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2012 Hoop Mountain Prep Classic – Sunday notes

by - Published December 3, 2012 in Columns

BARRINGTON, R.I. – St. Andrew’s was the destination on Sunday for the Hoop Mountain Prep Classic.  The third and final day of the event had some good matchups in store among the seven games on the slate, and two games were one-possession affairs while another was close to that.  A couple of them were big upset bids in matchups of teams from NEPSAC Class AAA and Class AA, and the day ended with a blowout that might surprise some people.


Sunday Scoreboard

Lee (ME) Academy 79, Phoenixville (PA) Mont Clare Academy 66
New Hampton (NH) School 60, Saxtons River (VT) Vermont Academy 58
Wolfeboro (NH) Brewster Academy 84, Worcester (MA) Academy 82
Tilton (NH) School 89, North Bridgton (ME) Bridgton Academy 74
Ashburnham (MA) Cushing Academy 61, Wilbraham (MA) Wilbraham & Monson Academy 41
Barrington (RI) St. Andrew’s School 77, Salisbury (CT) School 73
Putnam (CT) Science Academy 87, Fitchburgh (MA) Notre Dame Prep 66

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Bryant beats Army and a virus in front of a big crowd

by - Published December 3, 2012 in Columns

SMITHFIELD, R.I. – Tim O’Shea described it quite simply after his team scored their fourth straight win on Saturday.  They didn’t just beat Army 70-59; they beat another opponent for the first time, and did so in a home gym that looked nothing like it had before in the program’s Division I history.

“It builds,” said the Bryant mentor.  “We won today with a bunch of guys sick.”

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Mississippi State trying to manage through youth and injuries in Ray’s first season

by - Published December 1, 2012 in Columns

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – At times, one must wonder if Mississippi State head coach Rick Ray has asked himself, “What have I gotten myself into?” In fact, he may have had one of those moments about five minutes into the second half of Saturday’s 73-63 loss at Providence, when his team had a 3-on-1 break and ended up with a blocked shot and turnover out of it.

To be fair to the first-year head coach, this isn’t the first time a new head coach has come into an obvious rebuilding situation, and one where the first year isn’t pretty. He will have time to get the program rolling again. But the young season thus far would appear to be more than a little taxing on the soul, although Ray says otherwise.

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For Brown, having an identity may make a big difference

by - Published November 30, 2012 in Columns

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – All things considered, Brown could certainly be worse off than their 3-3 record after Thursday night’s 69-56 win over Sacred Heart, the first home win for new head coach Mike Martin.  It wasn’t a very memorable win since the Pioneers were short-handed, but so were the Bears, and the game had to be played nonetheless.  It was, however, an impressive show of what this team might be this season.

Brown shot just 35 percent from the field, including 10-36 from long range.  Those aren’t numbers Martin is hoping to see often, and few coaches would feel like their team can win a lot of games with those numbers.  In part, the large number of three-point attempts can be attributed to Sacred Heart playing a lot of zone defense, but the Bears now have low-post scoring threats that should allow them to not have to live and die by the jump shot.

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Talented George Mason is winning, but not the way they want to

by - Published November 29, 2012 in Columns

SOUTH KINGSTON, R.I. – George Mason’s 55-52 win at Rhode Island on Wednesday night was like several of their wins thus far. They had to grind the game out at a slower speed than they would like and had perhaps more of a struggle than they should, but their depth and talent won out. While they are 5-2, they have been consistently inconsistent thus far and have some clear work to do to live up to their talent.

“We all believe in each other, that’s our motto,” said sophomore forward Erik Copes, who had eight points and a game-high 11 rebounds for the Patriots. “We grinded it out, believed in each other.”

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Vermont’s continued success, including on the road, makes sense after all

by - Published November 28, 2012 in Columns

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – You could be forgiven if you had some basic information on Vermont’s success in recent years and their 4-1 start this season and asked, “How do they do that?”  By almost any conventional measure or appearance, what this team is doing and has done appears to be lacking a clear answer at first glance.

First, take a look at the team.  There isn’t a natural point guard on the roster; Sandro Carissimo is the closest to it, and while he’s grown in that role since arriving in Burlington, his scoring instinct is never far away.  They have at times run the offense through his prep teammate, Brian Voelkel, over the last two-plus seasons from the wing.  Voelkel, by the way, doesn’t exactly pass the “look” test of a Division I basketball player at all, let alone one of the best players in his conference and his conference’s leading rebounder the past two years.  The Catamounts aren’t very athletic as a whole.

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Bryant perseveres and finally breaks through against Boston College

by - Published November 26, 2012 in Columns

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. – When Corey Maynard committed a sideline violation trying to inbound the ball with 3.9 seconds left and his team up by two, Tim O’Shea naturally wondered for a moment ifa case of deja vu was not far away.

“I said, no, this can’t be happening,” said the Bryant head coach. “If they had hit a shot there, I think I would have gone down to the mental hospital by the Charles River, just check me in for a few days. After all we had been through, I didn’t think the basketball gods could be that cruel.”

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New Hampshire tries to survive a tough road stretch

by - Published November 25, 2012 in Columns

WORCESTER, Mass. – New Hampshire is almost done with a five-game road stretch, and it won’t come a moment too soon. Saturday’s 60-50 loss at Holy Cross was in part a repeat of earlier games in terms of where they played well and where the problems were. It also might mean some lineup changes could be in store if current trends persist.

New Hampshire had to play from behind basically the entire afternoon, as they trailed 7-2 before the first media timeout and by as many as 11 in the first half. They were down by 10 at intermission largely because Holy Cross had a big possession advantage due to 10 offensive rebounds. Although they would rally in the second half and eventually take the lead, it was short-lived and they never got it again, especially once Holy Cross went to a zone defense.

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Michigan is the clear class of the NIT Season Tip-Off

by - Published November 24, 2012 in Columns

NEW YORK – Michigan made the most of its first trip to the NIT Season Tip-Off championship game, running away from Kansas State 71-57 to take home their first title. In so doing, they did exactly what they did to get to New York and looked like the clear class of the field.

Michigan has been almost unstoppable at the offensive end thus far, and Friday was no different. The Wolverines blitzed IUPUI and Cleveland State by 37 and 30 points, respectively. They have shot over 50 percent in all but one game thus far this season, shooting a still-pretty-good 46 percent against Pittsburgh on Wednesday. From long range, they have been lights out as well. In addition, they are less turning the ball over 10 times per game thus far.

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Important practice time awaits Kansas State

by - Published November 24, 2012 in Columns, Your Phil of Hoops

NEW YORK – Kansas State came into The World’s Most Famous Arena without a major test in the early going this season. They won all of their first four games by double digits, then got a test on Wednesday night as they survived a Delaware team that had two key players miss parts of the second half. They got their big early test on Friday with Michigan, and the end result wasn’t too good: a 71-57 loss that arguably wasn’t quite that close.

The test was really twofold for this team with a new head coach. For one, they had not had a close game this season, so they got a test of how to handle that situation. They also haven’t had a real quality win thus far, mainly because they had not played a team that is a good bet to be in the NCAA Tournament.

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Your Phil of Hoops

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