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NCAA Tournament players to watch – Part 1

by - Published March 18, 2013 in Columns
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Every year, the NCAA Tournament brings new faces into the limelight. For some schools, it’s their first time with a large national TV audience even if they have played a conference championship game on TV. The attention is different from the conference championship because now everyone is watching. For some players, they aren’t the stars of their team but they make a big shot, big stop or other big play, or have a big game come tournament time that brings them out from behind the shadows.

That’s all part of what makes the NCAA Tournament special, and Louisville head coach Rick Pitino echoed this sentiment when, after his team won the Big East Tournament behind a big effort from Montrezl Harrell, said, “You never know in college basketball who’s going to step up. That’s the beauty of college basketball.”

Who are the players you may learn about this year? Here is a look, starting with the teams playing their first game on Tuesday or Thursday. A little later, we will bring you players on teams who play their first game on Wednesday or Friday.

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Louisville looks like a national title contender in Big East finale

by - Published March 17, 2013 in Columns
louisville

NEW YORK – The box score tells you that Louisville is leaving New York as the champions of the last Big East Tournament as we know it by virtue of a 78-61 win over Syracuse. But the box score only tells part of the story, as is so often the case. Among the things it doesn’t tell is why this Cardinal team might not be done winning championships.

Down 45-29 just over four minutes into the second half, Louisville had to do something. Syracuse was clicking on all cylinders, continuing their offensive renaissance in New York, and the Cardinals couldn’t do anything against the zone. Who did they turn to for help? Montrezl Harrell, of course.

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Despite semifinal loss, Notre Dame feels better leaving New York than when they entered

by - Published March 16, 2013 in Columns, Your Phil of Hoops
notredame

NEW YORK – Let the debate about the value of conference tournaments rage on. You’ll find a few willing supporters of them in New York, including Notre Dame’s Mike Brey, even after his team was eliminated by Louisville 69-57 in the semifinal on Friday night. There was plenty of value for him and his team here, and it wasn’t just sentimental, although there was a little of that.

“I can’t say enough about the Big East, man,” said Brey. “I don’t think it’s really hit me yet saying bye to (associate commissioner Tom Odjakjian) and John (Paquette) and some of the other people, and the Big East has kind of made me.”

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Championship matchup is one more appropriate gift

by - Published March 16, 2013 in Columns
bigeast

NEW YORK – The first Big East semifinal was a thriller. The second one wasn’t, but its result leads to the possibility of one in the final championship game in the Big East Tournament as we know it. What’s not a possibility, but rather, a given, is that the second one sets up a final that is only fitting for a very different reason.

With Syracuse already in the final by virtue of a 58-55 overtime win over Georgetown, Louisville then punched their ticket with a victory over Notre Dame. The Cardinals gradually pulled away from the Fighting Irish, who were able to hang around most of the night and even tied the game in the first half, for a 69-57 victory.

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Everything about this game made perfect sense

by - Published March 15, 2013 in Columns
bigeast

NEW YORK – There was no way it could be any different. Everything came together just right for Georgetown and Syracuse to play each other one last time as Big East members. The only way this game could go was to be a thriller; there was no other option.

It was a close game almost throughout, as Syracuse had a 12-point lead for a short period, and then overtime was a possibility – and it came. It was the first overtime game in the Big East Tournament between these two in more than 27 years. A second overtime looked like a possibility, but it wasn’t meant to be as Syracuse closed out Georgetown 58-55.

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Doubts about Northeastern in the CAA are sure to come again

by - Published March 15, 2013 in Columns
northeastern

It’s been said many times and in many contexts that history repeats itself. Surely one form of that is already here and will continue: the question of whether or not Northeastern can win in the Colonial Athletic Association.

Northeastern had to overcome a 24-point deficit against George Mason in the semifinals and then fell behind big early in the championship before falling to James Madison. The Huskies were the CAA regular season champions, but they couldn’t close it out thanks to a poor performance in the biggest game of the year.

