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The Morning Dish – Sunday, March 6, 2016

by - Published March 6, 2016 in Columns
hoopguy-orange

Two NCAA Tournament bids went out on Saturday night, one expected and one not necessarily expected at the beginning of the day. And for different reasons, you can’t blame either coach if they got a little emotional.

We start with the Ohio Valley Championship game, the one certainty when the day began. UT-Martin, who has never been to the NCAA Tournament, took on Austin Peay, the school that’s been there six times and has been among the signature programs in the conference for a long time. Head coach Dave Loos, who for a long time was also the athletic directory, turned 69 on Saturday and has been doing this for a long time. He is the winningest coach in Ohio Valley Conference history, having been at Austin Peay for 26 years; the conference’s other coaches have combined to be at their schools for 33 years. He’s seen a lot, and won a lot, but this one was clearly different for him.

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How the conferences shape up as 2016 approaches

by - Published December 29, 2015 in Columns, Conference Notes
author_kasiecki

Not only are we in the midst of the holidays, but conference play beckons if it hasn’t already started. Non-conference play is almost complete, and teams form impressions during this time of how they will be in conference play. Even so, as is always the case this is imperfect. Conference play is a different animal, as teams are more familiar with each other from having played each other every year. That’s why we see some teams even in mid-majors get nice wins in non-conference play, but then lose games in conference play that strike the untrained eye as head-scratchers.

It is with that in mind that we take a look at how all 31 conferences shape up based on non-conference play thus far.

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Mount St. Mary’s is full of positives

by - Published February 8, 2015 in Columns
mountsaintmarys

SMITHFIELD, R.I. – If Mount St. Mary’s seems like a program full of positive energy these days, there are a lot of sources for it. The simplest part of it is the reality that this is a young team, including their head coach, one of the youngest in Division I. While the team tries to grow, keeping those positive vibes will be important, especially as Northeast Conference play rolls on with its two-day turnaround on most weekends.

After Mount St. Mary’s lost a tough game at Bryant on Thursday – the latest dramatic game between these two in Smithfield – naturally the team and the staff knew it was there for the taking. But Jamion Christian, the alum who heads up the program, had lots of energy and can only beam with pride about his team right now.

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Bryant needs a second scorer alongside Starks

by - Published January 3, 2015 in Columns
bryant

SMITHFIELD, R.I. – This isn’t the Bryant of the past couple of seasons. While that may be obvious, and even expected given that everyone knew they would be losing key players after last season, the reality of it is starting to become clearer as Northeast Conference play approaches. The most glaring issue is at the point of strength in recent years: the offense.

Head coach Tim O’Shea rightly notes that a team’s overall shooting number might be deceptive, especially for a team like his. The Bulldogs, after all, play against some high-major teams that are much more physically gifted than they are, and a game or two with a low percentage can skew statistics a little deceptively for either team. Still, that the Bulldogs are shooting over 38 percent from the field on the season is a bit surprising and troubling.

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How the conferences shape up as we hit 2015

by - Published January 1, 2015 in Columns, Conference Notes
author_kasiecki

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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A look back: FDU’s win over Princeton and its significance

by - Published December 11, 2014 in Columns
fairleighdickinson

TEANECK, N.J. – You could call it a classic. That might be debatable. You would not have any argument, though, labeling the finish a classic. Fairleigh Dickinson defeated Princeton last Wednesday 89-85 in a contest that featured several momentum swings as both teams took turns enjoying eleven-point leads.

Princeton built their lead by early second half. FDU slowly chipped away. The formula was simple: attack the basket. “Good things happen when you go inside,” FDU coach Greg Herenda said. The Knights went on a scoring outburst the second half. They got to the line attempting free throws the final twenty minutes. Herenda could only study the stat sheet, commenting,“ We scored 64 second half points against Princeton. Think we entered the game scoring about 60 for the entire game.” … Continue Reading

Bryant has talent to contend and room to grow

by - Published November 21, 2014 in Columns
bryant

SMITHFIELD, R.I. – The first two years that Bryant was eligible for the Northeast Conference Tournament (and ultimately, any postseason play) were good times. The Bulldogs fielded experienced teams and finished in the top four each of the past two seasons, earning a home game in the conference tournament each time. The Bears aren’t exactly a young team now, but they’re a lot less experienced, and Thursday’s 72-63 win over New Hampshire will give them some lessons for the future.

Bryant had about as good a first half as you could ask for on Thursday night, shooting 56.3 percent from the field, giving the ball away just twice and putting 50 points on the board for a 24-point lead. It looked like they would cruise, put a bunch of players in double figures and even their record. Then the second half came, and the Wildcats gradually cut into the lead before finally going up 61-60 with 6:21 left to play. That capped off a run of 17 unanswered points.

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The Morning Dish – Tuesday, November 11, 2014

by - Published November 11, 2014 in The Morning Dish
hoopguy-orange

On this Veteran’s Day, looking ahead at a couple more conferences as the season is now just three days away:

The Northeast Conference is wide open, with a number of teams sustaining significant player losses. When in doubt, go with Robert Morris, the most consistent program over the last five years. The Colonials have built some toughness, as evidenced by NIT wins over Kentucky and St. John’s the last two years.

Murray State featured maybe the best-kept freshman secret in the country last year in Cameron Payne, a brilliant talent helped Murray State get back near the top of the Ohio Valley. The Racers return Payne and three other starters and are the league favorites, though Steve Prohm’s club will be challenged by fast-improving Morehead State and always tough Belmont.

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2013-14 Northeast Conference Post-Mortem

by - Published June 30, 2014 in Columns, Conference Notes
northeastconference

The Northeast Conference has had a good run in recent years, from one of its best seasons in 2011-12 to seeing a new member become a contender as they become eligible for the conference tournament. The conference always has some good basketball with its top teams, and this year was no exception. Part of that was once again evident in the conference tournament, as the regular season champion once again didn’t take home the title.

Robert Morris has been a mainstay for several years now. You could argue that the Colonials are the signature program in the conference, as they have won at least 12 conference games each of the past seven seasons. The past two seasons, they have won the regular season title by two games. Yet a conference championship remains elusive, as they captured two straight in 2009 and 2010 but have yet to do it again.

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For Mount St. Mary’s, the vision of the program is the difference

by - Published March 14, 2014 in Columns
mountsaintmarys

Jamion Christian has a vision of what the Mount St. Mary’s program should be and has stuck to it fervently. He has resisted to giving into any temptation to stray from it even for very talented players. With his alma mater headed back to the NCAA Tournament, he is showing that it works while also showing that he’s one of the bright young coaches in the country.

When Christian took over less than two years ago, you might say the program was down but not out. Mount St. Mary’s has a long tradition that features legendary coach Jim Phelan, but had fallen upon a couple of difficult years after Milan Brown left to become the head coach at Holy Cross. He felt he could get the program back in the NCAA Tournament, much like his coaches, Phelan and Brown, did. The Mountaineers won the Northeast Conference championship on Tuesday night, but that should only be the beginning.

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