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Final Arch Madness Notes: MVC still in good hands in St. Louis

by - Published March 11, 2015 in Columns, Conference Notes
ArchMadness_25th_Anniversary

When Creighton departed the Missouri Valley Conference for the Big East, the levels of worry from some on the outside ranked from concern to spooked alarm that both the MVC and its signature Arch Madness men’s basketball event were in danger of a fall.

If there was one overall takeaway message from this year’s MVC Tournament, though, it is this: despite the doomsday predictions of some, the league and the event continues to roll with the punches and comes out strong at the end.
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Semifinal loss at Arch Madness does not diminish Loyola’s improvement

by - Published March 10, 2015 in Columns, Conference Notes
Loyola Chicago Logo

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (March 7) – Sometimes, in order to fully appreciate a team’s season, one has to take a look at what was expected of them before it.

In the case of Loyola (Ill.), if one would’ve told Rambler fans before the season that their team would win 19 games and advance to the semifinals of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament, they would’ve been tickled pink. Hopefully they’re able to take that to heart after the sixth-seeded Ramblers fell to No. 11-ranked and second-seeded Northern Iowa 63-49 in the semifinals at Arch Madness on Saturday.
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Northern Iowa shows another side in winning MVC title

by - Published March 9, 2015 in Columns, Conference Notes
northerniowa

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (March 8) – The book on Northern Iowa, or at least the popular one anyway, is that the Panthers this year are a really good team because of their defense and Seth Tuttle. The second layer of analysis might mention their depth. Little is said of its offense, but let it be known: UNI is pretty darn good on that end, too.

The 11th-ranked Panthers proved as much in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament final, rallying from a huge deficit to defeat Illinois State 69-60 and clinch the Valley’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. UNI won its 30th game this season, clinched its third MVC title in seven years and now should be set for a very nice seed (three? four?) in the NCAAs.

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Illinois State surprises Wichita State, on cusp of something special in MVC

by - Published March 8, 2015 in Columns, Conference Notes
illinoisstate

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (March 7) – One of the beauties of college sports is watching seniors stepping up their game in their final seasons. The motivation to keep one’s career going can frequently spur players to new heights, taking their teams on a ride with them.

Illinois State coach Dan Muller said it was going to take a player having a special day to defeat top seed and No. 8-ranked nationally Wichita State in his team’s semifinal Saturday at the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament. It was senior guard Daishon Knight who delivered, scoring 25 points in a masterful performance as the Redbirds shocked the Shockers 65-62.
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How the conferences shape up as we hit 2015

by - Published January 1, 2015 in Columns, Conference Notes
author_kasiecki

Non-conference play is basically done at this point. A handful of games remain for many teams, and we’ll see a non-conference game or two sprinkled in between conference games over the next couple of months, but conference play beckons. Several have already started, with the West Coast Conference getting jump on the rest of the country this past Saturday and Monday. For two months, we’ve had a look at teams to get an idea of who they are. They have shown us something thus far.

So with that in mind, let’s take a look at how the conference races shape up based on what we’ve seen in non-conference play.

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2014-15 CAA Preview

by - Published November 14, 2014 in Columns, Conference Notes
colonial

Times continue to change in the CAA, and while there is still good basketball, it’s definitely a new era. Last season saw just two CAA teams reach postseason play. In prior years, the conference had sent more. Plenty of teams have challenging non-conference slates this year, so opportunities for quality wins will be there – but whether or not they come is another story. Another membership change comes this season as Elon joins to bring the conference to ten teams. For now, it seems stable, but conference realignment never seems to really take a break, so enjoy it while it lasts.

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College of Charleston Cougars 2014-15 Preview

by - Published November 14, 2014 in Conference Notes
charleston

College of Charleston Cougars (14-18 overall, 6-10 conference)

 

 

 

Projected starting five:

Sr. G Anthony Stitt
So. G Joe Chealey
So. G Canyon Barry
Sr. F Adjehi Baru
Fr. F Donovan Gilmore

Important departures:

G Nori Johnson, F Willis Hall and F Anthony Thomas have all departed.