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Villanova hopes the next growth comes in the NCAA Tournament

by - Published March 15, 2013 in Columns
villanova

NEW YORK – Villanova has had to deal with the ups and downs of a relatively young team all season long. Doing that in the Big East is difficult unless you have special young players, and while the Wildcats have good ones they’re not quite at that level. After a tough stretch through some of January, the Wildcats started to play better, and despite losing 74-55 to Louisville in the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament, they appear to be generally playing better as they hope to hear their name called for the NCAA Tournament on Sunday.

In mid-January, Villanova didn’t look good. A poor showing at Providence was a bad loss at the time, as Providence was struggling even more en route to a 2-7 start in Big East play. It was their third straight loss, although there was no shame in losing at Syracuse and to Pittsburgh, though the latter was within their grasp at one point. Villanova’s guards were, Wright said, playing like they were inexperienced. Turnovers were a major problem, much like they were on Thursday night when they gave the ball away 25 times, including 18 in the first half.

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John Dunne sad the season is over for St. Peter’s

by - Published March 15, 2013 in Columns, Your Phil of Hoops
stpeters

John Dunne is sad that his team’s season is over. You might wonder if that would be the case for a team like his, a St. Peter’s team that went 9-21 on the season. But you can believe Dunne when he says it, much as you can believe he would like the results to be a little different.

This year was not a memorable one for the Peacocks on the bottom line, although it started with promise as they won their first three games. Friday night’s 54-47 loss to Fairfield finished a season where they were 3-15 in the MAAC in as competitive a year as the conference has seen. They were 6-6 when MAAC play began in earnest, but started 2013 with eight straight losses in January and never recovered. After the season-opening three-game winning streak, they never won consecutive games again.

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2013 Big East Tournament quarterfinal quick hitters

by - Published March 15, 2013 in Columns, Conference Notes
bigeast

NEW YORK – Georgetown vs. Syracuse. The rivalry lives on in the context of the Big East just a little longer.

The semifinals are set for the 2013 Big East Tournament, and the first one that set up had many people buzzing. Georgetown and Syracuse will have one last game while both are members of the Big East, which is only fitting considering this is the last Big East Tournament as we know it. That game will be a tough act to follow, but Louisville and Notre Dame will try to do that. Considering the Cardinals and Fighting Irish produced the most thrilling game of the season to date when they went to five overtimes, we know they are capable.

Some quick hitters from Thursday’s games:

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Smith leads Louisville on a difficult day

by - Published March 15, 2013 in Columns
louisville

NEW YORK – Russ Smith played one of his best games of the season with a heavy heart. The Big East Tournament is a homecoming for a lot of players, Smith included, as New York is well-represented among the conference’s players. But a phone call the Louisville guard made earlier in the day changed a lot for the young man and also hit a lot of people in Madison Square Garden. Smith learned that Jack Curran, the legendary coach of Archbishop Molloy, had died at age 82.

With Louisville in town for the conference tournament, Smith called the school, as he so often does when in town, to touch base with people there, including athletic director Mike McCleary. That was when he learned that Curran had passed, and Smith was taken aback.

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Your Phil of Hoops

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Hoopville Archives

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.

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Recruiting Coverage

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.

New Vermont Academy coach has put together a contender

October 17, 2014 by

vermontacademy

Vermont Academy has a new coach for the second year in a row, but they shouldn’t skip a beat. They have enough talent to win a lot of games and make a deep run in NEPSAC Class AA.

The Master’s School has good students and talent

October 15, 2014 by

mastersschool

The Master’s School has a number of good students, and they will continue to head to college later. This time around, they also have some talent on the hardwood and should win a few more games.

Rivers will try to build on a breakthrough season

October 13, 2014 by

riversschool

The Rivers School had a breakthrough season last year, winning the Independent School League. They will try to build on that with a team that loses a lot but also returns a lot from last season’s team.

Tabor Academy looks to have more depth this time around

October 13, 2014 by

taboracademy

Tabor Academy will once again be headlined by a frontcourt player. This time around, though, the Seawolves appear to have a deeper support cast than in recent years.