Set Your Tivo: 12.14.10

Posted by Brian Otskey on December 14th, 2010

***** – quit your job and divorce your wife if that’s what it takes to watch this game live
**** – best watched live, but if you must, tivo and watch it tonight as soon as you get home
*** – set your tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2013
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

Brian Otskey is an RTC contributor.

A pair of games on the “U” highlight tonight’s schedule, the best of this slow week. Can the two home favorites avoid a letdown after big wins this past Saturday?  All rankings from RTC and all times eastern.

Oakland @ #4 Tennessee – 7 pm on ESPNU (***)

UT Needs to Avoid the Letdown Bug Tonight

After their huge win over Pittsburgh on Saturday behind Scotty Hopson’s career-high 27 points (10-13 FG), the Volunteers return home to face a 5-5 Oakland team out of the Summit League. Sounds easy, right? Not true, Oakland is not your ordinary .500 team. The Golden Grizzlies are in the midst of a brutal non-conference schedule, one that has already included games against West Virginia, Purdue, Illinois and Michigan State and still has Michigan and Ohio State to come after tonight’s game. Oakland nearly upset Michigan State on Saturday, falling by just a single point. Tennessee will look to use its speed and athleticism against Oakland as Bruce Pearl features a lineup of versatile guards and forwards. By contrast, Oakland features a solid front line of Keith Benson and Will Hudson. The 6’11 Benson averages 18/12 plus three blocks a game, a dominant force in the paint. Tennessee needs a strong effort out of Brian Williams in order to defend him. Stopping Hudson will also be key to a Tennessee win as he shoots 66% from the floor. Pearl may even look to a zone in order to defend the Oakland bigs or just use a double team on Benson. Tennessee, which shot 7-11 from three against Pitt, has the potential to outshoot Oakland from deep as the Golden Grizzlies rank just #281 in defending the trey. Reggie Hamilton (16 PPG, 4 APG, 39% 3pt FG) has to be on his game along with Benson and Hudson for Oakland to have a chance to win. Oakland doesn’t shoot it well from deep but Hamilton is their biggest threat, though he’s just five for his last 19 (26%). With Hopson and Tobias Harris, Tennessee has two extraordinary weapons at 6’7 and 6’8 that Oakland can’t quite match. Greg Kampe’s team is going to have to get the job done in the paint with his front court duo and that’s where rebounding comes in. Both teams are excellent rebounding units, especially on the offensive end. Each ranks in the top 15 in the country in offensive rebounding percentage though Oakland could only muster 30 total rebounds against Michigan State. Winning the rebounding battle is critical to any success Oakland hopes to have in this game. Turnover margin is the other key battle to keep an eye on. The Vols struggle handling the ball, averaging 17 turnovers a game including 20 against Pitt. Point guard Melvin Goins does a nice job but it’s really the other players that cause most of the turnover problems. They made up for that with 56% shooting against the Panthers but don’t expect that to happen again. Oakland turns it over 16 times per game so they’ll need to pay attention to this as well since they don’t force many turnovers at all. Tennessee gets to the foul line better than anyone else in D1 and Oakland’s starters play a lot of minutes. Combine those two statistics and you have a potential depth issue for the Golden Grizzlies. If players start fouling out, particularly Benson or Hudson, it’s going to be very difficult, almost impossible, to win. Expect an up-tempo game with Tennessee trying to avoid a letdown after Saturday’s terrific performance. If the Vols don’t take this game seriously, Oakland will hang around all night and have a chance to win. If Tennessee plays their game and doesn’t turn the ball over, expect the home team to come away with a nice win.

Drexel @ #20 Louisville – 9 pm on ESPNU (***)

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RTC Conference Primers: #11 – Colonial

Posted by Brian Goodman on October 26th, 2010

Alex Varone is the RTC Correspondent for the Colonial Athletic Association and the MAC.

Predicted Order of Finish

  1. Old Dominion (15-3)
  2. VCU (14-4)
  3. George Mason (13-5)
  4. Hofstra (11-7)
  5. James Madison (10-8)
  6. William & Mary (9-9)
  7. Northeastern (8-10)
  8. Delaware (8-10)
  9. Towson (8-10)
  10. Drexel (6-12)
  11. UNC Wilmington (3-15)
  12. Georgia State (3-15)

All-Conference Team (key stats from last season in parentheses)

  • Charles Jenkins (G) - Hofstra (20.6 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 3.9 APG, 1.8 SPG)
  • Chaisson Allen (G) - Northeastern (13.6 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 3.6 APG)
  • Joey Rodriguez (G) - VCU (12.9 PPG, 5.8 APG, 1.9 SPG)
  • Frank Hassell (F) - Old Dominion (9.2 PPG, 6.7 RPG)
  • Denzel Bowles (F) - James Madison (20.8 PPG, 9.2 RPG)

Sixth Man

Cam Long (G) - George Mason (12.2 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 3.1 APG, 1.3 SPG)

Impact Newcomer

Mike Moore – Hofstra

While Blaine Taylor and ODU are the early favorites in the CAA, they can also do damage against quality non-conference opponents.

