Conference Tournament Daily Diaries: Friday

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 12th, 2011

RTC is pleased to announce that we’ll be covering all of the major conference tournaments this year — the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10, and SEC — in addition to the strongest two high-middies, the Atlantic 10 and the Mountain West.  Each day for the rest of this week, we’re asking our correspondents to provide us with a Daily Diary of the sights and sounds from the arena at each site.  Equal parts game analysis and opinion, the hope is that this will go beyond the tiresome game recaps you can find elsewhere and give you an insightful look into Championship Week.  Yesterday’s coverage:  ACC, Atlantic 10, Big East, Big 12, Big Ten, Mountain West,  Pac-10 & SEC.

ACC Tournament - by Kellen Carpenter

  • While it looks like John Henson has found his stroke from the free throw line, the rest of the ACC could take lessons. Jordan Williams spoiled a 16 point and 16 rebound effort against Duke by going 2 for 10 from the free line in the loss. Virginia Tech shot 57.1% against a Florida State team that shot 20% from the line.
  • Yeah, speaking of which, that was a game with bad shooting. A clearly exhausted Malcolm Delaney-led Virginia Tech team only made five field goals in the first half. The Hokies shot 17.9% from the field in the first half. Erick Green had shot 1 of 12 for the Hokies before he nailed what turned out to be the game winner. Miami making up 10 points in 40 seconds was impressive. North Carolina’s buzzer beater was impressive. But an undermanned, overworked, and gritty as hell Virginia Tech team owns the most impressive win of the ACC Tournament so far.
  • After Florida State’s Derwin Kitchen buzzer beater was overturned after the Seminoles had already started celebrating, the tables turned quickly. At least one Hokie fans, embittered after years of bad luck, dashed expectations and hard work turned sour, yelled at the Seminole fans, “SUCKS DON’T IT?” That was a little cruel, but it’s nice to see this tough and unlucky Virginia Tech team catch a break.
  • Twice today, the crowd played favorites in dramatic fashion. The Coliseum was roaring during the impressive North Carolina comeback with the cheers of Miami fans completely and utterly muted. Then in the evening, a Duke crowd tried to drown out the angry jeers of the sizable and furious Maryland crowd.
  • The reason that the Maryland crowd was so angry was because Kyle Singler hates Maryland. Kyle Singler hung 25 points on Maryland in January, 22 in February, and 29 in March. It was enough to break Singler’s late-season slump and enough to carry his team when all was not right with Nolan Smith. Even before disaster struck, it wasn’t Nolan Smith’s night. He went 2 for 11 and had five turnovers. Then the worst kind of deja vu struck Duke fans and their point guard hurt his toe. Though Smith looked okay when he walked out of the locker room where he went for treatment, he was limping after the game, and Coach K declined to say anything about the prognosis until Saturday morning.
  • How often do you see the walk-ons play a pivotal role in a conference tournament game? About eight turnover-filled minutes into the game against Miami, a furious Roy Williams benched his team in favor of Blue Steel, this year’s fan-beloved (and frequently goofy) team of walk-ons. Blue Steel didn’t score and they didn’t lock down Miami, but they played hard and bought Roy time to settle his team. It was fitting that Wes Miller, a patron saint to UNC walk-ons who cracked the rotation and didn’t miss a shot during the 2006 ACC tournament, was in attendance.
  • Is it the shoes? Kendall Marshall is an avowed sneakerhead and he cameout wearing classic Air Jordan II’s in University blue, a pretty sharp look that he had tried a couple of times earlier in the season. When Roy benched the starters, Kendall ended up switching to the more basic Team Jordan home shoe. I’m not going to say that was a turning point in the game, but it certainly didn’t hurt the Tar Heels. On the other hand, Leslie McDonald continued to wear his Jordan II’s the whole game and experienced a similar turnaround. On a related note, the Florida State dance team changed their tops at half time. Clearly, that was a huge mistake.
  • One more thing about Reggie Johnson. He is big.  No, seriously, you may know that he’s 6’10 and over 300 pounds, but somehow he plays even bigger than that. UNC has one of the biggest, if not bulkiest, front courts in the nation and Johnson just bullied them around all game on offense and defense. You know who else is big? Seemingly everyone on the Florida State team. They just have waves and waves of big men who all play tough defense. While Reggie Johnson won’t be able to bully hapless mid-majors in the NCAA, an angry Florida State team that’s soon to reintroduce Chris Singleton to the line-up is a tough draw for any team in the tournament. Speaking of Chris Singleton, though he seemed fine and participated in warm-ups, he didn’t play. After the game, Leonard Hamilton admitted that Chris probably could have played, but that he wanted to make sure that they made the right decision for Chris, which seems pretty hard to argue with.
  • Meanwhile, where Reggie Johnson and Florida State are big, the Clemson backcourt is so small. In the seemingly effortless domination of Boston College, Clemson played three players who are tiny by ACC basketball standards. 5’9 starter Andre Young often played with similarly sized Zavier Anderson, with 5’10 Cory Stanton playing spot minutes. They played well and their size never seemed an obstacle against a relatively small BC team, but you wonder how they will fare against Carolina’s long arms.
  • Of course, when you are playing with the swag of this Clemson team, there is little cause for concern.  Demontez Stitt, in particular, was playing with a decidedly nasty streak. He had at least one vicious stare down after a put-back dunk as well as a very pointed step over a BC player who had fallen down trying to stop another drive. The decidedly pro-Tigers crowd was into the game, with one presumably student corner (of the otherwise sparsely populated upper bowl) standing through the entire game. By contrast, there wasn’t a single Boston College fan in sight.
  • I saw a few fans wearing other team’s colors clap politely for theEagles, but no yelling students and not even a BC t-shirt to be seen. I understand that Boston is a long way away, but I honestly believe it hurt BC’s chances. The Eagles weren’t down further than UNC was against Miami, but while the Tar Heel players seemed to feed off the excitement and energy of the crowd, Boston College just didn’t have that option. The crowd’s indifference mirrored the team’s indifference and many of the athletes played with their heads down and a general air of apathy. It’s a shame because a win would have gone along way towards keeping NCAA tournament hopes alive.

