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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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Providence gets reinforcements at a good time

by - Published December 19, 2012 in Columns
providence

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – This was just what Providence needed.  Not just the game, although the Friars will gladly take the easy 79-45 win over Colgate on Tuesday night.  But much more than that, for once the Friars were not a team badly in need of more bodies, and they hope it’s the beginning of a trend.

“This may be the first time since I’ve coached here that we’ve had some balanced minutes,” said head coach Ed Cooley.

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Quinnipiac’s non-conference time is running out

by - Published December 17, 2012 in Columns, Your Phil of Hoops
quinnipiac

BOSTON – Time is running out for Quinnipiac in non-conference play.  After Sunday’s 69-62 overtime loss at Boston University, the Bobcats are now 3-6 and have struggled offensively to the point where the confidence seems shaken.  The Bobcats have a simple mission for their final two games before Northeast Conference play starts.

“We’ve got to win,” said head coach Tom Moore.  “The biggest thing that helps confidence is winning games.”

But getting there is the hard part, from the looks of things.

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Rhode Island’s win over SMU not all that shocking

by - Published December 16, 2012 in Columns
smu

SOUTH KINGSTON, R.I. – Saturday’s 72-50 Rhode Island win over SMU might surprise some who saw only the score and knew only the records of the respective teams coming into the game. SMU was 8-1, an early pleasant surprise to be sure, while URI was expected to have a rebuilding season and came in at 2-7. Look beneath the surface, and Saturday’s result might be a little surprising but certainly shouldn’t be a shocker save perhaps for the margin of victory.

“I didn’t look at them as a 2-7 team,” SMU head coach Larry Brown said of the Rams. “They made threes, but they were open, most of them. I thought they executed so much better than we did, they defended better than we did. They looked like the team with the winning record. They out-coached us, out-played us, out-executed us.”

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Boston University isn’t the defensive team they have been for years

by - Published December 12, 2012 in Columns
bostonuniversity

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – For years, you could bank on one thing about Boston University: they would be a defensive-oriented team. That was the identity of this team from Dennis Wolff’s days, continuing on with Pat Chambers and last year as Joe Jones took over. This season, that doesn’t appear to be the case at first glance, although for a while on Tuesday the Terriers looked like they were ready to turn a corner before the second half of their 65-64 loss at Harvard. In the end, though, a familiar item came back to haunt them: an inability to get a stop when they need it most.

“We’ve lost three games now at the buzzer,” said Jones after a short jumper by Harvard’s Siyani Chambers with four seconds left gave Harvard the victory. “We just haven’t been able to get the last stop of the game. It’s been unfortunate.”

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La Salle’s non-conference run could get them into the Atlantic 10 conversation

by - Published December 10, 2012 in Columns
lasalle

BOSTON – In conversation about the new and improved Atlantic 10, the first schools in the conversation tend to be preseason favorites Saint Louis and Saint Joseph’s, as well as newcomers Butler and VCU. All of that is understandable, and right now St. Louis probably comes up more in light of Rick Majerus’ unfortunate passing. Another team that wants to be in the conversation is La Salle, and after pulling out a 66-64 road win at Northeastern on Saturday night, the Explorers go into final exams looking like a team that could be in that mix.

The Explorers are not exactly a veteran team, but they’re certainly not inexperienced. They could be a year away from peaking with the core they have, but this year’s team looks pretty good right now. Ramon Galloway is the only senior who plays significant minutes, but they have a very experienced junior in Tyreek Duren, one of the most underrated point guards in the country, and classmate Sam Mills has played plenty of minutes as well in part because he’s an excellent defender.

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St. Francis Brooklyn suddenly a place of potential

by - Published December 9, 2012 in Columns, Your Phil of Hoops
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CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. – St. Francis College is not a school that might naturally jump out at the casual fan as a place of potential. While it is located in Brooklyn, where there is in theory a natural recruiting base, it doesn’t seem to have much going for it at first glance. The home gym has been widely panned as not even being a bandbox, although teams in their conference don’t need to have big, state-of-the-art facilities and probably can’t support such a facility financially. In other words, it would seem to be a difficult place to win – and as such it’s easy to forget that the school actually has a pretty rich history in Division I basketball.

But now in his third season, Glenn Braica is trying to change all of that, and with some early results, can see potential perhaps even better than when he left St. John’s to take the job. The Terriers are one of five member schools that have never made the NCAA Tournament despite being members of Division I since the modern re-classification in 1948.

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Connecticut will go as far as Napier, backcourt will take them

by - Published December 9, 2012 in Columns
connecticut

STORRS, Conn. – There’s no question Connecticut will ride their guards as much as possible this season. Given their personnel, that’s about their only choice as they are far deeper on the perimeter than up front and more talented there. It’s also where their most natural leaders are, in particular the one who didn’t score for much of Friday’s 57-49 win over Harvard largely because he was busy helping others do that.

The easy pick as the star on Friday night would be DeAndre Daniels. The sophomore forward, a talent who simply got buried behind more experienced players a year ago, had a long-awaited breakout game with 23 points on 9-12 shooting. He had a career high by halftime, as he scored 15 points in the opening frame, and if he can do that more, it would be a big development.

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Providence starts out 7-2, but not the way some might have expected

by - Published December 8, 2012 in Columns
providence

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – If you envisioned Providence being 7-2 as they head into a break for final exams, you could easily have been right. There are plenty of games on the schedule to date that were winnable ones. But chances are, you didn’t think they would look the way they have thus far. You probably figured they would have a few more than five scholarship players healthy to go. After Thursday night’s 72-57 win over arch-rival Rhode Island, the Friars are defying logic, and one wonders if they have to continue it and for how long.

Before the season, freshman Kris Dunn was known to be out for about a month or so of games. Then Ricardo Ledo was deemed a partial qualifier by the NCAA, meaning he would sit this year aside from practice. It was once the season came that it got out of hand. First, it was Vincent Council, the senior point guard who was the anchor of the team, going down with a hamstring injury that will ultimately shelve him for about six weeks. Bryce Cotton has played hurt at times, including Thursday night when he was clearly limited from a knee injury suffered the prior game.

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Turnovers become a new issue for Rhode Island against Providence

by - Published December 7, 2012 in Columns, Your Phil of Hoops
rhodeisland

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Last year, Rhode Island looked like they may have hit rock bottom when they played arch-rival Providence. In an 80-61 loss, the Rams were not very competitive and the game didn’t seem as close as the final score. This time around, the Rams looked better and were more competitive, but they lost to a Providence team that suited up six scholarship players, one of whom had a very gimpy knee. The Rams also looked like a team that has notable shortcomings and struggles.

Turnovers haven’t been a big problem all season, but they certainly were on Thursday night, especially in a key stretch. URI was staying close, but inside of ten minutes Providence scored ten unanswered points to open up a 52-39 lead. The Rams finished the night with a season-high 20 turnovers.

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Conference Coverage

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2013-14 Sun Belt Post-Mortem

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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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