What You Need to Know

  • A league record six CAA teams made the postseason last year. For the conference to match that number this season, squads such as Northeastern and William & Mary will need to retool on the fly after suffering heavy losses, and up-and-comers such as James Madison and Delaware will need to take a big step forward in 2011.
  • The aforementioned James Madison Dukes and Delaware Blue Hens both lost at least 20 games in 2009-10 and combined to win just seven conference games, but hopes are high for both programs. James Madison has the most explosive offensive duo in the CAA with Texas A&M transfer Denzel Bowles and Julius Wells, both of whom averaged over 15 PPG last year. Delaware returns its top seven scorers, including an explosive duo in its own right with seniors Jawan Carter and Alphonso Dawson.
  • The predicted struggles of UNC Wilmington and Georgia State could end up costing the Colonial Athletic Association an NCAA Tournament berth in March. Both teams had a final RPI in the mid-200s last season and neither team should be much improved this season. The Colonial desperately needs its bottom-level teams to avoid dragging down the conference’s overall RPI in order to successfully secure two NCAA Tournament bids.

Predicted Champion

Old Dominion (NCAA Seed #9) – The CAA’s defending champions have the potential to be even better this season with four starters returning, including senior forward Frank Hassell and breakout candidate Kent Bazemore. Even with the loss of leading scorer Gerald Lee, Old Dominion is still a physical team that wins with defense under coach Blaine Taylor, who has led the Monarchs to seven straight winning seasons and six straight postseason appearances. This year should be no different. Read the rest of this entry »

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Summer School in the CAA

Posted by Brian Goodman on September 8th, 2010


Alex Varone of College Basketball Daily is the RTC correspondent for the CAA and MAC.

Around the CAA

  • In 2010, the Colonial Athletic Association represented itself well in March, sending a league-record six teams to the postseason. That group was led by league champion Old Dominion, who advanced to the NCAA Tournament’s round of 32 after upending Notre Dame. Both second-place Northeastern and third-place William & Mary fell in the first round of the NIT in a pair of close road losses at Connecticut and North Carolina, respectively. Fifth-place VCU swept Saint Louis in a best-of-three final to win the third annual CBI tournament, while seventh-place Hofstra fell in the CBI’s first round, and fourth-place George Mason lost its first game in the CIT.
  • Two of the CAA’s twelve teams will be under the direction of a new coach in 2010-11. Tom Pecora left Hofstra after nine seasons to lead the rebuilding effort at Fordham. Replacing Pecora is not Tim Welsh, like it was originally intended, but rather Mo Cassara, a first-time head coach who spent the last four seasons under Al Skinner at Boston College. UNC-Wilmington also made a coaching change, “reassigning” four-year head coach Benny Moss within the athletic department. The Seahawks’ new head man is the well-traveled Buzz Peterson, who has already made stops at Appalachian State (twice), Tulsa, Tennessee, and Coastal Carolina.
  • For the second consecutive year, a Virginia Commonwealth Ram was selected in the first round of the NBA Draft, this time being First Team All-CAA center Larry Sanders, who elected to forgo his senior season at VCU. Even with the loss of Sanders, the Colonial boasts a wealth of returning talent, especially at the guard spots. Two members of last year’s First Team are back, led by 2010 CAA Player of the Year and senior Charles Jenkins. Northeastern’s senior guard Chaisson Allen is also back, along with four seniors who made the 2010 Second Team: Delaware guard Jawan Carter, George Mason guard Cam Long, VCU guard Joey Rodriguez, and James Madison forward Denzel Bowles.

Larry Sanders brought the CAA a ton of pub last season, but skipped his senior season to go pro. (VCUAthletics.tv)

Power Rankings (last year’s overall and conference standings in brackets)

