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How the conferences shape up as we hit 2015

by - Published January 1, 2015 in Columns, Conference Notes
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Non-conference play is basically done at this point. A handful of games remain for many teams, and we’ll see a non-conference game or two sprinkled in between conference games over the next couple of months, but conference play beckons. Several have already started, with the West Coast Conference getting jump on the rest of the country this past Saturday and Monday. For two months, we’ve had a look at teams to get an idea of who they are. They have shown us something thus far.

So with that in mind, let’s take a look at how the conference races shape up based on what we’ve seen in non-conference play.

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Young UNLV team grows in Brooklyn

by - Published November 23, 2014 in Columns, Your Phil of Hoops
unlv

BROOKLYN, N.Y. – Sometimes a young team grows up in an early tournament. There is reason to believe that happened with UNLV in Brooklyn this time around. A night after the Runnin’ Rebels were humbled by Stanford, they used a strong second half to beat Temple 57-50 in the consolation game of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic.

“It was a character win for us,” UNLV head coach Dave Rice said. “I think, certainly, with a new group the stage was pretty big last night and we got off to a tough start and we, quite frankly, panicked and tried to hit home runs.”

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The Morning Dish – Monday, November 10, 2014

by - Published November 10, 2014 in The Morning Dish
hoopguy-cyan

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.

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2013-14 Mountain West Post-Mortem

by - Published May 19, 2014 in Columns, Conference Notes
mountainwest

With conference realignment being a headline the last few years, few conferences have escaped unharmed outside of the BCS conferences. The Mountain West is one of them, although they almost lost out big. The end result, as pertains to 2013-14, was another excellent season, led by the program that has become the standard bearer of late.

San Diego State had another big year, winning 31 games, including a 16-2 mark in Mountain West play to pace the conference. The 16 conference wins set a new record. They also reached the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament before being eliminated by Arizona.

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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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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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BracketBusters takes center stage once again

by - Published February 19, 2012 in Columns
hoopguy-orange

Every year, there is a lot of talk about how to make BracketBusters better, or if it should just go away entirely. While teams have undoubtedly benefited from it over the years of its existence, the feelings on it seem a bit mixed, and it’s debatable whether or not it has been good as a whole. Right now, it’s what we have, and on Saturday it was center stage.

Proponents have talked about teams getting an extra national television appearance for people to see them. They have also cited the chance to get an RPI boost. Certainly, some of the teams that have benefited can look back and argue that they would not have made the NCAA Tournament if not for a win in the BracketBusters, including Final Four teams from George Mason and VCU. … Continue Reading

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

BCS hurts college sports, especially basketball

by - Published January 7, 2012 in Columns
author_kasiecki

Last month, Boise State head football coach Chris Petersen talked to local reporters about the BCS. Mainly, he simply unleashed a lot of feelings that many of us have, and rightly so for a lot of reasons. Many of us understand that the BCS is hurting college sports, especially college basketball.

From the outset, the BCS was a joke as far as its place in college football is concerned. There is no national championship in the Football Bowl Subdivision; the winner of the BCS Championship Game is like the winner of the NIT Season Tip-Off or the Maui Invitational in basketball, not a national champion. (The Division I national champion will be either Sam Houston State or North Dakota State, who will play on Saturday.) The system is your basic old boy network applied to college football, as it’s designed to benefit the six conferences that were in on the whole deal all along. The Big East has been a laughingstock in football for a while now, yet it still gets its champion into a BCS bowl while more deserving teams – which often have included Petersen’s Broncos – are pushed back into less prestigious bowl games (and ones without nearly the same payout).

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UNLV drafted a blueprint for taking down the Tar Heels

by - Published November 27, 2011 in Columns
unlv

Don’t be surprised that North Carolina lost to UNLV.

The Tar Heels had looked phenomenal in five blowout victories against mostly overmatched teams. But those wins masked an Achilles heel. And the Runnin’ Rebels fired a perfect shot to strike North Carolina in that vulnerable spot, sending the No. 1 team tumbling back to earth.

In short, North Carolina doesn’t do a great job of guarding the perimeter, doesn’t dominate the boards, and doesn’t have well-developed depth behind the front line.

All three of those weaknesses are related to UNC’s vaunted frontcourt, especially Tyler Zeller and John Henson. Those two make a perfect tandem, as Zeller’s offensive game is far more developed than Henson’s, while Henson is a defensive beast with his shot-blocking ability. On defense, they tend to rely on their height and length to stop driving opponents. Not surprisingly, North Carolina ranks among the Division I leaders in blocks, swatting more than 6 percent of opponents’ shots, according to Ken Pomeroy’s statistics.

