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2013-14 Pac-12 Post-Mortem

by - Published May 7, 2014 in Columns, Conference Notes
pac12

For the Pac-12, the 2013-14 season was a rebound from a stretch of so-so seasons. Six teams made the NCAA Tournament, with three reaching the Sweet 16. A record eight teams won at least 20 games. As a whole, the conference was as competitive as it’s ever been, with five teams tying for third place.

And yet, if you think the Pac-12 has entered some new halcyon days, you might want to stop right there. The conference is in a bit of flux right now, especially when you look at the coaching ranks and, correspondingly, how teams are trending.

… Continue Reading

Legends wrapup: Indiana takes the title and a box score analysis

by - Published November 22, 2012 in Columns
author_floriani

BROOKLYN, N.Y. – It’s time for a closer look at the Progressive Legends Classic final night at the Barclays Center.

CONSOLATION:

UCLA 60, Georgia 56

… Continue Reading

A brief look at the numbers in Georgetown’s win over UCLA

by - Published November 20, 2012 in Columns
author_floriani

BROOKLYN, N.Y. – Georgetown defeated eleventh-ranked UCLA to advance to the Legends Classic championship game. The 78-70 victory is broken down in tempo free numbers. In a 71-possession game the efficiencies were:

Georgetown 110
UCLA 99

… Continue Reading

St. John’s Week: A tempo-free look

by - Published February 20, 2012 in Columns
author_floriani

NEW YORK - St. John’s split their two games the past week. A common thread of the two games was the importance of rebounding. The battle under the glass, especially on the offensive end, played a part in both outcomes, though more so in the meeting with UCLA.

On Tuesday, St. John’s was trampled 94-64 by Seton Hall at the Prudential Center. It was, simply, a “Valentine’s Day massacre”. On Saturday they showed resilience bouncing back for a strong 66-63 victory over UCLA at Madison Square Garden.

… Continue Reading

Plenty of great action on the menu this weekend

by - Published December 10, 2011 in Full Court Sprints

We’ve got plenty of great games on tap this weekend. Here’s what you can look forward to watching in between shopping online for holiday gifts.

Saturday:

  • Kentucky at Indiana
  • Ohio State at Kansas
  • Long Beach State at North Carolina
  • Washington vs. Duke at Madison Square Garden
  • Cincinnati at Xavier
  • Oklahoma State vs. Pittsburgh at Madison Square Garden
  • UNLV at Wisconsin
  • Creighton at Saint Joseph’s
  • Michigan State at Gonzaga
  • Akron at Cleveland State
  • Milwaukee at Northern Iowa
  • Clemson at Arizona
  • Villanova at Temple
  • Miami at West Virginia

Sunday:

  • Murray State at Memphis
  • Iona at Marshall
  • Norfolk State at Virginia Tech

We go coast to coast with other news from the college basketball nation

  • Before we even get to the games today, there’s intrigue building in Cincinnati with the Bearcats’ Sean Kilpatrick calling out Xavier’s Tu Holloway, writes Myron Medcalf for ESPN’s “College Basketball Nation” blog. Kipatrck told a radio host that Holloway isn’t good enough to start for the Bearcats, which seems laughable considering Holloway is averaging 17.7 ppg, 4.2 rpg and 4.7 apg for one of the top teams in the country. But there you have it. That should make the Skyline Chili Crosstown Shootout extra spicy today.
  • Northern Arizona is in the market for a new coach already after Mike Adras resigned unexpectedly Dec. 9, according to the Associated Press. The Lumberjacks are off to a rough start at 2-7, with no Division I wins yet. However, in his previous nine seasons as Northern Arizona’s coach, Adras had only two losing seasons for a 133-131 record at the school.
  • Marquette will play without one of its biggest defensive presences after center Chris Otule injured his left ACL in the Golden Eagles’ win against Washington Dec. 8, according to Fox Sports’ Andrew Wagner. Otule has been averaging 5.0 ppg, 4.4 rpg and 1.6 blocks in just less than 18 minutes per game.
  • Arizona State won’t get its top recruit this season after the NCAA Eligibility Center ruled Jahii Carson academically ineligible for 2011-12, according to an Associated Press report.
  • You also won’t see Washington’s Scott Suggs this season. The senior guard broke his foot in October and had hoped to be ready to go by late December, but coach Lorenzo Romar announced that Suggs will redshirt this season, according to the Associated Press.
  • Staying in the Pac-12, UCLA has dismissed embattled junior forward Reeves Nelson, according to the Associated Press. Coach Ben Howland had already suspended Nelson twice this season for conduct detrimental to the team before making the decisions to kick him off the team.
  • The last thing we want to report is more molestation charges, but here we go again. ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” reported that two former basketball players are accusing Amateur Athletic Union president Robert “Bobby” Dodd of molesting them more than 20 years ago. The AAU gets plenty of criticism already, but nothing of this caliber. The AAU said that Dodd has colon cancer and will not be returning to his post, according to a CBS Sports report.

