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Plenty of teams prepare to jockey for seeding, selection tonight

by - Published February 21, 2012 in Columns
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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
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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
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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)

Coach:

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

Additions:

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

Schedule:

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

Prediction:

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.

UConn women Romp in Big East Opener

by - Published January 3, 2010 in Columns

NEWARK, N.J. – Big East Conference women’s play began on Saturday with an eye-opening score. The UConn Huskies, defending Big East and national champions romped over Seton Hall 81-24 at the Prudential Center. In a game whose result undoubtedly sent chills among the rest of the conference, the Huskies went on a 17-0 run after the score was tied at two and never looked back. The three keys to the game:

1. Talent – UConn is absolutely loaded. With eleven players dressed the most minutes (23) went to Tina Charles and Meghan Gardler, the least to Jacquie Fernandes, who logged 11. Going to the bench there did not seem to be much of a drop-off in skills. Coach Geno Auriemma also has the luxury of two solid point guards. Sophomore Tiffany Hayes is more of your half court set floor leader while junior Lorin Dixon is a high-octane transition type. Some teams are fortunate having one proven lead guard; UConn has two.

2. Pick your poison – The exact phrase used by Seton Hall coach Phyllis Mangina. UConn, with Charles posting and Maya Moore penetrating, is a force inside. Mangina opted to give the Huskies the outside shot. They knocked down 6 of 18 from three but also hit a succession of mid range jumpers from fifteen feet. On the afternoon, UConn shot 57 percent (38 of 67).

3. Scoring woes – Throughout the pre-conference schedule Seton Hall had trouble scoring and turning the ball over. They committed 28 turnovers, despite the fact UConn did not press. In addition the Pirates shot 17 percent from the floor (9 of 52).  “When you do not shoot well against an opponent like UConn the problem magnifies,” Mangina said. “you have to shoot very well to have any chance of beating them.” Or of being in the game. The Pirates actually shot better from three-point range (4 for 21 for 19 percent) than inside the arc (5 for 31 for 16 percent).

Notes

  • Seton Hall did not have a player in double figures and was led by junior guard Ebonie Williams with 9 points.
  • UConn pit four players in double figures and was led by Charles’ 19 points 8 rebounds. “Since last March (Charles) has just lifted her game to another level,” Mangina said of the 6-4 Husky center.
  • UConn improved to 12-0, their “closest” game being a 12-point win over number two Stanford just before Christmas.
  • The Hall falls to 8-6 and Syracuse is next on Tuesday. “There are things to learn from this game but we have to put it behind us,” Mangina said. “In the Big East you need a big ego and a short memory.”
  • UConn Coach Geno Auriemma, on facing a team UConn has defeated 25 straight times: “Our kids do not realize the history of the series. What we do every game is simply prepare for the opponent at hand. We focus on each team and get ready in the same manner.”
  • Attendance was 4,166, as roughly eight busloads of UConn fans made it for the afternoon meeting.

UConn, Arizona State Women Advance From Trenton

by - Published March 30, 2009 in Columns

TRENTON, N.J. – One team held serve while another gave a big surprise at the NCAA Women’s Regionals at Sovereign Bank Arena on Sunday. Number one and unblemished UConn dispatched Cal 77-53 in a game that was more competitive than the score hints. In the nightcap, sixth seed Arizona State upset second-seeded Texas A&M 84-69.

The keys to the UConn-Cal contest:

1. Poise – There have been upsets in the women’s tournament this year. With just over 6 minutes remaining in the half, UConn trailed 31-23 and Cal had the momentum. The Huskies never hit the panic button and continued to execute on both ends with poise.

2. Defense – From that juncture with six minutes to play in the half, Cal scored six field goals the remainder of the game. Up until that point they had 11. UConn just dug down deep, forced a few shot clock violations and a succession of rushed attempts with the clock expiring. “The way we played the second half, especially on defense,” said coach Gene Auriemma, “was classic UConn basketball.”

3. Tiffany Hayes - the UConn freshman buried a few treys early and finished with a game high 28 points to spark the Huskies with a game-high 28 points. “She was open and took the shots,” said teammate and star lead guard Renee Montgomery of Hayes. “She showed a lot of confidence to step up like that in a Sweet 16 game.”

UConn led 35-33 at the half and opened it up immediately as the final twenty minutes began. Maya Moore with a relatively quiet start added 22 points. Tina Charles was limited by foul trouble but had a solid five-point, eight-board effort in 23 minutes. Cal’s big gun Ashley Walker sparked the Bears to the early lead. A strong inside player, Walker led Cal with 21 points, but only five following intermission.

In the final contest both coaches were planning on a grind-it-out defensive battle. Instead they got an offensive display as Arizona State pulled a big upset over Texas A&M. Sun Devil mentor Charli Turner Thorne studied the stat sheet following the game and said, “Giving up 69 points and 48 percent from the floor and we win?” As noted, it was an offensive display on both ends. It wasn’t a case of poor defense by either team. “There were times kids hit shots with a hand in their face or made a nice step-back,” Turner Thorne said.

