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The Morning Dish – Thursday, January 11, 2018

by - Published January 11, 2018 in The Morning Dish

No matter how much we all love this game, there are bigger things in life. Reminders of that come and go, and Wednesday delivered us the latest such example.

Texas guard Andrew Jones has been diagnosed with leukemia. That is never good news, and whether or not he ever plays again is immaterial, although all of us are surely rooting for him to do so since it would be a sure sign that he conquered it.

… Continue Reading

The Morning Dish – Monday, December 19, 2016

by - Published December 19, 2016 in The Morning Dish

For years, Rutgers has felt even further away from their glory days in the 1970s than they were. Their Final Four appearance in 1976 has probably felt like it happened in 1796. The program has long had no shortage of struggles, seemingly one that could never win enough and was a coaching graveyard. It was the butt of jokes, said to be in the Big East in name only when it was there. Now that they are in the Big Ten, where they simply don’t fit geographically, you can be sure there is more of that.

We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, but right now there is, for once, a sign of hope. We have to be careful in saying that, though, because the program has had plenty of false hope in recent years.

… Continue Reading

The Morning Dish – Sunday, March 20, 2016

by - Published March 20, 2016 in The Morning Dish

Defense wins championships and all that and yadda yadda, but Saturday at the NCAA Tournament was a showcase of offenses unquestionably ruling the day.

The start of the second round of this year’s tourney had some competitive games but very little in the way of down-to-the-wire finishes, which is to say it was rather ho-hum, almost a mild disappointment by the lofty standards set by an incredible Friday. What the winning teams had in common, though, was that their offensive execution ranged from very good to blindingly hot, and-no matter what they did on defense, even as a lot of it was good-it is the No. 1 reason all eight teams advanced. … Continue Reading

The wait is over for Stony Brook

by - Published March 12, 2016 in Columns, Your Phil of Hoops

Stony Brook is going to the NCAA Tournament.

At long last, the program that’s had the regular season titles, then so much heartache in the America East Tournament, is a winner.

And at long last, a few things can come to a stop, too.

… Continue Reading

Groundhog Day for Stony Brook

by - Published March 14, 2015 in Columns

ALBANY, N.Y. – Steve Pikiell probably answered the same questions on Saturday he’s answered seemingly thousands of times before. Too many times, really, and not because of anything he’s done.

When will Stony Brook win the big game? What’s the feeling after another one of these close calls? Did you get concerned down the stretch?

You know those questions and variations of each were undoubtedly fired away at the Stony Brook mentor on Saturday.

… Continue Reading

In saying few words, Dave Coley said a lot

by - Published March 16, 2014 in Columns

STONY BROOK, N.Y. – Dave Coley didn’t say much, but he said it all.

“It’s hard,” the Stony Brook senior guard said before a noticeable pause. “With the environment, with the game, with the anxiety going on, the emotion, the will to win… (another pause) I gotta get out of here.”

… Continue Reading

These Seawolves Have Teeth, More Importantly, Heart

by - Published December 12, 2008 in Conference Notes

STONY BROOK, N.Y. – Stony Brook has long been dismissed as the dregs of the America East conference: a perennial bottom-feeder with no hope in sight. But after a 71-50 come from behind win against Lehigh, the Seawolves showed that this year’s squad is everything that last year’s was not, as they played as a team, and more importantly, with heart.

When I talked to Steve Pikiell one lazy August day last summer, Stony Brook’s head coach radiated with boundless energy and enthusiasm, raved about his incoming freshman class, and glowed when talking about the competition at every position and depth across the board. Pikiell talked himself into a frenzy when describing just how hard his “kids” were going at it every practice, and how they were coming together as a team.

It was impossible not to get caught up in Pikiell’s excitement.

It was also impossible not to think that all the losing on Long Island might have finally gotten to Pikiell, maybe he’d finally cracked: How could the coach of such a bad team for the past three years, a coach whose head has been repeatedly called for over the past two seasons, be so upbeat, so optimistic?

In his three previous years at the helm of the Seawolves, Stony Brook spent three straight years in the basement, three straight appearances in the America East Tournament play-in game, and had amassed winning percentage worse than the batting average of a utility infielder.

The Seawolves had been a walking disaster: they lacked any team identity, along with any semblance of an offensive game plan. On the floor, Stony Brook looked like five individuals with plenty of athleticism, but no basketball training, and no interest in sharing the rock. Last season Stony Brook ranked last in the America East conference in scoring, assists, field goal percentage, three-point field goal percentages, and three-pointers made.

