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2013-14 Conference USA Post-Mortem

by - Published June 4, 2014 in Columns, Conference Notes
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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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How the conferences shake out as 2014 approaches

by - Published December 31, 2013 in Columns, Your Phil of Hoops
author_kasiecki

Non-conference play is just about over at this point. Conference games are ready to take over the rest of the slate, with a few having an “opening day” of sorts, including the Big East with its well-publicized day of five games on Tuesday. A few have already had early conference games, with the West Coast Conference having its opening day on Saturday.

How are the conferences shaping up? Which ones look like we thought and which ones look nothing like what we thought before the season? Here is a look at all 32 conferences as conference play beckons.

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Opportunity awaits Southern Miss as conference play approaches

by - Published December 28, 2013 in Columns
southernmiss

SOUTH KINGSTON, R.I. – Southern Miss has done a lot of good things in non-conference play. The latest is their 77-64 win at Rhode Island on Saturday, one that is in sum a good statement of where this team is. With just one game left before Conference USA play, there is an added challenge for this team, but there is also opportunity.

The Golden Eagles are an experienced and balanced bunch, as the five starters all average between nine and 12 points per game. Nine players average double-digit minutes, with only point guard Neil Watson averaging more than 28 per game. They have four seniors who play a lot of minutes and several juniors right behind them.

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Veteran UAB team is playing like one right now

by - Published December 9, 2013 in Columns
uab

BOSTON – Jerod Haase said he was glad his team had a week before their next game after they scored a big win over North Carolina. It was to be a real test of how his team could respond without a letdown, given that there was time for the win to set in. And while UAB had some tough stretches against Northeastern, they came away with a hard-fought 74-69 win over the Huskies that shows this team to be in a good place right now.

Haase noted the experience level of his team as a big key. His team has just five holdovers from last season, but all five are seniors. His newcomers include a number of junior college players from elite schools. While Division I is a little different, and they are all getting acclimated to a new group of teammates, the experience does manifest itself in some ways. In part, it showed in between the win over North Carolina and Saturday’s win.

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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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Old Dominion’s firing of Taylor makes no sense at first glance

by - Published February 7, 2013 in Columns
olddominion

There has to be more to the story at Old Dominion than what’s currently out there. It simply doesn’t make sense.

Why in the world would Old Dominion fire Blaine Taylor with his record of success at the school? Granted, the Monarchs are having a forgettable season at 2-20, but this season is very much an aberration for the winningest coach in school history. It would be one thing if this was the worst of a steady downward trend over several seasons, but that’s simply not the case.

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How the conferences shake out as 2013 approaches

by - Published December 28, 2012 in Columns, Your Phil of Hoops
author_kasiecki

Non-conference play is almost over, and it has been quite a stretch. We’ve learned a good deal about a lot of teams, while some are still a mystery for various reasons – injuries, suspensions, ineligibility and a light schedule are all possible reasons. In addition, a few conferences have already seen a game or two mixed in with the non-conference schedule.

Conference play is right around the corner, and while a non-conference resume doesn’t tell the whole story, it does shed some light on teams and conferences. In conference play, there is more familiarity since teams play each other every year, although the changing landscape is starting to diminish that factor a bit. That’s one reason why we see some teams put forth a very good non-conference showing, including some good wins, then go on to have a mediocre showing in conference play.

With that in mind, here’s a look at how every conference in America shapes up.

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Rhode Island’s win over SMU not all that shocking

by - Published December 16, 2012 in Columns
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SOUTH KINGSTON, R.I. – Saturday’s 72-50 Rhode Island win over SMU might surprise some who saw only the score and knew only the records of the respective teams coming into the game. SMU was 8-1, an early pleasant surprise to be sure, while URI was expected to have a rebuilding season and came in at 2-7. Look beneath the surface, and Saturday’s result might be a little surprising but certainly shouldn’t be a shocker save perhaps for the margin of victory.

“I didn’t look at them as a 2-7 team,” SMU head coach Larry Brown said of the Rams. “They made threes, but they were open, most of them. I thought they executed so much better than we did, they defended better than we did. They looked like the team with the winning record. They out-coached us, out-played us, out-executed us.”

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The countdown to Selection Sunday starts — less than a month to go

by - Published February 14, 2012 in Columns
hoopguy-orange

It’s hard to believe, but Selection Sunday is officially less than a month away — 26 days to be precise.

That means it’s separation time. The best teams throughout the nation need to raise the bar to claim a regular-season conference championship and jockey for NCAA Tournament seeding.

For the vast majority of the 31 conferences that receive automatic bids to the NCAA Tournament, winning a regular-season conference title is about more than bragging rights. In many conference tournament formats, the regular-season winner gets a bye or home court advantage — sometimes both — at some point in the upcoming conference tourneys. Teams like the America East’s Stony Brook, Big Sky’s Weber State, and SWAC’s Mississippi Valley State won’t be getting at-large bids to the Big Dance if they don’t capture a conference championship in the tournaments. So they’ll take any advantage they can get. … Continue Reading

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Conference Coverage

2013-14 Big Ten Post-Mortem

July 8, 2014 by

bigten

The Big Ten had some teams slip as the season went on, but plenty of others picked up the slack in another good year for the conference.

2013-14 Sun Belt Post-Mortem

July 7, 2014 by

sunbelt

Membership changes have been happening at quite a pace of late in the Sun Belt, and it was a new member that stole the show for much of this past season and seems poised to lead the way in the future.

2013-14 Big Sky Post-Mortem

July 1, 2014 by

bigsky

The teams that have led the way in the Big Sky of late were right there again this season. One of them won both the regular season and conference tournament, and also had a nice time with the post-season awards as well.

2013-14 MEAC Post-Mortem

July 1, 2014 by

meac

The 2013-14 season was N.C. Central’s year in the MEAC, as the Eagles completed their four-year ascent to the top of conference.

2013-14 Big 12 Post-Mortem

June 30, 2014 by

big12

When it comes to overall depth, the Big 12 this season may have been one of the strongest leagues in a long time. The conference sent seven of its 10 teams to the NCAA Tournament, the first time in 21 years and just the fifth time ever that a league sent 70% or more of its teams to the tourney.

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