Returning:

55.1 percent of scoring and 43.6 percent of rebounding

Additions:

Fr. F Evan Bailey
Fr. F Donovan Gilmore
Fr. F-C Nick Harris
Fr. G Cameron Johnson

Schedule Highlights:

The Cougars have five home games in a challenging non-conference slate. Notable opponents at home include Gardner-Webb and former Southern Conference rival Davidson. They will play in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off against defending national champion Connecticut, then either Texas A&M or Dayton in the second game with one more to follow. Additional road games are at West Virginia, Charlotte, LSU and Miami. Early in CAA play, they have a three-game homestand, followed by a stretch with five of six on the road.

Projected finish and outlook:

The Cougars had a more eventful off-season than anyone imagined, as the saga of now former head coach Doug Wojcik dominated the headlines. The plus is that this team has really come together, which makes part of new head coach Earl Grant’s job easier. There is talent here, and some reason to believe this team can finish higher than many might project. Stitt is a talented, seasoned veteran, while Chealey and Barry both had the kinds of ups and downs freshmen usually go through but appear ready to harness some of their potential. Baru will anchor the frontcourt, a solid rebounder who they will look to for more offense. If the guards make a good jump from freshman to sophomore year, that will go a long way towards this team contending.

Next: Delaware Blue Hens

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Delaware Blue Hens 2014-15 Preview

by - Published November 14, 2014 in Conference Notes
delaware

Delaware Blue Hens (25-10 overall, 14-2 conference)

 

 

 

Projected starting five:

Fr. G Kory Holden
Sr. G Kyle Anderson
Fr. G-F Chivarsky Corbett
Jr. F Marvin King-Davis
So. F Devonne Pinkard

Important departures:

Gone from last season’s championship team are G Devon Saddler, G Jarvis Threatt (dismissed from team), F Davon User and C Carl Baptiste.

Returning:

25 percent of scoring and 29.6 percent of rebounding

Additions:

Fr. F Eric Carter
Fr. G Chivarsky Corbett
Fr. G Kory Holden
Fr. F Skye Johnson
Fr. G Anthony Mosley

Schedule Highlights:

The Blue Hens played some very tough non-conference slates the last couple of years, but this one is a bit lighter while still having some tough contests. They open with five straight on the road, including a west coast swing with games at Cal Poly, CSU Bakersfield and Stanford before coming back east to play at Villanova and later going to Northeast contender Robert Morris. They have two good home games with Temple and St. Bonaventure to highlight their four home non-conference games. CAA play has a tough start, as they host Northeastern before going on the road for three straight. Fortunately, they come home for three in a row right after that.

Projected finish and outlook:

Everything came together last year for Delaware as they won the conference championship. Now it’s a whole new team, especially since they had to dismiss Jarvis Threatt after too many off-court problems. They don’t lack talent, but they are a very green team, especially on the perimeter aside from Anderson, who is a good starting point. Anderson was slowed in the preseason by an injury, and then he needed surgery that will cost him about a month. They’ll hang their hat on him when he returns, but his absence early on likely means serious growing pains. Holden looks to be the likely starter at the point, but that’s never easy for a freshman. Mosley will get minutes backing him up, and Corbett may be the most ready to join Anderson on the wing. Early on, sophomore Cazmon Hayes will have a golden opportunity to earn a significant role. King-Davis and Pinkard are the most likely players to lead the way up front, though Monte Ross says that entire unit is, like the team, a work in progress. Barnett Harris also returns, and he can be an energy guy. The Blue Hens keep things simple, so the learning curve should be manageable for the young players, but this will be a very different group than the one Ross had and greatly trusted last year. The challenging non-conference slate will prepare them well for conference play, but with the youth on this team, managing confidence may come into play as it’s possible that the losses could add up.