  1. Old Dominion [27-9 (15-3)] – The Monarchs look to make it back-to-back Colonial Athletic Association championships this season. Leading scorer and First Team All-CAA forward Gerald Lee is gone, but four starters from last year’s title team are back, led by 6’8 senior forward Frank Hassell (9.2 PPG, 6.7 RPG). Hassell anchors a frontline that will once again be Old Dominion’s strength, a luxury in a league that doesn’t feature much frontcourt depth. Teaming with Hassell are a pair of seniors: the versatile Ben Finney (8.8 PPG, 5.8 RPG) and Keyon Carter (7.4 PPG, 4.9 RPG). There are question marks about the guard play, but there are worse alternatives in this league than junior Kent Bazemore (8.4 PPG, 4.2 RPG), a defensive specialist, and senior Darius James (7.0 PPG). Head coach Blaine Taylor has done a great job in leading the Monarchs to seven straight winning seasons and six straight postseason appearances, and while a number of teams are capable of winning the Colonial this year, Old Dominion is once again the team to beat until someone knocks them off.
  2. VCU [27-9 (11-7)] – In year one of the post-Anthony Grant & Eric Maynor era, VCU won 27 games, second-most in school history, reached the postseason for the fourth consecutive year, and won the CBI tournament. Not bad for what was supposed to be a “transition year” at Virginia Commonwealth. This year, the Rams have to deal with the heavy loss of First Team All-CAA center Larry Sanders, who finished in the top five in the league in rebounding, blocked shots, and field goal percentage. The burden of some of that production will fall on the shoulders of 6’9 senior Jamie Skeen (8.1 PPG, 4.5 RPG), but expect the 2010-11 Rams to be a guard-oriented squad. Second Team All-CAA senior Joey Rodriguez is the top returning scorer (12.9 per game), but also led the CAA in assists (5.8 per game) and steals (1.9 per game). Seniors Brandon Rozzell (8.8 PPG), Ed Nixon (7.9 PPG), and wing Bradford Burgess (10.4 PPG, 5.1 RPG) should all see increased production this year. VCU was a bit unfortunate in close games last year, as all eight conference losses were by five points or fewer, including a four-point overtime loss to Old Dominion in the CAA Tournament semifinals. If a few of those close losses go the other way in Shaka Smart’s second year, VCU could very well be headed back to the NCAA Tournament.
  3. George Mason [17-15 (12-6)] – In 2010, George Mason showed flashes of being a league contender; a seven-game win streak last January left the Patriots with a 15-7 (10-1) record, but they lost eight of their last ten games, and subsequently bowed out in the CAA quarterfinals. But all five starters are back this season, led by senior guard Cam Long (12.2 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 3.1 APG, 1.3 SPG), a 2010 Second-Team All-CAA performer and 2011 Player of the Year candidate. Long will be complemented by a trio of juniors in forward Ryan Pearson (11.9 PPG, 6.4 RPG), guard Andre Cornelius (9.4 PPG), and forward Mike Morrison (8.5 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 1.6 BPG). If forward Luke Hancock (7.7 PPG, 3.5 RPG) and guard Sherrod Wright (5.5 PPG) can both blossom as sophomores, this could be one of Jim Larranaga‘s most talented teams and the most talented team in the CAA. As is, George Mason will likely be more consistent in 2011, and with that, the Patriots should be considered one of the favorites. Read the rest of this entry »
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Drexel’s Leading Scorer Busted For Armed Robbery

Posted by rtmsf on July 26th, 2010

We know that Philadelphia is a tough town, but this is ridiculous.  Stories like this always amaze us given the risk/reward matrix, but Drexel University’s starting point guard (Jamie Harris) and a backup forward (Kevin Phillip) spent the weekend as fugitives from justice while Philly police searched for them in light of a videotape showing the pair leaving an apartment after an armed robbery (with a third accomplice named Devon Bond) last Wednesday night.  The two surrendered to the authorities today, and if the allegations that the Dragon teammates were involved in the robbery turn out to be true, it’s two more lives destroyed in an incomprehensible way. 

Bonehead Brothers (AP/M. Perez)

As the story goes, the pair (along with Bond) allegedly busted in on a woman (also a Drexel student) in her apartment whom they thought was holding a “big stash of cash.”  They brandished handguns and ordered the woman to hand over the money, but it turns out that their carefully-begotten information was bad — the woman was not in fact flush with cash, so they instead stole her iPhone (and another cell phone of unknown origin).  Based on information later supplied by the woman to the police, Bond was arrested last Thursday, and she then fingered Harris and Phillip from a photographic lineup over the weekend. 

So we ask, again — what kind of mental processes must go through people’s heads to ever think that this was a good idea?  The victim saw the players’ faces during the robbery.  Bond, Harris and Phillip all live in the same apartment complex.  The entire thing is caught on videotape (including Bonds’ ridiculous attempt to act as one of the victims by lying on the floor during the robbery).  Not to encourage criminal behavior of any kind, but it is shocking that people will put their entire lives on the line with such limited forethought. 

Drexel coach Bruiser Flint commented that he’s “trying to figure this thing out,” but there doesn’t seem all that much to figure other than the fact that his top returning player (Harris), a rising senior and the anticipated centerpiece of a team looking to move into the top echelon of the CAA next season, will likely not be available to him.  Nor will he have the rising junior Phillip, a hustle guy who fit nicely into the rotation last season.  What he does know for certain is this: his two knuckleheads combined for 44 steals last year while on the playing court, but it’ll be two steals from last week on a hot, dark night in Philly that will haunt them for the rest of their lives. 

