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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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The Morning Dish – Saturday, December 20, 2014

by - Published December 20, 2014 in The Morning Dish
hoopguy-orange

Every year, there’s one or two game results that are beyond head-scratchers. They may be proof of a team being capable of an off night, or perhaps a harbinger of things to come. They can also be an example of what the winning team is capable of, even though that doesn’t tend to get as much attention.

In Miami’s case, their hope is that it’s not the first of those three.

An Eastern Kentucky team that has shown some promise during non-conference play broke through in a big way on Friday night, never trailing en route to a 72-44 thumping of Miami. The bottom line result is one thing; a 28-point margin? That raises questions.

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2013-14 OVC Post-Mortem

by - Published May 21, 2014 in Columns, Conference Notes
ohiovalley

Even though the conference is split by divisions, the Ohio Valley Conference was a distinct three-team race last year. And though just one of those three made the NCAA Tournament, it can be said that all three ended their seasons on a high note.

Eastern Kentucky won the OVC Tournament and the league’s automatic NCAA bid, as the Colonels’ veteran team knocked off the top two seeds. The season was a success for EKU, a perimeter-oriented team that was expected to be around the top of the OVC, maximized its talent and gave Kansas a serious run in the NCAAs.

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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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Quick hitters from the past weekend of tournaments

by - Published November 27, 2013 in Columns
author_kasiecki

The past weekend was quite a stretch with some early-season tournaments, and now we’re into another week full of them. It’s a fun time of the year as we form some early impressions of many teams and some pick up wins that can have shelf life later in the season.

Here are some quick hitters coming out of the weekend:

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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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Experienced Murray State shows they can overcome adversity

by - Published November 17, 2012 in Columns
murraystate

CHARLESTON, S.C. – You can choose to look at Murray State’s 72-67 semifinal win over St. John’s as an instance of youth being served, experience winning out, or some other cliché. While those things apply to a degree, the big story should probably be something Murray State head coach Steve Prohm talked about after the game: resilience.

Murray State has been nothing if not resilient thus far this season. Before the games even started, they had to suspend projected starting guard Zay Jackson for the season after he was arrested and charged with striking two people with his car in a store parking lot following an altercation. That was sure to leave even more on the shoulders of Isaiah Canaan, the All-American guard who bypassed the NBA Draft for another season of college. But it also meant that other players needed to improve to take advantage of the attention opponents will give to Canaan, and thus far that seems to be happening.

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Monson’s 49ers reap the rewards of a tough schedule

by - Published January 24, 2012 in Full Court Sprints
hoopguy-orange

If any team could claim to be battle-tested heading into conference play, it had to be Long Beach State.

The 49ers loaded up their nonconference slate with the likes of Kansas, North Carolina, San Diego State, Louisville and Xavier. The team struggled through many of those games, ending up with a 7-6 record heading into Big West play.

But don’t be fooled. The 49ers were more than competitive against the big boys, with single-digit losses on the road at San Diego State, Kansas and North Carolina. Plus, the 49ers beat Pittsburgh, Xavier and Auburn. None of those are particularly outstanding — the Xavier win came during the Musketeers’ tailspin following the brawl against Cincinnati. But in short, Dan Monson’s team learned how to win and how to believe in itself.

This team has taken that lesson and applied it well through the first seven games of Big West play. Long Beach State sits atop the conference standings with a 7-0 record, and only Cal Poly stayed within 10 points of the 49ers.

If Long Beach State can continue to plow through the Big West and claim an automatic to the NCAA Tournament, the 49ers should be a popular first-round upset pick. Their lack of hefty wins will prevent the team from earning a seed much higher than a No. 12 or 13 spot. But that just makes this team a sound pick to upset any No. 4 or 5 seed from a major conference on a neutral court.

The benefits of such a tough schedule might not show up in the win-loss columns immediately. But if Long Beach State goes 1-1 or 2-0 during the first weekend of March, that tournament success will be partially due to the team’s preparation early in the season.

We take you coast to coast with news from around the college basketball nation.

Murray State will get back leading rebounder Ivan Aska, who grabs 6.0 rpg and scores 12.6 ppg, for the team’s game against Eastern Illinois Saturday, according to the Associated Press.

Michigan could have big Jon Horford back for the Wolverines’ game against Purdue Tuesday, coach John Beilein told Wolverine Nation’s Chantel Jennings for ESPN.com. Horford has been out with a stress fracture since early December.

