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The Morning Dish – Friday, November 21, 2014

by - Published November 21, 2014 in The Morning Dish
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Holiday tournament basketball tipped off on Thursday, one of the many things we can give thanks for over the upcoming holiday. Though perhaps not too much thanks.

The proliferation of large, eight-team in-season tourneys has been a boon for teams looking to get in an extra three games each season, but it also has played a part in watering down the importance of such tournaments as a whole.

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The Morning Dish – Tuesday, November 18, 2014

by - Published November 18, 2014 in The Morning Dish
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For all the things ESPN has messed up in recent years (and there are a lot of them), its 24-hour college hoops marathon shows where the network continues to shine.

The hoops marathon is pure, old-school ESPN at its best. Games around the clock at funky hours, similar to how the Ohio Valley Conference used to buy time on the network to play games at midnight Eastern time when one Jim Delany was its commissioner. Intriguing matchups featuring good teams regardless of conference affiliation, as opposed to force-feeding us more games involving football conference bottom feeders or powerhouses hosting guarantee games that shouldn’t see the light of day on national TV (see: Elon at Duke, Dec. 15; apologies Phoenix fans).

It’s an event that truly builds up buzz on the campuses where it takes place. When schools like Monmouth, Rider and Florida Gulf Coast get a chance to be the featured game on ESPN, it’s a big deal. Even if it is at 6 a.m. in the morning.

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2013-14 WCC Post-Mortem

by - Published June 17, 2014 in Columns, Conference Notes
westcoast

The West Coast Conference had a nice year in 2013-14, to be sure. For a time, though, it looked like it would be even more than that.

The WCC once again put two teams in the NCAA Tournament, just like it has in four of the past five years. Gonzaga again advanced at least one round, just like it has in each of the past six years. The league went 71-41 out of conference against Division I foes and finished a very respectable ninth in the RPI, proving its No. 10 ranking from the year before was no fluke.

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Harvard’s path to the elusive NCAA Tournament bid just got tougher

by - Published February 26, 2012 in Columns, Full Court Sprints
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Harvard is the nation’s oldest and most prestigious institution of higher learning. Many of the brightest young people grow up dreaming of attending the school, unless you’re like me and dreamed of going to MIT (or Cal Tech) because of engineering. The university has produced a number of high achievers in just about every field imaginable.

On the hardwood, it’s been a different story. Harvard has had seasons of 20 or more wins, and they’ve been to the CollegeInsider.com Tournament and NIT the past two seasons. But they have yet to get to the holy grail of college basketball, the NCAA Tournament. That has eluded them, including last year when they went to a one-game playoff against Princeton and lost on a buzzer-beating jumper in New Haven. And after Saturday night, they might be on a path to such a game once more, as Penn came to Lavietes Pavilion and stunned Harvard 55-54 on Senior Night.

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BracketBusters takes center stage once again

by - Published February 19, 2012 in Columns
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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

Quick Hitters – January 27, 2012

by - Published January 27, 2012 in Columns, Your Phil of Hoops
author_kasiecki

Quick hitters as we get ready for the weekend:

 

  • Boston University was not rebounding well in the early portion of their seven-game winning streak. But in the last two games, the Terriers have dominated the glass, and keeping that up will only help. Granted, it came against two of the worst teams in the conference, but one of them (UMBC) is normally a decent team on the glass. Part of that has come from an emphasis on rebounding of late, but not just at the defensive end. … Continue Reading

Bracket Breakdown: Pac-10, Mid-Majors Show the Big East the Door

by - Published March 24, 2010 in Columns

It all started with some kid from a Kentucky school not named Kentucky stunning the college basketball world with an odds-defying, game-winning jumper at the buzzer. Thanks to forward Danero Thomas, 13th-seeded Murray State shocked No. 4-seed Vanderbilt, 66-65, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last Thursday.

Racers’ fans went into a frenzy. Many people who had never even heard of the school before celebrated the feel-good upset just because of its own strange nature. Even more people, however, kicked at the ground and muttered curse words because the unexpected result shook up their brackets.

That was just the beginning. Perhaps inspired by the Racers’ Day 1 shocker, a No. 12 seed, Cornell, decided it would ride hot-shooting all the way into the Sweet 16, a similar case to that of No. 10 St. Mary’s, which unleashed its beast of a center, 6-11 Omar Samhan, in the South Region and knocked out second-seeded Villanova to also join the field of 16.

And after No. 9 Northern Iowa’s Ali Farokhmanesh made the most cold-blooded crunch-time 3-pointer in recent tournament memory to cement his team’s Sweet 16 ticket while taking down overall-top-seeded Kansas on Saturday, it was official that at least 90 percent of the country’s brackets had gone more busted than a piñata on Cinco de Mayo.