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Backdoor Cuts: Vol. XI

Posted by rtmsf on February 25th, 2010

Backdoor Cuts is a weekly college basketball discussion between RTC correspondents Dave Zeitlin, Steve Moore and Mike Walsh that occasionally touches on relevant subjects. This week the guys jump the shark with a discussion about college hoops with an Olympic flavor.

MIKE WALSH: I don’t know about you guys, but the Olympics have monopolized the TV in my house since the opening ceremonies. And don’t get me wrong, I love the Olympics – the grandeur, the goosebumps, the medals – but they’ve seriously cut into my college basketball viewing these days. Take tonight, for example. I’m sitting here watching Olympic ice dancing with my wife, and I suddenly became inspired … to not watch ice dancing anymore.

Hopefully Our Olympics Won't Involve Cold War Era Fencing

I’ve got to get some hoops back in my life. With Selection Sunday just out of reach it still seems a little early to argue about who’s in and who’s out of the Big Dance (don’t tell ESPN … Doug Gottleib’s kids gotta eat). St. Joe’s is struggling to find 10 wins, Penn is struggling to find the basket, and Boston U. is struggling to pretend that anyone cares about college hoops when there’s hockey on. So what if we combine the two? What if we add a little Olympic flair to college hoops and hand out pre-March Madness medals?

I even borrowed an outfit from Johnny Weir just to get into the spirit. So wedgies be damned, we’re off to the first ever college basketball medal ceremony!

Men’s downhill: And the gold medal goes to … UNC! Get it? It’s because they won the national championship just last year and now they stink. They’re not even going to make the it to the Dance. Roy Williams has publicly questioned his team’s effort. It’s ridiculous. It’s like Canadians not being able to make ice. Oh wait … that happened too? Well, that’s unfortunate. But fear not Tar Heel Nation, it’s only a matter of time (and a few more blue chippers) until your boys are once again soaring above everyone else like Shaun White.

Curling: I’m not really sure why, but screaming like a maniac seems to be an integral part of curling. That being said, who better to win the gold than Kansas State’s own Frank Martin? If this guy was screaming, “HARD!” at the top of his lungs at me, well, I’d probably pee my pants, but you better believe I’d be sweeping that ice like a bastard too. The silver medal would be awarded to Drexel head coach Bruiser Flint, mostly because the man’s mouth goes like an outboard motor. Arizona’s Sean Miller rounds out this ear piercing podium.

Skating on thin ice:  This isn’t exactly one you want to be on the podium for. For their poor sportsmanship the students at West Virginia barely edged out the student section at Mississippi State for the gold, if only because someone actually hit an assistant coach with their flying projectiles at WVU. The Mountaineers’ fans thought maybe they should get extra rowdy for the big game against rival Pittsburgh, but guess what kids, there’s a big difference between rowdy and reckless. Maybe they’ll cover that in class next semester? As for Mississippi State, they thought they were getting hosed by the refs and the bottles started flying. News flash: bad refs are as much a part of college basketball as jump shots and lay-up lines. Those kids are as big a sore loser as Evgeni Plushenko, and they probably have the matching mullets, too.

What do you guys think? Who would you don with a Rush the Court gold medal? I’ll give you a push like a speed skating relay team, but I’ve got to get back to rooting against the Canadians.

DAVE ZEITLIN: I’ll be honest. Aside from the joy that is afternoon curling, I haven’t gotten too into the Olympics. Perhaps it’s because I can’t relate to any of the sports. I tried skiing for the first time last weekend, and other than the fact I couldn’t stop, let alone carry my skis and boots at the same time, it went really well. And if you want to understand how graceful an ice skater I am, picture a drunk moose walking on a balance beam.

 
But I like the topic, Michael, and I’m ready to dish out some more medals.
 
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Checking in on… the CAA

Posted by rtmsf on February 16th, 2010

Ryan Restivo of the MAAC-based SienaSaintsBlog is the RTC correspondent for the Colonial Athletic Association. SienaSaintsBlog now features exclusive video!

