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Saturday notes – January 17, 2015

by - Published January 18, 2015 in Columns, Your Phil of Hoops
author_kasiecki

Saturday may have been a busy day of great high school basketball at the Spalding Hoophall Classic, but it was also a busy one for college teams with over 140 games on tap with Division I schools. Included were a few highly-anticipated games, though a couple of them ended up being double-digit affairs. There weren’t a lot of surprises in the results this time around, except perhaps for some games being either closer or not as close as one might expect.

Here are notes on some of the day’s college games.

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A big win for Northeastern for a not-so-obvious reason

by - Published January 16, 2015 in Columns
northeastern

BOSTON – It goes without saying that Northeastern’s 91-83 win over Hofstra was a big one just from the fact that with it the Huskies knocked off a fellow contender, as well as the last team in the CAA that had not lost a conference game. But this was bigger than just that, and from it you can see this as the Huskies re-asserting themselves as conference favorites.

The game was your classic contrast of styles, so one could certainly figure that controlling tempo is paramount. The Huskies didn’t exactly do that, but they won anyway. How they did it tells you something about how this team can play, because it’s already a given that they can win grind-it-out games.

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Hofstra’s outlook still very good after missed opportunity

by - Published January 15, 2015 in Columns
hofstra

BOSTON – You can’t blame Joe Mihalich for feeling a little less than fully satisfied. There are no moral victories, especially for his team with what they have done thus far, and it’s not like this one wasn’t there for the taking. This was a game they could have won. And it’s a game which, had they won, would really set them up in a great place.

That’s not all lost, but this will go down as a missed opportunity.

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Rhode Island keeping perspective after tough loss

by - Published January 15, 2015 in Columns, Your Phil of Hoops
rhodeisland

SOUTH KINGSTON, R.I. – You can’t blame Dan Hurley if he felt frustrated and maybe in a bad place. He’s hyper-competitive and his team just lost a game that they controlled, and one where correspondingly they led most of the way. It’s a game they should have had in many respects. On Tuesday night, however, the Rhode Island mentor kept perspective, and he didn’t have to look far for an example of what he’s striving for.

“That’s a top team, obviously the class of our conference,” said Hurley after URI dropped a tough one to VCU on Tuesday. “It felt like we deserved a better result.”

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Led by seniors, VCU shows the toughness of a champion

by - Published January 15, 2015 in Columns
vcu

SOUTH KINGSTON, R.I. – If VCU wins the Atlantic 10, as most prognosticators felt they would before the season, one game they will surely be able to look back on is Tuesday night’s 65-60 win at Rhode Island. It’s still early – just four games in – but given the winning Shaka Smart has done at the school, including with the core of this team, he has some perspective on it.

“This was not our best game overall, as a team, but I think it was our best resolve that we’ve shown,” Smart said after VCU rallied to beat Rhode Island on Tuesday. “These are the type of games you need to win on the road if you want to compete for a championship in your league, and that’s a goal of ours. It’s really, really early in the year, but this is a game hopefully we’ll look back at and say, that’s one we needed to get, and we found a way to get it.”

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Scanning the Nation Notebook – January 14, 2015

by - Published January 14, 2015 in Columns
glatczak

Some college basketball thoughts as we approach the middle of January, conference play is in full session and the chase for NCAA Tournament berths starts to pick up steam:

  • VCU is not a perfect team-it’s still not great in the half court offensively-so maybe this will matter in the NCAA Tournament or maybe it won’t, but there are few teams that are more battle-tested so far this year. The Rams’ most recent win at Rhode Island adds to a stable of quality conquests already. VCU had already won at Cincinnati and Illinois State and defeated Tennessee and Oregon at neutral sites. Eight of its 17 games have been at road/neutral sites, and sure enough, it’s next two are as well (tricky-but-winnable ones at Duquesne and Saint Louis). Few teams can also say they’ve played 10 of their 17 games so far against the RPI top 100. With George Washington struggling for offensive consistency and Dayton playing well but still low on depth, the Rams are still the clear favorites in the Atlantic 10.

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Saturday Notes – January 10, 2015

by - Published January 11, 2015 in Columns, Your Phil of Hoops
author_kasiecki

As conference play is now in full swing, Saturday offered an early referendum on a number of teams. While the day wasn’t full of shockers, there were plenty of noteworthy games. 11 games went to overtime, with three needing a second extra set of five minutes to decide. And if there’s one conference that stood out, it was the Big 12.

Simply put, the Big 12 is reinforcing the idea that it is the strongest conference from top to bottom this season. There’s no one that appears poised to run away with the conference, and the regular season champion might well have at least four or five losses. Kansas and Iowa State are 2-0, four other teams are 2-1, and Baylor and Texas are hardly stiffs even with their early 1-2 marks, though Texas ended a rough week on Saturday. The only two teams you might rule out of the race are Texas Tech and TCU.

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Finding a way to win at BC may be just what Pittsburgh needs

by - Published January 8, 2015 in Columns
pittsburgh

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. – Sometimes you need to win a game you seemingly have no business winning based on how you play. When that happens, it can be a big boost, and for Pittsburgh, that boost may come at the right time from Tuesday’s 61-60 overtime win at Boston College.

Normally, eking out a win over a so-so Boston College team, even on the road, isn’t a big one for a team. That’s especially true for a team like Pittsburgh, which has been a fixture in the NCAA Tournament for over a decade. When you’re coming off a game where the offense was as bad as it’s been all year, though, and struggle again for most of the night and don’t play well enough to win all along, the story changes.

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Keatts tries to get UNCW to play to their strength

by - Published January 8, 2015 in Columns
uncwilmington

BOSTON – Talent and depth are great things to have at any time. No coach will say otherwise, and certainly not Kevin Keatts, considering the talent he has had at his disposal at times in his career. No matter how much of each you have, however, it helps to know what you are good at. For Keatts and UNCW, that can make a big difference.

“I felt like we just had to play to our strength,” said the first-year head coach after the Seahawks beat Northeastern 75-68 on Monday night. “I just thought tonight, our guys were able to get into the paint and finish.”

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Scanning the Nation – January 7, 2015

by - Published January 7, 2015 in Columns
glatczak
  • Some college basketball thoughts from the first week of the new year:
    Seton Hall
    ’s resurgence has been one of the best stories of the first half of the season, and its win at Villanova was an example of a team finding a way when best-laid plans fall apart. Whatever game plan coach Kevin Willard came in with fell apart when the Pirates got in heavy foul trouble in the first half, forcing him to go deep into the bench as the Wildcats repeatedly pounded the ball inside. Haralds Karlis, Chier Ajou and Ismael Sanogo played a combined 85 seconds in SHU’s prior game against St. John’s, but all three came in during the first half and helped hold the fort. Karlis hit a three-pointer and the trio combined for four rebounds as the Pirates got to halftime with a 31-27 lead despite having seven players with two fouls each.
    While guard Sterling Gibbs is rightly getting noticed for stepping up his play in the absence of Isaiah Whitehead, freshman Khadeen Carrington also has picked it up several notches in recent weeks. Carrington had 11 against St. John’s and a career-high 17 in the win over Villanova. The 6-foot-3 lefty is fearless and constantly on the attack-a combined 18 free throws in the Pirates’ two wins last week-which makes him a whole lot of fun to watch.

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