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Once again, UNH starts off conference play in alarming fashion

by - Published January 3, 2013 in Columns
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DURHAM, N.H. – You can’t blame Bill Herrion for being concerned. A couple of post-game comments in summing up what he sees as a major issue for his team tells the whole story.

“We’ve lost something,” said the Wildcat mentor. “What I’m trying to explain to you as a coach is scary.”

Wednesday night provided New Hampshire with an opportunity to get a jump on the competition in hosting the America East opener. It was against Vermont, a tough opponent to be sure, but it’s better to be at home than on the road. They have also played Vermont tough at home in recent years. After a 64-51 loss to the Catamounts that wasn’t even as close as the final score, though, one might wonder if there will be a case of deja vu in more ways than one.

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Growing pains come first for young Dartmouth

by - Published January 2, 2013 in Columns
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CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. – There is a lot of reason for optimism with Dartmouth, and two straight recruiting classes like the ones they have pulled in will make that happen. But what usually happens at first is youth being served, as well as growing pains, and it is quite clear that this group is going through that right now as they head home with a 2-9 record after Monday’s 79-58 loss at Boston College.

Dartmouth is young, with just one junior and a little-used senior on the roster. The core of this team for the present and foreseeable future will be the recruiting classes of the past two years. The young players come with plenty of talent, but rarely does that translate into instant success. With a challenging, road-heavy non-league slate, they have also been humbled in their introduction to college basketball. However, this team also shapes up as one that other Ivy League teams will not want to play in February. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see them knock off a contending team at home sometime in the final weeks of the regular season.

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Boston College in a much better place entering ACC play

by - Published January 2, 2013 in Columns
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CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. – Non-conference play is in the books for Boston College, and this time things are a little different than a year ago. That was to be expected given the youth of last season’s team, but at times in the first couple of months one might have had to wonder since the Eagles went 0-3 in the Charleston Classic, lost to Bryant and played poorly in losing to Harvard for the fifth year in a row. But the Eagles rebounded from that and will enter ACC play on a good note after Monday’s 79-58 blowout of Dartmouth.

A year ago as ACC play beckoned, Boston College was 5-9 and lost their last two games. This time around, the Eagles will enter ACC play with an 8-5 mark and a five-game winning streak. Granted, all of the wins came at home, and none were against teams that are a lock to be in the NCAA Tournament. In one they trailed by double digits for a significant period before rallying to win in overtime. Still, they are winning this time around and that has to make a big difference for them.

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Holy Cross could use some production on the wing

by - Published December 30, 2012 in Columns, Your Phil of Hoops
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CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. – For much of the first half on Saturday, Holy Cross stayed with Boston College and led at times. The Crusaders had something to do with Boston College’s offense not looking good for most of the first ten minutes, although BC also looked like a team that had not played in a week and had a few days off from practice. But in the second half, Boston College was the more aggressive team and also shut down the Crusader offense for a big stretch, and in the 70-60 loss to the Eagles, some of Holy Cross’ offensive issues were there to see along with some hope.

Holy Cross isn’t without room for improvement defensively, and that was where Milan Brown got started after the game. In particular, the Crusader mentor noted that they knew how Boston College plays but didn’t defend quite according to the game plan, which was to make sure that BC would shoot more than drive to the basket and create. The Eagles were able to do that, however, and it was a key component of the win.

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A high point after a year full of lows for Tucker Halpern

by - Published December 29, 2012 in Columns
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PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Those who saw Brown score a dramatic win over Providence on Friday night will remember that Tucker Halpern made the two biggest shots in the final minute as part of a game-closing 9-1 run. They will probably remember that they were the last two of eight three-pointers he made on the evening en route to scoring 28 points. They might also come away with thoughts on several other things that will bury this story – things like the idea that Providence was crazy to even play at Brown in the first place, that they blew a seven-point lead in the final 45 seconds or that Vincent Council returned from injury.

What they should know is that Tucker Halpern’s story goes beyond merely Friday night’s game and is worth knowing for anyone who is a fan of the game. It’s the kind of game he probably expected of himself once upon a time. At the same time, a year ago a night like this was but a pipe dream.

