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2013-14 Patriot League Post-Mortem

by - Published May 15, 2014 in Columns, Conference Notes
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Times are good in the Patriot League right now. The league just completed its first season with ten schools, and not only was it a success overall but there is plenty of reason to like what is ahead. The early verdict on the league’s expansion is that it is definitely a net plus.

Three teams saw postseason play, and all three had at least 20 wins. That marked the third time in league history that happened, with the previous instance being two years earlier. This season didn’t top that one overall, as that year two teams topped Boston University’s 24-win mark this season and both of those teams won a game in their postseason tournament, but there is reason to believe that the best is yet to come.

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Loyola (Md.) Greyhounds 2013-14 Preview

by - Published November 7, 2013 in Conference Notes
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Loyola (Md.) Greyhounds (23-12 overall, 12-6 MAAC)

 

 

 

Projected starting five:

Sr. G Dylon Cormier
Jr. G Denzel Brito
Jr. G R.J. Williams
Sr. F Jordan Latham
So. F Franz Rassman

Important departures:

Erik Etherly (15.7 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 1.6 apg, 1.5 spg), Robert Olson (12.7 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 2.1 apg, 1.1 spg), and Anthony Winbush (7.0 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 2.4 apg) are all gone from last season’s team, along with Julius Brooks (4.5 ppg, 3.4 rpg), a part-time starter.

Returning:

44.7 percent of scoring and 44.7 percent of rebounding

Additions:

Jr. G Denzel Brito (transferred from Loyola (Ill.))
Fr. F Josh Forney (redshirted)
Fr. F Nick Gorski
Fr. F Damion Rashford (redshirted)
Fr. G Sean Tuohy, Jr. (redshirted)

Schedule Highlights:

The Greyhounds have four non-league home games, highlighted by visits from America East contender Stony Brook and Saint Joseph’s. They head on the road to play at Connecticut, West Virginia, Northeast contender Mount St. Mary’s and Miami. Three of their first five league games are at home, and they also close with three of five at home.

Projected finish and outlook:

The Greyhounds will be new all over the place this season, with three starters gone, a new head coach and being a newcomer to the league. The cupboard isn’t bare, and with most of the proven talent being on the perimeter they could be a sleeper team. Cormier is the team’s unquestioned leader, while Brito started at Loyola (Ill.) and should make an instant impact now that he’s eligible and should get to play off the ball, where he is better suited, since Williams will run the show. Tyler Hubbard also returns to give them a proven reserve, and sophomore Jarred Jones could be an interesting X-factor as he can play either wing at 6’7″. Where they need players to emerge is up front, as Latham will anchor the group and needs Rassman or one of the freshmen to make an impact right away to help. The Greyhounds will be capable of pushing the pace and turning teams over once again, and they’ll need to do that more given the lack of proven bodies inside. If they succeed, they could push for a top-three finish.

Next: Navy Midshipmen

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Loyola almost lets one get away, but doesn’t

by - Published November 21, 2012 in Columns
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UNCASVILLE, Conn. – No one who saw the opening minutes of the Springfield Bracket championship game would be surprised if you told them Loyola (Md.) won.  But they might be surprised if you added that they needed a game-winning basket in the final seconds to do it.  Loyola almost let it get away, but they got a three-point play with 1.5 seconds left to pull out a 67-64 win over road-weary Albany.

“Dylon Cormier is just a tough dude making plays,” said head coach Jimmy Patsos in reference to the winning basket.  “That wasn’t anything we drew up.”

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MAAC Tournament Notebook

by - Published March 8, 2010 in Columns

ALBANY, N.Y. – Friday gave an opportunity to see six games at the Times Union Center in Albany. The MAAC Tournament was on the bill and in the conference both the women’s and men’s championships are contested at the same site. The women’s quarterfinals were first and following a ninety-minute break the men’s two first round games followed. It ran from 9:30 a.m. through the stroke of midnight. If you are a fanatic you just can’t beat it.

