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2013-14 Big East Post-Mortem

by - Published May 6, 2014 in Columns, Conference Notes
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A new era in the Big East began in 2013-14, and it was not hard to tell this was not your father’s Big East. The name was there, some familiar teams were as well, and the conference tournament was once again at Madison Square Garden. For that matter, the campaigning by coaches on behalf of the conference was the same.

But no matter how much it might look like the Big East we all knew, this was different.

For starters, three new teams joined the seven that split from the old Big East. Butler, Creighton and Xavier all left other conferences, and Creighton was a contender right away with a veteran team led by Doug McDermott. Xavier had its ups and downs but managed to reach the NCAA Tournament, while Butler had a depleted roster for new head coach Brandon Miller, in part from an injury to key guard Roosevelt Jones that cost him the season, and struggled.

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Creighton in the finals

by - Published March 15, 2014 in Columns
author_floriani

NEW YORK – They led by as much as 19. In the second half they saw it reduced to a one-possession game with just under two minutes left. Creighton showed their poise and determination by closing out a 86-78 victory at Madison Square Garden. The semifinal victory puts Creighton in the final against Providence.

A look at some of the numbers on the evening:

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Tournament madness: To Barclays and back

by - Published March 14, 2014 in Columns
author_floriani

BROOKLYN and NEW YORK – Two venues, four games. Two tournaments in a day. The logistics can be maddening. A ride to Secaucus train station is followed by a 10-minute train ride to Penn Station. Then pick up the subway to Barclays Center.

Well, game plan gone. The lot is full so it’s a drive to New York. The drive is fast, but there is traffic in midtown and virtually every parking lot has no vacancy. Still salvage a space in one at 7th and 36th, three blocks from MSG and the subway. Finally, a connection without a wait as the Brooklyn-bound train is on the track upon my arrival.

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Xavier triumphs and Robert Morris survives: Notes, numbers and quotes

by - Published February 28, 2014 in Columns
author_floriani

TEANECK, N.J. – Early in the week Xavier ventured into Madison Square Garden and posted a 65-53 victory over St. John’s. It was a huge win for the Musketeers coming off a thorough defeat at Georgetown a few days earlier. For the home standing Red Storm, meanwhile, it was a second straight loss with the clock ticking on NCAA possibilities.

The possession numbers:

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Defense is the big concern for Xavier entering a week-long break

by - Published January 26, 2014 in Columns, Your Phil of Hoops
xavier

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Chris Mack didn’t mince words. After praising Providence, who beat his Xavier team 81-72 on Saturday, he started in on his team with their defensive play, and he continued and finished with that as well. It’s clear he wasn’t happy with his team’s defense, and that it wasn’t just on Saturday that such was the case.

“I thought our defense was terrible. It was pathetic,” said the Xavier head coach. “It was not who we’ve been, but it’s who we’ve been lately, and it needs to change, because nobody is going to compete for a Big East championship, an NCAA Tournament berth, and all the things we have outlined for our program this year if we’re playing games in the 80s and 90s.”

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Barclays to MSG: A long (and enjoyable) day’s journey

by - Published March 15, 2013 in Columns
author_floriani

Two main venues, two great tournaments, just miles apart. A day filled with some very good basketball and interesting stories. Why not ? It is March Madness….

11:30 AM – Riding the subway to Brooklyn. The  preceding train ride from New Jersey to Penn Station was spent talking with a Cincinnati fan. The train has fans wearing gear from Pitt, Syracuse (most prominent) and of course, Cincinnati. The Bearcats, our new found basketball friend admits, have a tough assignment facing Georgetown at noon. Overall he is satisfied with the way things are going with Cincinatti but would like to see a little more inside play on offense. For now the Big East can wait. It’s onto the Barclays Center in Brooklyn for the Atlantic 10. It is difficult typing on a moving train.

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Xavier starts big home stretch with a road win

by - Published February 21, 2013 in Columns
xavier

SOUTH KINGSTON, R.I. – Xavier opened its home stretch with a road win, and while it’s not a big one in that it came over an 8-17 team, it is a road win nonetheless, and one they had to battle to take home. In beating Rhode Island 55-42, the Musketeers got back on track as they head into a tough slate to end the regular season. They also ended a stretch with seven of ten games on the road and now get to go home for a few games.