Next: Drexel Dragons

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Drexel Dragons 2014-15 Preview

by - Published November 14, 2014 in Conference Notes
drexel

Drexel Dragons (16-14 overall, 8-8 conference)

 

 

 

Projected starting five:

Fr. G Rashann London
Jr. G Damion Lee
Jr. F Tavon Allen
So. F Rodney Williams
So. F-C Mohamed Bah

Important departures:

Three key starters have graduated: G Frantz Massenat, G Chris Fouch, F-C Dartaye Ruffin.

Returning:

34.7 percent of scoring and 45.8 percent of rebounding

Additions:

Fr. G Rashann London
Fr. G Sam Mojica
Fr. F Tyshawn Myles
Fr. F Austin Williams

Schedule Highlights:

The Dragons will play a tough non-conference schedule with five home games, highlighted by visits from Saint Joseph’s, Southern Miss, La Salle and MAAC contender Iona. They open at Colorado, play Miami and USC or Akron in the first two games at the Charleston Classic, and later travel to Penn State. After opening CAA play with two straight at home, the Dragons go on the road for four of the next five games.

Projected finish and outlook:

Injuries have struck again for the Dragons, as they have already lost two likely starters for the season. Add that to the prduction they already lost with three starters having departed, and normally it would look like a major rebuilding season. But there’s still something to work with, and the Dragons are the only team to finish with a .500 or better record in CAA play each of the past six seasons, so you can’t dismiss this team at all. Lee is one of the best players in the conference, and so far so good in his return. Allen has to go from being a complement to one of the conference’s better players, which he’s certainly capable of doing, and his former travel teammate Freddie Wilson should contribute more in his second season at the school. Williams showed potential as a freshman last year, and he has the physical gifts to turn into a star. With Canady out for the year, London seems the most likely candidate at the point. There is sure to be a learning curve there, so the Dragons are likely to take some lumps during the tough non-conference schedule. Bah should step in where Abif would have, and there will still be some growing pains with sophomores up front. The Dragons will guard you all day and make you grind games out, which means they’ll never be out of games and can break through and win. If London and the other freshmen grow up fast, the Dragons could be in contention in a wide open conference.

Next: Elon Phoenix

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Elon Phoenix 2014-15 Preview

by - Published November 14, 2014 in Conference Notes
elon

Elon Phoenix (18-14 overall, 11-5 Southern Conference)

 

 

 

Projected starting five:

Sr. G Austin Hamilton
Jr. G Tanner Samson
Fr. G Elijah Bryant
Sr. F Ryan Winters
So. F Christian Harrison

Important departures:

Three key starters – G Sebastian Koch, F Lucas Troutman and F Ryley Beaumont – have all graduated.

Returning:

39.1 percent of scoring and 45.9 percent of rebounding

Additions:

Fr. F Jack Anton
Fr. G Elijah Bryant
Fr. F-C Jack George
Fr. F Collin Luther
Fr. G Dmitri Thompson

Schedule Highlights:

The Phoenix have four home games in a tough non-conference slate, highlighted by a visit from Charlotte. After traveling to play at Northwestern, they play in the Cancun Challenge against Morgan State and either North Florida or Liberty, then later hit the road to play at Missouri, Duke and UNCG. After opening their CAA history at Drexel and Towson, they come home for five of the next six.

Projected finish and outlook:

Elon is in a whole new world this season, as they enter a new conference with a lot of experience having walked out the door after last season. Gone are their top three scorers and rebounders, as well as their top assist man in Koch. But Hamilton and Samson are a solid backcourt to regroup with, as the former had a better than 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio last season. Bryant is a nice addition to the backcourt, and he should impact them right away, though they also return Kevin Blake. Thompson could also help right away, so they’ll be plenty deep on the perimeter. Winters is a solid holdover up front who must give them more, and Harrison and Sabato will likely be pressed into bigger roles as well, though all three freshmen will have a shot at minutes right away.

Next: Hofstra Pride

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