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The Morning Dish – Monday, November 30, 2015

by - Published November 30, 2015 in The Morning Dish
hoopguy-cyan

Last year, Tom Izzo’s team made a surprise run in the month of March. It was the most unlikely of Final Fours for a coach who has been to a few in his time – in fact, until a year earlier, every four-year player for him made it to at least one Final Four, a remarkable fact. If Michigan State is one of the last four teams this season, there’s no reason to be surprised. The Spartans just closed out a great month of November.

Michigan State beat Providence 77-64 to take home the Wooden Legacy Classic title, pulling away late in what was a tight game throughout. A team that has been led by Denzel Valentine got a nice game from Bryn Forbes and Devonta Davis to support the star senior, who was good but not as stellar as he’s been – and that’s okay. Valentine might win Player of the Year if the award were given out right now, but that doesn’t mean he’ll be other-worldly every night out – just most of them.

… Continue Reading

The Morning Dish – Saturday, November 28, 2015

by - Published November 28, 2015 in The Morning Dish
hoopguy-orange

When the current ACC configuration came into being, there were lofty expectations. Indeed, the idea was that it would be out of this world. It would have a firing squad of elite programs – Duke and North Carolina joined by the likes of Louisville and Syracuse – along with many programs just a notch below them. The more recent Big East – the one that one year sent 11 of its 16 teams to the NCAA Tournament – would have nothing on this ACC.

But those expectations were slow to materialize. The conference’s first two years with this look has produced good, not great results. There have been unforgettable games, like both of the Duke-Syracuse games in the first year, and the talent has been undeniable. Still, the ACC hasn’t looked like the clear class of college basketball. The Big 12 and Big Ten have shined more brightly thus far.

… Continue Reading

The Morning Dish – Sunday, November 22, 2015

by - Published November 22, 2015 in The Morning Dish
hoopguy-orange

The Missouri Valley Conference almost had a perfect day – almost. Still, it had a taste of history to lead what was a pretty good day.

Seven Valley teams were in action on Saturday, and six of them won. The seventh – Drake – led UMKC by four at the half, but UMKC opened the second half on an 8-1 run to take the lead, then Drake led again before a 17-6 run put the Kangaroos ahead to stay in a 79-73 win in Kansas City.

That would be the only blemish of any sort on the day.

… Continue Reading

The Morning Dish – Saturday, November 21, 2015

by - Published November 21, 2015 in The Morning Dish
hoopguy-cyan

One of the fun parts of the first few weeks of the season is the wave of tournaments that give us an early feel for some of the teams. Some do this better than others based on the field and how the games go, as sometimes a semifinal game doesn’t go quite the way some might expect and affects matchups the rest of the way.

By now, we know the championship matchups for several early ones. They came as a result of several Friday semifinals, and there will be some interesting ones among them.

… Continue Reading

The Morning Dish – Monday, November 16, 2015

by - Published November 16, 2015 in The Morning Dish
hoopguy-orange

As we gear up for the first of two weeks full of early season tournaments, Sunday was a decidedly ho-hum day on the bottom line. We didn’t have some of the surprise results we had the first couple of days, while all of the ranked teams in action won by more than 20 points. What we did have was a rivalry game late in the day that lived up to its billing, but also had a scary moment.

New Mexico traveled to Las Cruces to take on arch-rival New Mexico State in the Rio Grande Rivalry. Behind 31 points from Elijah Brown, the son of former NBA coach Mike Brown, they won 83-74. The Lobos continued their recent dominance in the rivalry, as they have won 14 of 17, including nine straight in Las Cruces. It was a close game well into the second half, before the Lobos eventually opened up a double-digit lead. … Continue Reading

2015-16 CAA Preview

by - Published November 15, 2015 in Columns, Conference Notes
colonial

In a conference that has seen lots of changes recently, the CAA got news of one more big one this past off-season. Tom Yeager, the only commissioner the conference has known, will retire at the end of the academic year. There is a time and place for reflection on what he has built, along with his place as a well-respected influencer in college basketball, and that will come. A more pressing question is: what kind of conference will he leave behind?

An unfortunate part of his legacy will be that the CAA was hit hard by conference realignment more than once, and that can’t be pinned on him. The first time, just after the new century, put the conference in danger, but it survived and subsequently thrived after adding strong members from another conference. More recently, however, the conference was among the hardest hit, watching signature programs George Mason, Old Dominion and VCU leave along with Georgia State, who had just turned a corner after an otherwise uninspiring tenure in the conference. Two of those four left to play Division I-A football.

