Published February 5, 2007 in Newswire




Two America East Players Suspended: The America East Conference suspended Boston University freshman forward Scott Brittain and Hartford sophomore guard Jaret Von Rosenberg for one game apiece after an incident in Saturday’s game between the schools. Brittain, who has started all but one game thus far, set career highs in the game with 15 points and 15 rebounds to help the Terriers to a 59-51 win. Both teams will be without the suspended player against one of the conference leaders, as the Terriers play Vermont in their next game, while the Hawks host Albany, both on Monday night. [2/05/07]

NCAA: Philadelphia’s Magee Sets D-II Record in Wins

by - Published February 5, 2007 in Newswire



Philadelphia’s Magee Sets D-II Record in Wins: Philadelphia University coach Herb Magee won his 829th game vs. Wilmington Thursday. His career record is 829-323, and he has 21 NCAA Tournament appearances and a national championship in 1970. The Rams (16-5) beat Wilmington (0-21) 65-60 to collect the record win for the 65-year-old coach. [2/05/07]

Western Carolina: Greathouse Charged With Drunk Driving

by - Published February 5, 2007 in Newswire



Greathouse Charged With Drunk Driving: Western Carolina guard Kyle Greathouse, who was originally thought to be a passenger in a recent car accident, will be charged with drunk driving. He has also been suspended from the uUniversity after his vehicle crashed into a tree. A DUI charge was dropped against his girlfriend, Jaime Whitfield. However, she will now be charged with aiding and abetting impaired driving. [2/05/07]

Marquette: Marquette to Retire Wade’s Jersey

by - Published February 5, 2007 in Newswire



Marquette to Retire Wade’s Jersey: Dwyane Wade got to see his beloved Chicago Bears play in the Super Bowl yesterday while celebrating his son’s birthday at the game. Minus the outcome of the Super Bowl, it was an all-around good weekend for Wade because on Saturday afternoon the Golden Eagles retired his No.3 jersey. In his two seasons at Marquette, the team went 53-13 and reached the Final Four in 2003. [2/05/07]

Saturday Notebook

by - Published February 4, 2007 in Columns



Eagles Blow Out Hokies, Lead ACC Again

by Phil Kasiecki

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. – If Saturday’s 80-59 win over Virginia Tech is any indication, Boston College will surely be in the NCAA Tournament. The debate over whether or not they can get there can end now.

In dominating a good Virginia Tech team basically from start to finish, the Eagles surely looked the part of a team bound for the Big Dance, something which was an open question a couple of weeks ago. Suffice it to say, the Eagles certainly did what they had to do on Saturday, although there was a small question mark for a time in the second half.

Boston College came out on fire early, running out to a 10-1 lead, making four of five after missing their first shot. After the Hokies closed within 19-14, the Eagles ran off 14 unanswered points to slam the door seemingly for good. Jared Dudley scored 10 of his game-high 30 points in the run, which ended just after he picked up his third foul.

To the Eagles’ credit, the lead didn’t drop when he was out for the remainder of the half. Tyrese Rice, who has quietly developed into one of the better point guards in the ACC, picked up some of the slack, finishing the half with 11 points and five assists with just one turnover. The ACC’s leader in assists finished with 20 points and eight helpers.

“The game is starting to slow down for me a lot,” said Rice, who is clearly more comfortable running the team now. “When I first took over at the point, it was a real fast game and I just couldn’t really grasp it as quickly as I wanted to.”

In the second half, the Eagles didn’t come out with the same sense of urgency and appeared to be playing not to lose the lead. The Hokies showed signs that they might have a run in them to come back, getting within 14 just after the first media timeout. Deron Washington came alive in the second half, scoring 11 of his team-high 18 points in the first seven minutes before picking up his fourth foul. From that point on, they never seriously challenged the Eagles.

“That’s the biggest flaw of having a big lead, it’s that first five minutes you’re just going through the motions and the other team is energized after the halftime talk,” said Skinner.

All along, the Eagles got production from role players who they need it from the remainder of the season. Tyrelle Blair (six rebounds, three blocked shots), Tyler Roche (five points, five rebounds) and Marquez Haynes (a key three-pointer in the first half) didn’t fill the stat sheet, but all three gave the team a boost off the bench. The Eagles will certainly ride Dudley, Rice and inconsistent Sean Marshall (10 points on Saturday and never really a factor), but they need to get something from their bench as well, especially if any of the big three get in foul trouble on a given night.

