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Growing pains come first for young Dartmouth

by - Published January 2, 2013 in Columns
dartmouth

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
bostoncollege

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
holycross

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
brown

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
providence

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
author_kasiecki

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
cornell

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
northeastern

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
ohio

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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Your Phil of Hoops

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April 14, 2015 by

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