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2015-16 Conference USA Post-Mortem

by - Published June 2, 2016 in Columns, Conference Notes
conferenceusa

After being largely ignored and certainly disrespected throughout the regular season, Conference USA made the biggest noise on the first weekend of the postseason with Middle Tennessee State’s 90-81 victory over second-seeded Michigan State in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Despite their 21 wins in the regular season and three in the conference tournament, the Blue Raiders were rated no better than a No. 15 seed as the league’s only NCAA representative. Regular-season champion UAB, a 26-game winner at the time at-large invitations were issued, had to settle for the NIT.

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The Morning Dish – Monday, March 28, 2016

by - Published March 28, 2016 in The Morning Dish
hoopguy-yellow

Sometimes, an unexpected team catches fire during the NCAA Tournament and makes an unlikely run. We’re not talking about a team that’s normally outside the limelight like a mid-major conference champion; rather, a team that barely made it and had a rather undistinguished season. And sometimes, that run includes an unexpected win along the way, including the fashion in which it happens.

Sometimes, there’s simply no explaining easily something that happens in sports. Syracuse reaching the Final Four this season, which they did after a 68-62 win over Virginia on Sunday, fits that description.

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The Morning Dish – Monday, March 16, 2015

by - Published March 16, 2015 in The Morning Dish
hoopguy-yellow

Selection Sunday has come and gone, and as usual, there is much to talk about. As much as ever, though, bubble teams are the center of the conversation, and understandably so.

By 7 p.m. Eastern time every year on this day, there are programs that are excited and ones that are sad, upset, even angry. Nowadays, where the bubble always seems more even and perhaps weaker than in the past, you get the feeling that there are more teams in the latter category. And one thing that is true more than ever is that any team that doesn’t make the NCAA Tournament as an at-large certainly had their chances to play their way in, and not just by winning their conference tournament.

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The Morning Dish – Saturday, November 22, 2014

by - Published November 22, 2014 in The Morning Dish
hoopguy-cyan

Early season tournaments continue to lead the way, and will for much of the next week. Friday featured plenty of such action leading into the weekend, setting the stage for what’s to come. In one of them, a champion was crowned.

At Madison Square Garden, Texas won the 2K Classic 71-55 over California, frustrating the Golden Bears with their defense all night long, especially the 10 shots they blocked. In the consolation game, Syracuse held off Iowa 66-63 behind a career-high 20 points and nine rebounds from freshman Chris McCullough, who also got the game-sealing steal in the final seconds. More coverage on this is coming soon, so stay tuned.

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2013-14 Conference USA Post-Mortem

by - Published June 4, 2014 in Columns, Conference Notes
conferenceusa

Determining who the very best teams in Conference USA were last year is like trying to find out how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop.

Perhaps only Mr. Owl could sort that out in a league that is just way too big because of the chase for football money. It’s a shame, too, because this could be a really good hoops league, but as it was this year, it was impossible to separate the top teams. Not helping the cause was 16-game conference schedule in a 16-team conference (this year’s incarnation after welcoming eight new members), resulting in numerous inequities in who played where as well as who one drew as their lone opponent to play twice.

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Quick hitters from the past weekend of tournaments

by - Published November 27, 2013 in Columns
author_kasiecki

The past weekend was quite a stretch with some early-season tournaments, and now we’re into another week full of them. It’s a fun time of the year as we form some early impressions of many teams and some pick up wins that can have shelf life later in the season.

Here are some quick hitters coming out of the weekend:

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Charlotte wanted more but feels like they accomplished something

by - Published March 23, 2013 in Columns, Your Phil of Hoops
charlotte

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Just minutes after a season ends, it’s not easy to sum up a season in an instant analysis style. Ask Alan Major about this season right now, however, and there’s a clear theme from the Charlotte head coach: pride in how his team handled so much that was thrown at them in the 2012-13 season and a feeling the program is on its way to where he hopes it will be.

Charlotte’s final record this season is 21-12. It’s a good record, although plenty of teams will sport better ones come April 9. They also started off 9-0, so one might wonder what’s impressive about going 12-12 to end the season. Let’s just say that none of it came easily, and along the way this team developed an identity as a team with the chemistry and belief in one another that they can get through anything.

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Barclays to MSG: A long (and enjoyable) day’s journey

by - Published March 15, 2013 in Columns
author_floriani

Two main venues, two great tournaments, just miles apart. A day filled with some very good basketball and interesting stories. Why not ? It is March Madness….

