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Morning Dish

by - Published December 20, 2003 in Conference Notes

The Morning Dish – Saturday, December 20th

Jarvis No Longer King Of Queens: St. John’s said goodbye to head coach Mike Jarvis. According to Red Storm athletic director Dave Wegrzyn, there was no single event that led to the pink slip, but after a 2-4 start, with losses to struggling Hofstra and Fairfield, one does not need to be a forensic scientist to see why Jarvis was axed. Off-court scandals also pervaded the early St. Jon’s season. Guard Wille Shaw, the heir apparent to Marcus Hatten, got busted for marijuana possession and was kicked off the team last month. Associate head coach Kevin Clark will take over for Jarvis, who went 110-61 in just under six seasons with the Johnnies and had another year on his contract. Clark gets to debut as head coach, not against a local creampuff school, but rather against 7th-ranked Georgia Tech.

Here’s a look at the Jarvis Years at St. John’s, which included an NIT championship last season:

1998-99 28-9 NCAA Tournament Elite 8

1999-00 25-8 Lost to Gonzaga in Second Round, NCAA Tournament

2000-01 14-15 No postseason

2001-02 20-12 Lost to Wisconsin in First Round, NCAA Tournament

2002-03 21-13 Postseason NIT Champions, Defeated Georgetown

2003 2-4 Fired December 19

Bayled Out: Baylor Basketball got some good news for a change. Junior transfer Harvey Thomas has been cleared to play for the Bears after an NCAA investigation into his receiving extra benefits came up nil. Baylor’s compliance investigation committee sat Thomas for the first eight games of the year after allegations that he received an undisclosed extra benefit from ex-coach Dave Bliss’s staff. Thomas, a 6-8 forward from Fredericksburg, VA who played two years at Northeast Oklahoma A&M, got his first taste of D-I ball against BYU-Hawaii in the Hawaii Surf and Slam Tournament last night.

Well, At Least We’re Still Smart: So close, but the Crimson’s first win was just out of reach. Harvard dropped to 9-0, succumbing to in-town rival Northeastern, 61-58. A 17-6 run with two minutes left pulled the Crimson within one, but Northeastern’s Jose Juan Barea sank three key free throws in the final minute. The Huskies were led by Javorie Wilson’s 19 points, 11 of which came in the second half.

Green Machine: Swingman Devin Green poured in 33 of Hampton’s 79 points and the Pirates got by local rival William and Mary, 79-72. Green also had 10 rebounds in Hampton’s fourth win of the year. Guard Jeff Granger supported the cause with 14 points, including two free throws with 4:50 left to give his team the lead for good. As a team, the Pirates went 73 percent from the line, hitting on 22-of-30 chances. No other Pirate player scored in double figures. The Tribe got 27 points, seven boards from All-Colonial selection Adam Hess.

Vikings Pillage Portland:Portland State crushed Portland U., 74-55, in the second of their cross-town, cross-league contests. Antone Jarrell and Blake Walker each netted 20 for the Vikes, while the Pilots (or Automatic Pilots) were paced by Donald Wilson’s 13. In a December 6th game, it was Portland that notched the win, 60-53. No rubber match has been discussed as of yet.

Tonight’s Menu:

• It’s another hefty Saturday of college hoops with several ranked teams in the mix. Top-ranked Kentucky hopes to bring their A-game to Bloomington when they face Indiana, while No. 3 UConn wants to improve to 7-0 at home even though their game against Iona is being staged in Hartford. The most scintillating matchup, on paper anyway, pits 4th-ranked Duke against No. 12 Texas at Madison Square Garden. Keep an eye on Wake Forest and North Carolina – Nos. 2 and 15 respectively – when the two undefeateds clash in Chapel Hill. Tarheel coach Roy Williams will get his first helping of ACC action since shifting from Kansas to UNC. Ninth-ranked Stanford and No. 11 Gonzaga offer intrigue later in the day in the Pete Newell Challenge. Cal and No. 10 St. Joe’s square off in the second game of that package.

• Some holiday-time tournaments also paint the basketball landscape today. Purdue, Hoopville’s 17th-best team, hosts the Boilermaker Invitational, with Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne as their first opponent. Number 6 Kansas highlights the Wolf Pack Holiday Classic as the Jayhawks dance with UC Santa Barbara. Fourteenth-ranked Florida hopes to come off its two-game snide against West Virginia today. The Gator-Mountaineer game is the main event in the Orange Bowl Basketball Classic at American Airlines Arena. Temple and Miami are the early evening undercard.

Conversation with Kenny Adeleke

by - Published December 14, 2003 in Columns

A Conversation with Hofstra’s Kenny Adeleke

by Adam Shandler

Kenny Adeleke, Hofstra’s junior forward from Queens, NY, has endured a problem common among many mid-major stars: Losing seasons, but stupendous personal stats. The Pride, during Adeleke’s freshman and sophomore years, was unremarkable. Prior to his arrival, Hofstra had won back-to-back America East Conference championships and appeared in two NCAA tournaments. But when the former prep standout arrived in Hempstead, he was greeted by a coach other than Jay Wright and his team had moved from the A-East to the Colonial.

Still, the 6-8 forward, who had appeared on Fox Sports’ “Preps” as a high school senior, chalked up fine numbers. Adeleke averaged nine rebounds a game in his first two collegiate seasons and entered 2003-04 second only to UConn’s Emeka Okafor as the top returning rebounder in D-I. While his digits are down in the early going, Adeleke had a breakout game in a recent upset of St. John’s (20 points, 13 rebounds), a momentum-builder for both the junior forward and the 3-3 Pride. His 12 points against Columbia put him 36 points away from the Hofstra 1,000-point club and he’s on pace to become just the third Hofstra Alum to notch 1,000 points and rebounds in his career.

I caught up with Kenny after a 58-55 win at Columbia, a game that featured inspired play by the Lions, a reunion of two former Hofstra assistants and a buzzer-beating trifecta from the Pride’s freshman guard Carlos Rivera.

Adam Shandler: Sheesh, I know you’d like to win ’em a little easier than that one, but you’ve now strung together a couple of nice wins. Are you guys starting to gel now?

Kenny Adeleke: We’ve definitely had our ups and downs but I think this year is going to be different. We’ve got more talent on this team and we’ve been working really hard in practice every day. Our defense is better and we’ve got a lot of enthusiasm, especially in practice; practice has been like games because we’ve been going so hard. It’s a new Hofstra this year.

We just want to be the best team in New York. We think we can be up there with St. John’s and Manhattan, so in the early part of the season we just want to get some good New York wins.

Shandler: Hofstra didn’t have that really big, eye-popping win in your first two seasons. But you beat St. John’s [earlier this week]. What did the win against the Johnnies do for the mindset of this team?

Adeleke: It was a good win for us cause now we feel we can play against anyone. We lost to a really good Maryland team and a really good Georgia Tech team, but you’ve seen what those teams can do. So to go out and beat St. John’s was huge for us. We’ve got a really tough non-conference schedule and I think that that’s going to help us as we get ready to play teams in the [CAA].

Shandler: I know it’s early, but have you been following some of your CAA counterparts and what they’ve been doing?

Adeleke: Well, Old Dominion beat Virginia Tech; that was a good win for them, a win over a Big East team.

When everyone picked us to finish seventh in the conference, we didn’t buy into it and we went out and beat St. John’s. So when ODU, another team picked to finish in the bottom half of the conference goes out and beats a Big East team like Virginia Tech, you know it’s going to be a good year in the Colonial.

Shandler: You’re close to joining Hofstra’s 1,000-point and 1,000-rebound club. Are you aware of these milestones when you go into a game?

Adeleke: If you tell me before a game how many points I need, then I’ll be aware, but otherwise not really. When I get the 1,000 points I want to do it at home. One of my favorite moments was watching [graduated Hofstra 2-guard] Rick Apodaca get his 1,000-points in front of the home crowd. But it’s going to be a great club to be a part of, 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds.