This is not your vintage Xavier team in more ways than one. Whereas the Musketeers have in recent years had teams with good class balance, this year’s is a decidedly young edition with just four scholarship upperclassmen. They also come into mid-February not being a lock for the NCAA Tournament, and in fact they don’t look like an at-large candidate at all. They entered the week with an RPI of 98.

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Xavier is in an unthinkable position – on the bubble

by - Published February 22, 2012 in Columns
xavier

AMHERST, Mass. – Xavier simply doesn’t look good, and the Musketeers certainly don’t look like the kind of team we’ve grown accustomed to seeing. For that matter, they aren’t the team we saw in November and early December. And after the Musketeers lost 80-73 at Umass on Tuesday night, they are below .500 since one fateful afternoon and don’t look like they will soar past that mark the rest of the way.

When they ran out to an 8-0 start this season, with wins at Vanderbilt and Butler along with wins over Purdue and Cincinnati, this team looked like one of the better teams they’ve had, and that’s saying something given the success they have had since joining the Atlantic 10. They were deeper thanks to a group of freshmen that gave them help, and looked like a team that would eventually work their way to a high seed in the NCAA Tournament. But ever since the fight against Cincinnati, this team hasn’t been the same.

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Will Syracuse’s hot start cool off this winter?

by - Published January 10, 2012 in Full Court Sprints
hoopguy-orange

Syracuse is officially on the clock.

As of Jan. 9, the Orange look an awful lot like the best team in the country. But considering that it’s still early January, that’s not terribly surprising. The question is whether Syracuse will still look like the best team in college hoops in another two months as the NCAA Tournament approaches.

Since the Orange won the championship in 2003, Syracuse has made a habit of starting hot, building a record at least nine games better than .500 each season. In half of those seasons, the Orange have had a record as gaudy as at least 15 games better than .500.

But each season, the team has fallen apart for one reason or another. In some cases, it’s a lack of leadership to handle adversity when the team inevitably drops a tough Big East game or two. In other cases, the downfall has been rifts in team chemistry, sometimes leading to suspensions or poor play. And injuries have factored into a few of the collapses.

In sum, Syracuse has not finished a season better than three games above .500 after the Orange’s struggles creep into the picture. Why would this team be any different?

To start, this team has fantastic depth. Ten players average at least 12 minutes per game. Seven players contribute at least seven ppg, but no one scores more than 14.1 ppg, and that’s senior swingman Kris Joseph. In addition, the Orange have superior height than nearly any other team in Division I, with nine players who stand 6’4” or taller.

Coach Jim Boeheim has helped this team navigate through the tumultuous Bernie Fine affair without any semblance of a disturbance on the court. Compared to the off court drama, Boeheim must be happy dealing with any complaints about playing time that come from his talented players — if there have been any at all. Only two players are averaging more than 25 minutes per game, but as far as we can tell, everyone has embraced his role on the team. And that is leading to win after win.

At some point, the Orange will likely drop a game or two in Big East play. Road games against Cincinnati, St. John’s, Louisville, Rutgers and Connecticut are potential land mines. But unlike in recent years, this team seems built to overcome the struggles of one night. Boeheim has the Orange playing their best basketball in eight years, according to Ken Pomeroy’s efficiency stats. If Syracuse can maintain its 1.202 points per possession on offense and 0.883 points per possession on defense, both those numbers will be the best marks for offensive and defensive efficiency for the years that Pomeroy has data available (since 2003).

In a season filled with talented teams, Syracuse has earned its No. 1 ranking, and the Orange should remain near the top from wire to wire. And for Syracuse fans, a strong finish to bookend a strong start would be a refreshing change of pace.

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

Morgan State coach Todd Bozeman is in the thick of serious allegations after several people at the Bears’ game at South Carolina State said the coach punched Morgan State senior Larry Bastfield during the game, according to ESPN.com news services. The school has indefinitely suspended Bozeman while looking into the accusations. Bozeman and Bastfield say the news is much ado about nothing — with that nothing being an accidental bump during the game, as Bastfield described it.