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RTC Live: Atlantic 10 Semifinals

Posted by rtmsf on March 12th, 2011

Games #205-206.  It’s time to get serious in Atlantic City as two Cinderellas meet in one game with two conference heavyweights in the other.

1:00 pm Dayton vs. Saint Joseph’s. The first semifinal features the Accidental Tourists of the tournament. Neither Dayton nor Saint Joseph’s was supposed to survive the first round, much less advance to the semis. Friday’s quarterfinal round opened with a bang as #9 seed Dayton (21-12) ran up a nine-point first half lead over #1 seed Xavier (24-7), 36-27, and held on to win a by single point, 68-67. The game was decided on Xavier’s last possession, Atlantic 10 Player of the Year Tu Holloway’s “one-legged” runner was wide of the mark. The Flyers advanced to a semifinal meeting with Saint Joseph’s (11-21). The Hawks, who logged loss #20 at Massachusetts on February 23, are riding a 4-1 run that includes a three-game winning streak. The Philadelphia media labeled each of their last three games an elimination game – lose and they start the offseason. Coach Phil Martelli’s charges beat Charlotte in Charlotte to clinch the #12 (and last) seed in the tournament, then beat #5 seed George Washington University at George Washington, 71-59 in overtime, to advance to the quarterfinals…where they disposed of #4 seed Duquesne (18-11), 93-90, also in overtime.

3:30 pm Temple vs. Richmond. The evening bracket behaved as high seeds won out, but this semifinal match, #2 seed Temple (24-6) vs. #3 seed Richmond (24-7), features two very well-coached, veteran NCAA-bound teams. Execution and discipline should make this game every bit as entertaining as the first semifinal. Temple will look to junior guards Juan Fernandez and Ramone Moore who have clicked very well with senior forward Lavoy Allen to produce a defensive juggernaut. Richmond features two All-Conference seniors, Justin Harper and Kevin Anderson, who can attack the basket or hit from the outside.