Shandler: You were recruited by Boston College, New Mexico, UMass, Providence – and you actually signed with Depaul. Why didn’t you stick around at Depaul and how was it that you ended up Hofstra?

Adeleke: It was a tough decision for a couple of reasons. I really didn’t want to leave New York. I’m very close with my family; I have two sisters and a brother and I wanted to be close with them, so that was one part of it.

Depaul had the number one recruiting class in the country. But there were [two players] that weren’t sure if they were going to the NBA or not, and I didn’t want to have a slow start to my college career.

But I really wanted to be in New York. Sometimes players that leave the New York area and go play somewhere else get lost.

Shandler: Who recruited you, [now Villanova coach] Jay Wright or [current Hofstra head coach] Tom Pecora?

Adeleke: Jay Wright did.

Shandler: So even after Coach Wright left for Villanova, you still came to Hofstra.

Adeleke: It was a tough decision, but I really didn’t want to go to a bigger school. I had known Coach Pecora since the 9th grade. We had a good relationship and he had always come by to see me and [good friend and current Hofstra teammate] Danny Walker play in [Robeson] high school. Sometimes, you know what, you just gotta take chance.

Shandler: Coming into this year you were second only to UConn’s Emeka Okafor as the top active rebounder in the country. You’ve only played six games so far, but are you frustrated that you haven’t been putting up the numbers you did last season?

Adeleke: Thing is, teams are playing me a lot tougher this year. They’re double-teaming me and boxing me out better. But we’re winning games. This time last year I’d have been happy to just get the wins. I’ll pick it up though; I’ll get my numbers up and it’ll come along. I just want to get ready for the conference games.

Shandler: You’re an interdisciplinary studies major. What does that mean exactly?

Adeleke: It’s courses in Sociology and Psychology. You learn how other people think and live their lives.

Shandler: Have your studies helped your game?

Adeleke: I’m taking a sports psychology class. I’ve been learning how to relax before a game and how to play my best. It’s been pretty helpful.

Splitting Adams:

December 6th’s Hofstra-Columbia game pit two former Jay Wright assistants against one another: First-year Lions coach Joe Jones, who served under Wright at Hofstra and Villanova, and Tom Pecora, who after Wright left, was promoted to head coach of the Pride.

Said Pecora, “[Columbia] shot 51%, we shot 37%. 90% of what Columbia was doing was effort…We won making plays but they dictated the tempo. I told them to stick together and listen to their coach and they’re gonna be good.”

Jones returned the admiration. “[Pecora’s] like my older brother. He taught me the business. I’ll be forever grateful to him. It was great to go out and battle him but they were the better team and they deserved to win.”

Hofstra escaped Dodge Fitness Center, 58-55, on a three-point buzzer beater from freshman guard Carlos Rivera. “There’s a tape of the state [high school] tournament in Miami of him taking the same shot. I told him just do what you did on the tape. I tried to keep him loose,” Pecora recalls of the pre-shot huddle. “Carlos has great poise. He doesn’t look at the clock. He doesn’t play like a freshman.”

Rivera’s heroic bucket made up three of his seven points on the day.


Bah Humbug, Number One

by - Published December 11, 2003 in Columns

Who Needs a Number 1?

by Adam Shandler

It happened to UConn. It happened to Kansas. And it just happened to Florida. In a year where parity among the upper echelon teams seems to be a theme, being number one just ain’t what it used to be.

So why have a number one or a Top 25 at all? The latter has been addressed ad nauseum by my colleagues since Hoopville went online three years ago. We know why we have polls – because the media, coaches and the NCAA need some kind of barometer – a warehouse of the best teams, if you will – to assist them with the tournament selection process in March. For the fans, it adds a layer of excitement, as in “who can beat whom to be the best team”, at least for a week.

The cabal that weighs in on these Top 25s is made up usually of coaches and the media.

Yes, the media. Have you seen some of these people?

While a good portion of the media is now made up of former coaches and players, the same cannot be said for those who weren’t born again as athletes-turned-pontificators. In fact the only boxing out these guys do is at the free buffet line in the press room. If you’re a coach or player on a team yearning for respect, having your season judged by these people is almost a cruel state of existence.

And how do our media friends and colleagues choose Top 25 teams? How is UConn better than Maryland better than Louisville? The criteria is hardly Einsteinian. Heck, it’s not even Fisher Price. You look at tradition, the nucleus of returning players, strength of conference and of course, strength of schedule. Then it’s a giant jigsaw puzzle.

Choosing a number one should be the easiest part. The best team is the best team. It’s cut and dried. A hands-down procedure. But not this year.

In just four weeks of college basketball, Number One has become a carousel. It’s hardly a jinxed position, nothing like being on the cover of Sports Illustrated. It just so happens that the best teams are more competitive this year. And while that’s bad for the Number One team in a given week, it’s great for college hoops.

So if there is going to be constant jockeying for Number One, why have a Number One at all? Number One should be something that’s earned over the long term, or at the end of the season when all the games are played. During the season have a 2 through 25 if you want. In the number one spot, just put a black silhouette of an animal mascot with a question mark over it in a nice boxed graphic. You can still have the excitement of a poll, and with raised suspense at that. Not only will there be a Road to the Final Four, but you can have a Road to Number One – the mother of all prizes in the mother of all college sports.

My solution will have its critics and I am well prepared to combat them. There are going to be seasons when one team is just head and shoulders above the rest. They’ll dominate, demonstrate and never will they abdicate. If my number one elimination solution is actually ratified (and it never will be, but it’s nice to dream) then fans of such a juggernaut team will moan and wail that their squad is being deprived of apex status during the regular season. But if that team is truly the best, they’ll win the NCAA title and justify their “Number One-edness”. If a team like this does not make good on its expectations, then keeping the number one spot open till April is a sensible solution.

As I am constantly reminded by followers, players and coaches of the games, it’s the teams that should decide who is best, not the arbitrary ruminations of the media and coaches.


Morning Dish

by - Published December 9, 2003 in Conference Notes

The Morning Dish – Tuesday, December 9

This Week At Number One: Like a hot potato, the number one ranking in our Top 25 Hoopville poll has been passed to another team. The 5-0 Florida Gators zing up to the top spot from No. 3 after a good week against in-state mid-majors. Carolina also trampolined considerably, moving from 6 to 2. The biggest jump belongs to the Texas Longhorns, who climb from No. 16 to 8, and the Michigan State Spartans have reeled, falling to No. 20 from the 8th spot. 6-0 Dayton makes its debut at No. 24 and Notre Dame has played itself out of the Top 25 from the 21st spot last week. Pittsburgh is the victim of some gridlock. The Panthers are 6-0 but haven’t moved from the 22nd spot since the beginning of the season.

Tub O’ Wins: Normally a Lamar win over Texas Southern would be buried well under the floorboards of Division I boxscores. But the Cardinals 79-67 win over TSU has significance. Head Coach Billy Tubbs became only the 28th coach in NCAA Division I history to record 600 wins. Dean Smith comfortably sits atop the fraternity with 879 victories. 600 wins was a milestone Tubbs might never have achieved had he not returned to his alma mater as athletic director last season and implemented himself as coach. The Oklahoma native, whose win-loss mark stands at 600-298 in 29 seasons, guided his teams to 12 NCAA tournaments. His 1988 Oklahoma Sooners club, with Stacey King and Mookie Blaylock, went all the way to the Final Four.

Badger Feet Healing: According to Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan, forwards Alando Tucker and Jason Chappell have recovered nicely from their foot injuries and have been cleared to practice. However, in his Monday news conference Ryan also stated that there is no concrete timetable for the two big men to return to intercollegiate action.
Tucker, who led all Big Ten frosh in rebounding last season, has been sidelined eight weeks. Chappell has sat for six.

