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The Morning Dish – Friday, March 6, 2015

by - Published March 6, 2015 in The Morning Dish
hoopguy-orange

The nickname will live on, but as far as the team that earned the label for Florida Gulf Coast, it turns out the first we saw of “Dunk City” in the NCAA tournament in 2013 was also the last.

FGCU was knocked out of the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament on Thursday by South Carolina Upstate. In a game that lived up to expectations, the Spartans won 63-62 only after the Eagles’ Bernard Thompson missed the final of three free throws after being fouled attempting a three-pointer with less than two seconds left.

The smooth-shooting Thompson and entertaining point guard Brett Comer were the last links to that FGCU team that shot up from a 15 seed in the 2013 tourney, running and dunking freely past heavily favored Georgetown and San Diego State to make the Sweet 16. As much as the Dunk City tag has endured since then, that team will always be the genuine article, the first and the best.
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The Morning Dish – Sunday, December 21, 2014

by - Published December 21, 2014 in The Morning Dish
hoopguy-yellow

Saturday’s college basketball day had all kind of major storylines featuring many of the sport’s biggest name schools. Kentucky and North Carolina winning big made-for-TV games. A pair of former Big East rivals putting on a show. Louisville, VCU and SMU getting quality road wins. Illinois defeating Missouri at the buzzer in their annual Braggin’ Rights game. And that was just during the daytime.

Would like to take a moment, though, to recognize a league at the other end of the spectrum, maybe as far from the biggies as can be in NCAA Division I. The Southwestern Athletic Conference is frequently a punching bag for schools like the aforementioned, regularly racking up the losses in November and December while playing ridiculous non-conference schedules.

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The Morning Dish – Thursday, December 12, 2014

by - Published December 11, 2014 in The Morning Dish
hoopguy-orange

“Anybody can beat anybody” is a cliché. It’s also being proven on a regular basis early in this college basketball season.

The upsets keep coming this year, and if there’s one thing we’re learning early this college basketball season, it is that you cannot take anyone lightly. That seems to go especially for NCAA Division I newcomers and transitional members.
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Scanning the Nation Notebook – Dec. 10

by - Published December 10, 2014 in Columns
glatczak

Some weekly thoughts, from watching and reading and generally spending too much time following college basketball:

  • CBS’s Jon Rothstein beat us to mentioning him today in his Observations column, but we’ll add on: Dylan Ennis has been a real difference-maker for Villanova. The junior averaged just 5.1 points per game last year but this year has stepped up his scoring, averaging nearly 13 points per game, including 18 Tuesday night in the Wildcats’ win over Illinois in the Jimmy V Classic. As if Nova’s offense needed another perimeter threat, it now has one as Ennis is shooting 46% from three (20 of 43) and has almost already matched his entire season total of 25 triples made last year. He helped keep the Wildcats going early this season in tougher-than-expected wins over Lehigh and Bucknell when the rest of the team was struggling from deep, and Ennis is now the leading scorer as Villanova has seven players averaging between 7.4 and 12.9 points per game.

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The Morning Dish – Sunday, December 7, 2014

by - Published December 7, 2014 in The Morning Dish
hoopguy-cyan

The independents are dead. Long live the independents.

Whereas once independents were far more than an exception in college basketball, the ranks have dwindled in recent years to near extinction, as well documented for some time.

The lone independent the last couple years has been New Jersey Institute of Technology, New Jersey Tech, NJIT. By any name, it has one of those perfectly obscure independent names, carrying on the tradition of indies of the past like Brooklyn College, Utica and U.S. International. As the lone independent left, though, it’s sometimes hard for the Highlanders to get so much as a mention in preseason annuals, much less a real chance at postseason glory.

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2013-14 Atlantic Sun Post-Mortem

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

The Atlantic Sun doesn’t get a whole lot of publicity over the course of the season. But when the postseason comes around, beware. Atlantic Sun teams have won a game each of the past two NCAA Tournaments. And that’s just the beginning.

Atlantic Sun teams have won 14 postseason games over the past four years, and have won at least one game every year since 2009. The conference has continued to perform well in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament, where they placed two teams this season.

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USC Upstate Goes to Great Lengths in Transition

by - Published December 15, 2008 in Columns

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. – The transition up to Division I isn’t easy. It usually involves a lot of time on the road, a lot of guarantee games that often include blowout losses, and some changes in evaluating a team.

