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2013-14 American Athletic Conference Post-Mortem

by - Published May 13, 2014 in Columns, Conference Notes
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A year ago at this time, much about the American Athletic Conference was unknown. The conference had a new name for barely a month, and aside from that, what we knew it had was a bunch of schools that were breaking away from the old Big East. It did have an office – that which had long belonged to the Big East in Providence, even though Providence College would remain in the Big East.

But when the 2013-14 season was over, it was clear the conference had quite a bit going for it on the hardwood. They had the runner-up in the NIT and the national champion – not bad for a conference that barely existed a year before the season ended.

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2014 NCAA Tournament: Early thoughts

by - Published March 17, 2014 in Columns
ncaa

The NCAA Tournament selection committee has spoken. The 68 teams are set to begin the tournament on Tuesday with two of the First Four games. With that, the fun is about to begin.

Before that, here are some random thoughts on the selection, seeding and potential matchups, as well as reaction to some early chatter about the field.

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It’s time for Cincinnati to come out from under the radar

by - Published January 31, 2014 in Columns, Your Phil of Hoops
cincinnati

It’s time to start talking about Cincinnati. The Bearcats have flown under the radar long enough, especially after they went into Louisville and emerged with a 69-66 win over the Cardinals despite blowing a 17-point lead in the second half.

Forget that the Cardinals have a deceptive 17-4 record and a good, not great, NCAA Tournament resume. This is about the Bearcats, a team that is now 20-2 overall and 9-0 in American Athletic Conference play and emerging as the clear team to beat there. The only losses were at New Mexico and against Xavier at a neutral site. Likely few, if any, picked the Bearcats over the likes of Louisville, Connecticut or Memphis before the season.

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For Cincinnati, offense will be the key

by - Published March 14, 2013 in Columns, Your Phil of Hoops
cincinnati

NEW YORK – Cincinnati tried to play smaller and faster, which Mick Cronin felt was the way to go for this team. It worked like a charm on Wednesday, but Cronin knew it would be a tall order against Georgetown on Thursday. He was right, and while he seems to have found a way to play that works, the Bearcats will have to wait to go with it again after falling 62-43 in the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament.

Cincinnati got off to a nice start on the season in winning their first 12 games. Since losing a tough one to New Mexico at home, they haven’t put together a winning streak longer than three in a row, although they started Big East play with a win at Pittsburgh. In February they lost five of six at one point after winning five of six. They should be in the NCAA Tournament, as they have the wins without any bad losses.

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2013 Big East Tournament second round quick hitters

by - Published March 14, 2013 in Columns, Conference Notes
bigeast

NEW YORK – The quarterfinals are up next in the Big East Tournament. In the second round, we saw Cincinnati blitz Providence early and fend off a rally, Syracuse rally from an early deficit due to a hot shooting Seton Hall team with a very strong second half, Villanova knock off a young St. John’s team and Notre Dame pull away from Rutgers and then hold them off. The four winners take on the top four seeds on Thursday.

Some quick hitters from Wednesday:

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Offense the first problem for Cincinnati in loss at Providence

by - Published February 7, 2013 in Columns
cincinnati

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Cincinnati has lost five games this season, and in four of them, the offense has been on a milk carton. One of those games was Wednesday night’s 54-50 loss at Providence, and it was a textbook case of a bad night offensively.

Cincinnati shot 37.5 percent from the field and committed 15 turnovers in a relatively low-possession game. The score was indicative not only of the defense of the two teams, but also the slow pace and difficulty both teams had making shots. The Bearcats have more assists than turnovers on the season, but that’s not the case in Big East play and Wednesday night’s game added to that as they had just eight assists.

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Big East: UCONN-Syracuse Boxscore Breakdown and notes….

by - Published March 9, 2012 in Columns
bigeast

NEW YORK – Thursday afternoon’s analytical note is a box score breakdown from the Syracuse quarterfinal victory over UCONN. The Huskies won their first two in the tournament. From that, talk circulated regarding a run like last year’s that wound up with the Big East title. It was not to be as Syracuse prevailed.