Join RTC Live at 1:00pm from the historic Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City for Dayton vs. Saint Joseph’s, followed at 3:30 pm by Temple vs. Richmond.

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BGTD: Friday Afternoon Tourney Sessions

Posted by rtmsf on March 11th, 2011

Throughout conference tournament weekend, we’re going to pop in with some BGTD-style analysis at least twice a day.  Here’s Friday afternoon’s coverage…

  • OSU Survives.  Northwestern seems to play the #1 Buckeyes as well as anybody, taking Thad Matta’s team to the brink twice this season, and losing both.  No other Big Ten team played OSU as closely as the Wildcats did this year, not even Purdue and Wisconsin, the two teams who beat the Buckeyes once each but were blown out in Columbus.  Jared Sullinger did his thing dominating the inside (20/18), but the key takeaway from this game is that in two contests this season, Bill Carmody has found a way to slow down Jon Diebler’s scorching three-point attack.  Recall that Diebler had hit a ridiculous 17-20 in his last two games and is over 50% for the season, but in the close games against the Wildcats, Diebler was only 2-8 from deep and 5-14 overall.  Slowing him down is absolutely essential to knocking off the Buckeyes, so you’d better believe that coaches over the next three weeks will be studying the Northwestern game films very carefully for clues.
  • Michigan Surges. We couldn’t really figure out what happened to the Wolverines last season, but we knew that something was structurally wrong because John Beilein is an excellent coach.  He’s proving it again this year, as Michigan has now won nine of 12 games after today’s comeback victory over Illinois, with the three losses being by one point to Wisconsin, two points at Illinois and eleven points at #1 Ohio State.  At the under-8 timeout, the Wolverines were down nine points and struggling to put points on the board (only 42); from that point on, UM went on an 18-4 run, holding Illinois to a single field goal down the stretch by making several big plays to finish it off.  Michigan is playing well, and their style is very difficult to prepare for — don’t be surprised if Darius Morris, Tim Hardaway, Jr., and company give the Buckeyes all they want tomorrow and make a run at the Sweet Sixteen next week.
  • Carolina: Master of Close Wins.  Everyone knows that the Tar Heels have been on fire, winning eight in a row and thirteen of their last fourteen games and making a case for an outside shot at a #1 seed next week.  What’s interesting to us is how Roy Williams’ relatively young team is consistently  coming back to win close games — today’s buzzer-beater by Tyler Zeller underneath against Miami (FL) is only the latest example.  The Heels were down nineteen points with around ten minutes to go, but somehow, someway, led by Kendall Marshall’s artistry and some timely three-point shooting, they went on a 27-6 run to close out the game and get the victory to move into the ACC semifinals.  Whether these close wins against average competition (six ACC wins by one possession) represents a weakness or a strength, we’re not quite sure, but Carolina is showing an ability to make the right plays in the clutch.
  • Do You Leave Alabama Out? If the intent of the NCAA Tournament is to invite the 37 best at-large teams to dance, then we’re not sure you can leave Alabama out of the NCAA Tournament.  In a recurring theme this weekend, the Tide roared back from fourteen down in the last seven minutes to force overtime where they were then able to pull out the key victory against Georgia.  That gives Anthony Grant’s team 13 SEC wins out of 17 tries, and although the conference is exceptionally weak, especially on the West side, it’s difficult for us to fathom that Alabama isn’t one of those top 37 right now.  We think the Committee will see it the same way, and Alabama will be in one of the First Four games on Tuesday or Wednesday night.
  • A-10 Craziness.  The top half of the Atlantic 10 bracket was blown up this afternoon with #9 seed Dayton getting out to a big lead early against #1 Xavier and holding on down the stretch; and, #12 St. Joseph’s knocking out #4 Duquesne in overtime.  This sets up a Saturday semifinal between a #9 and a #12 seed that nobody who follows this league could have seen coming.  Bubble teams around the country are rooting for #2 Temple to run its way to the title game and easily handle one of these two; otherwise, the Atlantic 10 will be guilty of bid larceny on Sunday.
  • Bubbling Up.  Clearly, Alabama, who may have played its way into the First Four with today’s win over Georgia… Clemson, who crushed BC in a possible knockout game in the ACC Tourney…
  • Bubbling Down.  Georgia, who may have played its way out of the Tournament with its collapse and unfortunate timing on the time out at the end of regulation…  Boston College, who never showed up against Clemson…
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RTC Live: Atlantic 10 Quarterfinals

Posted by rtmsf on March 11th, 2011

Games #193-194.  RTC Live moves down to the sand and slots of Atlantic City for the Atlantic 10’s annual postseason tournament.

