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Quick Hitters – January 21, 2012

by - Published January 21, 2012 in Columns, Your Phil of Hoops
author_kasiecki

Quick hitters as we head into a busy Saturday:

 

  • If there was any doubt as to the value of a point guard, look no further than Boston University and floor leader D.J. Irving. There are a few reasons the Terriers have now won five games in a row and is tied with Stony Brook (who they beat last Saturday) atop the America East Conference, but Irving’s return to health following a concussion last month is chief among them. That was readily apparent to one opposing coach, who thinks he’s the Terriers’ best player.

    “I think they’re at their best when the ball is in his hands and getting guys shots,” said Albany head coach Will Brown.

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Ron Hunter is already changing the culture at Georgia State

by - Published January 19, 2012 in Columns, Your Phil of Hoops
georgiastate

BOSTON – Ron Hunter knew what he inherited when he took the head coaching job at Georgia State. He knew he had a culture to change, and he knew he was in a different place. But thus far, he’s loving every minute of it, and the early results don’t hurt. Now he has a different issue on his hands with his team, which stands 5-2 in CAA play after a 60-57 loss at Northeastern on Wednesday night.

Hunter, who loved that he was able to walk to Fenway Park during the team’s trip to Boston, is full of energy and positive vibes. He’s pleasant to talk to and all along has felt good about this team, as well as the job itself. It would be easy to dismiss it as coach-speak, but he felt like a few players were ready to be better and liked the experience on the team, although it wasn’t winning experience. You can tell his confidence in the team is not misplaced by a long shot.

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An emerging freshman helps Northeastern play well at a good time

by - Published January 19, 2012 in Columns
northeastern

BOSTON – Northeastern is playing well and at a good time. The non-conference slate saw a lot of ups and downs, as well as question marks, so the Huskies were something of an unknown heading into CAA play. But after Wednesday night’s 60-57 win over Georgia State, the Huskies are right in the mix with a tough stretch ahead.

Northeastern started the non-conference slate with some promising results, winning at arch-rival Boston University in overtime in the season opener and picking up a win at St. John’s before November was out. The Huskies didn’t seem primed to be as good as they were a couple of years ago, but it was a good start as they were 3-1 after winning in Queens.

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Prep matchup headlines Sunday’s games at Spalding Hoophall Classic

by - Published January 16, 2012 in Columns
author_kasiecki

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Sunday saw a number of prep schools take the court in five games at the Spalding Hoophall Classic. The day started with a blowout and then had two that were somewhat convincing wins for the victors, then came the game everyone was waiting for. The last game was well-contested, but wasn’t as good as its predecessor.

With that, we take a look back at the scores and some notes from Sunday’s games at Blake Arena.

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Boston College off to a surprising start in ACC play

by - Published January 15, 2012 in Columns, Your Phil of Hoops
bostoncollege

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. – Don’t look now, but there’s a big surprise near the top of the ACC standings. With only Duke sporting an undefeated record, one team in the logjam at 2-1 is the very young Boston College Eagles, who beat Virginia Tech 61-59 on Saturday to claim both home games that had a quick turnaround.

Before the season, and even recently before conference play started, the question was being asked: will BC win an ACC game this year? The easy answer was “yes”, especially since the ACC is not a great conference this year. After Duke, North Carolina and Virginia, there’s a noticeable drop-off. And as the Eagles progress over the course of the season, chances are they might knock someone off at home. It’s already happened, and with two straight wins they have likely surprised just about everyone except for the people in their locker room.

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Virginia Tech needs to improve offensively with a key stretch ahead

by - Published January 15, 2012 in Columns
virginiatech

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. – Over a week earlier, Seth Greenberg felt great about his team. Virginia Tech’s 0-3 start in the ACC hasn’t changed that, but it certainly hasn’t put the Hokies in a good position as they head into a stretch where the schedule doesn’t get any easier. That’s where the Hokies stand after a 61-59 loss at Boston College on Saturday, and it leaves them needing to do some things better surrounding their offense.

It didn’t help that the Hokies were without their top player, point guard Erick Green, who missed the game with a sprained LCL in his left knee. The Hokies had a pretty good idea that he might not be able to go, although he wound up being a game-time decision. That left them with Marquis Rankin as the only point guard and left players like Dorenzo Hudson and Robert Brown to have to handle the ball more than they are accustomed to. It showed, as Virginia Tech struggled mightily to score in the halfcourt offense with 17 turnovers and poor shooting for much of the second half.

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Several teams get much-needed resume wins on Saturday

by - Published January 15, 2012 in Full Court Sprints
hoopguy-orange

Saturday saw a few teams get a victory they needed to jump-start their NCAA Tournament resume. A few others suffered bad losses in games they needed, or missed opportunities, but we’re going to stick with the positive and focus on the teams that got big wins. It’s too early to declare a number of these teams locks after what they did on Saturday, but they are in a better place than they were to start the day.