At the half Arizona State held a 42-37 lead, a figure some may have expected to be a final tally. Arizona State was shooting 67 percent while A&M wasn’t too shabby, checking in at 55 percent. In addition, neither team missed a free throw as Arizona State was 9 of 9 and the Aggies were perfect in four attempts.

The second half saw much of the same: torrid shooting and the Sun Devils just refusing to relinquish a lead. A&M hung tough but could never grab the lead as the Pac-10 reps maintained a consistent two-possession lead. In the stretch the Sun Devils gained some separation. A&M had to gamble on defense and was forced into a late-game fouling mode that inflated the final margin.

Arizona State senior guard Briann January paced all scorers with 22 points. Texas A&M had three players in double figures, led by junior forward Tanisha Smith with 19 points. Arizona State finished the game with a 62 percent mark, while A&M cooled off with a 41 percent field goal percentage the second half. The defense for Arizona State may have been a little late but it got there – in time to send them to the regional final against UConn on Tuesday.

“They have a Hall of Fame coach,” Turner Thorne said. “This is one of his best teams for a number of reasons. This is an incredible opportunity to play against them. They are unbeaten and they are the team to beat.”

A Big East and A-10 Hoops Day with Rocks and Ducks

by - Published January 5, 2009 in Columns

STORRS, CT – Today’s task was to evaluate Rhode Island’s Ryan Center and UConn’s Gampel Pavilion. In addition, I was hoping to get enough material to write some kind of game story.

It was perfect. Akron, a very good MAC team with a coach that always gives me a good quote, coming in to try to steal a win from a strong Rams team from the A-10. That Mid-Major struggle was the early game.

The night cap was the Huskies taking on Big East foe, Rutgers. Sounds like a simple operation. Take care of the URI/Akron game then drive a little over an hour and knock out the late game.

Holy crap, did that plan go south in a hurry.

First off, the Rhode Island women played before the men and that game moved at the pace of some Post Office workers. The men’s game concluded with the Rams pounding Akron.

After the game I finish writing my evaluation then I stuck around and started to get some post-game comments and finally figured out it would take too long. I needed to get on the road to UConn.

The Rhode Island campus in Kinston is a good 10 miles on two-lane roads from I-95. It took me 20 minutes just to get to the highway and the whole trip is supposed to take 75 minutes.

After reaching I-95, it was a 25 mile drive down to the exit to start the cross country journey to Storrs.

I missed the turn off and it took me about 20 minutes to get turned around. Then it was too dark in my car to read the directions without pulling over to stop under a light, which I did every five minutes.

I finally asked a woman coming out of a gas station where UConn was from where we were. She knew, but explaining it to me in concise way was not something she could do easily.

She said, “Drive down this road until you get to the big rocks and turn right, then follow the signs.”

Of course, I wanted to know how far down it was and she explained she was not very good at miles.

So I asked how about in driving time. She thought for a few moments and said, “Drive for maybe 20 minutes.”

I then inquired as to what these rocks looked like.

“Not rocks, ducks! It is big ducks”

I said ducks and she said it back to me, only it still sounded a little like she was saying rocks.

So I said ducks again and she said something I could not understand but I thought it was either rocks or maybe ducks. I just couldn’t make it out for sure. I thanked her and proceeded to drive looking for some either big rocks or ducks.

After about 18 minutes I spotted a bridge that had big columns with big stone or cement ducks on top of them. So I guess she said ducks.

There was a sign for UConn and I went in the direction the sign was pointing and 10 miles later the campus appeared. I had no idea where the arena was located but I saw a line of cars and I figured it was in that direction.

So I decided to out-flank those cars by driving around the outside of the campus and coming in the back. I got around the back and there was a line of cars and I got in it. After about 10 minutes I inched up to a policeman and asked him where to find my correct parking lot.

In between directing cars he yelled out, “Up the hill and to the right.”

That was about as concise as telling me to turn at the duck or rock.

Thirty minutes later I inched up to Gumpel and there were no policemen, parking lot attendants or anyone that looked official.

There was a huge line of cars turning in next to the arena, so that looked like where I could park. If it was the wrong lot, I felt pretty confident I could talk my way in for free. I have done that earlier today at Rhode Island, at Butler several million times, UNC, NCSU, UGA, Maryland and a bunch more over the years.

But while I still about 150 feet away someone came out with a couple of barrels and closed off that parking area off to the right of the arena. To make it worse, he walked away.

Now there was nobody to talk into letting me park. I drove around outside the perimeter of the campus again and parked on the street about a mile from Gampel Pavilion and started walking toward the general direction of the arena.

I decided to shave some time off by cutting between two dorms. It was like a maze of dorms. I walked toward my right then back toward my left around another building and then right again and finally left around one more building and then I saw a fence.

That maze came to an abrupt end and I never found the cheese. I just walked 300 yards out of my way in 20 degree cold.

I was boiling mad at this point.

I finally got to Gampel and I was on the opposite side of the building from the gate I was supposed to enter. I walked around the whole building able to see inside the seating bowl each time I passed one of the three gates I had to go by before I got to the west gate.