… Continue Reading

College of Charleston Cougars 2015-16 Preview

by - Published November 15, 2015 in Conference Notes
charleston

College of Charleston Cougars (9-24 overall, 3-15 conference)

 

 

 

Projected starting five:

Jr. G Canyon Barry
So. G Cameron Johnson
Jr. G Payton Hulsey
So. F Donovan Gilmore
Sr. F James Bourne

Important departures:

G Anthony Stitt and F Adjehi Baru are starters who are gone from last season’s team. They will also be without G Joe Chealey, who will redshirt due to a leg injury sustained in practice.

Returning:

52 percent of scoring and 47.7 percent of rebounding

Additions:

Fr. F Jarrell Brantley
Sr. F James Bourne (transfer from Winthrop)
Jr. G Payton Hulsey (junior college transfer)
Fr. G Marquise Pointer
Fr. G Grant Riller

Schedule Highlights:

The non-conference schedule is a little more manageable than in past seasons, but still has some challenges. Six homes games are included, with Big South defending champion Coastal Carolina, LSU and East Carolina being the most noteworthy opponents. They go on the road to play Davidson and Miami. CAA play has a tough start with three of the first four games on the road, though they later have a stretch with five of six at home.

Projected finish and outlook:

Last year was a tough transition year as Earl Grant took over in September. They won a game in the CAA Tournament, so they finished well. Now, they have a group with new players all over the floor, and Grant has indicated there will be plenty of competition for minutes and roles. That should only intensify with Chealey lost for the season due to injury, which likely means either Hulsey or Pointer gets the nod; don’t be surprised if it’s Pointer as he can play and was well-tested in high school. Gilmore showed some promise last season, while O’Donhue had 14 rebounds in their CAA Tournament win and Bourne should boost them right away as their most experienced player up front. Brantley should get every opportunity to play as well. Barry is the one guy this team can definitely hang their hat on, and Johnson should start alongside him again. The Cougars were one of the best defensive teams in the conference last season, and they’ll need to repeat that this season since they lost three of their top four scorers from last season if you include Chealey. They should be competitive, but are probably a year away from contending, especially since Chealey’s absence will mean younger players get more of an opportunity to grow now than they would have otherwise.

Next: Delaware Blue Hens

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Delaware Blue Hens 2015-16 Preview

by - Published November 15, 2015 in Conference Notes
delaware

Delaware Blue Hens (10-20 overall, 9-9 conference)

 

 

 

Projected starting five:

So. G Kory Holden
Jr. G Cazmon Hayes
So. G-F Chivarsky Corbett
Jr. F Maurice Jeffers
Sr. F Marvin King-Davis

Important departures:

G Kyle Anderson, the team’s leading scorer, is the only key departure from last season’s team.

Returning:

83.2 percent of scoring and 91.2 percent of rebounding

Additions:

Fr. G Curtis Lochner

Schedule Highlights:

The Blue Hens will be on the road a lot, as just three home games are on their non-conference slate. Two of them should be good challenges, as Bradley and South Florida come to Newark, with Fairleigh Dickinson being the other. The road portion features Iona, Temple, Ivy League contender Columbia, Boston College, Villanova and defending MAC champion Buffalo. Conference play begins with an early indication of just how good this team can be, although it features four of five at home right after they open at Hofstra. James Madison comes to town, then they go to Northeastern, who they host only nine days after playing in Boston in bit of a scheduling oddity. They also have a three-game road stretch matched by a three-game homestand later on.

Projected finish and outlook:

Delaware will be one of the more interesting teams to watch this season. They return almost everyone, though the one starter who is gone was their leading scorer last season. However, it’s almost the same team otherwise, including almost nothing in the way of additions due to Monte Ross’ contract situation last year. Now that Ross is back on campus, though, the Blue Hens can try to pick up where they left off last season, growing up during CAA play after a rough start. Holden needs to take the next step now, as he was right there in a tight Rookie of the Year race, while Hayes and Corbett will flank him. Hayes made a nice improvement last season, while Corbett was quietly one of the CAA’s best freshmen. Jeffers showed the potential to be a double-double guy at times last season, especially at the end as he finished strong. King-Davis will never make a highlight reel but is a solid presence alongside him. Devonne Pinkard and Barnett Harris, the latter of whom is the ultimate energy guy, give them some depth up front. But that’s also the concern for this team overall, although their practices will be plenty competitive as they have two transfers sitting out this season. The Blue Hens will likely go as far as their starting perimeter players can take them. It’s still a relatively young team, and feels like one that may be a year away from contending for the top spot.