Memphis and Tennessee Mend Fences: Thanks to an agreement between the athletic directors at Memphis and Tennessee both schools will play an annual home-and-home matchup beginning in 2005. The contract calls for the relationship to continue until 2013. The deal, brokered by Memphis’ RC Johnson and Mike Hamilton of Tennessee, happened over the Hall of Fame dinner for the National Football Foundation this past weekend. An annual football game between the two schools is also part of the pact. There has been a period of animosity between Memphis and UT fueled by Tigers’ head coach John Calipari, who refused to play a home-and-home with the Vols, who recruit actively in Elvistown. Memphis defeated the Vols in the last meeting between the two schools, which occurred in 2001.

Nouha More Waiting: Louisville’s Nouha Diakhite has finally been given the green light to suit up for the Cardinals. The 6-9 JUCO transfer was forced to sit out his first two NCAA games and first two exhibition games due to unpublicized NCAA eligibility issues. With junior forward Otis George nursing a hip pointer, Diakhite’s arrival could prove quite timely. Rick Pitino’s 25th-ranked club is 1-1 and is coming off a 30-point win over Western Kentucky.

Round The Nation: The Hoopville Top 25 had a night off, but here’s a recap of some other local and regional games of note:

• In the feud of two DC teams, it was American besting Howard, 57-53. Matej Cresnick hit 6-of-8 from the floor to lead the Eagles with 14 points.

• Arkansas State (5-1) has been quietly impressive and last night squeaked by Liberty, 64-63. There were 10 lead changes in this game. Tevoris Thompson came off the bench to lead ASU with 24.

• The MAAC is one of the few conferences that has already begun conference play. St. Peter’s pummeled 80-66. The Peacocks overcame a 27-26 halftime deficit to outscore the Greyhounds 54-39 in the second half.

• Texas-El Paso upped their mark to 5-1 with an 88-61 smothering of Houston; In a Hoosier-state clash, Valpo clipped Indiana State, 59-53.

Tonight’s Menu

•It’s a night of great hoops for a good cause. Madison Square Garden is the stage for the Jimmy V Classic, an NCAA hoops tradition that raises money for cancer research. In game one, Illinois faces Providence. Game Two has more of that Game-of-the-Week timbre to it: Arizona and Texas. Both games will be televised nationally on ESPN beginning at 7 PM ET.

•From the Something’s-Gotta-Give Department, the 13th-ranked St. Joe’s Hawks will host Boston College at the Palestra. Both teams are undefeated. Villanova will also face Penn in Big 5 action.

•In-state battles continue tonight: Xavier travels to Miami, OH; Boston U. hosts 0-5 Harvard; Cal State Fullerton takes on Southern Cal; Undefeated Iowa visits Northern Iowa; Buffalo treks to Colgate, and St. Francis of NY challenges beleaguered St. John’s.

Southland Conference Notebook

by - Published December 4, 2003 in Conference Notes

Southland Conference Notebook

by Adam Shandler

Lamar: Terrell Petteway is lighting it up for the Cardinals. Problem is, his efforts may be sneezed upon by the hoops elite. Petteway opened the season with both a 23 and 10 double-double and a 30 point outing. Those stellar performances, however, came against small schools LeTourneau and Hardin Simmons, respectively…Billy Tubbs’s team smote North Texas, 88-72, in its first D-I game of the season on November 29. Junior Gil Goodrich led the Cards with 21. With that victory, coach Tubbs is now just two away from 600.

Louisiana-Monroe: The Indians opened up the season slow out of the gate, but give them credit; they had to tussle with the likes of LSU, Miami, FL, and Rhode Island — teams from conferences with higher RPIs. But Mike Vining’s team got a much needed reprieve. On November 30 ULM finally notched its first W on the year with an 83-53 trouncing of Central Methodist College. The Indians held CMC to 8-of-31 shooting and hit for 52% themselves. Tank Thompson finished the home opener with 12 points, 10 boards and Mark Keith had 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting…It’s back into the fire for ULM. They challenge Mississippi State in Starkville on Dec. 3.

McNeese State: The Cowboy campus is still commiserating over their humbling 35-3 defeat at the hands of Northern Arizona in the I-AA football playoffs. Ranked No. 1 in the nation with a 10-1 record going into the game, hopes were sorely dashed Thanksgiving weekend. Now McNeese sports fans can look to a basketball team that is 3-2 and which put up a good fight against LSU, 77-87. Most recently, Tic Price’s boys fell to Mississippi State, despite seven three-pointers and 23 points from Edward Garriet…The Centenary Gents are next for MSU, a Dec. 6 matchup in Shreveport, LA.

Nicholls State: After getting thumped by Florida State and Arkansas to open the season, the Colonels dialed it down and got much needed confidence-boosters against Wiley College (96-59) and Dillard (79-68). NSU does not play another game until December 10, when they face Southern at home…The Colonels are led in points and rebounds (15.0 and 6.5) by Jason Wilkins. Wilkins had 21 points, eight rebounds against Arkansas and 19 points in the loss to the Seminoles.

Northwestern State: This past Thanksgiving weekend, the Spirit of Giving was the theme for the Demons. In more ways than one. While in Chicago to face namesake Northwestern, Mike McConathy’s team united with two Aurora, Ill., churches to feed the needy. Shortly after on the 29th, the Demons fed the Wildcats a 69-61 victory. NSU did a nice job defensively on Northwestern’s leading scorer Jitim Young (9 points, 0 rebounds, 0 assists) but four other purple players hit for double-digits. All-Southland forward Jermaine Wallace scored 15 for the Demons, while the other Jermaine – Spencer – had13 points and brought down 9 boards…NSU got even more generous with Centenary as the Gents took a 44-21 halftime lead and turned it into a 90-67 triumph. The 1-4 Demons got 14 from Wallace; the next highest scorers were Jermaine Hancock and Demetrius Bell with 8 each.

Sam Houston State: The Bearkats are already building for next year. Bob Marlin just signed local high school forward Ryan Bright from Deer Park. The 6-6, 200 lb. big man averaged 17.9 ppg and 10.4 rpg as a junior and was named his district’s MVP…The Kats have beat up on some lower-division squads so far (Jarvis Christian, 74-60, and Central Arkansas, 68-57) but their pride got whacked by a two-by-four in the form of the Texas Longhorns (122-71). Sam Houston has some games they can win coming up, namely against Texas-Corpus Christi, Arkansas State and Texas-Pan American. Then it’s another Lone Star juggernaut: Bobby Knight’s Red Raiders on December 17…Auguste Wilder is SHSU’s points leader with just over 11 a game.

Southeastern Louisiana: The 2-2 Lions showed Bellhaven what D-I is all about by handing the Blazers an 83-67 drubbing on Dec. 2. Guess SELA was still charged up after giving Ole Miss a scare on Nov. 29 and posting a valiant effort against Alabama on the 25th. Against Mississippi, the Lions came down from 31-14 at the half to outscore the Rebels 34-21 in the second stanza. A fast-paced 11-4 run made this one interesting, but down the stretch clutch shooting by Ole Miss’s Justin Reed – both from the floor and the line – put the game just slightly out of reach, and SELA went home with a 52-48 loss. Lions Center Nate Lofton posted a 14-11 double-dandy, the first of two on the year…Against Alabama, it was again a game of second-half catch-up. With the Tide up 38-31 at the break, SELA went bucket for bucket with ‘Bama but came up short, 83-76. All-Southland forward Amir Abdur-Rahim had a season best 17 to lead the Lions. Earnest Shelton scored 28 for the Crimson Tide.

Stephen F. Austin: The Jacks are 3-0 and looking like the hungriest team in the Southland field. SFA rolled over Alcorn State, 80-63, and embattled Baylor, 79-57, and opened with a hurtin’ of Houston Baptists 98-83. Senior forward Antonio Burks has been a man possessed. He’s put up big numbers, 20, 28, and 17 and his rebounding, at 6-per-game, ain’t half bad either. Thus far, Burks is the runaway favorite for postseason player of the year, but TCU is up next for the Lumberjacks.

