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2013-14 ACC Post-Mortem

by - Published May 27, 2014 in Columns, Conference Notes
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With Notre Dame, Pittsburgh and Syracuse entering, much was expected of the ACC this year. The end result? Well, the ACC was still pretty good, but it wasn’t exactly the super conference some expected it to be. In fact, even before the NCAA Tournament came and went with just one team making the Sweet 16 and going no further, it seemed clear that the conference underachieved relative to expectations this season.

The truth, as is often the case, is a bit more complicated than that. That’s especially true when you realize that ACC teams won five in-season tournaments in non-conference play. It was also a nice year for the conference in terms of individual talents.

… Continue Reading

2014 NCAA Tournament: Early thoughts

by - Published March 17, 2014 in Columns
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The NCAA Tournament selection committee has spoken. The 68 teams are set to begin the tournament on Tuesday with two of the First Four games. With that, the fun is about to begin.

Before that, here are some random thoughts on the selection, seeding and potential matchups, as well as reaction to some early chatter about the field.

… Continue Reading

Virginia can’t turn win over Duke into a momentum builder

by - Published March 4, 2013 in Columns, Your Phil of Hoops
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CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. – Like Maryland before them, Virginia scored a big win over Duke at home. Then they had to go on the road at Boston College, a team near the bottom of the ACC but one that isn’t far from being in the middle of the pack. Maryland couldn’t avoid a letdown and lost at The Heights, and Virginia came close to a better result but couldn’t put away the Eagles, who took home an emotional 53-52 win to likewise put the Cavaliers in a tight spot for the NCAA Tournament.

Like Maryland, Virginia also has some youth, although they have three upperclassmen who start. The Cavaliers have been a tough team to fully figure out on the bottom line, as they went 0-3 against CAA schools in non-conference but won every other game. They should be able to run the table at home in ACC play with one game still left, but have only knocked off Virginia Tech and Maryland away from Charlottesville. That ability to win on the road is a big one, and it was something head coach Tony Bennett was talking about after the game with regard to how it got away.

… Continue Reading

2011-12 ACC Post-Mortem

by - Published May 19, 2012 in Conference Notes
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Kendall Marshall, Leslie McDonald, Dexter Strickland.

Those three Tar Heels were supposed to anchor the North Carolina backcourt entering the 2011-12 season. With Reggie Bullock and P.J. Hairston, the Tar Heels figured to have one of the deepest set of guards in the country to pair with a great front line led by Tyler Zeller and John Henson. And that’s before accounting for Harrison Barnes, projected to be one of the best wing players in the country.

But injuries decimated North Carolina’s backcourt, forcing coach Roy Williams to run with little-used freshman Stilman White and jack-of-all-trades Justin Watts in the team’s most important game of the season, an Elite Eight clash with Williams’ old squad, the Kansas Jawhawks, in St. Louis. … Continue Reading

2012 ACC Tournament – First Round Notes

by - Published March 9, 2012 in Columns
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ATLANTA – The first day of the ACC Tournament is in the books. The seeds held to form in the afternoon with a pair of double-digit games, then we had the first upset right away in the evening as Virginia Tech held off Clemson after breaking a 52-52 tie with nine unanswered points.  Miami finished the night by knocking off Georgia Tech.

We’ve got more coming on a few of the teams. For now, some quick hitters on the day. … Continue Reading

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

The countdown to Selection Sunday starts — less than a month to go

by - Published February 14, 2012 in Columns
hoopguy-orange

It’s hard to believe, but Selection Sunday is officially less than a month away — 26 days to be precise.

That means it’s separation time. The best teams throughout the nation need to raise the bar to claim a regular-season conference championship and jockey for NCAA Tournament seeding.

For the vast majority of the 31 conferences that receive automatic bids to the NCAA Tournament, winning a regular-season conference title is about more than bragging rights. In many conference tournament formats, the regular-season winner gets a bye or home court advantage — sometimes both — at some point in the upcoming conference tourneys. Teams like the America East’s Stony Brook, Big Sky’s Weber State, and SWAC’s Mississippi Valley State won’t be getting at-large bids to the Big Dance if they don’t capture a conference championship in the tournaments. So they’ll take any advantage they can get. … Continue Reading

CBS’ Doyel has the guts to step back from the controversy trap

by - Published December 20, 2011 in Full Court Sprints

Good journalism isn’t easy.

