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New-look Fairfield shows promise in season opener

by - Published November 10, 2013 in Columns

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – The box score will tell you Fairfield won their season opener by 13 points over Sacred Heart, 67-54 on Saturday. The box score will also tell you they did that despite 26 turnovers. But what the numbers won’t tell you is that the Stags have a lot of newness about them but will be a team worth watching this season and one the coaching staff is going to enjoy all the way around.

Last season’s team had an interesting personnel dynamic to it with the mix of seniors and freshmen. This season’s team is simply young, as they have just one senior and nine freshmen and sophomores. The interesting dynamic is that six players were in uniform last season and six weren’t. But that also means there’s a lot of opportunity to mold this group into something, and it’s clear that they’re already at work with that on one end of the floor.

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2013 MAAC quarterfinal notes

by - Published March 10, 2013 in Columns

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The MAAC quarterfinals are in the books. The afternoon games saw the seeds hold to form, while the evening started off with an upset that was also a game for the history books, but not in a good way. The last game followed its predecessor with the lower seed pulling off the upset.

With that, some leftover thoughts from the MAAC quarterfinals played on Saturday:

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Needham, Fairfield seniors live another day

by - Published March 9, 2013 in Columns

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Derek Needham didn’t want his career to end on Friday night. A classmate felt the same way and a teammate at the opposite end of the experience spectrum helped him out, and in turn they helped Fairfield move on with a 54-47 win over St. Peter’s.

Needham isn’t the only senior on Fairfield, as fellow guards Colin Nickerson and Desmond Wade are also coming up on the end of their college careers. But he’s the big name on the team, the program’s third all-time leading scorer, the guy who has been an impact player from the minute he arrived on campus and scored in double figures in all but one game of his freshman campaign. He’s the charismatic young man who is well-known around the campus and not just because he’s a basketball player. He’s the star guard who didn’t play in the conference tournament last year due to a broken foot.

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If freshmen develop to complement veterans, Fairfield could surprise in the MAAC

by - Published November 11, 2012 in Columns

WEST HARTFORD, Conn. – Fairfield is one of the more interesting teams in a conference that itself is always interesting.  The MAAC is known as a very competitive conference, one that often has a team that can sneak up on others, and Fairfield might be that kind of team this season.  The Stags’ season-opening 64-63 overtime win on Saturday night in the Connecticut 6 Classic was illustrative of this and possibly just the start this team needs.

Taking a glance at the roster, one can see that the stags have five upperclassmen and a lot of freshmen in the mix.  The upperclassmen are all very experienced, having played significant minutes since their freshman year save for Desmond Wade, who transferred in from Houston but has played significant minutes since he arrived.  One can easily guess that this team will largely go as their freshmen go, as having some depth is always important.

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Quick Hitters – January 27, 2012

by - Published January 27, 2012 in Columns, Your Phil of Hoops

Quick hitters as we get ready for the weekend:


  • Boston University was not rebounding well in the early portion of their seven-game winning streak. But in the last two games, the Terriers have dominated the glass, and keeping that up will only help. Granted, it came against two of the worst teams in the conference, but one of them (UMBC) is normally a decent team on the glass. Part of that has come from an emphasis on rebounding of late, but not just at the defensive end. … Continue Reading

Fairfield fulfills missions in Springfield and gets better

by - Published December 10, 2011 in Columns, Your Phil of Hoops

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Like fellow MAAC counterpart Siena, Fairfield looks like they got better in their trip to Springfield for the Hall of Fame Holiday Showcase on Friday. The Stags have had some ups and downs in non-conference play, but one of the MAAC favorites looks to be improving as final exams near and showed it in their 59-51 win over Old Dominion on Friday.


Friday’s game was far from a thing of beauty, especially in the second half as it was tightly called and neither team shot well. Fairfield won despite shooting just 37.3 percent for the game, but the bright side along with the win was that they won the rebounding battle 41-40 and got just about every loose ball.

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ACC’s hot start could be a harbinger of better times ahead

by - Published November 17, 2011 in Full Court Sprints

After six full days into the regular season, the ACC is the only undefeated conference remaining. And that pretty much guarantees that Maryland will lose to Alabama Thursday night or Georgia Tech will fall against Saint Joseph’s.

No one really keeps track of which conferences go the longest without a loss, but hoops pundits love to banter about which conference is tops in the game. The ACC hasn’t been part of that conversation for a few years now, despite claiming two of the past three champions and a contender or two for this year’s title.