“That’s what they need to do – they need to remain solid and execute on the offensive end,” said Skinner. “They did a great job, they were solid, they didn’t try to play outside themselves, and obviously we’re very pleased with that.”

The Eagles end the day in a tie with Virginia atop the ACC at 7-2 and have the look of a team that has made it through the adjustment period of not having two players for the remainder of the season. Players look like they know their roles and the team seems to know what it has to do. In the ACC, which is wide-open aside from North Carolina being the favorite, that could go a long way. As it stands now, the Tar Heels aren’t even in first place, although they are even in the loss column and a half game back.

“I think ten (ACC wins) is the magic number, but we’re not going to stop at ten,” said Dudley, who added 13 rebounds and four assists. “You want to put yourself high up there. I want to get a really good seed, and we’re trying to get a bye for the ACC Tournament so we can rest up.”

Other Notable Games

Texas A&M 69, Kansas 66: A huge win for the Aggies, a team that some might finally start talking about as a team that can make a Final Four run this season. This is their first win over Kansas since the Big 12 was formed, and for good measure it was at Allen Fieldhouse.

North Carolina State 83, North Carolina 79: Suddenly, there is life in the Wolfpack again, as they also knocked off Virginia Tech in Blacksburg earlier in the week.

Arizona 84, Washington 54: This is just what the struggling Wildcats needed after losing five of six, and exactly what the Huskies, who are now 4-7 in Pac-10 play, didn’t need.

UCLA 82, Oregon State 35: The second blowout of the day in Pac-10 play that jumps out because of the margin. The Bruins led 48-18 at the half.

USC 71, Oregon 68: The Ducks lose three of four in their road swing, and the Trojans bypass them into a tie for second in the Pac-10.

Stanford 90, California 71: The Cardinal continues to surge, having won four straight Pac-10 games and seven of their last nine overall.

Virginia 81, Miami 70: Virginia pulls into a first-place tie in the ACC with Boston College at 7-2. Ever since losing to the Eagles, the Cavaliers have won six straight.

Georgia Tech 80, Clemson 62: The Yellow Jackets badly needed this one after losing four straight, although three came on the road. This also drops Clemson below .500 in ACC play, which will surely bring the Tigers’ skeptics back out.

Southern Illinois 54, Wichita State 46: Just when the Shockers had pulled back to .500 in Missouri Valley play, the team that is now looking like the favorites comes to their arena and picks up a win.

Marquette 69, Providence 62: The Golden Eagles stay right on Pittsburgh’s heels in the Big East on a day where they retired Dwyane Wade’s jersey. Jerel McNeal went for 18 points and 12 rebounds to lead the way after missing the first meeting between the two teams with an injury.

Connecticut 61, Rutgers 50 (OT): One can imagine what the Connecticut papers will be saying tomorrow, as the Huskies certainly shouldn’t need overtime against Rutgers. Connecticut’s defense and Rutgers’ offense is a case of strength against weakness.

South Florida 69, Notre Dame 63: A setback for the Irish in the middle of a three-game road swing, after a good win at Syracuse a few nights ago.

Kansas State 73, Texas 72: The Wildcats have quietly moved into a three-way tie for second in the Big 12 after this big road win, their seventh straight.

Vanderbilt 66, Georgia 61: Kevin Stallings continues his excellent coaching job and keeps the Commodores right behind Kentucky for second in the SEC East.

Colorado 89, Oklahoma State 77: It’s been a struggle for the Buffaloes in Ricardo Patton’s final season, but they get a good win here to snap a four-game skid.

Villanova 57, Louisville 53: The Wildcats bounce back from a couple of tough losses to beat the surging Cardinals, who had won four straight.

Iowa 81, Indiana 75: Iowa remains one of the surprises in the Big Ten, improving to 5-4 with this win.

Rhode Island 45, Fordham 44: A big road win for Rhode Island, which remains at the top of the Atlantic 10 despite 29 points and 13 rebounds from Fordham star Bryant Dunston.

Massachusetts 72, Richmond 56: The Minutemen are right with the Rams in that first-place tie, also standing 7-2 in Atlantic 10 games after this win.

Saint Louis 63, George Washington 53: That tie at the top no longer includes the Colonials after this road loss.

Mississippi 82, Auburn 59: Andy Kennedy is getting it done. The Rebels cap off a good week with a dominating road win and have quietly pulled into a tie for second in the SEC West with the Tigers.

Alabama 63, South Carolina 61: The Crimson Tide trailed for some of this one, but held on at the end to move into first place in the SEC West.