6:30 pm. La Salle vs. Temple. These two Big 5 rivals share a series that dates back to 1900, and will bring a taste of Philadelphia ball to the Atlantic 10 Tournament. The third meeting this season, promises to be another, down to the last minute battle between Temple’s Coach Fran Dunphy and La Salle’s Dr. John Giannini. This season Dunphy holds a 2-0 edge. Can the Owls, who won the two previous meetings by margins of four and eight, make it a three-game sweep? A third win may not be as easy as it looks. Temple will be led by Lavoy Allen, Ramone Moore, Juan Fernandez and Scottie Randall, all of whom were named to All-Conference teams (First, Second, Third and Most Improved) earlier in the week. La Salle, in Atlantic City by virtue of a road win over St. Bonaventure, will be led by All-Conference Rookie First Team guard Tyreek Duren, well regarded center/forward Aaric Murray and seniors Jerrell Williams and Ruben Guillandeaux. The seniors have a 1-7 record versus Temple.

9:00 pm. Rhode Island vs. Richmond. Seeded #3 in the conference tournament, sits on Zach Hayes’ #11 seed line (3/10/2011 edition) and needs wins, as many as All-Conference First Teamers Justin Harper and Kevin Anderson can gather in Atlantic City, for their NCAA resume. Running the table would guarantee a bid, but two wins would provide insurance against any more upsets in the other conference tournaments. Conference tournament upsets have pushed Rhode Island out of the NIT, but Coach Jim Baron’s team has played the spoiler all season, collecting untimely wins versus Boston College, Dayton, and Duquesne. And most significant of all, Rhode Island beat Richmond, by four, in Richmond earlier this season. The Runnin’ Rams, led by All-Conference Second Team forward Delroy James, beat Saint Louis 70-61, on Tuesday to punch their ticket to Atlantic City.

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Around The Blogosphere: March 10, 2011 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on March 10th, 2011

If you are interested in participating in our ATB2 feature, send in your submissions to rushthecourt@gmail.com. We will add to this post throughout the day as the submissions come in so keep on sending them.

Top 25 Games

  • #15 St. John’s 65, Rutgers 63: “St. John’s rode a controversial end to move into the next round of the Big East Tournament, defeating Rutgers 65-63 in a game filled with poor shooting. But the game will be marked by its controversial ending.” (Rumble in the Garden)
  • #18 UConn 79, Georgetown 62: “What is left to say? Georgetown fans knew this team was heavily reliant on Chris Wright, media members and statisticians knew it as well. Clearly, after our fourth straight defeat without Wright, both the Georgetown players and coaches know it even better than the rest of us. Connecticut beat the Hoyas 79-62 in a game that was never really in question. Kemba Walker scored 28 points to lead the Huskies, who also got plenty of help from Jeremy Lamb, Shabazz Napier and Jamaal Coombs-McDaniel. Jason Clark and Austin Freeman led the Hoyas with 23 and 20 points respectively, but it wasn’t nearly enough, as the Hoyas were outhustled, outmanned, and outclassed in Madison Square Garden.” (Casual Hoya)

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Daily Diaries: ACC and Atlantic 10 Tournament Finals

Posted by rtmsf on March 16th, 2010

In our attempt to bring you the most comprehensive Championship Week coverage anywhere, RTC covered several of the conference tournaments from the sites over the weekend. We had RTC correspondents at the ACC and Atlantic 10 Tournament finals on Sunday; each of them wrapped up the day’s action in these diary submissions.

