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Young Indiana shows potential for growth in tough loss

by - Published November 23, 2013 in Columns
indiana

NEW YORK – Growing up isn’t easy for most. It’s true whether we’re talking about individuals, families, companies, teams or any other entity involving humans. There are hits and misses along the way, some question marks with success and bright spots with failure. Indiana is seeing all of that right now after a tough 59-58 loss in the championship game of the 2K Sports Classic at Madison Square Garden.

Indiana is a young team and a very new team. The Hoosiers lost two high lottery picks from last season’s team in Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller, both of whom departed early. Had they returned, this season might be a little easier, but instead, the Hoosiers have plenty of talent, and young talent at that as they have eight freshmen and six sophomores. They end up having to relay on a sophomore for a lot, and Yogi Ferrell almost carried them to a big win on Friday night.

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Defense and rebounding are big concerns for Washington

by - Published November 23, 2013 in Columns, Your Phil of Hoops
washington

NEW YORK – Coaches talk often about the importance of defense and rebounding in winning games and championships. It’s understandable since offense comes and goes. You have to figure Lorenzo Romar is spending more time in practice on that right now considering his team’s issues at that end of the floor that were illuminated quite clearly in the 2K Sports Classic, where Washington went 0-2 after losing 89-78 against Boston College on Friday.

The Huskies were basically spectators against Boston College on Friday, and maybe the best example of that came at the end of the first half. After a shot clock violation left just over five seconds on the clock, the Huskies let BC guard Olivier Hanlan drive the length of the floor almost untouched for a buzzer-beating layup that put the Eagles up 46-34 at the break.

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Harvard uses its depth to overcome injuries early on

by - Published November 22, 2013 in Columns
harvard

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – As Harvard gets ready for a big stretch, the Crimson have lived up to expectations in a couple of respects thus far. They are 4-0 after handling Bryant on Wednesday night 86-68 in a manner similar to how Bryant dispatched Vermont a few nights earlier. They are also utilizing the depth they have, albeit perhaps not in the manner or for reasons they had hoped before the season.

Come game time, Harvard doesn’t have the depth right now that they were thought to before the season. Kenyatta Smith and Brandyn Curry are both out, taking one away from both the frontcourt and backcourt. This team has absorbed those losses about as well as one would expect, and that’s where their depth has come in. They are hopeful of getting Curry back at Colorado, while Smith’s left foot remains in a boot and thus he won’t be coming back anytime soon.

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For UMass-Lowell, Division I transition hits home for the first time

by - Published November 20, 2013 in Columns
umass_lowell

LOWELL, Mass. – Tuesday night was the on-campus beginning of a new era for UMass-Lowell, at least of sorts.  The River Hawks had already played three games in their first season of Division I, but all came away from campus.  Costello Gym was home to a Division I game for the first time, and while the River Hawks walked out with an 87-76 loss, it’s only the beginning of things.

Costello Gym isn’t going to hold a lot of people, but it had a good crowd with some good energy.  There was some buzz about it on campus, although players were a little mixed on what to expect.  The crowd didn’t take off when Brown broke the game open near the midway point of the second half, and they were around when the River Hawks made it interesting with a late run.

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Rhode Island trip wasn’t the way Vermont hoped to start road stretch

by - Published November 19, 2013 in Columns, Your Phil of Hoops
vermont

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – This wasn’t how Vermont wanted or expected to start a long road stretch.  The Catamounts are at the beginning of a stretch where they play seven in a row and nine of ten away from Burlington, and there’s only one way to describe their two games in three nights in Rhode Island: bad.

Vermont certainly expected better than what they showed on both nights, even if they had come away 0-2.  This is a team that starts five seniors and brings another off the bench, and all of them won an America East championship on the road as sophomores.  There’s a reason they have been picked once again to win America East, and it’s not because Boston University has left for the Patriot League.  This is a team with good experience, and winning experience at that, to say nothing of having been on the road a lot.  They didn’t win conference championships with moral victories, and won’t take any despite Monday being better than Saturday night.

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Kris Dunn’s return a very welcome sight

by - Published November 19, 2013 in Columns
providence

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – After the first media timeout of Monday night’s game, Providence fans got what was undoubtedly a very welcome sight.  They looked on the court and saw a white jersey with the number 3 on the floor.  That would be Kris Dunn, the sophomore point guard who might be the team’s most important player.

