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A new season brings a new feeling at Bryant

by - Published November 4, 2013 in Columns
bryant

SMITHFIELD, R.I. – A year can make a very big difference for a program. In the case of Bryant, that is exactly what has happened.

Things are certainly different now than a year ago at this time. Last year, not much was expected of the Bulldogs in their first season eligible for the Northeast Conference Tournament. They were picked tenth in the conference’s preseason poll, then got off to a fast start in NEC play and rode that to a fourth-place finish and ultimately a big in the College Basketball Invitational. They won 19 games, a 17-win jump from a year earlier, and won 11 more NEC games than a year earlier, which is a conference record.

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In a crucial year, Holy Cross has some potential

by - Published November 3, 2013 in Columns
holycross

WORCESTER, Mass. – The fourth season for a head coach at a program that was not winning when he took over is often a very crucial one, if not a do-or-die season for his tenure. Milan Brown is now in that year at Holy Cross, and while no one thinks he’s in any danger if the Crusaders don’t win this year, the team’s personnel is such that this year will tell a lot about where they are headed.

Holy Cross isn’t lacking talent or experience, although they have less of the latter since senior big man Dave Dudzinski is the only senior on the team. They return over two-thirds of their scoring and rebounding from last season. In addition, it’s a team full of his players as no one currently in the program played for a prior coach at the school. The classes that will determine where this team goes are largely the junior and sophomore classes, all of whom have pretty good experience for where they are in college and thus need to show good growth.

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URI will be improved but something of a mixed bag for now

by - Published November 2, 2013 in Columns, Your Phil of Hoops
rhodeisland

SOUTH KINGSTON, R.I. – You could excuse anyone last year for wanting to look ahead to this season at Rhode Island. There was probably some of that among the fan base, although those in the program didn’t do that. “Next year” is now here, and while expectations are certainly higher for Dan Hurley’s team, in all what they look like is a mixed bag at this point, and that was reinforced in their 93-77 victory over Southern Connecticut State University in an exhibition game on Friday night.

Last year, things got so bad that the Rams had to cancel a scrimmage due to a lack of available scholarship players. That was one more hit to their preseason preparation. This year, there is no such issue.

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The most important players in America

by - Published November 1, 2013 in Columns
author_kasiecki

Oftentimes, a team’s most important player isn’t necessarily their best player.  While a team’s best player can sometimes carry them to victory, there are some whose play is an important barometer of how their team goes for one reason or another and not necessarily how good an overall player they are.

It’s no accident that for many teams, a point guard fits the bill.  The point guard position is hugely important in basketball and especially in college.  Many a good team with an elite wing or big man has been slowed by a point guard that couldn’t lead the team to the promised land, and likewise many teams have had a point guard emerge unexpectedly and lead them to greater heights than first imagined.  That said, many of the players who made this list don’t play the point.

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Best players no one knows about

by - Published October 30, 2013 in Columns
hoopguy-orange

Marcus Smart gets a lot of attention at Oklahoma State. Rightly so: all he did as a freshman was win Big 12 Player of the Year honors in leading the Cowboys to 24 wins. After that, he bypassed the NBA Draft, where he would surely have been one of the top three selections, and his winning ways continue to get him a lot of publicity and preseason honors this season.

Along the way, it’s easy to miss Markel Brown. But opponents know the senior guard who plays alongside Smart, and they would ignore him at their own peril. Brown might be the best player no one knows about, hidden behind another star on his own team in addition to the conference.

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Notes from Sunday at the Northeast Exposure Showcase Championships

by - Published October 28, 2013 in Columns
author_kasiecki

DERRY, N.H. – BST Hoops held its Northeast Exposure Showcase Championships and New England Prep All-Star Game this weekend.  Now in its fifth iteration, the event was held at the SportsZone just off Route 28 in Derry and included some of the best players in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont, along with some prep school players in one particular game.

Teams from the four states played in scrimmages on Saturday to set up seeding for the tournament portion on Sunday, then a semifinal and championship game was played, with the NE Prep All-Star Game in between.

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It all seems to be coming together for Towson right now

by - Published October 26, 2013 in Columns
towson

BALTIMORE – It didn’t take long for Towson to go from outhouse to penthouse, at least in terms of perception. It was only a couple of years ago that Pat Skerry had taken the job and started off with a depleted roster for the ages, then had a record to match it. Now, the Tigers are the pick to win the CAA title this year, and although there will be some fierce competition, it’s an understandable selection. It’s also the latest indication that the program may be on the verge of turning a corner at last.

For much of their CAA existence, Towson has struggled. The Tigers never had a winning conference record until last season’s 13-5 mark, and had bottomed out the prior two seasons with records of 0-18 and 1-17. The last time they had a winning conference record (and overall record as well) was in their first season in the America East Conference in 1995-96, when it was still known as the North Atlantic Conference.

