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The Morning Dish – Wednesday, November 23, 2016

by - Published November 23, 2016 in The Morning Dish

Now the season has arrived. The 2016-17 college basketball season has its first real splash moment of the season in its biggest signature upset of the year so far.

Indiana coach Tom Crean did what most would call him insane to do, scheduling a game this year on the home court of Indiana University-Purdue University-Fort Wayne (that’s the real name of the school, contrary to what some are trying to tell you this morning). The game was done with some risk, as the Mastodons are a defending Summit League co-champion, won 25 games just three years ago and 24 a year ago, and have been on the uptick ever since former Hoosier Dane Fife coached there from 2005-11. … Continue Reading

2015-16 Summit League Post-Mortem

by - Published May 31, 2016 in Columns, Conference Notes

The Summit League has been on the rise for much of this decade, but the confederation of Midwest and Great Plains schools really outdid itself in 2015-16.

Riding a very nice non-conference performance, the Summit in late December was as high as eighth in the conference RPI. That put it ahead of the Mountain West, Missouri Valley, West Coast Conference and briefly even the American Athletic Conference, and is an almost unconscionable feat for a conference that played just 34.1% of its non-conference games at home. … Continue Reading

The Morning Dish – Tuesday, March 8, 2016

by - Published March 8, 2016 in The Morning Dish

Tthe unabashed chaos of the conference tournaments this year may have reached a climax Monday night, with a pair of teams losing-and maybe even three-who will now be talked about at length for the next week. Then again, the night was pretty much par for the course for this season, so we shouldn’t be surprised in the least if/when it continues.

Monmouth and Valparaiso both lost in their conference tourneys Monday night, and both now for the next six days are going to be subject of cheerleading for their causes and condescension from major school apologists who still do think they would’ve finished 12th in the Big Ten. The Hawks lost to red-hot Iona 79-76 in the Metro Atlantic final, while Valpo took a 99-92 loss to Wisconsin-Green Bay in the Horizon League semis.
… Continue Reading

The Morning Dish – Friday, February 19, 2016

by - Published February 19, 2016 in The Morning Dish

Is it possible Minnesota found a way to beat not just one team but two on Thursday?

When the final book is written on the 2015-16 season, the Golden Gophers’ 68-63 triumph over Maryland will go down as one of the very biggest “how’d that happen?” results in a season that has had plenty of them. Minnesota came into the game having lost 14 straight games. It lost at home earlier this year to South Dakota, South Dakota State and Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Yet the Gophers beat the Terrapins, a team knocking on the door for a No. 1 ranking less than two weeks ago.
… Continue Reading

The Morning Dish – Friday, February 5, 2016

by - Published February 5, 2016 in The Morning Dish

For the best-kept secret among conferences in college basketball this season, look no further than the Colonial Athletic Association, which also just so happens to have the very best conference race this year.

Perhaps the game of the night Thursday was in the CAA, where UNC Wilmington visited Hofstra with sole possession of first place on the line. The game lived up to all one could’ve hoped for, coming down to the wire before Denzel Ingram hit the winning three-pointer with four seconds left to give the Seahawks a 70-67 win.

The CAA has long done a very nice job with its regional television packages, but this message goes to the national networks: this game belonged on national television. UNCW rallied from a 20-point first-half deficit and from 14 down with 11:28 to play. The Seahawks continued to chip away and took the lead late, but then had to weather a tying triple by Juan’ya Green with 20 seconds left before winning their eighth straight game.
… Continue Reading

2014-15 Summit League Post-Mortem

by - Published July 16, 2015 in Columns, Conference Notes

You may not hear much about it from TV networks increasingly narrowing their coverage scope, but few NCAA Division I conferences have struck gold with conference realignment like the Summit League.

North Dakota State and South Dakota State were in the league’s footprint when both were considering moves to Division I in the early 2000’s. At the same time, the then-Mid-Continent Conference was regularly toting 15 or 16 seeds in the NCAA Tournament and was widely regarded as low in stability because of a footprint that spread from Indiana to Utah ad down to Louisiana. With little to lose, the conference wisely snapped them up, and the results have been superb.

… Continue Reading

Scanning the Nation Notebook – February 20, 2015

by - Published February 20, 2015 in Columns

Some brief college basketball thoughts as we near the end of February and now March and tournament time is just around the corner:

One of nation’s best-kept secrets continues to be just how much of a treat it is to watch Iona offensively. The Gaels are so unselfish, so good at finding the open player, and so free to play offensively, and it’s a joy to watch. Tim Cluess has done an outstanding job at the school, which is poised for its third NCAA bid in the last four years. Despite missing defensive stopper and hustle player Isaiah Williams for the past 10 games, Iona has taken the lead in the MAAC again and at this point is the clear favorite to represent the league in the NCAA Tournament. David Laury and A.J. English are combining for 40 points per game, and freshman Schadrac Casimir is also averaging 15.4 points and is absolutely fearless. Iona has developed into a program that is annually among the nation’s leaders in scoring, three-pointers and assists, which should make it incredibly attractive to recruits.