As of this week, the ACC has North Carolina, Duke and Florida State in the top 25. No other team even received a vote from the pollsters. As Rodney Dangerfield often lamented, this conference doesn’t get any respect these days, with everyone focusing on Tobacco Road and ignoring most of the rest of the conference. That would be a mistake this season.

Already, Virginia Tech, Clemson and Virginia have flashed plenty of promise. They’ll need to bring down some of the big boys from conferences like the Big East, Big 12 and Big Ten before they rise into the public spotlight. That’s probably going to start happening in the next couple of weeks as the early season tournaments gain steam and more power conference squads go head to head.

When it’s all said and done this season, don’t be surprised if at least five different ACC teams spend some quality time in the top 25, and the conference once again joins the discussion as tops in the land.

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

  • New Providence coach Ed Cooley and the Friars returned to his former employers at Fairfield Monday, and Providence escaped with a hard-fought 80-72 win, according to a CBS Sports.com report. The Friars’ head honcho had plenty of reason to feel emotionally torn after enjoying success in the MAAC in his first coaching gig and building strong relationships with players such as Rakim Sanders, writes Matt Norlander.
  • UCLA suspended Reeves Nelson for bad behavior after the junior forward blew off a practice Monday and looked selfishly frustrated in the Bruins’ opening loss to Loyola Marymount, writes Peter Yoon for ESPN Los Angeles. The Bruins dropped their second consecutive game Tuesday when Middle Tennessee State handled the Nelson-less squad.
  • After an 0-2 start, UCLA fans must be yearning for the golden age led by the legendary John Wooden. Those days are long gone, but Wooden — or at least a statue bearing his resemblance — will greet every player and fan entering the renovated Pauley Pavilion, Peter Yoon writes on ESPN.com.
  • St. Bonaventure will play the rest of the season without forward Marquise Simmons, who tore his Achilles tendon against Cornell, according to a CBS Sports.com wire report. The junior provided solid depth for St. Bonaventure, averaging about four points and rebounds per game last season.
  • If “best” refers to most talented, CBS Sports.com’s Jeff Goodman explains why Kentucky, not North Carolina, is the best team in the country this season.
  • No sleep till Brooklyn! The Beastie Boys can lend that motto to Kentucky and Maryland next year when the Wildcats and Terrapins meet in the first-ever Barclays Center Classic, to be held at the new arena under construction in Brooklyn, N.Y., according to the Associated Press.

It’s All Coming Together For Fairfield

by - Published January 4, 2011 in Columns

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – It all seems to be coming together for Fairfield. Yes, it’s still early, and head coach Ed Cooley says they’re still figuring things out, but one has to think the Stags have made their way to a good place.

Fairfield’s 70-48 win over Niagara was their ninth in a row and improves them to 3-0 in MAAC play. More than just the win, in what Cooley described as “kind of a strange game” as there wasn’t much flow, the Stags did it largely playing the kind of basketball they will need to in order to win the conference, as many projected before the season. They shut down the Purple Eagles, ran the offense well when they weren’t turning the ball over, and have a number of players improving. … Continue Reading

Fairfield Starts Well Amid Personnel Challenges

by - Published December 14, 2010 in Columns

WORCESTER, Mass. – This was the chance for someone like Fairfield to unseat Siena atop the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. The Saints aren’t dead, but they lost the core of their team to graduation and the guy who coached them, although an assistant on those teams is now running the program. Meanwhile, Fairfield has some things coming together that might make their selection by many as the preseason favorites in the conference look like a good one.

Fairfield’s 71-60 win at Holy Cross improves the Stags to 7-3 on the season. Included in that record is a 5-2 mark away from home, and during their current six-game winning streak four of the wins have come away from home. Less than 48 hours before the Stags beat Holy Cross, they went to Loudonville and took care of Siena in convincing fashion. … Continue Reading

Seton Hall Women Win With Defense Again

by - Published December 16, 2008 in Columns

JERSEY CITY, N.J. – A common denominator in this early season has been defense. Once again the Seton Hall women’s team was dominant on the defensive end in Saturday’s 66-51 victory over St. Peter’s at Yanitelli Center. The Hall limited St. Peter’s to 35 percent (18 of 52) shooting from the field. They also out-rebounded the hosts 38-30 and forced 21 turnovers. The Hall improved to 7-1, their best start since the 1994-95 season.

The game was close for a good portion of the opening half. Seton Hall started opening a lead the latter minutes and went into the half with a 27-19 lead. St. Peter’s, now 2-4 on the year, is a young team. Coach Stephanie DeWolfe’s group displayed their youth by missing several good scoring opportunities early on.

