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2013-14 MAAC Post-Mortem

by - Published June 6, 2014 in Columns, Conference Notes
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The MAAC underwent a membership change in 2013-14, and one that appears to be a net positive. What hasn’t changed, and surely won’t anytime soon, is how fiercely competitive the conference is. That was demonstrated right up to the end this past season.

The conference had several teams right there in the race for the top until late in the season. Iona got hot and pulled away, but even so only three games separated first from fourth place and just two separated fifth from eighth. The real question going forward is if anyone can break into that top group, as Iona and Manhattan seem set to rule the conference for a while, with Quinnipiac having a lot of potential based on its first year in the conference. There are some who could join them, but questions abound in all.

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Canisius tries to follow the Barons’ lead to success

by - Published December 17, 2013 in Columns
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WORCESTER, Mass. – If you know Jim Baron and his sons, you know them to be high-character people. They are model citizens in every sense of the term. They are also nothing if not consistent, and fiercely competitive, even if the sons show it differently than the father does. Talk to younger son Billy, and you get a feeling that Monday night’s 83-73 win at Holy Cross is bigger than it looks to the untrained eye.

“It’s huge because we just came off a loss, and anytime you come off a loss in a game you feel you shouldn’t lose, it’s tough to right the ship,” said Billy Baron. “I felt like you saw the chemistry and the character of the guys on this team. We’re an extremely young team. We bounced back in two days being on the road. Without much practice time in between games, we had to rely on our off-the-court attributes in helping each other come along.”

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Baron’s buzzer-beater gives Canisius a split

by - Published November 21, 2013 in Columns
canisius

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – They trailed by two with the clock running down. The ball was brought up the floor as the seconds drained. Finally the guard stopped from beyond the arc, released a shot with an arc bordering on perfection. The shot knew nothing but net as the final horn sounded.

Billy Baron’s game winner, ironically his lone three of the game, gave Canisius an 86-85 victory over Elon at the Rutgers Athletic Center on Tuesday. Baron led the Griffs with 21 points.

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Early turnaround at Canisius doesn’t mean much right this moment

by - Published March 11, 2013 in Columns
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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Billy Baron was hurting. You could see it from the facial expression, then in his voice as he spoke. Usually full of life and energy, he wasn’t quite that after Canisius’ season ended with a tough 89-85 loss to Iona in the MAAC quarterfinals on Saturday. He was more than a little subdued.

“This is really painful right now,” said the junior guard.

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Percolating hoops intrigue makes February a fantastic month for sports

by - Published February 1, 2012 in Full Court Sprints
hoopguy-orange

It’s February — one of the most underrated sports months of the year.

With the Super Bowl coming up this weekend, the biggest event in U.S. sports will command the attention of tens of millions of viewers, generating tens of millions of dollars for everyone associated with the event.

A few weeks later, the NBA All-Star game will show the NFL how exhibition weekends should be run. In my opinion, the NBA All-Star weekend festivities are the best of any pro sport, with baseball coming in a close second. Did anyone actually watch the Pro Bowl last weekend?

We don’t have any winter Olympics this year, but that’s a February event, too.

And then we have college hoops. To casual fans, March is the month of joy. But February is the month that sets the table for March. Dozens of teams are jockeying for position right now, fighting for a better seed and location or merely a bid to the Big Dance.

The schedule-makers know what they’re doing, too. Next Wednesday — just days after the Super Bowl — the top rivalry in college hoops will go down for the first of two meetings in a month when Duke visits North Carolina. That’s a nice way for the NCAA to tell America: “Guess what? Football is over. It’s time to set your sights on the hardwood.”

And of course, as we work through the thick of conference play, we’ll have the rush of bracket projections to feed the hoops addiction. Hoopville will join the fray as usual, starting this Friday. We choose to wait until February because it just feels right. By now, we have a large enough sample size to judge teams’ résumés and make projections that have a good shot of standing up during the final few weeks before Selection Sunday.

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

Get ready for more technical fouls and a shorter leash on players or coaches who act out. Eamonn Brennan of ESPN.com’s “College Basketball Nation” blog reports that John Adams, the NCAA’s national officiating coordinator, sent a notice to all officials that implored them to clamp down on bad behavior.

Clemson has indefinitely suspended junior Milton Jennings, a former McDonald’s All-American, because of academic reasons, according to the Associated Press. Jennings averages 8.9 ppg and 5.4 rpg.

Arizona will finish the season without junior Kevin Parrom, who broke his foot in a loss to Washington last weekend, according to a CBS Sports.com report. He averaged 4.9 ppg, 2.9 rpg and 1.7 apg this season.

Iona is looking to remain one of the premier programs in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, and the university extended the contract of coach Tim Cluess to help make that happen, according to a CBS Sports.com report.