Mississippi State 85, LSU 78: LSU is now 2-6 in SEC play, continuing to chip away at their at-large margin and make it look more likely that they would need to win the SEC Tournament to get to the NCAA.

Air Force 88, Wyoming 43: The Falcons keep winning to stay atop the Mountain West, while Wyoming began the season with plenty of promise but falls to 4-5 in conference play.

Brigham Young, 90, UNLV 63: Mike Rose had the hot hand with 27 points on eight three-pointers. Just one game separates the top three teams in the Mountain West.

VCU 100, Georgia State 71: The Rams bounce back from Wednesday’s loss at Hofstra and reach the 20-win mark with this one.

Davidson 75, UNC-Greensboro 65: The Wildcats join the 20-win group and improve to 11-1 in Southern Conference play, keeping up their lead over College of Charleston in the South Division.

Wright State 66, Detroit 59: The Raiders stay right on Butler’s heels in the Horizon League with this road win. They get the Bulldogs at home in a week.

Duquesne 111, St. Bonaventure 92: The Dukes continue to push the pace and pick up their fourth straight win, this time on the road after three at home.

Iona 69, Rider 57: The Gaels get their first win of the season.

Yale 77, Penn 68: Yale sweeps the Princeton/Penn weekend at home and is now in first place in the Ivy League with a 5-1 league mark.

Brown 63, Princeton 48: Craig Robinson wins against his alma mater, pushing the Tigers to 0-4 in Ivy League play for the first time ever.

     

Iona: Iona wins! Iona wins!

by - Published February 3, 2007 in Newswire



Iona wins! Iona wins! The lone winless team in Division I has finally picked up its first win of the season. Iona beat Rider 69-57 today, ending a 23-game losing streak that extended to last season’s NCAA Tournament loss. After winning the MAAC championship last season, the Gaels have fallen on hard times this season. Devon Clarke scored 19 points to lead the team to the victory. Iona shot better than 54 percent from the floor. [2/03/07]

Battles In The Bronx

by - Published February 3, 2007 in Columns


Bronx Teams Get Good Wins

by Ray Floriani

BRONX, N.Y. – Two nights in this interesting, storied borough, two different conferences at locations separated by just a few miles, if that much.

On Tuesday it was a MAAC matchup featuring Marist and Manhattan at Draddy Gym in Riverdale. The following evening, St. Bonaventure visited Fordham at Rose Hill in an Atlantic Ten meeting.

The MAAC meeting starts with Marist hitting two three-pointers in the first few minutes. Manhattan answers with five straight points, and that sets the tone for the type of evening in store.

Marist had slight leads most of the half and went on a late run to take an eight-point lead into intermission. The visitors’ outstanding lead guard, Jared Jordan, did not score until six and a half minutes were gone. He finished the half with 13 points, but his presence was felt in more than individual points. The senior leader plays under great control, and has an uncanny ability to get in the lane and break down the defense. On several occasions Jordan penetrated, then threw a gorgeous pass to a wide-open teammate in the corner.

Marist opened the second half with a field goal, and again Manhattan showed resiliency by going on a 10-0 run over the next four minutes. For the remainder of the contest, it was close and competitive – your “typical” MAAC showdown. A Will Wittington trey gave Marist a four-point lead with just over a minute left. Antoine Pearson responded with a three at the other end to cut it to one.

A crowd of over 2,400 was not listed as standing room only, yet still few could remain in their seats over the final sixty seconds. Jordan missed a jumper with 24 seconds left. The Jaspers came down and worked for a final shot. With 7 seconds remaining, Darryl Crawford got in the lane and hit an eight-foot jumper. Jordan pushed it up the floor and his running jumper was blocked out of bounds by Devon Austin.

Just under a second remained, and Marist set up an inbounds play. Jordan rushed a jumper that was missed and rebounded by the Jaspers, ending the game.

Manhattan’s 75-74 win saw them put four players in double figures. Crawford and Arturo Dubois, a workhorse down low, shared scoring honors with 13 each. Wittington paced all scorers with 21 points while Jordan added 17 and handed out 10 assists for Marist.

“Our kids just dug in,” Manhattan coach Barry Rohrssen said. “It’s something we speak about in practice every day. Our guys just did a solid job tonight.”

Rohrssen was especially pleased with his freshmen point guards, Patrick Bouli and Antoine Pearson, who combined for 12 assists and one turnover.