As if that wasn’t enough, Dunn didn’t just get in the game.  He played well, in fact, handing out eight assists with three turnovers in 21 minutes, and going 1-2 from the field.  He also had three steals.  His minutes were understandably limited since it was his first game back, and one had to figure a big reason to play on Monday was so that he would make his debut before the Paradise Jam, which is next for the Friars after their 70-49 win over Vermont.

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Will BC’s first win be the start of something?

by - Published November 18, 2013 in Columns
bostoncollege

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. – Let’s just put this right out there: Boston College needed Sunday’s game.  Badly.  They almost didn’t get it, and if that happened it wouldn’t be pretty.

They pulled out an 82-79 win over Florida Atlantic, and while the questions about this team will keep coming, the Eagles come away feeling like this is the beginning of better things.

“Now that we’ve got it in our back pocket, I think this is going to get the ball rolling a little bit and we’re going to start to play good basketball,” said sophomore guard Joe Rahon.

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UMass continues good start and shows some maturity

by - Published November 18, 2013 in Columns, Your Phil of Hoops
umass

AMHERST, Mass. – With two good wins under their belt to start the season, UMass certainly didn’t need to nullify either of them with a bad loss. While they were never in real danger on Sunday, the Minutemen allowed Youngstown State to hang around long enough to make a few of the Mullins Center faithful sweat a little before pulling away 85-69.

By pulling away late, the story certainly changes from a slippage of momentum to how the team has shown some maturity in their first three games. Certainly, the Minutemen could be playing better, but the bottom line has Derek Kellogg happy while still looking for more out of this team.

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Youngstown State may finally be ready to turn a corner

by - Published November 17, 2013 in Columns
youngstownstate

AMHERST, Mass. – Youngstown State couldn’t break through for a significant non-conference win on Sunday to follow their opening weekend. The Penguins came in at 4-0, winning the Kennesaw State Tournament last weekend, a good start. UMass was a little tougher than the first four teams they played, so the 85-69 setback isn’t shocking, but in all this is a program that might be ready to turn a corner after a lot of struggles.

“When your two seniors have nights like they had, it’s tough to be able to come in and beat a team as talented as they are,” said head coach Jerry Slocum. “I thought offensively, we had some open looks, we didn’t make them.”

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Bryant gets a signature home win

by - Published November 17, 2013 in Columns
bryant

SMITHFIELD, R.I. – It’s sure to get missed by many for a lot of reasons, but Bryant’s 87-64 win over Vermont on Saturday is a very impressive and noteworthy one for the program. While the Bulldogs didn’t exactly knock off a perennial Final Four team, they didn’t have to. They scored a significant home win for the first time in their Division I history.

In their Division I history, Bryant has scored some nice wins, with many of them coming in the breakthrough season they had last year. They beat the likes of Boston College, Lehigh and Robert Morris, but all of those wins came on the road. They had chances at home – in past years against Harvard and Lehigh most notably, as well as some of the Northeast Conference’s best – but had come up empty. They had an NEC Tournament game at home and hosted Richmond in the CBI, but lost. And while they beat Mount St. Mary’s, who got to the NEC title game, during the regular season, that came before the Mountaineers became the conference’s hottest team entering the tournament.

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Conference Coverage

2013-14 Big Ten Post-Mortem

July 8, 2014 by

bigten

The Big Ten had some teams slip as the season went on, but plenty of others picked up the slack in another good year for the conference.

2013-14 Sun Belt Post-Mortem

July 7, 2014 by

sunbelt

Membership changes have been happening at quite a pace of late in the Sun Belt, and it was a new member that stole the show for much of this past season and seems poised to lead the way in the future.

2013-14 Big Sky Post-Mortem

July 1, 2014 by

bigsky

The teams that have led the way in the Big Sky of late were right there again this season. One of them won both the regular season and conference tournament, and also had a nice time with the post-season awards as well.

2013-14 MEAC Post-Mortem

July 1, 2014 by

meac

The 2013-14 season was N.C. Central’s year in the MEAC, as the Eagles completed their four-year ascent to the top of conference.

2013-14 Big 12 Post-Mortem

June 30, 2014 by

big12

When it comes to overall depth, the Big 12 this season may have been one of the strongest leagues in a long time. The conference sent seven of its 10 teams to the NCAA Tournament, the first time in 21 years and just the fifth time ever that a league sent 70% or more of its teams to the tourney.

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