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The Morning Dish – Wednesday, November 26, 2014

by - Published November 26, 2014 in The Morning Dish
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The Big East is getting by just fine.

Here is how good the Big East has been so far this year: nine of its 10 teams are thus far undefeated. Villanova is 5-0. So are Providence and Creighton. Xavier and Seton Hall are 4-0. Georgetown, St. John’s and Butler are 3-0. Shoot, even DePaul is 2-0. And while some of those wins are filler (which makes the conference no different than any other top 10 league), there also are quality wins already over the likes of Michigan, VCU, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Long Beach State and Stephen F. Austin.

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The Morning Dish – Thursday, November 20, 2014

by - Published November 20, 2014 in The Morning Dish
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Doug McDermott and many of his friends have departed, but we know now that it was way too soon to write off a Creighton program that was plenty successful even before the glorious McDermott era.

The Bluejays roared back from an 18-point deficit in the second half on Wednesday to defeat #18 ranked Oklahoma 65-63 in the game of the night and one of the most stunning games of the early season. The Sooners led 42-24 early in the second half and looked to be in complete, total control, but Creighton rallied behind a raucous home crowd and is now 3-0 on the young season.

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2013-14 SEC Post-Mortem

by - Published June 12, 2014 in Columns, Conference Notes
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What does the SEC – the football juggernaut – have beyond Florida and Kentucky on the hardwood?

That’s the big question this off-season. It was already a discussion point during the season and postseason, and it’s not going to end now. The SEC had a 12-3 record in the NCAA Tournament, but Kentucky and Florida combined for 10 of those wins and thus carried them to that mark.

When it was all said and done, the SEC ended up with three teams in the NCAA Tournament. Tennessee was the only team besides Florida and Kentucky to make it. The conference had four teams in the NIT, with LSU and Arkansas each winning a game before getting bounced without a chance to go to New York.

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Monson’s 49ers reap the rewards of a tough schedule

by - Published January 24, 2012 in Full Court Sprints
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If any team could claim to be battle-tested heading into conference play, it had to be Long Beach State.

The 49ers loaded up their nonconference slate with the likes of Kansas, North Carolina, San Diego State, Louisville and Xavier. The team struggled through many of those games, ending up with a 7-6 record heading into Big West play.

But don’t be fooled. The 49ers were more than competitive against the big boys, with single-digit losses on the road at San Diego State, Kansas and North Carolina. Plus, the 49ers beat Pittsburgh, Xavier and Auburn. None of those are particularly outstanding — the Xavier win came during the Musketeers’ tailspin following the brawl against Cincinnati. But in short, Dan Monson’s team learned how to win and how to believe in itself.

This team has taken that lesson and applied it well through the first seven games of Big West play. Long Beach State sits atop the conference standings with a 7-0 record, and only Cal Poly stayed within 10 points of the 49ers.

If Long Beach State can continue to plow through the Big West and claim an automatic to the NCAA Tournament, the 49ers should be a popular first-round upset pick. Their lack of hefty wins will prevent the team from earning a seed much higher than a No. 12 or 13 spot. But that just makes this team a sound pick to upset any No. 4 or 5 seed from a major conference on a neutral court.

The benefits of such a tough schedule might not show up in the win-loss columns immediately. But if Long Beach State goes 1-1 or 2-0 during the first weekend of March, that tournament success will be partially due to the team’s preparation early in the season.

We take you coast to coast with news from around the college basketball nation.

Murray State will get back leading rebounder Ivan Aska, who grabs 6.0 rpg and scores 12.6 ppg, for the team’s game against Eastern Illinois Saturday, according to the Associated Press.

Michigan could have big Jon Horford back for the Wolverines’ game against Purdue Tuesday, coach John Beilein told Wolverine Nation’s Chantel Jennings for ESPN.com. Horford has been out with a stress fracture since early December.