Texas-Arlington: The Mavs wasted no time in the early signing period, recruiting two of the most highly touted prep players in all of Texas. Myles Guidry, a 6-4 forward who is regarded as one of the 300 best high school seniors, averaged 12.5 points and eight boards last year. He led Elsik High School to a 29-6 record and was named to the Adidas Big Time AAU All-Tournament team in Las Vegas. Guidry will be joined by Houston Milbry’s Larry Posey, a 6-5 forward and two-time all-district selection. Posey, who put up 15.8 ppg, 9.7 rpg and 2.1 bpg, is also listed as one of the top 50 prep players in the Lone Star State…The 0-2 Mavericks had a chance to redeem themselves greatly against New Mexico State on Nov. 24, but the Aggies pooled together a 21-5 run in the second half to record a 72-62 W. The game featured 10 lead changes over a 7:16 span. UT-A got their first victory on November 29, an 81-75 squeaker over Texas-Pan American. Steven Thomas poured in 23 in the Mavs’ unconvincing showing…Texas-Arlington doesn’t face another D-I opponent until Dec. 22 when the Mavs visit Wichita State.

Texas-San Antonio: If the Roadrunners’ season-opening loss to Alaska-Fairbanks is any omen for the rest of the season, then it’s going to be a long year in San Antone. 1-3 UTSA notched their lone victory against VMI in the consolation bracket of the Top of the World Classic, then regressed against Idaho State and Illinois-Chicago. Raphael Posey scored 16 against the Flames in the home opener…On Dec. 3, things get even dicier as the Roadrunners travel to Stillwater to face an Oklahoma State team that wants in on the Hoopville Top 25…All-Southland pick LeRoy Hurd leads his team with averages of 13.5 points and 6 rebounds.

Texas State: The Bobcats join a troubled fleet of Southland teams with their 1-4 mark. The troubles began with a 77-64 loss to New Orleans, then TSU took their problems out on Texas-Lutheran, 73-39. After the temporary glee, the Cats traveled up – way up – to Anchorage and posted three straight losses to Purdue, Alaska-Anchorage and Pacific in the Great Alaska Shootout. Texas State now prepares for the Southwest Missouri State Tournament (Dec. 5-6) where it draws Weber State in round one and will face either the host Bears or Coppin State in the next wave.


Morning Dish

by - Published December 2, 2003 in Conference Notes

The Morning Dish – Tuesday, December 2

A New Numero Uno: With Connecticut losing to G-Tech in the Preseason NIT, Duke falling to Purdue in the Great Alaska Shootout and Arizona getting tripped up by Florida in the Mass Mutual Classic, a new No. 1 in the Hoopville poll has been crowned. The Kansas Jayhawks shot up four spots to overtake the Huskies for the top spot while UConn drops to No. 4. Other considerable jumps include Mizzou, which went from 4 to 2 and Florida, which shot from 9 to 3. A few new squads grace the ‘Ville’s Top 25 as well. Georgia Tech debuts at No. 15 while Purdue is honored at 23.

De-deviled: Duke reserve center Michael Thompson, a former McDonald’s All-American, has decided to transfer to another school at the end of the fall semester. According to ESPN.com, Thomas was irked by his lack of playing time. In only 11 minutes of court time in three of the Blue Devils’ four games, Thompson put up 2.3 ppg and 0.3 rpg and hit for a career high seven points in the Great Alaska Shootout semifinal against Liberty. The 6-10, 245-pound center has not indicated what schools he’s interested in, but coach Mike Krzyzewski claims that the backup big man is leaving Durham in good academic standing.

Hoosier Hurt: Indiana has their share of problems at center as well, but this one comes by way of injury. George Leach, the Big Ten’s leader in blocked shots last year, injured his knee in the overtime upset of Xavier on Saturday. Ironically, the productive 6-11 starter sustained the injury while attempting to block a shot midway through the second half. Leach, who swatted 79 balls last year and moved into fifth on the all-time Hoosier blocks list with 155, underwent an MRI on Saturday night and will be sidelined indefinitely. In three games, he averaged 8.0 ppg.

Fox Won’t Be Trotting: Add yet another casualty to the growing list of gimpy hoopsters. Arizona forward Isaiah Fox will go under the knife today to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. Adding injury to insult, Fox knew he injured the knee in Zona’s 78-77 loss to Florida last Friday but an MRI late yesterday confirmed the tear. He will miss three to six weeks depending on how well he rehabs. The 6-9 forward’s contributions will be missed. Fox is averaging 8.5 ppg and 6.5 rebounds in two games and recorded a double-double of 15 and 11 against Northern Arizona.

KU Gets First Win as a No. 1: For one half of basketball, it almost looked like Bill Self’s team didn’t want the No. 1 attachment. Up 39-38 going into the locker room, the Jayhawks had to come out in the second half and prove that their new status was no fluke. And they did. Tied at 43 apiece with 17-and-a-half left, Keith Langford rock-chalked for two of his 24 points and put KU on top of TCU for good. Kansas wins in what became a blowout, 85-66.

Breaking Of Dawn Not So Easy: Marshall rained threes – 10 of them – and closed to within six points in the final minutes, but ninth-ranked Kentucky came away with an 89-76 victory over the Thundering Herd in Cincinnati. Ronny Dawn, who shoots 42 percent from long range, had seven of those three-pointers and led the Herd with 23 points. But Marshall’s guns cooled and the Cats closed out the match-up with a 7-0 run. Gerald Fitch, who scored a pivotal jumper to start the run, paced UK with 24 points. With the win, the Wildcats made it 11 straight over the team from Huntington, West Virginia.

For UConn, A Tale Of Two Halves. Again: In the early going, the Huskies contest against Lehigh had flashes of last week’s Yale game. UConn opened up the game on a 7-0 run but let the Mountain Hawks catch up – and tie it up – towards the end of the first half. At the 2:49 mark of the first half, the game was knotted at 24 thanks to five threes by the Hawks. At halftime the Huskies nursed a 37-26 lead built on a 13-2 run. After the half, the Supermen of UConn shed their Clark Kent images, shooting 55 percent from the floor to notch a 75-55 win. Hot shooting certainly helped Jim Calhoun’s club but his team’s defense was even better. The Huskies had 12 steals and 9 blocks, five of which belonged to freshman center Josh Boone. Ben Gordon led all scorers with 19.

Marquette Makes Case For Higher Ranking: The No. 24 Golden Eagles dominated Notre Dame last night, turning a 41-26 halftime lead into a 71-58 victory. Three Marquette players turned in double-figure efforts, led by Steve Novak’s 21. Meanwhile the favored Irish, No. 21 in our poll, shot a paltry 19-of-61 from the field for 31 percent, including 5-of-30 from three-point range. Chris Thomas was not himself, hitting on 4-of-19 attempts. Folks in Milwaukee are no doubt enjoying their cold dish of revenge. The Irish demolished Marquette last season, 92-71, as Thomas went off for 32 points and 10 assists.

Top Cat, Big Dog And The Trojan Man: After a good two weeks of NCAA ball and three games, Western Carolina’s Kevin Martin leads all Division I scorers with a 30 ppg average. The Catamount guard hit for 44 in a 78-67 loss to Georgia on November 21. In the rebounding column, Northern Illinois’ Marcus Smallwood is tops with a 14.7 average. The senior forward also leads all Husky players in scoring at an 18-point clip. Greg Davis of Troy State serves up the most dishes. In three games, he has earned the highest assist average in NCAA D-I hoops with 10.3 per game. He had seven in the Trojans’ loss to LSU and 12 in a win over San Diego State.

Tonight’s Menu

• North Carolina, at No. 6, and tenth-ranked Illinois provide the most intriguing match-up of the night. Both clubs are 3-0 but neither have faced any comparable competition.

• No. 3 Florida, the highest-ranked team in action, tries to avoid a let-down against winless Florida A&M. The Gators are coming off a 78-77 upset over Arizona at the Mass Mutual Classic in Springfield, MA, on Saturday. Sophomore forward Matt Walsh leads the team with 22.5 ppg while freshman Chris Richard and junior David Lee each haul down seven rebounds a game.