The Women’s Quarterfinal scores:

Iona 59 Siena 43
Fairfield 70 Loyola 56
Marist 57 Canisius 38
Niagara 66 Manhattan 54

The Men’s First Round:

Manhattan 94 Loyola 79
Canisius 72 Marist 54

Notes

  • Good officiating friend Joe Barrise was on the first game. Joe & crew enjoyed a nice tempo with the first foul not occurring until 8:05 had elapsed.
  • I thought Iona coach Tony Bozzelli had a solid defensive game plan keeping Siena’s inside threat Serena Moore away from the basket or closely attended as much as possible. the saints’ main inside threat. Mission accomplished. Moore scored 14 points but was 3 of 11 from the field. For the Gaels, their outstanding forward Thazina Cook committed 5 of Iona’s 20 turnovers. All was forgiven as Cook in general had an outstanding game leading all with 19 points and 11 rebounds in 35 minutes.
  • I never tire watching and admiring the play of Rachelle Fitz of Marist. The MAAC Player of the Year never forces a thing, is the consummate unselfish and fundamentally sound performer. Fitz , a 6-0 senior forward, had a solid 12-point, 8-board effort for the Red Foxes.
  • I also never tire of watching the teamwork and defensive expertise of Marist. They are a group who simply does not care who gets the points or headlines. They simply want to win. Defensively they are outstanding, forcing you into poor shots and getting in the passing lanes for deflections that are turned into turnovers. Marist is a joy to watch… unless you are on the opposite sideline. Stephanie Geehan of Fairfield, the MAAC Defensive Player of the Year, came up with sixteen rebounds (14 defensive) four blocks and four steals against Loyola. A 6-2 senior center, Geehan showed her prowess is not limited to the defensive end as she led the way with 22 points.
  • It was a brief appearance but what a four minutes for Maggie Blair of Manhattan. The 5-10 freshman guard played the last four minutes and scored 10 points, second on the team to Michelle Pacheco’s 11. Blair was 3 of 4 from the field (2 of 2 from three) and hit both of her free throws. She entered the game without a point all season, having played in just five games. Something tells me coach John Olenowski will take a long look at Blair’s prospects next season.
  • Niagara’s Kendra Faustin was selected Coach of the Year and it was an excellent choice. She came on board two years ago and has transformed Niagara from dormancy to respectability with a nice future for this program. The Purple Eagles were 9-9 in the conference and had a win over Marist this season. They knocked off fourth seed Manhattan 66-54 thanks to solid defense and a well-distributed attack with four players in double figures.
  • Some observers were speculating if this is the year Marist women surrender their MAAC championship supremacy. Not likely, per Canisius coach Terry Zeh. “People are saying Marist might get beat (in the MAAC tournament) but they did go 15-3 (conference) and lost to nationally ranked Oklahoma in overtime,” Zeh noted after his team‘s quarterfinal setback to the Red Foxes. “They are a team whose big stars make plays and unheralded players step up”
  • The Manhattan-Loyola game to tip off the men’s tournament was a high-energy, fast-paced, intense battle. Manhattan, which lost twice to the Greyhounds this season, prevailed 94-79. The Jaspers had a 19-point lead before Loyola came storming back in the second half. Loyola got it to a two possession game but never any closer.
  • The game was a tale of two halves for the leading scorers. Rico Pickett, a junior guard from Manhattan with range and a quick trigger finger, had 23 points at the half and wound up with 33.  Shane Walker had two at intermission, but the 6-10 sophomore forward led Loyola’s charge the second half in scoring 24 of his team-high 26 points.
  • Even with Pickett going for 33 points, Manhattan had good balance with four players in double figures. George Beamon, a 6-4 freshman, came off the bench for the Jaspers to contribute a crucial 13 points, 11 in the second half.
  • Manhattan coach Barry Rohrssen said his team came to Albany “planning to play our best basketball. The MAAC tournament is a new season for us.” Rohrssen naturally was pleased, except for the defense, which allowed the Greyhounds to shoot 50 percent from the floor.
  • Marist finished their long season at 1-29 with a first-round loss to Canisius. The lone win, ironically, came against Manhattan. The same problems the Red Foxes had all year showed up again. They hung around early and were only down 34-26 at the half, a margin was thanks to a Canisius trey at the buzzer. The second half mistakes of youth and an ineffective inside game spelled doom for coach Chucky Martin’s squad once again.
  • The difference between veterans and youth: Marist committed 16 turnovers to Canisius’ 11. Frank Turner, the Griffs’ outstanding senior guard, had one turnover in 37 minutes.
  • I spoke with Siena assistant Mitch Buonoguro, who was advance scouting. Buonoguro spoke about life as a 17-1 conference team favored to win here in Albany. “It’s not that easy,” he said. “Everyone is aiming for you and comes at you with your best shot.” Especially in the “survive and advance” setting of post season tournament play.