A look at the key numbers from the game:

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The NCAA’s $2,000 hot mess

by - Published December 15, 2011 in Full Court Sprints

We go coast to coast with other news from the college basketball nation

The NCAA is entering new levels of ridiculous mismanagement. The Associated Press reports that the NCAA might reconsider giving new scholarship student-athletes a $2,000 stipend, though it would have to allow players who have already signed letters of intent to receive the extra cash while banning those who sign later.

Ohio State superstar Jared Sullinger is still hurting from recurring back spasms, and coach Thad Matta didn’t want to say when Sullinger will be back in the lineup for the Buckeyes, according to a CBS Sports.com wire report. But Sullinger answered that question Wednesday night when the Buckeyes beat down USC Upstate 82-58 and Sullinger played 24 minutes and got 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Nobody will face criminal charges in the Xavier/Cincinnati brawl, the Associated Press reports. Joe Deters, a Hamilton County, Ohio, prosecutor, looked into the matter, deciding not to pursue charges against anyone. One of the factors was Xavier center Kenny Frease’s satisfaction with an apology from Cincinnati’s Yancy Gates, who decked Frease in the head during the debacle.

Seton Hall will gain some more depth this weekend with the return of freshman Brandon Mobley, who had been out with a dislocated shoulder and torn labrum since the summer, according to the Associated Press.

Don’t skip your court appearances. Nothing good can happen. Just ask Kansas’ Ben McLemore. The freshman is under arrest after skipping a Dec. 6 court appearance for a citation related to underage alcohol possession, according to a CBS Sports.com wire report.

Also on the list of bad behavior is taunting fans by grabbing your crotch. New Mexico State sophomore Christian Kabongo did that, and now he’s suspended, writes Diamond Leung for ESPN.com’s “College Basketball Nation” blog.

Syracuse still has Melo — Fab Melo that is. If you thought I was talking about Carmelo Anthony, well, I kinda was. The NBA star who led the Cuse to a championship is convinced that Melo 2.0 and the rest of the crew have the talent to win another championship for the first time since 2003.

I’m not gonna lie — I love the fan experience. And if you tell me that a team in California’s tradition is to throw tortillas when a victory is in hand, I find it amusing. I mean, a flying tortilla — presumably uncooked soft tortilla — won’t hurt anyone. Except when your team is only up two and the officials consider giving the home crowd a technical. Yep, that’s how UC-Santa Barbara’s 65-61 win against San Diego went down, writes Diamond Leung for ESPN.com. When the fans started tossing tortillas, the officials considered tossing out a T. They opted to go with a public announcement that any more thrown items would produce two free throws for the Toreros. The fans settled down, and the Gauchos won.

Crosstown Shootout hurts city of Cincinnati most

by - Published December 13, 2011 in Columns

There is no doubt that you know what happened in my home city of Cincinnati on Saturday afternoon.

One of the best rivalries in all of sports — not just college basketball — was taking place just a couple of minutes from where I sit writing this. The Crosstown Shootout is something that not many people outside of Cincinnati fully understand.

The best way I can describe it is to make a small correlation to the Civil War. We’ve all heard stories about brothers fighting brothers over their differing beliefs.

That is the case in Cincinnati. I can think of more than a few examples of families that have both die-hard University of Cincinnati supporters and die-hard Xavier University supporters. … Continue Reading

Stepping back to look beyond basketball

by - Published December 13, 2011 in Full Court Sprints
hoopguy-orange

This past weekend has reminded us that there are bigger things than basketball. Most teams are off for final exams for some/all of this week, and a major brawl on Saturday also brought out that sentiment. While we’ll have more on the brawl later, right now there’s something else to think about in keeping with the theme.

I’m sure others have said it, but I remember ESPN’s Buster Olney once remarking that when you’re in the media, you become a fan of the game instead of a particular team. It’s very true, and part of that is being a fan of the people involved in the game. This is a people business in every respect, and those who succeed the most in this industry, no matter what capacity they are in, know how to deal with people.