Don’t mess with a player’s routine. North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes shared some of the details of his routine with Andrew Jones of Fox Sports to explain why he changed his shoes at halftime of the Tar Heels’ win against Georgia Tech. Like the rest of the team, Barnes started the game with pink shoes to help promote breast cancer awareness. But he went with his usual Kobes in the second half.

VCU coach Shaka Smart stirred some commotion in the commonwealth during a teleconference Monday, writes Myron Medcalf for ESPN.com’s “College Basketball Nation” blog. Smart asserted that Virginia’s best schools reside in the CAA. He didn’t call out the ACC teams in Blacksburg or Charlottesville by name, but Smart felt compelled to give UVA coach Tony Bennett a call to clarify his comments.

The NCAA won’t be seeking any further action against Connecticut freshman guard Ryan Boatright regarding an investigation into his eligibility because of money and benefits that he and his mother received, according to the Associated Press. But the AP reports that the Boatrights’ lawyer isn’t finished with his actions against the NCAA, lambasting the organization for releasing private information.

The only coach to ever lead Canisius to an NCAA Tournament win died Saturday, according to the Associated Press. Joseph Curran, 89, passed away in Mystic, Conn. He led the Golden Griffins to a 76-66 record in six seasons, which included a shocking four overtime victory against No. 2 North Carolina State in the 1956 NCAA Tournament.

St. Peter’s holds on to defeat Canisius

by - Published January 6, 2012 in Columns
author_floriani

JERSEY CITY, N.J. – In a contest featuring a wild finish, St. Peter’s held on to defeat Canisius 65-61 at Yanitelli Center on Thursday night. Three points of emphasis come out of the game:

 

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MAAC Tournament Notebook

by - Published March 8, 2010 in Columns

ALBANY, N.Y. – Friday gave an opportunity to see six games at the Times Union Center in Albany. The MAAC Tournament was on the bill and in the conference both the women’s and men’s championships are contested at the same site. The women’s quarterfinals were first and following a ninety-minute break the men’s two first round games followed. It ran from 9:30 a.m. through the stroke of midnight. If you are a fanatic you just can’t beat it.

The Women’s Quarterfinal scores:

Iona 59 Siena 43
Fairfield 70 Loyola 56
Marist 57 Canisius 38
Niagara 66 Manhattan 54

The Men’s First Round:

Manhattan 94 Loyola 79
Canisius 72 Marist 54

Notes

  • Good officiating friend Joe Barrise was on the first game. Joe & crew enjoyed a nice tempo with the first foul not occurring until 8:05 had elapsed.
  • I thought Iona coach Tony Bozzelli had a solid defensive game plan keeping Siena’s inside threat Serena Moore away from the basket or closely attended as much as possible. the saints’ main inside threat. Mission accomplished. Moore scored 14 points but was 3 of 11 from the field. For the Gaels, their outstanding forward Thazina Cook committed 5 of Iona’s 20 turnovers. All was forgiven as Cook in general had an outstanding game leading all with 19 points and 11 rebounds in 35 minutes.
  • I never tire watching and admiring the play of Rachelle Fitz of Marist. The MAAC Player of the Year never forces a thing, is the consummate unselfish and fundamentally sound performer. Fitz , a 6-0 senior forward, had a solid 12-point, 8-board effort for the Red Foxes.
  • I also never tire of watching the teamwork and defensive expertise of Marist. They are a group who simply does not care who gets the points or headlines. They simply want to win. Defensively they are outstanding, forcing you into poor shots and getting in the passing lanes for deflections that are turned into turnovers. Marist is a joy to watch… unless you are on the opposite sideline. Stephanie Geehan of Fairfield, the MAAC Defensive Player of the Year, came up with sixteen rebounds (14 defensive) four blocks and four steals against Loyola. A 6-2 senior center, Geehan showed her prowess is not limited to the defensive end as she led the way with 22 points.
  • It was a brief appearance but what a four minutes for Maggie Blair of Manhattan. The 5-10 freshman guard played the last four minutes and scored 10 points, second on the team to Michelle Pacheco’s 11. Blair was 3 of 4 from the field (2 of 2 from three) and hit both of her free throws. She entered the game without a point all season, having played in just five games. Something tells me coach John Olenowski will take a long look at Blair’s prospects next season.
  • Niagara’s Kendra Faustin was selected Coach of the Year and it was an excellent choice. She came on board two years ago and has transformed Niagara from dormancy to respectability with a nice future for this program. The Purple Eagles were 9-9 in the conference and had a win over Marist this season. They knocked off fourth seed Manhattan 66-54 thanks to solid defense and a well-distributed attack with four players in double figures.
  • Some observers were speculating if this is the year Marist women surrender their MAAC championship supremacy. Not likely, per Canisius coach Terry Zeh. “People are saying Marist might get beat (in the MAAC tournament) but they did go 15-3 (conference) and lost to nationally ranked Oklahoma in overtime,” Zeh noted after his team‘s quarterfinal setback to the Red Foxes. “They are a team whose big stars make plays and unheralded players step up”
  • The Manhattan-Loyola game to tip off the men’s tournament was a high-energy, fast-paced, intense battle. Manhattan, which lost twice to the Greyhounds this season, prevailed 94-79. The Jaspers had a 19-point lead before Loyola came storming back in the second half. Loyola got it to a two possession game but never any closer.
  • The game was a tale of two halves for the leading scorers. Rico Pickett, a junior guard from Manhattan with range and a quick trigger finger, had 23 points at the half and wound up with 33.  Shane Walker had two at intermission, but the 6-10 sophomore forward led Loyola’s charge the second half in scoring 24 of his team-high 26 points.
  • Even with Pickett going for 33 points, Manhattan had good balance with four players in double figures. George Beamon, a 6-4 freshman, came off the bench for the Jaspers to contribute a crucial 13 points, 11 in the second half.
  • Manhattan coach Barry Rohrssen said his team came to Albany “planning to play our best basketball. The MAAC tournament is a new season for us.” Rohrssen naturally was pleased, except for the defense, which allowed the Greyhounds to shoot 50 percent from the floor.
  • Marist finished their long season at 1-29 with a first-round loss to Canisius. The lone win, ironically, came against Manhattan. The same problems the Red Foxes had all year showed up again. They hung around early and were only down 34-26 at the half, a margin was thanks to a Canisius trey at the buzzer. The second half mistakes of youth and an ineffective inside game spelled doom for coach Chucky Martin’s squad once again.
  • The difference between veterans and youth: Marist committed 16 turnovers to Canisius’ 11. Frank Turner, the Griffs’ outstanding senior guard, had one turnover in 37 minutes.
  • I spoke with Siena assistant Mitch Buonoguro, who was advance scouting. Buonoguro spoke about life as a 17-1 conference team favored to win here in Albany. “It’s not that easy,” he said. “Everyone is aiming for you and comes at you with your best shot.” Especially in the “survive and advance” setting of post season tournament play.