… Continue Reading

2013-14 Summit League Post-Mortem

by - Published May 16, 2014 in Columns, Conference Notes

If former Detroit Lions head coach Wayne Fontes was “Rasputin,” as Chris Berman often used to call him, then maybe the Summit League should be called the Wayne Fontes League.

The Summit is the league that refuses to go away. It has gone through name changes (including its first moniker, the Association of Mid-Continent Universities, or AMCU-8). It has seen regular membership changes, doing realignment since way before it was cool-30 different basketball members in its 31-year history, and just one current member in the league longer than 15 years. It has survived mergers, terrible geography, schools dropping down to Division III-even schools disbanding athletic programs.

… Continue Reading

Horizon League Notebook – Scheduling Issues and Cupcakes

by - Published December 18, 2008 in Conference Notes

When college basketball begins each November (soon to be October?), scheduling disparities make it difficult to evaluate teams early, even harder to compare them. Mid-majors like the teams in our league often have incredibly uneven schedules; for example, Detroit played NAIA Division II Aquinas College on Wednesday night, managing a 58-48 win at home, but is now en route to Champaign-Urbana for a game tomorrow night at Illinois.

This happens for reasons many of you are familiar with: first, there just aren’t always enough regional mid-majors – particularly outside of the northeast – to fill up one another’s schedules. Second, while major programs generally won’t play at mid-majors, the financial “guarantees” they pay to mid-major programs to play in their gyms provide resources many universities depend on to fund their basketball programs. Third, recognizing that casual and less knowledgeable fans (including some in the ranks of university administrators and boosters) just count wins and losses each season, irrespective of the opponents, mid-major coaches who like their jobs often lobby to play schools from lesser Division I conferences, Division II and Division III opponents, and NAIA schools. Fourth, many coaches believe that at least some wins during the season – no matter against whom – are essential to help maintain the enthusiasm and commitment of their players.

Doubtless some of you remember that in the days John Thompson, Jr. coached at Georgetown, most years they opened their season with a lopsided win over Division III St. Leo’s College. And while St. Leo’s and other D-III’s no longer appear on the Hoyas’ schedule, Coach John Thompson III was following in his father’s footsteps last week when Georgetown hosted one of the weakest teams in Division I, managing to keep the score differential against Savannah State under 100.

If you’re inferring some annoyance on the part of this writer with schools scheduling “cupcakes,” well, you’re inferring correctly. In addition to Detroit’s game this past week with Aquinas, Jimmy Collins’ vaunted UIC team played D-II Lewis College (a school I’d never heard of), and on its upcoming three-game home stand, Cleveland State will play both D-III La Roche College and D-III Notre Dame College (that’s not the Notre Dame we all know and love – the one CSU should be playing). If any of these schools find themselves on the wrong side of the bubble for an at-large NCAA bid (or for an NIT bid), they need look no further than their own schedules to learn why.

Last on this, I just took a peak at the schedule for recent D-I admit New Jersey Institute of Technology. As many of you know, since moving to Division I, the most widely known fact in the history of NJIT undoubtedly is that its basketball team failed to win a single game last year; they have maintained “perfection” to date this season, losing their first 8 games. That said, I recognized every single school listed on NJIT’s 2008-09 schedule, and every one is an NCAA Division I member. So while that program obviously has hurdles to overcome, kudos to Coach Jim Engles and Athletic Director Lenny Kaplan for jumping into the deep end, and not manufacturing wins by playing the local junior high in their own gym!

With that lengthy introduction, now that Horizon teams have as many as eleven games under their belts, in some cases against common opponents (including two conference games for everyone except UIC and Loyola), the league appears to have separated itself into two “divisions.” Butler and Illinois-Chicago have been by far the most impressive, with preseason favorite CSU, Wisconsin-Green Bay and Wisconsin-Milwaukee rounding out this writer’s “first division.”

Over the last 10 days, UIC backed up its earlier monster win at the SEC’s Vanderbilt with a home conference win over its biggest rival, Loyola. Then they went to Atlanta, besting the ACC’s Georgia Tech last Sunday, 66-60. Both of Collins’ senior stars came up big in the win over the Yellow Jackets, preseason Player of Year point guard Josh Mayo with 17 points on 6-14, 7 assists and 6 rebounds, and center Scott VanderMeer with 19 points on 8-15 shooting and seven rebounds. Coach, even with your two stars graduating this June, please don’t schedule Lewis College again next year!