To that end, I give you Ken Dempsey, the associate head coach at New Hampshire. Tuesday is an important day for him.

Dempsey recently shared on the National Coaches’ Diary Series on College Chalktalk that he has been diagnosed with prostate cancer. On Tuesday, he goes for surgery to address it, and will take an undetermined leave of absence from the basketball team. He is not the first and won’t be the last college coach to have to deal with this dreaded disease, but fortunately the outlook is good and there’s some personal significance.

We all have people who have helped us get where we are. Dempsey has helped many people in that respect in 25 years of coaching at several Division I schools, but it isn’t just players who have benefited from knowing him. I have no better friend in basketball than Ken Dempsey.

When I was an undergraduate at Northeastern, Dempsey joined the basketball staff when Dave Leitao took over as the head coach my freshman year. Dempsey was the first coach I met, and after a badly failed attempt to walk on to the team, he didn’t forget me. I would see him around the gym (back then, Cabot Gym was not only where the team practiced, but also the student recreational facility), especially if I was playing basketball before the team came to practice. He sensed that I liked the game, and encouraged me to join them as a manager. I would stop by the office and have conversations with him and Darryl Hilliard, also an assistant there at the time, and the relationship grew from there.

The next year, I became a manager. My experience in doing that was tremendous for a lot of reasons, from being so close to the game that I love to traveling to places I had never been to understanding what goes into a team’s season. There is not enough space to share how much that helped me to get where I am today, and that’s before I mention some of the things external to my role as a manager. Dempsey gave me access to recruiting reports so I could see what they looked like and start having a feel for the next college stars, and introduced me to Bob Gibbons when he visited Northeastern one time. This was back when there weren’t nearly as many people covering recruiting as there are now, as the Internet was still in its infancy in terms of its effects on athletic media.

That was only the beginning. When Dempsey left Northeastern just before I graduated, we made sure to stay in touch, and have done that. After some time away from the northeast, he’s been back for several years now. Interestingly, I covered what proved to be his last game as an assistant coach at UMKC before coming to New Hampshire – a tough loss in the then-Mid-Continent Conference (now the Summit League) Tournament in Tulsa.

Dempsey is optimistic that his leave from the team will be on the order of weeks. He is well-connected and has been in contact with some people who have dealt with this to learn from their experiences, and has had great support from everyone in Durham. And as he goes in for surgery on Tuesday to start the battle against prostate cancer, I know I am one of many people who is praying for a positive result at the end of all of this.

We go coast to coast with other news from the college basketball nation

  • About that brawl: Cincinnati and Xavier each suspended four players for their roles in the well-chronicled brawl at the end of Saturday’s meeting between the two teams. Cincinnati suspended Yancy Gates, Cheikh Mbodj and Octavius Ellis for six games each and Ge’Lawn Guyn for one game, while Xavier suspended Dez Wells and Landen Amos for four games each, Mark Lyons for two and Tu Holloway for one.
  • Indiana scored a dramatic win over Kentucky with a buzzer-beater on Saturday. It’s the biggest win for the Hoosiers under Tom Crean.
  • Murray State knocked off Memphis on Sunday night, which improves the Racers to 10-0. But what has unfortunately received a little more buzz from that game than how good the Racers look is Memphis’ public address announcer announcing John Calipari as the Tigers’ head coach, which was greeted with a round of boos.
  • It’s a light week of game action, and Monday night was no exception as the most notable game was probably Oregon’s 79-70 win over Portland State.

 

Games to watch on Tuesday

  • Wisconsin at Milwaukee, 8 pm EST
  • Belmont at Middle Tennessee, 8 pm EST

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Houston is trying to find an identity early on

November 28, 2014 by

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Houston went on the road and was soundly defeated by Harvard on Tuesday. It’s a game that Kelvin Sampson hopes to take a lot from early in his tenure with a new-look team as they try to find out who they are.

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

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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.