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Your Phil of Hoops

Watson’s transfer will sting BU the most

April 11, 2014 by

bostonuniversity

Boston University recently saw three players transfer. The impact of the departure of one of them will be felt more than the other two.

Mihalich’s first year at Hofstra is over but will have plenty of value

March 9, 2014 by

hofstra

The first year for Hofstra under Joe Mihalich is in the books. Many expected that wins would be hard to come by, and they were, but this season was about more than that and is hardly a throwaway year.

Cornell’s future can only be better

March 2, 2014 by

cornell

Cornell has had a rough season, as could be expected given some personnel losses. It’s almost in the books, and the future at least looks brighter.

Hoopville Archives

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
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

You can also find them all right here.

Even More: City Hoops Recruiting

Mass Elite and Boston Warriors hold college showcase

Mass Elite and Boston Warriors, two of the largest programs in Massachusetts, teamed up for a college showcase on Wednesday night. Here are some evaluations from that event.

Massachusetts 11th grade AAU Tournament recap

Teams gathered at Mass Premier Courts to chase the state title in the oldest age group, and one champion was a familiar one.

Travel team profile: All For One

All For One has been one of the better travel programs in Massachusetts for players before they reach high school

Travel team profile: Blackstone Valley Chaos

Size and options on the wing are not lacking for this year’s junior team

Travel team profile: Expressions Elite

Expressions Elite has quickly become one of the deeper programs in New England

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

New Hampton has a lot of size and personnel options

October 1, 2014 by

newhampton

New Hampton has a lot of size and versatility, giving them a lot of personnel options. That should add up to contention in NEPSAC Class AAA once again this season.

Suffield Academy looks to grow into Class A in NEPSAC

September 29, 2014 by

suffieldacademy

Signs of growth are present at Suffield Academy, and along the way the basketball team moves up into NEPSAC Class A this season as they try to keep the program growing.

Wilbraham and Monson has a new leader with a similar level of talent

September 29, 2014 by

wilbrahamandmonson

A busy Sunday started with a trip to Wilbraham and Monson Academy, where there is a new head coach who has been at the school and some good talent to work with.

Williston Northampton begins a new chapter on the hardwood

September 26, 2014 by

willistonnorthampton

A new era is dawning at the Williston Northampton School on the hardwood. It includes a new head coach who is changing some things up right away.

Kent School has some pieces to compete in NEPSAC Class A

September 25, 2014 by

author_kasiecki

The Kent School might not have the talent or depth of its neighboring prep school, but they have a team worth watching that could compete in Class A this season.