If a loss can make a previously undefeated team look even better, that’s just what happened to Butler this week. Coming into December 5-0 with wins at Drake and over Northwestern, Butler began the month with Zach Hahn’s buzzer-beating trey at CSU, 50-48, won a workmanlike second conference road game in snowy Youngstown two nights later, 79-71, and then beat Bradley in Peoria, 87-75. Then they lost a titanic defensive struggle at OSU, 54-51. But what a game it was.

First, that game showed that Butler’s guards can really guard, holding vaunted Buckeye Evan Turner to 14 points (making him take 10 shots to get them), and holding Turner’s athletic running mate David Lighty to 10. And behind Matt Howard’s 10 boards – now a sophomore and a burgeoning star, Howard seems to play better against better opponents – Butler was able to win the battle of the boards by one, 34-33. Above all, that game was the coming out party for freshman sensation Gordon Hayward, who’s fast becoming the star of this space, as well as of the Horizon, and of college basketball in the state of Indiana. With OSU in man-to-man all afternoon, and assigning forwards rather than guards to defend him, Hayward rewarded those of us who love his stroke by hitting 7 treys in the game (in 11 tries) for a total of 25 points. He also asserted himself on the boards (as he had at CSU with Howard in foul trouble), pulling down 7 rebounds. And he had a trey in the air at the final buzzer that would have tied the game.

The only questions I have left is how good Hayward will get this year (in the conference, in the conference tourney and beyond), how he’ll fair against UIC (now that he’s no longer a surprise), and whether Butler Coach Brad Stevens no longer has reason to expect that he’ll have Hayward around for a full four seasons.

For Cleveland State it was a mixed week, shooting just 33 percent in a ten-point loss in West Virginia (27 percent in the second half, and 25 percent from the arc), then improving in that category against rebuilding Marist (56 percent for the game), and then saving December with a win at then-11th ranked Syracuse on Monday night. Put aside that Syracuse isn’t anything close to the 11th-best team in America (that darned schedule-maker again, bringing a parade of Ivy and Patriot teams into the Carrier Dome so far this season), that Syracuse’s heralded 2-3 zone is the least mobile, least aggressive, and most permeable defense this writer has ever seen (just the opposite of the 1-1-3 match-up Coach Greg Kampe of Oakland used to nearly beat CSU in Cleveland), and that the Orange played this game with less intensity and emotion than any of us could imagine. Still, CSU was the better team on Monday night, and star forward J’Nathan Bullock rebounded from an 0-9 first half to shoot 8-12 in the second to keep CSU in the game and even get the Vikings a 5-point lead in the final minute.

After a trey and a put-back tied the score for Syracuse, CSU had the ball with 3 seconds left on its own baseline. The ball was inbounded to underperforming senior guard Cedric Jackson (who’d previously played in the Carrier Dome with St. John’s), and Jackson launched a 70-foot heave at the buzzer, which banked in (I thought you had to call “bank”) to give Coach Gary Waters a much needed win, 72-69.

In fairness, CSU could be viewed as “entitled” to those D-III’s coming into Wolstein, having already played Washington, Kansas State, Butler and West Virginia. Moreover, with Jackson severely disappointing over the first third of the season – he came in to the dome averaging just 9.4 and shooting 30 percent, 14 percent from the arc – perhaps that 70-foot heave will turn Jackson’s season around. Certainly, it put a smile on Ced’s face that hadn’t been there in weeks.

Elsewhere in the “first division,” Green Bay won its second home conference game, 66-59 over Wright State, beat Idaho State at home, lost at Wisconsin, and then lost a heartbreaker at home to Oakland, 79-76. (How good must Kampe be with 7 wins already, including road wins at Oregon and Green Bay, all without star senior forward Derick Nelson? Oh, if Nelson could somehow be ready for tomorrow afternoon’s “home” game against Michigan at the Palace…) And after beating Wright State at home for its second conference win, Milwaukee lost to Charlie Coles’ Miami team in Ohio, 69-45.

In the “second division,” Valpo lost at home to IPFW, and played Miami in Oxford tougher than Milwaukee did, losing 62-50. After losing at conference rival UIC, Loyola beat UMKC at home. And after losing its second conference game in Wisconsin (at Green Bay), Detroit also lost at Bowling Green before besting Aquinas.