Standings (as of 2/15)

  1. Northeastern (17-9, 12-3)
  2. Old Dominion (20-7, 12-3)
  3. George Mason (16-10, 11-4)
  4. William & Mary (18-7, 10-5)
  5. Drexel (15-12, 10-5)
  6. VCU (17-7, 9-6)
  7. Hofstra (14-13, 7-8)
  8. James Madison (11-15, 4-11)
  9. Georgia State (10-17, 4-11)
  10. UNC Wilmington (8-18, 4-11)
  11. Towson (7-18, 4-11)
  12. Delaware (7-19, 3-12)

Another snowy week struck the CAA schedule. This is not a bold prediction but I guarantee we’re going to get games in the conference tournament that are the caliber of George Mason’s 82-77 overtime win over VCU on Tuesday night. Anyone who caught that game on ESPNU saw a real treat. Despite the snow, Hofstra drew a modest 893 in their game against Drexel Wednesday night. CAA Rookie and co-Player of the Week Drexel’s Chris Fouch left with an injury. Will he miss the rest of the season? Towson postponed its Wednesday night game to Thursday afternoon and gave interim-coach Brooks Lee his first career win as coach of UNC Wilmington. Meanwhile, James Madison walk-on redshirt freshman Ryan Knight was arrested for allegedly throwing snowballs at vehicles that were described as “missiles.” Meanwhile Old Dominion turned in another 20-win season, their fifth in the last six years. Unless there is more snow, the entire league will play on Tuesday night before heading into their weekend BracketBuster matchups in an effort to boost the league RPI.

Important Games This Week

Tuesday 2/16             

  • Drexel @ VCU  (7pm TCN).  VCU has a chance to build some momentum on a three-game homestand starting tonight against Drexel after playing themselves out of the race this week. Drexel, meanwhile, can play themselves further in to gaining a first-round bye with a win but will have to do it without talented redshirt freshman Chris Fouch.
  • William & Mary @ George Mason (7pm MASN).  The Patriots will be without Mike Morrison due to a suspension from Saturday’s game. The Patriot Center is a tough home atmosphere and erupted in their ESPNU win over VCU. It will be interesting to see if the Tribe can come out and get another signature road win.

Team Reviews

Northeastern (12-3)

Last week’s co-Player of the Week Matt Janning scored 29 points this past week on 10-23 shooting (43%) but the Huskies struggled in a road loss at William & Mary on Saturday. Janning had one of his worst road performances of the year, scoring eight points and going 0-5 from long range in a one-point loss. A team with Nkem Ojougbouh and Manny Adako in the frontcourt was outrebounded in both of their games this week. Grabbing open boards has been a problem this year as the Huskies rank 10th in the CAA in rebounding margin and last in offensive rebounds. The three-point shot was off this week as well, as the top CAA three-point shooting team shot just 13-40 (33%) this week. The conference schedule will continue to have winnable games at UNC Wilmington and a home game against Hofstra sandwiched between a BracketBuster against Louisiana Tech.

Old Dominion (12-3) 

Despite the snow, the Monarchs crushed the Dukes on the road by 20. Gerald Lee is making his play for first team CAA, scoring 34 points on 12-24 (50%) shooting this week. A sold out Constant Convocation Center saw the Monarchs disrupt the Patriots in a 16-point win where Mason player Mike Morrison get ejected. The Monarchs improved this week from behind the arc. Junior Ben Finney turned in a 19-point, seven assist and seven rebound game. Currently the team ninth in the CAA in three-point field goal percentage shot 15-37 (41%). The one weakness that might be exploited, especially in the road BracketBuster game at Northern Iowa, is their 10th ranked free throw percentage of 65%. A home game against Towson should ensure some momentum going into the week and a road game at Georgia State will be their last conference road test before the conference tournament. A tiebreaker holds the Monarchs in second, as they lost their only game to Northeastern, but they still have a good chance to lock up the top seed.

George Mason (11-4)

Mike Morrison might not have the prettiest shooting stroke, but his basket with 2:46 left tied the game as the Patriot Center exploded in their 82-77 ESPNU televised win over VCU. The Patriots had not won at Old Dominion since 2004 and lost more than that on Saturday when the same Morrison drew two technical fouls and an ejection for yelling at officials. He drew a mandatory one-game suspension and George Mason added on another game so Morrison will be out the whole week for the Patriots. It will be interesting to see if they can keep in the race without him against William & Mary Tuesday night. George Mason has lost its last three road games, two of them by double digits to Drexel and Old Dominion.

William & Mary (10-5)

Kendrix Brown’s jumper with seven seconds left gave the Tribe a 53-52 win over Northeastern. David Schenider has struggled shooting, just 18-73 (25%) since mid-January. Despite that, the Tribe still ranks second in the conference in three-point field goal percentage (36%). One underlying problem that has plagued William & Mary has been turnovers. The Tribe turned over the ball 34 times last week, their highest in a two-game week since the first week of the season. While they had a great performance, making seven threes in a win over Delaware, the Tribe have continued to struggle this month shooting 24-89 (27%) from behind the arc. They will have a chance to carry that momentum to Fairfax against the Patriots and then into a road BracketBuster matchup in New Rochelle against the MAAC’s Iona Gaels.

