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Big Sky news & notes

by - Published November 23, 2011 in Conference Notes

This came out Tuesday morning. So did this. And then this happened at night: MSU got beaten up at home; Eastern Washington went to the islands and won; Northern Arizona beat a popular NAIA whipping boy for the Big Sky; Northern Colorado lost to Iowa State; and Sacramento State overcame a deficit to win. Freshman PG Dylan Garrity has a 31-6 assist-to-turnover ratio, though they’ve faced only one credible team (Washington State: 2 assists, 4 turnovers).
That is all – two games Wednesday, two Friday and a full slate on Saturday. Happy Thanksgiving.

Learning curve looks steep for young Eagles

by - Published November 22, 2011 in Conference Notes

After three games, Boston College looks to be in store for a long season.

With nine freshmen on the roster, no one in Chestnut Hill entered this season with ACC title expectations for the Eagles. In fact, anything short of a finish near the bottom of the season would solidify Steve Donahue’s status as a brilliant coach.

That would require quite turnaround.

The Eagles didn’t do anything particularly well in two blowout losses to Holy Cross and Massachusetts and a three-point win against New Hampshire. As Donahue’s teams are wont to do, the Eagles shoot lots of 3-pointers, with 44 percent of their shots from the field coming from behind the arc. But those shots aren’t falling frequently, as the team is shooting 31 percent from behind the arc.

One player who won’t be living behind the arc is Patrick Heckmann. The freshman guard from Germany has been a bright spot for Boston College, with 30 points and 13 rebounds in two games. He missed the team’s loss to Holy Cross with a sprained ankle. Heckmann is only 1-of-5 from 3-point range, but he’s 6-of-14 inside the arc.

Heckmann’s willingness to battle for boards at both ends of the court is good to see, and he could help set a tough tone for the Eagles, who will need to grind out victories this season. One negative trend in Heckmann’s game right now is his propensity to commit turnovers, as he’s got six turnovers compared to four assists. Of course, after only two games, it’s too early to be overly concerned about that.

The road won’t get much easier for Boston College this week. The Eagles are heading west to Anaheim, Calif., for the 76 Classic, and they’ll start the three-game tournament on Thanksgiving against Saint Louis. The Billikens have one of the toughest defenses in the country — again it’s early, but that’s true thus far — holding opponents to 34.2 percent from inside the arc and 26.5 percent from outside. As a team that already struggles to shoot, the Eagles figure to be in for a tough day. Cracking 50 points could be difficult.

But win or lose, Donahue needs his team to compete during each possession. The youngsters will improve only with hard work and game experience. That experience figures to feature plenty of losses for now, but that could start to change by February.

Memphis Tigers not a finished product

by - Published November 21, 2011 in Conference Notes

Losing to a top 15 team in November is not exactly a season-ending event. Still, when Michigan defeated Memphis 73-61 in the EA Sports Maui Invitational Tournament, it became obvious that several questions still plague the Tigers.

Michigan employed a zone defense that forced Memphis into half court sets. The Tigers were unsuccessful penetrating the zone and, instead, settled for 3-pointers. More than a third of Memphis’ shots came from behind the arc. The fact that they went 4-of-20 didn’t help matters.

Rebounding continues to be an issue for Memphis. Part of the problem is with Tarik Black. This is the second game in a row in which Black picked up his second foul in under two minutes. He’s going to need to play much smarter if the Tigers are going to have the season they are hoping for.

The final problem is discipline. Memphis can out-athlete many opponents, but when they play a well-coached opponent with talent, they need to rely on fundamentals and proper execution. Will Barton is an excellent example of the Tigers lack of discipline. He might have been the most talented player on the court today, but he was also the most frustrating. He forces the issue and takes circus shots. When he learns to play within the offense, the Tigers will be a much more formidable opponent.

Losing to a team as highly ranked as Michigan does not mean Memphis will not put together a good season. Unfortunately, it will have major implications on seeding come tournament time in March. Losing to Michigan means Memphis will be playing Tennessee instead of Duke in the next round of the EA Sports Maui Invitational. The chances of the Tigers facing another ranked opponent in Maui is very slim.

UAB off to a rough start

by - Published November 21, 2011 in Conference Notes

UAB has dropped its first two home games this season. The Blazers’ first loss was to the Creighton Bluejays, 70-60. Three Blazers scored in double digits. Ovie Soko had 10, while Jordan Swing and Jekore Tyler both had 14.