That’s especially true when a juicy story comes along that’s sure to rile up the masses, generating lots of readers and charged opinions. Those stories force editors and reporters to make critical decisions about the validity of sources and effort required to seek comment from an opposing side.

In the emerging brouhaha about the transfer of Todd O’Brien from Saint Joseph’s to UAB, we have an awful lot of information spewing from the O’Brien side and almost nothing from the Hawks’ side.

If you missed the background, Sports Illustrated’s website ran a lengthy column by O’Brien, who outlined his journey through college basketball, which has landed him at UAB as a graduated senior with one remaining year of eligibility. However, before O’Brien can play for the Blazers, Saint Joseph’s must grant him a full release from his scholarship. And supposedly coach Phil Martelli refuses to do so. Without that release, O’Brien won’t play college hoops again.

Frankly, it’s hard to imagine a legitimate reason for not letting a guy play, especially for a team in a different conference and not on the Hawks’ schedule. But that’s not the point.

As the media outcry has sided with O’Brien — who is seeking legal recourse to force his way onto the court — only a handful of commentators have taken a measured approach to this story. So I tip my hat to CBS Sports’ Gregg Doyel, a man with plenty of strong opinions, for leaping into the fray waiving a gigantic caution flag.

While everyone is crying foul, Doyel cried, “Wait!” He rightfully observed that Saint Joseph’s is remaining mum because they are respecting student-athletes’ privacy. The bottom line is we don’t know the Saint Joseph’s side of the story, and we might not for some time. So it’s presumptuous at best and flat-out wrong at worst to side with the supposed victim in this story.

Of course, it’s far less engaging to remain on the fence when others are going all in and calling for Martelli’s ouster. That bloodlust is unhealthy and not reflective of this country’s innocent-until-PROVEN-guilty judicial system. If mob rule dictated justice, we’d have a lot of major mistakes to apologize for whenever we learned the truth — if we ever learned the truth.

A good journalist’s duty is to present clear, accurate and precise information. Commentators who espouse opinions based on incomplete information aren’t doing anyone any good. As unsexy as it may be, we all need to follow Doyel’s lead and wait and see. Let the established rules play out in the NCAA, and if the courts get involved, let the state and local laws as interpreted by the courts decide the matter.

But there’s no need to call for Martelli’s head on a platter until there’s substantiated evidence that he acted like a callous, vindictive control freak.

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

Kentucky had no problems getting past Samford, 82-50, even without Terrence Jones, who missed the game to recuperate from a dislocated pinky, writes the Associated Press’ Colin Fly.

California will be without one its big men this week as sophomore Richard Solomon recovers from a left foot injury, writes Diamond Leung for ESPN.com’s “College Basketball Nation” blog. The sophomore forward is one of the team’s best rebounders, averaging 6.9 rpg, and he’ll miss at least the team’s games against UNLV Dec. 23.

Miami will get back DeQuan Jones, who figured to play a bigger role for the Hurricanes this season — if for no other reason than he’s one of the bigger players on the teams. Jones missed the first month and a half of the season because the school suspended him for the season while the NCAA investigated his possible involvement in the recruiting scandal that has rocked the university. However, according to an Associated Press report, the Hurricanes have reversed that decision, and Jones could be back in the lineup as early as this week.

Some tech-savvy pranksters punked Oregon’s website Sunday night and Monday morning, writes the Washington Post’s Steve Yanda, and the hackers posted some disparaging comments about Virginia that were attributed to Oregon coach Dana Altman. The Ducks lost to the Cavaliers 67-54, and the hacker made up comments ranging from Mike Scott’s hair to the Ducks’ pregame meal. Oregon apologized to the Cavaliers for the malfeasance.

New Mexico State is bringing suspended guard Christian Kabongo back into the fold after the sophomore had been suspended for two games for making obscene gestures in a game against UTEP, writes ESPN.com’s Diamond Leung for the “College Basketball Nation” blog.

NCAA Division I programs couldn’t get enough support to overturn a rule that bans universities from hosting high school prep tournaments, according to an Associated Press report.