• Undefeated Wake Forest, Hoopville’s No. 19, can move up in the polls even further with a win against Indiana tonight. The Hoosiers upended Xavier this weekend in OT to improve to 2-1.

• The Oklahoma Sooners get a tune-up against Arkansas-Pine Bluff tonight. After their tussle with the Golden Lions, it’s off to meetings with Michigan State, No. 8, and a surprising 23rd-ranked Purdue team.

• No. 2 Missouri, which won its first and only game against Oakland on the 29th, is itching for some more competition. Coppin State obliges the Tigers tonight, followed by showdowns with Indiana and 18th-ranked Gonzaga.

• In another battle of 3-and-0’s the No. 14 Wisconsin Badgers test their mettle against upstart Maryland. Wisconsin comes off a 55-43 struggle with Rutgers; Maryland disposed of Hofstra, 87-72. This is the first of three serious contests for the Terps against Top 25 competition. After the Badgers, Gary Williams’ team will face Gonzaga at home then travel to Florida.

Morning Dish

by - Published November 25, 2003 in Conference Notes

The Morning Dish – Tuesday, November 25th

It’s 1982 All Over Again!: Ok, not quite, but you can still chalk this up as another Chaminade upset. Kashif Reyes’ two threes and two free throws in the final 2:30 gave the host Silverswords a 52-49 victory over Villanova in the opening round of the Maui Invitational. Jay Wright’s Wildcats did go into the game with a significant handicap. Only seven Nova players saw court time as the school is still serving up suspensions for last year’s multiple misuse of a university phone card. While the Chaminade victory doesn’t stack up against their most storied upset ever – a 77-72 shocker over Ralph Sampson and No. 1 Virginia – the win does up the Silverswords’ Maui Invitational record to 4-53 overall. Look out. Here they come.

Mourning Retires: One of the best college centers ever to play the game called it quits yesterday. Alonzo Mourning, whose NBA career spanned 12 seasons with the Charlotte Hornets, Miami Heat and New Jersey Nets, cited a recurring kidney disease as reason for the exit. He will need a transplant and has already added his name to the national donor list. The five-time NBA all-star and one-time gold medalist wasn’t too shabby during his college days either. Here’s a look back at Zo’s four-year career at Georgetown, 1988-1992:

• 4th in school history in points with 2,001 over 120 games.

• 6th in career scoring average at 16.6 ppg.

• 5th in highest single-season point total: 681, 1991-92.

• 3rd highest rebounder in school history with 1,032. His 8.6 average was good for 11th on the all-time Hoya list.

• 2nd in shots blocked with 453, a 3.77 blocks-per-game average.

• 1st player in Big East Conference history to be named Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and Tournament MVP all in one year, 1992.

Owls Soar to Top of the World: Michael Harris poured in 15 points and Rice defeated Washington State, 64-49, to win the Top of the World Classic in Fairbanks, Alaska Sunday night. Harris, who averaged 15.3 ppg, and 11.3 rpg in the three tournament games was named MVP. In their first two games, the Owls thumped Idaho State, 76-46, and St. Mary’s, CA, 69-55.

Humphries Honored: Freshman forward Kris Humphries of Minnesota showed all other rookies how to start a college career. His 23 point and 12.5 rebound-per-game averages in the first two rounds of the Preseason NIT earned the Gopher a Big Ten Player of the Week honor. Against Missouri-Kansas City, Humphries netted 26 points and 15 rebounds to become the first Minnesota freshman since 1991 to put up a 20-point, 10-rebound night. The 6-9 big man liked the feeling so much he went out and accomplished the feat again, posting 20 and 10 against Utah. Humphries is the first freshman to win the Big Ten Player of the Week award in the first week of regular season play.

Cotton Bawl: No. 7 Michigan State, which faces, No. 5 Kansas tonight, will be without freshman point guard Brandon Cotton for at least a month. The McDonald’s All-America may have a stress facture in his right foot, but according to coach Tom Izzo, will undergo more tests. Cotton had two points in a five-minute debut against Bucknell, where the Spartans escaped with a 64-52 win.

Hoopville Top 25 Games of Interest: 16,356 came out to Charlotte Coliseum to see Roy Williams coach the No. 8 Tarheels against Davidson. UNC cruised, 91-68, behind Jawad Williams’s career-high 28 points.

No. 3 Arizona smoked Northern Arizona 107-73 as the Wildcats shot 47 percent from the field and had five players with 14 or more points. The win was Lute Olson’s 500th as head coach of the Wildcats, and is eight wins from 700 overall.

Jared Maxiell put up 26 points as 21st-ranked Cincinnati clobbered Oakland, 89-60. The Golden Grizzlies’ Mike Helms was held to 13 points on 4-of-18 shooting and he missed 10 of his last 12 shots. Kudos to Oakland for their non-conference schedule, with Xavier, Michigan, Cincinnati, Missouri, and Memphis on their slate.

No.11 Texas made it look easy against Sam Houston State, 122-71. Sydmill Harris and Brandon Mouton combined for 43 points. Freshman PJ Tucker continues to impress. The forward had 18 points, 11 boards for the 2-0 Longhorns.

Northern Illinois got as close as six when Anthony Maezstrani sank a three with forty seconds to go, but keen foul shooting down the stretch gave 17th-ranked Notre Dame a 74-65 win. Torin Francis tallied 24 points, 19 rebounds and five blocks in the season opener for the Fightin’ Irish.

Tonight’s Menu

• In what could be a preview of a game we might see in March, 7th-ranked Michigan State visits No.5 Kansas. Both teams won their first games. Keith Langford is coming off a 24-point effort against Chattanooga in the Jayhawks’ opener while center David Padgett registered 10 boards and five blocks; Michigan State hopes for another strong effort from big man Paul Davis who chimed in with 21 points and 8 rebounds in a 64-52 win against Bucknell.

• No. 9 Florida cracks open their season by hosting 2-0 Montana State. The Gators, with their slew of super-sophomores, hope to build off of last season’s 25-8 campaign. They’ll have to go through FIU Tournament MVP Jason Erickson and hot-handed Danny Faaborg, who averaged 19 ppg against Quinnipiac and Howard.

• Other games involving the Hoopville Top 25 include No. 14 Oklahoma entertaining in-state foe Tulsa; 15th-ranked Wisconsin takes on Eastern Ilinois; No. 16 St. Joseph’s travels to Boston U.; Stanford, No. 18, tchallenges 2-1 UC-Irvine, and in a clash of the Capital Beltway, Maryland a receiving-votes team, hosts George Mason.

• Who would have thought that a team called Lubbock Christian would ever want to participate in anything related to Las Vegas? The Las Vegas Invitational continues tonight when 2-0 Bradley, which had to come back from 13 down to upend Louisiana-Monroe, faces the NAIA Chapparals of LCU. The aforementioned UL-M Indians, meanwhile, face Northeastern in a contest of 0-2 teams. And Miami of Florida goes for three straight against 1-1 Rhode Island.

Morning Dish

by - Published November 18, 2003 in Conference Notes

The Morning Dish – Tuesday, November 18th

Huskies Bark Louder Than Bulldogs: But not by much. UConn, No. 1 in the Hoopville Top 25, had to overcome a 31-28 halftime deficit, but defeated in-state rival Yale, 70-60 in Round 1 of the Preseason NIT. Preseason All-America Emeka Okafor led Connecticut with 21 points, 13 boards as his club outscored the Bulldogs 42-29 in the second half. A 14-2 run out of the second-half gate gave Jim Calhoun’s club the lead for good and his first win on the year. Yale had three players in double figures with Dominick Martin and Edwin Draughn each netting 14. UConn will square off against Nevada in the Round 2 on Wednesday.

TJ? No, PJ!: The post-TJ Ford era has begun at Texas and so far, the Longhorns ain’t missin’ him. Freshman forward PJ Tucker posted an 18 point, 13 rebound night as the boys from Austin thumped Brown, 89-51 in the NABC Classic. Three other players scored in double-digits with Brandon Mouton filing for 16 and Kenny Taylor and Brian Boddicker hitting for 12 each. The No. 11 Horns owned the glass in this one. Center James Thomas hauled in 19 of Texas’s 59 rebounds. Brown was led by senior forward Jaime Kilburn’s 16 points and 13 boards.