I walked in still hopping mad and a guard told me I couldn’t bring a case into the building and that I should take it out to my car. You know, that car that is over a mile away on the other side of the maze of dorms.

I informed him it was my computer. He wanted to know why I had a computer. I told him so I could write about this crappy campus and piece of crap arena.

He said, “Oh, I thought you were a fan” I let him know that sports writers could be fat pigs too.

When I got in there was about six minutes left in the first half. I waited until half time and set my computer up. It took me one of the media people 15 minutes to figure how to get me logged on the wireless internet.

At this point I am a broken man. I have a lot of words to write and not much game left to do it.

So let’s see what we have here.

The Rams just took apart Akron. Rhode Island shot 55.8 percent (29-52) for the game and 57 percent from beyond the 3-point line (8-14).

Akron shot just 35 percent for the game and not a single Zip scored in double figures. Rhode Island’s strong defense had a lot to do with how poorly Akron played.

In the night cap, Connecticut beat the tar out of Rutgers 80-49. Rutgers shot just 28.8 percent (15-52) for the game UConn was big and fast. When they pulled down a rebound they shot out a quick pass and they were off to the races

Rhode Island against UConn might have been a better game today

And now for the arena comments.

Gampel Pavilion opened in 1989 and it is pretty underwhelming for a school from a Big Six Conference. It is not a dump, it is well kept, it is just the bare minimum in terms of a basketball venue.

It is a cement structure with a walkway around the inside of the seating bowl and that separates the upper seating section from the lower seating section. The upper seats on the ends are plastic bleachers and the rest are plastic chair backs. There is no outer concourse or lobby. In the four corners on the walkway level there are some concession stands that serve food. The score boards are attached to the wall above the seats. They are standard boards with video boards and player stats. I guess they don’t put more money and effort into making it nice because they play a fair number of games every year at the XL Center in Hartford and that is much bigger. The crowds at Gampel are big time. It holds 8000 and 2000 plus each game are screaming students. It is loud and intimidating.

Now Rhode Island built a much nicer arena. Ryan Center opened in 2002 with a thrilling overtime over USC.

It has a lower seating area with padded seats on the sides and upper seating consisting of plastic chairs with a beautiful carpeted concourse that runs under the upper seating section. The seats go up, rather than out, so the sightlines from the top row are great. It seats 7657 and every seat is a chair back.

Rhode island has pretty good parking nearby and they don’t charge to park I don’t think they have a maze of dorms either.

They just need more fans, it was at most, half-filled today.

So that is my East Coast swing for this year. Any day I can get two games in is a good day even with ducks, mazes and traffic jams.

Hey! Shouldn’t there be a cigar in this story?

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March 9, 2014 by

hofstra

The first year for Hofstra under Joe Mihalich is in the books. Many expected that wins would be hard to come by, and they were, but this season was about more than that and is hardly a throwaway year.

Cornell’s future can only be better

March 2, 2014 by

cornell

Cornell has had a rough season, as could be expected given some personnel losses. It’s almost in the books, and the future at least looks brighter.

Hoopville Archives

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
Sept. 24: South Kent School and Kent School
Sept. 25: Williston Northampton
Sept. 28: Wilbraham and Monson Academy and Suffield Academy

You can also find them all right here.

Even More: City Hoops Recruiting

Mass Elite and Boston Warriors hold college showcase

Mass Elite and Boston Warriors, two of the largest programs in Massachusetts, teamed up for a college showcase on Wednesday night. Here are some evaluations from that event.

Massachusetts 11th grade AAU Tournament recap

Teams gathered at Mass Premier Courts to chase the state title in the oldest age group, and one champion was a familiar one.

Travel team profile: All For One

All For One has been one of the better travel programs in Massachusetts for players before they reach high school

Travel team profile: Blackstone Valley Chaos

Size and options on the wing are not lacking for this year’s junior team

Travel team profile: Expressions Elite

Expressions Elite has quickly become one of the deeper programs in New England

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

Suffield Academy looks to grow into Class A in NEPSAC

September 29, 2014 by

suffieldacademy

Signs of growth are present at Suffield Academy, and along the way the basketball team moves up into NEPSAC Class A this season as they try to keep the program growing.

Wilbraham and Monson has a new leader with a similar level of talent

September 29, 2014 by

wilbrahamandmonson

A busy Sunday started with a trip to Wilbraham and Monson Academy, where there is a new head coach who has been at the school and some good talent to work with.

Williston Northampton begins a new chapter on the hardwood

September 26, 2014 by

willistonnorthampton

A new era is dawning at the Williston Northampton School on the hardwood. It includes a new head coach who is changing some things up right away.

Kent School has some pieces to compete in NEPSAC Class A

September 25, 2014 by

author_kasiecki

The Kent School might not have the talent or depth of its neighboring prep school, but they have a team worth watching that could compete in Class A this season.

South Kent has a lot of pieces – and size – to compete in NEPSAC Class AAA

September 25, 2014 by

hoopguy-cyan

South Kent has a lot of size and lineup options this season. That will enable Kelvin Jefferson’s team to be very competitive in NEPSAC Class AAA.