Houston boosters might have lost as much as 40 percent of their investments in the David Salinas Ponzi scheme affair, according to the Associated Press. Salinas committed suicide last year, a few weeks before the Securities and Exchange Commission filed a lawsuit that detailed the deceptive investments and behavior that swindled a bunch of Division I programs and coaches.

Virginia gets ready to join the ACC elite

by - Published December 12, 2011 in Columns

Get familiar with this Virginia team now because you might be seeing this team for quite awhile come March.

At 8-1, Virginia has the looks of the No. 3 team in the ACC, behind Duke and North Carolina. Led by fifth-year senior Mike Scott, the Cavaliers have steamrolled through nearly every team on the schedule, winning by at least eight points in each win.

Granted, Michigan is the best team that the Cavaliers have played thus far, and that game was in Charlottesville. And the team has a pretty ugly loss to TCU in the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands. Despite a weak strength of schedule, ranked in the bottom 10 percent, this team is built on a sturdy foundation, with coach Tony Bennett running a slow-paced, grind-it-out strategy to wear opponents into submission.

And Scott is Bennett’s primary grinder. … Continue Reading

Virginia Cavaliers 2011-12 Preview

by - Published November 4, 2011 in Conference Notes

Virginia Cavaliers (16-15, 7-9)

 

 

 

 

Projected starting five:

Jr. G Jontel Evans
Sr. G Sammy Zeglinski
So. G Joe Harris
Sr. F Mike Scott
Sr. C Assane Sene

Important departures:

Mustapha Farrakhan: 13.5 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 1.8 apg

Percent returning scoring and rebounding:

Scoring: 66.4 percent
Rebounding: 80.6 percent

Percent returning scoring and rebounding:

Scoring: 69.0 percent
Rebounding: 81.2 percent

Additions:

Malcolm Brogdon, No. 104 Rivals.com and ESPNU four-star shooting guard from Norcross, Ga.
Paul Jesperson, No. 136 Rivals.com and ESPNU four-star small forward from Merrill, Wisc.

Schedule highlights:

Best non-conference game: vs. Michigan
Toughest conference stretch: Feb. 21-March 1 (at Virginia Tech, vs. North Carolina, vs. Florida State)

Outlook:

Coach Tony Bennett gets back Mike Scott for a fifth year after the senior forward missed nearly all of last season with an ankle injury. In limited action, Scott was very productive, and he should be the dominant post player on offense for Bennett. Surrounding Scott, guards Jontel Evans, Joe Harris and Sammy Zeglinski should have plenty of opportunities to stretch the court for long-range shots.

Bennett should have the Cavaliers competing for an NCAA Tournament bid once again. Virginia doesn’t have a ton of opportunities to pick up non-conference quality wins, so the team’s NCAA Tournament hopes could rest on the team’s performance against Michigan and George Mason — and possibly Marquette in the Paradise Jam.

Prediction: Sixth

Next: Virginia Tech Hokies

Back to ACC preview

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Conference Coverage

2013-14 Big Ten Post-Mortem

July 8, 2014 by

bigten

The Big Ten had some teams slip as the season went on, but plenty of others picked up the slack in another good year for the conference.

2013-14 Sun Belt Post-Mortem

July 7, 2014 by

sunbelt

Membership changes have been happening at quite a pace of late in the Sun Belt, and it was a new member that stole the show for much of this past season and seems poised to lead the way in the future.

2013-14 Big Sky Post-Mortem

July 1, 2014 by

bigsky

The teams that have led the way in the Big Sky of late were right there again this season. One of them won both the regular season and conference tournament, and also had a nice time with the post-season awards as well.

2013-14 MEAC Post-Mortem

July 1, 2014 by

meac

The 2013-14 season was N.C. Central’s year in the MEAC, as the Eagles completed their four-year ascent to the top of conference.

2013-14 Big 12 Post-Mortem

June 30, 2014 by

big12

When it comes to overall depth, the Big 12 this season may have been one of the strongest leagues in a long time. The conference sent seven of its 10 teams to the NCAA Tournament, the first time in 21 years and just the fifth time ever that a league sent 70% or more of its teams to the tourney.

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