Thursday night was another light, finals week-inspired schedule of games. Among the headlines of the night: reserves making their mark.
The independents are dead. Long live the independents.
Whereas once independents were far more than an exception in college basketball, the ranks have dwindled in recent years to near extinction, as well documented for some time.
The lone independent the last couple years has been New Jersey Institute of Technology, New Jersey Tech, NJIT. By any name, it has one of those perfectly obscure independent names, carrying on the tradition of indies of the past like Brooklyn College, Utica and U.S. International. As the lone independent left, though, it’s sometimes hard for the Highlanders to get so much as a mention in preseason annuals, much less a real chance at postseason glory.
As part of this weekend’s big kick off to the Christmas shopping season, yesterday was dubbed Small Business Saturday across the country. The basketball schedule for the day might have qualified under that designation, as few of the biggest names were in action, in part because the big holiday tourneys ended a few days ago. What the day may have lacked in big names, though, it did not lack for stories:
By its extremely lofty standards, this year’s Maui Invitational is rather light fare, though still one of the kings of the in-season tournaments.
Maui is always a highlight of November and Thanksgiving week, dating back to its emergence in the late 1980s, and the tourney opened yesterday with quarterfinals. The best game of the four was the last one, as old WAC and Mountain West rivals San Diego State and BYU went at it good deep into the night for us on the mainland.
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NEWARK, N.J. – Seton Hall tipped off the 2014-15 campaign with a solid 63-47 victory over Mercer on Sunday afternoon at the Prudential Center. It’s their fourth straight win in the season opener, with the last loss coming at Temple to start the 2010-11 season.
We start with a look at the possessions numbers, then Four Factors:
A new era in the Big East began in 2013-14, and it was not hard to tell this was not your father’s Big East. The name was there, some familiar teams were as well, and the conference tournament was once again at Madison Square Garden. For that matter, the campaigning by coaches on behalf of the conference was the same.
But no matter how much it might look like the Big East we all knew, this was different.
For starters, three new teams joined the seven that split from the old Big East. Butler, Creighton and Xavier all left other conferences, and Creighton was a contender right away with a veteran team led by Doug McDermott. Xavier had its ups and downs but managed to reach the NCAA Tournament, while Butler had a depleted roster for new head coach Brandon Miller, in part from an injury to key guard Roosevelt Jones that cost him the season, and struggled.
NEW YORK – Providence is headed to the Big East title game for the first time since 1994. Back then, the Friars captured the championship under the tutelage of Rick Barnes. The Friars held off Seton Hall in the semifinal opener at Madison Square Garden on Friday evening.
A look at the numbers for some insights:
NEW YORK – On many occasions this season, Seton Hall has seen its fate decided in the last few possessions. Wednesday night, it was on the final one.
The pirates edged Butler 51-50 in the first round of the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden. With just over three seconds remaining, Butler inbounded under its own basket. A long pass allowed for a shot just inside half court. The shot was off, and the Hall survived to face Villanova at noon in the quarterfinals.
NEWARK, N.J. – The Georgetown Hoyas boarded a team bus home immediately following the 82-67 loss to Seton Hall. It was probably for good reason as the game Thursday at the Prudential Center marked two straight New York area losses for Georgetown. They were thoroughly handled by St. John’s a few nights earlier at Madison Square Garden.
The numbers of note on the evening:
NEWARK, N.J. – It is one thing to get good looks and not have them fall. It is another to have your team not playing to its ability. The latter point is a concern of Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard. Butler edged the Hall 64-57 at the Prudential Center on Wednesday. It was the second (2-7) Big East win for the visiting Bulldogs. Seton Hall fell to 3-4.
“This group has ability but they are just not using it,” Willard said following the defeat. “It is something that has me perplexed.” Willard pointed out two late transition opportunities and a few open jumpers in the stretch saw the Hall come up empty.” Those are shots we hit but give Butler credit for their defense.”
A busy Saturday is in the books, and we saw the matchups get better, the results continue to be noteworthy and tell us more, and a couple of the games needed a lot of extra time to decide.
Stony Brook was able to hang with Providence until the roof caved in several minutes into the second half. It’s part of a growing process this team in transition needs, and it continues despite dropping a few games along the way.
Maine has a long road ahead as they rebuild under new head coach Bob Walsh. Amidst the early struggles, the Black Bears have shown some reason for hope going forward.
We look at some notes and evaluations from Sunday’s action at the Scholar Roundball Classic, where the blowouts included some noteworthy performances.
We look back at Sunday’s action in the Hoop Mountain Prep Classic, which included an overtime thriller and a couple of lopsided contests, and some prospects who helped themselves out with their play.
The busy weekend that just passed also included a few games at the National Prep Showcase. Here are a few notes from some of the action early on Friday and Saturday.
With a series of prep school open gym visits in the book and the season not far away, here’s a look back at open gyms and a look forward to the season in the New England prep school ranks.
Marianapolis Prep is far from loaded with talent, but they have enough perimeter talent to be dangerous. As is usually the case, they will battle and be a tough out in Class AA.