With November turning to December, we’re on what is easily the quietest month of the college basketball season. There are good reasons for that, of course (final exams) and not so good ones (far, far too many guarantee games).
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As part of this weekend’s big kick off to the Christmas shopping season, yesterday was dubbed Small Business Saturday across the country. The basketball schedule for the day might have qualified under that designation, as few of the biggest names were in action, in part because the big holiday tourneys ended a few days ago. What the day may have lacked in big names, though, it did not lack for stories:
Holiday tournament basketball tipped off on Thursday, one of the many things we can give thanks for over the upcoming holiday. Though perhaps not too much thanks.
The proliferation of large, eight-team in-season tourneys has been a boon for teams looking to get in an extra three games each season, but it also has played a part in watering down the importance of such tournaments as a whole.
Last season, UL Lafayette won a terrific Sun Belt championship game in overtime against Georgia State. It was the conclusion of a great season, and at the nerve center of it all was Shawn Long, doing what he did quite often.
In that championship game, the junior had 11 points and 14 rebounds – not quite career numbers, but another day at the office. He was the only player in the conference to average a double-double last season. For good measure, he’s one of just two players in the entire country to average a double-double each of the past two seasons. He could go 4-for-4 in that regard.
Picking up where we left off with conferences, we start today with the best academic league of them all, the Ivy League.
The Ivy League is in the midst of a great up cycle, and league favorite Harvard has a lot to do with that. The Crimson will again be favored, though not to the same degree as last year when they were prohibitive favorites. They have the league’s best backcourt and plenty of options up front. They will be pushed, however, by the likes of Yale (whose own star, Justin Sears, will be in the running for Player of the Year), Princeton and Brown, for starters. Columbia figured to be right there, but the loss of Alex Rosenberg is a big blow and has to knock them back some.
Admit it: you thought the Atlantic 10 was never going to match the success it had in 2012-13, especially with one of its signature programs (Xavier) and a newcomer that gave it a big boost in that historic year (Butler), plus another one on the rise (Charlotte), off to another conference.
Don’t worry. You were hardly alone. And now that the Atlantic 10 has outdone itself, you can give the conference credit and now look at it in a different light going forward.
BROOKLYN and NEW YORK – Two venues, four games. Two tournaments in a day. The logistics can be maddening. A ride to Secaucus train station is followed by a 10-minute train ride to Penn Station. Then pick up the subway to Barclays Center.
Well, game plan gone. The lot is full so it’s a drive to New York. The drive is fast, but there is traffic in midtown and virtually every parking lot has no vacancy. Still salvage a space in one at 7th and 36th, three blocks from MSG and the subway. Finally, a connection without a wait as the Brooklyn-bound train is on the track upon my arrival.
BRONX, NY – On Wednesday night, St. Bonaventure traveled to Rose Hill Gym and earned a 76-65 victory over Fordham. It was a battle of two teams trying to get to the middle of the pack in the Atlantic 10, entering the night just a game apart from each other in the standings.
We start by taking a look at some of the key numbers on the evening, then some notes that expand on them:
NEW YORK – St. John’s rolled over Fordham in the Holiday Festival 104-56 on Saturday. The venue, Madison Square Garden, is the same. The format and a lot of the intersectional attraction has changed. No more post Christmas tournament. Now it is a Saturday doubleheader with teams, including St. John’s, from the local area. The ‘out of area’ team, La Salle (a winner over Stony Brook in the opener) in this case, is located in Philadelphia about 90 miles away.
The St. John’s numbers were outstanding. Fordham got in a transition game and the Red Storm accepted it and excelled.
Stony Brook was able to hang with Providence until the roof caved in several minutes into the second half. It’s part of a growing process this team in transition needs, and it continues despite dropping a few games along the way.
Maine has a long road ahead as they rebuild under new head coach Bob Walsh. Amidst the early struggles, the Black Bears have shown some reason for hope going forward.
We look back at quite a day of basketball, highlighted by early upsets and then some good matchups, plus a few sneaky-good wins for some teams on a busy day.
We look at some notes and evaluations from Sunday’s action at the Scholar Roundball Classic, where the blowouts included some noteworthy performances.
We look back at Sunday’s action in the Hoop Mountain Prep Classic, which included an overtime thriller and a couple of lopsided contests, and some prospects who helped themselves out with their play.
The busy weekend that just passed also included a few games at the National Prep Showcase. Here are a few notes from some of the action early on Friday and Saturday.
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 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.