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New Hampshire is searching desperately for answers

by - Published January 25, 2013 in Columns, Your Phil of Hoops

DURHAM, N.H. – Bill Herrion summed it up rather succinctly in the middle of his post-game press conference.

“We’re rock bottom,” said the subdued New Hampshire head coach.  “I’m not going to lie to you, we’re rock bottom right now.”

Thursday night’s 51-40 loss to Hartford was the Wildcats’ ninth in a row.  It was another game where the offense struggled to get going, and once the defense had some trouble, the game was over.  In past years the Wildcats would defend well enough to stay in the game, and the offense had enough to win some games.  That’s not the case with this team, and that’s before we get to the fact that they don’t seem to play well together at the offensive end.

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Nwakamma carries Hartford out of losing streak

by - Published January 25, 2013 in Columns

DURHAM, N.H. – After an ugly first half for both teams, Hartford woke up in the second half.  In particular, Mark Nwakamma woke up, and he carried the Hawks to a 51-40 win at New Hampshire that stopped a three-game losing streak and also showed why he is this team’s most important player.

Hartford has been a streaky team since the calendar turned over, which isn’t entirely surprising given that this is still a young team.  They started by winning their first three America East games before dropping three straight.  A year after opening up 0-13, the Hawks have managed to make that three-game losing streak their longest of the season, evidence of the strides this team is making.  A lot of that starts with the clear star of Thursday night’s game.

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Win over William & Mary helps explain Northeastern’s 7-0 CAA start

by - Published January 24, 2013 in Columns, Your Phil of Hoops

BOSTON – Northeastern didn’t win Wednesday night’s game as comfortably as they probably should have.  The Huskies had a 16-point lead early in the second half and appeared to be dominating William & Mary, which one might expect given that the Huskies came in undefeated in CAA play and the Tribe was a game out of the cellar and mired in a seven-game losing streak.  In the end, they won 95-91 in double overtime, and head coach Bill Coen breathing a sigh of relief tells you how much the bottom line is what counts.

“We were very, very fortunate tonight to come away with a victory,” said Coen.  “A lot of teams, after surrendering a 15-point halftime lead, wouldn’t be able to find a way to win.  It speaks to this group because they stuck together, they believed in one another.”

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William & Mary needs to carry its second half rally into future games

by - Published January 24, 2013 in Columns

BOSTON – One thing is a given with Tony Shaver’s teams at William & Mary: they will never stop competing.  There were plenty of reasons one might see a team mail it in on Wednesday night, but the Tribe rallied from a 16-point deficit in the second half to take CAA leader Northeastern to double overtime before succumbing 95-91.  It left Shaver hoping that more of the positives from the game carry over than the negatives, as there were some of both.

When you’ve lost seven games in a row, traveling to play the conference leader and the hottest team in the conference is probably not the best medicine.  Sometimes, it’s not your night, and that was pretty much the case on Wednesday for the first 25 minutes as Northeastern had a 46-30 lead and appeared to be in complete control of the game.  Northeastern got inside the zone often for baskets and good  chances they didn’t cash in.  They also got some easy baskets off turnovers, at times utilizing a light press.  It looked like a matchup of an undefeated conference leader and a team one game out of the bottom.

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Providence has some growing pains with more players available

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

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The theory went that once Providence got their entire roster together, the Friars could be pretty good.  They were winning, albeit against a light schedule, with six or seven players and having to start a walk-on once.  They were winning with some of them playing out of position, and one of the players they were without was their senior leader.

That hasn’t happened, however, as Tuesday’s 68-64 loss to Pittsburgh was their seventh in nine games after running out to a 8-2 start.  Instead, they have been humbled since getting their entire roster together.

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Pittsburgh’s consistent identity leads to consistent results

by - Published January 23, 2013 in Columns

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Pittsburgh is nothing if not consistent in who they are.  The Panthers’ identity has not changed since Ben Howland was roaming the sideline, continuing into current head coach Jamie Dixon’s tenure.  With Tuesday night’s 68-64 win at Providence being their third straight, the bottom line is keeping up with that consistency.

Pittsburgh is playing the same style that has made them a big winner in recent years, but now they are more mature after being less experienced last year.  The big staple of this team from its physical play is defense, and this year’s team might be the best one they’ve had during their big run the last 12 years.  There is still a lot of basketball left to be played this season, but the Panthers are surrendering 54.5 points per game, the best scoring defense number in the program’s history.

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Prep schools lead the way on Sunday at the Hoophall Classic

by - Published January 21, 2013 in Columns

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Sunday was a day with mostly prep games at the Spalding Hoophall Classic. The only game that stood apart from it was the middle game between two powerhouses. That game was followed by a matchup featuring two big stars that never quite materialized, and ended with a battle between two local prep schools that went to the team with less talent but more experience.