Most of that is the same with USC Upstate, which is currently in its second season of Division I play. Like a number of teams making the transition, the program had some good years leading up to the jump, including back-to-back seasons with over 20 wins in 2004-05 and 2005-06. They even went 17-11 in their final season of Division II.

Where things look a little different is with regard to who they play in those road games. Many teams new to Division I, if they play a full Division I schedule, will play games against a lot of teams in their geographic area. It would make sense from the standpoint that the travel expenses would likely be lower than if they have to go far away, making the guarantee check ultimately worth a little more.

For USC Upstate, that would mean a lot of the guarantee games would come against ACC and SEC schools. But that hasn’t been the case at all. After Sunday’s game at Boston College, the Spartans have played two ACC and two SEC teams in their season-plus of Division I competition. Instead, they have played all over.

Last season, the Spartans played schools from ten different conferences in their non-conference slate. Only two conferences, the MAC and Conference USA, were home to multiple teams. This season, the Atlantic 10 will be the only conference with two opponents on their schedule, as their ten non-conference games will represent nine conferences.

“We do that from a recruiting perspective,” said head coach Eddie Payne. “We know we have to do that because we have to make money in our second year of Division I. We structure that so we go to good places and do good things.”

Payne, who has previously held the head coach position at East Carolina and Oregon State in the Division I ranks, is in his seventh season leading the program. He’s coached at all levels and is well-suited to lead a program into a transition like this. The prior four years, his son Luke was one of the best players and graduated ninth on the school’s all-time scoring list. Now he’s working with a younger bunch.

In the trip to the Boston area, Payne sprinkled in a trip to the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield. Another reason he has scheduled games all over is to give his kids a variety of experiences off the court. And while the players look at these as business trips, there is an undeniable liking for being able to get another educational part like going to the Hall of Fame.

“It’s a business trip, but at the same time we try to have fun,” said senior forward Bobby Davis, the team’s best player as he leads them in scoring and rebounding after posting a double-double (19 points, 13 rebounds) against the Eagles.

Not only is the program making a jump up, but this team is also inexperienced. Davis is one of just four upperclassmen who play significant minutes. Three underclassmen start, and the top reserve is a freshman, talented but erratic guard De’Marion Gordon, who looks like he can provide instant offense off the bench.

All of it makes for another challenge: evaluating the team. Sports are a bottom-line business as much as any other, and college basketball is no different. While a team transitioning to Division I might have a little more room for struggle allowed than, say, an ACC school, wins and losses are still there and still impact teams since they are made up of human beings. And while wins and losses are the usual measuring sticks, a situation like this calls for a change in that.

“You have to measure success in different ways,” said Payne. “You have to, from game to game, change what you call success.”

Sometimes that comes from how well they play in a half. Sometimes that means looking at whether or not they are in a game. It sounds like talk of moral victories, but that’s the nature of the beast for a program in this kind of transition.

“We’re just making it as best we can. I’m an old fart, so I think I can handle it,” Payne joked. “I know I can handle it, I can help these guys get through it, but it’s not easy. It’s not easy when you’re playing games that, theoretically, on paper, you don’t have a chance to win.”

Payne says his holdover players look more prepared now that they have a year of Division I under their belt. They are used to playing on the road, used to playing a difficult schedule, and have a feel for what competition is like at this level as opposed to Division II. Also helping is that they are playing teams that play some different styles. While they won’t have everything covered in that respect, and Payne says that wasn’t really the idea, that gives them one more thing to help later on.

“We’ve got a smorgasbord of experiences that can help us in our conference,” Payne reflected.

Payne likes the way his team is coming along, and they’re in a conference where they can win with some good recruiting and improvement before long. The challenges are constantly there for him and his players and not just in winning, but they are literally going to great lengths to try to reach the destination.

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Your Phil of Hoops

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kentucky

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Fran Dunphy deals with bubble uncertainty for the first time

March 15, 2015 by

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Hoopville Archives

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

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

2015 Hoopville Spring Finale Notes

June 30, 2015 by

hoopguy-divisionII

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

hoopguy-yellow

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

hoopguy-cyan

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

author_kasiecki

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.

adidas Gauntlet Indianapolis – Sunday notes

April 29, 2015 by

adidasuprising

Sunday was the conclusion of the adidas Gauntlet Indianapolis, and we take a look at some of the players who shined on a day that saw a few games that weren’t very competitive.