Xavier Handles Helms: Last season Oakland guard Mike Helms was third in the nation in scoring at a 26.9 clip. His prolific ways continued in the first two rounds of the Black Coaches Association Classic with nights of 31 against San Diego – a tournament record – and 27 against Illinois-Chicago. No. 23 Xavier, however, found an answer for Helms and held the crafty senior to just 6-of-25 shooting and 14 points. The Musketeers took the BCA Classic title game, 76-66, over the Grizzlies to remain undefeated at 3-0. While Lionel Chalmers impressed with 20 points, First-Team All-America Romain Sato disappointed with 1-of-12 shooting for 11 points, but he did have four blocks.

Another Ailing Trojan: The MASH unit that is USC adds another player to its injured list. Senior guard Desmon Farmer hurt his right hip in a Sunday night exhibition win over the Long Island All-Stars. Farmer, who averaged 18.7 ppg last season, joins guard Roy Smiley (ankle) and forward Nick Curtis (knee). Farmer will underwent a precautionary x-ray Monday and hopes to be in the lineup when the Trojans’ face Western Michigan in their opener on Friday.

New Dimensions: In two of Monday night’s Guardians Classic games the NCAA experimented with the international-style trapezoidal lane and extended three-point line. The NCAA Rules Committee voted to implement the 20-foot, six inch arc for the 2003-04 season but stopped short to allow for more study on both the line and the lane. Well, the guinea pigs were South Carolina and Gardner Webb and Idaho and Elon. The Gamecocks and Vandals were both victors 83-74 and 84-60 respectively.

Boo Is Back: Wisconsin must be thrilled to have shooting guard Boo Wade back for the regular season. Wade, who injured his left knee on November 5, returned to the Badger lineup to face the NDBL Charleston Lowgaters last night, a week ahead of doctors’ predictions. But Wade’s return is only one bright spot on an otherwise crippled Wisconsin club. Forwards Alando Tucker and Jason Chappell have two good feet between them. Both have broken tootsies and are out indefiintely.

Tonight’s Menu:

• While a dark night for the Hoopville Top 25, there are still four Preseason NIT contests. Lousiana-Lafayette takes on Georgia Tech in Atlanta, St. Francis of New York visits UMass, Hofstra Meets Marist and Texas Tech hosts Davidson. All eight teams involved in tonight’s games are seeing their first action of the season.

Opening of College Hoops

by - Published November 17, 2003 in Columns

Opening Night as Therapy
by Adam Shandler

While many of us writers live in the fine burg of Hoopville, some of us have to commute to work in other places. As a PR consultant, sometimes projects take me to exotic realms, and I am proud to say that the natives in St. Louis, New Hampshire and Camden, NJ, have welcomed me as one of their own. I even learned to speak their language. (Wicked good. See?) On Thursday, I schlepped up to Boston and represented 2003 Hoopville Tournament Challenge sponsor NFG Stuff (a line of men’s hair products) at the annual SnowShow at Boston’s Bayside Expo Center.

Angry, high-speed, November winds tossed my Mercury Sable about the asphalt of the Mass Pike, but I held fast and docked me “Silver Lassie” in harbor. Such a jaunt would have shaken the hairs off of any man’s chest, but a sterner cap’n I be. (Okay, I just received word from my editor that I am hereby banned from any more pirate talk — arrrrggh!)

The SnowExpo is a mondo event for all those adventurous souls who like skiing, snowboarding, skiboarding, boardskiing, skateskiing, skiskating, slushsurfing and imbibing generous – if not steeply priced – quantities of beer. I parried jokes with handsome, square-jawed ski instructors from Colorado (fun) and rubbed shoulders with Anne-Marie, the fleece-vested, fair-skinned blonde representing Quebec Tourism (more fun). Folks poured in from as nearby as Dorchester and as far as the outer reaches of Hartford to steal a deal on ski pants, goggles, snowboards, lift tickets and, of course, fermented hops and barley. And there was me. The shampoo guy.

After setting up my wares, I prepared for six hours of hawking products, passing out samples and informing the public about our “Hair Stuff for Guys” and how the Y chromosomed need a more masculine scent in their head. I went full-throttle from 4 PM to 10 PM and by the end of the night I had a twinge of laryngitis and stiff legs. The hotel beckoned!

Route 1 North in the Boston suburbs is one of those sadistic stretches of American roadway where if you miss your turn you must drive three miles up the road to find the U-turn in order to go back south, to then make another U-turn to resume heading north. Needless to say I had missed my entrance at the Marriott was forced to tack on another twenty minutes to my night with this bit of highway doe-see-doe. The day had gone on long enough and I was more than ready to punch out.

Like a mythical oasis, I found my room: No. 529, located inconveniently down the hall from the elevators. If my room had been any further down the hall it would have been at the Hampton Inn next door. I tossed my bags on the couch of the office/living room/kitchen and was ready to unwind.

And how does a trade show veteran like myself get the lead out?

Deep-tissue massage, you say? Nay, my friend, nay.

Jacuzzi? Well, if your definition of a Jacuzzi is a big ol’ swirly tub of college hoops, than color me soaked!

Being a Hoopville writer and big time fan of the college game, I knew the significance of the evening. The college basketball season was to tip-off with the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at Madison Square Garden. Like a latecomer to a wedding that misses the ceremony but stays for the party, I failed to catch any of the Wake Forest-Memphis game, but soothed into the second half of Marquette and St. John’s. I know, it was a low-scoring, poor-shooting affair that the #24 Golden Eagles could have easily fumbled, but as the hobbly Travis Diener sank his key free throws my throat and legs felt a little less sore.

College hoops was back, and as I discovered, its games are therapeutic for both the mind and body. They are an absinthe for a hard day’s work, and watching amateur athletes attempt professional feats can be pretty inspiring. While I could have just passed out at 10:30, I was locked into the game. I enjoyed celebrating and castigating, praising and critiquing. Sometimes it’s the early-season imperfections you enjoy most (29.6% shooting and 20 turnovers for Marquette, 31.4% shooting for St. John’s). With the Golden Eagles’ Duane Wade gone and St. John’s looking to anoint another Marcus Hatten, you had two teams making a season opener what it should be: a storybook of uncertainty; of holes to fill and rust to repaint. But there were also some bouts of heroism, glimpses from guys we knew little of previously, who could be the subject of future articles – or dare I say, recipients of postseason honors.

Man, I missed this.

Had I shut it off the broadcast, I would have felt detached from the college hoops world, and this being opening night, I would have only been asking myself, “Did Marquette pull it off?” I went to bed with a great satisfaction, knowing that every night between now and April there’d always be a game on. Perhaps I took it for granted in the past, when I was less mobile in my job, that college hoops were a great way to end the day. They are chamomile and taurine rolled into one. They are the best form of reality TV, with no one getting voted off until March. Or until the NCAA Committee on Infractions says so. And you don’t have to worry about the season getting canceled like 70% of this season’s ill-advised TV train wrecks. Such thoughts gave me comfort as I flicked off the light after Marquette’s 52-45 W over the Johnnies, and I was primed and ready to do the trade show thing all over again on Friday.

I returned to the floor the next day with a renewed spirit and an unconquerable energy in my pitch of novel hair care items. I had not a care in the world.

Well, maybe one care: Getting home in time to catch St. Joe’s-Gonzaga and Pittsburgh-Alabama.


Southland Conference Preview

by - Published November 10, 2003 in Conference Notes

Southland Conference Preview

by Adam Shandler

If you’re a college coach, you gotta love the junior colleges. They’re like the minor leagues for NCAA Division I programs. You may get a guy that can only give you two years, but those are two quality years. Players out of the JuCo system are a little more seasoned than your high school recruit, and for a couple of seasons have been incubating in the same hatchery with bigger, faster, quicker and hopefully more mentally mature guys. What can possibly be the downside? I’m not pontificating on anything that coaches in the Southland Conference don’t already know, which is why they went ga-ga on the JuCos like Star Jones at a Payless.

