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The Morning Dish – Sunday, January 17, 2016

by - Published January 17, 2016 in The Morning Dish
hoopguy-cyan

Prosperity is not easy to handle or sustain at every level of sports. Even in professional leagues, one regularly sees teams that win a big game or several games in a row then come crashing down to earth at the times many don’t expect it.

The college basketball season-and conference schedule in particular-is a grind, and it’s not a given that teams will always defeat opponents that they have already proven they can consistently beat. It’s not just the big games a team wins; it’s how they play in the games immediately after, as well as in games throughout the season that they aren’t expected to lose. In that regard, Saturday was not a good day for a few teams who have had some big moments this year:
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The Morning Dish – Friday, January 1, 2016

by - Published January 1, 2016 in The Morning Dish
hoopguy-yellow

Good morning, and welcome to 2016!

On paper, New Year’s Eve featured what could’ve been two of the very best games of the year in the Big East. Call it 1-for-2 at the plate, as one ended up being nothing of the sort, but the other delivered in every way.

Villanova hammered Xavier 95-64 in both teams’ highly anticipated conference opener on New Year’s Eve, as the Wildcats put on one of those dominant showings they are so capable of, especially at their home Pavilion, and knocked the Musketeers from the ranks of the undefeated. In the second biggie, though, Providence rallied from a 13-point deficit late in the first half to win at Butler 81-73, laying an early claim to status as top challenger to defending champion Villanova in the conference.

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The Morning Dish – Tuesday, December 8, 2015

by - Published December 8, 2015 in The Morning Dish
hoopguy-yellow

With Monday night being a mostly quiet one on the college basketball schedule, it left us a little more time to think of former Butler center Andrew Smith, as he enters yet another battle.

Sad news in the college basketball world was shared Monday morning by Andrew Smith’s wife Sam, who revealed her husband is now fighting leukemia. It’s the latest unfortunate turn of health for the former big man who was a member of the Bulldogs’ national runners-up teams in 2010 and 2011.

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The Morning Dish – Tuesday, December 1, 2015

by - Published December 1, 2015 in The Morning Dish
hoopguy-orange

The easy thing to do after the College of Charleston’s resounding win over LSU Monday night would be to talk about all that’s wrong with the Tigers. With that in mind, we’ll focus first on just what the Cougars are doing right.

The story of Monday night’s hoops slate was Charleston, which spanked LSU 70-58. Not upset-the Cougars controlled this game from the start, and were clearly the better team on this night. It’s a big, big win for second-year head coach Earl Grant, who is already showing signs of returning a proud program back to power.

Canyon Barry is the son of former NBA star Rick Barry, and he starred in this one with 19 points. Charleston won the rebounding battle and frustrated the Tigers with a 2-3 zone defense and at 4-2 is now almost halfway to its win from all of last year, when a 9-24 record was the worst in school history.
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2015-16 CAA Preview

by - Published November 15, 2015 in Columns, Conference Notes
colonial

In a conference that has seen lots of changes recently, the CAA got news of one more big one this past off-season. Tom Yeager, the only commissioner the conference has known, will retire at the end of the academic year. There is a time and place for reflection on what he has built, along with his place as a well-respected influencer in college basketball, and that will come. A more pressing question is: what kind of conference will he leave behind?

An unfortunate part of his legacy will be that the CAA was hit hard by conference realignment more than once, and that can’t be pinned on him. The first time, just after the new century, put the conference in danger, but it survived and subsequently thrived after adding strong members from another conference. More recently, however, the conference was among the hardest hit, watching signature programs George Mason, Old Dominion and VCU leave along with Georgia State, who had just turned a corner after an otherwise uninspiring tenure in the conference. Two of those four left to play Division I-A football.

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College of Charleston Cougars 2015-16 Preview

by - Published November 15, 2015 in Conference Notes
charleston

College of Charleston Cougars (9-24 overall, 3-15 conference)

 

 

 

Projected starting five:

Jr. G Canyon Barry
So. G Cameron Johnson
Jr. G Payton Hulsey
So. F Donovan Gilmore
Sr. F James Bourne

Important departures:

G Anthony Stitt and F Adjehi Baru are starters who are gone from last season’s team. They will also be without G Joe Chealey, who will redshirt due to a leg injury sustained in practice.

Returning:

52 percent of scoring and 47.7 percent of rebounding

Additions:

Fr. F Jarrell Brantley
Sr. F James Bourne (transfer from Winthrop)
Jr. G Payton Hulsey (junior college transfer)
Fr. G Marquise Pointer
Fr. G Grant Riller

Schedule Highlights:

The non-conference schedule is a little more manageable than in past seasons, but still has some challenges. Six homes games are included, with Big South defending champion Coastal Carolina, LSU and East Carolina being the most noteworthy opponents. They go on the road to play Davidson and Miami. CAA play has a tough start with three of the first four games on the road, though they later have a stretch with five of six at home.