North Carolina-Kentucky lives up to the hype

by - Published December 4, 2011 in Full Court Sprints

The matchup between North Carolina and Kentucky lived up to its billing. It was a well-played game that came right down to the wire, and was close throughout. The eighth-largest crowd in Rupp Arena history saw it, and even more watched on television. And it’s possible that the game will mirror the teams’ seasons.

Kentucky probably has the most talent of any team in the country, but the Wildcats’ youth hasn’t been hard to see. Their freshmen have had their share of growing pains, from Marquis Teague’s early struggles taking care of the ball to Anthony Davis learning how physical the college game can be. It’s for exactly that reason that senior Darius Miller has never been more valuable than much of the early going this time around.

North Carolina is right up there with the Wildcats, but this is an older and more mature team. Whereas the Wildcats start three freshmen, the Tar Heels only played two freshmen yesterday and both came off the bench. But they start a senior, two juniors and two sophomores, and on the whole this is a team quite a ways from its ceiling just like Kentucky.

In the first half, North Carolina led by as many as nine and was the better team. They were hot from long range, going 6-9 from behind the arc in the opening frame. But Kentucky scored seven in a row at the end of the first and start of the second half, momentarily grabbing the lead and then staying right with the Tar Heels until they took the lead for good on a Davis jumper with less than eight minutes to play.

The Tar Heels had one more chance after Teague missed the front end of a one-and-one with 21 seconds left. They got the ball to John Henson, known more for his shot-blocking than scoring, and in a length-versus-length matchup, Davis got a hand on his short jumper and the Wildcats were able to run out the final seconds for a 73-72 victory.

It’s a game that many would love to see a rematch of, and considering that both teams are a ways from their respective ceilings, no one would be surprised if it materialized in the month of March.

While that was the best matchup of the day, there were a few other teams, conferences and player of note.

 

Marquette

Winning at the Kohl Center is hard for visiting teams to do, but Marquette pulled it off on Saturday and did so without their starting point guard. Before the game, the Golden Eagles announced that Junior Cadougan was suspended for the game due to a violation of team rules. Wisconsin has lost two straight, but neither is a bad loss as they lost to North Carolina earlier in the week. The Golden Eagles, meanwhile, are 7-0 with a blowout win over Ole Miss and Saturday’s win at Wisconsin.

 

Xavier

Xavier is becoming quite the second-half team. On Monday, they trailed by ten in the second half before rallying to beat Vanderbilt in overtime in Nashville. But yesterday they did themselves one better, as they trailed Purdue by 11 at the half and 19 in the second half before coming back to edge the Boilermakers 66-63. In the last 10:44, Xavier outscored Purdue 30-8.

 

Illinois

It seems like Bruce Weber has been on the hot seat forever in Champaign, but let’s acknowledge not only the job he has done thus far but especially what he is doing this season. After an 82-75 win over Gonzaga on Saturday, the Illini are 8-0 with wins over Richmond and at Maryland as well. Neither of those two is a big NCAA Tournament resume win, but they are worth noting because the Illini haven’t beaten up on a slew of terrible teams and could be 12-0 when they take on Missouri on Dec. 22, though they will have to get by UNLV at home before then. Saturday was the first time all season Gonzaga did not have at least four players score in double figures.