NIT Season Tip-Off Notes From Boston College

by - Published November 21, 2008 in Columns

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. – We’ll have more a little later on Boston College, who advanced to New York with an 82-70 win over St. John’s in the nightcap on Tuesday in the NIT Season Tip-Off. They will take on Purdue in one semifinal, while UAB and Oklahoma won later in the evening and will meet in the other. But first, some notes on the other three teams that played at The Heights the past couple of nights.

Head Coach, or Head Manager?

With both his athletic director and MAAC commissioner Richard Ensor looking on, it seemed like Loyola (Md.) head coach Jimmy Patsos basically took himself out of the game against Cornell after he got hit with a technical foul near the halfway point of the first half. At halftime, he was never in his team’s huddle before they headed to the court, and he sat next at the end of the bench for most of the second half, rarely getting into the huddle in the timeouts. He sat closer to the managers than to his staff, and at one point he went into the stands during the game to talk to his athletic director.

After the game, Patsos, who has built the program from being a 1-27 laughingstock into a winner in the MAAC, said it wasn’t quite what it appeared.

“I was told that if I said one more word, that I was going to get thrown out of the arena,” said the fifth-year head coach, who added that he was not given a warning before the technical foul. “I do what I’m told. I said, okay, I won’t say one more word. I can’t afford to be thrown out and embarrass the school.

“I just thought, maybe I deserved a warning.”

The trip was a homecoming for Patsos, who grew up south of Boston in Scituate. He took his team to see Newbury Street, the Boston Public Library and the first subway system while they were in the area, which considering the crammed game schedule they have had to face is an accomplishment. The Greyhounds played two games in three days before this trip, which means by Tuesday they had played three games in as many days and four in five days due to circumstances that weren’t entirely in their control.

After winning 19 games last season, a school record in Division I, the Greyhounds have a tall task ahead in trying for a fourth consecutive winning season. They have three seniors but play a lot of freshmen and sophomores, and they looked the part of a young team in their two games at Conte Forum. They’re not lacking athleticism, but it’s clear their identity is far from being determined right now.

“We’re 1-3, but we’re young, we’re playing hard,” said Patsos. “I don’t have a go-to guy. It’s okay, I knew we were going to be young. We have some players coming in, we’re going to get older.”

The Geryhounds will travel to Charlotte next week for two more consolation games against James Madison and Davidson (which hosts).

It’s Not About Winning Now

Cornell has to go without two of their perimeter starters due to injury, so they certainly take a hit from a talent and experience standpoint. Reigning Ivy League Player of the Year Louis Dale is currently out with a mild hamstring injury, while senior Adam Gore is out at least for the non-conference schedule after tearing his ACL late in the summer.

Head coach Steve Donohue said Dale could have played, but they’re holding him out so he can get fully healthy. While they would like to win some games in non-league play, that isn’t what matters to the defending Ivy League champs. Donohue thinks Dale may be two weeks away from being in a place where it would be optimal to play.

“I think if this was an Ivy League weekend, he would have never sat out,” said Donohue. “With that being said, he may be two weeks away from risking it. There’s no reason to risk it right now, and we have so many games right now, we need 3-4 straight days in practice where he can go 20 minutes, the next day 30 minutes, the next day 40 minutes, and so on.”