The second loss came at the hands of Murray State, 62-55. Cameron Moore recorded a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Soko chipped in with nine rebounds and 10 assists. No other UAB players scored or rebounded in double digits.

One of the Blazers’ biggest problems has been 3-point shooting. Over two games, UAB is shooting 22.6 percent from behind the arc. This must change as 3-pointers account for 30 percent of the shots they take.

Turnovers have also been an issue. Against Creighton, the Blazers had 18 turnovers. They didn’t fare much better against Murray State, recording 14.

These issues must be addressed quickly. UAB still has a chance to put together a good season, but the Blazers are going to have play at a much higher level.

The Big Sky’s big day

by - Published November 20, 2011 in Conference Notes

Here we go again. Weber State showed no letdown after a midweek win over Utah State, beating UC-Irvine convincingly on Saturday. In addition, Montana State beat Utah to even its record to 1-1 against the Pac-12 . MSU is now minus-2 against the Pac-12 in terms of point differential (minus-6 at Arizona State, plus-4 at Utah), and Brad Huse bested one of his mentors, Larry Krystowiak, whom he coached under at Montana for two seasons.

Speaking of Montana, the Griz won Thursday and play again today. In other Thursday action shorthanded Sacramento State fell to Washington State and Eastern Washington let a nine-point lead slip away at Oregon. Northern Arizona won Thursday, Idaho State won Friday.

The Big Sky’s record was 11-5 this past week, not counting Montana and Northern Colorado‘s games tonight. We will, later, though. The Bears spend all week in South Padre Island, Texas, and come back after Thanksgiving. Boy, will it be easier to update things and plan features when we hit December and a sense of normalcy comes in.

Cleveland State edges St. Bonaventure in hard-fought match up

by - Published November 19, 2011 in Conference Notes

In his postgame comments, Cleveland State Vikings head coach Gary Waters described Friday night’s game against the St. Bonaventure Bonnies as “a test of resiliency.”

Coach Waters’ statement might be the understatement of the year.

In a physical, hard-fought game that resembled a rugby scrum more than a basketball game at times, the Vikings pulled out a 67-64 comeback victory against the visiting St. Bonaventure Bonnies when senior guard Trevon Harmon nailed a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 2.8 seconds left.

Heading into the game, the Vikings knew that they would face a tough task in containing the Bonnies’ Andrew Nicholson, a senior forward and future NBA draft pick who was named to the Preseason Wooden Award Watch List. Earlier in the week, the Vikings were unsure if senior center Aaron Pogue, the key to the Vikings’ defensive attack against Nicholson, would be available for tonight’s game. Pogue missed Tuesday night’s game against Rio Grande with an injury. Fortunately for the Vikings, Pogue recovered from his injury and reclaimed his usual starting spot. Pogue has been one of the Vikings’ most improved players this season. He lost weight during the offseason and worked on his game, making him an improved defender and athletic scorer and enabling him to evade the foul trouble that plagued him throughout last season.

Fueled by a larger-than-normal home crowd and boisterous student section, the Vikings jumped out to a 12-9 lead with 14 minutes left in the first half. Motivated by a sizable contingent of vocal fans seated behind their bench, the Bonnies responded with a 13-3 run of their own to take a 22-15 lead with slightly more than 10 minutes left in the first half. Three of the Vikings’ senior leaders—D’Aundray Brown, Harmon and Pogue — combined to score seven quick points to tie the score at 22-22 with slightly less than seven minutes remaining. From that point on, neither team held more than a four-point lead until Nicholson sank a jumper at the end of the first half to send the Bonnies into the locker room with a five-point lead.

The second half was as intense and hard-fought as an NCAA Tournament game. Although the Vikings never reclaimed the lead until three minutes remained in the second half, the Vikings’ unyielding pressure defense kept them in the game and prevented the Bonnies from pulling away. The Vikings forced a total of 23 turnovers on the night with a relentless pressure defense that coach Gary Waters claimed would cause “everyone in the country” to struggle.

After the Vikings briefly reclaimed a three-point lead with 2:21 left in the second half, the Bonnies tied the game on a 3-point play by Michael Davenport with 1:30 remaining. After the teams traded missed baskets, the Vikings took possession with 30 seconds left in the game. As the Wolstein Center screamed in support, the Vikings ran the clock down with the intent of leaving no time left on the clock for a final shot by the Bonnies. Senior forward Tim Kamczyc, whom Waters described as “the glue to what we do,” passed to a surprisingly open Harmon who had shed his defender on a pick from Pogue, and Harmon nailed the game-winning shot.