 

Brigham Young

No Jimmer, no problem for Brigham Young. After Saturday’s 79-65 win over Oregon in Salt Lake City, BYU is 6-2 with a win over Nevada included and the only losses being at Utah State and against Wisconsin. Granted, this isn’t the Oregon team we all thought we would see before the season with the departures of Jabari Brown and Bruce Barron, but the Ducks aren’t pushovers.

 

Head-scratching in the CAA

A number of conferences have their opening games this weekend before teams resume non-conference play for a little while longer. Perhaps none has had results that might leave one scratching their head as much as the Colonial Athletic Association, where three teams won on the road and preseason favorite Drexel lost to Delaware by 11 (albeit on the road). The Dragons have had a rough go of it thus far, but Chris Fouch is back so they’re closer to having their full team together. Still, Fouch was 0-9 yesterday and the Blue Hens won the battle on the glass by a 40-32 margin over a Drexel team that routinely beats up opponents on the boards.

The one other score that jumps out is Georgia State thumping William & Mary 66-34 in Atlanta. The Tribe didn’t look to be far from being a good team last season, but they’re struggling mightily out of the gates and Saturday may be the low point thus far.

 

We go coast to coast with other news from the college basketball nation

  • Ohio State didn’t miss a beat despite Jared Sullinger being out with back spasms.
  • College of Charleston lost a wealth of talent and experience from last season’s team, but the Cougars are 7-1 overall and are one of four teams that went 2-0 in early Southern Conference games this weekend. Chattanooga, who the Cougars beat last night and was picked to win the North Division, is 0-2.
  • Connecticut got a big lift from Ryan Boatright with 23 points and six assists in his home debut.
  • UCLA is now 2-5 after a home loss to Texas that saw them blow an 11-point lead.

 

Some of Sunday’s Key Matchups

Sunday is a day full of interesting matchups of teams that we’re trying to find out something about. None of these are like North Carolina-Kentucky, but they will be worth keeping an eye on.

  • Baylor at Northwestern
  • UNLV at Wichita State
  • California at San Diego State
  • Dayton at Murray State
  • North Carolina State at Stanford
  • Notre Dame at Maryland
  • VCU vs. George Washington (BB&T Classic at the Verizon Center)
  • Kansas State at Virginia Tech

Syracuse adamantly denies molestation allegations by associate coach

by - Published November 18, 2011 in Full Court Sprints

The biggest storyline of the day broke late afternoon Nov. 17 when ESPN reported that Syracuse police are investigating allegations that Syracuse associate coach Bernie Fine sexually molested a couple of ball boys during a period that lasted more than a decade.

ESPN is taking a risk with this story. The rumors about Fine molesting a former ball boy emerged more than five years ago. In fact, in a statement posted on the university’s website last night, Syracuse heard about the allegations from an adult male who said he talked to police. The university conducted its own investigation, which included interviews with people that the accuser named. None of those people corroborated the accusations.

That leaves ESPN in a precarious position. The network is bringing this story to the forefront now because a second person has launched molestation charges at Fine. That person happens to be the older stepbrother of the other accuser. Syracuse police are looking into the accusations again. But there’s nothing certain.

However, if you watch the eight-minute segment about Mark Schwarz’s research for ESPN, you get the sense that he is siding with Bobby Davis, the 39-year-old who previously accused Fine. Schwarz questions why no one asked whether it would be inappropriate for Davis and Fine to share hotel rooms during travel and spend significant secluded time together. Those are legitimate questions, but his reporting seems wholly one-sided, and we don’t hear the opinions of other people involved.

In another statement posted on Syracuse’s site, coach Jim Boeheim denies the accusations, citing the university’s 2005 investigation and his 40-year relationship with his associate coach. In an article accompanying the interview with Schwarz, Boeheim told ESPN that he believes the accusers are seeking money and using ESPN as part of their scheme.

