Home » The Morning Dish » Currently Reading:

The Morning Dish – Sunday, March 12, 2017

March 12, 2017 The Morning Dish No Comments

This year’s NCAA Tournament is poised to have a number of great stories, including four schools making their first appearances ever (and a fifth in Northwestern almost certain to).

None will be better, though, than New Orleans. The Southland Conference regular season champion Privateers clinched their spot in the field with a 68-65 overtime victory over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, and you can bet you’ll be hearing about UNO’s journey to get there for the next week, until it faces almost certainly a 1 or 2 seed (or maybe even a 16 seed) in its first game.

New Orleans will be making its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1996, and the school, its basketball and athletics programs have all been through a whole lot since.

UNO was once a solid upper-middle program in NCAA Division I, receiving at-large bids to the NCAA tourney in 1987, 1991 and 1993 and entering the national rankings in all three of those seasons. The Privateers defeated BYU in a first-round game in 1987 and nearly took out eventual national runner-up Kansas as a 14 seed at-large pick in 1991, and Ronnie Grandison, Ladell Eackles and Ervin Johnson are all former UNO players who had long NBA careers.

New Orleans made its last trip to the NCAAs in 1996 after knocking off Arkansas-Little Rock in a classic tournament final, and the program started to slip in the Sun Belt Conference after that. Then, Hurricane Katrina hit.

Like Tulane and other universities in the area, UNO was hit hard. Buildings were damaged, including the Privateers’ home, the nearly 10,000-seat Lakefront Arena. Enrollment took a dive, and UNO operated with a nearly bare bones athletic department. The school actually applied for and was approved to move to the Division III non-scholarship level, then reconsidered and later announced it would reclassify as a Division II school.

Eventually, New Orleans decided to remain in Division I, and slowly it has worked its way back. It joined the Southland Conference in 2013-14 and finished 8-10 in the conference in its first year, but consecutive 6-12 seasons showed a program still regaining its footing.

UNO returned all five starters this year, though, and withstood a rough opening stretch that included decisive losses to Oklahoma State and USC. The Privateers defeated Tulane and Washington State out of conference, then rolled to the Southland regular season title with a 13-5 mark.

New Orleans trailed Texas A&M-Corpus Christi by 10 points early in Saturday night’s tourney final in Katy, Texas, but a team with no postseason experience before a Friday night semifinal win over Sam Houston State showed its mettle and calmly got back into the game. An 18-5 run in the second half gave UNO the lead, and the Privateers matched the Islanders basket for basket down the stretch, then pulled ahead in overtime and held off Corpus Christi.

Katrina is more than 10 years in the rearview mirror now for New Orleans, but the Privateers’ return to the NCAA Tournament, will be an especially proud moment for a school and an area that is still healing. It’s good to have UNO back in the Big Dance, and the team, the school and its fans deserve to enjoy every second of it.

Side Dishes:

  • The teams wrapping up championships on a wild Saturday before Selection Sunday included: Arizona (Pac-12), Duke (ACC), Iowa State (Big 12), Kent State (MAC), Middle Tennessee State (C-USA), Mount St. Mary’s (NEC), Nevada (MWC), New Mexico State (WAC), New Orleans (Southland), North Carolina Central (MEAC), North Dakota (Big Sky), Texas Southern (SWAC), UC Davis (Big West), Vermont (America East) and Villanova (Big East).
  • North Dakota-which fought back to defeat Weber State 93-89 in overtime in the Big Sky final-and UC Davis, which edged top seed UC Irvine 50-47 in the Big West, have joined Northern Kentucky as schools who clinched conference titles and are set to make their first-ever appearance in the NCAA Division I tourney. All three had success at the Division II level before moving to D-I.
  • Coaching news: John Groce is out at Illinois, a surprising move considering the Fighting Illini a) aren’t technically eliminated from NCAA Tournament contention yet and b) have an outstanding recruiting class coming in. Groce-who had big success at Ohio University before going to Illinois-posted a 95-75 record in five years with the Fighting Illini and made one NCAA Tournament in his first season.
  • Oregon lost to Arizona 83-80 in an excellent Pac-12 final, but the bigger news for the Ducks was the reveal that Chris Boucher will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL, suffered the night before in a semifinal win against California. The energetic senior’s career is sadly over, and his loss is a huge blow to Oregon’s frontline and to its depth.

Today’s Menu: The final six conference tournaments wrap up.

  • The first-ever Ivy League tourney wraps up with a classic matchup, as defending league champion Yale faces a Princeton team that went undefeated in the regular season (Noon Eastern, ESPN2).
  • It’s Rams vs. Rams in the Atlantic 10 final with Rhode Island against VCU (12:30 p.m., CBS). URI may need this one to get in the NCAAs, but it did just beat VCU two weeks ago.
  • Classic retro matchup in the SEC final as Arkansas faces Kentucky (1 p.m., ESPN), where it’ll feel like 1995 again.
  • It’s been a wonderfully competitive season in the Sun Belt this year, and the final has sixth-seeded Troy against No. 4 Texas State (2 p.m., ESPN2). The defense-minded Bobcats look for their first NCAA bid in 20 years, while the Trojans search for just their second ever and first since 2003.
  • The Big Ten wraps it up with Michigan against a Wisconsin team that has found itself again after an inexplicable late-season funk (3 p.m., CBS).
  • The final game in the American should be a dandy, with Cincinnati and SMU meeting for a third time (3:15 p.m., ESPN) and both capable of being around in the NCAA Tournament for a while.

Wishing all a happy Selection Sunday.

Comment on this Article:

Subscribe to Hoopville

Enter your email address to subscribe to Hoopville


Hoopville Archives

College Basketball Tonight

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

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

Here are links to the shows:

March 13, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 20, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 27, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

April 3, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

Everybody Needs a Head Coach

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

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

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

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

Review on Hoopville coming soon!

Coaching Changes and NBA Draft Early Entrants

The coaching carousel is 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.

Hoopville Podcasts

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – January 18, 2018

January 18, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we talk about big road wins for a few teams, including a couple of bluebloods that looked destined for losses, as well as an unsettled Big Ten beyond one team, an SEC where you shouldn’t pay attention to bracketologists, and the problems with a proposed earlier start to the college basketball season.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – January 11, 2018

January 11, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we talk about several big pieces of news away from game play, one of which puts a lot in perspective. We also talk about the lack of dominant teams and how this has shown up in the results, especially this past weekend.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – January 4, 2018

January 4, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we start with a big game in the Big East, then move on to the sudden lack of undefeated teams, a big injury in the ACC, and a powerhouse that looks vulnerable in a stacked conference they have long ruled.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – December 8, 2017

December 8, 2017 by

In our latest podcast, we talk about a bizarre finish to an early-season tournament game, the Pac-12’s early struggles, Florida teams going in different directions and two northeast teams trending less relevant even as they excite fans at a famous arena.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – November 22, 2017

November 22, 2017 by

In our pre-Thanksgiving podcast, we look at a key injury that is likely to be devastating for his team and an under-the-radar 4-0 week, then move on to some early SEC impressions and a couple of teams that just continue to win.

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

Lincoln captures Hamilton Park title

August 15, 2017 by

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

Notes from a day at the 2017 Boston Shootout

June 12, 2017 by

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

Notes from a day at the 2017 Northeast Hoops Festival

April 11, 2017 by

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

2016 Boston Back to School Showcase notes

September 12, 2016 by

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

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale championship recap

June 28, 2016 by

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