Marist mentor Matt Brady credited Manhattan, but called it “one of my most difficult losses at Marist.” The main reason was allowing Manhattan to come back at several points and not closing the deal. The three by Pearson in the final minute, which cut the Marist lead to one, was especially upsetting.

Manhattan, with three freshmen and a sophomore in the staring lineup, is an emerging team. “They’re babies out there,” said Jasper assistant Ron Ganulin. He didn’t mean that in a negative sense, rather the reference was to age and experience. Crawford, the scorer of the winning basket, showed poise and a mindset beyond that of a first-year player.

“On the last shot I noticed they (Marist) didn’t help out as much,” he said. “I had two charges the first half so when I got inside I pulled up for the jumper.”

The win put the Jaspers at 8-3 in the MAAC, good for second and just ahead of Marist at 7-4.

The next night, St. Bonaventure entered with a team that has improved significantly in the last month. The pre-conference nightmares were over. A-10 play already gave the Bonnies wins over St. Louis and La Salle at home, with the most recent game being a road win over Richmond on Saturday.

They battled a good, especially in the friendly Rose Hill confines, Fordham team evenly throughout. There were several lead changes and even in the final minutes it was a one or two possession game. It was not enough, as Fordham made the crucial plays in the stretch and earned a 67-61 victory.

Sebastian Greene had a big game for the Rams, scoring a game high 18 points while pulling down give rebounds. Michael Lee led Bonaventure with 15 points and a solid 10-rebound effort.

The win was significant for Fordham as they closed the game out with two key players unavailable. Bryant Dunston fouled out and Marcus Stout went down with leg cramps in the final minutes. With those two players out Ram coach Dereck Whittenburg relied on Chris Bethel in the stretch.

“It was a hunch,” Whittenburg said of calling on Bethel. “He had been giving us energy and was very active earlier.”

Bethel finished with nine points and four rebounds, but the 6’5″ sophomore forward made a few big plays and held down the defensive fort in those final minutes.

Despite the rough start of the season, one has to give Bonaventure credit. They came out and played hard, giving a solid effort from tap to buzzer. They ran their sets on offense and defended rather well. The Bonnies also out-rebounded a good Ram team 35-32, with an 18-9 edge on the offensive boards. Down the stretch, a lack of depth contributed to weary legs and Fordham stepped up to make the critical plays.

The Bonnies struggled through a 3-10 pre-conference slate with several embarrassing losses at home. Since the new year, there has been a new focus.

“I think we have rebounded the ball better,” Bonnies coach Anthony Solomon said of the improvement. “Our December 30 game at Syracuse showed us what rebounding and defense can do for you as a team.”

On that date the Bonnies dropped an 82-70 decision to the Orange at the Carrier Dome. In that contest, Bonaventure stayed with Syracuse until the final minutes.

“We are trying to get more consistent,” Solomon added. “Team consistency comes when individuals are more consistent.”

Whittenburg also praised the visitors’ effort. “My hat goes off to coach Solomon,” he said. “They were ready and gave us a game. Truthfully, we didn’t expect anything less.”

Fordham improved to 13-7 (6-2 in A-10) while Bonaventure fell to 6-15 (3-5 in conference.

New AD Steve Watson made the trip with the team to Rose Hill. Watson recently took over at Bonaventure and is making a ‘hands on’ evaluation of the program. He travels with the team and attends as many practices as time allows. Watson played two years at Rutgers before transferring to Bowling Green in the early 90s. One of the Bowling Green assistants then was current Bonnie mentor Anthony Solomon.

During the post-game, I had the opportunity and good fortune to meet former Bonaventure great Tom Stith. A two time All-American (with the likes of Jerry Lucas, Oscar Robertson and Chet Walker) in the early Sixties, Stith scored over 2,000 points and at 6-5 could do it all. He had nine 40-point games and outplayed John Havlicek of Ohio State in the 1960 Holiday Festival final.

Stith came down with tuberculosis late in his college career. He recovered, but was never the player he was prior to the illness. He was a first round draft pick of the Knicks and played for them briefly. He still makes his home in New York. As great a player as he was, Tom Stith is an even greater human being and a pleasure to talk basketball with.

     

Northeast Notebook

by - Published February 3, 2007 in Conference Notes



Northeast Conference Notebook

by Zach Smart

Joe DeSantis never lost hope. Not amid the small crowds, the detractors, the off-court distractions, the grueling seven-game losing streak. Not even amid pink slip rumors which zipped through Hamden like the Connecticut Transit. Indeed, the man who was here when Quinnipiac was a Division-II program (and he only had one assistant whom he split the aerobics room as an office with) kept his serenity.