That’s a brash accusation in its own right. On one side, we have two individuals — who have a family relationship — making sordid accusations that scarily resemble the scandal unfolding at Penn State. On the other side, we have Syracuse representatives and Boeheim vehemently denying the charges and painting the accusers as mercenaries.

This will not end well for someone.

So far, Syracuse seems to be handling the events fairly well, placing Fine on administrative leave while police continue their investigation. That’s probably an appropriate reaction that allows the school to reinstate the coach if the charges are unfounded. But if there’s truth to these accusations, the university can quickly terminate Fine and avoid the negative appearance of callously paying a sexual predator.

Although it’s somewhat hard to tell based on the mess in State College, Pa., people are innocent until proven guilty in this country. Syracuse seems to be on the right track to allow the police and attorneys to do their jobs.

ESPN, on the other hand, will appear to be less objective if it turns out that the Worldwide Leader in Sports was played in a plot to achieve personal gains.

Fortunately, we have lots of great basketball ahead this weekend to keep our attention on the hardwood. Here’s a rundown of some of the top match ups on tap.

Friday

  • Davidson at Duke
  • Temple vs. Purdue in Puerto Rico Tip-Off
  • Wichita State vs. Alabama in Puerto Rico Tip-Off
  • Arizona vs. Mississippi State in 2K Sports Classic in New York City
  • Texas A&M vs. St. John’s in 2K Sports Classic in New York City
  • Drake at Ole Miss
  • Akron at Valparaiso

Saturday

  • Louisville at Butler
  • James Madison at La Salle in Philly Hoop Group Classic
  • Long Beach State at San Diego State
  • Charleston at Clemson
  • Vanderbilt vs. NC State in TicketCity Legends Classic in East Rutherford, N.J.
  • Texas vs. Oregon State in TicketCity Legends Classic in East Rutherford, N.J.

Sunday

  • Championship and third-place game of Puerto Rico Tip-Off
  • Washington at Saint Louis
  • Rhode Island at Nebraska
  • Murray State at UAB
  • Creighton at Iowa

 

We go coast to coast with other news from the college basketball nation.

  • UCLA’s Reeves Nelson convinced coach Ben Howland that he’s had an attitude adjustment and is ready to return to action after Howland suspended him earlier this week, writes Peter Yoon for ESPN Los Angeles.
  • For Louisville’s big game against the national runners-up, Butler, the Cardinals likely won’t have their starting point guard, Peyton Siva, according to the Associated Press. Siva injured his ankle in practice, and he could need another week or so to fully recover.
  • The dust is beginning to settle on the initial signing period for 2012 recruits, and Rivals.com has the ACC as the big winner thus far. The conference sneaks past the Big East for the top spot, with NC State and North Carolina as the headliners.

ACC’s hot start could be a harbinger of better times ahead

by - Published November 17, 2011 in Full Court Sprints

After six full days into the regular season, the ACC is the only undefeated conference remaining. And that pretty much guarantees that Maryland will lose to Alabama Thursday night or Georgia Tech will fall against Saint Joseph’s.

No one really keeps track of which conferences go the longest without a loss, but hoops pundits love to banter about which conference is tops in the game. The ACC hasn’t been part of that conversation for a few years now, despite claiming two of the past three champions and a contender or two for this year’s title.

As of this week, the ACC has North Carolina, Duke and Florida State in the top 25. No other team even received a vote from the pollsters. As Rodney Dangerfield often lamented, this conference doesn’t get any respect these days, with everyone focusing on Tobacco Road and ignoring most of the rest of the conference. That would be a mistake this season.

Already, Virginia Tech, Clemson and Virginia have flashed plenty of promise. They’ll need to bring down some of the big boys from conferences like the Big East, Big 12 and Big Ten before they rise into the public spotlight. That’s probably going to start happening in the next couple of weeks as the early season tournaments gain steam and more power conference squads go head to head.

When it’s all said and done this season, don’t be surprised if at least five different ACC teams spend some quality time in the top 25, and the conference once again joins the discussion as tops in the land.

We go coast to coast with other news from the college basketball nation.

  • New Providence coach Ed Cooley and the Friars returned to his former employers at Fairfield Monday, and Providence escaped with a hard-fought 80-72 win, according to a CBS Sports.com report. The Friars’ head honcho had plenty of reason to feel emotionally torn after enjoying success in the MAAC in his first coaching gig and building strong relationships with players such as Rakim Sanders, writes Matt Norlander.
  • UCLA suspended Reeves Nelson for bad behavior after the junior forward blew off a practice Monday and looked selfishly frustrated in the Bruins’ opening loss to Loyola Marymount, writes Peter Yoon for ESPN Los Angeles. The Bruins dropped their second consecutive game Tuesday when Middle Tennessee State handled the Nelson-less squad.
  • After an 0-2 start, UCLA fans must be yearning for the golden age led by the legendary John Wooden. Those days are long gone, but Wooden — or at least a statue bearing his resemblance — will greet every player and fan entering the renovated Pauley Pavilion, Peter Yoon writes on ESPN.com.
  • St. Bonaventure will play the rest of the season without forward Marquise Simmons, who tore his Achilles tendon against Cornell, according to a CBS Sports.com wire report. The junior provided solid depth for St. Bonaventure, averaging about four points and rebounds per game last season.
  • If “best” refers to most talented, CBS Sports.com’s Jeff Goodman explains why Kentucky, not North Carolina, is the best team in the country this season.
  • No sleep till Brooklyn! The Beastie Boys can lend that motto to Kentucky and Maryland next year when the Wildcats and Terrapins meet in the first-ever Barclays Center Classic, to be held at the new arena under construction in Brooklyn, N.Y., according to the Associated Press.

Globetrotters’ Basketball Soul Outshines Rash of Rough News

by - Published April 15, 2011 in Full Court Sprints

BASELINE TO BASELINE

Go coast to coast with a round up of the nation’s top stories.

1. Although Phil Jackson seems pretty convinced that there won’t be a next season for the NBA next season, several college players are gambling that they’ll still be making NBA money within a few months. Here are a few of the players who announced during the past few days that they’ll be entering the NBA Draft.

2. ESPN.com’s Andy Katz breaks down the NCAA Legislative Committee’s proposal to move up the deadline for declaring for the draft. If the Board of Directors approves the measure, players will need to decide by April 10 whether they intend to declare for the draft — and they can’t turn back. It essentially ends the test-the-waters approach, which isn’t good for the kids, Katz writes.

3. One player who won’t be testing the waters this season is Baylor’s Perry Jones, ESPN.com’s Andy Katz writes. Somewhat surprisingly, Jones will return to the Bears, who had a disappointing season but will return a start-studded team, anchored by Jones.

4. Despite the uproar about the early entry deadline, that’s small change compared to the fiasco in San Diego. The Associated Press reported this week that the FBI is investigating former members of the Toreros program for running a sports betting business, and 10 people have been charged in the case, including the team’s all-time leading scorer, Brandon Johnson. In addition to Johnson, former player Brandon Dowdy is accused of fixing games.

5. Jorts-mania could be coming to a town near you. Kentucky’s Josh Harrellson will be launching a Jorts Tour — after his now-famous nickname — to sign autographs and hawk his clothing line, according to Diamond Leung of ESPN.com’s “College Basketball Nation” blog.

6. As Nebraska prepares to move to the Big 10 next season, the Huskers have reworked coach Doc Sadler’s deal to pay him an extra $100,000 per year, making his salary $900,000 per year through 2015-16, according to a CBS Sports.com wire report.

7. One of Nebraska’s former Big 12 rivals, Iowa State, is dealing with some drama after police arrested freshman center Jordan Railey for punching a man late Wednesday night along a hot spot for Ames restaurants and bars, according to the Associated Press. Coach Fred Hoiberg has suspended Railey while gathering more information about the incident.

HOME COURT ADVANTAGE

Man, what a rough week for news in the world of college basketball.