Putting aside the almighty custom of wagering on tournament predictions, however, March Madness has been splendid so far. Down-to-the-wire games have been numerous, as have been upsets. High seeds Kansas, Villanova, Georgetown, Vanderbilt, Wisconsin and Temple all got axed, but their executioners gave the competition parity and diversity. Entering the Sweet 16, 11 conferences will be represented.

Out of all surprise teams, Cornell has been the most pleasant one. The Big Red’s wins made it the first Ivy League team to make it this far in more than 30 years, and it did so with authority. Cornell smacked around No. 5 Temple in the first round and then did the same to No. 4 Wisconsin in the second while shooting a combined 58.6 percent in the games.

Even better than that, though, has been the performance of St. Mary’s Samhan, who has totaled 61 points through two games while making 24 of 32 field goal attempts. His supremacy has been the reason the Gaels are enjoying the best season in their history while Villanova is already home, lamenting its collapse.

Speaking of failure, that’s been the theme of the postseason for Nova’s conference. The Big East, widely regarded as the best league in college basketball, had a tournament-best eight entrants, but half were done by the end of the first round, and two more followed soon after in the second. Only No. 1-seed Syracuse in the West Region and No. 2-seed West Virginia in the East remain.

First-round meat: No. 6 Marquette, which blew a 15-point lead in the second half and lost to an out-to-prove-the-Pac-10-is-not-that-weak No. 11-seed Washington; No. 3-seed Georgetown, which was blasted by Ohio, a team that had a losing record in the MAC and got into the Dance only after winning its conference’s tournament; Notre Dame, which was zoned out of the tournament by No. 11-seed Old Dominion; and No. 9-seed Louisville, which also got embarrassed by the Pac-10, by Cal.

No. 3-seed Pittsburgh made the second round, but the Panthers couldn’t hang with No. 6-seed Xavier on Sunday and were ousted.

With so many high seeds gone so early, thanks in big part to the Big East, it’d clearly be silly to count any team out. In the East, No. 1-seed Kentucky will have the challenge to cool down the Big Red’s red-hot shooting, and West Virginia will have to remain impressive to get past an also-remarkable Washington. In the South, No. 1-seed Duke, which has made quick work of its rivals so far, will face a Purdue team missing Robbie Hummel, and No. 3-seed Baylor will deal with Samhan, St. Mary’s scary big man.

In the Midwest, Cinderella Northern Iowa will face No. 5-seed Michigan State, ecstatic after its buzzer-beating win over Maryland Sunday, and No. 2-seed Ohio State, the favorite to win the section now that Kansas is gone, will take on No. 6-seed Tennessee. In the West, No. 5-seed Butler, which got a scare from Murray State before advancing via a 54-52 win Saturday, will meet with Syracuse. The winner will play the winner of the Kansas State-Xavier game.

Predictions? We’re not too big on them these days, but the solid candidates to advance are Kentucky, Syracuse, Duke, West Virginia and Ohio State. These teams have been imposing through their first two games. They’re as dependable picks as Kansas was before Saturday.

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Your Phil of Hoops

Young UNLV team grows in Brooklyn

November 23, 2014 by

unlv

Teams often grow from early season tournaments, and that appears to be what UNLV did in Brooklyn. The young Runnin’ Rebels need the experience.

Simply put, Syracuse needs to improve offensively

November 22, 2014 by

syracuse

Jim Boeheim didn’t have many things to say about his team’s offense, but that said it all. It’s at that end of the floor that Syracuse’s fate this season will be determined.

Growing pains are here for talented Brown team

November 20, 2014 by

brown

Brown has good talent and should be a factor in the Ivy League, but with three sophomores starting on the perimeter, growing pains are in the foreseeable future

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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.

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

New England Prep Schools 2014-15: looking back and looking ahead

November 3, 2014 by

nepsac

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 will battle in Class AA

October 20, 2014 by

marianapolis

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.

New Vermont Academy coach has put together a contender

October 17, 2014 by

vermontacademy

Vermont Academy has a new coach for the second year in a row, but they shouldn’t skip a beat. They have enough talent to win a lot of games and make a deep run in NEPSAC Class AA.

The Master’s School has good students and talent

October 15, 2014 by

mastersschool

The Master’s School has a number of good students, and they will continue to head to college later. This time around, they also have some talent on the hardwood and should win a few more games.

Rivers will try to build on a breakthrough season

October 13, 2014 by

riversschool

The Rivers School had a breakthrough season last year, winning the Independent School League. They will try to build on that with a team that loses a lot but also returns a lot from last season’s team.