Drexel (10-5)

Redshirt Freshman Chris Fouch returned to his native New York but hurt his left shoulder in the Wednesday night loss at Hofstra. Head coach Bruiser Flint said Fouch’s injury might be a season-ender but he will try to rehab and make it back for the CAA Tournament. Three of the Dragons’ final four games are on the road and we’ll see if the Dragons can keep up their third best defense in the league, holding teams to 39% FG, which they did in a 68-60 win Sunday over Delaware. Jamie Harris scored 16 of his team-high 21 points in the first half to lead the Dragons without Fouch. Look for Harris to step up Tuesday night at VCU, as it will be crucial to their remaining hopes for a first round bye in the conference tournament.

VCU (9-6)

VCU head coach Shaka Smart got his first name in memory of a 19th-century Zulu king who united southern Africa. However, his leadership will be tested this week in the wake of two tough losses. Joey Rodriguez did all he could on Tuesday night, turning in a career high 24 points, but George Mason dealt them an emotional 82-77 overtime loss. In the loss VCU blew another double-digit lead on the road: this time it was as high as 15. VCU ranks third in three point field goal percentage but failed to convert Saturday night at James Madison, making a season-low three from distance in a 76-71 loss. The Rams host the tough Drexel defense on Tuesday before hosting Akron in a BracketBuster game.

Hofstra (7-8)

As they currently stand, Hofstra can do no worse than their current seed since they hold a three-game lead and every head-to-head tiebreaker over the teams behind them. They are probably locked into the #6 seed since they cannot break a tiebreaker with VCU, who they lost to by 13 at home in their only meeting. There was at least a foot of snow but the show went on at the Mack Sports Arena in a big win over Drexel Wendesday. Junior Charles Jenkins, still working on his argument for Player of the Year, poured in 32 points and fellow junior Greg Washington set Hofstra’s all-time record for career blocks. Senior Cornelius Vines scored a career-high 24 points and tied a school record seven three pointers in a 17-point road win at UNC Wilmington. Jenkins nabbed co-Player of the Week honors and Chaz Williams, who could now be the favorite with Chris Fouch out, won Rookie of the Week. The Pride have a chance to build some momentum in conference at Delaware before hosting the disappointing Rider Broncs in their BracketBuster game.

James Madison (4-11)

Denzel Bowles led the Dukes this week with a team high 29 points and 13 rebounds but the Dukes fell in a makeup game loss at Towson by 4 on Monday. The school was closed but James Madison played the game Wednesday night: it didn’t help as Old Dominion crushed the Dukes at home. The Dukes made a season-low one three-pointer and shot 8% from behind the arc in a 20-point loss. The Dukes went on a 19-2 run early in the second half and Bowles tried to power his Dukes over VCU but fouled out with 7:56 to go. However the Dukes only committed three second half turnovers and held on to win at home by five. The win snapped a four game losing streak. This is one of the two best wins for JMU this year, with VCU (#66 RPI) and a home win over William & Mary (#51).

Georgia State (4-11)

The Panthers have won three games in 2010 and failed to win their second road game of the season, falling at Northeastern and at cellar dwellar Towson in overtime. What let down the Panthers this past week? Georgia State’s defense, which has held teams to 42% from the field and is sixth in conference, let both teams shoot a combined 49% (47-95) despite outrebounding both in each loss. A home game against James Madison is winnable as the bottom five scramble for positioning in the conference tournament.

UNC Wilmington (4-11)

Interim head coach Brooks Lee won his first game after an extra day delay due to snow. The Seahawks have been plagued by all their shortcomings this year. They rank third in free throws attempted at 555 but are the worst in the CAA at 64%. They haven’t been able to generate turnovers, ranking in the bottom of the conference in steals and assist to turnover ratio. Chad Tomko, with two sprained ankles, came out and scored a season high 22 at Towson to get Lee his first win as interim coach. The 17-point loss to Hofstra was a failure to hold the Pride on defense. One bright light to take into next year is the play of Ahmad Grant. Grant scored a career-high 23 points and 48 points on the week on 16-37 (43%) shooting. Grant has improved to where Lee said, “When he gets into the lane off the dribble, his arms are so long and he has a very good vertical, he can jump up and get his shot off over guys. Now that he’s added that to his game, it makes him more difficult to guard at the 3-point line. Now when a defender closes out on him, they have to honor drive and shot as well.”

Towson (4-11)

The Tigers had a two-win week, with two close wins over bottom of the pack teams in the CAA. Tony Franklin made two free throws with 4.8 seconds left for a three-point win Monday over James Madison. Saturday’s three-pointer from Rashawn Polk with 17 seconds left in overtime gave the Tigers a five-point win. Towson has improved over the past week, shooting better than 48% in three straight games. The last time the Tigers shot better than 43% in three straight games was in December. Towson also benefitted from the free throw line,  making a season-high 22 free throws in Monday’s win and converting 83% in Saturday’s overtime win. The Tigers hit a rough road trip which will take them from Williamsburg to Riverdale to play the MAAC’s Manhattan Jaspers after a mid-week matchup at William & Mary.