Let’s start with Florida State, which annihilated North Carolina 90-57 in Tallahassee. The Seminoles had a so-so non-conference run, as they came into Saturday lacking a win against the top 50 in three tries. Beating the Tar Heels is a remedy for that, although they need to make it relevant come March by playing well the rest of ACC play.

Next, we go to Northwestern, a team for whom heartbreak has become a regular occurrence. The Wildcats have had chances to play their way into the NCAA Tournament for the first time in recent years, but haven’t been able to pull out the games they needed to. It looked like this year might be another case of that, too, although they did win the Charleston Classic over Seton Hall, a win that is looking better all the time. They won at mediocre Georgia Tech and lost to Baylor, which is hardly a bad loss. But then they lost at Creighton, got hammered at Ohio State and lost tough ones to Illinois and Michigan by a combined three points. And on Saturday, they knocked off Michigan State in Evanston for their best win of the season. Add that to the Seton Hall win and the Wildcats, who don’t have a bad loss and an RPI of 33 at the start of the week, are in a good place for the moment.

Then there is Oklahoma, a team thought to be rebuilding. But the Sooners knocked off Kansas State 82-73 for their second win against a top 50 team. The Sooners are now 1-3 in Big 12 play, so they have a good deal of work to do. But if they get to .500 in conference and win a game or two in the conference tournament, they may have done enough work by then to be in the discussion for an NCAA Tournament team.  It helps that they don’t have a bad loss.

Lastly, San Diego State knocked off UNLV in a thriller, 69-67. The Aztecs were actually in a reasonably good place before Saturday, but perhaps now they can be called an NCAA Tournament lock if they win the games they should the rest of the way. The Mountain West figured to be rebuilding this season, but that hasn’t been the case thus far as both of these teams look like they will be in the field of 68.


We go coast to coast with news from around the college basketball nation.

Pittsburgh lost at Marquette, 62-57, and is now 0-5 in the Big East for the second time in program history and first in 12 years. They have never started 0-6, but they play at Syracuse on Monday.

Connecticut freshman Ryan Boatright was suspended by the NCAA and did not play in the Huskies’ 67-53 win at Notre Dame. The NCAA is investigating more eligibility matters with the freshman guard.

Iowa handily took out Michigan 75-59, and continues to be something of a Jekyll and Hyde team.

Jarnell Stokes gave Tennessee a boost in his debut, but Kentucky prevailed in Knoxville 65-62. The thinking is that although it was a loss, Saturday’s game bodes well for the Volunteers.

The Ivy League has started the season a little differently this time around, and Penn has started off 2-0 with wins at Columbia and Cornell. Normally teams play their travel partners over two weeks, save for Penn and Princeton, before the Friday-Saturday weekends start.

No America East team will go undefeated in conference play this season, as Stony Brook had its six-game winning streak end at Boston University, who has won three in a row after losing six straight.

Clemson may already be at a key point early in the season

by - Published January 14, 2012 in Columns
clemson

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. – It’s only two games into ACC play, but already Clemson may be nearing a key point in their season. A 59-57 loss at young Boston College on Thursday night makes the questions with this team a little more urgent.

Clemson hasn’t been able to put together a three-game winning streak all season thus far. They came into Chestnut Hill hoping to do that for the first time all season, and had their chances to do it. But in dropping this one, they lost a chance to have some real momentum in the midst of a home-heavy stretch. Three of the next four are at home as part of a stretch where they play five of seven in Littlejohn Coliseum, including the next game against Duke.

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Young Navy team is still trying to break through

by - Published January 12, 2012 in Columns
navy

WORCESTER, Mass. – Wednesday night’s game at Holy Cross looked all too familiar for Navy. A team that has not fared well in close games and came in with eight straight losses had another close call, but another one in the right-hand column as Holy Cross won 73-69.

“That’s the way it’s been. That’s the way all our games have been,” said head coach Ed DeChellis. “We have a chance to win with three or four minutes to go in the game and we just haven’t been able to do it.”

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Louisville’s struggles show they are a good, not great, team

by - Published January 11, 2012 in Columns
louisville

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – When Louisville recently ascended all the way to number 4 in the polls, there was a general feeling that the Cardinals weren’t quite that good. The feeling was that they got there by default, as they kept winning while other teams that had been ahead of them lost, and not enough teams played well enough for voters to leapfrog them over the Cardinals. If it had not already become apparent that the feeling about this team was correct, Tuesday night’s 90-59 thumping at Providence surely drove that home.

The game wasn’t an absolute indicator of how good the team is, but the Cardinals’ fourth loss in five games – granted, not exactly coming against Division III teams – is concerning, although head coach Rick Pitino summed the game itself up quite succinctly: “We had one of those nights.”

… Continue Reading

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