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Mount St. Mary’s resets again to stay hot and advance

by - Published March 7, 2013 in Columns
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SMITHFIELD, R.I. – The magic carpet ride continues for the hottest team in the Northeast Conference.  A Mount St. Mary’s team that few had going far this season, a season with a coaching change, is now in the NEC Tournament semifinals after a big 75-69 road victory at Bryant on Wednesday night, their eighth straight win.  It’s a team that won by doing something they’ve had to do a lot of over the last year – hit the reset button.

There have been a lot of moments where this team has had to his the reset button and pull things together.  There was the coaching change, for one, coming at the end of a long season.  There were some rough games early on this season.  There was the 1-4 start in NEC play.  There have been many times where the defense has had to do it as they allow opponents to shoot an unseemly 51 percent from the field on the season.  And on Wednesday night, there was the first half, where the Mountaineers shot 28 percent from the field and allowed the Bulldogs to shoot over 48 percent.

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An unexpected end to Bryant’s season

by - Published March 7, 2013 in Columns
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SMITHFIELD, R.I. – It wasn’t supposed to end this way.  The storybook season was supposed to include a magical run in March, completing the amazing turnaround from last year with an NCAA Tournament bid.  Perhaps a couple of things would fall right and they would even get to do it at home.

Instead, Bryant’s season came to an end on Wednesday night, the latest victims of the hottest team in the Northeast Conference after a 75-69 loss to Mount St. Mary’s.  And while there can be a look ahead to a brighter future, that’s for a later time.

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Providence could work their way onto the bubble

by - Published March 6, 2013 in Columns
providence

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Could Providence become a bubble team?  The answer to that might not be as easy as you think, or may have thought not so long ago.  Providence’s 76-66 win over Seton Hall on Tuesday night is certainly not a resume builder, but it puts them above .500 in Big East play, something that likewise seemed unthinkable once upon a time.

It wasn’t all that long ago that some might have written this team off as far as postseason play was concerned.  The Friars started Big East play 2-7 with a pair of three-game losing streaks, and they simply didn’t look good.  The two wins came at Seton Hall and at home against Villanova, neither of which seemed very impressive at the time and still don’t now.  A 5-1 month of February changed all of that, and now they are 2-0 in March to stay on a roll.

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BC’s Dick Kelley an unsung hero in our line of work

by - Published March 5, 2013 in Columns
bostoncollege

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. – In our work, we deal with many people. Anyone who reads our stories knows we deal with players and coaches, and at times game officials. There are also athletic directors, commissioners, other school and conference administrators, players’ parents and other family members at times as well. But they are far from alone.

Tying it all together are those who work in media relations, the people that you very rarely hear about. But they are hugely important to our line of work. Known to many as “SIDs” (Sports Information Directors, as titles tend to vary but the work is the same), they rarely get any pub – and Boston College’s Dick Kelley was fine with that. On Sunday, however, he got just that in a ceremony that had so many dimensions to it before Eagles’ game against Virginia. And it was clear he was overwhelmed by it all.

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Virginia can’t turn win over Duke into a momentum builder

by - Published March 4, 2013 in Columns, Your Phil of Hoops
virginia

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. – Like Maryland before them, Virginia scored a big win over Duke at home. Then they had to go on the road at Boston College, a team near the bottom of the ACC but one that isn’t far from being in the middle of the pack. Maryland couldn’t avoid a letdown and lost at The Heights, and Virginia came close to a better result but couldn’t put away the Eagles, who took home an emotional 53-52 win to likewise put the Cavaliers in a tight spot for the NCAA Tournament.

Like Maryland, Virginia also has some youth, although they have three upperclassmen who start. The Cavaliers have been a tough team to fully figure out on the bottom line, as they went 0-3 against CAA schools in non-conference but won every other game. They should be able to run the table at home in ACC play with one game still left, but have only knocked off Virginia Tech and Maryland away from Charlottesville. That ability to win on the road is a big one, and it was something head coach Tony Bennett was talking about after the game with regard to how it got away.

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St. John’s not too different without Harrison at first

by - Published March 3, 2013 in Columns
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PROVIDENCE, R.I. – St. John’s didn’t look all that different in their first game without the suspended D’Angelo Harrison on Saturday night.  Playing against a team that has a lot of similarities to them, the Red Storm had some similar results in their 62-59 loss at Providence, a game where they certainly had their chances.

Lavin announced the suspension of Harrison on Friday.  That didn’t leave much time before Saturday’s game to adjust, and he said there wasn’t much talk with his team about what this meant as far as adjustments from an offensive standpoint.

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Bryant avoids letdown to secure a tournament home game

by - Published March 3, 2013 in Columns
bryant

SMITHFIELD, R.I. – So much was on the line two nights earlier for Bryant that it was easy to forget something: they had one more game on Saturday. Besides the quick turnaround, it’s a classic scenario for a letdown since they were at home against one of the worst teams in the conference. But they got their focus together in time and broke the game open early in the second half for an 85-60 win over St. Francis (Pa.) to wrap up at least one home game in the Northeast Conference Tournament.

Thursday night was the big showdown with Robert Morris, and a game anyone in the building won’t soon forget. But the Bulldogs still needed to win on Saturday because the NEC was a jumbled mess behind Robert Morris coming into Saturday, and win they did. After all of Saturday’s games had played out, the Bulldogs were the No. 4 seed and get at least one home game in the NEC Tournament.

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A look around the country – March 3, 2013

by - Published March 3, 2013 in Columns
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Saturday was a big day in college basketball as a number of conferences ended their regular season and a number of big matchups took place among the 147 Division I games. Conference tournaments start in less than a week; by this time next week several NCAA Tournament bids will have been earned.

It was the second time this season I had to cover three games at three different sites and the third time in the past two seasons. In the nine games played on those days, the home team has won just three times, with two of those coming on Saturday. Take from that what you will.

Now, some thoughts coming from the day’s games.

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Old Dominion has a small silver lining at the end of a rough season

by - Published March 3, 2013 in Columns
olddominion

BOSTON – One win at the end of a 5-25 season isn’t going to magically make it a good season. Old Dominion’s last go-round in the Colonial Athletic Association has been anything but memorable, to say the least. But the Monarchs did go out in about the best way they could given the circumstances, beating regular season champion Northeastern 81-74 in Boston on Saturday and leaving town feeling like they salvaged what they could.

“After the game I jokingly talked about how there’s only going to be five teams that end their season with a win this year – the winners of all the tournaments and us,” said interim head coach Jim Corrigan with a smile.

That wasn’t all Corrigan did to lighten the mood.

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Jamelle Hagins developed on and off the court at Delaware

by - Published March 1, 2013 in Columns
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The reality of coaching at a mid-major program is that you have to take chances on players more often than not.  When it comes to big men, that is especially the case, as that even happens at the highest level.  Many coaches recruit a big man who clearly has work to do in the hope that they correctly project what he can become.  Plenty of those players don’t work out – some never really get better, some might be one-dimensional, and some more might never develop physically.  But some of them do work out, and when it happens, it can be quite satisfying.

Delaware senior Jamelle Hagins is one of those who has worked out.  While his is a story of what coaches hope will happen when recruiting a young man with the idea of projecting what he will become, Hagins is more than that.  Perhaps assistant coach Jeff Rafferty sums it up best when he says that Hagins “is one of my favorites.”

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Your Phil of Hoops

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bostonuniversity

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hofstra

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Even More: City Hoops Recruiting

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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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