Delaware  (3-12)                                                                                           

The Blue Hens could only generate enough offense to win one game this week as they fell to last place in the CAA. Delaware shot 63-178 (35%) on the week. Jawan Carter led Delaware with 54 points on the week but the Blue Hens struggled with perimeter defense, allowing 18 three-pointers in three games. The Blue Hens rank last in the conference in field goal percentage; three point field goal percentage and blocked shots.

When not covering the CAA for Rush The Court, Ryan writes about Fantasy Baseball on Rotosavants.com, on his own website RyanRestivo.com and at SienaSaintsBlog.com.  Ryan will take your questions here.

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Checking in on the… Ivy League

Posted by rtmsf on November 21st, 2008

check_in41

Dave Zeitlin is the RTC correspondent for the Ivy League.

Some early-season notes from the only league without scholarships or a conference tournament:

Cornell might be the class of the Ivy League, but Penn, a perennial power (save for last year), has been getting most of the early attention, thanks to a not-so-terrible loss to No. 1 North Carolina to open the season followed by a nationally televised game against Philadelphia rival Drexel during ESPN’s college hoops marathon.

Full disclosure: I’m a Penn graduate and a big college hoops fan, so I made it over to Drexel for the game dubbed as the “Battle of 33rd Street.” Amazingly, the 10 a.m. start time wasn’t even the weirdest part of the game. Or that Drexel had banners in the arena listing its flag football champions. Or that at one point Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell hollered “That’s terrible” at the refs about 23 times in succession (actually, anyone that’s seen Fast Eddie at a Penn game will tell you that’s not weird at all; the Penn grad takes his sports – and his yelling – seriously).

No, the weirdest part was probably that the game marked the first time Penn played at Drexel in a series that dates all the way back to the 1920-21 season (which you might say makes sense considering Penn’s home, the Palestra, is considered college basketball’s most historic gym). Drexel coach Bruiser Flint said the home court edge made a big difference and he was probably right as the Dragons held on for a 66-64 win in a game that featured too many fouls, too few made free throws and probably one too many “tell the professor I really am sick” jokes.

There were some positives for Penn – such as former-spare-parts-turned-valuable-seniors Brennan Votel and Kevin Egee combining for 35 points. And the Quakers fought back from a big hole and had a chance to tie it in the final seconds. But it should be obvious from those who watched the game that this young Penn team, which starts three sophomores and a freshman, needs to make significant improvements if it hopes to unseat Cornell as Ivy champs.

One more quick note on Penn: Of all the things in college basketball that are easy to predict, a freshman point guard from the Ivy League struggling in his first college game against the No. 1 team in the country probably falls somewhere between Dickie V gyrating and Digger Phelps gratuitously holding a highlighter to his tie. And sure enough, Penn freshman point guard Zack Rosen had a rough debut, getting shut out by the Tar Heels in 28 minutes. But Quaker fans should take heart that the heralded recruit who passed up schools such as Rutgers, Iowa State, Seton Hall, Virginia Tech and Gonzaga to come to Penn will only get better. Much better.

Cornell posted a nice win over Loyola Md. in the consolation of the NIT Tip-off (The NIT has consolations?) but the AP didn’t seem to notice as not one Cornell player, basket, spurt, play, band member, coach or fan was even mentioned. But I guess that’s what happens when the opposing coach goes to sit in the stands for part of the game.

The Big Red lost their first NIT game to St. John’s, but some early speed bumps should be expected as the team is currently without sharpshooter Adam Gore (ACL) and point guard Louis Dale (hamstring), the reigning Ivy Player of the Year. Dale may be back soon, but Gore is out until at least January, which might make the road to a repeat a little trickier.

–I heard something weird happened during Princeton’s first game, so I checked the student newspaper’s account of the game. And yes, the rumors are true! Princeton has a “flashy” point guard. At first, his flashiness “puzzled” the fans who were used to the “Princeton basketball of old – constant motion, backdoor screens and layups, defeating opponents by wearing them down and catching them off the guard.” But soon, they grew to appreciate the new “modern and conventional” style of basketball. Could this be the end of backdoor cuts as we know it? Don’t they realize that’s how they beat UCLA in one of the all-time great tourney upsets?  What’s next to go – set shots?? I’m not sure if a world without Princeton backdoor cuts is a world I want to live in. (By the way, the Tigers lost their first two games, but already appear to be far better than the 07-08 team that was one of the worst offensive teams in the country.)