After also losing its second conference game in Wisconsin (at Milwaukee), Wright State finally figured out how to win without injured all-conference selection Vaughn Duggins, beating Toledo at home, winning at Arkansas-Little Rock, playing tough and well in falling 66-53 at Wake Forest, and then making it 3 out of 4 by besting Norfolk State at home. And while for now residing in this writer’s “second division,” that recent “mini-run” of success combined with Duggins’ expected January return might combine to move the Raiders up into the “first division,” perhaps displacing one or the other of the Wisconsin schools.

Remember, while most pre-season publications predicted CSU atop the Horizon, expecting a healthy Vaughn USA Today preferred Wright State. Could this be one of those December injuries that helps a team succeed later on in conference play?

Lastly, after playing hard and shooting well in an 8-point home loss to Butler, YSU was competitive at Kent, losing 82-74. While sophomore wing Vytas Sulskis may be a “poor man’s Gordon Hayward,” junior guard Kelvin Bright may be a “poor man’s Shelvin Mack,” and senior center Jack Liles probably doesn’t quite qualify as a “poor man’s Matt Howard,” it appears Coach Jerry Slocum will get a lot out of this roster, and be competitive in conference play, at least at home.

Horizon News and Notes

  • With exam breaks coming to an end around the league, there will some great games Christmas week. Valpo will host North Carolina at the United Center tomorrow (2 p.m. on ESPNU), Detroit will play at Illinois tomorrow evening, and Wright State begins three straight days of play in the San Juan Shootout, facing Oral Roberts tomorrow, and South Florida and Murray State Sunday and Monday. On Sunday YSU will play at Charlotte. On Tuesday night, the night before Christmas Eve, Butler will play at Xavier, a game also on ESPNU. And in a battle of preseason favorites in the Horizon and the MAC, and of Gary Waters’ old and new schools, also on Tuesday CSU will host Kent State.
  • Merry Christmas, Horizon fans. And may Santa leave a wonderful season of conference games under all of our trees!

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Your Phil of Hoops

Saturday Notes – December 3, 2016

December 4, 2016 by

The first big Saturday of the college basketball season gave us all we could hope for, and it started right away. We have notes from a number of the day’s games right here.

Thanks to a big backcourt boost, Gonzaga should be even better this season

November 7, 2016 by

Gonzaga might have needed the West Coast Conference title they won in Las Vegas last year in order to be in the NCAA Tournament. With better guards, there should be no doubt about that this time around.

For the Big 12, coming out on top again will be a challenge in 2016-17

October 21, 2016 by

The Big 12 has been on a great run to be the top conference in recent years, including last year. This year will be a challenge due to a big loss of experience throughout the conference.

Hoopville Archives

Everybody Needs a Head Coach

Former college basketball coach Mike Jarvis has a new book out, Everybody Needs a Head Coach.

"As you read this book, I hope that Coach Jarvis' experiences inspire you to find your purpose in life."
-Patrick Ewing, NBA Hall of Fame center

"Mike Jarvis' is one of my special friends. I am so pleased that he has taken the time to write this fabulous book."
-Mike Krzyzewski, Five-time NCAA championship head coach, Duke Blue Devils

"In reading this book, I can see that Mike hasn't lost his edge or his purpose. Readers should take a look at what he has to say."
-Jim Calhoun, Three-time NCAA champion, UConn Men's basketball

Review on Hoopville coming soon!

Coaching Changes and NBA Draft Early Entrants

The coaching carousel is 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.

College Basketball Tonight

We hope you enjoyed COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT during the 2016 NCAA Tournament. COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT is a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran college basketball broadcaster Ted Sarandis, along with co-hosts Mike Jarvis and Terry O'Connor, both former Division I coaches. It also included many great guests, including Hoopville's own Phil Kasiecki.

The show aired on AM 710 WOR in New York City on Sunday evenings starting with Selection Sunday and running through the NCAA Tournament.

Here are links to the shows:

March 13, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 20, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 27, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

April 3, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

2016 Boston Back to School Showcase notes

September 12, 2016 by

We look back at the 2016 Boston Back to School Showcase, where a couple of Boston City League teams were among the most impressive on the day.

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale championship recap

June 28, 2016 by

We look back at the championship games of the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, which had a big local flavor as one might have expected.

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale preview

June 24, 2016 by

We look ahead to the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, held at a familiar location in Boston.

At the 2016 Boston Shootout, host BABC has a big day

June 8, 2016 by

Sunday was a big day for the host program at the 44th Boston Shootout

2015 Boston Back to School Showcase recap

September 18, 2015 by

The Boston Back to School Showcase gave high school teams from three states and north of the border a chance for a couple of early games. We take a look back at the day and a few who stood out.