11:30 AM – Riding the subway to Brooklyn. The  preceding train ride from New Jersey to Penn Station was spent talking with a Cincinnati fan. The train has fans wearing gear from Pitt, Syracuse (most prominent) and of course, Cincinnati. The Bearcats, our new found basketball friend admits, have a tough assignment facing Georgetown at noon. Overall he is satisfied with the way things are going with Cincinatti but would like to see a little more inside play on offense. For now the Big East can wait. It’s onto the Barclays Center in Brooklyn for the Atlantic 10. It is difficult typing on a moving train.

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Charlotte uses balance and defense to keep winning

by - Published January 13, 2013 in Columns
charlotte

SOUTH KINGSTON, R.I. – Charlotte was one team in the Atlantic 10 that was a little tough to project coming into conference play. They had a nice non-conference run, winning the Great Alaska Shootout as part of a nine-game winning streak to open the season. They have opened Atlantic 10 play with two straight wins, the latest a 58-50 win at Rhode Island on Saturday that showed how this team will win some games this season.

Charlotte didn’t play the toughest non-conference schedule around, but they won most of their games and some were against good teams that aren’t NCAA Tournament locks. Their only losses came at Miami and at home to Florida State. While there’s no shame in losing to those two, they also represent missed opportunities for significant wins for their NCAA Tournament resume. They also played just two true road games, although the wins in Alaska, much as none were against powerhouses, have some value as well.

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2010 Atlantic 10 Post-Mortem

by - Published May 27, 2010 in Conference Notes

The 2009-10 season came after an off-season of transition for the Atlantic 10, as the conference moved its offices from the long-time home of Philadelphia to Newport News, Virginia. That was forgotten once the action got going on the hardwood, and not just because that’s what fans cared about. It was a big year for the conference, as it topped the previous record for non-conference wins with 135 and placed three teams in the NCAA Tournament. For good measure, two teams made a run to the NIT Final Four, with Dayton taking home the title, and three teams made the CBI, with Saint Louis making it to the final before losing to VCU (which also took out George Washington in the opening round).

For a lot of conference play, there was much buzz about how many teams might make the NCAA Tournament. At one point, many felt the conference could get as many as six teams, especially with the weak Pac-10, disappointing Big Ten and down years in conferences like the ACC and Conference USA. Six teams were certainly in play for a while, but much like two years ago, some of the teams in the bottom half of the conference started playing spoiler late in the season.

The post-season has been a good one thus far for the conference in the coaching ranks. Chris Mooney and Brian Gregory passed on overtures from other schools who had head coaching vacancies to stay with Richmond and Dayton, respectively. Fordham hired Tom Pecora to take over its program, while Charlotte hired Alan Major, regarded by many as an under-the-radar assistant, to take over for Bobby Lutz. Overall, there is some stability, which bodes well for the future.

Final Standings

Overall Atlantic 10
Temple 29-6 14-2
Xavier 26-9 14-2
Richmond 26-9 13-3
Saint Louis 23-13 11-5
Charlotte 19-12 9-7
Rhode Island 26-10 9-7
Dayton 24-12 8-8
Duquesne 16-16 7-9
St. Bonaventure 15-16 7-9
George Washington 16-15 6-10
Massachusetts 12-20 5-11
Saint Joseph’s 11-20 5-11
La Salle 12-18 4-12
Fordham 2-26 0-16

Conference Tournament

The first round took place at campus sites, with the home team winning three of the four games by double digits. The only game that did not fit that description was UMass’ 59-56 win at Charlotte in a defensive struggle. The seeds held in the quarterfinals save for Rhode Island’s 63-47 win over Saint Louis, although Xavier had to hold off Dayton and Richmond had to do the same with UMass to move on. Temple shut down Rhode Island for a 57-44 win in one semifinal, while Richmond needed overtime to knock off Xavier in a great game in the other semifinal. The Spiders got a game-tying layup from Kevin Anderson (27 points) to send it to overtime, where David Gonzalvez (26 points) hit a three-pointer to start them on the road to victory in the extra session.

In the championship game, Temple appeared to pull away early in the second half as they were up four at the half and led by 12 with just over 12 minutes left. But Richmond rallied, holding the Owls to just 33 percent from the field in the second half, and made it a ballgame late, where the Owls had to make free throws to seal the 56-52 win.