But that affinity for blocks makes the team susceptible to penetrating guards who only intend to kick the ball out to good perimeter shooters. It makes perfect sense. A guard at the top of the key could sprint off a high screen into the lane, with his man in tow. Henson or Zeller would slide off his defender to get in position to reject a shot attempt into the third row. Someone else would rotate to cut off a pass to anyone else near the post. As the guard enters the lane, he should have at least one perimeter player open.

One pass to the outside might be enough to get an open look. If a Tar Heel defender could get out to the perimeter in time, the odds are that another rotating perimeter player would be wide open, and an extra pass should get a clean look. And that’s pretty much how UNLV attacked North Carolina.

In addition, the Runnin’ Rebels fought for rebounds. When the Tar Heels help out on defense, they occasionally move out of position for rebounds. Coach Roy Williams will probably preach on proper technique in practice during the next couple of days, which is necessary for a team with only middling stats for rebounds despite holding a height advantage over most opponents. Somewhat interestingly, North Carolina actually did better against UNLV at the defensive end despite allowing 13 offensive rebounds. The Tar Heels collected 68 percent of all missed shots at that end, which is slightly better than the 65 percent that they usually get. On offense, though, the Tar Heels grabbed only 24 percent of their missed shots, down from their season average of 32 percent.

Part of the reason that the rebounding was down is that Zeller and Henson’s minutes were down because of foul trouble. Zeller was on the court for 24 minutes in the loss. Henson also had to deal with foul trouble. Although freshman James Michael McAdoo is off to a strong start, there’s not much quality depth behind the starters right now.

UNLV outlined a strategy for taking down North Carolina that is clear and repeatable – for the teams that are actually equipped to execute that game plan. Five Runnin’ Rebels attempted at least 3-pointers, with Chase Stanback and Oscar Bellfield hitting four apiece. It will be tough to beat the Tar Heels without that kind of firepower.

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Saturday Notes – January 24, 2015

January 25, 2015 by

author_kasiecki

This Saturday didn’t have quite the marquee matchups as a week earlier, but there were some important ones, especially with teams in the middle of a few conferences trying to separate themselves from the pack.

Saturday notes – January 17, 2015

January 18, 2015 by

author_kasiecki

High school games may have grabbed a lot of attention, but there were plenty of college games as well. Most results weren’t surprising, but were well worth looking at some notes on, and we do that here.

Rhode Island keeping perspective after tough loss

January 15, 2015 by

rhodeisland

Rhode Island controlled Tuesday night’s game against VCU, but couldn’t finish it and took a tough loss. Their improvement is evident, though, and they are keeping perspective on that in trying to keep improving.

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2015 Boston Winter Invitational: What to expect

January 23, 2015 by

hoopguy-divisionII

The Boston Winter Invitational is coming up on Sunday at UMass-Boston. Here is a look at some of what to expect in the four prep school games that are on the schedule.

2015 Spalding Hoophall Classic – Monday notes

January 21, 2015 by

hoophall

Monday was the big day despite having just five games, as all were big matchups and most were nationally televised. There was plenty of talent in these games, and some big names played well.

2015 Spalding Hoophall Classic – Sunday notes

January 19, 2015 by

hoophall

It was a bad weather day outside, but fortunately we play the games indoors. Prep schools took center stage on a busy Sunday with some good talent and good games all the way to the end.

2015 Spalding Hoophall Classic – Saturday notes

January 18, 2015 by

hoophall

The Spalding Hoophall Classic picked up on Saturday, with a few good games, a couple of blowouts, then the best game of the day at the end. There was also plenty of good talent in each game.

2015 Hoop Dreams Mag Prep Classic – Sunday notes

January 14, 2015 by

author_kasiecki

Sunday was the day for a trip a little down the road from Saturday’s destination to check out some prep school action. We take a look at some notes from the day’s games in the Hoop Dreams Mag Prep Classic.

2014 Prep School Tour

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

Sept. 9: Putnam Science Academy
Sept 10: Commonwealth Academy
Sept. 11: St. Andrew's
Sept. 12: Northfield Mount Hermon
Sept. 16: Brewster Academy and Phillips Exeter
Sept. 17: Brooks School
Sept. 21: Holderness School
Sept. 23: St. Thomas More and Marianapolis Prep
Sept. 24: South Kent School and Kent School
Sept. 25: Williston Northampton
Sept. 28: Wilbraham and Monson Academy and Suffield Academy
Sept. 30: New Hampton
Oct. 5: Worcester Academy
Oct. 7: Brimmer and May
Oct. 8: Cushing Academy
Oct. 9: Tilton
Oct. 12: Tabor Academy and Rivers School
Oct. 14: The Master's School
Oct. 16: Vermont Academy

You can also find them all right here.