“We’re going to be good this year,” DeSantis assured a horde of Connecticut reporters following Quinnipiac’s season-opening upset-bid at then-No.18 UConn. The upset bid fell short, as the Bobcats were outlasted, 53-46, on Craig Austrie’s game-sealing three from the left corner.

“I got two little lightning-quick point guards,” DeSantis said, referencing 5-foot-8 freshman Casey Cosgrove and 5-foot-9 sophomore Job Casimir, both high-octane speedsters. Since Quinnipiac is one of the smaller teams in the conference and has been plagued by lack of size, rebounding, and interior defense the past few years, a statement of this ilk would only allow the skeptics to surface.

They did just that, as the Bobcats underwent a 0-9 freefall after winning two of their first three games. The abysmal losing streak featured two conference losses and an 80-74 horror show at Brown in which they surrendered 60 free throw attempts (Brown connected on a school record 47 of them en route to the victory).

The confidence pendulum took a sudden swing on Jan. 6, however, as the Bobcats defeated St. Francis Pa. 89-82 to stop the pores of gushing blood. The win jump-started a six-game winning streak, the longest in recent memory, as the Bobcats suddenly vaulted to the upper-echelon of the Northeast’s totem pole.

The Bobcats needed this in the worst way. Last Saturday, their hearts pumped shark’s blood as they awaited the grand opening of the TD Banknorth Sports Center, a dazzling 3,500-seat arena sitting on top of a hill that offers breathtaking views of New Haven and Long Island Sound. TD Banknorth, the new home to both hockey and hoops for the University, was a $52 million dollar investment. It’s a sparkling venue containing all the amenities.

Peaking at the right time, the Bobcats treated fans to a great game on Jan. 27, as they held on in a 73-71 thriller against James Williams and Long Island.

It should come as no surprise that the Bobcats’ success has run parallel with the emergence of junior guard DeMario Anderson, a transfer via conference rival Central Connecticut State. After struggling to find his niche in a sluggish December, Anderson has evolved into one of the conference’s premier players.

Anderson helped Quinnipiac give a solid account of itself on Saturday, pouring in 18 points while grabbing four boards. His most crucial points came on a put-back dunk nearing the end of the regulation.

A 20-point performance in a loss to Vermont was Anderson’s breakout game, as he shot 7-of-9 from the floor, catching fire late.

DeSantis knew coming into the year that the 6-4 high-raiser would be a great asset to the team. He knows from experience. Anderson scored a career-high 32 points while leading Central past Quinnipiac in his final regular season game with the Blue Devils in 2004-2005.

Adam Gonzalez, a senior combo guard, and Victor Akinyanju, an undersized forward/center deserve a lot of the credit as well.

Gonzalez, the former National Junior College Player of the Year, scored a game-high 21 points and dished out seven assists in the win over LIU. The Bronx, N.Y. product scored the first points in the new arena on an NBA three-pointer.

Akinyanju, a generously-listed 6-4 post man, scored the game-winner on a layup off a Gonzalez feed with 27 ticks to go in overtime. Akinyanju, who executed manipulative post moves and got free for easy buckets throughout the six-game winning streak. The Maryland native garnered NEC Player of the Week honors in mid-January after a 16-point, 17-board outburst in an 80-72 victory over Wagner.

Blue Devils Heating Up

Quinnipiac’s six-game winning streak was viciously snapped just two days after hitting their benchmark against LIU. The state and conference rivalry was renewed as Quinnipiac faced the real litmus test in their glitzy new arena in taking on Central Connecticut.

That test quickly morphed into an impossible final that would demand a curve for the Bobcats. The Blue Devils coasted to a convincing 65-54 victory before 2, 707, making it five straight against their in-state rivals.

Central Connecticut thoroughly thrashed the Bobcats up until the final three minutes, when Quinnipiac made it interesting with a couple of crucial threes. It was the only significant points they could muster from downtown on the night, as they shot an atrocious 4-for-25 from beyond the arc.

Obie Nwadike, a 6-foot-4 interior banger with a lion’s heart, did it all for CCSU. The NEC’s leading rebounder had a game-high 16 caroms, seven coming off the offensive glass, while bulldozing his way to 16 points. He hounded down opponents on defense, hustled after loose balls, and even played through a shaking moment in what was easily the best performance of his collegiate career.