Sunday Scoreboard

Tilton (NH) School 71, Saxtons River (VT) Vermont Academy 67
Wolfeboro (NH) Brewster Academy 88, South Kent (CT) School 55
Newark (NJ) St. Benedict’s 63, Rockville (MD) Montrose Christian 51
Huntington (WV) Prep 56, New Hampton (NH) School 47
Worcester (MA) Academy 69, Wilbraham (MA) and Monson Academy 62

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Offensive issues plague Yale again in Ivy League opener

by - Published January 20, 2013 in Columns, Your Phil of Hoops

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – “Pass the ball.”

Those are three words often uttered by coaches and even fans at basketball games everywhere. For much of Saturday night’s game, Yale had some difficulty with that, at least doing so for the desired end result of a basket. The end result: 32.8 percent shooting from the field in a 65-51 loss in the Ivy League opener at Brown.

Yale didn’t have a single assist in the first half of Saturday night’s game. In fact, their first one didn’t come until nearly seven minutes into the second half, and they finished the evening with just four. While that number will jump out at you from the box score, the reasons for it go beyond simply passing the ball or not. The problem wasn’t that they had ball hogs or shot the ball too early; it wasn’t simply the ball not going in on some good looks, as sometimes happens. Both ball-handlers and those without the ball were at fault.

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Offense, especially turnovers, a key concern for Villanova

by - Published January 20, 2013 in Columns

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – There’s no question Villanova had their chances on Saturday afternoon at Providence. In fact, both teams did, since host Providence was 29-48 at the foul line. But Villanova gave the ball away too many times and gave up too many offensive rebounds in their 69-66 loss, their third straight after a seven-game winning streak.

Villanova has struggled on offense, with their 69 points per game being a deceiving statistic. The Wildcats barely top 40 percent from the field and give the ball away 16 times per game. The latter was a big reason they had a tough time on Saturday, as they turned it over 25 times against the Friars, including 17 in the second half. They shot just under 45 percent from the field, so when they held on to the ball they shot a reasonable percentage for a win.

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An unusual hero helps Bryant pull out another one

by - Published January 18, 2013 in Columns

SMITHFIELD, R.I. – Tim O’Shea knows there’s a long way to go. But the Bryant mentor also has enough experience to know that a game like Thursday night’s 79-78 overtime win against Mount St. Mary’s could be a difference-maker for a team that may be having a magical season.

“These are the games that make your season – when you win the two-pointer at Boston College, the one-pointer at Lehigh, the one-point overtime game tonight,” said O’Shea. “That’s a powerful swing in your confidence and your momentum as a team.”

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Coaching Changes and NBA Draft Early Entrants

The coaching carousel is moving. Keep track of the latest coaching changes right here on Hoopville.

Also, keep track of players who have declared early for the NBA Draft.

Your Phil of Hoops

Saturday Notes – January 24, 2015

January 25, 2015 by


This Saturday didn’t have quite the marquee matchups as a week earlier, but there were some important ones, especially with teams in the middle of a few conferences trying to separate themselves from the pack.

Saturday notes – January 17, 2015

January 18, 2015 by


High school games may have grabbed a lot of attention, but there were plenty of college games as well. Most results weren’t surprising, but were well worth looking at some notes on, and we do that here.

Rhode Island keeping perspective after tough loss

January 15, 2015 by


Rhode Island controlled Tuesday night’s game against VCU, but couldn’t finish it and took a tough loss. Their improvement is evident, though, and they are keeping perspective on that in trying to keep improving.

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Recruiting Coverage

2015 Boston Winter Invitational: What to expect

January 23, 2015 by


The Boston Winter Invitational is coming up on Sunday at UMass-Boston. Here is a look at some of what to expect in the four prep school games that are on the schedule.

2015 Spalding Hoophall Classic – Monday notes

January 21, 2015 by


Monday was the big day despite having just five games, as all were big matchups and most were nationally televised. There was plenty of talent in these games, and some big names played well.

2015 Spalding Hoophall Classic – Sunday notes

January 19, 2015 by


It was a bad weather day outside, but fortunately we play the games indoors. Prep schools took center stage on a busy Sunday with some good talent and good games all the way to the end.

2015 Spalding Hoophall Classic – Saturday notes

January 18, 2015 by


The Spalding Hoophall Classic picked up on Saturday, with a few good games, a couple of blowouts, then the best game of the day at the end. There was also plenty of good talent in each game.

2015 Hoop Dreams Mag Prep Classic – Sunday notes

January 14, 2015 by


Sunday was the day for a trip a little down the road from Saturday’s destination to check out some prep school action. We take a look at some notes from the day’s games in the Hoop Dreams Mag Prep Classic.

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.