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New-look CAA trying to find its place in the changing landscape

by - Published October 23, 2013 in Columns, Your Phil of Hoops
colonial

BALTIMORE – As the Colonial Athletic Association goes through more changes, it’s natural to wonder where its place is in college basketball now.  The conference has had major membership changes over the last year and a half, and locations for major events like Media Day and the conference tournament are also changing.  While there is certainly a feeling of newness, one wonders what lies ahead for a conference that had a great run from 2006 to 2012 before things changed drastically.

The CAA is just one conference that is changing in an ever-changing landscape.  In the short term, the conference can be labeled one of the losers in the conference maneuvering.  In the last 18 months, George Mason, Old Dominion and VCU – the conference’s signature programs historically – have all departed, along with a Georgia State program that wasn’t in the conference long but looks like it might be on the rise under Ron Hunter.  What remains starts with five former America East schools and then includes newcomer College of Charleston and three charter members in James Madison, UNCW and William & Mary.  Next year, Elon joins the conference.

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Brooks School has a young team with good potential

by - Published October 16, 2013 in Columns
hoopguy-cyan

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – The Brooks School is known much more for academics than athletics. Academically, it’s in a class with few peers among the NEPSAC schools, and it has a campus that’s right up there with the best of them in the very nice suburbs well north of Boston. The basketball program has had some notable players in recent years, including former Connecticut and Missouri forward Alex Oriakhi, and while they don’t have an individual talent on quite that level in 2013-14, they will be a team to keep an eye on.

Brooks will field a young team this season, but figures to be competitive if their younger and more talented players grow up. They have made the NEPSAC Class B semifinals three years in a row and hope to take at least a step further this time around.

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Even with a key departure, Tabor Academy feels they can contend in Class A

by - Published October 14, 2013 in Columns
author_kasiecki

MARION, Mass. – Tabor Academy figures to be a contender in NEPSAC Class A this year.  That might be quite a statement when you consider they lost their best player from last year as Jarred Reuter transferred to Brewster Academy, but the Seawolves have enough talent and a suitable replacement for how they will play to be in the mix when March rolls around.

The Seawolves have a couple of players recovering from off-season injuries, so Sunday’s open gym didn’t showcase the full team.  Everyone should be ready to go come November, with plenty of perimeter players to go with their new post presence.  Because of that, head coach Chris Millette wants to run often this year.

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Despite a hit on the bottom line, Stony Brook’s transition continues

December 16, 2014 by

stonybrook

Stony Brook was able to hang with Providence until the roof caved in several minutes into the second half. It’s part of a growing process this team in transition needs, and it continues despite dropping a few games along the way.

Amidst Maine’s rebuilding challenge, there is hope

December 12, 2014 by

maine

Maine has a long road ahead as they rebuild under new head coach Bob Walsh. Amidst the early struggles, the Black Bears have shown some reason for hope going forward.

Saturday Notes – December 6, 2014

December 7, 2014 by

author_kasiecki

We look back at quite a day of basketball, highlighted by early upsets and then some good matchups, plus a few sneaky-good wins for some teams on a busy day.

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Reader Poll

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Ten teams are still undefeated as of December 12. Which team will be the last one to lose their first game of the season?

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Recruiting Coverage

2014 Scholar Roundball Classic recap and notes

December 16, 2014 by

author_kasiecki

We look at some notes and evaluations from Sunday’s action at the Scholar Roundball Classic, where the blowouts included some noteworthy performances.

2014 Hoop Mountain Prep Classic – Sunday notes

December 9, 2014 by

author_kasiecki

We look back at Sunday’s action in the Hoop Mountain Prep Classic, which included an overtime thriller and a couple of lopsided contests, and some prospects who helped themselves out with their play.

Some notes from the National Prep Showcase

November 28, 2014 by

author_kasiecki

The busy weekend that just passed also included a few games at the National Prep Showcase. Here are a few notes from some of the action early on Friday and Saturday.

New England Prep Schools 2014-15: looking back and looking ahead

November 3, 2014 by

nepsac

With a series of prep school open gym visits in the book and the season not far away, here’s a look back at open gyms and a look forward to the season in the New England prep school ranks.

Marianapolis Prep will battle in Class AA

October 20, 2014 by

marianapolis

Marianapolis Prep is far from loaded with talent, but they have enough perimeter talent to be dangerous. As is usually the case, they will battle and be a tough out in Class AA.

2014 Prep School Tour

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

Sept. 9: Putnam Science Academy
Sept 10: Commonwealth Academy
Sept. 11: St. Andrew's
Sept. 12: Northfield Mount Hermon
Sept. 16: Brewster Academy and Phillips Exeter
Sept. 17: Brooks School
Sept. 21: Holderness School
Sept. 23: St. Thomas More and Marianapolis Prep
Sept. 24: South Kent School and Kent School
Sept. 25: Williston Northampton
Sept. 28: Wilbraham and Monson Academy and Suffield Academy
Sept. 30: New Hampton
Oct. 5: Worcester Academy
Oct. 7: Brimmer and May
Oct. 8: Cushing Academy
Oct. 9: Tilton
Oct. 12: Tabor Academy and Rivers School
Oct. 14: The Master's School
Oct. 16: Vermont Academy

You can also find them all right here.