Arguably the most intense and spite-filled rivalry in the ACC, Maryland and Duke will clash for the first time this season Wednesday night in College Park. And the Terrapins will likely have freshman 7-footer Alex Len, even though he twisted his ankle during the Terps’ loss at Temple last weekend, according to the Washington Post’s Liz Clarke.

Of course, that’s no disrespect to the North Carolina vs. Duke rivalry. And this year, coach Roy Williams won’t have his best defender, Dexter Strickland, who tore his ACL in the team’s win against Virginia Tech Thursday, according ESPN.com’s Robbi Pickeral.

Arkansas coach Mike Anderson is considering adding a hometown hero to the Razorbacks squad, according to the Associated Press. Former Oklahoma State guard Fred Gulley has enrolled at Arkansas and plans to play for Anderson as a walk-on or scholarship player. He was a star high school basketball player in Arkansas before leaving the state to play for the Cowboys.

Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan railed against the rule that allows graduated players to transfer and play immediately during a news conference Monday, writes Benjamin Worgull for Badger Nation.com.

Undefeated teams remain focused on the task at hand

by - Published January 20, 2012 in Full Court Sprints
hoopguy-orange

As we approach the end of January, we still have two undefeated teams out there: Syracuse and Murray State.

The Orange and Racers will take their undefeated records on the road this weekend as Syracuse visits Notre Dame and Murray State faces SIU-Edwardsville. In both games, the undefeated squads should win. But that word “should” is a funny thing.

In conference play, you just never know when a rival will step up and pull off a major upset. Look at Florida State, which got amped for the team’s home game against North Carolina last weekend. Given the Seminoles’ defensive prowess, it wouldn’t have been a shock if they kept the game close or even eked out a slim victory. But a 30-point trouncing of a top five team? That’s ridiculous.

So as Syracuse and Murray State continue to plow through their schedules, plenty of onlookers will speculate about whether these teams can finish the regular season with a perfect record. Murray State will get a bunch of speculation because the Racers are head and shoulders above the rest of their Ohio Valley Conference competition. In the Big East, the general consensus is at least one team will knock off the Orange. But in a rebuilding year for many teams in the conference, it’s not unreasonable to think that Syracuse will be a favorite in every game the team plays.

But there we go again with the speculation. I can almost guarantee you that coaches Jim Boeheim and Steve Prohm aren’t looking further than Saturday’s game. And nor should they lest the Fighting Irish or Cougars come up with a big game to protect their home court like the Seminoles did against North Carolina last weekend.

Here are some of the big games on tap for this weekend.

Saturday:

  • Missouri at Baylor
  • Purdue at Michigan State
  • Florida State at Duke
  • Syracuse at Notre Dame
  • Cincinnati at West Virginia
  • Alabama at Kentucky
  • Mississippi State at Vanderbilt
  • Xavier at Dayton
  • Marshall at Southern Miss
  • Kansas at Texas
  • New Mexico at UNLV
  • Murray State at SIU-Edwardsville
  • Rutgers at Georgetown
  • Maryland at Temple
  • Kansas State at Oklahoma State
  • Stanford at Washington
  • Arizona at Colorado
  • Old Dominion at VCU
  • Long Beach State at UC Santa Barbara

Sunday:

  • Virginia Tech at Virginia
  • NC State at Miami
  • Wisconsin at Illinois
  • Milwaukee at Cleveland State
  • Boston U. at Hartford

Jacksonville State Gets a Building Block Win

by - Published November 25, 2008 in Columns

AMHERST, Mass. – You can’t read too much into one game, especially early in the season. But the final score on Monday night can’t be the only good thing Jacksonville State takes home.

The Gamecocks came to town on an evening that was big for the UMass faithful, although the crowd wasn’t very large. The paid attendance was over 4,800 (the Mullins Center seats nearly 9,500), but they were there for the home debut of new head coach Derek Kellogg, a hometown hero who was among the keys to UMass becoming a national power in the 1990s. The young Gamecocks at first glance would seem like an opponent the Minutemen could certainly beat to give Kellogg a win in his home debut.

But that’s not what happened. Despite trailing by five points with 29 seconds left, Jacksonville State walked out with a 75-74 win that had plenty of positives.

Jacksonville State was picked last in the Ohio Valley Conference preseason poll of the head coaches and sports information directors. At first glance, that seems like an understandable selection. The Gamecocks have just four upperclassmen among their top 11 players and a new head coach after a 7-22 showing last season. Four true freshmen are on the roster, and a fifth freshman, Geddes Robinson, was a non-qualifier last season.

