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With a new coach and new players, American takes home the Patriot League title

by - Published March 15, 2014 in Columns
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BOSTON – Maybe it’s a good thing that American had a lot of newness to their personnel this season. Last season’s team wasn’t very good, but besides that, a coaching change always brings a requisite adjustment period unless it’s someone who’s just like the departed coach. The transition wasn’t always smooth, but the end result is what the Eagles want as their 55-36 win at Boston University will send them to the NCAA Tournament.

Jeff Jones, who took the school to the NCAA Tournament two years in a row, left for Old Dominion after last season. Mike Brennan, a former Georgetown assistant, replaced him and brought in a whole new staff. The Eagles went 10-20 last year and returned just two starters, with the departures hitting the perimeter hard. They were going to need newcomers to play a key role, especially at the crucial point guard spot. That and the coaching change were all reasons no one had this team winning it all back in October.

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For Mount St. Mary’s, the vision of the program is the difference

by - Published March 14, 2014 in Columns
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Jamion Christian has a vision of what the Mount St. Mary’s program should be and has stuck to it fervently. He has resisted to giving into any temptation to stray from it even for very talented players. With his alma mater headed back to the NCAA Tournament, he is showing that it works while also showing that he’s one of the bright young coaches in the country.

When Christian took over less than two years ago, you might say the program was down but not out. Mount St. Mary’s has a long tradition that features legendary coach Jim Phelan, but had fallen upon a couple of difficult years after Milan Brown left to become the head coach at Holy Cross. He felt he could get the program back in the NCAA Tournament, much like his coaches, Phelan and Brown, did. The Mountaineers won the Northeast Conference championship on Tuesday night, but that should only be the beginning.

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Delaware trusted each other to win the CAA championship

by - Published March 11, 2014 in Columns
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BALTIMORE – Trust. It’s something we all wrestle with in a variety of situations in life, both personally and professionally. It is not easily earned, but is very easily lost. When it isn’t rewarded by those who earn it, the tendency is to trust less easily later on. There are many notable quotes about it.

For Delaware, trust is a big key to why they are CAA champions, and not just in the way it’s normally talked about in basketball. The trust from one player to another is there, certainly, and was shown in the game-winning play in Monday night’s win that sent them to the NCAA Tournament for the first time as members of the CAA. But there’s also the kind of trust you don’t often come across – the trust a coach has in their team.

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Manhattan didn’t have to look far to become a champion

by - Published March 11, 2014 in Columns
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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – When a team beats a neighborhood rival for a championship, you might expect a lot of bragging rights-type of talk from the winning team. You might expect them to not have high words for the opponent in between basking in the glow of the championship. That all gets magnified by it being a championship game, with an NCAA Tournament bid on the line, as well as a rematch of the title game from a year earlier.

And yet there was nothing but respect for Iona coming from Manhattan, located less than ten miles away, after the Jaspers’ 71-68 win in the MAAC Championship game. It speaks to the character of the young men in the program and why they went from going 6-25 and a tie for the bottom of the MAAC to being champions in three years.

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Not the ending anyone imagined for Drexel

by - Published March 9, 2014 in Columns
drexel

BALTIMORE – The way Chris Fouch headed to the bench said it all. It wasn’t the way a guy who scores 30 points in a tremendous effort normally would.

This wasn’t how the season was supposed to end for Drexel. Not in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament with a senior-driven team. Not with a 90-81 loss that didn’t feel that close and where there was a good stretch the team looked out-classed. Not in a game where the opponent set a season high for points in a game, and it wasn’t an overtime game. Not in a game where the Dragons scored 60 points in the second half, but allowed the opponent to shoot 65 percent.

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Mihalich’s first year at Hofstra is over but will have plenty of value

by - Published March 9, 2014 in Columns, Your Phil of Hoops
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BALTIMORE – Little was expected of Hofstra this season. The reasons for it are clear and have been talked about, and they can be rehashed more at a later time. Joe Mihalich and any underclassmen had every reason to just look ahead to next year, when some of this season’s issues go away instantly, but there was none of that. Now it’s on to getting ready for next year, but the season that ended with Saturday’s 87-76 loss to Delaware in the CAA Tournament is a necessary part of the process, difficult though it may have been.

The easy thing is to look at the Pride’s final record of 10-23 and dismiss it as the kind of year that could be expected. Perhaps along the way, they competed, they pushed better teams to the limit like they did on Saturday, but just couldn’t quite break through. While that happened, that’s only the bottom line and not the whole story for this team.