Projected finish and outlook:

Last year was a tough transition year as Earl Grant took over in September. They won a game in the CAA Tournament, so they finished well. Now, they have a group with new players all over the floor, and Grant has indicated there will be plenty of competition for minutes and roles. That should only intensify with Chealey lost for the season due to injury, which likely means either Hulsey or Pointer gets the nod; don’t be surprised if it’s Pointer as he can play and was well-tested in high school. Gilmore showed some promise last season, while O’Donhue had 14 rebounds in their CAA Tournament win and Bourne should boost them right away as their most experienced player up front. Brantley should get every opportunity to play as well. Barry is the one guy this team can definitely hang their hat on, and Johnson should start alongside him again. The Cougars were one of the best defensive teams in the conference last season, and they’ll need to repeat that this season since they lost three of their top four scorers from last season if you include Chealey. They should be competitive, but are probably a year away from contending, especially since Chealey’s absence will mean younger players get more of an opportunity to grow now than they would have otherwise.

Next: Delaware Blue Hens

Back to CAA Preview

2014-15 CAA Post-Mortem

by - Published June 9, 2015 in Columns, Conference Notes
colonial

In a year full of competitive conference races, the Colonial Athletic Association fit right in while still being under the radar. It didn’t have a seven-way tie at the top at one point, like the Big South did or three games separating first from tenth like the Patriot League did for a lot of the season, but it did produce its own great result: a four-way tie for the regular season title.

The conference wasn’t top-heavy, either. Another team was two games back of the top four and two more teams another game back. The six losses by the top four teams were tied for the most by a regular season champion in CAA history and marked the first time in 18 years that the regular season champion had more than four losses. Drexel was 9-9 in CAA play and had to play on opening night of the conference tournament. The other 9-9 team, Delaware, knocked off three of the four teams that tied for first during the season.

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2014-15 CAA Preview

by - Published November 14, 2014 in Columns, Conference Notes
colonial

Times continue to change in the CAA, and while there is still good basketball, it’s definitely a new era. Last season saw just two CAA teams reach postseason play. In prior years, the conference had sent more. Plenty of teams have challenging non-conference slates this year, so opportunities for quality wins will be there – but whether or not they come is another story. Another membership change comes this season as Elon joins to bring the conference to ten teams. For now, it seems stable, but conference realignment never seems to really take a break, so enjoy it while it lasts.

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College of Charleston Cougars 2014-15 Preview

by - Published November 14, 2014 in Conference Notes
charleston

College of Charleston Cougars (14-18 overall, 6-10 conference)

 

 

 

Projected starting five:

Sr. G Anthony Stitt
So. G Joe Chealey
So. G Canyon Barry
Sr. F Adjehi Baru
Fr. F Donovan Gilmore

Important departures:

G Nori Johnson, F Willis Hall and F Anthony Thomas have all departed.

Returning:

55.1 percent of scoring and 43.6 percent of rebounding

Additions:

Fr. F Evan Bailey
Fr. F Donovan Gilmore
Fr. F-C Nick Harris
Fr. G Cameron Johnson

Schedule Highlights:

The Cougars have five home games in a challenging non-conference slate. Notable opponents at home include Gardner-Webb and former Southern Conference rival Davidson. They will play in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off against defending national champion Connecticut, then either Texas A&M or Dayton in the second game with one more to follow. Additional road games are at West Virginia, Charlotte, LSU and Miami. Early in CAA play, they have a three-game homestand, followed by a stretch with five of six on the road.

Projected finish and outlook:

The Cougars had a more eventful off-season than anyone imagined, as the saga of now former head coach Doug Wojcik dominated the headlines. The plus is that this team has really come together, which makes part of new head coach Earl Grant’s job easier. There is talent here, and some reason to believe this team can finish higher than many might project. Stitt is a talented, seasoned veteran, while Chealey and Barry both had the kinds of ups and downs freshmen usually go through but appear ready to harness some of their potential. Baru will anchor the frontcourt, a solid rebounder who they will look to for more offense. If the guards make a good jump from freshman to sophomore year, that will go a long way towards this team contending.

Next: Delaware Blue Hens

Back to CAA Preview

2013-14 CAA Post-Mortem

by - Published May 9, 2014 in Columns, Conference Notes
colonial

The new era in the Colonial Athletic Association has begun. While there was plenty of competitiveness, as expected, the conference is in a very different time now with arguably its three signature programs having left over the past two years.

Conference champion Delaware was a study in overcoming adversity all season long. The Blue Hens certainly had enough talent and experience to compete for the title, but suspensions of multiple players, including long ones to Devon Saddler and Jarvis Threatt, could have scuttled this magical season. They were challenged in the conference tournament, including in the title game, but as they did all year, they found a way to win.

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