Atlantic 10 Championship

Temple 56, Richmond 52

  • “It is tough to win both the regular season title and the conference tournament. I have to congratulate Temple on their achievement” said Richmond Coach Chris Mooney to start his last press conference at the 2010 A10 Tournament. His Richmond team had lost to Temple, 56-52, in front of 10,000+ fans at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, NJ. The cheers from the arena floor could he heard in the background as the reporters asked Kevin Anderson and Justin Harper to analyze their team’s performance. Richmond came out cold in the first half, missing their first four shots. A dunk by center Darrius Garrett put Richmond on the board, but Temple had already converted three times. Three minutes into the game it was 7-2 Temple, just like the day before, different day and opponent perhaps, but the same start. That was the story of the A10 Championship game. Like their semifinal game with Rhode Island, the Temple Owls scored first and never relinquished the lead. Richmond however was not Rhode Island and the Spiders did not go quietly. The crowd was Temple’s by a 60-40 margin, and when the Spiders came close cutting Temple’s lead to one with 39 seconds left in the game, the Spider faithful came to their feet and gave their team a loud cheer.
  • “Threepeat!” shouted the fans as the Temple team cut down the nets. “It’s the beginning of a dynasty!” a fellow member of the media said as he packed his bags, “They bring back Fernandez, Allen, Eirc and Jefferson. They will own the A10 for at least two more years.” Dynasty talk will have to wait for next season’s previews however, because the talk along press row was whether the game would help Temple’s argument for a #3 (or better) seed.  There is another month to this season, and the growing expectation that this Temple team (and most probably the two other A10 teams who will participate in the NCAAs next week) will play through the first weekend, and possibly into the second weekend.
  • Weather and a leaky roof aside, the A10 Conference Tournament was everything an eastern basketball fan could ask for. Three days of terrific basketball, ten games in all. Throw in an overtime game and two of the last three games decided by six or fewer points and play after play by athletic and skilled basketball players. The work of Kevin Anderson and Juan Fernandez in particular stand out. Anderson put the Richmond team on his back and brought them back against Xavier in the semifinal game. Anderson scored the last four points in regulation to tie the game, and hit the first points in overtime that put Richmond in the lead. Fernandez is a oddity for American audiences. Temple fans remember Pepe Sanchez, an Argentine guard brought over by John Chaney very fondly. Fernandez is about six inches taller and very skilled. In the championship game he called for the ball again and again, taking to the lane or hitting a pull-up jumper, a small lapse at the midpoint of the second half aside, he was composed throughout, chewing on gum, as if to set his internal clock. In the championship game Anderson played 38 minutes and scored 14 points. Fernandez played 38 minutes and scored 18 points: the margin of the game.

Superlatives

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RTC Live: Atlantic 10 Finals – Temple vs. Richmond

Posted by rtmsf on March 14th, 2010

One last game to play in the A10 Conference. On Sunday at 1 p.m. the Temple Owls and Richmond Spiders will decide who takes the conference crown and the conference’s automatic bid. This is Temple’s third consecutive A10 Title Game. Only Massachusetts, in their magic run of five consecutive championships (1992-1996) ,has a conference record not held by the Owls. Can Temple “threepeat” and keep their winning streak? No team has been to the title game more often than the Owls’ 15 games. Nor has any team matched Temple’s eight tournament championships. Juan Fernandez, Ryan Brooks, Lavoy Allen and Luis Guzman have been here before; they know what it takes to win. Temple may know the territory, but Richmond has only been to the championship game once. And they lost. This time they are bringing two All-A10 First Team players, A10 Player of the Year Kevin Anderson and sharpshooter David Gonzalvez, with them. Richmond is the only A10 team to own a win over every other A10 team this season. They beat Temple before, will they use the energy and confidence gained from their thrilling 89-85 overtime win over Xavier to power them over the Temple Owls? Join us at RTC Live for one last game. The Temple Owls and the Richmond Spiders, live from Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, NJ.

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Even More Notes From the Mountain West, Atlantic 10 and WAC Tourneys

Posted by rtmsf on March 14th, 2010

In our attempt to bring you the most comprehensive Championship Week coverage anywhere, RTC is covering several of the conference tournaments from the sites. We have RTC correspondents Andrew Murawa at the Mountain West Tournament, Joe Dzuback at the Atlantic 10 Tournament and Kraig Williams at the WAC Tournament this weekend.  In addition to live-blogging select games throughout the tournaments, they will each post a nightly diary with thoughts on each day’s action. Here are the submissions for tonight’s pair of championship games and the A10 semis.