Fans were quick to call for Pikiell’s head. He was signed to the most lucrative contract in the league, yet he had produced the worst winning percentage among all active coaches.

What many didn’t realize was the during Pikiell’s first season as coach, Stony Brook was under NCAA sanctions dating back to the previous coaching staff, and only had six eligible scholarship players on its roster. In fact, the Seawolves did not field a team with a full 13 scholarship players until this season.

Fans are fickle. Once you fall into their doghouse, it’s hard to find your way back into good graces. Fans yawned when Stony Brook opened the season with a win over University of Maryland-Eastern Shore, and later at back-to-back wins over Columbia and New Jersey Institute of Technology. Those games, you’re supposed to win. Three straight losses to Lafayette, Wagner, and American, and it’s the same old Stony Brook, right?

Wrong.

Sure, the Seawolves’ first three wins of the season were against teams at the bottom of the Division I totem pole, but they are games that Stony Brook could, and would, have lost in previous years. In fact, last season Stony Brook lost to UMES and was destroyed by Columbia, losing by 20. Stony Brook showed more collective heart through their first five games than they had in the past three years, fighting down to the wire in valiant comebacks against Wagner and a very good American team, something that was unheard of last season when the Seawolves would roll over and die once they fell behind.

Stony Brook also proved they could win the close game, beating Columbia at the wire 62-60. They were 0-4 last year in games decided by 3 or fewer points.

The Seawolves also have gotten a huge boost from an exciting quartet of freshmen in 6’5″ high-energy, high-flying, do-everything forward Tommy Brenton, point guard Brian Dougher, 6’8″ 260 pound bruiser Dallis Joyner, and 6’9″ sharpshooting Brit-import Danny Carter.

Each of the four freshmen has had at least one game as Stony Brook’s high scorer, with Brenton taking center stage in the early going by ripping down 16 rebounds in his first collegiate game. He ranks 4th in the conference in boards per game.

Fans still dismissed Stony Brook as another bottom feeder and train wreck in waiting. But they can’t ignore the signs anymore. The Seawolves are finally heading in the right direction.

Last Thursday night, when Stony Brook tipped off against Lehigh, it was the kind of opponent that would have ended in the Seawolves getting run out of the gym a year ago: Lehigh was an experienced, veteran-heavy team coming in off of a win over Rutgers of the Big East.

In the early going, it looked like it would be a long night for Stony Brook. Lehigh pushed the lead to eleven, and Stony Brook sputtered badly out of the gate. Yet Pikiell’s young squad never buckled, never backed down, and played with heart and desire never before seen in their neck of Long Island. They came together as a team behind the terrific play of veterans Chris Martin, Marqus Cox, and transfer Desmond Adedeji.

The Seawolves clamped down in the second half on the defensive end, and after going into the intermission down 27-22, blew the Mountain Hawks out of the water, outscoring them 49-23 in the second half. The Seawolves won by working the ball into the post, locking down on defense, running like a finely tuned machine on offense, and most importantly playing with a tremendous collective heart. And they came back from a halftime deficit, something that proved next to impossible last season.

“We won this game with a great defensive effort in the second half, I couldn’t be prouder of the effort and intensity our team played with tonight after falling behind early,” Pikiell reflected after the game.

Throughout the season, Martin has shown glimpses of the potential he oozed when he was signed as part of Pikiell’s 2006 freshman class. But Martin never qualified academically, and sat out getting his grades in order. Unable to practice with the team his first year in school, much of last year was a wash for Martin, who had to re-adjust to the college game.

But this year looks different, as the 6’1″, 230-pound tank of a guard has done everything while coming off the bench for the Seawolves. Martin has stepped up in the place of Eddie Castellanos, who was lost for the season during the first game of the year, to handle the back-up point guard duties. He has served as instant offense, and the best sixth man in the America East.

“Chris has all the potential to be a very special player when all is said and done. He has done a terrific job of handling the point, he can really get to the hoop, and he has just gotten into terrific shape, he went from being over 20 percent body fat to down under 10,” said Pikiell.

Martin showed flashes in the early going, including the game winning tip in against Colgate, and a terrific second half against American in which he almost single-handedly led a comeback. Against Lehigh, Martin was nails, going for a season-high 19 points, and 13 in the second half. Martin scored from inside and out, showing of a refined shooting touch, and proved to be the X-factor that Stony Brook was lacking last season: someone who can create his own shot, and get to the basket and the free-throw line (he went 11 for 11 from the charity stripe). Martin attacked the rim with abandon, finishing with acrobatic lay-ups or hard earned trips to the line.