Next: Drexel Dragons

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Drexel Dragons 2015-16 Preview

by - Published November 15, 2015 in Conference Notes
drexel

Drexel Dragons (11-19 overall, 9-9 conference)

 

 

 

Projected starting five:

So. G Major Canady (redshirted)
So. G Rashann London
Sr. G-F Tavon Allen
Jr. F Rodney Williams
Jr. F Mohamed Bah

Important departures:

G Damion Lee is the big starter lost from last season.

Returning:

57.4 percent of scoring and 76.4 percent of rebounding

Additions:

Fr. G Terrell Allen
So. G Ahmad Fields (transfer from Utah)
Sr. F Chandler Fraser-Pauls (transfer from Lafayette)

Schedule Highlights:

A pretty good non-conference schedule includes four home games, including a visit from Penn State to the Palestra. They also get Big South contender High Point, MAAC contender Monmouth and nearby rival Penn. They open at Saint Joseph’s, will be in the Great Alaska Shootout, and also travel to South Carolina and Iona. CAA play features several home and road stretches, notably four straight at home followed by four of five on the road.

Projected finish and outlook:

Drexel has finished .500 or better in CAA play the last seven seasons, making that appear to be one more certainty in life. However, they will be seriously challenged to continue that streak this season, as the transfer of Damion Lee really hurts. The upshot is that last season’s team was racked with injuries, meaning a number of players got to play more and with bigger roles than they would have otherwise, and it’s possible the Dragons reap the benefits of that this season. Canady was one of those players who got hurt, having redshirted due to an early injury, and along with Terrell Allen he should stabilize the point guard spot after Rashann London admirably filled in but had more turnovers than assists. Aside from that, there will be heavy competition between Fields and sophomores London and Sammy Mojica, while Tavon Allen could occasionally slide over to shooting guard in a big lineup. Williams has always had potential, while Bah was a solid starter last season and Kazembe Abif, who has had a rough career that included an ACL injury last year, returns and will help. The Dragons will grind teams out, as that’s what they do, and they took great care of the ball last season. But they could struggle to score, and as good as Bruiser Flint’s teams tend to be defensively, a team has to score to win, and that’s always the wild card with the Dragons. A lot likely hinges on how well Canady and Terrell Allen settle the point and let others do their jobs more easily.

Next: Elon Phoenix

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Elon Phoenix 2015-16 Preview

by - Published November 15, 2015 in Conference Notes
elon

Elon Phoenix (15-18 overall, 6-12 conference)

 

 

 

Projected starting five:

Jr. G Luke Eddy
Sr. G Tanner Samson
So. G Dmitri Thompson
Jr. F Christian Hairston
Sr. F Tony Sabato

Important departures:

Starters G Austin Hamilton, G Kevin Blake and F Ryan Winters graduated. The big blow, and one that was unexpected, was G Elijah Bryant transferring to Brigham Young.

Returning:

51.3 percent of scoring and 60.4 percent of rebounding

Additions:

Fr. G Sheldon Eberhardt
Fr. C Karolis Kundrotas
Fr. G Steven Santa Ana
Fr. F Tyler Seibring
Fr. G Dainan Swoope

Schedule Highlights:

Elon’s non-conference slate is a rarity for a mid-major – it has seven home games, which is a majority of their non-conference games. Two come as part of the Battle 4 Atlantis Mainland, while they also host UNCG. Notable road trips are to Michigan, Syracuse (both part of the Battle 4 Atlantis) and Duke. The conference schedule starts out with a big test: four of the first five on the road, including Northeastern in the opener and Hofstra later, with a visit from James Madison as the only home game in the stretch. That is followed by four of five at home, and they close the regular season with three of four at home.

Projected finish and outlook:

Elon had a tough inaugural season in the CAA thanks to injuries, and they enter their second season with some different questions. Hamilton and Blake are significant losses, as is Bryant, who transferred late in the spring after narrowly winning the league’s Rookie of the Year award. On the bright side, they get Eddy back after an injury ended his season early, while Samson is a steady guard and Thompson showed promise last season. Sabato should anchor the post, and Hairston is the most experienced player who could complement him, but don’t be surprised if someone else grabs that spot. Brian Dawkins comes back from injury, while Seibring and Kundrotas could get minutes. Swoope could get a lot of minutes at the point and should be the floor leader of the future. While Bryant was talented, he wasn’t the most efficient offensive player, so while his loss is not trivial, it may not be a crippling loss. Indeed, the Phoenix have enough talent to make a lot of lemonade out of the lemon Bryant’s transfer gave them.

Next: Hofstra Pride

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