Those freshmen are among the reasons for Gamecock fans to be hopeful. Only Stephen Hall, who has already been a steady contributor off the bench, was signed before James Green took over as head coach. Green then had to work with just one live weekend in April to evaluate players, but went out and recruited Brandon Crawford, who has been an instant impact player, then added John Barnes and junior college forward Jacques Leeds.

Crawford already has the look of a star player. He’s athletic and has a good body for his position, and in his first four games he has averaged 16 points and is 9-15 from behind the three-point line. On Monday, he came into the game with his team trailing 13-12 and wasted little time making his presence felt. He scored six straight points to cap a run of eight unanswered to give the Gamecocks the lead at 20-13.

“During practice, we felt he had a chance to be a really good player for us, but he’s actually scored the ball a lot better in the games than what he did in practice,” said Green. “He’s very athletic, he’s long, and he gives us a guy that really sometimes is a mismatch for other teams in the fact that he’s athletic enough to go down inside and do some things there, too.”

Green can see the effect Crawford has had on his teammates with his play. While he surely wasn’t the sole or even main reason for the poise they showed late in the game, he had a role in the end as well, as he converted a four-point play with 23 seconds left that pulled the Gamecocks within one, setting up the dramatics in the final seconds.

“I think when you see young guys play like that, it gives everybody confidence,” said Green.

While this was one game in a long season, you have to think this gives them a confidence boost. This is a road win for a young team early on that can only help them. It also came after events that might normally deflate a young team and perhaps even serve as knockout blows. After the Gamecocks blew a seven-point lead by allowing UMass to run off 13 unanswered points, the psychological impact of giving up the lead might be damaging enough all by itself, especially that late in the game.

Green talked about this game being something for his team to learn from, and he felt they gained something from their season opener at South Carolina. Those are signs that this team is buying into what the coaches are teaching, and that their talent won’t be all that they have going for them.

“As a coach, and being a part of about seven different programs, I can’t really remember having as many young players that have been as poised as we have in the two road games that we’ve had,” said Green, who had been the head coach at Mississippi Valley State before taking this job.

Some of the credit there has to go to the veterans, notably seniors Jonathan Toles (who scored the winning basket) and DeAndre Bray, one of the shortest players in college basketball at 5’6″. Toles led the team with 18 points and added five assists with just one turnover. In fact, the Gamecocks had 19 assists with just nine turnovers on the night.

It’s still early in the season, and Jacksonville State is sure to have some growing pains along the way. They could just as easily finish the season winning just three more games to go with the three wins they already have. But a win like the one they had on Monday night can go a long way towards helping a team grow better, especially if, as Green talked about, it is a game his team learns from.

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Your Phil of Hoops

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kentucky

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Hoopville Archives

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 listening to COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT, a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran college basketball broadcaster Ted Sarandis, joined by former St. John's and George Washington head coach Mike Jarvis, former Fairfield head coach Terry O'Connor and many great guests, including Hoopville's own Phil Kasiecki.

Here are links to the shows:

March 15, 2015 - First hour | Second hour

March 22, 2015 - First hour | Second hour

March 29, 2015 - First hour | Second hour

April 5, 2015 - First hour | Second hour | Third hour

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adidas Gauntlet Indianapolis – Sunday notes

April 29, 2015 by

adidasuprising

Sunday was the conclusion of the adidas Gauntlet Indianapolis, and we take a look at some of the players who shined on a day that saw a few games that weren’t very competitive.

adidas Gauntlet Indianapolis – Saturday notes

April 28, 2015 by

adidasuprising

Saturday was a full day of action in the adidas Gauntlet near Indianapolis, and here’s a look at some of the talent that stood out on the day as college coaches checked out the action.

adidas Gauntlet Indianapolis – Friday notes

April 25, 2015 by

hoopguy-yellow

Friday night got the adidas Gauntlet in Indianapolis going, and we take a look at a few players who stood out before a full day of action comes to us on Saturday.

Notes from the 2015 Northeast Hoops Festival

April 20, 2015 by

author_kasiecki

Sunday was time for a trip to Hanover for late action in the Northeast Hoops Festival, and we have a look at some prospects who stood out on the day.

2015 EYBL Hampton – Saturday & Sunday notes

April 14, 2015 by

nikeeybl

Saturday was a full day of action at EYBL Hampton, and Sunday capped it off with a brief slate. We look at some of the talent that was on hand each day to close out the first live weekend.