Kudos to the SLC commissioner for a positive formatting change. Up until this year, the 11-team Southland required that its teams play fellow members twice a year. With every team playing 20 conference games, that left very little scheduling room for out-of-conference games against teams with higher RPIs and deep pockets. This format terribly affected the Southland, as Sam Houston State won the automatic bid, but left 21-game winner Stephen F. Austin without any kind of postseason appearance. Beginning this year, each Southland team is only mandated to play 16 in-conference games. Schools like Louisiana-Monroe took advantage of the breathing room by slating LSU, Baylor, Mississippi, and Texas A&M. Meanwhile schools like SFA did nothing to aid their cause, creampuffing their docket with small, regional clubs like Oklahoma Panhandle, Cameron, and Alcorn State. Twice.

Texas-Arlington is ready for a title run. The Mavericks will remind fans of what Wisconsin-Milwaukee was last year in the Horizon: a team that paid its dues, had players that matured and were ready for a championship. Stephen F. Austin will be breathing down UTA’s neck, and will probably collect 20 wins or more. But will the Lumberjacks have enough gas for the conference tourney? Sam Houston State, who posted a remarkable run to the Big Dance last year goes from Conference Champs to Conference Cramps. Texas State (formerly Southwest Texas State), who landed a trip to the Great Alaska Shootout, could be the spoiler.

Preseason Awards

G/F Terry Conerway, Senior, Texas State
G LeRoy Hurd, Senior, Texas-San Antonio
G Amir Abdur-Rahim, Senior, Southeast Louisiana
G Jermaine Wallace, Sophomore, Northwestern State
C Roy Johnson, Senior, Texas-Arlington

Player of the Year
Terry Conerway, guard/forward, Texas State

Rookie of the Year
Daryl Mason, guard, Louisiana-Monroe

1. Texas-Arlington Mavericks (16-13, 13-7 Southland)

Projected Starters:
Roy Johnson, Sr., F, (11.1 ppg, 5.9 rpg)
Derrick Obasohan, Sr., F, (11.3 ppg, 4.2 rpg)
Steven Thomas, Sr., F, (6.8 ppg, 4.7 rpg)
Keith Howell, Sr., G, (11.3 ppg, 5.9 rpg)
Brady Dawkins, So., G (2.0 ppg, 20 assists)

Top Newcomer: Jay Neukomm, Fr., C

Depth, leadership, balance. What coach could ask for anything more? The Mavericks return three starters who know what they’re doing. All-Southland pick Roy Johnson anchors a squad not of superstars, but consistent, unselfish players. Center Johnson, forward Derrick Obasohan and guard Keith Howell all average a sliver over 11 points but need to step it up offensively. Howell prefers the 2-guard spot but may need to take some time at point while Josh Daniel’s replacement is found. The Roadrunners are not very big inside, but coach Eddie McCarter was impressed with the big ups and long stretch of 6-5 Steven Thomas last year. Depending on his off-season development, 6-10 freshman center Jay Neukomm may be accelerated into the lineup as well.

2. Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks (21-8, 16-4 Southland)

Projected Starters:
Antonio Burks, Sr., F (9.1 ppg, 51% FG)
Taylor Moore, Jr., F (4.2 ppg)
Jasen Gast, Sr., G/F (9.2 ppg)
Marcus Clark, So., G (9.2 ppg)
B.J. Banks, Sr., G (7.9 ppg)

Top Newcomer: Rodrigo Segantim, Jr., F

Last year’s regular season and conference tourney runner-up is coming off a storybook 21-win season that only Sam Houston State eclipsed. Point guard controversy is a good problem to have and SFA has it in spades. During the regular season sophomore Marcus Clark came off the bench to score 9 ppg and lead the team with 3.4 assists. Senior B.J. Banks will challenge the young Clark but both are good enough to be on the floor at the same time. With big man Percy Green gone, Coach Danny Kaspar will assign junior Taylor Moore (4.8 ppg, 3.7 rpg) as the frontcourt leader. Moore, one of the more active reserves, will be joined by ‘Jacks leading scorer Antonio Burks (9.1 ppg) and Nebraska JuCo rookies Rodrigo Segantim and Henry Rivers.

3. Texas State Bobcats (17-12, 11-9 Southland)

Projected Starters:
Nick Ponder, Jr., G (Transfer)
Terry Conerway, Sr., G (15.4 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 40% 3-Pt. FG)
Roosevelt Brown, Sr., G (7.7 ppg)
Josh Naylor, Jr., F (Transfer)
Jeremiah Coleman, Sr., F (13.1 ppg, 5.3 rpg)

Top Newcomer: Nick Ponder, Jr., G

First order of business: name change. Oh, they’re still in the Southwest of Texas, they just won’t be Southwest Texas State anymore. The Bobcats now hail from lingually friendly Texas State. TSU acted fast and made the most of the league’s new schedule-flexibility ruling. Tulsa and New Orleans grace the Bobcat docket this year as does a first-round clash with Purdue in the Great Alaska Shootout. And Dennis Nutt’s club has goods to compete with such formidable competition. Hoopville SLC Player of the Year Terry Conerway is coming off a career year (15.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg) and should get backcourt assistance from junior college transfer Josh Naylor (Northern Oklahoma JC). Another JuCo face helps out up front – Redlands CC’s Nick Ponder.

4. Lamar Cardinals (13-14, 10-10 Southland)

Projected Starters:
Brian Rowan, Jr., C, (3.4 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 21 blocks)
Jason Grant, So., F/C (5.7 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 52 blocks)
Terrell Petteway, Sr. F (Redshirt)
Jonathan Burnet, So., G, (10.1 ppg, 2.0 rpg)
Hayes Grooms, Jr., G (26 assists, 75% FT)

Top Newcomer: Teddy Davis, Jr., G

Lamar didn’t have to go far to find its new coach. Er, old coach, who interviewed with an athletic director, who was himself. Yeah, Billy Tubbs got so sick of seeing his Cardinals go 13-14 last year, he reinstated himself as coach. He needs just five wins to become only the 28th coach in NCAA history to earn 600 wins. Tubbs re-ups with a Cardinals team that’s not too heavy on senior leadership. But sophomore leadership ain’t bad when it comes in the form of 6-0 point guard Jonathan Burnett and 6-9 center Jason Grant, who was an all-SLC pick in some polls. Burnett averaged over 10 points per game before a season-ending ACL injury against Texas-San Antonio. He’s back, he’s healthy, he’s ready to rock and he’s going to be needed. Tubbs, like many Southland coaches, dipped into the JuCo well and pulled out SE Illinois CC’s Teddy Davis, a versatile 6-3 shooting guard.

5. Louisiana-Monroe Indians (12-16, 10-10 Southland)

Projected Starters:
Daryl Mason, Jr., F (Transfer)
Chavis Thompson, Sr., F (7.5 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 52% FG)
John Andrews, Sr., G (8.2 ppg)
Brandon Horn, Sr. G (7.1 ppg, 79 assists)
Mark Keith, Sr., G/F (9.4 ppg)

Top Newcomer: Daryl Mason, Jr., F

The Indians lost Lemons – all-forward Kirby Lemons, that is – but have made lemonade with, what else, JuCo recruits. Lemons powered through last season with averages of 16.5 ppg and 10 rpg and was largely responsible for ULM getting into the postseason tournament. Daryl Mason, our Southland newcomer of the year, may not be the Shaqesque player that Lemons was, but he’s a flexible 6-6 swingman who averaged 13 ppg with national JuCo power San Jacinto. Seven other strangers fill out the roster, but don’t think of this as a rebuilding year for ULM. Five of their guys have ample experience, especially in the backcourt with returning starters Mark Keith and John Andrews.