Mountain West Finals: San Diego State 55, UNLV 45

  • The only logical place to begin here is with Kawhi Leonard, who was dominant tonight. The line speaks for itself: 21 rebounds (a career high), including seven on the offensive end. 16 points. Holding Tre’Von Willis to 4/12 shooting from the floor (and at least two of those field goals came when SDSU inexplicably switched to zone at the start of the 2nd half). And throw in a couple assists and a couple steals for good measure. He definitely presents matchup problems for every team in the MWC, and he will present problems for teams across the country. Throw a smaller, quicker guy on him and Leonard will dominate in the paint; put a big man on him and he can step outside and use his face-up game. In the postgame press conference, UNLV head coach Lon Kruger was asked about the possibility of having to deal with Leonard for three more years, and the look that crossed his face (a combination of a knowing smile and a grimace) was priceless before he went on to spend a couple minutes singing Leonard’s praises. While New Mexico’s Darington Hobson and BYU’s Jimmer Fredette rightly are regarded as the best players in the conference, it is Leonard who is the most talented player in the conference.
  • Willis tweaked his ankle late in the game on Friday night, and while he played without incident tonight, he was likely not as explosive as he was earlier in the tournament. How much of that had to do with the ankle and how much was the Leonard factor is up for debate, but Coach Kruger of course brushed off any notion that Willis was hampered by the ankle.
  • The vaunted UNLV homecourt advantage turned out to be much less of an issue tonight than it was either last night or even on Thursday night in the quarterfinal. Maybe it was the earlier start, or maybe it was the Aztec fans’ inability to provoke the UNLV fans into a cheering confrontation as Utah and BYU fans did, but while the Rebel fans sure got loud when Larry Johnson and Jerry Tarkanian were shown on the scoreboard, they were never really a huge factor in the game.
  • Last night in this space I talked up UNLV junior center Brice Massamba quite a bit. Tonight? Um, who? Massamba’s totals: 18 minutes, five fouls, two rebounds, two turnovers.
  • Now, time for me to admit a couple areas where I was dead wrong. This doesn’t happen often (not me being wrong, I’m wrong a lot, I just rarely admit it – ask my wife), so soak it up.
  • First, sometime in the middle of the MWC season I wrote that San Diego State junior point guard D.J. Gay was holding his team back and that head coach Steve Fisher should make the move to freshman Chase Tapley at the point. Well, Gay proved me wrong and Fisher right more or less from that point on. While Gay still doesn’t shoot a great percentage from the floor, he has really cut down on the turnovers over the back half of the schedule, and more important than anything the numbers show, he is the leader on this team. Guys like Leonard and Billy White and Malcolm Thomas and even senior Kelvin Davis are all major cogs for this Aztec team, but it is Gay who makes this team go. Look at his numbers over the tournament, and they’re nothing special (in fact, they’re downright awful): less than 8ppg, six of 26 from the field, 10 assists, five turnovers. And yet, they probably don’t get out of the quarterfinals without him (when he hit two clutch free throws at the end to provide the final margin), they certainly don’t get through New Mexico without him and his seven assists and zero turnovers, and tonight it was Gay’s big three in the face of Oscar Bellfield under six minutes that extended the Aztec lead above one possession for the first time since very early in the second half. Throw in the fact that the guy played 119 of a possible 120 minutes in this tournament (and the minute that he was out the Aztecs looked lost) and its clear Gay brings more to this team than his numbers would indicate. And, just to extend my praise of the guy, he is also a well-spoken, funny kid.
  • The other place I was wrong is about Fisher. For several years now, I have been critical of some of Fisher’s in-game coaching and even his ability to bring along talent. While I thought his decision to open the second half in a zone for a couple of possessions was a similarly goofy decision, there’s really no questioning what he has done with this team. The vast improvement this team has made since opening night when they were absolutely drilled by St. Mary’s is clear and he has really gotten a talented team to buy into team over individual fully. Now, I’ll admit some of this may be because Fisher was just so charming and effusive in his press conferences that he won me over (tonight’s great Fisher quote, on winning the recruiting battle of Leonard over some Pac-10 schools: “we don’t need to get down on kneepads to recruit against the Pac-10.”), but the fact that he has taken a SDSU program with little history and put them in the postseason in seven of his 11 seasons, including now three NCAA visits, says all that needs to be said about Fisher’s ability to coach. The fact that he is just so likable is only a bonus.
  • I chose Fredette, Hobson, Willis, Leonard and Gay as my five for the all-tourney team, with Leonard as my MVP, although I felt awfully bad about not writing down White, Chase Stanback or Dairese Gary. The official tournament team was Fredette, Hobson, Willis, Stanback, White and Leonard (no fair they got to pick an extra one – I wanted my all-tourney team to have eight guys), with Leonard the MVP.