Midway through the second half, Ebonie Williams, the fine sophomore guard, hit three consecutive jumpers to open a comfortable double-digit lead for the Pirates. Williams paced all scorers with 17 points. Jamie Smith came off the bench to lead St. Peter’s with 13 points.

St. Peter’s also had a difficult time matching up with Noteisha Womack. The 6-3 senior is playing extremely well of late and had another double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds. Beside the damage done by the inside-outside combination of Womack and Williams, Phyllis Mangina’s club received contributions from the bench. Jadis Rhoden and Kandice Green came off the bench to contribute 11 and seven respective points. Tania Kennedy, St.Peter’s senior guard, added 11 points, including the 1,000th of her career.

Fordham Battles Valiantly in Loss

On Thursday evening Fordham dropped a heartbreaker to Fairfield in a men’s contest at the Rose Hill Gym in the Bronx. The Rams dropped to 1-6 while Fairfield improved to 6-3.

When it rains it pours. It was simply a succession of hard luck for Fordham on this rainy evening. Fordham was minus the services of Brenton Butler, the fine junior guard who injured his ankle in the win over Lafayette three days earlier. About a minute following tip-off, Chris Bethel broke his nose. He had a strong 19-point outing against Lafayette and entered the contest as Fordham’s primary inside threat.

To their credit, the Rams competed. They trailed 32-31 at the half. When the Stags opened up a seven-point lead with just over eleven minutes left, the feeling was Fairfield would pull away. Led by freshman leads guard Jio Fontan, Fordham refused to go away. They tied the game with twenty seconds left on an inside shot by Luke Devine. Fordham answered with a three pointer by Lyndon Jordan with two seconds to play. It was Jordan’s only field goal attempt in the only minute he logged for the evening.

Fontan led the Rams with 22 points, while swingman Mike Moore added 20. Fairfield had three players in double figures, paced by Jonathan Han’s 14 points. Anthony Johnson, a solid 6-8 inside player had a strong outing for Ed Cooley’s club with nine points, 13 boards and two blocks.

Fairfield/Fordham Notes

  • Fontan realized with Butler, and then Bethel out, he had to run the offense and also look for his shots. As noted he scored 22 points, on 7 of 12 shooting and looked for his teammates in the framework of the offense. “Jio grew up tonight,” said Fordham coach Dereck Whittenburg. “He picked it up and really had a good game. He understands what is required to run an offense.”
  • When asked what his biggest adjustment to college ball, Fontan, who starred at national prep power St. Anthony’s (NJ) simply says, “Just coming in and as point guard adjusting and getting to know my teammates and their tendencies.”
  • Whittenburg, confident and upbeat, maintains this is a new season. “The first five games were something else,” he said. “We are in a new season in my estimation and we’re one and one… We are definitely becoming a better team as our young guys are learning.”

College Basketball Tonight

COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT is a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran college basketball broadcaster Ted Sarandis, who will be joined by former Manhattan and Seton Hall head coach Bobby Gonzalez and many great guests, including Hoopville's own Phil Kasiecki.

The show will air on AM 970 The Answer in New York City from 7-9 p.m. on every Sunday from Selection Sunday to the Final Four. You can listen to the show here.

Your Phil of Hoops

Watson’s transfer will sting BU the most

April 11, 2014 by


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


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 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.

2013 Prep School Tour

Missed a recap of an open gym workout? We have them all right here for you.

Sept. 9: St. Andrew's
Sept 10: Tilton
Sept. 11: South Kent School and Northfield Mount Hermon
Sept. 12: Putnam Science Academy
Sept. 16: St. Thomas More and Marianapolis Prep
Sept. 17: Brewster Academy and Phillips Exeter
Sept. 23: New Hampton School
Sept. 24: Brimmer and May
Sept. 25: Proctor Academy
Sept. 26: Notre Dame Prep and Cushing Academy
Sept. 29: Worcester Academy and Vermont Academy
Oct. 6: Charlestown High School and Milton Academy
Oct. 13: Tabor Academy
Oct. 15: Brooks School

Hoopville Archives

Even More: City Hoops Recruiting

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

Cesar Fulcar commits to Wentworth

The senior guard led Watertown to the state semifinal this past season

Travel team profile: Bay State Magic

Bay State Magic doesn’t have much size on their junior team this season, so they’ll have to win with execution and intangibles

Travel team profile: Mass Elite

Mass Elite is one of the largest travel teams in the state despite being relatively new

Coaching Changes and NBA Draft Early Entrants

The coaching carousel is already moving. Keep track of the latest coaching changes right here on Hoopville.

Also, keep track of players who have declared early for the NBA Draft.

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter