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For Quinnipiac, it was all about purpose in the opener

by - Published November 10, 2013 in Columns
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BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – Tom Moore couldn’t find any other way to describe the difference between the two halves of his team’s 82-77 win over Hartford. The Quinnipiac mentor kept coming back to “purpose” as he tried to find another word for it to no avail.

“I don’t know that we could play with less purpose in the first half than we did,” said Moore. “I didn’t like anything about the first half. I can’t come up with a better word than an offensive purpose or defensive purpose.”

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BC didn’t quite play like the veteran team they are in loss

by - Published November 9, 2013 in Columns, Your Phil of Hoops
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PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Two seasons ago, the reasons behind Boston College’s 82-78 loss at Providence in overtime would have been understandable. At that time, the Eagles were one of the least experienced teams in the nation with a lot of growing pains to come. But this is a different time, as the Eagles are now a very experienced team for one with just one senior, and the Eagles’ lack of poise and lackluster execution on Friday night are more concerning.

Friday night is just one game, and it can very well be an aberration. They will have to make it so since they take on UMass on Sunday at the Boston Garden. But on Friday, it cost them a very winnable game that could have shelf life later in the season.

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Providence opens with a win they can be happy about

by - Published November 9, 2013 in Columns
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PROVIDENCE, R.I. – You can’t blame Providence if they’re feeling especially good after Friday night’s 82-78 overtime win over Boston College. It came at the end of what has not been a good stretch and with a lot of in-game adversity, and then they had to start with an opponent much like themselves in having something to prove in the opener.

To begin with, you wouldn’t have been crazy to think Boston College was the favorite despite being on the road. Providence entered the game fresh off the suspension of freshmen Brandon Austin and Rodney Bullock being announced a couple of days earlier, and was already without injured point guard Kris Dunn, who might be the team’s most important player. Bryce Cotton was also limited coming into the game due to a sore knee, having not practiced for over a week. While BC wasn’t at full strength, either, as Lonnie Jackson and Dennis Clifford sat due to injury, Providence was clearly at a deficit personnel-wise.

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2013-14 Preseason All-Americans

by - Published November 8, 2013 in Columns
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College basketball starts on Friday, and there’s a lot to look forward to this season. From the freshmen who have been much-discussed to those who surprised by deciding to return, there’s a good deal of talent in the college game, and anticipation is high.

Although this year’s preseason All-Americans reflect the continuing trend that the top college players are generally younger than before, it is noteworthy that three of the five first team selections are seniors. While two freshmen made the cut, it wouldn’t be a surprise if there are a few more among them at the end of the season. And as one might expect, there are plenty of candidates who don’t appear on this list.

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2013-14 Patriot League Preview

by - Published November 7, 2013 in Columns
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The Patriot League has a new look this season as it expands to ten schools with the addition of Boston University and Loyola (Md.). Both will strengthen the league and at a time when the league has just experienced two teams with terrific individual talents. In fact, the Patriot League has never seen two top individual talents simultaneously that were on the level of Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum and Bucknell’s Mike Muscala. When Adonal Foyle was at Colgate, there wasn’t another player anywhere near the level of McCollum or Muscala.

While Bucknell and Lehigh got most of the attention the last few years, Lafayette has quietly made it to three of the last four league title games. The Leopards lose a lot with the departure of their leader in Tony Johnson, but Fran O’Hanlon’s club has a lot coming back and there’s every reason to think they should be in the mix again. Make no mistake: during the aforementioned stretch of prosperity for the league, Lafayette has been right there with Bucknell and Lehigh.

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American Eagles 2013-14 Preview

by - Published November 7, 2013 in Conference Notes
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American Eagles (10-20 overall, 5-9 league)

 

 

 

Projected starting five:

Jr. G Darius Gardner
Jr. G John Schoof
Jr. G Austin Carroll
Sr. C Tony Wroblicky
Sr. F Kevin Panzer

Important departures:

Three starters are gone from last season’s team: G Daniel Munoz (10.3 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 3.6 apg), G Blake Jolivette (6.6 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 1.8 apg) and F Stephen Lumpkins (14.2 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 1.5 apg), as well as part-time starting F Mike Bersch (4.0 ppg, 2.3 rpg).

Returning:

42.8 percent of scoring and 51 percent of rebounding

Additions:

Jr. G Darius Gardner (transfer from Stephen F. Austin)
Fr. G-F Charlie Jones
Fr. G Kade Kager
Fr. G Justice Montgomery
Fr. G Langdon Neal
Sr. F Kevin Panzer (transfer from Nevada)
Fr. G Jalen Rhea
Fr. F Yilret Yiljep

Schedule Highlights:

The non-league slate isn’t overwhelming, but it does have only three home games. They open at George Mason and later play at Ohio State, Northeast contender Mount St. Mary’s and St. Mary’s. Patriot League play will be tough at first as four of their first five are on the road, with four of the next five coming at home.

Projected finish and outlook:

The Eagles will be very much in transition this season, as they suffered fairly heavy personnel losses to go with Jeff Jones’ departure for Old Dominion. New head coach Mike Brennan has some talent on his team, starting with Gardner, who should make an instant impact after leading Stephen F. Austin in assists two seasons ago. Schoof, who made just over half of his three-point attempts last season, and Carroll give him two good options to get the ball to on the perimeter, and there are several other good candidates to join them. Panzer should likewise make an instant impact up front and help Wroblicky, who did a fine job of complementing Lumpkins last season. The Eagles are mainly short on experience and roster continuity, but those will come. While the Eagles lost a lot of scoring, they weren’t a particularly great offensive team last season to begin with. But they can’t afford to repeat being next-to-last in field goal percentage defense given the lack of proven scoring.

Next: Army Black Knights

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Army Black Knights 2013-14 Preview

by - Published November 7, 2013 in Conference Notes
army

Army Black Knights (16-15 overall, 8-6 league)

 

 

 

Projected starting five:

So. G Dylan Cox
So. G-F Kyle Wilson
Sr. G Josh Herbeck
So. F Larry Toomey
So. C Kevin Ferguson

Important departures:

Three starters – F Ella Ellis (17.7 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 1.4 apg), F Jordan Springer (3.4 ppg, 3.9 rpg) and G Kyle Toth (8.2 ppg, 3.1 rpg) – are all gone from last season’s team.

Returning:

54.6 percent of scoring and 55 percent of rebounding

Additions:

Fr. G-F Richard Brown
Fr. F Kennedy Edwards
Fr. G David Hellstrom
Fr. F Mac Hoffman
Fr. F Zach Johnson
Fr. C Kiefer Jordan
Fr. G Scott Mammel
Fr. G-F Tanner Omlid
Fr. G Shane Smith
Fr. F Austin Williamson

Schedule Highlights:

The Black Knights have five home games in non-league play, including a visit from CAA contender Delaware. They also open the season in the All-Military Classic in Lexington, Virginia against Air Force and either VMI or the Citadel in the second game. Road games of note are at Notre Dame and Rutgers. Three of the first four Patriot League games are on the road, but they close with three of four at home.

Projected finish and outlook:

While the Black Knights lost a lot from last season’s team, they have plenty of talent. The biggest adjustment will be to new roles and a concern will be a relative lack of experience as this season could be one of growing pains or a leap into contention. The promising group is led by Wilson, the league’s Rookie of the Year last season who should take over for Ellis in the role of go-to guy. Cox is poised to be one of the best point guards in the league before his career is over, while Herbeck figures to join them in the starting lineup as their most experienced player. They have good depth there as well, allowing them to really get after it at both ends. Toomey and Ferguson have to take steps forward, with Ferguson showing potential as a shot-blocker inside, and there is more depth here as well. They helped Army post the second-best rebounding margin in the league last season. The Black Knights led the league in turnovers by a wide margin last season, making that the biggest area for improvement.

Next: Boston University Terriers

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Boston University Terriers 2013-14 Preview

by - Published November 7, 2013 in Conference Notes
bostonuniversity

Boston University Terriers (17-13 overall, 11-5 America East)

 

 

 

Projected starting five:

Sr. G D.J. Irving
So. G Maurice Watson, Jr.
So. G John Papale
Sr. F Travis Robinson
Sr. F Dom Morris

Important departures:

G Zach Chionuma (1.5 ppg) (transferred to Bryant) is the only player of note who has departed from last season’s team.

Returning:

97.7 percent of scoring and 97.5 percent of rebounding

Additions:

Fr. G Cameron Curry
Fr. C Dylan Haines
Fr. G Cedric Hankerson
Fr. G Braiten Madrigal

Schedule Highlights:

The Terriers will have plenty of challenges in non-league play with just four home games, including a visit from Ivy League favorite Harvard. They play at Connecticut in the 2K Sports Classic, then three games at UC Irvine, and later travel to Maryland and Saint Joseph’s. They start Patriot League play with four of six at home, giving them a chance to get off and running, while they play four of their last six away from home.

Projected finish and outlook:

Don’t be surprised if the Terriers make a grand entrance into the league by being the top team. They have a solid combination of talent and experience, along with some options from a personnel standpoint. They have the league’s best backcourt with Irving and Watson, with Papale’s shooting completing the trio very nicely and three freshmen providing added depth, especially Hankerson. Morris really started to come into his own last year and looks primed to have a big finish to it, while Robinson is simply a solid glue guy. Junior Malik Thomas has long been an intriguing prospect and can be a difference-maker off the bench, while Nathan Dieudonne showed some promise as a freshman last season and the Terriers are high on Haines, a seven-footer who played for one of the best prep coaches last season in Jere Quinn at St. Thomas More. Boston University has long been a program that produces good defensive teams, and last season’s was no different, although they could stand to improve on the glass as they were out-rebounded by almost three per game last season. In all, though, this is the likely team to beat this season.