Arguably the most intense and spite-filled rivalry in the ACC, Maryland and Duke will clash for the first time this season Wednesday night in College Park. And the Terrapins will likely have freshman 7-footer Alex Len, even though he twisted his ankle during the Terps’ loss at Temple last weekend, according to the Washington Post’s Liz Clarke.

Of course, that’s no disrespect to the North Carolina vs. Duke rivalry. And this year, coach Roy Williams won’t have his best defender, Dexter Strickland, who tore his ACL in the team’s win against Virginia Tech Thursday, according ESPN.com’s Robbi Pickeral.

Arkansas coach Mike Anderson is considering adding a hometown hero to the Razorbacks squad, according to the Associated Press. Former Oklahoma State guard Fred Gulley has enrolled at Arkansas and plans to play for Anderson as a walk-on or scholarship player. He was a star high school basketball player in Arkansas before leaving the state to play for the Cowboys.

Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan railed against the rule that allows graduated players to transfer and play immediately during a news conference Monday, writes Benjamin Worgull for Badger Nation.com.

Willard Speaks on Siena-Holy Cross Game

by - Published January 7, 2009 in Columns

Holy Cross head coach Ralph Willard was hoping to hear from Siena head coach Fran McCaffery to talk about what happened last week when the two teams met and had an ending that surprised just about everyone there. His preference was, understandably, to keep things in-house on the matter.

Since that has not happened, and McCaffery continued to hammer the Crusaders last week in published reports, Willard reluctantly took things to a public forum on his blog. You can read it in its entirety at the link, but here’s one noteworthy excerpt:

“(Fran McCaffery’s) reaction after the game this year shocked me. I have coached over 500 games at the college level, and many more at the high school level, and have never had a coach not have his student athletes shake the hands of an opponent after a game. I knew he had to play Fairfield in less than 48 hrs and had St Peters and Kansas, right after that, and just assumed he was upset about the two injuries happening in a game he probably thought would be a blowout. I saw the game as hard fought, by both teams. I assume, as my mother said, he has a different perspective. That’s fine, and if he wanted to convey that to me that’s fine also. What is not fine is his pronouncements to the media that he knew the intentions of our players, and the characterization of the way we play as being “dirty”, without ever having the professionalism of discussing it with me. The fact that it went on for three days after the game is incredulous to me. I’m not sure what he was trying to accomplish, other than justifying his actions.”

Other Notes

As the Patriot League heads into league play this weekend, the Rookie of the Year race looks to be R.J. Evans’ to lose. The Holy Cross guard has been named Rookie of the Week five times, including four of the last five weeks, and leads all freshmen in the league in scoring and steals and is second in rebounding. He figures to continue playing a significant role for the Crusaders the rest of the way.

Santa Clara came to New England for two games and came away with two losses. Both games highlighted issues Kerry Keating has seen with his team all season long: turnovers and defense. The Broncos turned the ball over 39 times in the two games, forced just six Harvard turnovers. They were better at New Hampshire defensively, but the Wildcats were 5-9 from behind the arc in the second half to pull out the win. Their 19 turnovers in the game hurt even more.

“If we don’t turn the ball over, we usually win, and if we do turn the ball over, it makes it very difficult,” said Keating. “That’s indicative of a young team, an inexperienced team that we have right now that needs to understand that little bit better.”

The Broncos are inexperienced in the backcourt, and that’s showing up at both ends of the floor. Perry Petty was a non-factor Sunday, while Kevin Foster continued to show some promise offensively but also some defensive struggles.

The Broncos begin West Coast Conference play with a bang: at Saint Mary’s, home against Gonzaga and at San Diego for their first three games.

Hofstra head coach Tom Pecora didn’t seem overly concerned about his team following Monday night’s 73-50 blowout loss at Northeastern. He gave the sense that his team gets it, understanding that there are plenty of games left and this can be seen as just an aberration.

“The good thing about college basketball, it’s not college football,” said Pecora. “If you lose one game, your season’s not over. You’ve just got to get yourselves right at the right time. I’ve been down this road before, we’ll keep grinding it out, and we’ll fix things.