“We get spoiled by (Nwadike) because we expect that from him,” CCSU coach Howie Dickenman said. “He’s 6-2 and a half, we list him at 6-4, but he has a heart as big as he could possibly have. He gives us everything he has every time.”

Central senior Javier Mojica, who has shouldered a leadership role this year, had 14 points and 12 rebounds. Mojica hit from outside and took opponents of the dribble, but his offense wasn’t the difference in this game. It was his suffocating defense that forced Gonzalez into an off-night.

Mojica held Gonzalez to just eight points on 3-of-11 shooting.

“(Gonzalez) is a hell of a player and he’s a go-to guy for them,” Mojica said. “My assignment was to play Gonzalez and hold him below his average. I was able to do that with my teammates – it was all-around great defense. I tried to keep him from getting hot because when he does a great player.”

The game didn’t exploit Quinnipiac’s weaknesses on this night as much as it displayed CCSU’s prestige. The Blue Devils made it evident that they belong in first place.

“Central is the best team in the league right now,” DeSantis said afterwards.

The game, of course, was multi-faceted, as Anderson went at it with some of his former teammates. With four and a half minutes gone by in the first half, Anderson sauntered over to the scorer’s table and entered the game. Despite missing his first four shots, Anderson would score 16 points, 14 in the second half.

“Personally, I think he had a little bit of a vendetta,” said Nwadike of his friend. “He wanted Quinnipiac beat Central Connecticut. Me and Javy (Mojica) and our team wasn’t going to let that happen.”

There is something special about this Central team. There’s no clear standout, just a scrappy core of solid upperclassmen and freshman Joe Seymore. They’re not the deepest team – usually they’ll go six or seven deep. At this point, they don’t need to be.

Blackwood Named Player of the Week

Central Connecticut junior guard Tristan Blackwood was the latest player to earn the Choice Hotels/NEC Player of the Week award. Blackwood averaged 27.5 points, 4.0 assists, 3.0 rebounds while shooting 14-29 (.483) from three-point land during the week of 1/29.

Pioneers Defeat Long Island:

At Fairfield, Conn., Drew Shubik scored 19 points to lead Sacred Heart to an 80-72 victory over Long Island. Luke Granato added 14 points for the Pioneers. Shubik also had seven rebounds.

Power Rankings:
1. Central Connecticut (13-10, 10-1): Little Depth But Few Flaws
2. Sacred Heart (11-10, 7-3): Must avenge loss against Central
3. Mount St. Mary’s (8-14, 7-4), Quinnipiac (9-11, 7-4): Feb. 3 meeting should be a thriller

     

College Basketball Tonight

COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT is a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran college basketball broadcaster Ted Sarandis, who will be joined by former Manhattan and Seton Hall head coach Bobby Gonzalez and many great guests, including Hoopville's own Phil Kasiecki.

The show will air on AM 970 The Answer in New York City from 7-9 p.m. on every Sunday from Selection Sunday to the Final Four. You can listen to the show here.

Your Phil of Hoops

Watson’s transfer will sting BU the most

April 11, 2014 by

bostonuniversity

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

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

March 9, 2014 by

hofstra

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

Cornell’s future can only be better

March 2, 2014 by

cornell

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

2013 Prep School Tour

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

Sept. 9: St. Andrew's
Sept 10: Tilton
Sept. 11: South Kent School and Northfield Mount Hermon
Sept. 12: Putnam Science Academy
Sept. 16: St. Thomas More and Marianapolis Prep
Sept. 17: Brewster Academy and Phillips Exeter
Sept. 23: New Hampton School
Sept. 24: Brimmer and May
Sept. 25: Proctor Academy
Sept. 26: Notre Dame Prep and Cushing Academy
Sept. 29: Worcester Academy and Vermont Academy
Oct. 6: Charlestown High School and Milton Academy
Oct. 13: Tabor Academy
Oct. 15: Brooks School

Hoopville Archives

Even More: City Hoops Recruiting

Travel team profile: Blackstone Valley Chaos

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

Travel team profile: Expressions Elite

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

Cesar Fulcar commits to Wentworth

The senior guard led Watertown to the state semifinal this past season

Travel team profile: Bay State Magic

Bay State Magic doesn’t have much size on their junior team this season, so they’ll have to win with execution and intangibles

Travel team profile: Mass Elite

Mass Elite is one of the largest travel teams in the state despite being relatively new

Coaching Changes and NBA Draft Early Entrants

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

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

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter