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UConn is one game away

by - Published March 15, 2015 in Columns

HARTFORD, Conn. – They have one more to go.

One more game to pull off another magical conference tournament run.

One more game for one more guard to get them in one more NCAA Tournament.

One more opportunity to do something special, to finish the job.

… Continue Reading

The Morning Dish – Saturday, March 14, 2015

by - Published March 14, 2015 in The Morning Dish

March is always a magical month, where so many things happen that seemingly defy logical explanation. The way games end falls into that category as much as anything else, and Friday showed that again.

We start in Brooklyn at the Atlantic 10 Tournament, where Davidson trailed for most of the game, but rallied. Still down by one, they had a play in the final seconds to win it, and Tyler Kalinoski put it up near the basket and got it to drop as time expired. Ray Floriani has more on this.

… Continue Reading

Ryan Boatright and UConn live to see another day

by - Published March 14, 2015 in Columns

HARTFORD, Conn. – Ryan Boatright didn’t want to go out like this.

Not with a missed free throw leading the story. Not with another tough loss to a good team, the likes of which they have had plenty of this season. Not with a loss in front of the home crowd. Not with a loss that would almost certainly send them to the NIT.

Not when he’s worked all his life to take a shot like that, even if the shot alone seemed to take a long time.

… Continue Reading

Plenty of teams prepare to jockey for seeding, selection tonight

by - Published February 21, 2012 in Columns

In the immortal words of the Black Eyed peas, tonight’s gonna be a good night.

There are 40 teams in action tonight, and more than half of them are likely to appear in the NCAA Tournament or seriously challenge for their conference’s automatic bid. We’ve got elite powers like Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina and Ohio State in addition to upstarts that could make life miserable for those powerhouses, such as Vermont, Valparaiso and Cleveland State.

Here’s some of the top games to track tonight. … Continue Reading

Round 233: UNC vs. Duke tips off with more than pride at stake

by - Published February 8, 2012 in Full Court Sprints

The first of two regular-season meetings between two of the most hate-filled rivals in American sports goes down tonight when Duke makes the short trip to the Dean Dome to visit North Carolina.

As is usually the case in recent years, this game has significant importance in the standings, with both teams jockeying with Florida State for the top spot in the ACC. North Carolina enters the game at 7-1 in conference action, while Duke slipped to 6-2 after losing to Miami. Duke can ill-afford another loss, especially because the Seminoles and Tar Heels will not meet again this regular season.

Besides the usual hostility generated by one of the most intense rivalries in the game, the 233rd match up between these teams — UNC leads the all-time series 131-101 — is critical for both teams. Duke is facing more than its fair share of critics after a lackluster performance against the Hurricanes. Meanwhile, North Carolina needs to prove it can beat an elite team, sometime the Heels haven’t done in a few months.

For the Blue Devils, coach Mike Krzyzewski will be looking for renewed passion from his team after calling them out for lacking the energy to compete with the Hurricanes in the overtime loss at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Expect his team to rally around his battle cry, especially on the road surrounded by the Enemy in Powder Blue. To win, Duke will need to play smart defense, something the Blue Devils haven’t done consistently this season.

On the other hand, North Carolina seems to be on the rise, especially after a gutsy win in College Park last weekend in which Maryland tried to beat up the Tar Heels. Unlike the game in Tallahassee in which Florida State annihilated UNC, the Tar Heels responded after getting hit in the mouth and clamped down in the second half to erase a nine-point deficit to win by nine. However, the Tar Heels haven’t beaten a team guaranteed to be in the NCAA Tournament since they knocked off Wisconsin in Chapel Hill Nov. 30. North Carolina needs a win at home against the team’s arch rival to validate the argument that this team should be in the conversation for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

That adds a lot of pressure to both teams, and that might favor North Carolina. The Tar Heels have a roster full of players who have been through this rivalry at least three times after last season. Duke has struggled with leadership on the court, and the Blue Devils must get someone to step up or else things could ugly for Duke pretty quickly.

Let the battle begin.

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

Louisville coach Rick Pitino got his wish with Memphis, as the Tigers will be joining the Big East starting in 2013-14, according an ESPN.com news services report. Pitino had lobbied for the Conference USA’s Tigers to join the Big East to help replace the power that will be departing with West Virginia, Syracuse and Pittsburgh in coming years.

Florida coach Billy Donovan tried to preach that Kentucky faced all the pressure entering the Gators/Wildcats clash Tuesday night, with the home team trying to extend a 15-game winning streak and 48-game undefeated streak at Rupp Arena, according to the Associated Press. That psyche-out didn’t seem to work as the Wildcats clobbered Florida 78-58.

If Connecticut can rally around the toughness of coach Jim Calhoun, the Huskies won’t be out of the picture despite a bleak couple of weeks, including a horrid loss Monday night at Louisville. Calhoun told ESPN’s Andy Katz that he doesn’t plan to let spinal stenosis to force him into retirement, and the coach could return to the sidelines sometime this season if the pain in his legs and back subsides.

There’s also health concerns for another coach: College of Charleston’s Bobby Cremins. The 64-year-old Cougar coach took a leave of absence Jan. 27, and he told people that he’s just taking a break to recuperate from a lack of energy, according to a CBS Sports.com wire report.

Alabama’s tournament chances could be in some jeopardy after the team indefinitely suspended junior Tony Mitchell for misconduct, writes TideNation’s Alex Scarborough. The junior forward averages 13.1 ppg and 7.0 rpg in more than 30 minutes per game for the Crimson Tide.

New year, higher stakes with conference play intensifying

by - Published December 29, 2011 in Full Court Sprints

With the new year arriving in a few days, we’re about to bite into the meat of conference schedules.

Already, about half of Division I conferences have played at least one conference game. The Summit League’s South Dakota State sits at 3-0, giving the Jackrabbits the most conference wins of any team in the country. There’s a random fact for you.

In many ways, it feels like the season starts anew when conference play begins in earnest when the calendar turns to a new year. Yes, there are plenty of fantastic nonconference games throughout the season, and some of the best rivalries involve teams from different conferences, such as this weekend’s bout featuring Louisville and Kentucky. However, no matter how intense those rivalries might be, the stakes just aren’t as high when the winner doesn’t gain ground in the win-loss column of its conference standings.

I like to view the nonconference schedule as a time for growth. Teams get two months to adjust to new arrivals — on the roster or coaching staff — while playing only a few games conference games. That gives the coaching staff a chance to settle on an effective rotation and integrate any late additions because of transfer rules or early season suspensions.

In addition to growth as a team, the nonconference slate gives teams a chance to build their résumé for the NCAA Tournament. For the vast majority of D-1 programs, the only route to an NCAA Tournament is the automatic bid awarded with a conference tournament championship. However, for a bunch of teams, November and December help set expectations for conference play. Just look at Indiana, which entered the season unranked. The Hoosiers beat up some overwhelmed competition, which wouldn’t do Indiana any good in the eyes of the selection committee members come March. Then the Hoosiers went out and beat Kentucky. That’s a massive win that will help solidify Indiana’s NCAA Tournament status, even if the Hoosiers scuffle a bit in Big Ten play, finishing with only a .500 Big Ten record.

On the other hand, teams like Vanderbilt enter conference play knowing they have some work to do. The Commodores started the season as a top 10 team, but they have dropped games to Cleveland State, Xavier, Louisville and Indiana State. A couple of those losses are surprising while a couple are missed opportunities. Right now, the Commodores’ best wins are against Oregon, Oregon State and North Carolina State. None of those teams is a lock for the NCAA Tournament. So Vanderbilt must make hay in the SEC, especially against Florida, Kentucky, Alabama and Mississippi State. The Commodores get those teams six times, and Vanderbilt probably needs to win at least three — preferably one on the road — to feel secure about an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.

And that just spices up already-compelling conference slugfests.

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

We’ll have at least two undefeated teams heading into 2012, as Baylor and Syracuse don’t play again in 2011 after winning last night. And that’s more than previously unbeaten Indiana and Louisville can say after dropping their first game of the season last night. Missouri plays Old Dominion Friday, and fellow unbeaten Murray State will also be in action Friday, against Eastern Illinois.

Connecticut might not be undefeated, but the Huskies are 1-0 without Jim Calhoun on the sidelines this season, CBS Sports.com reports. The Huskies beat South Florida last night, the first game of Calhoun’s three-game suspension, which is his punishment from a recruiting scandal in which he was cited for creating an atmosphere of compliance in Storrs.

Rhode Island is 1-11 this season, and that’s with senior guard Jamal Wilson in the lineup for 11 of those games. Life won’t be any easier for coach Jim Baron after he suspended the team’s leading scorer for breaking team rules, according to an Associated Press report. Wilson is averaging 17.5 ppg for the struggling Rams.

One of the complaints about conference expansion/realignment/destruction is the loss of rivalries that get the fans going. The Big Ten and Pac-12 are looking to avoid those situations via a strategic partnership that will allow the conferences to schedule multiple games between its members to encourage compelling match ups, which could include rivalry games, according to an ESPN.com report.

Maryland had to wait 10 games to get Ukrainian big man Alex Len on the court, writes Eamonn Brennan for ESPN.com’s “College Basketball Nation” blog. However, he could become a critical player quickly, as evidenced by his 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting in his first game Wednesday against Albany.

In case you missed the big news of yesterday, Louisville coach Rick Pitino announced that he intends to call it a career when his contract expires in 2017, according to the Associated Press. At 59, Pitino is already looking ahead to the end of his coaching run, which includes trips to the Final Four with three different teams (Providence, Kentucky and Louisville).

No cause for alarm in the Big East

by - Published November 29, 2011 in Conference Notes

One of the best parts of the early college basketball season is that, year after year, the big-time programs of the BCS conferences (mostly) load up on cupcake teams from lesser-known conferences to begin their campaigns — and those teams prove to be more substance than fluff.

More often than not, those cupcakes turn out to give some of the more talented squads from conferences such as the Big East a run for their money, even knocking off a few of them along the way.

The Big East has had its fair share of losses in the early going as some of the teams we picked to be contenders for the conference championships are dealing with some early season growing pains. … Continue Reading

Connecticut Huskies 2011-12 Preview

by - Published November 11, 2011 in Conference Notes

Connecticut Huskies


Last Year:

32-9 overall, 9-9 Big East (T-9th)


Jim Calhoun (25th season, 605-228)

Projected starting five:

G: Shabazz Napier, So.
G: Jeremy Lamb, So.
F: Alex Oriakhi, Jr.
F: Roscoe Smith, So.
C: Andre Drummond, Fr.

Important departures:

Kemba Walker 23.5 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 4.5 apg 37.6 mpg
Jamal Coombs-McDaniel 5.6 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 16.6 mpg
Charles Okwandu 2.9 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 15.4 mpg

Inside the numbers:

53 percent scoring returning
70 percent rebounding returning


C: Andre Drummond, 6’10”, 275 – ESPNU #2
G: Ryan Boatright, 6’2”, 165 – Rivals #42
F: DeAndre Daniels, 6’8”, 180 – Rivals #10


Toughest nonconference game: 1/21 at Tennessee
Toughest in-conference stretch: 2/6 – 2/18 at (8) Louisville, at (5) Syracuse, vs. DePaul, vs. (21) Marquette


3rd in BE; 25+ wins; Second weekend of NCAA Tournament

What to expect:

Despite losing their All-Everything floor general Kemba Walker, the defending national champs might have even more talent in 2011-12 than they did on the title squad. Returning All-Rookie team selections Jeremy Lamb and Shabazz Napier, the Huskies also have big man Alex Oriakhi as well as a top recruiting class that expects to see major playing time right out of the gate.

Andre Drummond, one of the nation’s top high school centers looks to be inserted into the starting lineup, and Ryan Boatright should see some time as Napier’s backup whenever he becomes eligible. The question in Husky-land isn’t whether or not this team will be able to live up to last year’s accomplishments; it is if they can match them.

The postseason runs through the Big East and NCAA tournaments masked the fact that the Huskies were perfectly mediocre in conference play, ending at 9-9. With most of the championship team returning in 2011 as well as the influx of top recruits, folks in Storrs will be calling this a reloading year, not rebuilding.

Next: DePaul Blue Demons

Back to Big East preview

UConn Women: 88 Consecutive Wins

by - Published December 20, 2010 in Conference Notes

NEW YORK – Number 88 is in the books. UConn ran and hid from tenth-ranked Ohio State, with an 81-50 defeat of the Buckeyes at Madison Square Garden. The featured game of the Maggie Dixon Classic saw the UConn women tie the UCLA record with their 88th consecutive victory. The tempo free efficiency numbers illustrate the Huskies’ dominance. … Continue Reading

Huskies’ Athletes Having Trouble Scoring, Winning

by - Published January 28, 2010 in Columns

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – For a long time, the philosophy of a lot of winning coaches and programs when it came to recruiting included two key words: recruit athletes.  You always want players with skill, and ideally with that and physical gifts, but you can’t go wrong recruiting athletes since they can develop.  But they have to develop, and if they don’t on a team that doesn’t have enough skill in a key area or two, it might not work.

So it goes for the Connecticut Huskies this season.

Look at their roster, or watch them before the game, and they look impressive.  They pass the look test, with a lot of length and athleticism.  But once the game begins, it’s not long before the feeling changes.  And on Wednesday night, when the Huskies lost 81-66 at Providence, it was right there for many to see.

Like many of Jim Calhoun’s teams at Connecticut, this one is excellent defensively.  The Huskies entered the game tops in the Big East in field goal percentage defense, with Syracuse not far behind.  On Wednesday, they held Providence to 40 percent shooting, which on many nights would be good enough to win.  The Huskies have been remarkably consistent defensively, as there is basically no difference in the opponent’s field goal percentage in their wins or losses.  It’s the offense that wins or loses games, and for too much of this season it has been losing games.

Another thing this team shares with many of Calhoun’s teams is that there is a lot of athleticism.  This team is dangerous in a fast-paced game with a lot of running, as they are at their best when they get transition baskets.  When it’s a slow, half court game, the opponent has this team right where they want them.  Past Connecticut teams could win these games, often quite convincingly, but not this one.

It starts with the lack of shooters.  Kemba Walker and Jerome Dyson are capable shooters, but neither strikes fear in opposing perimeter players and neither seems fond of taking jumpers.  Stanley Robinson is shooting well, but he, too, strikes more fear in opposing players with his ability to score closer to the basket.  He isn’t a sniper.

The lack of a shooter might not be so bad if not for the fact that this team has a lot of the same player.  The Huskies are loaded with athletes who can score but not shoot, and that has hurt this team.  In their seven losses, the Huskies have shot below 22 percent from long range, a major difference from their 38.5 percent shooting from deep in their 13 wins.  Knowing that the Huskies like to score off the bounce, teams can play a zone against them or just sag back and force them to prove they can make shots.  Even when given those openings, they don’t always opt for the jumpers because the mindset is to go to the basket.

Get past that, and this team doesn’t have the post scorers they have had in the past.  When you’re in the Big East and your best post scorer is Gavin Edwards – a nice player and slight over-achiever who is at best a complementary player in the Big East – you could be in for some difficult times.  Freshman Alex Oriakhi has rebounded well and had his moments, but has always been a bit soft and tries too hard to out-finesse opponents inside, evidenced by his average of 2.5 free throw attempts per game in over 28 minutes per contest.  Ater Majok is long and has some athleticism, but is also clearly over-hyped.  Jonathan Mandeldove was over-recruited, and Charles Okwandu is a role player at best.

With all of this, it’s not a surprise that offense lost Wednesday night’s game first.  Mind you, this came against a Providence team that has had its struggles on the defensive end and had a meltdown there in their last game, a 109-105 overtime loss to South Florida.  While the Friars were able to get good penetration against the Husky guards and turn them into a number of dunks and layups, that’s not where the Huskies lost this game.

“We get ahead, we got right where we wanted to be, then we stopped playing offense,” said associate head coach George Blaney, coaching the team in Calhoun’s absence for medical reasons.

As a result, the Huskies are 13-7 overall and 3-4 in the Big East.  That puts them likely on the wrong side of the NCAA Tournament bubble at the moment, especially since they lacked a resume win before knocking off Texas on Saturday.  They have plenty of opportunities left to get quality wins while improving their record, but it’s not going to come easily with the offense being what it is.

“We have the talent to do it,” said Dyson.  “We’re playing tentative at times, giving up way too many points by taking a break.  If we keep giving teams 10-0 runs, 12-0 runs, it’s difficult to win games.”

The way this team plays offense, that might be an understatement.

Connecticut has a team with plenty of physical gifts, as they have certainly recruited athletes.  They are translating into some success defensively, but you have to score to win, and right now the Huskies are having trouble scoring.  As a result, they are also having trouble winning.

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Your Phil of Hoops

Big East looks the same in some ways and quite different in other ways

November 13, 2015 by


As year three of the new-look Big East tips off, the conference looks the same in a few ways. In other ways, though, it’s not the same, and much is to be determined.

Though a contender, Purdue will need to earn more relevance

October 15, 2015 by


Purdue has the makings of a contender in Big Ten play, but you wouldn’t know it from the conversations about the conference teams. The Boilermakers will have to earn their way to relevance despite their potential to contend.

New challenge ahead for Harvard

October 6, 2015 by


If Harvard’s great run through the Ivy League is to continue in 2015-16, the Crimson will have to get through quite a challenge this time around with a team that looks a little different.

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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

Recruiting Coverage

2015 Boston Back to School Showcase recap

September 18, 2015 by


The Boston Back to School Showcase gave high school teams from three states and north of the border a chance for a couple of early games. We take a look back at the day and a few who stood out.

2015 Hoopville Spring Finale Notes

June 30, 2015 by


We look back at more from the 2015 Hoopville Spring Finale, where some of the championship games were worth the price of admission.

A big championship day for a local program at the Hoopville Spring Finale

June 23, 2015 by


The 2015 Hoopville Spring Finale saw a number of good championship games on Sunday to close it out, and we start our look back with a look at those games.

Player highlights from Mass Elite and Boston Warriors college showcase

June 4, 2015 by


Two big programs, Mass Elite and the Boston Warriors, got together once again on a college showcase for many of their high school players. We look at some who stood out on the evening.

2015 Massachusetts AAU Tournament notes

June 3, 2015 by


Massachusetts held its AAU championship rounds in a few age groups and its entire tournament for the oldest age group this weekend. We take a look at some of Sunday’s action in Foxboro.