6. Northwestern State Demons (6-21, 6-14 Southland)

Projected Starters:
Jermaine Wallace, So., G (11.1 ppg, 3.6 rpg)
Tyron Mitchell, So., G (6.9 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 3.3 apg, 70 steals)
Jermaine Spencer, So., F (7.8 ppg, 4.7 rpg)
Clifton Lee, So., F (10.4 ppg, 6.2 rpg)
Byron Allen, So., C (10.2 ppg, 4.7 rpg)

Top Newcomer: Greg Tyler, Fr., F

Few teams can boast every player returning. The youngest team in the nation last year is a touch older and should be more competitive. All-SLC guard Jermaine Wallace came out of nowhere last season and his 11.1 ppg and natural groove for the floor salvaged an otherwise unforgettable season. Another Jermaine – 6-7 forward Jermaine Spencer – will likely improve upon his 7.1 ppg average, which was a little lower than last year’s expectations. 6-11 sophomore center Tim Van has already shown promise in intercollegiate preseason games. With a team of predominantly sophomores and an out-of-conference schedule featuring Tulsa, Oklahoma State and the Demons’ namesake Northwestern, Mike McConathy’s club could be one of the more intriguing stories this year.

7. Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners (10-17, 7-13 Southland)

Projected Starters:
LeRoy Hurd, Sr., F (17.6 ppg, 8.0 rpg)
John Milsap, Jr., F (Transfer)
Anthony Fuqua, Jr., C (Transfer)
Sammie Cole, Sr., G (9.4 ppg, 37% 3-Pt. FG)
David President, Sr., G (5.4 ppg, 3.3 apg, 3.8 rpg)

Top Newcomer: Anthony Fuqua, Jr., C

The Roadrunners have their own “Thundering Hurd”: Leroy Hurd, who led the SLC in scoring last year at a 17.6 ppg clip. He’ll sizzle again, but the rest of the offense remains a mystery. Someone is going to have to replace the departed Ike Akotaobi’s 3-point shooting, and that someone just may be senior guard Sammie Cole (9.4 ppg). Scrapping underneath with Hurd are JuCo additions Anthony Fuqua, a 6-10 center and 6-6 power forward John Milsap.

8. Southeastern Louisiana Lions (11-16, 9-11 Southland)

Projected Starters:
Terry West, Sr., F (11.5 ppg, 4.7 rpg)
Nate Lofton, Jr., F/C (Transfer)
Jonathan Walker, So., C (5.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg)
Michael Gardener, Sr., G (3.4 ppg, 47 assists)
Amir Abdur-Rahim Sr., G (15.4 ppg, 3.3 rpg)

Newcomer of the Year: Nate Lofton, Jr., F/C

If all-SLC selection Amir Abdur-Rahim (15 ppg) doesn’t get some help this year, the Lions may be one of three teams that don’t make the postseason tournament. It looks like Abdur-Rahim will get his help, although SELA is a perfect example of how returnees need to gel with newcomers quickly. With Abdur-Rahim and veteran Michael Gardener in the back, the frontcourt will have old and fresh faces. Heralded JuCo Center Nate Lofton, of Arkansas-Fort Smith, will probably step into a starting role immediately. The 6-10 big man will be joined by steady senior forward Terry West and sophomore forward/center Jonathan Walker. Redlands CC guard Jonathan Patton adds depth at the 1 or 2 position.

9. Sam Houston State Bearkats (23-6, 17-3 Southland)

Wilder Auguste, Jr., F (Transfer)
Joe Thompson, Jr., F (Transfer)
Sam Onwuchekwa, So., F
Marcus Ebow, So., G, (2.3 ppg, 61 assists)
Jason Stephenson, Sr., G (5.5 ppg)

Top Newcomer: Joe Thompson, Jr., F

Things go south for the Bearkats, who swept the regular season and conference tourney for a well-earned trip to the dance. But all five starters went cap-and-gown in May, leaving the conference champs with a blank page. Senior forward Eddy Fobbs, the most experienced and highest scoring returnee, had knee surgery in September, and will miss the upcoming season as a medical redshirt. The Bearkats were dealt another blow in the classroom, when senior Rodrick Winters and junior Mario Kinsey failed to meet academic requirements. Backup point guard Marcus Ebow, who saw about 9 minutes a game last year, will be one bright spot, while 6-2 guard Jason Stephenson – the only returning senior – joins him.

10. McNeese State Cowboys (15-14, 10-10 Southland)

Projected Starters:
Monte Farmer, Sr., F (4.2 rpg, 52% FG)
Marcus Watts, So., C (4.3 ppg, 3.0 rpg)
Eldridge Lewis, Sr., G (4.15 apg)
Greg Tucker, Sr., G (7.1 ppg, 72% FT)
Edward Garriet, Sr., G (7.1 ppg, 45% 3-Pt. FG)

Top Newcomer: Erkan Oguz, Jr., G/F

Two years ago the Cowboys showed the basketball world that they were not just a football school, by winning the conference tourney and going to the dance. McNeese isn’t a surefire pick this year, but Tic Price’s team is gunning for a fourth straight winning season. Senior guard Eldridge Lewis (5.3 ppg, 4.3 apg) and sophomore center Marcus Watts are the only returning starters, and neither one was a scoring machine. But according to reports out of Lake Charles, coach Price is running more intense, high-scoring scrimmages to get his team to used to up-tempo games. The week of November 3rd was a bad one for McNeese Basketball. Two key players – forward Brett Teeter and 2-guard Erkan Oguz – are out with extensive thumb and knee injuries respectively and three players returned home due to deaths in the family.

11. Nicholls State Colonels (3-25, 1-19 Southland)

Projected Starters:
Markeith Brown, Sr., G (5.5 ppg, 2.5 apg)
Shaun King, Fr., G (Rookie)
Stefan Blaszczynski, Fr., G/F (Rookie)
Eric James, Jr., F (6.2 ppg, 3.4 apg)
Kieran Gleeson, Fr., C (Rookie)

Newcomer of the Year: Stefan Blaszczynski, Fr., G/F

You might say after a 3-25 season, you can only go up, but the Colonels find themselves in another rebuilding year. Coach Ricky Blanton returns only three players this season, none of them starters. Second-year Blanton didn’t rest on his proverbial laurels. He went out and got a two-for-one deal by landing Wilkinson County High (Milledgeville, GA)’s Shaun King (5-11 point guard) and 6-8 power man Maurice Veal. Then Blanton went down under and scored a pair of Aussies. 6-6 big man Stefan Blaszczynski scored 30 ppg with his New South Wales traveling club and 6-9 Kieran Gleeson put up nightly double-doubles and was selected to the All-Australian high school team. The Colonels will put their AusGeorgia formula to the test when they face Arkansas and Florida State in their first two games.


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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

Coaching Changes

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

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!

Hoopville Podcasts

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – April 6, 2018

April 6, 2018 by

In our first podcast in the postseason, we look back one more time on the NCAA Tournament, which was just what we needed at this time. We also look at the NIT, CBI and CIT, as well as important transactions with players leaving early for the NBA Draft and coaching changes.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – April 3, 2018

April 3, 2018 by

The 2018 national championship is in the books, and with it another season of college basketball. We break down the national championship game and some of its implications to wrap up the season.

College Basketball Tonight – April 1, 2018

April 2, 2018 by

Welcome to our Final Four edition of College Basketball Tonight. In this edition, we look ahead to Monday’s national championship game, and bring on two guests – long-time Villanova radio play-by-play broadcaster Ryan Fannon and Radford head coach Mike Jones – to get their thoughts and insights on the game.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – April 1, 2018

April 1, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we break d own the national semifinals, where one game went back and forth while the other was never really a ballgame thanks to an impressive performance for the ages by the winning team.

College Basketball Tonight – March 26, 2018

March 27, 2018 by

With the Final Four all set, we look back on the regional finals and ahead to the final games of the season. We are joined along the way by veteran writer Ken Davis and Towson head coach Pat Skerry for their insights as well.

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.