“I have no doubt that they’ll be able to do it.”

The struggles have been largely with the guards, who still comprise most of the team’s scoring. Charles Jenkins hasn’t been making shots of late, which is also the case with Cornelius Vines. Tony Dennison has seen his minutes take a dip in the last two games after starting the first 11. The bright spot Monday night came from a promising place, as senior point guard Greg Johnson – their only true point guard – showed some good signs.

“I think he did a pretty good job of getting us into our offense tonight and making some plays,” said Pecora.

Who would have imagined that Arkansas would be in the position it’s in right now? When Patrick Beverly left after being declared academically ineligible, the Razorbacks certainly didn’t look like an NCAA Tournament team. But after Tuesday night’s win over a solid Texas team, they’re well-positioned to be just that as SEC play beckons.

And how many thought California would sweep the Arizona schools, albeit at home? Getting back Theo Robertson after he missed all of last season has been a big addition, but Jerome Randle’s play suggests he should be in the discussion for the conference Player of the Year honors when we get to late February and March. He flat-out knows how to play, and not only has he jumped up his scoring, assists and shooting percentages, but he’s also cut down on his turnovers.

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Your Phil of Hoops

Young UNLV team grows in Brooklyn

November 23, 2014 by

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Teams often grow from early season tournaments, and that appears to be what UNLV did in Brooklyn. The young Runnin’ Rebels need the experience.

Simply put, Syracuse needs to improve offensively

November 22, 2014 by

syracuse

Jim Boeheim didn’t have many things to say about his team’s offense, but that said it all. It’s at that end of the floor that Syracuse’s fate this season will be determined.

Growing pains are here for talented Brown team

November 20, 2014 by

brown

Brown has good talent and should be a factor in the Ivy League, but with three sophomores starting on the perimeter, growing pains are in the foreseeable future

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2014 Prep School Tour

Missed a recap of an open gym workout? We have them all right here for you.

Sept. 9: Putnam Science Academy
Sept 10: Commonwealth Academy
Sept. 11: St. Andrew's
Sept. 12: Northfield Mount Hermon
Sept. 16: Brewster Academy and Phillips Exeter
Sept. 17: Brooks School
Sept. 21: Holderness School
Sept. 23: St. Thomas More and Marianapolis Prep
Sept. 24: South Kent School and Kent School
Sept. 25: Williston Northampton
Sept. 28: Wilbraham and Monson Academy and Suffield Academy
Sept. 30: New Hampton
Oct. 5: Worcester Academy
Oct. 7: Brimmer and May
Oct. 8: Cushing Academy
Oct. 9: Tilton
Oct. 12: Tabor Academy and Rivers School
Oct. 14: The Master's School
Oct. 16: Vermont Academy

You can also find them all right here.

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

New England Prep Schools 2014-15: looking back and looking ahead

November 3, 2014 by

nepsac

With a series of prep school open gym visits in the book and the season not far away, here’s a look back at open gyms and a look forward to the season in the New England prep school ranks.

Marianapolis Prep will battle in Class AA

October 20, 2014 by

marianapolis

Marianapolis Prep is far from loaded with talent, but they have enough perimeter talent to be dangerous. As is usually the case, they will battle and be a tough out in Class AA.

New Vermont Academy coach has put together a contender

October 17, 2014 by

vermontacademy

Vermont Academy has a new coach for the second year in a row, but they shouldn’t skip a beat. They have enough talent to win a lot of games and make a deep run in NEPSAC Class AA.

The Master’s School has good students and talent

October 15, 2014 by

mastersschool

The Master’s School has a number of good students, and they will continue to head to college later. This time around, they also have some talent on the hardwood and should win a few more games.

Rivers will try to build on a breakthrough season

October 13, 2014 by

riversschool

The Rivers School had a breakthrough season last year, winning the Independent School League. They will try to build on that with a team that loses a lot but also returns a lot from last season’s team.