Xavier coach Chris Mack made his point, then paid the price. Mack missed the past couple of days after tearing a tendon in his left knee while dunking to re-energize the struggling Musketeers, who are 2-5 in the past few weeks, writes USA Today’s Marlen Garcia.

Arizona State coach Herb Sendek has accepted the departure of leading scorer Keala King, who left a few days after Sendek suspended him for unacceptable conduct, according to a CBS Sports.com wire report. King’s departure is a massive loss for a pretty bad Sun Devils team. King averaged 13.7 ppg, 4.9 rpg and 3.3 apg.

St. John’s scored a talented point guard when former Texas A&M sophomore Jamal Branch decided to transfer to the Red Storm, writes the New York Daily News’ Roger Rubin. Branch averaged 4.2 ppg and 2.5 apg for the Aggies, and he chose St. John’s over several other suitors.

Michael Jordan’s son Jeff has decided to leave Central Florida, according to an Associated Press report. His brother, Marcus, remains with the Golden Knights, as Jeff cited personal reasons for his decision.

The NCAA’s $2,000 hot mess

by - Published December 15, 2011 in Full Court Sprints

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

The NCAA is entering new levels of ridiculous mismanagement. The Associated Press reports that the NCAA might reconsider giving new scholarship student-athletes a $2,000 stipend, though it would have to allow players who have already signed letters of intent to receive the extra cash while banning those who sign later.

Ohio State superstar Jared Sullinger is still hurting from recurring back spasms, and coach Thad Matta didn’t want to say when Sullinger will be back in the lineup for the Buckeyes, according to a CBS Sports.com wire report. But Sullinger answered that question Wednesday night when the Buckeyes beat down USC Upstate 82-58 and Sullinger played 24 minutes and got 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Nobody will face criminal charges in the Xavier/Cincinnati brawl, the Associated Press reports. Joe Deters, a Hamilton County, Ohio, prosecutor, looked into the matter, deciding not to pursue charges against anyone. One of the factors was Xavier center Kenny Frease’s satisfaction with an apology from Cincinnati’s Yancy Gates, who decked Frease in the head during the debacle.

Seton Hall will gain some more depth this weekend with the return of freshman Brandon Mobley, who had been out with a dislocated shoulder and torn labrum since the summer, according to the Associated Press.

Don’t skip your court appearances. Nothing good can happen. Just ask Kansas’ Ben McLemore. The freshman is under arrest after skipping a Dec. 6 court appearance for a citation related to underage alcohol possession, according to a CBS Sports.com wire report.

Also on the list of bad behavior is taunting fans by grabbing your crotch. New Mexico State sophomore Christian Kabongo did that, and now he’s suspended, writes Diamond Leung for ESPN.com’s “College Basketball Nation” blog.

Syracuse still has Melo — Fab Melo that is. If you thought I was talking about Carmelo Anthony, well, I kinda was. The NBA star who led the Cuse to a championship is convinced that Melo 2.0 and the rest of the crew have the talent to win another championship for the first time since 2003.

I’m not gonna lie — I love the fan experience. And if you tell me that a team in California’s tradition is to throw tortillas when a victory is in hand, I find it amusing. I mean, a flying tortilla — presumably uncooked soft tortilla — won’t hurt anyone. Except when your team is only up two and the officials consider giving the home crowd a technical. Yep, that’s how UC-Santa Barbara’s 65-61 win against San Diego went down, writes Diamond Leung for ESPN.com. When the fans started tossing tortillas, the officials considered tossing out a T. They opted to go with a public announcement that any more thrown items would produce two free throws for the Toreros. The fans settled down, and the Gauchos won.

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Your Phil of Hoops

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.

Mihalich’s first year at Hofstra is over but will have plenty of value

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 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.

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Recruiting Coverage

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.

Tabor Academy looks to have more depth this time around

October 13, 2014 by

taboracademy

Tabor Academy will once again be headlined by a frontcourt player. This time around, though, the Seawolves appear to have a deeper support cast than in recent years.