Next: Bucknell Bison

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Bucknell Bison 2013-14 Preview

by - Published November 7, 2013 in Conference Notes
bucknell

Bucknell Bison (28-6 overall, 12-2 league)

 

 

 

Projected starting five:

Sr. G Cameron Ayers
Sr. G Ryan Hill
Jr. G Steven Kaspar
So. F Dom Hoffman
Sr. F Brian Fitzpatrick

Important departures:

The Bison saw their core graduate, consisting of G Bryson Johnson (11.1 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 2.3 apg), F Joe Willman (10.6 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 1.5 apg) and C Mike Muscala (18.7 ppg, 11.1 rpg, 2.3 apg, 2.4 bpg).

Returning:

39.6 percent of scoring and 45.2 percent of rebounding

Additions:

Fr. F D.J. MacLeay
Fr. G John Azzinaro
Fr. C Ben Oberfeld

Schedule Highlights:

A challenging non-league slate awaits the Bison, including four home games headlined by a visit from Ivy League contender Princeton. They will go on the road to play Stanford, St. John’s, Northeast contender Mount St. Mary’s and Kent State. Three of their first four Patriot League games are at home, but they finish with three of four on the road.

Projected finish and outlook:

Although the Bison lost much more than just stats could describe from last season’s team, they aren’t exactly starting over. This is still a veteran team with good talent, and now many players who have winning experience have to move into bigger roles. Ayers should be just fine in that respect, having been a key player behind the big three last year, while Hill, Kaspar and Ryan Frazier will all complement him. Frazier is the best defender of the bunch, while Hill and Kaspar will need to be scoring threats to keep defenses honest. Fitzpatrick keys the frontcourt as he is experienced and helped off the bench last season, while Hoffman is talented and now gets his chance. Oberfeld could jump right in as well. Bucknell was easily the league’s best defensive team last season, out-rebounding teams by the top margin in the league as well. Repeating that will be a tall chore, but essential if they are to contend again given the loss of offense. It would also help if they take care of the ball just as well after they were the only team in the league to turn it over less than ten times a game last season.

Next: Colgate Raiders

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Colgate Raiders 2013-14 Preview

by - Published November 7, 2013 in Conference Notes
colgate

Colgate Raiders (11-21 overall, 5-9 league)

 

 

 

Projected starting five:

Jr. G Luke Roh
Sr. G Pat Moore
So. G Austin Tillotson
Sr. F Murphy Burnatowski
Jr. F Matt McMullen

Important departures:

Two starters are gone from last season’s team: G Mitch Rolls (7.2 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 2.8 apg) and C John Brandenburg (5.1 ppg, 3.3 rpg). Also gone is reserve F Brandon James (8.1 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 1.0 apg).

Returning:

70 percent of scoring and 73.6 percent of rebounding

Additions:

Fr. G Andrew Bargmann
Fr. C John Fenton
Fr. F Jack Fleming
Fr. C Wyatt Hagarty
Fr. G Nathan Harries
Jr. C Ethan Jacobs (transfer from Ohio)
So. G Austin Tillotson (transfer from Monmouth)

Schedule Highlights:

The Raiders did well to land five non-league home games, including a visit from Fordham. The season starts with trips to Wake Forest and Syracuse, and they later travel to Georgetown. In league play, after opening with Lehigh at home they go on the road for three of four, including games at Bucknell and Boston University.

Projected finish and outlook:

Matt Langel’s work continues this season, and the Raiders look like they’re making strides albeit at a time when the league as a whole is on a good upswing. They will continue to build around Burnatowski, the league’s top returning scorer. Roh and Moore have shown potential, with the former finishing in the top six in the league in both rebounds and assists last season, and they should be joined by Tillotson, who started 18 games at Monmouth two seasons ago. Junior Damon Sherman-Newsome will probably be the first guard off the bench. Burnatowski will likely be joined by McMullen up front, but they can go bigger with Jacobs and Hagerty, who both stand 6’11”, or Fenton at 6’9″. Colgate still has a lot of areas for improvement, perhaps most notably with the possession battle as they had the worst turnover margin in the league last year. Rectifying that will be a good starting point to move up in the standings.

Next: Holy Cross Crusaders

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2013-14 Sun Belt Post-Mortem

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2013-14 Big Sky Post-Mortem

July 1, 2014 by

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2013-14 MEAC Post-Mortem

July 1, 2014 by

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2013-14 Big 12 Post-Mortem

June 30, 2014 by

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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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