Atlantic 10 Semifinals

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RTC Live: Atlantic 10 Semifinals – Temple vs. Rhode Island & Richmond vs. Xavier

Posted by rtmsf on March 13th, 2010

The Atlantic 10 Conference has scheduled their conference tournament in Atlantic City, NJ, the East Coast’s mecca for gambling and entertainment. The quarterfinals are over, and the last four standing are the top-seeded Temple Owls, who will face the Running Rams from Rhode Island, and the second-seeded Xavier Musketeers, who will face the third-seeded Spiders of Richmond. Eight of the fifteen players named to the three All Conference and one of the All-Freshmen Team players will see action on Saturday, giving these matchups a heavy “all star” flavor.  The Temple Owls will be led by First Team All-A10 forward Lavoy Allen, Second Team All-A10 guard Ryan Brooks, All-A10 Sixth Man Ramone Moore and All-A10 Honorable Mention point guard Juan Fernandez, while Rhode Island will counter with Third Team All-A10 guard Keith Cothran and power forward Delroy James, and All-Rookie Team guard Akeem Richmond. Xavier will be led by First Team All-A10 guard Jordan Crawford and Third Team All-A10 forward Jason Love. Richmond will counter with A10 Player of Year Kevin Anderson and Second Team All-A10 David Gonzalvez. This has been Temple’s tournament for the past three postseasons, but today the Owls face a Rhode Island hungry for an NCAA bid. Xavier and Richmond, virtually assured of an NCAA bid, are playing for seed and the home-team whites should Temple stumble. Join RTC Live as we blog live from the A10 Tournament at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.

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Atlantic 10 Tournament Preview

Posted by rtmsf on March 9th, 2010

Joe Dzuback of Villanova by the Numbers is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic 10 Conference.  He will be at the A10 Tournament reporting throughout the weekend. 

Conference Offensive and Defensive Efficiencies – One Last Look

All is right in the numbers world. Almost. Temple, Xavier and Richmond sit at the top of the conference pecking order and their differentials confirm their standing. Dayton, St. Louis and Rhode Island are still tangled a bit, which could develop into an interesting story as the conference tournament plays out later this week. The won-loss records, confirmed by the gap in the efficiency differentials, suggest that the bottom four of Massachusetts, La Salle, Saint Joseph’s and especially Fordham, were simply not competitive with the rest of the conference this season (of course with respect to Massachusetts, Rhode Island disagrees).

Final Conference Standings for 2009-10

  1. Temple (14-2, 26-5, #16 AP)
  2. Xavier (14-2, 23-7, #25 AP)
  3. Richmond (13-3, 22-7)
  4. St. Louis (11-5, 20-10)
  5. Charlotte (9-7, 19-11)
  6. Rhode Island (9-7, 21-8)
  7. Dayton (8-8 19-11)
  8. St. Bonaventure (7-9, 14-15)
  9. Duquesne (7-9, 16-14)
  10. George Washington (6-10, 16-13)
  11. Massachusetts (5-11, 11-19)
  12. Saint Joseph’s (5-11, 11-19)
  13. La Salle (4-12, 12-18)
  14. Fordham (0-16, 2-26)

Predictable?