Although Nicholson scored 19 points, blocked four shots, and pulled down six rebounds, the Vikings were able to limit his overall impact on the game with consistent double-teaming all game long. Pogue led a defensive effort in the first half that limited Nicholson to 13 quiet points. After Pogue picked up his fourth foul early in the second half, the Vikings employed a combination of sophomore Luda Ndaye and freshman Anton Grady to limit Nicholson to 6 second half points. Nicholson fouled out with 3:32 remaining in the second half after picking up several quick fouls during a particularly intense sequence.

Cleveland State’s talented freshmen came up big once again in Friday’s victory. Freshman Ike Nwamu made his regular-season debut for the Vikings and scored his first regular-season points on a layup with 14 minutes remaining in the first half. Sebastian Douglas, Charlie Lee and Grady all were praised in Waters’ postgame efforts for their outstanding play off the bench, which enabled the starters to receive much-needed rest throughout the game.

The Vikings improved to 3-0 and will now embark on a grueling seven-game stretch of road games beginning with Tuesday night’s contest against the Kent State Golden Flashes.

Missouri Valley Conference Notebook – November 18, 2011

by - Published November 18, 2011 in Conference Notes

Ranking the MVC through Week 1 (Games through Nov. 17)


  1. Creighton Bluejays (3-0)

On the surface, the Bluejays are cruising, nearly hitting the century mark in scoring the first two games and winning easily on the road in game three. Sophomore Doug McDermott is also just warming up, increasing his point totals from 13 to 21 to 27. The Bluejays will experience some close, heartbreaking losses this season though if they continue to shoot poorly at the free-throw line – a total of 44-for-66 through three games. Creighton will face a stronger test when traveling to play Iowa on Sunday afternoon.


… Continue Reading

Around the Horizon League: Week 1

by - Published November 17, 2011 in Conference Notes

Butler Bulldogs (1-1): The Bulldogs lost their regular-season opener in overtime against Evansville by a score of 80-77. Andrew Smith missed two free throws that could have won the game at the end of regulation. Butler rebounded Tuesday night to defeat Chattanooga by a score of 57-46. This Saturday, the Bulldogs will battle the Louisville Cardinals at home in a highly anticipated nonconference matchup.

Cleveland State Vikings (2-0): The Vikings shocked the nationally ranked Vanderbilt Commodores on Sunday by a score of 71-58. On Tuesday, the Vikings knocked off the Rio Grande Red Storm, an NAIA school, by a score of 86-57. Cleveland State will face another test on Friday evening at home when they square off against the St. Bonaventure Bonnies. Senior center Aaron Pogue missed Tuesday night’s match up with an undisclosed illness, and his availability for this important game is unknown. … Continue Reading

Hokies hope Green gets plenty of rest before clash with the Cuse

by - Published November 16, 2011 in Conference Notes

Virginia Tech beat back Isiah Thomas’ Florida International team with ease Nov. 15, despite losing Erick Green midway through the game.

The junior guard aggravated an Achilles’ tendon that forced him to miss Virginia Tech’s first game of the season, a 64-53 win against East Tennessee State Nov. 12. Green told the Washington Post’s Mark Giannotto after the Florida International game that he would be fine by the time Virginia Tech travels to New York next Wednesday to face Syracuse in the NIT Season Tip-Off semifinals.

The Hokies will need Green to be at full strength because he’s been hot from long range to start this season, making 4-of-5 3-pointers. Virginia Tech has shot 22-of-52 from deep range as a team this season, and the Hokies will need that sharpshooting to continue to stretch out Syracuse’s 2-3 zone. That would create more room for Dorenzo Hudson to operate off the ball and slash to the hoop. Green would be important in getting Hudson some good looks because he has five assists in 48 minutes.

In addition to Hudson, the Hokies will need Dorian Finney-Smith to continue playing like the ACC’s rookie of the year. The highly touted recruit has been a monster in his first three games, averaging about eight points, 11 rebounds and four assists per game.

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Saturday Notes – February 6, 2016

February 7, 2016 by


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Saturday Notes – January 30, 2016

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Saturday Notes – January 23, 2016

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