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Saturday Notes – February 22, 2014

by - Published February 23, 2014 in Columns, Your Phil of Hoops
author_kasiecki

We’re getting down to crunch time as February draws to a close. Many games on Saturday had implications for NCAA Tournament bubble teams and more could also be big when it comes to seeding for conference tournaments. A few big showdowns were on tap, including ones in the American Athletic Conference and Mountain West, and also out west we saw a team we usually figure to be in the tournament lose another on the road, further throwing their status into question.

Here are notes from some of the day’s games.

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American hopes to regroup and get back on track

by - Published February 20, 2014 in Columns
american

BOSTON – For American, it looked like a storybook run through the Patriot League. They had ten straight wins, including a blowout of the team picked to win it all, with a well-oiled machine offensively. They found a way to keep winning with a bunch of new guys and a new coaching staff. Pardon the expression, because it’s too easy, but the Eagles were flying high.

And now they are coming back to earth – quickly.

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Providence misses a big opportunity

by - Published February 19, 2014 in Columns, Your Phil of Hoops
providence

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – When Ryan Arcidiacono made the driving layup with a second left in the second overtime, you could almost hear a pin drop in the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. It was the same Dunkin’ Donuts Center that had been rocking for a lot of the previous two and a half hours.

And when a last-second three-pointer by LaDontae Henton missed harmlessly, a heart-breaking loss was complete and a muted exit from the building had begun. The question now is if it’s also the beginning of an exit from something larger.

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Villanova continues to be tough and resilient

by - Published February 19, 2014 in Columns
villanova

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Villanova is nothing if not resilient. That is in some ways the story of the season on a macro level, certainly, but on a micro level that has been true as well. When they won a heart-stopping 82-79 double overtime thriller at Providence, they gave a great exhibition of that and why they are a team that can make a run in March.

With this win, Villanova has avoided a losing streak once again. But they have had to show an extra measure of toughness after each loss, because all three wins following a loss involved overtime. While the Wildcats have pulled out a lot of close games and are now 4-0 in overtime, doing so to avoid a losing streak is big, and on Tuesday night they had this toughness in spades.

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Atkins, Notre Dame continue to dig deep

by - Published February 17, 2014 in Columns
notredame

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. – Eric Atkins and Notre Dame have had to dig deep this season. They have had some real adversity come their way, and haven’t handled it very well on the bottom line. With a stretch of three straight road games having just started, though, the Fighting Irish just might be getting to a point where wins won’t be so hard to come by.

“We’ve got a tough stretch here,” Atkins said after Notre Dame’s 73-69 win at Boston College on Sunday night. “It’s going to be tough, but I think things are coming together a little bit for us. I think everyone has really fallen into their roles, and everyone is stepping up.”

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Saturday Notes – February 15, 2014

by - Published February 16, 2014 in Columns, Your Phil of Hoops
author_kasiecki

In recent days, the winter weather has been in the news a lot, and that includes the context of college basketball as a number of games have been postponed due to the weather. Two more Atlantic Sun games fell victim to the weather on Saturday, as Lipscomb at Kennesaw State and Northern Kentucky at Mercer were both postponed.

Saturday started out with a few dandies, including an AAC and an ACC battle that each came down to the wire. An Atlantic 10 showdown was also on the slate, and late in the day a big SEC showdown was on tap. We also saw what is almost certainly the last in what’s become a great rivalry, and the Patriot League race got a little more interesting.

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Oliver Purnell may be running out of time at DePaul

by - Published February 15, 2014 in Columns
depaul

PROVIDENCE, R.I.- You have to think Oliver Purnell is starting to run out of time at DePaul. Simply put, the program isn’t in a good place right now, and the Blue Demons’ 84-61 loss at Providence is only part of it.

Purnell is nearing the end of his fourth year at the school, and it’s tough to say the program is better off than before he came to Chicago. In those nearly four seasons, the Blue Demons are 40-80. The picture doesn’t look much brighter for next season, either, given the current personnel, as they start three freshmen right now and don’t really have an upperclassman who looks like a go-to guy for next season.

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Boston University gets the 40-minute effort they needed

by - Published February 10, 2014 in Columns, Your Phil of Hoops
bostonuniversity

BOSTON – The final box score shows Boston University beating Lafayette 88-54. Dig a little deeper and you understand how the score got to be that way. But watch Saturday’s game at Agganis Arena and you understand it better, as well as why it was so satisfying for this team, as it’s the type of effort they’ve needed.

“We had been talking about trying to put together two halves, trying to play consistently well for 40 minutes,” said head coach Joe Jones. “We’ve struggled with that at times. So tonight, it was great to see us play a complete game from start to finish.”

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Jabari Parker gets better as he nears a place in Duke history

by - Published February 10, 2014 in Columns
duke

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. – By now Jabari Parker’s reputation has been well-established. He’s been the top player in his class in high school, has fallen off from that and overshadowed by others, and has reminded people at times just how good he is as a college freshman.

Even so, his performance in Duke’s 89-66 win at Boston College might be his best one to date. He looked like a man among boys in more ways than one, and while it was a 6-17 Eagles team that he did it against, he was one of the youngest players on the floor all night. When the season is over, he might be in a class by himself in his program’s history.

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Saturday Notes – February 8, 2014

by - Published February 9, 2014 in Columns
author_kasiecki

Saturday saw a number of good matchups among the nearly 140 Division I games. Unfortunately, it’s a day that will likely end up being remembered for a bad incident near the end of a great day of basketball. As Texas Tech finished off a big win over Oklahoma State, Cowboy guard Marcus Smart shoved a fan behind the basket after he ran back to make a play and his momentum took him into the crowd. It was a shocking thing to witness from a young man who has the reputation of being a different kid than many others.

But focusing on basketball, there weren’t many matchups with two contenders battling one another. Still, a number of games saw teams a little back from the top of their conference playing one another. The end result in many cases seems to be that the picture isn’t much clearer than it was at the beginning of the day, especially in the ACC, Big Ten and Big 12. The Big 12 also saw several of the day’s best individual efforts.

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