Quirky early season schedules allowed George Washington and Massachusetts to sit atop the conference briefly, but as the season wore on, Xavier, Temple, Charlotte and Richmond took turns, either alone or in company of another, as the top ranked team of the conference. Temple and Xavier were supposed to take this season to rebuild. The Owls lost Dionte Christmas and the Musketeers lost their Coach, Sean Miller. Temple landed on the national radar when they beat Big 5 rival (and #3 at the time) Villanova in December. Xavier stumbled in the Old Spice, but recovered to join with Temple to cohabit with or shadow the two other teams that took long turns at the #1 spot through the 8.5 weeks of conference play. Temple’s 77-72 win over Xavier on January 20 settled the pecking order between those two (Temple would rank higher), but it was not clear until February 28 when Xavier defeated Richmond 78-76 in two overtimes, that those two would stand alone at the top at the end.

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Majerus the Academician

Posted by rtmsf on March 12th, 2009

Ray Floriani of College Chalktalk is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and NEC Conferences. He is bouncing around the Northeast this week visiting several championship week venues.

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ATLANTIC CITY, NJ – Rick Majerus can coach. There was never a doubt over that. The St.Louis mentor also has opinions and doesn’t mind voicing them. At the Atlantic Ten Tournament opening round in Atlantic City on Wednesday Majerus took the opportunity to once again be heard. His Billikens just won a thrilling 62-60 overtime game against LaSalle. He spoke generically about being ‘fortunte to win’ and so forth. Then it came.

“It would be a shame to beat Xavier tomorrow and not to have them go to the (NCAA) tournament,” he said. ”But we aren’t going to win. I just do not like post season conference tournaments.” He continued as records captured and pens scribbled. “I really think academics is the most important issue. We are keeping these kids out of class for roughly four days, they are missing too much academic work. The regular season champion is the champion. In these tournaments you win a four day event, wear a championship t-shirt and walk around like you won something. That’s phony.” Majerus went on to note he has been successful in these events at Marquette, Ball State and Utah. In his two A-10 tournaments he’s done a credible job. He took a more talented Dayton team into overtime before losing a heartbreaker last season.  The LaSalle win was a nice one affording an opportunity to face Xavier.

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Majerus has pontificated about conference tournaments before. The Xavier comments were surprising. For one, XU is in whether they run the A-10 table or were upset. Secondly, saying your team won’t win doesn’t instill confidence in your players. Majerus did say later, “we will play our asses off tomorrow.” An outstanding coach, outspoken and thought provoking. Rick Majerus is never boring.

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Before the Majerus interview I met with the Billiken cheer/dance squad. Two years ago I interviewed Allie McLaughlin one of their members as a note in  another column. She’s now the coach. Personable but not the controversial notebook filler like Majerus. The Atlantic City venue has some schools claiming the casinos off limits to their spirit squads. Not St. Louis. “If they are twenty one they can go to the casinos,” she said. The narrow Billiken win gave them that opportunity.

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RTC Live: Atlantic 10 Tournament

Posted by rtmsf on March 11th, 2009

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3/14 Update:  The Championship Game between Duquesne and Temple begins tonight at 6pm EDT.  See you there!

3/13 Update: Tonight CCT will be live-blogging the semifinals, with Xavier-Temple the early game at 6:30 pm and Dayton-Duquesne in the nightcap.  Enjoy!

3/12 Update:  The quarterfinal round promises to have several good games.  Here is today’s liveblog, courtesy again of our friends at College Chalktalk.

RTC Live is pleased to announce that we have partnered with our Atlantic 10 correspondent, College Chalktalk, to provide simul-blogging live from courtside of the A10 Tournament in Atlantic City, NJ, this week.

The Tournament began this afternoon with two good games where St. Louis and St. Joseph’s advanced to the quarterfinal round, and it will continue tonight as UMass will battle Duquesne and St. Bonaventure will play Richmond.   CCT, the authoritative voice on Atlantic 10 basketball, will be simul-blogging the UMass-Duquesne game, and we invite you to join their coverage here on the site tonight and throughout the rest of the week.

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