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The Morning Dish – Wednesday, March 14, 2018

March 14, 2018 The Morning Dish No Comments

Forget about its membership in one of the better leagues in NCAA Division I college basketball-St. Bonaventure is the type of school that is almost tailor-made to become a fan favorite in the NCAA Tournament.

Being a small, relatively unknown, Franciscan Catholic school in Western New York is plenty enough to appeal to the average, underdog-loving fan of the NCAA Tournament, but the Bonnies provided all the more reason to enjoy them with their play Tuesday night.

In an ultimate contrast between one of the sport’s little guys and one of its biggest ones, St. Bonaventure came up clutch late to defeat UCLA 65-58 in the opening round of the 2018 NCAA tourney. Bona earned its first NCAA tourney win since advancing to the Final Four in 1970 with the great Bob Lanier and now goes from Dayton to Dallas as it moves on to face Florida in a first round game Thursday.

The Atlantic 10 Bonnies did it with heart, outhustling, outworking and outplaying the Bruins. After UCLA got off to a quick start, hitting its first five shots to take a 14-5 less than four minutes in, St. Bonaventure coach Mark Schmidt went to a zone defense, and it gave the Bruins fits.

Scrambling all over the court on D, whether in the halfcourt or getting back in transition to disrupt, the Bonnies forced UCLA to commit a whopping 20 turnovers, 10 by star Aaron Holiday, and turned them into a 30-3 advantage in points off turnovers. St. Bonaventure had success early in the season employing a zone and forcing a bunch of turnovers in a big win against Maryland, and its energy was a joy to watch. Though undersized against the taller Bruins, St. Bonaventure was all the things fearless that fans enjoy when watching NCAA tourney games.

That included junior Courtney Stockard, who has emerged as the season went on to provide the team an excellent-and versatile-third scoring option behind star backcourt Jaylen Adams and Matt Mobley. Sure enough, while Adams struggled through a 2-for-16 shooting night and Mobley 4-for-12, Stockard was fantastic, playing 40 minutes and scoring 26 with a variety of jumpers, drives and finishes.

Badly underseeded by the NCAA selection committee, the Bonnies move on and could gain a major following quickly in this tourney. It’s not hard at all to envision them, with the initial tourney jitters out of the way now, playing well against Florida on Thursday.

St. Bonaventure was only the second school to make a move for sentimental favorite status on Tuesday, as the first game of this year’s tournament saw Radford defeat LIU 71-61 for its first-ever win in the tourney.

Ed Polite totaled 13 points and 12 rebounds, including a thunderous first half dunk, and talented freshman Carlik Jones followed up his Big South tourney final game-winner with 12 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists. The Highlanders managed to stay a step ahead of the Blackbirds almost the entire night and now get to face No. 1 seed Villanova on Thursday.

Side Dishes:

  • Hoopville czar Phil Kasiecki posted the first of a two-part piece on NCAA Tournament players to watch yesterday, which you can read here.
  • The lack of value the NCAA has for the NIT has become evident in recent years as the organization regularly turns it into a guinea pig now to experiment with bad rules. It’s an insult to the teams playing this year, but it’s clear some movers and shakers in the sport are still beholden to doing everything certain TV networks push for in their never-ending quest to turn college hoops into a junior version of the NBA. This year’s NIT did open Tuesday night with several notable NCAA snubs impressing. Middle Tennessee State surprisingly pounded Vermont 91-64, and Saint Mary’s pummeled poor Southeastern Louisiana 89-45. For whatever value one places on this tourney, those are impressive performances by teams left out of the NCAAs, and MTSU winning delays the Kermit Davis-to-Mississippi talk for at least a couple more days.
  • Also in the NIT, Western Kentucky made Conference USA 2-0 for the night with a solid 79-62 win at home over Boston College. Louisville also held off Northern Kentucky 66-58 and Oregon fought off a challenge by Rider to win 99-86.
  • Another NIT note came from USC, where Chimezie Metu is choosing to sit out the tourney to avoid injury that might affect his NBA Draft status. Metu missed the Trojans’ 103-98 double-overtime win over UNC Asheville Tuesday night. We don’t like seeing players do this, no matter how well-intended it is. Quitting on a commitment to the team is quitting on the team, no matter what the time of year or personal circumstances. At the same time, with the NCAA so obviously treating the NIT as nothing as an exhibition, it’s pretty hard to complain if players might see it as one too.
  • The CBI got underway with one game, Utah Valley handling Eastern Washington 87-65.
  • A blow for Virginia, which will be missing De’Andre Hunter for the NCAA Tournament after it was announced he has a broken nose. The 6-foot-7 guard and ACC Sixth Man of the Year is the Cavaliers’ fourth-leading scorer at 9.2 points per game, and it seems like shades of 2015 for UVA, when Justin Anderson had an appendectomy and then a broken finger and never got back to full health in a promising season that ended with a second round loss in the NCAAs.
  • Coaching news from Tuesday night, and it’s sad news from our view. Evansville is expected to announce today that it will not be retaining head coach Marty Simmons, ending an 11-year run at the school. For those who grade coaches solely on record or postseason appearances, obviously they’re going to believe this was a completely fair move, and we understand, nothing we say will change their minds. Simmons was 184-175 at his alma mater and never advanced to the NCAA tourney or NIT, topping out with a CIT title in 2015. His teams did post three 20-win seasons (two of them in the last four) and might’ve had more if not for a rash of injuries this season after the Purple Aces got off to a good start.
    More important, though, Simmons is widely regarded as one of the class acts and good guys in the sport, and you can find good things written about him by former players and those who have worked closely with him all over social media. (We can attest that when we’ve covered the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament he was all that) On the court, he also was one of the few coaches left to still run a true motion offense, still emphasizing four and five players moving in an era of ball screens and players standing around. His teams were always a joy to watch, and he also did it on a much tighter budget at Evansville than most all other MVC schools. As a coach and as a person he was the type of person this sport needs more of, not less, and it’s a shame we’ll be losing that. (Hoopville’s list of coaching changes)

Tonight’s Menu:

  • The NCAA Tournament continues with the second set of its play-in games in Dayton. Representatives from HBCU conferences the MEAC and SWAC are surprisingly paired up against each other as North Carolina Central faces Texas Southern (6:40 p.m. Eastern, truTV). Then, the two most questionable at-large selections play an elimination game as Arizona State’s guards take on Syracuse’s zone (9:10 p.m., truTV). The winner has a very winnable contest with TCU in the next round.
  • The NIT finishes its first round with seven more games. A particularly juicy matchup is Louisiana-Lafayette at LSU, two teams who should play more often, though this one is unfortunately at Baton Rouge when the Ragin’ Cajuns should be hosting. Regional and one-time Atlantic 10 rivals Temple and Penn State square off where the Bryce Jordan Center will undoubtedly be rocking…not (8 p.m., ESPNU). Also, Boise State’s three-point bombers take on a zone of their own at Mike Hopkins and his Cuse-inspired team at Washington. One more we like is a good UC Davis team taking on Utah on the road.
  • The CBI kicks into gear with its remaining seven first round games, including several solid matchups. Much-improved North Texas goes to a very good South Dakota team, and the winner here may well be the tourney favorite. Jacksonville State also is at Canisius, and Colgate goes across country to take on San Francisco.
  • The College Insider Tournament is back with three more games, including a pretty good one with Niagara at Eastern Michigan. Others include St. Francis (Pa.) at Illinois-Chicago and Texas-San Antonio facing Lamar.

Enjoy your Wednesday.

 

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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

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Everybody Needs a Head Coach

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"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!

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