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Through new life challenges, Devon Saddler is a driven player and family person

by - Published March 8, 2014 in Columns
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If you just look at some of Devon Saddler’s statistics, you might get an impression of Delaware’s all-time leading scorer. Seeing his numbers, mainly his scoring, shooting and assist numbers, might leave an impression that he’s been your classic gunner who has scored from taking a lot of shots, and you might wonder about him as a team player and a young man.

Stop right there if that’s the impression you get. It’s about as false an impression as you can get.

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At Drexel, two different guards from different places try to extend their careers

by - Published March 7, 2014 in Columns
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This weekend, Drexel will attempt to prolong a season that began with a lot of promise. It hasn’t quite gone as many had hoped, but two senior guards will try to lead them to a longer season. It is those two guards, who come from different places, who have had different journeys to this point, and who have become like brothers while learning plenty about dealing with adversity, who will try to lead them one last time in the Colonial Athletic Association.

From a basketball standpoint, the backgrounds of Chris Fouch and Frantz Massenat aren’t all that similar. Their careers have been quite different as well, but as teammates they have been a big part of how Drexel has done. Through adversity, they have forged a strong bond that Massenat points out during interviews of both. It is perhaps only fitting that they will finish right next to each other on the school’s all-time scoring list.

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2014 CAA awards: How one person voted

by - Published March 7, 2014 in Columns
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The Colonial Athletic Association handed out its postseason awards on Thursday night, as usual a day in advance of the conference tournament. As one of the voters in the conference, I always find it a worthwhile exercise to share how I voted and some of the thoughts behind it.

The most notable highlight is that the Player of the Year vote was a tough one. I debated that more than anything else, even finishing my ballot other than that award at first so I could ponder it more. A couple of the other awards were relatively easy this time around, and at the margins it was a tough call in a couple of cases for the last person on one of the teams.

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For Bryant, especially the seniors, there are no words right now

by - Published March 6, 2014 in Columns
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SMITHFIELD, R.I. – What do you say to the players who have meant so much to your program after a heart-breaking loss likely ends their careers? What do you say to the players who gave all they had, even transformed themselves, for the betterment of your program at a crucial stage?

In truth, there are no words. Tim O’Shea, who has seen plenty in the world of basketball, had a hard time finding them after Bryant lost a 55-54 heart-breaker to Saint Francis in the Northeast Conference Tournament on Wednesday night. And you can’t blame him. His lack of words says nothing about him and everything about the situation.

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College Basketball Tonight

COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT is a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran college basketball broadcaster Ted Sarandis, who will be joined by former Manhattan and Seton Hall head coach Bobby Gonzalez and many great guests, including Hoopville's own Phil Kasiecki.

The show will air on AM 970 The Answer in New York City from 7-9 p.m. on every Sunday from Selection Sunday to the Final Four. You can listen to the show here.

Your Phil of Hoops

Watson’s transfer will sting BU the most

April 11, 2014 by

bostonuniversity

Boston University recently saw three players transfer. The impact of the departure of one of them will be felt more than the other two.

Mihalich’s first year at Hofstra is over but will have plenty of value

March 9, 2014 by

hofstra

The first year for Hofstra under Joe Mihalich is in the books. Many expected that wins would be hard to come by, and they were, but this season was about more than that and is hardly a throwaway year.

Cornell’s future can only be better

March 2, 2014 by

cornell

Cornell has had a rough season, as could be expected given some personnel losses. It’s almost in the books, and the future at least looks brighter.

2013 Prep School Tour

Missed a recap of an open gym workout? We have them all right here for you.

Sept. 9: St. Andrew's
Sept 10: Tilton
Sept. 11: South Kent School and Northfield Mount Hermon
Sept. 12: Putnam Science Academy
Sept. 16: St. Thomas More and Marianapolis Prep
Sept. 17: Brewster Academy and Phillips Exeter
Sept. 23: New Hampton School
Sept. 24: Brimmer and May
Sept. 25: Proctor Academy
Sept. 26: Notre Dame Prep and Cushing Academy
Sept. 29: Worcester Academy and Vermont Academy
Oct. 6: Charlestown High School and Milton Academy
Oct. 13: Tabor Academy
Oct. 15: Brooks School

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Coaching Changes and NBA Draft Early Entrants

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

Also, keep track of players who have declared early for the NBA Draft.

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