Several players landed in trouble with the law (Nebraska, Florida). An NBA-minded freshman skipped his team’s season-closing banquet to work out in Vegas (Kansas). And speaking of Sin City, the gambling bug apparently migrated south to San Diego, where the very integrity of the game is in question after the FBI unearthed a supposed sports business ring that included former Torero players who are accused of fixing games.

And just to pile on, the NCAA looks pretty selfish and uninterested in the welfare of student-athletes after moving forward with a proposal to give players until about a week after the championship game to decide whether they want to return to school or enter the NBA Draft. Needing only an affirmative vote by the NCAA’s Board of Directors to become official, the proposal applies tortured logic that benefits schools and coaches but not players. And the players already are limited because the NCAA won’t let them profit from their name or likeness in commercial products, such as video games. However, the NCAA is happy to take its cut from those sales.

That’s enough to get you pretty down about the game.

Thankfully, I watched the Harlem Globetrotters play tonight on ESPN. And that evaporated my creeping cynicism. The figure-eight weaves, between-the-legs passes and crowd-pleasing interludes don’t look like traditional basketball. All those fancy moves make for great entertainment, and everyone in the arena is having fun — even the tough-luck Generals.

Basketball is supposed to be fun. Yes, the game can be a means to a career — and a small fortune — for the most talented players. But for the 99 percent of players who don’t come within sniffing distance of an NBA pay check, the game needs to be fun. If it’s not, why play? The Globetrotters take fun to an extreme, but they embody the soul of the game.

Despite the spate of bad news, the game goes on. By November, optimism will be the mood du jour as nearly 350 Division I teams embark on the journey toward a 2012 championship. And with any luck, most of them will have plenty of fun along the way.

Back in Action, With Championship-Level Appreciation

by - Published April 11, 2011 in Full Court Sprints

Editor’s Note: We’ve trimmed down the Full Court Sprints because Hoopville’s new design has made some elements redundant. In particular, our new design highlights some of Hoopville’s great coverage in the middle column. In addition, we’ve got recent tweets from Phil Kasiecki and Michael Protos in the right column. There’s no games on tap anytime soon — sadly — so the upcoming games and recent results are irrelevant until November. We do have plenty of news to round up and some quick commentary on recent trends and news.

BASELINE TO BASELINE

Go coast to coast with a round up of the nation’s top stories.

If it’s April, three of the top stories in basketball relate to which coaches are changing jobs, which players are going pro, and which players are transferring. Fox Sports’ Jeff Goodman has a list for the latter category. In case you’ve missed some of the player movement of the past few weeks, Goodman lists all the players who have announced that they will play elsewhere.

At ESPN.com, you can track all the coaching movement in Division I in a chart that lists schools, former coach and new coach. As of today, 13 teams are still in the hunt for a new coach.

And if you want to find out whether your team’s best underclassmen will be playing in the NBA or NCAA next season, check out CBS Sports.com’s set of charts.

The most recent team to fill its open coaching position is UNLV, according to the Associated Press. BYU associate coach Dave Rice is moving on from the Mormons’ home base of Utah to Sin City. Rice’s now former boss, BYU coach Dave Rose, said Rice is an excellent teacher and has a history of success, which he’ll be taking to the desert and a Rebels team that has emerged as a perennial Mountain West contender.

St. John’s coach Steve Lavin will begin treatment for prostate cancer after announcing that he was diagnosed with the disease in fall 2010, according to SI.com’s “Fan Nation” blog.

BYU is extending coach Dave Rose’s contract, a rare reward for excellence at the university, according to Fan Nation. Just don’t ask about the financial details.

We already have some drama heading into next season’s North Carolina State vs. Maryland rivalry in the ACC. Granted, in recent years, there’s not much of a rivalry to speak of between those teams. However, Wolfpack Athletic Director Debbie Yow, former boss of Maryland coach Gary Williams, accused Williams of trying to sabotage her search for a new coach. She eventually hired former Alabama coach Mark Gottfried to replace Sidney Lowe, drawing the ire of State fans who wanted Shaka Smart or another hot name. There’s plenty of bad blood between Yow and Williams, according to the “Lost Lettermen” blog.

UCLA finally knows where the Bruins will be playing home games next season while Pauley Pavilion gets a facelift. Eamonn Brennan, of ESPN.com’s “College Basketball Nation” blog, reports that the Los Angeles Sports Arena will host 14 Bruins home games, with the team playing four others at the Honda Center in Anaheim.

Fresh off his third national championship, Connecticut’s Jim Calhoun said he will take some to decide whether he wants to retire, according to a CBS Sports.com wire report. But don’t think that means he’s taking any time off from the recruiting trail.

HOME COURT ADVANTAGE

I watched every second of Connecticut’s championship game victory against Butler. And that might officially make me a basketball geek — as if there were any doubt about that.

I’ll be the first to admit that the Huskies’ 53-41 win wasn’t the prettiest game I’ve ever watched. But there’s been far too much talk about how terrible the game was, and some commentators have even hinted that the NCAA Tournament has a flawed format in which the best team doesn’t win the title.

To that, I say: horse manure.

The NCAA Tournament has one of the most difficult post-season formats of any sport at any level because a champion must win six — at least — games in a row against opponents that play a variety of styles. A championship run is a testament of a coach’s ability to strategize a game plan and adjust it during the heat of the action. It’s a testament of great players performing at a consistently high level for three weeks.

Even the most talented teams in the country will likely face at least one opponent that plays a style that makes the favorite somewhat uncomfortable. For underdogs, the ability to get a team outside its comfort zone, force mistakes and capitalize on opportunities forms the recipe for an upset. VCU took that recipe and repeated it from the First Four to the Final Four.

The Rams got past USC, Georgetown, Purdue, Florida State and Kansas with a pressure defense that preyed on inconsistent backcourt play. On offense, VCU rode hot three-point shooting to cover up for a size disadvantage in the post. If the Rams met the Jayhawks in an NBA-style seven-game series, there’s no way I could see VCU winning the series. I’d pick VCU to win one, maybe two games in seven against Kansas. But the more talented team — as NBA analysts Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley frequently pointed out during their stint as NCAA Tournament analysts — would likely advance, barring injuries or a major internal meltdown.

And that’s what makes the NCAA Tournament wonderful. To be champion, you must come to play every game for three weeks. Anything short of your best effort could send you home. And even your effort might not be enough if you’re running the wrong game plan.

So don’t tell me Butler’s 18 percent shooting in the championship ruined the tournament or somehow devalues Connecticut’s achievement. In the game I watched, I saw an outstanding defensive effort in which the Huskies limited the Bulldogs to a tiny number of clean looks at the hoop. However, Butler also failed to make in-game adjustments. The team took 51.6 percent of its shots from three-point range, making only 9-of-33 attempts. After Chase Stigall hit a three to open the second half and give Butler a six-point lead, the team didn’t make another shot from the field for seven minutes and only one shot in 13 minutes. During that stretch, the Bulldogs missed 11 three-pointers.

Brad Stevens realized his teams was overmatched in the post, but the Bulldogs just weren’t getting it done from the perimeter. The team’s stubborn insistence on jacking up bombs — and bricks — led to the dismal shooting percentage and put Connecticut on track to the championship.

More simply put, the Huskies executed their game plan more efficiently and effectively than Butler could, and the Bulldogs couldn’t adjust to do anything about that. In a championship game performance, that’s all you can ask from the winning team, regardless of the score.

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Your Phil of Hoops

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

New season, same challenge for New Hampshire

November 15, 2014 by

newhampshire

It’s a new season at New Hampshire, and while the Wildcats look like they will defend, they also appear to have the same challenge they have had for a long time now: scoring.

Watson’s transfer will sting BU the most

April 11, 2014 by

bostonuniversity

Boston University recently saw three players transfer. The impact of the departure of one of them will be felt more than the other two.

Hoopville Archives

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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.