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Concerns for Providence illuminated in loss at Brown

by - Published December 29, 2012 in Columns
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PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Even before Friday night’s 69-68 loss at cross-town rival Brown, there were reasons to be concerned about Providence. There were reasons to believe that the team’s record was more a reflection of a team over-achieving and playing a light, home-heavy non-conference schedule than that of a team primed to contend in the Big East. And as Big East play beckons, those reasons for concern are right there for all to see and were reflected in the post-game press conference, where an often upbeat and spirited Ed Cooley was nowhere to be found. Instead, a clearly frustrated and subdued Cooley addressed reporters.

“We found a way to lose again on the road,” said the Providence mentor.

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How the conferences shake out as 2013 approaches

by - Published December 28, 2012 in Columns, Your Phil of Hoops
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Non-conference play is almost over, and it has been quite a stretch. We’ve learned a good deal about a lot of teams, while some are still a mystery for various reasons – injuries, suspensions, ineligibility and a light schedule are all possible reasons. In addition, a few conferences have already seen a game or two mixed in with the non-conference schedule.

Conference play is right around the corner, and while a non-conference resume doesn’t tell the whole story, it does shed some light on teams and conferences. In conference play, there is more familiarity since teams play each other every year, although the changing landscape is starting to diminish that factor a bit. That’s one reason why we see some teams put forth a very good non-conference showing, including some good wins, then go on to have a mediocre showing in conference play.

With that in mind, here’s a look at how every conference in America shapes up.

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Cornell is trying to find consistency before Ivy League play

by - Published December 23, 2012 in Columns, Your Phil of Hoops
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BOSTON – Cornell is trying to find some consistency with non-league play winding down. That’s not a good place to be, and after a 70-57 loss at Boston University on Saturday the issues the Big Red face seem just a little more noticeable.

One look at the box score tells much of the story. The Big Red had a nice 48-24 bench scoring advantage, but undoing that is the fact that their starters scored just nine points and had 12 rebounds. The starters also didn’t hand out a single assist on the afternoon. Eight different Big Red players have started at least one game this season, and only two have started all 12 games. Clearly, head coach Bill Courtney and his staff are trying to find the right combination.

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Now would be a good time for Northeastern to turn a corner

by - Published December 22, 2012 in Columns
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NEW BRITAIN, Conn. – Northeastern may be in a position to turn a corner at a good time. That might seem like an odd proclamation about a team that just snapped a five-game losing streak on Friday night, but take the way they won and add the recent return of their leader, and things could be looking up for the Huskies with CAA play right around the corner.

Friday night was Jonathan Lee’s second game back from a broken foot that shelved him for nearly two months. An All-CAA candidate, the senior leader doesn’t look like he’s missed a beat, and given how competitive he is that isn’t entirely surprising. With 15 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists, Lee was the catalyst in Friday’s 82-63 win at Central Connecticut, and figures to be the rest of the season.

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If Ohio shores up their defense, watch out in March

by - Published December 20, 2012 in Columns
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AMHERST, Mass. – Ohio University at first glance would seem like an obvious pick to win the Mid-American Conference this season. Their personnel, their experience that includes a run to the Sweet 16 last year, and their coach are all reasons to feel that they are the team to beat. But if their 85-76 loss at UMass on Wednesday night is any indication, there are things that could derail a championship and an attempt to make another run in the NCAA Tournament.

Ohio is unquestionably a veteran team. The Bobcats have no freshmen and are dominated by upperclassmen, with three senior starters, five seniors overall and seven juniors. They have used the same starting lineup in every game thus far, and nine Bobcats average double-digit minutes and another averages 9.3. But those numbers are a bit deceptive, as from a production standpoint there is a pretty good drop-off after the top six players in the rotation.

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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

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hofstra

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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.

Hoopville Archives

Even More: City Hoops Recruiting

Mass Elite and Boston Warriors hold college showcase

Mass Elite and Boston Warriors, two of the largest programs in Massachusetts, teamed up for a college showcase on Wednesday night. Here are some evaluations from that event.

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Travel team profile: All For One

All For One has been one of the better travel programs in Massachusetts for players before they reach high school

Travel team profile: Blackstone Valley Chaos

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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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