No player better embodied the new-look Seawolves than Adedeji, a transfer from Dayton who conducted a clinic in his first meaningful minutes of the season. He gave the Seawolves an instant low post presence, something that was non-existent for the past three seasons. The 6’10”, 315-pound center shook the floorboards when he entered the game for the first time, and shook the gym when he almost brought the backboard, and roof, down with a monster two-handed slam with 12:46 left in the second half.

“‘Big Des’ brings a new dimension to our team, and when he gets into game shape, he could be a game-changer,” said Pikiell.

Adedeji only played 17 minutes, but he lived up to Pikiell’s description. He truly changed the lane, scoring 11 points on 5-9 shooting to go with nine rebounds and three blocks, and drew constant double and triple teams, freeing up the rest of Stony Brook’s offense.

He also brought the crowd back into the game.

Before Adedeji’s support-shaking dunk, Stony Brook trailed 38-30, but it energized the crowd of more than a thousand, and began a 41-12 Seawolves run to close out the game.

The unsung hero was Cox, a four-year walk-on whom has gone from practice player to defensive stopper. Cox emerged early in the season as a new player, a lock-down one-on-one defender that the Seawolves have never seen before. Cox has been put in man-to-man coverage against opponents’ best offensive guards and thrived, shutting down American’s Garrison Carr. Carr at the time was averaging over 20 points per game, but had just 10 points on 3-9 shooting. Against Lehigh he continued to shine, holding star guard Marquis Hall to 13 points, frustrating him into 4-12 shooting, and 3-8 behind the arc.

“There just isn’t a better story than Marques. He’s our leader, and he has worked as hard as humanly possible from day one in the program, and he has become a huge weapon for us on the defensive end” said Pikiell.

The Seawolves aren’t ready to contend for a conference title, but they are headed in the right direction. With talent, depth, and a newfound team identity, Stony Brook is going to be able to put a scare into a lot of America East teams.

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College Basketball Tonight

We hope you enjoyed COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT during the 2016 NCAA Tournament. COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT is a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran college basketball broadcaster Ted Sarandis, along with co-hosts Mike Jarvis and Terry O'Connor, both former Division I coaches. It also included many great guests, including Hoopville's own Phil Kasiecki.

The show aired on AM 710 WOR in New York City on Sunday evenings starting with Selection Sunday and running through the NCAA Tournament.

Here are links to the shows:

March 13, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 20, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 27, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

April 3, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

Everybody Needs a Head Coach

Former college basketball coach Mike Jarvis has a new book out, Everybody Needs a Head Coach.

"As you read this book, I hope that Coach Jarvis' experiences inspire you to find your purpose in life."
-Patrick Ewing, NBA Hall of Fame center

"Mike Jarvis' is one of my special friends. I am so pleased that he has taken the time to write this fabulous book."
-Mike Krzyzewski, Five-time NCAA championship head coach, Duke Blue Devils

"In reading this book, I can see that Mike hasn't lost his edge or his purpose. Readers should take a look at what he has to say."
-Jim Calhoun, Three-time NCAA champion, UConn Men's basketball

Review on Hoopville coming soon!

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.

Hoopville Podcasts

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – January 11, 2018

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Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – January 4, 2018

January 4, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we start with a big game in the Big East, then move on to the sudden lack of undefeated teams, a big injury in the ACC, and a powerhouse that looks vulnerable in a stacked conference they have long ruled.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – December 8, 2017

December 8, 2017 by

In our latest podcast, we talk about a bizarre finish to an early-season tournament game, the Pac-12’s early struggles, Florida teams going in different directions and two northeast teams trending less relevant even as they excite fans at a famous arena.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – November 22, 2017

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In our pre-Thanksgiving podcast, we look at a key injury that is likely to be devastating for his team and an under-the-radar 4-0 week, then move on to some early SEC impressions and a couple of teams that just continue to win.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – November 9, 2017

November 10, 2017 by

The season is almost here, and we take a look at some of what to expect this coming season. We have preseason polls, conference changes, a look at some conferences and some matchups to start the season.

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

Lincoln captures Hamilton Park title

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For the first time, a public school won the Hamilton Park Summer League, and they were led by a big effort from a junior point guard in the title game.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Boston Shootout

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Notes from a day at the 2017 Northeast Hoops Festival

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The Northeast Hoops Festival helped bring in the new spring travel season in New England, and we have notes from some of Saturday’s action.

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We look back at the 2016 Boston Back to School Showcase, where a couple of Boston City League teams were among the most impressive on the day.

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale championship recap

June 28, 2016 by

We look back at the championship games of the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, which had a big local flavor as one might have expected.