Postseason Awards

Player of the Year: Kevin Anderson, Richmond

Rookie of the Year: Chris Gaston, Fordham

Most Improved Player: Chris Johnson, Dayton

Defensive Player of the Year: Damian Saunders, Duquesne

Coach of the Year: Fran Dunphy, Temple

All-Conference Team

Kevin Anderson, Jr. G, Richmond

Lavoy Allen, Jr. F, Temple

Jordan Crawford, So. G, Xavier

Damian Saunders, Jr. F, Duquesne

Chris Wright, Jr. F, Dayton

Season Highlights

  • Of the 135 non-conference wins, 19 came against BCS conferences. That ranked fourth this season behind the Big 12 (28 wins), SEC (25) and ACC (25).
  • Fran Dunphy continues to be a master on the bench. Temple lost a lot from last season’s team, including Dionte Christmas, but all the Owls did was win 29 games and their third straight conference title.
  • The All-Atlantic 10 first team didn’t have a single senior, although one member of it (Jordan Crawford) will not be back next season.
  • Rhode Island didn’t finish the regular season well after winning a lot of close games early, but Jim Baron became the first Ram coach to lead the team to three straight 20-win seasons.
  • Although they faded in conference play, George Washington had a nice non-conference run that included five road wins. Only two teams in the conference won more road games than the seven the Colonials posted in total on the season.

What we expected, and it happened: Xavier had a new coach and no clear go-to guy, but the Musketeers continued to win. They didn’t miss a beat with Chris Mack taking over for the departed Sean Miller, and Jordan Crawford became the star of the team. Mack posted the most wins of any first-year coach in Division I, and the Musketeers reached the Sweet 16 for the third straight season.

What we expected, and it didn’t happen: La Salle was far from the contender many expected them to be, finishing 4-12 in the conference and not making the conference tournament. The Explorers were a senior-laden team, but an early injury to Ruben Guillandeaux set them back and a foot injury to Kimmani Barrett around the start of conference play was a back-breaker. The Explorers didn’t win a game in the month of February after they looked like they might come to life early in Atlantic 10 play. They weren’t deep in the backcourt before the injury to Guillandeaux, who started the season strong, and it showed as no team turned the ball over more than the Explorers did. They didn’t make up for it at the other end as only one team forced fewer turnovers.

What we didn’t expect, and it happened: Saint Louis finished in fourth place and made a deep postseason run, reaching the championship of the CBI. The Billikens looked to be at least a year away with a roster that featured 11 freshmen and sophomores and no seniors. But they racked up a good record in a manageable non-conference slate, then started February with six straight wins.

Team(s) on the rise: Saint Louis. The Billikens had no seniors on the roster, and after getting to the final of the CBI expectations will certainly be higher next season.

Team(s) on the decline: Saint Joseph’s. The Hawks were expected to be in rebuilding mode this year, but they looked worse than a rebuilding team. The upshot is that they finished with a winning record at home in their first year in the new arena, but there wasn’t much else to write home about this year and next year isn’t certain to be much, if any, better. Three players have transferred, Darren Govens and Garrett Williamson graduate and only two seniors will be on next year’s roster.

2010-11 Atlantic 10 Outlook

As good as this year was, next year could be even better for the conference. Ten all-conference players return next year, including four of five from the first team, as well as a strong crop of players that comprised the All-Rookie team. Stability is ever-present with many teams, especially from a coaching standpoint. Teams that lose key players won’t drop all the way back; Xavier and Temple will be fine, as will Dayton despite graduating several starters. Richmond shouldn’t be a one-year wonder, and Jim Baron appears to have Rhode Island in a good place although they’ve fallen agonizingly short of the NCAA Tournament a couple of times recently. Saint Louis, St. Bonaventure and George Washington appear to be on the way up, although a few teams don’t look to be on the rise right now. The immediate future for some middling programs like Charlotte, Duquesne and UMass is a little tough to figure right now.

A year ago, the conference’s move to Newport News, Virginia seemed like an odd destination given the conference’s geographic footprint. It had to make one wonder what the future of the conference would look like. Right now, the future looks quite positive based on the season just completed and what the season ahead could look like.

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Your Phil of Hoops

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author_kasiecki

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College Basketball Tonight

We hope you enjoyed COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT during the 2016 NCAA Tournament. COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT is a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran college basketball broadcaster Ted Sarandis, along with co-hosts Mike Jarvis and Terry O'Connor, both former Division I coaches. It also included many great guests, including Hoopville's own Phil Kasiecki.

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March 13, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

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March 27, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

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