–I thought the departure of Barack Obama’s brother-in-law Craig Robinson would hurt Brown on the recruiting front, and it very well might. But the Bears gave rookie head coach Jessie Agel a good win when they knocked off Patriot League power Holy Cross, less than a week after narrowly losing to a Rhode Island team that almost took out Duke. Meanwhile, Michelle Obama’s brother had a rough debut at Oregon State, losing to Howard, 47-45. Interestingly enough, Howard is coached by longtime Penn assistant Gil Jackson, so this game had a lot of league connections (probably why the two teams combined for less than 100 points). Perhaps even more interesting, the AP reports “a couple dozen” fans “swarmed” the court after the game. Hope they had good security there.

–From Seton Hill to Michigan, Tommy Amaker has always been known as a good recruiter, if not the smartest game coach. But Amaker’s first recruiting class at Harvard has drawn allegations of unethical behavior, some of which came to light when the Crimson’s prized recruit, Frank Ben-Eze, ended up enrolling at Davidson after committing to Harvard because of scrutiny over diminished academic standards. Still, Amaker’s first class looks mighty good. With three newcomers starting (Oliver McNally, Max Kenyi, Keith Wright), the Crimson opened the season with an 80-69 win over New Hampshire on Wednesday . If these guys can pass poly sci, Harvard may be set up for a run at the program’s first Ivy title.

–Andy Katz may think Yale can win the Ivy League, but the Bulldogs followed a fairly impressive 8-point loss to Stanford with a not-so-impressive 31-point loss to Vermont. (Yes, non-conference losses can be impressive if you’re in the Ivy League.) Yale should still be in the top half of the league, but first it needs to find a way to replace the shooting touch of the graduated Eric Flato.

Dartmouth joins Penn, Princeton and Yale with an 0-2 record, losing to Army and Providence to start the year. But the Big Green’s best player Alex Barnett already has 46 points in those two games.

–Finally, rounding out the Ancient Eight, Columbia is 1-1 after beating New York City rival Fordham and losing to the Big East’s Seton Hall. My favorite player, K.J. Matsui, the first native Japanese player to play Division I basketball, is off to a slow start to his senior year, shooting just 2-of-16 from the field.

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ESPN Marathon of Hoops Live Blog, Part II

Posted by jstevrtc on November 18th, 2008

10:02 am – OK, back for more.  A little Drexel-Penn for your Tuesday morning.  Come on, is ESPN serious about this this stuff?  They don’t even have a GameCast going for this one.  Amateurs!  OK, I’ll stop.  Right now I have to give props to the Drexel students, because they have stepped up, here.  They’re in full face/body paint, wigs, etc.  Even for the ones who are just in their “Fear the Fire” t-shirts, they’re there in force.  They’ve filled that arena.  It’s rare that ANY college student is gonna get up at 10am for anything, so to show up like they have for a game at this time of day — even if it is a Big Five game — has got to earn some props.  This looks just like a night game in terms of the crowd behavior.  What this really is, is a total bonanza for any professors at Drexel who might be the attendance-taking type.  They could literally just pause the broadcast periodically and check off truant students on their roll sheets by the dozen.  I hated those professors…

10:26am — Drexel is the better team so far.  They’re outhustling Penn, who actually does look tired.  Drexel is up 8 with 12 minutes to go in the first half and this could get out of hand for the Quakers in short order if they don’t get their heads in it.

10:30am — Drexel extends…up ten at the under-8 timeout.

10:35am — Drexel is doing this with defense and hustle.  They’re winning every loose ball.  This is a Penn squad who only lost to UNC by 15, and they’re already down 14 to the Dragons and we’re coming up on the under-4 timeout.

10:41am — The first hyping of UNC-Kentucky.  I’m reminded of the time in 1995 when CBS was broadcasting an elite eight game involving those two teams (the one where Rasheed Wallace got choked — I don’t mean he CHOKED, I mean he GOT choked by Kentucky’s Andre Riddick during a scuffle early on) and Verne Lundquist and Bill Raftery showed up in tuxedos, given the history of the two programs.  I think whoever’s calling tonight’s game should do the same, especially with the almost constant hype.

10:51am — Halftime…34-27, Drexel.  This could have been worse for Penn who are in full sleepwalking mode.  Drexel decided to chuck (and miss) some threes late in the half; they have the better athletes but a couple of ill-advised shots and a couple of hand-checking fouls let Penn back into this.  If Penn wakes up at halftime, things could get interesting.

Right now, I’m actually a little impressed with Drexel.  Bruiser Flint has got his team mentally ready, except for that hiccup at the end of the half, and I’m gonna repeat my props to the crowd.  Drexel doesn’t look like a team playing their first game of the season, they look like they’re on number five or six.

I’m not complaining (heh heh….) but I’m starting to realize that maybe grabbing a nap before starting this endeavor may have been a good call, instead of working a whole day.  Oh, I’m not goin’ anywhere…but the coffee machine is now operational.

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