The injuries leave junior sharpshooter Ryan Wittman as the only starter on the perimeter currently playing, and he almost carried the Big Red on Monday night before quietly leading them to their 82-72 win over Loyola (Md.) on Tuesday. Wittman scored 25 points, including 16 in the first half as he kept the Big Red in the game and got them the lead at times. He wasn’t quite as sharp in Tuesday, but still had 24 points.

“He does have to do a little more, and he’s taken harder shots this year,” Donohue said of Wittman. “He’s such a high percentage shooter, it’s almost to the point where I want him to take harder shots. He has to for us to be really good. He needs 15-20 looks a game, he needs to get to the foul line.”

The injuries give players like Jason Battle, Geoff Reeves and freshman Chris Wroblewski a chance to play more and have a bigger role right now, and there were some bright spots among them. Reeves has started all three games thus far and is averaging 35 minutes per game, and while he had six turnovers in the two games, he scored 20 points and looks to be developing into a better player. Wroblewski played well in the two games, handing out 10 assists with just four turnovers in 53 minutes.

That will help since the Big Red has a brutal stretch coming up. After next week’s two consolation games, they have road games at Indiana, Syracuse and Minnesota, a home date with Atlantic 10 contender La Salle, then head to Saint Joseph’s.

Big man Jeff Foote has put on some good weight since last season and had two night games in the stat sheet. He went for a combined 39 points and 15 rebounds, and he could have had more points if not for a few times he didn’t finish strong and missed shots he probably could have made. While the Big Red appear to have some good depth on the perimeter, that may not be the case up front as Brian Kreefer was the only reserve post player to see any action.

Cornell will play two more consolation games at St. John’s next week against Loyola (Ill.) and Eastern Michigan.

St. John’s Has Some Positives

As young as Loyola (Md.) is, St. John’s isn’t exactly a team full of seniors, either. The Red Storm start four sophomores alongside senior Anthony Mason, Jr., and eight sophomores and two freshmen are among the players who play appreciable or significant minutes.

Mason had a big game (24 points) in Monday’s win, especially in the early going, but other than a few plays on Tuesday night he was relatively ineffective with 12 points on 3-13 shooting (he did have six assists). Head coach Norm Roberts said he missed about a week of practice leading up to their season opener with a problem in his foot, and thought it might have bothered him Tuesday night with the team’s second game in less than 24 hours.

“I think his foot is bothering him, and I thought you could tell that by the way he was running, but he wanted to stay out there and tough it out,” said Roberts. “He’s going to be fine, but I think that limited him a little bit.”

The transition game led the Red Storm to Monday’s win, and they got it going for a time against Boston College on Tuesday night. With the athletes they have, it looks like that will be a real key for them this season, but another factor leading to it will also be one: rebounding. The Red Storm got a solid double-double from Justin Burrell (11 points, 11 rebounds) in Monday’s win, but he had just two boards in Tuesday’s loss and the frontcourt starters had just 12 total as the Eagles had a 42-28 edge on the glass.

“When you rebound it, you can get out and you can go, and we didn’t rebound it very well,” said Roberts. “And not only our big guys, our guards didn’t rebound it.”

Two more sophomores, D.J. Kennedy and Malik Boothe, were barometers of the team’s success. Both had an excellent game on Monday but struggled on Tuesday, with Boothe saddled with foul trouble that hurt him defending Tyrese Rice later in the game.

Overall, Roberts likes what he sees from his young guys. There’s clearly some potential in this group, with the toughness of Boothe and Burrell, the versatility of Kennedy and inside bodies like Sean Evans and Dele Coker.

“I think they’re progressing well. I think they’re all getting better,” said Roberts. “They’re really, really good kids and they want to do everything we ask them to do, and they want to get better. That’s a big, big key. As long as we keep doing this and gaining some confidence, we can get better and better as a team.”

St. John’s will host one of the consolation round pods next week and will take on Eastern Michigan and Loyola (Ill.).

Avery Bradley Skills Academy

August 11-13, 2014 at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center.

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Conference Coverage

2013-14 Big Ten Post-Mortem

July 8, 2014 by

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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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